A classical Maya News Report

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A Classical Maya News Report


Three class periods



World History

Audrey Carangelo, freelance curriculum developer.


Students will understand the following:

1. The relationships between Maya city-states during the classical period

2. What archaeologists can teach us about an ancient civilization


For this lesson, you will need:

pens, pencils, and markers
paints, glue, and tape
books and magazine articles about the Maya classical period
computer with Internet access
video equipment (optional)
publishing software (optional)

1. Explain to students that they will explore the ancient civilization of the Maya during the classical period, from A.D. 300 to A.D. 900. This time in Maya civilization was marked by the growth of city-states and by imperial wars between them. Students will then prepare news reports about major events of this period. Events might include a great war planned for a special astronomical date or the capture of a rival king and his city-state.

2. Explain to students that their news reports may be in the form of a magazine article, with sidebars providing background information; a major newspaper story; or an editorial. Students may also wish to videotape a presentation in the style of a prime-time television news show. Although students are reporting on historical events, they should strive to give their news stories a present-day immediacy.

3. Have students work in small groups. Provide each group with a list of the classical period city-states, including Tikal, Clakmul, Piedras Niegras, and Uaxactun. If students are interested in other classical period city-states, allow them to explore these as well. Ensure that each group has chosen a different city-state so that no two groups report on the same event.

4. Encourage students to analyze the media format in which they choose to present their reports. Challenge them to include as many features of the media as they can, such as headlines, illustrations, news anchors, graphic titles, sidebars, and editorials. Students may even wish to stage interviews with kings of the city-states.

5. Collect encyclopedias and a variety of books and magazine articles about the Maya classical period. If possible, purchase a copy of "The Clash of the Maya Kings" for student viewing. If you have Internet access for your students, you might also want to bookmark the Maya-related Internet sites listed below.

6. Allow class time for each group to present its news report. Include a class discussion period so that students can ask any questions they still have.

7. Display the news reports for other classes to view.

Have students prepare maps of the Yucatán that show how the balance of power fluctuated between the city-states of the Maya classical period. Remind students to include a key that explains any symbols they use to show power shifts between the city-states. Have students prepare written reports to accompany their maps and allow time for group presentations.

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