Maya Calendars in the Classroom

  • Maya Calendars in the Classroom

    Cynthia E. Taylor, Megan A. Rehm, and Ximena Catepillán
    A lesson on least common multiples helps students not only develop a perspective on an ancient culture but also draw on the cultural background of classmates.
    The Maya calendar received a lot of attention in the years leading up to December 21, 2012, because of the mythological end of “creation.” Co-author Megan Rehm, a seventh-grade math teacher, had recently completed a graduate class in which she was introduced to the Maya civilization and calendar. Her prealgebra students were particularly interested in the cataclysmic Maya prophecy, so she created a lesson reinforcing the least common multiple (LCM). Since 15 percent of Rehm’s students were members of immigrant families, she decided to design a culture-laden lesson. In so doing, it would give her students an opportunity to develop a compassionate understanding of their classmates from different backgrounds and would help foster an atmosphere of respect, solidarity, and collaboration.