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Funds Granted!

Monday: January 15, 2018

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The Kentucky Historical Society had a nice ceremony for all awarded participants of the Kentucky Local History Trust Fund. I couldn’t attend, but you can find my partner-in-crime, the archaeologist hiding in the background. Check it out here!

I haven’t had a chance yet to organize the next phase of this project, but I’ll be visiting Kentucky again to finish this leg of it. More news to come as it progresses, I assure you.

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Red River Iron Industry

Thursday: October 19, 2017

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So you may recall that I had hinted on working with Matt on a project involving historic iron furnaces. He and I talked about the possibility of me applying for grants that could pay me to do work with the Daniel Boone National Forest (DBNF) so that I could be paid more than what the volunteer program allows. Wayna, the forest archaeologist, was also part of this discussion and suggested we attempt something for the furnaces. We have a larger project in mind, but it starts with applying for the Local History Trust Fund through the Kentucky Historical Society.

Briefly, early entrepreneurs ventured into the Red River region of Kentucky before it was even a state. Some of these business ran into quite unhappy locals, and all of them were working in conditions without modern (at the time) amenities. Their purpose was to collect iron ore, melt it down in massive stone furnaces, cool it off into blocks of iron, send these away to forges to be transformed into products, and distribute the items widely.

Wayna took Rachel and I to see a few, and Matt showed me a couple more when I was back down for LAW. Their presence on the landscape is unmistakable. Not only does their size tower over you, but they are built intentionally into hillsides, not far from water sources. It is quite easy to imagine the larger complex of buildings. And I did find it fascinating that whole towns would spring up, called iron plantations, to support the venture – from barbershops for the employees to schools for their children.

The intention of this first smaller project is to send me on a journey, collecting information that is housed in places outside of the DBNF libraries such as at the Red River Museum in Clay City. After reading through all that’s available, I’d develop a driving tour pamphlet to help get the sites more widely recognized by the public. Once this first step is achieved, I can then work on the next step of the larger project.

The application was submitted Friday, so wish us luck!

I also found a few more photos that reminded me of some interesting tidbits. Like that time I got stung twice by a yellow jacket. Fun! Or having to watch out for copperheads every time we went over to take showers at Koomer Ridge Campground. Or when, in one of our STPs, my shovel did not damage this fine projectile point! I got skillz.

Matt took me on a small trip that included an old fire tower! (Did I mention on this blog that FireWatch is one of my favorite games? And that loving fire towers must run in my blood as I recently discovered my great-grampa was a watchmen once upon a time!) Some idiots lit a campfire inside it – on a wooden floor – so you can imagine the reason why only the metal frame stands today. But the view was serene!

And on the way back home, I decided to stop by where I grew up and walk across the Ohio River on this bridge. It was hot, but I needed a small break from driving so I thought I’d check out how the Louisville Waterfront Park was coming along. Plus, I had been listening to GRRM’s Fevre Dream during the long drives, and wouldn’t you know it? New Albany made an appearance, so it was kind of fun just to sit and think about how this area was such a big center for the early steamboat industry. I knew that, of course, from my Floyd County Archaeological Survey research – but having a great literary master mention my “hometown” was kinda killer, I gotta say!

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Grant: Teaching Online

Wednesday: March 25, 2015

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I was contacted by our Center for Innovation and Scholarship in Teaching department at one of the universities I teach at, letting me know that they had a grant with my name on it if I would be interested in taking a course about how to teach online. Duh – of course!

I am not sure how I was nominated for the grant, or if everyone gets one as they take the course, but I am very excited and it couldn’t come at a better time with my current financial woes.

The class starts Monday, but I have already poked around. See, although I am teaching online already, this program interests me very much – beyond the financial carrot:

  • While I have taken an online course as a student, that was many, many years ago. I’ve forgotten what worked and didn’t for me as a student, and technology has changed dramatically since then. What do online courses even look like today? This course will teach me how to design an online class.
  • (What does teaching itself look like? This course might show me how not to feel like such a fraud! Oh, I still giggle at the cosmic joke that life has played on me!)
  • My university is transitioning to a new Learning Management System, and I haven’t had the motivation to look into it yet. I had decided that I would do it when it was essentially forced on me – but approaching it early and with training is a far better idea! This course will teach me how to use the new LMS.

By the way – that new LMS, Canvas? Golden in comparison. Gosh, why didn’t I look into it sooner?!

From what I gather, my classes are already set up pretty much exactly how they need to be, which is great news for me. Of course there are things to tweak and new ideas that I will learn, but the bulk of the course design is solid. One of my fears when I initially accepted the grant contract was that it would be very taxing to start over from scratch – especially now that I have it running fairly smoothly. Thankfully, though, the most work will simply be taking those ideas to the new LMS. Phew!

I am also looking forward to taking this class with other people. I only know one other enrolled, and just barely. He is another physical anthropologist, in a Lectureship position so he gets to participate a little more than I do in the department. Though I seem to have more teaching experience than him (at least when he was first hired), I am interested to see his ideas about teaching anthropology, and seeing the other “students”‘ comments on what works or doesn’t.

I have plenty of questions that I hope get addressed. How do you direct students to participate *meaningfully* in discussions? How do you objectively grade discussions? How do you handle the time-sap that internet communication brings? How to you keep the class fun and personable when they only know you through a screen? How do you keep from getting bored? And so on.

At the end of the course, to accomplish my grant requirements, I will be peer reviewed for the fall semester. Once I fully pass, I will be certified to teach others how to teach anthropology online. This is cool, but at my small university, unlikely to mean much (I was given the disclaimer as such). Clearly, minimum enrollment would just never be satisfied!

Unrelated side note: I am trying to find small ways to still be “active” in the science community so I nominated myself to be Vice Chair for the Anthropology Section for the Indiana Academy of Science. I could not attend due to car woes, but the current Chair let me know that someone present claimed the position, but no one took on Chair itself. Did I want to be the next Chair? I hemmed and hawed and decided to decline instead – how rude is it to take a title if I cannot commit to the responsibilities? I may wish I had taken the role, but there are always future votes when I can actually be present.

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