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Below are the questions and summaries from my students' work on
creating and analyzing "Evidence Kits".
Of my two sections of 6th grade English and social studies, 22 out of a
total of 49 students participated in this optional extra credit
assignment. They eagerly created the "Evidence Kits" and made admirable
attempts at answering all questions posed in the analysis.
1) Each "Evidence Kit" provides clues or evidence describing a nearby
location. If you discovered these items two hundred years from now, how
would you go about analyzing the objects? Explain this process or write
down the steps you used to make inferences about the site.
The following includes a number of responses to this question:
• identify types of products
• identity stores with similar products
• eliminate possibilities to determine the store which matches the
• carefully observe the items in the kit
• try to determine the function of each item
• hypothesize how the product was used
• refine ideas
• draw conclusions/state findings about each object
• look at all items and start with those you like :)
• observe objects
• determine what the object might be used for
• determine the relationship between the objects
• hypothesize the type of store the items might have come from
• study the clues/artifacts and record observations
• look at references (old maps, magazine pictures, ads for stores in
malls, books) for earlier examples
• chose the stores which match with the items
• hypothesize the location
• take each item in the kit and identify what it is
• describe the object telling what it is and its properties
• identify where each object could have come from
• review the objects
• draw conclusions about where the site might be
• determine the time period when these objects were made and if you
still need help answer the following questions:
Do you recognize any of these objects? (determine time)
If you recognize at least one of the items, where might it have come
(identify the site)
If you do not recognize any of the objects, do research on ancient
(learn about people)
2) Hypothesize the function of each object found in the "Evidence
Kit." What type of information did each artifact provide? (You may
want to record this information in a chart or on a spreadsheet.) What
piece of evidence was crucial to the investigation? What evidence
assisted least in the process?
Most students created spreadsheets or charts which identified each item
in the "Evidence Kit." Some wrote down the name of the item if they
were familiar with it, others simply sketched pictures or made
drawings. Then students hypothesized the function of each object and
wrote down any other important information. Finally, most students
indicated whether the items were crucial or not crucial for determining
meaning. Several groups even ranked the items according to importance
in helping to determine the location of their site. The items
consistently identified as crucial were maps and advertisements
representing individual locations. The items consistently identified as
not crucial were scraps of fabric or generic type items that could be
3) Do the objects in the "Evidence Kits" tell you anything about the
values of the group of people who made or used them? What speculations
could you make about their religious, political, ethical, social, or
This query was obviously extremely difficult for sixth grade students.
A few students identified items in the kit which were desirable or might
be more appropriate for one gender, female in all cases. Also, certain
items were more useful to people of certain age groups, young versus
old. Some groups did identify possible social and ethical ideas as
presented in the "Evidence Kits." However, not one single group
attempted to speculate on religious, political, or economic ideas
reflected in their evidence.
4) What do the properties of the objects (color, size, etc.) tell us
about their aesthetic value? How do these aesthetic values relate to
their other values? (For example, the mummification of individuals
tells us a great deal about the political and religious ideals of the
time. The design of the tombs tell us about their aesthetic values and
the ways the aesthetic values connected to their political and religious
Most students did not address how the properties of the objects were
associated with aesthetic value. This was an extremely difficult
question for students to answer. Most students revealed their answers
connected to the concept of value to be associated with monetary value
and not aesthetic value. Some did also consider items to be valuable if
they could make a person happy or make them look good. I guess this
response is typical for the early adolescent child.
5) Based upon the items and descriptions found in the "Evidence Kits",
write a paragraph and a rough sketch or drawing describing how the
particular site looked.
All students wrote paragraphs and made sketches representing their
concepts of their particular sites/locations.
6) Looking at the information relating to Trajan's Forum
what conclusions can you draw about Roman life? Do you think this
structure represents a typical building of the time? Where did ordinary
people live and what were their homes like? Compare and contrast Roman
life and the life values of the objects found in the "Evidence Kit."
16 of the 22 students had access to the Internet for this question.
Trajan's Forum was identified as being a very important structure within
the Roman Empire. Roman life was structured and clearly separated
members of society into distinct social classes/groups. The wealthy
Romans led an easy going life and had many luxuries. In addition, the
upper class had slaves to do much of their work. Architecture similar
to Trajan's Forum was important in ancient Rome. Romans built numerous
monuments and structures to honor their leaders and gods. In contrast,
ordinary members of society lived outside the center of the city in
simple, crowded buildings.
Very few similarities were noted, except some of the items in the
"Evidence Kits" may be luxury items. People of the upper class in Rome
and people today still like items that will make their lives easier.
Many differences were identified because of the huge amount of time
which has passed since the time of Trajan.
7) What conclusions can be drawn by future generations about our
culture from the evidence they are likely to find? Do you think people
in the future would be more likely to learn more about us from our
artworks than from our garbage dumps? Why or why not? Explain your
Students overwhelmingly agreed that future generations would learn more
about our culture from our garbage dumps. Garbage dumps represent items
of regular people and are most representative of all classes of people.
Ordinary things explain about peoples' lifestyles. Artworks were
depicted as reflecting specific topics and do not usually represent a
group of people. Artwork can be very diverse.