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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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2. Exploring Borders   



2. Exploring
Borderlands


•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
•  Timeline
•  Activities
- Overview Questions
- Video
Activities
- Author
Activities
- Context
Activities
- Creative Response
- PBL Projects

Activities: Problem-Based Learning Projects

""How can I get my students to think?" is a question asked by many faculty, regardless of their disciplines. Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional method that challenges students to "learn to learn," working cooperatively in groups to seek solutions to real world problems. These problems are used to engage students' curiosity and initiate learning the subject matter. PBL prepares students to think critically and analytically, and to find and use appropriate learning resources." -- Barbara Duch, University of Delaware

  1. Imagine that the parties in conflict during the Conquest of Mexico have decided to resolve their differences by hosting a diplomatic summit rather than using force against one another. Divide into groups representing the various parties involved (Cortés, Doña Marina, common footsoldiers like Bernal Díaz del Castillo, Montezuma, Aztec soldiers, and indigenous tribes who had been previously conquered by the Aztecs). Prepare for the summit by making a list of your concerns and demands; then meet as a group and begin the process of diplomacy. How will you resolve territorial disputes? How will you resolve conflicts over resources? Over religion? How will you form a government that will enable all groups to live peacefully in the region? Should some individuals or groups be expelled from the region? If so, whom? Groups may wish to form strategic alliances with one another to carry their points.

  2. You have been asked to create a museum honoring the life and legacy of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. Form a committee to draw up plans for the museum. Where will you locate it? What kinds of artifacts, images, and information will you feature within it? What points about Cabeza de Vaca's life will you highlight? Who will be your target audience?

  3. The indigenous people who inhabited Mexico before the Spanish Conquest have decided to bring La Malinche to court to try her for what they see as her traitorous role in helping the Spanish conquistadors. Divide into groups and prepare her prosecution and defense.



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