English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Exhibits
  • Grade 11 ELA
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Audience Engagment

    Audience Engagment


    In this lesson, students will look at ways an exhibit captures the mindset and perspective of the culture it helps preserve and communicates those essentials to its audience. They'll also have some group time to work on their exhibits.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • Find the Unmasking the Maya exhibit on the Smithsonian Institute's Department of Anthropology site ( )
    • Examine Unmasking the Maya and consider any aspects of it you wish to highlight other than those covered in the lesson. If your students do not have online access during this lesson, decide how you will present the exhibit.

    Unmasking the Maya

    • Show the students a few key areas of the Mayan exhibit and highlight some of the things the creators have done to identify important aspects of Mayan culture. You can share the ones you've identified as most likely to be interesting to your students, or you can use the examples below. The exhibit curators:
      • ✓ Divide their site into several categories, each of which identifies a relatively small group of concepts from each time period of Mayan history. For example, the section entitled “The Past” uses a handful of key photographs and artists' renderings designed to capture Mayan civilization at its height.
      • ✓ Show the advanced architecture of the ancient Maya.
      • ✓ Discuss the advanced writing methods developed by the Maya.
      • ✓ Display original and restored photographs of Mayan artwork from the height of the civilization.
    • Encourage students to explore other time periods from Mayan history to see if the exhibit creators were as successful in capturing them as they were in “The Past.”
    • Review students' shared Notebook pages as they become available in order to assess student understanding of the principles covered in the lesson. During the next task, conference with individual students who need help.
      • ELL: This online exhibit goes into great detail about some of the suffering that the Maya have endured, both in the past and in the present day. Be aware that, for some students, this exhibit can provoke strong feelings. Be prepared to discuss these feelings respectfully and provide support as needed.


    View the exhibit Unmasking the Maya and examine the methods the creators use to identify what’s important about Mayan culture.

    For example, the exhibit is divided into several sections, each of which is designed to capture a key moment in the evolution of Mayan culture.

    Navigate to the section of the exhibit entitled “The Past.” On this page, the exhibit creators have included key images and statements that attempt to show how advanced Mayan culture was in terms of its art, architecture, and science.

    In your museum exhibit teams, find two or three more examples of efforts the creators made to capture and present the unique mindset of the Maya. Respond together to these questions.

    • What is the mindset of the people that is represented in this specific time and place of history?
    • What artifacts or other elements of the exhibit create an understanding of the people’s mindset?
    • What artifacts or other elements of an exhibit will you use to create an understanding of your own mindset as a Digital Native?

    Open Notebook

    Work Plan 4

    • You can begin identifying individual students for conference opportunities during this part of the activity. They can write their plans after you have a chance to support them in what they're struggling with.
      • SWD: Monitor the ability of students with executive function difficulties develop their plans. They may need additional conference time, either with you or a professional supporting SWDs, to work on areas they are struggling with.

    Work Time

    Before you begin work, review the principles of a good exhibit that you’ve learned so far—theme, hook, storytelling, interactivity, and capturing mindset. Consider how you will use these concepts in your exhibit.

    Then take 5 minutes, look at the suggestions from the next task, and write a plan for what you will do during the work session in this lesson.

    • With whom are you going to work?
    • What will you produce?
    • How will you integrate your research into your work today?
    • How will you integrate your understanding of the principles of a strong museum exhibit into your work today?

    Open Notebook

    Share your plan with your teacher.

    Group Exhibit Work

    • Encourage students to use this time for researching and writing about Digital Native culture. There isn't much more time for them to identify these key concepts, and it would be better for students to identify them now and then work on issues relating to artifacts and storytelling cohesion later.
      • ELL: If ELLs need additional support, allow them to talk to each other in their primary language (if other students share the same language) to help understand the meaning of these concepts.

    Work Time

    Today, you have a few options for how to use your time. Choose from one of the possibilities listed.

    • Identify what’s important about your culture as a Digital Native. (Your second annotated article is due in the next lesson, and you want to be sure that you’ve captured the important perspectives and cultural elements that define your particular place in history.)
    • Consider carefully how your research is going to be integrated into your exhibit in a meaningful, engaging way.
    • Create another artifact or revise an artifact you’ve already worked on. Artifacts are, after all, the key to communicating cultural knowledge in a museum exhibit.

    Exhibit Status Update 4

    • Remind students that the focus of today's update should be on integrating research and knowledge of Digital Native culture. If they chose to work on something else, they should have very clear reasons for doing so.


    Before the lesson ends, assess your work for the day by answering these questions in writing.

    • Whom did you work with?
    • What did you accomplish during the work session?
    • How did you integrate your research into today’s work?
    • How did you integrate your growing knowledge of Digital Native culture into today’s work?

    Share your update with your teacher.

    Independent Exhibit Work

    • Remind the class that you will read and respond to some of the writing they share, such as status updates, on an ongoing basis.
      • SWD: As you check work at the end of the day, make sure that all students followed through with the ideas that they identified as their focus, especially those who needed extra support in creating their work plan. If they have not, confer with them about this during the next lesson.
    • For students whose research has not been integrated into the exhibit properly, plan time in the upcoming lessons for conferencing.


    • Work on your artifact, your second article annotation, or another aspect of your exhibit that is best accomplished outside of class.
    • Finish your second annotated article, as it is due in the next lesson.