Texas History Tuesday: Annexation

Good morning and welcome back for the next edition of Texas History Tuesday! This week our topic is the annexation of Texas. This is one of those time periods that often gets overlooked, but it really quite important. I would think that the outcome of the debate on whether Texas should join the United States would be quite obvious, but every year I have students who ask how it went... Which makes me worry a bit. 

BUT annexation is a lot of fun because we get to debate. I love to hear the ideas that my students come up with when they are trying to win. They get so creative in the moment and it is one of my favorite things to sit back and watch. Of course, we have a bit of background knowledge to build up before we are ready for that, so let's have a chat about how we get there. 

Like most of our units, we start off with a PowerPoint on Annexation. This is a quick way to get our students immersed in the information they need. I love using the PowerPoints, because it allows for a lot more discussion than reading a text book. They also allow us to take notes easily. 

To take notes, we simply fold a paper in half length-ways and label one side pro-annexation and the other against annexation. Of course we spend a couple of minutes discussing what each column means. Then, as we go through the PowerPoint students decide what information belongs in each column and record it. I like to let them make this determination, because it lets me know really quickly who gets it, and who is struggling with the information.  

After we have finished with the notes. students flip over on the back of their paper and write a few sentences on why annexation should or should not happen. This lays the groundwork for our debate the next day. 

Now, I like to mix things up a bit, so I usually make my students debate the opposite side of what they write about. I am a little bit cruel like that, but mostly I have found that it makes them more creative in their arguments. I give students just a few (about ten) minutes to work out a plan with their teams and then we take the debate pledge. 

I have a debate pledge because my first year I didn't, and it did NOT go so well. So now, in my infinite wisdom I have a pledge. We stand and raise our right hand and repeat after me. 
-I will not yell, scream or raise my voice. 
-I will not get angry at my friends 
-I will remember that this is a learning experience
-I will leave the debate in the classroom

The last one makes me laugh every time, but more than once we have gone to recess and my students have gotten into it over their stances on annexation. A part of me LOVES this because they are getting into the history, but part of me thinks it is ludicrous that I have boys fighting over the annexation of Texas, something that clearly happened. Oh my...

During the debate it is really clear who is understanding and who isn't. Crystal clear. But if you would like a easy grade quick assessment there is always these task cards with QR codes, or this freebie that could be used instead of a debate if you are short on time (and who isn't) or to prepare for one!

I do have one gripe about this time period. I have not been able to find any books that are on my students' level. I am desperate on this one, because I love having books for my early finishers and ravenous readers. Which brings me to a point... If you find a great book that you think I need to know about for this time period comment below. I will send you your choice of an item as a thank you!

Have a great week!

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