Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Signs of Change: A K-12 Curriculum on the Contemporary Maya

Inspired by the Latin American Resource Center’s 2012 Summer Teacher Institute, Signs of Change: A Glimpse of Past & Present Cultural Landscapes of Guatemala, this curriculum unit was designed to examine the culture, language, and geography of the Maya during an important moment in the Maya calendar; December 21, 2012 marked the end of the 13th b’ak’tun cycle and the beginning of a new cycle. This moment also marked an important point for the Latin American Resource Center to re-examine the current teaching of the Maya in the K-12 classroom and provide an updated set of lessons and perspectives for teaching about the Maya.

Download the entire curriculum by visiting the Signs of Change page below.


This unit follows an interdisciplinary model of incorporating area studies across disciplines in order to construct a deeper understanding of the Maya and creates a more comprehensive approach to teaching global competence.

In Maya: Past and Present, students will build empathy through the celebration of history and traditions by incorporating real world connections and independent reflection. Elementary Level.

Signs of Change: Maya Resilience, Cooperation, and Democracy provides students with the opportunity to engage, explore, and take action while learning about social justice through literature. Middle School Level.

In Guatemala and the Maya, students will examine the complexity of the many Mayan languages, the calendar system, and Maya writing for an intermediate level Spanish class. High School Level.

Where Do Indigenous People Go when the History Book Ends? Provides students with a glimpse of indigenous identity through texts such as I, Rigoberta Menchú and the Popol Vuh for an advanced level Spanish class. High School Level.

This unit is designed to be used by teachers of different subjects and grade levels. Since the researchers of this unit represent various grade levels and subject areas, the unit showcases the interdisciplinary nature of Latin American Studies and supports the promotion of Latin American Studies across disciplines. Each unit, although created for a specific grade level or subject area, can be incorporated into your own teaching by utilizing other resources and/or working with colleagues to introduce the Maya across disciplines.

Primary Researchers:
The curriculum was designed by participants in the 2012 Teacher Institute and compiled by the staff of the Stone Center for Latin American Studies.

Audra Stablein, High School Spanish Teacher
Belle Vernon Area High School, PA

Denise Tullier-Holly, Elementary Art Teacher
Southeastern University Lab School, LA

Denise Woltering Vargas, Senior Program Manager
Tulane University, LA

Diane Davies, Anthropologist
Kings College, UK

Ellen Cohen, High School Spanish Teacher
Metairie Park Country Day School, LA

Rachel A. Horowitz, Anthropologist
Tulane University, LA

Sarah Donovan, Middle School Language Arts Teacher
Winston Campus Junior High, IL


Central America + People
Maureen E. Shea
Associate Professor - Spanish & Portuguese