In this challenge, students learn about Aztec cultural beliefs and values by identifying artifacts that represent a particular element of this society’s worldview. Students also select a collection of artifacts to represent all elements of the Aztec worldview.
Before beginning this challenge, caution students about assessing a historical time period from a modern-day, Western worldview. Remind them that people in the past acted and behaved as they did in the context of the times. Encourage students to respond respectfully to Aztec artifacts, especially those artifacts relating to matters such as human sacrifice, stratified society and warfare tactics.
A. Identify historical artifacts that represent Aztec beliefs as related to the elements of worldview.
Review research strategies
Inform students that they will be conducting research through print or digital resources to learn about the culture and life of the ancient Aztecs. Ask them what keywords or words would best help them find information about the Aztecs. As students brainstorm ideas, record their suggestions. If necessary, assist them in understanding the need to be specific. Show them how the use of a modifying word can result in a more successful search. For example, Aztec is not a sufficient search term as there are modern-day and ancient Aztecs. Also there is a popular light airplane named the Aztec.
Use a Venn diagram to illustrate the basics of Boolean searching.
As a class, generate criteria for a successful search:
- uses specific search terms
- uses appropriate modifying words that narrow the selection
- results in relevant, focused information.
Ask students to record their search terms and modifiers and the results of their searches.
You may wish to extend this activity by inviting students to determine the top three Internet sites generated from successful Boolean searches. Suggest that students consider the following criteria for identifying the best sites:
- highly informative
- especially relevant to the topic
- easy to navigate.
Gather Aztec artifacts related to a worldview element
This challenge presupposes that students have been introduced previously to the notion of worldview. Key elements of a worldview are summarized in Concept of Worldview (Background Information).
Assign each group of students a different worldview element to research:
- view of human nature
- view of the good life
- equality with others
- responsibilities to others
- relationship between the individual and the state
- relationship of humans with nature
- sources of ethical wisdom.
Direct groups to gather background information on their assigned worldview element. Next, direct students to look for historical artifacts, e.g., documents, images, symbols, drawings, that represent their element of an Aztec worldview. Encourage students to look for three to four artifacts; e.g., art, architecture, customs.
Analyze Aztec artifacts for clues to a worldview element
Invite students to analyze the artifacts to determine the relationship between the artifact and the worldview element they are investigating.
You may want to adapt one of the charts and strategies in Supporting Conclusions (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Share representative artifacts
After students complete their research, arrange for each group to share the three or four artifacts with the rest of the class. Invite groups to display their selected artifacts or, if necessary, draw their own representations. Ask students to introduce each artifact and explain how it represents an element in the Aztec worldview.
B. Determine which artifacts best represent the Aztec worldview.
Select the artifact that best represents each of the seven elements of worldview
Explain to the class that they have been asked to celebrate an important anniversary of Aztec culture in Mexico. Groups or individuals must select from the class collection one artifact for each element. Students are to choose those artifacts that best represent the Aztec worldview.
Develop criteria with the class for a powerful representation of the Aztec worldview:
- clearly represents the particular element of the worldview
- accurately represents Aztec society
- informs about the worldview.
Direct students to provide evidence to support their conclusions as to how the artifact best reflects the element of the Aztec worldview.
You may want to adapt the chart Selecting Artifacts in Exploring Worldview (Support Material) to structure this activity.
Extension: Display artifacts
Invite students to display their selection of the seven best artifacts and supporting analyses. Invite other students to examine the display to identify the elements of worldview depicted in each artifact.
Extension: Create a virtual museum display
Students may create a virtual museum display using a multimedia program.