This summer marks the third time the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon has brought elementary educators on staff to create an archaeology curriculum for students in preschool through 8th grade—straight from the trenches to the classroom! Their engaging curriculum has already had a wide reach, and we’re looking forward to what’s next. Below, Kerrie Rovito, a science teacher at Hamilton Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois, describes her summer excavating at Ashkelon and what she will be bringing back to her students.
Recently I returned from my trip to Tel Ashkelon where I had the chance not only to write curriculum for the dig but also to become immersed in the archaeological process. I worked alongside volunteers from many universities—including Harvard, Wesleyan, Wheaton College and Troy University—to tear down mud-brick walls and find floor layers leading to the 604 B.C.E. destruction of Ashkelon by Nebuchadnezzar II.
Because of the recent trouble in the area, our expedition also spent a lot of time traveling around the northern part of the country visiting other archaeological sites, which you can read about on my educator blog.
While in the field, I developed curriculum based around the math and science that I saw being used on a daily basis. Some examples of this include how float samples are used to identify seed types as well as the diet of the people who lived in the area, and how triangulation and GIS are used to mark the location of artifacts we find. I began the process of building the curriculum by watching how these processes were carried out on our dig site, and then I interviewed the specialist as they told me details of their job. From this, I connected these topics to the new Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core Math Standards, so that these tasks could be applied across a wide range of classrooms. Finally, I created hands-on tasks that allow students all over the world to recreate what they see the scientists doing, which allow them to be a part of the archaeological process. Four modules have already been uploaded, but more are currently being written as I tie together the information I gathered in the field.
Read about the first week, midseason progress and unanticipated conclusion of the 2014 excavation season at Ashkelon.
The videos that I created not only tied in with the modules but also explained questions I had before going to Ashkelon. For example, I have always wondered what the process was between collecting pottery pieces and attempting to put them back together. I videoed the different steps of this process as a way for students to see the immense amount of work involved to do this. I also learned how people can pursue archaeology in a non-research setting through jobs in Cultural Resources Management.
Additionally, I wanted to show students in my own class how important skills learned in the classroom, such as keeping a science notebook, can help prepare them for careers in the math and science fields. One of our square supervisors, Emily, did a great job explaining how integral these skills are in archaeological fieldwork.
Unfortunately, the excavation season this year was cut short, but I have already started the process of brainstorming more lessons I would like to film next year. I am eagerly awaiting the outcome of a Fulbright grant the dig has submitted allowing ten other teachers to travel with me back to Ashkelon so that even more curriculum can be written. In the meantime, continue to check my blog and modules page, which I will be updating throughout the summer. You can also email me at teachashkelon[at]gmail.com if you have any questions about archaeology curriculum or how to bring archaeology into your classroom!
Kerrie Rovito is a 4th–8th grade science teacher at Hamilton Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois. She holds a B.S. and M.S. in Elementary Education and is Nationally Board Certified in the area of Early Adolescent Science. Kerrie has created numerous science and social studies units which emphasize hands-on learning and engineering practices.