Privy to the Past: MAECON at the National Council for the Social Studies conference

Privy to the Past: MAECON at the National Council for the Social Studies conference

This past November, MAECON had the honor of participating in the 94th annual conference for the National Council for the Social Studies held in Boston.  During the conference, MAECON presented an hour workshop called Privy to the Past: Integrating Archaeology into the Classroom.

The goal of the workshop was to help educators understand how the interdisciplinary nature of archaeological teaching and learning can facilitate the “disiloing” of subjects, which allows them to approach the teaching of historical subjects in a more holistic manner based upon their subject matter.

Through the in-depth investigation of the Katherine Nanny Naylor site, a 17th century privy (outhouse) from Boston belonging to the niece of Anne Hutchinson, participants learned how utilizing various aspects of archaeological methods can create real world experiences for students that are engaging yet rigorous. This is because students employ and develop critical thinking and problem solving skills through an investigation of a topic; skills which are critical for student success, both in the classroom and outside of it.

The analysis of photographs of the cleaned artifact and organic remains during the workshop  reinforced to participants not only that physical objects can be read as text, but also that the methods used to understand the past through archaeology can also support and encourage students to gain a more nuanced and extensive understanding of the field of history.

Additionally, the workshop illustrated to participants how archaeology, since it is the scientific study of the human past, can connect history to other disciplines. This connection can help to increase instructional time devoted to historical inquiry and increase support and resources for the subject of history.

Throughout the workshops, participants engaged in the hands-on activity so that they could see first-hand the step-by-step methods of how they might incorporate archaeology into their classrooms and how the application of archaeological research methods can be used to strengthen and support student abilities to:

  • Develop questions
  • Gather appropriate sources
  • Interpret evidence
  • Communicate and critique conclusions

Participants also learned strategies on how to integrate archaeology and artifacts into the classroom when they lack the physical objects or resources to visit archaeological laboratories or sites.

Each participant received a copy of the lesson plan, supporting documents and images, and suggestions on how to gather the touch objects, as well as a link to an online version of all materials.

Click Here to down load your own copy of the Privy to the Past lesson plan


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