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The following magazines were reviewed by teachers participating in Eisenhower Professional Development Project and Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title II grants. 


Submitted by: Sandra Kucinski

Archaeology magazines are reviewed for use in a sixth grade level classroom. The magazines are being considered for use in a cross-curricular unit incorporating science, math, social studies, English and reading. The sixth grade social studies curriculum covers the Eastern Hemisphere. Emphasis has also been on archaeological methods and processes. Therefore, there has not been a focus on native Wisconsin residents at this grade level.

This review will focus primarily on dig magazine (Cobblestone Publishing).  Archaeology and National Geographic will also be reviewed as they are commonly available.

Dig
The most appropriate magazine for the sixth grade is dig or Archaeology's dig magazine. It appears that ownership has changed hands since initial publication, hence the subtle name change. The magazines have high interest and appeal; one would have difficulty not perusing all editions. Issues range from "Mummy World" to "Underground Railroad" to the "Scoop on Poop." The readability of the magazine is on target and the format is one in which students are readily familiar due to reading similar science magazines aimed at the sixth grade level. It has an in-depth focus, but also has a variety of formats and topics contained within.

The magazine did not assume a layman's knowledge of archaeology and takes care to explain the background and techniques they are discussing. Although the cover will give a clear view of the focus of any particular issue, there are often other gems of information inside. One feature is the "ask dr. dig" where kids can ask a question and have it responded to by an expert (Caroline Nicholson, PhD). The level of questions varies, but the curious would wonder why archaeology is sometimes spelled "archeology" and what is the correct spelling and why. These question/answer articles would make practical warm-ups to critical thinking activities throughout the year. Can students hypothesize an answer to a question or come up with questions of their own? It could prove to be an excellent method to clear up misconceptions of archaeology, begin discussion of ethics, and provide good, clear background knowledge in mini-bites.

The other articles in the magazine lend themselves well to particular units on the Eastern Hemisphere. However, if one wishes to promote the idea that not all archaeology is ancient and only in the East there are several appropriate articles.

Finally, dig faithfully offers suggested websites that will provide further information or even virtual tours of their articles. Their current website is http://www.digonsite.com/. The magazine could further benefit visual learners by using additional maps.

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Archaeology, September/October 2003
Archaeology magazine has a wide range of information from a variety of countries from around the world. It appears dig magazine is presently affiliated with Archaeology magazine. Archaeology magazine is interesting enough for the layman, but expects a level of prior understanding of archaeological methods. For example, a brief article, "Neolithic Nightmare" (p.13) refers to "strontium isotope analysis" without offering any background on the process. Reading some articles can illuminate knowledge, but also add a number of further background questions. "Top-Notch Tomb" refers to "Bones of another individual, partly covered with red paint, were found in a wall niche." There is no attempt to explain or discuss why there is red paint on the bones. Sixth graders will want to know this information!

Articles in Archaeology are fairly short and not too lengthy for a 6th grade attention span. Discussions on ethics abound from the editor's welcome message to within the articles themselves. Should spare artifacts such as pot sherds, etc., be sold or stored? (the editor votes for storing them for future study) "Should archaeologists double as spies?" Should pagans be allowed to use ancient sites for worship? There are recommendations of websites on the Table of Contents page. The magazine also has its own website, http://www.archaeology.org/. Articles are brief and the readability is favorable. Read aloud selections would certainly be possible by using teacher preview and selection.

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National Geographic, October 2003
It is difficult to match the photography and scope of National Geographic for covering subject matter. As a teacher resource it is helpful for providing background and visuals for class discussion. It is the rare sixth grade student who will be able to read and comprehend completely all articles. Phrases such as, "subversive counterinfluences," or "cultural maelstrom," require a fair amount of explanation for the average sixth grade student to digest. A teacher can easily present the material in the articles with the pictures and adding the requisite information themselves. National Geographic is also faithful about providing maps of the locations with their articles. The magazine can be found online at http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0401/index.html.

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In summary, dig magazine is ideal for the sixth grade classroom, particularly those studying World History. Both Archaeology and National Geographic are very good teacher reference materials and select articles may be used with students.

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*MVAC Educational Programs are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
*This project was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation.  Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation.