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Meet the Maya

School: High Tech Middle Chula Vista

City/State: San Diego, CA

Grade(s): 7

Format(s): Bilingual, Children's book: Alphabet

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Social Studies, Visual Arts, World Language

Project Overview

This alphabet book was illustrated, written, and translated by seventh grade students at High Tech Middle School in San Diego, California.

As part of a project spanning the course of several weeks, students researched topics of contemporary and ancient Mayan culture. Students wrote descriptions of their topics, and then translated their topic’s headline into Spanish. All descriptions went through meticulous editing and review. Students also created accompanying illustrations for their bilingual text.

Each student wrote and illustrated a single page of the book, with two students assigned to each letter of the alphabet. The end of the book features a glossary of additional Mayan terms, as well as an assortment of student vocabulary encountered in the descriptions.

All profits from sales of this book contribute to a fundraiser for Mayan children in the rural Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala. The students themselves decided that sales from their book should be spent towards the schooling, clothing, and transportation needs of Mayan students who do not have access to education. The class took part in the same project the year before, raising $1500 and sponsoring the education of several Mayan children.

Students not only learned about Mayan history, but also discovered that their work can have profound positive impacts on the lives of others. 

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and concepts using relevant information that is carefully selected and organized.
  • I can use resources to build my vocabulary.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
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