Texas history recently made a return from the past as students brought to life characters from the Battle of the Alamo in a project crafted by fourth grade Mayes Elementary teacher Angela Garner designed to teach the importance of the Texas Revolution.
“This is such a fun project for the kids. It's all student based. They truly leave feeling like they accomplished something big,” Garner said.
The unit begins with just some short videos explaining a little background about the Texas Revolution. Students are provided research questions that they can work through together to find the answers on their own. They use books, articles and online resources to gather a good foundation of the events that took place. Garner then gives a brief synopsis about the important people of the Texas Revolution. From there, students pick a character to portray in the Living History event.
“They know most of them because they have been studying the events. They choose a character based on their interests. I'm careful not to let too many be the same person. I have three rotations, so I will only have three Davy Crocketts. They then dig up information about that person,” Garner said.
Students explore where their historical figure was born, what their childhood like, what events in their life led up to being involved in the Texas Revolution, why are they in a history book, and, after the Revolution, what became of their person. Student then create a living presentation about their character. They work with each other to memorize and put voice and character into their monologues. Even the parents become involved in the process.
“Parents are very supportive! They help their kids create costumes and posters at home that help bring their character to life. Posters give facts about their character, a timeline of important events, pictures, and even a creative button for people to press to bring their person to life,” Garner shared.
Every poster is unique, every costume is different, and every monologue is impressive. Two Mayes bilingual students worked together on their poster. One side was presented in English and the other side in Spanish.
“Before performing for the community, our fourth graders practice for our Kindergarten. It eases their nerves and the littles always make them feel special! They perform (say their speeches) every time someone presses their button. For the hour they we do this, I know they say it at least 20 times. They are proud of themselves. It builds their confidence, their character, and it gives them skills that will last them a lifetime,” Garner said.
Students say they enjoy learning history in a fun, exciting, and creative way. Some even discover that they have a gift for public speaking and presentations. Those that get to attend the event say they love to see how the students bring history to life.
“This event is a highlight of the year for me. The students do an awesome job portraying famous Texas Revolution figures. I love seeing our students fully engaged in the learning process and the school filled with parents, grandparents, younger siblings, and friends there to support our young scholars,” said Denison ISD Director of Instruction Shonda Cannon.