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Inquiry Secondary

Looking for Learning:  Secondary School

In secondary school, students explore and deepen their conceptual understanding within individual subject areas, making authentic connections between subjects wherever there is a natural fit, as well as working on interdisciplinary units.

Middle School

Grade 6 explored the concept of evidence in social studies and English classes.  In English, the students helped each other to review and edit their own memoir stories, before the design technology students and visual arts classes helped to create a glossy publication of the students’ work to be distributed throughout the Maya community.  

Grade 6 students took an expedition to a turtle release site in Iztapa to learn more about the plight of sea turtles in Guatemala. They were lucky enough to be able to release some newly-hatched baby turtles into the ocean! Students also collected trash (and data) on the same beach and were shocked to discover the amount of plastic and Styrofoam on this potentially stunning section of coastline. Then it was time to apply some systems thinking to explore these two real-world, close-to-home issues.

In ELA, students have been working on close reading and analyzing short extracts from Goodnight Mister Tom, by Michelle Magorian.  They annotated extracts of text, then wrote commentaries identifying the literary techniques they had found. In the final stages, students self and peer assessed each other’s work in small groups.

Grade 6 students have been investigating the concept of human rights.  They have learned what human rights are, and explored the history of human rights and some of the key treaties, declarations and conventions that have been written through time. Students explored some of the challenges that face children and young people around the world, and wrote a persuasive speech advocating and spreading awareness for their issue or cause.

Grade 7 students reinforce and demonstrate their conceptual understanding of the interrelationship of body systems whilst dissecting a frog.

Grade 8’s work hard to design and action their Passion Projects. They define a SMART goal, identify a range of criteria to use to measure their success, lay out a plan for achieving the goal, and research their topics. All the projects have a service learning component - these students are really hoping to make a difference! Passion, caring and critical thinking are a powerful combination.

Middle School Video Game Design is a popular elective course.  The students develop their problem-solving and creative thinking skills, whilst designing their own games.






High School

Grade 9 math students use visible learning techniques to help them make connections between various mathematical concepts and ideas. Health students have been investigating issues relating to substance abuse and presenting their findings to the class. Topics included hallucinogenic drugs, hookah, steroids. In science, students explored the differences between plant and animal cells by examining onion skin cells and their own cheek cells.


Grade 10 World History explores the concept of conflict - causes and reconciliations.  Their illustrative content case-study for this unit was the Rwandan genocide of 1994, after which the students turned their attention to the Guatemalan Civil War (1960 - 1996).  They examined the different perspectives of people involved in this emotive topic - women and children, army personnel, government and foreign influences. This work will culminated in a project in which students researched a modern day conflict and explored possible reconciliation solutions.

Grade 9 and 10 visited the medfly facility to find out how scientists there are using the latest technologies to control and eventually eradicate this pest from Guatemala.  The Mediterranean fruit fly can infest many types of fruit and vegetables, rendering produce inedible and having a seriously detrimental effect on Guatemala’s economy.

High School Scientists plan their projects for the AASCA Invitational Science and Engineering Fair: Think Possible. The driving question for their projects is “How can science and engineering processes lead us to make meaningful changes?” which gave them plenty of scope as they explored options for their independent investigations.


Grade 11 AP Seminar students work on their group research projects, which stem from a unit on economy, aid and development. Each group choses their topic and each member of the group explores the issue from a different perspective. Some example investigations relate to celebrity involvement in disaster relief fundraising; the impact of NAFTA on Mexican workers; and the promotion of start-up businesses in Guatemala.

Grade 11 students made and analyzed biofuel in Ms. Steagall’s science class.

The AP Comparative Government students concluded their study of Russia by carrying our political rally speeches urging the public to join their party.


Grade 12 students started their AP research projects by identifying potential areas of interest. They have studied existing literature and are looking for the gap in the research that they can exploit. Some examples of students’ initial thoughts relate to: using running to bridge the gap between people of different socio-economic situations; internet addiction; differences in beliefs between different generations of Korean families living in Guatemala; and equine therapy for children with Autism.

In Grade 11 and 12 Spanish class, students have been writing blog entries giving their opinions on the enduring value of reading and exploring classical literature.  See their work here!  They have also created videos to summarize the story "El Cantar del Mio Cid".  

In the Model UN class, the students are running a mock trial at the International Criminal Court taking on the roles of prosecutors, defense counsel, witnesses and judges.  Students carry out research about the functioning of the ICC and international criminal law, especially the Rome Statute.


The HS elective for service leadership has been learning about sustainability, systems, service, social entrepreneurship, change theory and leadership. They drew complex maps of Colegio Maya’s service learning outcomes with a goal to improve the experience for all Maya students moving forward.

High school art students learned about Banksy, the English-based street artist, then planned and created posters that sent a political or social message.

As part of their service learning, students from the Secondary Robotics Club run the club for Elementary Students.  They plan and facilitate all the sessions, for example showing the students how to program a Battleships game.