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Teacher's Guide: Suggestions for Active Learning

Soldiers fighting Remember the Alamo offers insights into topics in American history including colonization and settlement, manifest destiny, frontier life, the Tejano role in early Texas history, slavery, U.S.-Mexican relations, famous military actions, heroism, multiple ways to tell history, and more. Use part or all of the film, or delve into the rich resources available on this Web site to learn more, either in a classroom or on your own.

The following activities are grouped into 4 categories: civics, history, economics, and geography. You can also read a few helpful hints for completing the activities.

History | Civics | Economics | Geography

  1. Assign each student one of the following identities: American, Mexican, Native American, Spanish, Tejano, or Texan. Imagine that it is 1836, and you have just received word of the Battle of the Alamo. What do you think your reaction would be? Each student should write a paragraph or two explaining how a person of that nationality would likely have reacted to the news. When everyone has finished, share the accounts. Is there any common ground that unites all six accounts?

  2. Read the interview with Joseph Tovares, the producer of Remember the Alamo, in which he explains that his own family's roots in San Antonio helped motivate him to make the film. If you could make a documentary film about some time, place, or historical event to which you had an important personal connection, what would it be? For example, did you or any of your family members witness or participate in a well-known historical event, or was your community the site of some such event? Write a proposal to possible funders of the film, describing your concept of the film, why you think other people would find it interesting, and why you would be a good choice to produce it. Present your proposal to the class.

History | Civics | Economics | Geography

  1. "Remember the Alamo" is only one of numerous well-known quotations or slogans from wars in American history. Others include: "Remember the Maine," "Remember Pearl Harbor," "I have not yet begun to fight," "I will return," "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes," "We have met the enemy and they are ours," "United we stand," "You may fire when ready, Gridley," and "Nuts." First, discuss as a class the context and meaning of "Remember the Alamo." Then divide the class into nine groups and assign each group one of these items to research. The group should make a poster showing the quotation or slogan in its appropriate historical context and show it to the class as part of a brief presentation on the circumstances in which the saying arose, its meaning, and the outcome and significance of the war in which it appeared.

  2. Why is it important to recognize the role that Tejanos played in the fight for Texas independence? Have each student think of three reasons, then compare them to the reasons offered by other students. Use these ideas as the basis of a class letter to Joseph Tovares, the film's producer, explaining the students' views of the importance of his film. Then send the letter to Mr. Tovares, c/o the Remember the Alamo feedback page, or via U.S. Mail to:

    Remember the Alamo Letters
    American Experience
    WGBH Boston
    125 Western Avenue
    Boston, MA 02134

History | Civics | Economics | Geography

  1. Read a profile of José Antonio Navarro. Hold a mock city council hearing to debate a proposal to build a monument in honor of Navarro's contribution to the economic development of Texas. One group of students should act as city council members; other students should prepare and then deliver formal statements for or against this idea, along with the reasons for their position. In preparing their statements, students should consider the role he played in encouraging settlement in Texas, his lifelong efforts on behalf of Tejanos, the long-term effect on Tejanos of large-scale Anglo settlement in Texas, and his role in introducing slavery into Texas. After hearing the presentations, city council "members" should state their own views of the proposal and vote on it.

  2. In the 1820s, large numbers of Americans moved to Texas (then part of Mexico), many of them for economic reasons. In recent decades, large numbers of Mexicans have moved to the United States, and economic reasons have played a large role in this migration as well. Create two cause-and-effect charts -- one for each period of migration -- listing the major causes of the migration and the effects it had on both countries. Then, using what you learned in making these charts, discuss the similarities and the differences between the two migrations.

History | Civics | Economics | Geography

  1. Working with a partner, draw a map of Texas and label the following locations: Austin, Alamo, Houston, San Antonio, and San Jacinto. Also label two rivers: the Nueces and the Rio Grande. Next to each of the items you labeled, write a very brief description of its importance in Texas history.

  2. Not only was Texas once part of Mexico, but the United States gained large additional territory from Mexico as a result of the Mexican War. Trace a map of the United States and draw a line on it showing former Mexican territories acquired by the United States. Then, in each of the 50 states, list the percentage of the state's current population that is Latino. (Alternatively, you could assign different colors to represent different concentrations of Latino residents.) How does the line you drew representing territories acquired from Mexico help explain the distribution of Hispanic people in the United States? What other factors also explain which states have larger concentrations of Hispanic Americans?

page created on 1.30.2004
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