Some of Our Ideas for Teaching with Skull in the Rock

Exploring Teaching with Text Sets Models for Instruction

Sunburst Model
How can short digital texts to be used to access and explore the complexity of the Malapa discovery written about in Skull in the Rock? Explore some of the digital resources referenced on the site and consider how these digital resources could be used to support students before, during, and after reading Skull in the Rock.

Tree Ring Model
How can Lee’s own research be used to further explore Skull in the Rock and broad students’ understanding of paleoanthropology? Go to his website, linked at You might also want to go to the site as well that Marc and Lee share. What do you find? What pieces of his research could students at your school explore? How might that shed light on the nonfiction book? How is the information presented differently for a different audience? Next, explore some of the other books that are written about paleoanthropology. How might they further extend students’ understanding of the “braided stream” Lee proposes?

Nonfiction and Next Generation Science Standards
Nonfiction as a Model of Disciplinary Literacy. The draft of the Next Generation Science Standards will be released this fall. The big ideas in the National Research Council's (NRC) Framework, the foundational document for the new standards, “describes a vision of what it means to be proficient in science; it rests on a view of science as both a body of knowledge and an evidence-based, model and theory building enterprise that continually extends, refines, and revises knowledge” (Achieve, Inc., 2012).  To do this, three “dimensions” will be “combined to form each standard:” Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas. How can Skull in the Rock serve as a mentor, or model, of the three dimensions that are so essential to the new science standards? How does Lee Berger serve as a mentor scientist? How does Marc Aronson capture the practices and concepts at work and the core facts of the discipline that the scientists draw upon? Take a look at the Framework, available on the blog. Next, read through the first chapter of Skull in the Rock, the last, and the back matter, and note how an exploration of this book could serve as a catalyst for students’ yearlong study of science in which they are using the practices of science to identify and use crosscutting concepts, drawing upon their ever-increasing body of disciplinary core ideas.

Common Core State Standards: Research to Build and Present Knowledge

Author-Scientist Model as Mentor Text. Marc Aronson wrote Skull in the Rock with Lee Berger, the scientist who, as you now know, discovered the skeletons at Malapa. At the end of the book, it is clear that Lee has been sharing the research at Malapa with scientists all over the world, to further the discoveries that possible rather than his own research agenda.

How can you use their collaboration as a model for your students? What would it take to establish a relationship with scientists working in your area? What research institutions, hospitals, universities, manufacturing companies, or state agencies do scientific research in our area? How you can you use those scientists as mentors for your students? Brainstorm a list of possible organizations with whom you can collaborate.

Think of the following:
·      How long could students collaborate with scientists/shadow scientists? A day? Week? Month? Semester? Year?
·      How could students get prepared to collaborate with scientists?
·      At the end of the designated period of time, what texts will students produce to share their research with the community?

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