Overview: Module 1
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American Prehistory: 8000 Years of Forest Management
A Potawatomi woman in Kansas strips bark from a living elm tree. First a serrated ring is cut around the tree, then strips are peeled off with the aid of a wedge or ax. Photo courtesy of Native American Architecture, Peter Nabokov, New York: Oxford University Press, 1989, p. 62.
State Standard Correlations: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY
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Day 2 activity: Make copies of Detecting Prehistory and Worksheet 3 for each student. Pre-class preparation: Arrange four tables or four clusters of desks within the classroom. Place one 8x12 colored category topic card on or above each table or desk cluster. The category topic cards, each a different color, are entitled: Archaeologists, Anthropologists, Geographers, and Historians. Print each of the category topics on 4x6 unlined note cards. (The total number of 4x6 cards represents the total number of students in your class). The 4x6 note card color for each category topic should match that of the larger 8x12 card. For example, if the 8x12 anthropology topic card is blue, the 4x6 anthropology cards also should be blue.
As students walk into the room at the beginning of class hand them a 4x6 category topic card and ask them to look for the table or desk cluster that matches their card. Distribute Detecting Prehistory and as a class read the first section of the sheet entitled “Background” together. Ask students to complete the section entitled “Before you Begin.” After students have finished this section (10-15 minutes) read the final section of the sheet (“The Case”) together. Distribute Worksheet 3, go through the completed example together, and instruct students to use the reverse side of the worksheet if more room is needed to answer the questions about artifacts 2, 3, and 4. Upon completion of the worksheet each group should make a short presentation to the class explaining more about their designated profession (archaeologist, anthropologist, geographer, or historian) in addition to revealing their answers to the “mysteries” and the reasons for making such inferences. Finally, after all groups have presented their answers to the class “solve the case” by revealing the real identity of the objects. Optional: Award the group with the most correct answers a prize.
Begin class by allotting time for the groups to finish the preparation of their skits. The remainder of the time should be devoted to the performance of the skits. Encourage the class to ask questions of each group to ensure that all students have thought about the importance of legends and the link between their stories and the environment.
Application and Integration Exercise (Correlated to National Standards for Social Studies) ~Teacher Explanation~ If you choose to use this activity there are several possible variations. First, you may want to have students complete the exercise in the same groups formed on Day 2 when they first studied artifacts. If not, the activity also would work fine in random groups you select. Second, Part II of the activity asks students to examine five modern artifacts that you provide. Here are some suggestions: baseball, pad of paper or notebook, CD, soda can, book, hat or shoes, key, computer mouse, cell phone, pet toy, trash bag, or sunglasses. You can either fill boxes with the same 5 objects or supply each group with different artifacts to analyze.
Team Teaching Possibilities
Technology: Instead of having students complete Worksheet 1 on the sheet provided, ask them to design and complete their own table in Microsoft Word or worksheet in Microsoft Excel outlining the significant information contained in the essay.
English: Have students use a library or the internet to find a Native American legend focusing on an aspect of nature. Ask students to compare and contrast the legend they located with the "Legend of the Cedar Tree."
Math: have students investigate how prehistoric people used math in their lives. Additionally, ask them to locate a picture or description of a prehistoric artifact that utilized mathematics in some respect.
Science: A) Building upon the information presented in the essay and Worksheet 3, have students investigate the specific methods involved in the use of charcoal deposits, pollen records, carbon dating, and dendrochronology to date prehistoric artifacts. B) Conduct a mock archaeological dig at your school that provides students with a hands-on approach to learning more about the work of archaeologists.
Indigenous Peoples Literature — Links to literature from many cultures, often describing connections to nature.
Bonnicksen, Thomas M. America's Ancient Forests: From the Ice Age to the Age of Discovery. New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2000.
Cronon, William. Changes in the Land : Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of
New England. New York: Hill and Wang, 1983.
Hothem, Lar. Indian Artifacts of the Midwest. Paducah, Kentucky: Collector Books, 1992.
MacCleery, Douglas. American Forests: A History of Resiliency and Recovery. Durham, NC: Forest History Society, 2011.
MacLeish, William H. The Day Before America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994.
Nabokov, Peter and Robert Easton. Native American Architecture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.