8th graders create games that teach North American origin stories using fossil records and cultural stories. Photo by Hanni
Panama was three weeks ago already and I have been with my students in our Early World History & Geography and Early American History classes for two days. In our lessons at Newcomb Middle School in Newcomb, New Mexico, I keep marveling at how many connections I can make between my experiences in Panama and the content that we are engaging in. The GABI RET experience came up in conversation when we discussed migration theories of early humans. While reading about the Land Bridge theory, my students and I discussed GABI animals and viewed photographs from the BIOMUSEO in Panama City. While discussing primary sources, my students and I came across articles claiming use of “fossil records” at which point I could draw upon my field experiences alongside professional paleontologists (Dr. Bruce McFadden and Dr. Gary Morgan) and archaeologists (Dr. Richard Cooke) to explain how fossils are gathered, the tools used, the localities, the archives, the museum connections…all of these experiences that we had in Panama helped me get really excited about these topics! We discussed using artifacts such as the Clovis spear points to determine the technologies of early man and how these enabled people to hunt big game such as the mammoth and giant sloth. What was so cool about these discussions were the visuals I could provide from our GABI RET flickr site (thank you to Megan, big shout out to our photographer!!). These visuals really help my students, as the majority are considered to be English language learners. I remember back to our Orientation trip in Santa Cruz, when we visited Jill’s classroom museum at Cesar Chavez Middle School. Students had created boardgames for their fossil museum. I was able to incorporate that same project idea for my assessment on this unit…students will take a migration theory and create a board game, complete with Big Game and GABI themes, to demonstrate how the Americas are believed to have become populated through that theory. I am really excited about this project, as are my students, and I honestly would not have had any of these connections and ideas without my experiences with GABI RET!