Westridge Lower School Spanish Students Create Their Own Codex Inspired by the History and Culture of the Aztec Empire
After studying the Codex Medoza, a document created in the mid-1500s to document the society of the Aztec Empire before the Spanish conquest, 5th and 6th grade Spanish students stepped into the shoes of Mexica high priestesses to create their own historically accurate strips of codex in the style of the Codex Mendoza. Their codex depicted three tributes they would be demanding from their subjects (which were announced to their subjects via modern technology – in video presentations) and will be combined to create Codex Veintisiete and Codex Veintiocho (named after their graduation years).
An interactive digital version of the Codex Mendoza served as the foundational teaching tool in this new unit. Transcription, translation, and hypermedia tools allowed students to explore and learn directly from this primary source document. The codex uses a glyph system similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs to record the history of the Aztec empire, tribute-payments made by each of the empire’s provinces, and activities of everyday life such as ceremonies, education, discipline, and civic engagement. Students explored how the Spanish language has evolved over the last 400 years, learned the symbol-based number system, and even drew cultural connections between themselves and children growing up in the Aztec empire.
“Although the Mexica people have a history of violence and human sacrifice, they also had many brilliant contributions that we don’t generally learn about, like canals, an aqueduct system, and chinampa agriculture (floating gardens),” said Señorita Leon. “I didn’t learn about Mexico’s pre-Columbian history until I was in college, so I wanted to expose them to the beauty and the wonder of the contributions of that part of the world early.”
Señorita Leon created this new unit to make the most of online resources while we are in remote learning, but she has been so pleased with the results that she plans to incorporate this unit on the Mexica into her in-person curriculum.
Westridge School, 324 Madeline Drive, Pasadena, (626) 799-1053 ext. 200 or visit www.westridge.org.