Monday, May 15, 2017

Making History Real for My Students, Part 4: Chaos Erupts

Get off my land!
Students knew they were in for a challenging day before they even entered the class. Mexico had won its independence from Spain. Now two tax collectors stood at the door to tax students on everything they brought into the classroom (Texas/Mexico) from their homeroom (USA). I led students to believe the money would actually be coming out of their classroom accounts (they have pseudo financial accounts in 4th grade). If they complained, they were taxed for complaining. It was awesome!

But it's my land~!
Once in the classroom they had to visit the Emresario to present their existing Spanish Land Grant for review.  Once approved, students could continue to their land. Unfortunately, they soon discovered strangers (I borrowed students from another class) had settled onto the lands my students already had land grants for. These new settlers claimed Mexico had given them permission to settle the lands, and if my students had a problem with it then they had to go see the Mexican Empresario again.

The line quickly formed in front of the Empresario. However, our Empresario didn't always settle issues in the student's favor. In such a case, students had to travel to see the Government Official (who was in Mexico)...on the other side of the school!

Here we go again...
The government official would find problems with student's paperwork. Students then had to return to the classroom (back across the school) to get the item fixed, then travel BACK to the official again to have their claim resolved. However, by the time the claim was resolved and the students returned to class, there would often be another issue that had arisen for which the kids needed to return to the official.

Once student's frustration level was evident, I took pity on them. We sat down and had a fantastic discussion about what it felt like from the point of view of each role. Students then wrote their journal entries.

Point of View Reflection by Students

I think that what has been happening is so unfair! We have to pay taxes for items that we bring in, they’re telling us what to do, and taking our land away from us! We were perfectly fine before all those people came in and started controlling us. Guess what happened when we were trying to come in. A tax collector was waiting to take money away for our own belongings! I mean who tries to be serious with a pillow hat on? Well as you can see unfair, horrible, and unreasonable things have been happening. If I had a say about all of this, I would kick them out into the ocean and not even think about looking back to help. This is just so unfair. Just thinking it about gets me overwhelmed. Well better get to work so I’ll have enough to pay. P.S. I’m certain that there will be a revolution because people like me won’t let this slide without… something that may stop them. Off to work. Bye.  ~Campbell, a settler
Today I, Empresario Paari, had a horrible time giving people land grants then giving other people the same land plot. They were getting angry and having wars with other people and getting furious at me. They kept bugging me so I eventually let the government handle it. I think they are soon going to start a war or a revolution.  ~Paari, Empresario
KA-KLUMPP, KA-KLUMPP, KA-KLUMP. Today Yasmine (bree), Amitola (Zoe), and I were woken by yelling and the sound of hooves beating the ground like drums.  When I walked out of our hut It was terrible. I saw people fighting and saying, “I don’t want to have to pay taxes to bring simple things like food and water in.  WE don’t want to have to be with the Mexican Government!”. See? I didn’t want to get into trouble, so I listened from a distance, trying not to be seen. I heard them talking about people getting “land grants” and then they were being taken away from the rightful owners. I hope this never happens again.  ~McKenna, Native American
Summing it up
The day was CHAOS. Exactly what I wanted! Students were frustrated and ready to revolt.

The next day we held a debate to discuss a revolution. That debate could be a blog post in itself! The kids collaborated within Google Docs to prepare the sides they argued. Then worked together within the document during the debate itself to stay on top of the arguments. It was amazing!

Next...the Alamo!


  1. Mrs. Dahl, reading our adventures again makes me feel so warm inside. I'm glad that you wrote this to I can always read about what we did back in fourth grade.

  2. Mrs. Dahl, I love to just read our adventures and think about all the fun times we had. I'm glad that you wrote about it because now I can go back and see what we did.