Excavating the Website: There are Lessons Buried HereNovember 17, 2007
Last week we announced that the Museum of Underwater Archaeology’s “Holding History in Your Hand” (HHYH) classroom learning kits were ready for shipping world wide. The response has been incredible with inquiries coming in literally from around the world. If you’re not familiar with the kit you can view the brochure here. The MUA staff has been conducting the HHYH exercise for several years now. But since we can’t be everywhere at once we worked with members of the East Carolina University’s Maritime Studies Association to create a lesson plan and artifact analysis guide so that school teachers and other organizations could conduct the exercise themselves.
But one of the most exciting things for us was the decision to augment the lesson plan with additional exercises that let teachers use the MUA website as a teaching tool. We’ve built up a great collection of projects written by underwater archaeologists from around the world but after you’ve read say a field journal written in 2006 what more can be done with it? Is it then time to send it off to the archive to wither away? We don’t think so.
Very little of the MUA’s content is written by its staff these days. Our authors are an incredible mix of professionals, graduate students, and dedicated avocationals who are willing to share their experiences with the world. We realized that after two years of producing their web posts that they had covered a tremendous amount of territory and subjects. We thought that by selecting particular posts to be read together we could teach specific lessons. What’s more, by adjusting the complexity of the questions we asked we could make these groupings appropriate for certain age groups. For instance, for younger students we focused on introducing the field of underwater archaeology and who does it. We selected short readings that showcase the different groups involved with particular emphasis on how graduate students get their training. One of the exercises for older students suggests reading two different project journals, one by Ben Ford on his study of the maritime cultural landscape of Lake Ontario and another by Michelle Damian and her work in studying Japanese woodblock prints. The students are asked to compare these two approaches at studying maritime history. These are just a few examples of how the site can be used as a tool for deeper learning. The best part is that we’re just getting started. In the next few weeks we will be adding posts about work in Thailand and the UK as well as additional material closer to our home about vernacular Chesapeake Bay skipjacks.
As we send out our kits we’ll be asking teachers to give us feed back on how they can use the website for teaching. We hope they’ll see lessons in there that we can share with others. Here is an example of one of the additional exercises from the MUA kit. (click here) In the next several months we’ll post more of these exercises online so that we can excavate through the many layers of the site to find the lessons buried there. Let us know what YOU find.