This lesson revolves around the "So What" or Essential Question: "What makes one culture superior to another?" The lesson opens up with a quick Do Now where students read 11 statements about Mesoamerican cultures (Olmec, Maya, Aztec, Inca). I usually give students about 5 minutes to complete this activity. Then, we do a stand agree/disagree activity where students stand up if they think the statement is true and stay seated if they think it is false. In all, this opening activity usually takes about 10-15 minutes. Next, the premise is set for the interactive PowerPoint activity. Students are told that they are a time traveler and it is their mission to explore the mysterious Olmec, Maya, Aztec, and Inca civilizations. They must work together as a class to make it through a very dangerous journey where they will face various choices they must make. The class earns "Life Points" for wise decisions and lose "Life Points" for poor decisions. This is a great activity to have various classes compete with one another. The PowerPoint is an interactive guided notes activity (PowerPoint and guided notes included). When students are faced with decisions, I read the scenario on the PowerPoint and then have students quickly discuss in pairs which option they should take. We then share some responses and then we vote as a class. Whatever the majority of the class votes for is the decision the class goes with. Our lesson usually ends with students discussing our "So What" question, where students use facts from the notes to back up their arguments. There is also a quick Exit Slip slide with two NYS Regents multiple choice questions that students should be able to answer by the end of the lesson (answers to the two multiple choice questions are found in the notes section of the PowerPoint).
Note: Please check the format of the PowerPoint and the hyperlinks to make sure they work correctly on your operating system.