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Project GLAD

Forest Grove School District

Ancient American Technology: Aztec, Inca, Maya

Idea Pages

  1. Unit Theme


Aztec, Inca, and Maya cultures all had advanced mathematical and scientific expertise which shaped their way of life. Their knowledge has contributed to many aspects of current technology.


  1. Focus/Motivation

  • Signal words

  • Awards

  • Observation charts

  • Inquiry chart

  • Big book

  • Current events

  • Team goal-setting

  • Music

  • Guest speakers: cultural representatives, archaeologists, anthropologists




  1. Closure

  • Home-school connections

  • Processing charts

  • Class big book

  • Summary letters to parents and teachers

  • Reports: power point presentations, 3-dimensional models, murals

  • Ethnographies: interview community members with cultural ties

  • Drama

  • Cooking

  • Field trip to archaeological site

  • Artists-in-residence

  • Assessments: conventional, individual, performance, team




  1. Concepts

  • Advances in agriculture, architecture, medicine allowed for the rise of huge metropolitan centers, which ruled extended empires.

  • Astronomical knowledge empowered priests in “mystical” predictions, aided planning for agriculture and other cyclical events.

  • Math systems contributed to commerce and historical recording.

  • Domestication of many wild plants has contributed to the food sources of today.

  • At their height these cultures were more advanced in some ways than those in Europe and Asia.



  1. Vocabulary


astronomy agronomy commerce

solar herbalist architecture

lunar temple masonry

observatory priest archeology

calendar irrigation excavate

glyph quipu ruins

stela calculate botany

empire planets civilization

loom cultivate symbol

textile transportation culture

geometry indigenous reservoir


dye measurement conquest

technology orbit anthropology

aqueduct metallurgy domestication

tradition engineer chinampa

pharmacology artifact pre-Colombian

terrace sacbe


  1. Oral language/Reading/Writing Skills

  • Oral delivery

  • Expressing personal thoughts in a group

  • Summarizing

  • Relating cause and effect

  • Sequencing

  • Locating information and clarifying

  • Gathering information/forming conclusions

  • Evaluating information

  • Identifying the main idea

  • Supplying evidence and supporting details

  • Comparing and contrasting

  • Topic sentence and paragraphing

  • Parts of speech

  • Use strategies to identify the meaning of specialized vocabulary

  • Making connections between literature and prior knowledge or experience, and community or world events

  • Understanding the writing process, including editing for conventions

  • Identifying character, plot setting and theme



  1. Math/Science/Social Studies Skills


  • Understanding relationships between organisms and environment

  • Understanding properties and limited availability of materials which make up the Earth

  • Explaining the relationships among Earth, sun, moon and solar system

  • Understanding that science is a human endeavor practiced by all cultures

  • Explaining how scientific knowledge evolves over time, building on earlier knowledge

  • Identifying the impact of early civilizations on world development

  • Examining the geography of civilizations studied

  • Understanding anthropological evidence

  • Reading and interpreting maps, charts, graphs

  • Explaining and comparing physical and human characteristics of major world regions

  • Clarifying key aspects of an event or issue through inquiry and research

  • Distinguishing fact from opinion and recognizing points of view

  • Gather, interpret, use and document information from multiple sources

  • Using time lines


VIII. Resources

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