¡Mira, Look!: Before Columbus

before columbusOne of the staples of our fall curriculum is Christopher Columbus. After all, Columbus was a historical figure whom we were all taught to love because without him, we would not have America–and he had cool wooden ships that we could build and put into bottles! However, by now, we all know that Columbus and his legacy leave much deeper implications than just “discovering America.” I mean, just think of that phrase for a moment. Was America lost prior to 1492? And what did he find? New York? Well, following with some of our previous work on Rethinking Columbus, this week’s post will focus on recent scholarship of Columbus’s voyage, what the Americas were like, and how we can disburse this information more appropriately to our students.  Continue reading

WWW: PBS Conquistadors On-Line Learning Adventure

Long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the Inca controlled 2,500 miles of South America’s west coast and ruled over 12 million people. Meanwhile, in Central Mexico, over a quarter million people lived in Tenochtitlan on two islands constructed in a “sea of water lilies.” These were not the disorganized, nomadic tribes that I was introduced to when I was in grade school. The pre-columbian Americas featured highly coordinated, centralized empires: Engineers designed intricate road and canal systems; astronomers tracked celestial bodies; and state bureaucrats meticulously calculated and recorded the tribute obligations of local communities.  Continue reading