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Ancient Fires at Cliff Palace Pond: A Companion Guide for High School Teachers

By Judy Sizemore

The video documents how two branches of science, archaeology and paleoecology, were brought together in a research project that confirmed archaeologists' ideas about the lifestyles of Native Americans living along the western edge of Kentucky's Appalachian Mountains 3,000 years ago. This inter-disciplinary research project is an excellent example of the application of scientific research to real-world problems. Understanding how ancient peoples used fire to manage the forest will help us decide how we should manage our forest resources for future generations. Father and son making projectile points.

The eight classroom-tested lessons in the Companion Guide provide high school teachers with activities that will enhance students' understanding of the complex issues presented in the video. Although the major emphasis is on science and social studies, the activities encompass math, technology, language arts, and arts and humanities.

The lessons are diverse. After a pre- and post-viewing activity, students interpret pollen charts and create their own timelines; develop skits about how scientific research has changed our ideas about the past; use art to communicate research findings; write their own folktales about the origin of fire; consider how videos are made; and research prospective careers.

Essential Questions

How does our understanding of the natural environment change as scientists apply modern technology to the study of ancient cultures?

What lessons can we learn from ancient technologies that can help us better manage our natural resources today?

How do various branches of science work together to investigate a problem?

How can the medium of video be used to present complex issues in a manner that is accurate, engaging, and honorable?

Kentucky Academic Expectations Addressed
Goal 1: 1.1-1.16
Goal 2: 2.1-2.6, 2.8, .2.10, 2.16-2.20, 2.22, 2.23, 2.36
Goals 5 and 6

High School Science Content Addressed
Scientific Inquiry
The Interdependence of Organisms

Table of Contents for Companion Guide
Essential Questions
Kentucky Academic Expectations Addressed
High School Science Content Addressed
First Thoughts: A Pre/Post -Viewing Activity
Pollen Analysis
Charting the Past
Changing Perceptions
The Artist's Touch
Creative Writing
Making a Video Documentary
Focus on Careers
Hazel R. Delcourt, Paleoecologist
Rex Robinson, Artist
Glossary of Fire Terms
Resource List

Order Information

Copies of the companion guide may be ordered directly from the Kentucky Heritage Council, 300 Washington Street, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601, or by emailing Yvonne Sherrick.  Be sure to include your complete contact information.


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Last Updated 6/6/2008