Why teach how to write an intelligent paragraph by using a textbook or prescribed process when, with a little extra effort, it can be made much more inspiring and interesting? Our "burial dig" gave us the opportunity to stress some writing skills, while at the same time letting students get into a moment and use their creative minds.
Students were encouraged to approach the comical skeletons with respect and take notes about the details they observed. After gathering the facts, they were able to make inferences.
Three burials were surrounded by coffin nails and discolored soil. Students were led by the details to infer that one was a soldier, sporting a blue sash and injured by a musket ball. Another was a respected and loved citizen who had a debilitating disease. The third was an important religious leader.
The last three burials included a Native American, buried with wheat and sea shells and sporting some animal bite marks. Another was the victim of survival cannibalism, and the last was an example of human sacrifice.
Students worked attentively throughout the day, with divergences into a math lesson, a reading exercise, and required breaks and recesses. The diligent manner in which they paid attention to instructions is also something to note, as this was not a simple project (even if they perceived it to be so).