This lesson can be taught in 3 weeks
Introduction to the Mission
The focus for students in this age group is to recognize the means
by which culture is preserved and transmitted and the challenges
faced by those cultures over time. Students will practice their
reading comprehension, note taking, and writing skills. Depending
on the amount of time you have for this lesson, you can follow
one or more of the expeditions. For more lesson plan ideas for these grades see: Why People
Move by Frank Cerutti and The Oral
History of the Skagit River Watershed by Suzan Frampton.
Prehistoric Pueblos, Utah Canyon Rock Art, Skagit River Oral
- Encourage students to share what they may already know about
Native American cultures and how those cultures have changed since the landing
of the first Europeans. Ask them to explain what they want to
find out by participating in this project.
- Have students read the “Your Mission” section, and listen
to the audio presentation. Afterwards, lead a class discussion
(See discussion questions below)
- Go over the different components of the project with students.
Explain that they will
- read about research at the field sites
- read field reports from team members at the site
- read interviews with field experts
- conduct their own research and prepare a presentation
of their findings.
- Suggest that a good strategy to keep track of all the new
information they learn about is to organize it in a chart. In
advance, make copies of the Reading Comprehension:
KWL (PDF) graphic organizer
and hand it to each student.
How to Use the Field Reports
- Give students a choice in learning about one of the field sites Prehistoric Pueblos, Utah Canyon Rock Art, or Skagit River Oral History and have them read the Field Sites for their corresponding mission. Remind
students that later in the project they will be conducting their
own research on Native American cultures, focusing on the challenges
and changes over time. Have them keep in mind what they want
to find out while they learn about the Explorer missions.
- As students read through the field sites, encourage students to add new information or questions to
their graphic organizers.
- Assign students into small groups. These groups should have at least one student who has read the Prehistoric Pueblos Field Sites, one who has read the Skagit River Field Sites, and one who has read the Rock Art Field Sites. Have the students in the group share information about their field sites.
- Afterwards, talk about the collaborative
nature of the field missions. Explain that team members work
together to uncover artifacts and piece together clues. Tell
students that they can collaborate with each other by sharing
questions and ideas. Encourage them to add any new ideas or
questions that appeal to them to their graphic organizers.
- Explain to students that field reports were posted
by the explorer/teacher or scientist at the field site at the time of their exploration. Each
field site has different teachers and scientists posting reports
on their expedition. Follow the expedition by reading a daily
field reports with your class during the course of the project.
- Suggest that students keep a logbook of their responses to
the field reports. They can keep track of such things as:
Once students have read and explored their individual expedition's field reports, have them return to their small groups to discuss the information they have learned. Some questions students should be asking one another are:
- Any questions about the clues to learning about the culture
of the specific Native American tribes focused on in the field
- Any new information they learn about how researchers are
gathering clues on Native American cultures. Students should
look at these clues and keep them in context to the past and
compare to the present.
- Any discoveries that are made at the field sites.
- Any information that they can use to answer their own research
Prehistoric Pueblos questions:
Why are the Pueblo ruins like "time capsules"?
What might you have in common with people from an ancient culture?
What are the difficulties in comparing the culture of today’s
Pueblo tribes to their ancestors?
What can an ancient seed tell archaeologists about Native American
Can we make the same assumptions by looking at what Native Americans
Why is the discovery of similarities in pottery designed by people
separated by a distance of 300 miles important?
Utah Canyon Rock Art questions:
Compare what you learned about the field sites. How are they
What are the challenges for the team in this particular environment?
Summarize the steps archaeologists use to document this site.
How are these steps different from the Prehistoric Pueblos site?
What does the color of the rock tell us?
What types of images have been found, and what do we know about
What can we infer about the Native American cultures that created
the rock art? What can’t we assume about those cultures just from
the rock art?
What can we learn from the rock art through the present art of
the Hopis and Zunis tribes?
Skagit River Oral History questions:
Meet an Explorer
What is the importance of the Skagit River?
What are the challenges for Native Americans living along the
How has the culture of salmon fishing influenced the lives of
the Native Americans who have lived by the river both in the past
How have Native Americans lived in the area in the past compared
with the present?
What are some of the environmental problems facing the Skagit
River and the salmon?
How does interviewing Native Americans help scientists?
How to Conduct Your Own Research
- The explorer from each field site participated in a live interview.
You can read the transcripts of the interviews of Shayne Russell,
Sally Coles, Dr. Edward Liebow, and archaeologist Karl Laumbach.
- Begin by having
students read the biography of Sally
Coles, Dr. Edward Liebow, Shayne
Russell and Karl Laumbach.
- Explain to students that you will be recreating the interview of these explorers. Have students write three questions
they'd like to ask the explorers. Suggest that they refer to their Field Report
logs for any questions they may have noted. During a class discussion,
list student questions on the board. Have the class vote on
a list of top ten questions for each field expert.
- When students
have determined which questions they'd like to ask, hold a mock interview. Print out the interview transcripts for each explorer, and chose a student to play that explorer. Have those chosen students sit in the front of the class and take questions from their peers. For each question, the student should scan the interview transcript and give the stated answer. If the answer is not within the question, students should write it on the board for further research.
- Have students read the online introduction to "Be an Explorer."
Explain that students will conduct research on a Native American
culture that is found in their home state. They will look at
the challenges faced by this local culture through history and
how it has been preserved and transmitted through today.You may want to organize a class field trip to a local
history museum, assign library time, or allow extra time in
the computer lab for carrying out their research.
- Have students read the "Big Six" process of conducting
research for the mission that they are following. Explain that
this is a step-by-step process that they can use to conduct
their research. Go over the following steps with students:
1. Task Definition
Explain that the first step is to decide what they are looking
for. Suggest that students use the information from their graphic
organizers to help them define the question they want to answer.
If students wish, they may also use the suggested question:
"How has this Native American culture changed and evolved
from their beginnings through today?”
2. Information-Seeking Strategies
Guide students to use the Interactive Map and find local tribes. Have students choose
a tribe to research. Hold a brainstorming session in which students
generate ideas of where to conduct research. Record student
ideas on the board. Advise students to copy the final list to
use as a tool when they begin their research.
3. Location and Access
Have students read the Location and Access section. Ask them
to consider: What are other possible sources where you can gather
4. Use the Information
Have students read the “Use the Information” section. Encourage
them to use as many different sources as possible for their
research and allow them time to gather information. Explain
to students that when they gather facts they should keep in
mind the question that they want to answer. Remind them to keep
careful notes about their source materials.
5. Put the Pieces Together
Have students read the “Put the Pieces Together” section.
Suggest that they look over their facts and order them using
a graphic organizer. Students may wish to organize their facts
around common themes, such as food, clothing, shelter, trade,
beliefs, and other themes that may arise.
- Have students ask themselves: Which facts answer my question?
How will I present my information so that others can learn from
- Students can prepare written essays and present them in oral
reports. As an alternative, encourage students to present their
information in a format that best lends itself to their findings.
For example, if their findings are about food, they may want
to prepare traditional dishes. If their findings are about Native
American dwellings, they may wish to make models of the homes.
- Remind students that they need to provide a list of their
source materials. That way if someone wants to learn more about
the subject, they can look up the source. Explain that the most
common formats to record sources are in the form of footnotes
and bibliography. If necessary, review with students how to
write footnotes and bibliographies.
Sharing Student Research Reports
1. Have students give their presentations to the class. Afterwards,
students can go to the Writing
Workshop in order to submit their work for online publication.
Students of the Skagit River site can also publish oral histories
online through the Writing Workshop:
Oral History activity. Encourage students to read other students'
reports that are posted there. Suggest that students add any information
that they learn from other reports to their graphic organizers.
Launch a wrap-up discussion, by asking questions such as:
Why do they think an organization like Earthwatch is important?
Why is it a good idea to have ordinary people participate in these
kinds of explorations?
Are present-day Native American cultures similar to the
cultures of their ancestors? In what ways? How are they dissimilar?
What were the challenges Native Americans faced to maintain
Why is it hard for any culture to stay exactly the same
What proved to be your most effective research strategy?
What was the most interesting thing that you discovered?
What do you think was the most important field discovery?
What other explorer missions would you like to participate