The Maya Culture and Civilization
Instructional Strategies Plan (ISP)
This will be a two week unit on the culture and civilization of the Mayan people. The purpose of this unit is to teach students about Mayan culture and civilization. Students will become aware of the vast intelligence the Mayan people offered to their own and future civilizations. Students will learn about the Mayan culture, number system, alphabet, hieroglyphics, history, civilization, artistry, and sports.
The Mayan civilization reached its peak at about 250 A.D. making great progress in astronomy, mathematics, and the development of a highly accurate calendar. I find the Maya to be a highly fascinating group a people and therefore find that a fifth grade class will agree. The reason I choose to do this lesson plan was because as a Hispanic this relates to my own culture and heritage. In addition, I have had the opportunity to visit a Mayan temple. Because many students come from different backgrounds many of them can relate to the Mayans rich history. In addition students can gain a greater appreciation of this civilization which had formed thousands of years ago. However, I know that not all my students share the same background as I do, and therefore this unit will take about two weeks leaving plenty of time to explore other cultures.
This unit will incorporate Mayan culture and civilization with math, language arts, physical education, geography, and art. This unit plan will be targeted for a fifth grade class. Students in this grade level will have the ability to think on a more complex level than the preceding grade levels.
1. TLW develop an understanding of Mayan culture including history, language arts, geography, physical education, and contributions made in the field of mathematics and art.
2. TLW recognize by sight the Mayan number and alphabet system.
3. TLW gain understanding of an average day/life of the Maya people.
4. TLW recognize and label the location of Mayan civilization and surrounding regions.
5. TLW analyze Mayan culture after learning about their civilization and make inferences as to why the Mayan civilization faced extinction.
people were American Indians who lived in southern
I will begin this unit by asking students about their existing knowledge of culture and then introducing the Mayan civilization. As the teacher, I will depict this culture by reading out loud books, facts, and providing visual aids and activities associated with this civilization. Providing visual aids such as poster boards and hands-on activities may help many students grasp further knowledge of Mayan civilization. I will facilitate learning by combining various teaching styles including inductive, deductive, direct, and cooperative learning.
My inductive lesson consisted of a question asked during my first lesson plan. The question “in your opinion what lead to the downfall of the Mayan civilization” is an example of presenting raw facts and allowing students to analyze and make inferences about why this civilization became extinct. I find this to be a form of an inductive lesson because it allows students to explore and create an answer. In this same lesson I also used direct teaching because I had to show students the Mayan representations of letters in order for them to understand and link the two together. Direct instruction is the best way to teach students about the Mayan alphabet because it will be easier to show students the letter and give them the representation of that letter. In addition this lesson also uses cooperative learning. Students will be asked to complete a K-W-L chart while working in pairs. This form of learning allows students to share ideas and learn from one another. I think students will work best completing their K-W-L chart if they have a peer to reinforce their learning.
My second lesson plan uses direct instruction as a means of acquiring the needed knowledge in order to complete and label a map on the Mayan civilization. Students will be taught various locations of Mayan civilizations as well as important rivers, oceans, continents, etc. With this lesson I am trying to achieve a basic competence/understanding on labeling and accurate knowledge of these regions.
My third lesson plan uses direct instruction to begin because students have no prior knowledge of Mayan numbers. The best way to achieve understanding of this is to directly teach students about this new number system. However to reinforce this learning students will be given time to work out examples on worksheets. This guided practice also creates indirect teaching because students are exploring the Mayan numbers independently.
The fourth lesson plan allows for instruction to take place in learning centers. Creating Mayan vessels is best developed when students have the ability to explore their creativity in smaller groups while sharing materials. These learning centers provide peer input as well as independence, and teach cooperation and sharing.
My final lesson plan will involve both direct instruction and cooperative learning. Teaching students the rules and some history of the Mayan Ball Game is best when taught directly. Explain to students that the Mayan’s played a game similar to basketball. It was composed of two teams, and fans, which sat atop the enormous court. At this point show students visual of the type of court this game was played as well as the type of ball used. In addition ask the students if they think it would be difficult to play this game when the hoops are 27 feet high and players are not allowed to use hands or feet to make the ball in the hoop. Show students approximately how high 27 feet is by pointing to a tall tree or nearby building. Lastly explain to the students that the game symbolized fierce competition of battle and the outcome would determine the prosperity or lose of crops. Cooperative learning is the best way for students to learn how to play this game. They watch each other and discover what skills are needed in order to help their teammates.
I will use various forms of assessment for this unit including selected response, essay or constructed response, and performance assessment. Personal communication will also be used but on a smaller scale. I find that a good measure of student learning is to provide different assessment measures. As we already know not all students are great test-takers and therefore I choose to not solely base assessment on any typical form. Instead the various activities provide assessment to best suit the outcome.
My first lesson plan assessment will consist of personal communication and “kid watching” while students are work in pairs on K-W-L charts. In addition, teacher may also use performance assessment when students are working in pairs and writing their names. The teacher may collect students’ name, K-W-L charts and check for mastery and accuracy. The journal entry would be considered an essay/constructed response which may help the teacher check for comprehension and as well as writing proficiency.
The second lesson plan offers both informal and formal assessment. “Kid watching” will be helpful to observe students illustrating and labeling their maps. Formal assessment will consist of a selected response like fill in the label of a blank map. Both these assessments can assess comprehension and mastery if students can label their maps accurately. However this would not be a great way to assess the creativity and accuracy of a Mayan vessel. For my fourth lesson I choose to use performance assessment and personal communication to check the process and progress of each student. I would check to see if students are creating a cylindrical vessel and if it’s consistent with the Mayan hieroglyphics. You can go into further detail by checking for accuracy of hieroglyphics and symbols of Mayan writing and correct height of 6.” In addition a valuable form of assessment is “kid watching,” this observation allows the teacher to see the progress of the art work verses the end result. The third lesson plan uses selected response test as the major form of assessment. Personal communication can also be used during lesson instruction and class time.
The final lesson uses informal assessment. Here the teacher can observe if students are following the rules of the game. However if formal assessment is needed teacher can ask students to write a brief summary on the Mayan Ball Game which should include the rules of the game, their feelings of the game, and a comparison of this game to any modern game. This form of assessment will allow the teacher to see if students understood the concept of the game.
I will use a holistic rubric for lesson plan four; the construction of a ceramic Mayan vessel.
Vessel is 6” in height, cylindrical, detailed and built exceptionally well, with Mayan design, symbols, and name
Vessel is 6” in height, cylindrical, detailed and
displays Mayan design,
Vessel is adequate
displays little Mayan design-work
Vessel is poor
no Mayan illustration
Effort and creativity
Student works to the best of ability. Student gives focused attention to artwork and shows a high degree of difficulty and effort. Work shows genuine pride. Work is highly creative
Student works to the best of ability.
Work shows a degree of difficulty and effort Work is unique Work is creative
Student uses class time ineffectively
Work shows little difficulty and minimal effort Work mimics example of others
Student wasted time in class
Student did not complete the assignment
Work shows no difficulty and lack of effort.
Work is sloppy
Lesson Plan #1
Unit Identification and Date: Mayan Unit, Fall Quarter 1st week
The Mayan Culture
Subject: Language Arts Grade: 5th Duration: 1hr. 45 min.
1. TLW be able to depict their name using Mayan alphabet.
2. TLW be able to depict important Mayan facts by writing in a K-W-L chart including the downfall of the Mayan civilization.
3. TLW Discuss the food, dress, schooling, games, housing, and culture of children in the ancient Mayan civilization by writing about a typical day/life of the Mayan people in journal.
1. “Kids during the time of the Maya” book by Caroline M. Levchuck.
2. “An interpretation of Bishop Diego de Landa's Maya alphabet” by Marshall E. Durbin.
3. CD/Tape of flute music
4. Poster board/worksheets on Mayan alphabet
5. K-W-L chart handout (what I Know, What I want to find out, what I Learned)
Anticipatory Set: (45 min.)
Gather students in a circle, before reading the book begin by asking questions to introduce this unit. Teacher my consider asking:
At this point you may want students to go back to their desks and write down a few things that they know about culture or Mayan culture in the “K” area of their K-W-L chart. Then continue the discussion by reading to the students about the Mayan culture. At this point you may want to play soft flue-like music. Stop every so often to recap. Ask students questions about important facts and what was just read. Ask students to discuss in groups why they think the Mayan civilization became extinct.
Activities: (60 min.)
After reading “Kids during the time of the Maya,” present students with a poster board and worksheets on the Mayan alphabet. Allow students to write out their name using these hieroglyphics. When students have done this allow them to pair up and write out a classmate’s name. This should give them some practice. In the same pairs allow students to complete their K-W-L chart. Students should collaborate on what they (K) know, (W) what they would like to find out, and what they have (L) learned. As a final activity ask students to work independently by writing in their journals; using this question as a prompt “In your opinion, what led to the Mayan downfall?”
Assessment will consist of personal communication and “kid watching” during the lesson as well as when students are working in pairs on their K-W-L chart. This activity provides cooperative learning which can help students learn from their peers. In addition, teacher may also use performance assessment when students are working in pairs and writing their names. The teacher may collect students’ name, K-W-L charts and check for mastery and accuracy. Student should provide an accurate representation of names given, and a completed K-W-L chart. The journal entry would be considered an essay/constructed response which may help the teacher check for comprehension and as well as writing proficiency when the question has been answered.
Students may take the worksheet of the Mayan alphabet home and write out the name of each family member.
Durbin, Marshall E. 1969. An interpretation of Bishop Diego de Landa's Maya alphabet
Levchuck, Caroline M. 1999. Kids during the time of the Maya
Unit Identification and Date: Mayan Unit, Fall Quarter 1st week
Location of Mayan Civilization
Subject: Geography Grade: 5th Duration: 2 hrs. 15min.
Anticipatory Set: (45 min.)
lesson by asking students to point out continents and countries on the globe.
Continue by reminding the students about the Mayan culture. Ask students if
they can recall where the Mayans lived, if they can name the surrounding bodies
of water, continents, countries, and major rivers. At this point show students
a larger map which focuses on southern
Activities: (90 min.)
On a blank map (handout) allow students to label bodies of water, continents, countries, mountains, major rivers and Mayan civilizations. Students may use textbook to label and illustrate this information.
Assessment will be compromised of both informal and formal assessment. “Kid watching” will be helpful to observe students illustrating and labeling their maps. Formal assessment will consist of a selected response (more like fill in the label on the blank map) because students will need to label the blank map with details such as bodies of water, continents, countries, mountains, major rivers and Mayan civilizations. Both these assessments can assess comprehension and mastery if students can label their maps accurately.
Students can choose a Mayan city and draw a typical Mayan temple or home.
Introduce this lesson by asking the students the various ways to write numbers. They may come up with; using their fingers, tally marks etc. Tell students that not all people use the same number system we have. They may recall that the Mayans had a different alphabet and today we will learn that they also had a different number system. Show students the poster board of the Mayan numbers. Ask them if they can guess the numbers on the poster board. Afterwards point to the numbers and have students count out loud. Teacher can explain that Mayans used a system of bars and dots for counting. A dot represented the number “one” and a bar stood for the number “five.”
Ask students to copy the Mayan numbers. Give students plenty of time. Demonstrate how to add or subtract the numbers. Write some problems on the board and allow students to write out the answer. Distribute worksheets so students can practice both writing and add/subtracting the numbers.
After students have practice the Mayan number system or at the end of the unit give students a selected response test. Although performance assessment and personal communication can also be used during lesson instruction and class time.
After discussing the Mayan culture show pictures of various artifacts. Ask students if they know what a vessel is. If possible show children a vessel. Allow them each to hold it and observe it. Allow students to draw a Mayan vessel, hieroglyphics, numbers and/or alphabet. Sit students in groups to promote learning from peers and allow students to share materials.
Students will sketch out the type of
vessel they would like to create including the desired artwork that will be
drawn on the vessel. Allow them to be creative. Give students a block of clay.
Explain to the students on the step-by-step process the Mayans did in order to
create a vessel and then explain and demonstrate how we will be making one.
Students will create a vessel 6” in height by molding clay/plaster of
Performance assessment and personal communication can be used to check the process and progress of each student. Check to see if students are creating a cylindrical vessel and if it’s consistent with the Mayan hieroglyphics. Accuracy of these hieroglyphics, symbols, and name in Mayan writing and correct height of 6” illustrates that the student has reached mastery. Once again the vessel should be 6” in height with accurate representations of Mayan hieroglyphics. Another valuable form of assessment is “kid watching,” this observation allows the teacher to see the progress of this art work verses the end result.
For this lesson, you will need to take your students outside to the basketball courts. You may want to begin by having your class sit under a tree while you explain the rules of the Mayan Ball Game. Explain to your students that the Mayan’s played a game similar to basketball. This ball game was a major event for the Mayan culture. The game was composed of two teams, and fans, which sat atop the enormous court. Show pictures of the court. There were two large walls, which had a hoop perched vertically on both walls. The object of the game was to make a small leather ball into the hoop. This was extremely difficult because the hoops were 27 feet high and players were not allowed to use hands or feet to make the ball in the hoop. The game symbolized fierce competition of battle and a good competition/game was thought to represent better crops for the following harvest.
For this informal assessment will work best. The teacher can observe if students are following the rules of the game by using certain body parts and if students can attempt to skillfully shoot basketball into the hoop. However if formal assessment is needed teacher can ask students to write a brief summary on the Mayan Ball Game which should include the rules of the game, their feelings of the game, and a comparison of this game to any modern game. This form of assessment will allow the teacher to see if students understood the concept of the game, liked the game, and if they can compare this game to a modern game. Students should be able to answer these questions in order to receive full credit.
A great way to incorporate this unit is to provide as much information on this topic. As a teacher you may want to transform your classroom to depict a Mayan civilization and provide additional books and other resources about the Mayan civilization.