The entire conference room- there must be over 500 teachers in here- has been conscripted into a 9 a.m. line dance.Everyone’s supposed to stand up and copy this ridiculously enthusiastic morning writhing in unison with all the other strangers.I hate it.It’s my worst nightmare, minus the ebola.I’m hiding in the back behind a piling thinking I would only do something like this if it were a wedding, open bar, and we were making up our own moves and giggling.
In other words, we if we had some autonomy.
The irony is that one of the big messages in these conference sessions is that to create cohesion in a classroom- thereby creating an engaged, compassionate, and high-achieving community- you must give students choice and control.Autonomy.It’s weird to me that they’re starting today with brainless, compliance-based call and response.
Openendedsocialstudies has just launched a brand new unit for teaching middle or high school classrooms about the ancient Maya. Find free readings, guided questions, and lesson plan ideas on the following subjects:
The Ancient Maya in Time and Space – How did the Maya interact with their environment? How did the Maya conceive of themselves and the universe around them? In European influenced societies, geography, ecology, time, and spirituality are all relatively distinct spheres – not so for the ancient Maya, whose since of time, space, and religion were closely linked.
Ancient Maya Society – How was the ancient Maya society structured? How did they govern and feed themselves?
The Maya City – The most durable testament to the grandeur of the ancient Maya are their grand construction projects. How were these cities made, and what makes them so awe-inspiring?
The Written Language of the Maya – Language shapes thoughts, knowledge, and feelings as well as human imagination, so it permeates all aspects of culture – the complexity of the Mayan language is key for understanding the richness of this people.
One great way for students to develop a deeper understanding of a concept is to have them teach others.
Choose any section from this unit and develop a lesson – in the form of a presentation, a storybook, or a worksheet – that teaches younger students about the Maya. Make sure the material is age appropriate in content and approach, and create some simple questions to check your audience’s understanding.
Find more free lessons on the Maya at Openendsocialstudies.org.
There are also plenty of free lessons featuring other peoples from world history.
Ms. Rita Ulrich, a Fulbright-Hays fellow, traveled to Bulgaria and Greece in 2017 to better understand the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. She recently contributed her lessons – detailed text appropriate for the middle or high school classroom, complete with creative activities and guided reading questions. It’s everything you need to humanize this unfolding human tragedy for your students.
Refugees and Human Rights in Bulgaria (Free online text suited for middle or high school classroom use, guided reading questions, and suggested activities): What are refugees, why are they in European countries like Bulgaria, and how is the United Nations involved?
The Psychology of a Refugee Crisis (Free online text suited for middle or high school classroom use, guided reading questions, and suggested activities): What psychological dangers do refugees face throughout their journey and during their time searching for safety and a new home?
Check out this new Openendedsocialstudies documentary short, shot on location at Uxmal, a Maya ruin in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This tour of the city is a great introduction to Maya culture and can be enjoyed by the casual viewer, the history buff, or in the classroom, in conjunction with our brand new (and totally free) unit on the ancient Maya.