September 28, 2010
Educators Flock to Crow Canyon This Summer
National Endowment for the Humanities Supports Programs for Teachers
Twenty-Four Educators Gather at Crow Canyon for Three-Week Institute
by April Baisan, Crow Canyon Educator
The passion of teachers for their practice and their students was more than evident this summer when 24 educators from across the country gathered at Crow Canyon from June 17 to July 27. The group of enthusiastic public and private school professionals attended the institute, "Peoples of the Mesa Verde Region: Connecting the Past to the Present through Humanities Research," funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
The educators—some relatively new to the profession and others seasoned veterans—spent their time at Crow Canyon and in the Four Corners area learning about Crow Canyon’s education and research programs, discussing educational theories and methodologies, and exploring the interface between archaeology and the culture of modern Pueblo people. The group visited ancient and modern pueblos and gained insight into the archaeological process by excavating at the Goodman Point Unit of Hovenweep National Monument and cataloging artifacts in the Crow Canyon laboratory.
Former Crow Canyon Director of Education Elaine Franklin codirected the program with Vice President of Programs Mark Varien. Crow Canyon staff members Shirley Powell, Scott Ortman, Marjorie Connolly, and Susan Ryan discussed their past and present research in keeping with the institute’s themes of history, migration, and human interaction with the environment in the Four Corners area. April Baisan provided perspective as a Crow Canyon educator. Rounding out the group of instructors was Tessie Naranjo, from Santa Clara Pueblo, and Joseph Suina, from Cochiti Pueblo. Joseph is a member of Crow Canyon’s Native American Advisory Group and Board of Trustees. Hopi Cultural Preservation Office and Village of Walpi staff members also helped out considerably by sharing their knowledge and culture with the teachers during a three-day field trip to the Hopi mesas.
The diverse assemblage of educators worked in groups to produce lesson plans to take back to their own classrooms. Many of these lesson plans instruct students to explore the notion of "knowledge" or "truth" in the context of culture. As Colorado science and math teacher Jackie McManus commented, "It’s unfortunate that the term ‘knowledge’ is a noun. Kids think that ‘knowledge’ means ‘facts.’ If ‘knowledge’ was considered a verb, perhaps students would understand the importance of this lifelong journey."
Teachers at the institute agreed that real knowledge is a continuous process. "Look at the 24 teachers in the institute," one teacher said. "We were all at Crow Canyon because we didn’t stop with our college degrees. We are never done in our mission to better understand the world."
While sharing personal and professional stories with warmth, humor, and a common interest in the human story, institute participants and scholars developed new friendships and professional connections. Close interactions with Joseph and Tessie in and around the homes of their ancestors led to new understandings of region, culture, and change. Field trips to Chaco Canyon National Historic Park, Aztec Ruins National Monument, and Hopi provided context for the layers of knowledge participants constructed throughout the three weeks. A fitting ending to the institute came during the last week with a picnic dinner on a dramatic overlook in the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, where teachers took time to contemplate ancient and modern people and their place on the landscape.
Seventy-Eight Educators Travel to Crow Canyon for Workshop
by Joyce Alexander, Communications Specialist
This summer, 78 educators took advantage of an incredible opportunity to explore thousands of years of Pueblo history, interact with archaeologists and American Indian scholars, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Four Corners region—all supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
Pat Cummins, an art educator and accomplished artist, indulged in an extracurricular activity while attending the workshop—she created pastel drawings of the scene from the tower of Crow Canyon’s Pueblo Learning Center. See more of Pat's artwork at patcummins.com.
Educators traveled to Crow Canyon from across the country to attend “Seeking the Center Place: The Mesa Verde Cultural Landscape and Pueblo Indian Homeland,” a professional-development workshop funded by NEH. The workshop was presented in two sessions: August 1–7 and August 8–14. It was open to 80 educators—40 teachers per session. More than 200 people applied to attend, and participants were chosen on the basis of their applications and accompanying essays.
“We had a nice sample of teachers from all over the country and a good range of age groups,” said Margie Connolly, the workshop director and Crow Canyon’s director of American Indian Initiatives. “They really appreciated the direct access to all the instructors and getting to know them so well.”
Workshop participants engaged in a variety of experiential learning activities such as fieldwork in the Goodman Point Unit, laboratory analyses, and recording data at the Pueblo Farming project experimental gardens. They immersed themselves in a number of Crow Canyon publications and attended evening lectures presented by Crow Canyon scholars. Discussion groups focused on educational resources and teaching anthropology and archaeology in K–12 classrooms.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that it was one of the best classes, courses, or workshops I’ve ever done in the summer—and I’ve done quite a few in 30 years of teaching,” said Laura Font, an educator from Illinois. “I came home with an appreciation for all the work that all of you do there. I couldn’t get over the passion many of the staff there have for their work and the patience they had in working with the teachers! It was truly a wonderful learning experience.”
A diverse mix of Crow Canyon and American Indian instructors shared their knowledge of the history and culture of the Four Corners region during the workshop. Margie Connolly and Crow Canyon educator Lew Matis served as lead educators. Pueblo of Acoma elder Ernest M. Vallo, Sr., Hopilavayi Outreach Coordinator Donald Dawahongnewa, and Crow Canyon educator and Ute Mountain Ute tribal member Rebecca Hammond joined in as American Indian scholars. Crow Canyon Director of Sponsored Projects Shirley Powell, Vice President of Programs Mark Varien, and Research and Education Director Scott Ortman provided the archaeologist’s point of view.
Near the end of the week, educators divided into groups to create lesson plans for use in their own classrooms, and on Friday afternoon they presented them to workshop staff and participants.
“Both workshops turned out to be two incredible weeks of sharing knowledge,” Margie said. “But all of this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our support staff at Crow Canyon,” Margie noted. “Alicia Holt and Margie McDade, as well as the entire staff, contributed a huge amount of work toward the effort. I’d really like to thank them all for their help.”
Crow Canyon extends special thanks to the National Endowment for the Humanities for the opportunity to present this year's institute and workshop for educators. Next year, NEH will support Crow Canyon in the presentation of another three-week institute—"Bridging Cultures: Diversity and Unity in the Pueblo World." Watch for details in the coming months.