Pedagogical Engagement Exercises

In order to provide venues for pedagogical engagement, we included a set of guidelines and general ideas for creating classroom-based exercises for students to engage with the materials in this exhibit. Overall, these activities should be used as guidelines for educators and as initial ideas for broader and more nuanced educational materials. Each activity is provided by the students in charge of the curated materials.


Rocío Zuñiga (Decree N. 14. of the Constitutive National Assembly of Guatemala)

1) Create and/or research short personal stories of people that relate to the documents, in the past and/or the present. The personal experiences can help students to better understand and relate to the historical characters and their lives. You can also include carefully crafted questions that allow students to reflect on the characters’ lives in relation to their own. The website can have a blog forum where students can have the opportunity to answer the questions and even upload relevant media (e.g. personal photos, videos, etc.)

2) Divide the time period into discreet periods moving backward in time through a series of carefully planned questions. An alternative is to divide the exhibit exercises into places/regions, beginning with the closest and more relevant location for students (in this case,Texas). The reverse chronological order and/or from nearest to the furthest location approach can engage students by beginning with what was most familiar to them. In effect, these strategies can contrast the past with the present and/or the familiar with the less familiar places to more clearly identify notions that help students understand the modern world.

Maxwell Pearce (Sketch of Haitian General Toussaint Louverture)

Game of Hot Potato: After exploring the exhibit, the group of students will toss amongst each other a small beanbag. Whoever is holding the bag at the end of a short jingle must explain which country they enjoyed knowing about the most and why. After finishing this, the jingle starts over again, and the beanbag is tossed around once more. The lenght of this activity is indefinite, and it is left to the discretion of the instructor.

Kaitlan Rhodes (Sketch of Toussaint Parting From His Wife and Children)

Design an interactive map of Latin America. One side shows the past and the other shows you the present.

Dylan Dittmer (Prints from Souvenir Book, Habana)

Cover up the dates on the items when the students first enter the exhibit and provide them a sheet of paper in which they fill in what they think the chronology of the items are based on their previous knowledge and speculation of recurring themes they view and how they progress through the exhibit. By revealing to the dates, they will then go back through the exhibit again to get a second view by tracing the patterns across time and the Latin American space.

U.S.-Mexican War and Remembering the Forgotten Actors (1846-1848)

Aileen Bazan (Map of Northeastern Mexico for General Reyes in Cadereyta, Nuevo León)

Game of Jeopardy: While I was in school I really didn’t like science, but I would always want learn and remember things from class when we played this game regardless of what the end prize would be. I think this would be a fun competitive way to get the students engaged and interested in learning about all the sources we are to present.

Amanda Arena (Letter from Edward Everett to John C. Calhoun)

Think of a stereotype about Latin America that you have recently seen or heard from a textbook, movie, television, newspaper article, etc. How has this shaped your idea about Latin America before viewing this exhibit? Now, try to find an object in this exhibit that discredits this stereotype. Has your view about Latin America changed in light of this object?

Thomas Patty (Sketch of the Battle of Sacramento)

Assuming they have taken a Texas and U.S. history course in middle school, students should have a good concept of the Mexican-American war and of some of its major players. Because of those reasons, using Santa Ana’s notes and General Scotts orders can help the students have a better and deeper understanding of a war that is many times just seen as the precursor to the American Civil War.

Jesse Acosta (Letter from Pedro de Ampudia to Sir. Juez de paz 1 in Hualahuises, Nuevo León)

An activity worksheet that can include the following: a crossword puzzle that students fill out as they walk through the exhibit, a sheet with general questions based on the exhibit, and a Latin America map that students can fill with the location of important historical events.

Shifting Mexican Identity

Hannah Schiffman (Geographical Chronological Tree of the Americas)

Get copies of very small portions of the objects, make them large, like a puzzle piece, and provide a historical hint on the back. Have the students try to match the fragment to the pieces. This forces them to focus and scrutinize the objects and the labels more carefully.

Renata Cervera (Prologue of Antonio López de Santa Anna's hand-written memoir)

High schoolers can look at where they and their ancestors lived or have lived viewing how that land was by politics, wars, and effects of modernization within Mexico, Texas, and the rest of the United States.

From Porfiriato to Mexican Revolution

Brendan Farrelly (Photograph of multi-generational campesinos using rudimentary tools to manufacture coffee in Veracruz, Mexico)

What preconceived notion of Latin American history did this exhibit challenge the most? Has this exhibit changed your understanding of the geographical region of Latin America? How would you define modernity in a 19th century Latin American context?

Bobby Dyke (Photograph of Rurales from the State of Mexico)

A pedagogical exercise that could be used to gauge what the students took away from the exhibit, and that could also enable the students to be more interested in the exhibit itself, could be to have students choose a specific object from the exhibit and explain in what ways they found the object to be interesting, applicable, or meaningful to them personally. Having the students in some way relate the exhibit to objects to their own lives would undoubtedly allow the students to engage with a deeper level of interest in the exhibit.

Mark Squire (Historical Atlas of Mexico)

Choose an object and write on a post-it note what you think of it. Place the post-it note next to the picture of the object you chose. After everyone has written a note, convene class and share ideas. Try and see which objects get the most notes.

Colin Fitzgibbon (Monument to Cuauhtémoc on the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City)

Have the students each select what they think is the most interesting item in the collection. Then, once everyone has picked theirs, have them select another item in the exhibit that they think connects to their original selection. Have them explain why they think both items relate, and ideally a positive discussion about the themes of the exhibit will be undertaken.

Evy González (Photograph of Woman Colonel and Man in Zapata's Arm)

Choose three images/objects, write them down on an index card and give a brief explanation of how it relates to you and if none do, write what you found interesting about it and/or if it changed your mind about Latin America.

Monica Shah (Public Services in Cuernavaca, Mexico During the Mexican Revolution)

Scavenger hunt: Students go through the exhibit and read the exhibit labels to find the items on their list. The only thing to be cautious is making sure that these items can be found online if they were doing the online exhibit as well. This activity seems pretty engaging to the audience because it involves them going through the exhibit learning about the objects presented to them.

Modernization and Global Connections

Emma Keith (Panama Canal postcard)

A handout that asks general questions: What is one thing you know about Latin America that makes it modern? What is one thing you found interesting about the exhibit? What was the best example that shows modernity in Latin America? How do you explain identity through the objects you have found in this exhibit?

Jennifer Schein (Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal at Balboa)

In order to most effectively engage students, they will be supplied with a KWL chart at the beginning of the exhibit. They will fill out what they currently know in the K column, what they want to know in the W, and what they want to learn in the L column at the end of the exhibit. These could also serve as a resource for the classroom teachers in future lesson planning, to know what interests students.

Yani Torres (Banana plantation and railroad construction photographs)

Compare the different types of modernization spreading across of Latin America. How is it different than what you know about the United States during the 19th century? How is it alike?