A K–12 Educational Collaboration in Southwestern Colorado
|Learning about the local environment.|
The Shared Historical Landscapes Project brought together Crow Canyon, local school districts, and several government and not-for-profit community organizations to develop a plan for a K–12 educational collaboration. The plan is laying the groundwork for the implementation of a “blended” (classroom, field trips, and online) curriculum focused on the unique places, cultures, and histories of southwestern Colorado.
Southwestern Colorado is a popular destination for visitors from across the country and around the world. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people visit Mesa Verde National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument to learn about the ancestral Pueblo farmers who called southwestern Colorado home for more than 1,000 years. The area’s more-recent history, reflected in its current cultural diversity, includes use of the landscape by Ute hunter-gatherers, Navajo farmers, and Spanish and other Euro-American settlers. Throughout history, the landscape has been an integral part of the development of local cultures and economies.
Significant numbers of students have grown up without ever having visited Mesa Verde National Park or other historical sites in the area; they often have little appreciation for the natural and cultural diversity that has played such an important role in regional, state, and national history.
The Shared Historical Landscapes Project has started developing a place- and community-based curriculum connecting southwestern Colorado schools, community organizations, and our shared landscapes. The curriculum integrated project-based, interdisciplinary, STEAM-focused, experiential learning that takes place in the classroom, in the field, and online. The experiential learning focuses on significant regional sites and the importance of protecting both cultural and natural resources. In the process students gain an appreciation for the natural and cultural diversity that has played such an important role in regional, state, and national history.
|The Shared Historical Landscapes Project makes field trips to archaeological and other historic sites available to more local students.|
Mesa Verde National Park Field Trip Lessons
As the first lesson plan–supported field trips produced for the Shared Historical Landscapes Project, the Mesa Verde National Park Field Trip Lessons are grounded in interdisciplinary, 21st-century skills and Colorado State Standards. They use best practices in place-based education, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) education, experiential learning, and online learning. Participating community partners are paired with specific grades, depending on how a particular organization’s area of expertise articulates with the educational standards for a given grade. For example, the fourth grade standards in Colorado state history are a perfect fit with Crow Canyon; the sixth grade standards emphasizing ecology, water, and natural resources overlap with the mission of the Montezuma School to Farm Project, another local organization that has expressed interest in partnering with Crow Canyon. In addition to providing curricular materials for every grade level, project participants have developed classroom activities, one-day field trips, and a project website where teachers and students can access lessons and supporting educational materials and share the results of their own work.
Visit the Mesa Verde National Park website to learn more about planning a field trip at the park.
In 2014, Crow Canyon received a grant from History Colorado–State Historical Fund for the planning phase of the project, scheduled through 2015.