Title:  The Maya Today

Grade Level:  7-10

Subjects:  Social Studies

Overview:  Taking historical studies of the Mayan people and bringing them into current times, this lesson creates a vivid picture of Mayan life as it is today.

Purpose:  The purpose of this lesson is to demonstrate the current lifestyle and issues facing the indigenous Maya in Mexico.  



  1. Refer to The Maya Today website at http://www.jaguar-sun.com/mayanow.html
  2. Print out copies of the Notetaker.

Activities and Procedures:

  1. Post the quote: "We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle or zoos. We are people and we want to be respected, not to be victims of intolerance and racism."
  2. Ask students to write down what they think it means.  What can they tell about the person who said this?  When they are finished writing, tell them that this was said by Rigoberta Mench'u Tum, winner of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize, and an indigenous Guatemalan woman who fights for the rights of her people.
  3. The Maya Today website offers comprehensive information on the history, culture, and current affairs of the Maya.  Divide students into groups and assign them to different sections; The Maya Today (divide into 2 groups), Maya Culture, Weaving, Ancient Kingdoms.  They will be required to read the information and summarize in a 5-minute presentation.  (If there is no internet available, print out copies for each group).    
  4. Have students switch groups jigsaw-style so that there is one representative from each of the original groups in each newly-formed group.  Students present the information to each other in their new small groups and fill out the Notetaker.

Tying It Together:

  1. Students may look for tortilla recipes online, do a report on them, and make them.  Any other such projects that bring alive aspects of current culture would be appropriate here, depending on individual classroom accomodations and time available.  
  2. Related TOB lesson plans; The EZLN Revolution, Women in Revolution