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.
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
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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
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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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