Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Aztec poets

I taught my fourth grade summer school kids about the Spanish conquistadors destroying the Aztecs' civilization and the supreme coincidence of the prediction that Quetzalcoalt would return to rejoin the Aztecs in 1519 (year that Cortes arrived). After this unit was complete, I asked them to write a poem from the point of view of an Aztec. It could be about anything they learned, ranging from the journey to settle in Tenochtitlan, the guidance and worship of their Creators, the Spanish killing them for their gold and land, etc. I recieved some pretty amazing answers, a few of which I would like to share (keep in mind, these children were the lowest of their grade level...but when presented with something interesting, they really focused. and many told me how much they like writing and being creative, i guess they don't this opportunity too often...)

I corrected their spelling so it would be easier for everyone else to read (i dont correct spelling on their papers, however, because I want the kids to focus on content rather than the english language and all its stupid and confusing rules).

The boy who wrote this poem is Mexican, but he had no idea about his heritage. He was extremely interested in the lessons. I was glad to make that connection with him.

"In the beautiful valley, or so I thought,
It was a wonderful day.
Until a man arrived that was a god, or so we thought.
His name was Cortes
And we gave him gold and food,
But it was not enough.
He killed all the Aztecs,
He was no Quetzalcoalt.
I will never forget what the Spanish did."

The following boy has A.D.D., rarely paid attention and often got into trouble for making inappropriate comments before thinking. But when I placed his assignment before him, I never so him so focused.

"Why, why must we perish?
Everybody is dying.
We are all going to be dead
If they keep this up.
Someone must put a stop to this.
But who?
We must hide
and build a city away from the Spanish.
Have all strong people in an army
and maybe we can put a stop to this,
and one day
We will live in peace and harmony."

Another boy with A.D.D., who managed to write more than one sentence for this poem:

"Why did we get attacked?
We didn't do anything wrong.
I don't know why they destroyed our city."

This following girl wrote the first half of the poem and stopped. but then she decided to continue and rewrite history. Truly amazing and beautiful...almost made me cry. (she had been very upset to learn what the conquistadors did to the Aztecs).

"My city is very nice.
The lake is blue
And the flowers are growing.
I had traveled on a canoe
And I saw a lot of gold.
Then I came back
And guess what I saw...

I saw Quetzalcoatl
and he came back!
Everyone was happy.
We had a party to celebrate
The coming back of Quetzalcoatl."

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