Pedagogical Exercises

Investigate Absent Histories

Research is iterative and depends upon asking increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field.”

This exhibit presents four predominant themes from scholarship on Santa Anna, and it is only a snapshot of his biographical history. Responsible information consumers identify gaps, issues, or questions surrounding a topic. Considering that the exhibit reviews topics on Santa Anna that scholars commonly discuss, what stories might be absent from the narrative?

For example, the exhibit addresses but does not comprehensively examine concerns that indigenous peoples, mestizos, Afro-Mexicans, and enslaved people had during Santa Anna’s lifetime. What parts of the exhibit discuss minority social groups? What do you find important to investigate further?

Noticing gaps can lead to socially responsible research questions, such as:

——What was Santa Anna’s perspective on slavery and Mexicans of lower status than him? Why or how did he develop this perspective?

——Who are women that relate to the history that this exhibit discusses? How do they relate to Santa Anna’s life and career?


Begin with one of the two questions above, or form your own question(s), to further research Santa Anna’s legacy and consider perspectives that supplement or present an alternative to this exhibit’s narrative.

Approaching your search as strategic exploration, use the CRAAP test to find at least one resource (from a library or library databases) that satisfies your information needs.

As you navigate your search results, consider their currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose to evaluate their quality and decide which source best addresses your question.

Teacher Resources:


§110.36. English Language Arts and Reading, English I. (c) Knowledge and skills. (11) Inquiry and research: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking using multiple texts. The student engages in both short-term and sustained recursive inquiry processes for a variety of purposes. The student is expected to: (A) develop questions for formal and informal inquiry; (B) critique the research process at each step to implement changes as needs occur and are identified; (C) develop and revise a plan; (D) modify the major research question as necessary to refocus the research plan; (E) locate relevant sources; (F) synthesize information from a variety of sources; (G) examine sources for: (i) credibility and bias, including omission; and (ii) faulty reasoning such as ad hominem, loaded language, and slippery slope.

§113.48. Social Studies Research Methods. (c) Knowledge and skills. (3) Social studies skills. If doing qualitative research, the student employs the processes of critical social science inquiry to understand an issue, topic, or area of interest using a variety of sources, checking their credibility, validating and weighing evidence for claims, and searching for causality. The student is expected to: (A) interpret the historiography of the research topic; (B) apply key social science concepts such as time, chronology, causality, change, conflict, and complexity to explain, analyze, and show connections among patterns of historical change and continuity; (C) investigate, interpret, and analyze multiple historical and contemporary viewpoints within and across cultures; (D) relate important events, recurring dilemmas, and persistent issues to topic; and (E) employ empathy, skepticism, and critical judgment to analysis of topic.

§113.46. Sociology. (c) Knowledge and skills. (11) Social inequality. The student understands the impact of race and ethnicity on society. The student is expected to: (A) define race and ethnicity and differentiate among the distinguishing characteristics of minority groups; (B) contrast the terms discrimination, prejudice, and bias; (C) discuss the ramifications of stereotyping; (D) analyze the varying treatment patterns of minority groups such as African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and American Indian; and (E) explain instances of institutional racism in American society.

Find a Story, Curate a Timeline

The interactive map of this exhibit offers a look at collection highlights in both a temporal and spatial context. On its legend, and in its side panel, you will find categories based on time periods of Santa Anna’s life, from “Criollo Beginnings” to “Home at Last.” When you click on a map icon, the pop-ups show item descriptions and exhibit notes that can further contextualize how each item relates to a sequence of events.

The map presents 39 collection items. How might a smaller selection of resources tell a story that unfolds over time? Considering the exhibit’s greater narrative, how can you break down the breadth of Santa Anna’s career? The 5Ws and H (Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How?) can lead viewers to discover alternate topics or subtopics compared to the map categories. Viewers may also determine essential resources within the larger collection that summarize Santa Anna’s career. When you navigate the map with a particular idea in mind, the primary sources can take on a new meaning.


Using the map and exhibit narrative for context, choose 5-10 primary sources from the collection to create a timeline related to Santa Anna. What events are most important to highlight for your project scope? What items will best illustrate your story?

To present a timeline with context, use images of your primary sources along with captions or narratives. There are many ways to approach this task. You could:

——Choose a specific topic within the broader narrative

——Synthesize the broader narrative into smaller parts

——Group or tag events based on your opinion (e.g. most harmful or helpful to citizens, level of impact on history)

——Create a historical fiction by imagining a different ending based on real events. What could cause a different outcome?

When it comes to constructing a timeline, be creative, and find an approach that works best for you. For example, does a timeline need to be a straight line? There are several ways to build one, such as using a folded accordian format, hanging cards on strings, arranging post-it notes on a board, or building a collage. You could also think of your timeline as an art museum, and print out images of your chosen collection items to hang on a wall.

If you’re interested in graphic design, Canva. com is a free and user-friendly resource that offers templates for timelines and storyboards. Timetoast is another easy tool that, like Canva, allows you to collaborate with others on a timeline.

Teacher Resources:


§113.42. World History Studies. (c) Knowledge and skills. (28) Social studies skills. The student understands how historians use historiography to interpret the past and applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use information acquired from a variety of valid sources, including technology. The student is expected to: (A) identify methods used by archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, and geographers to analyze evidence; (B) explain how historians analyze sources for frame of reference, historical context, and point of view to interpret historical events; (C) analyze primary and secondary sources to determine frame of reference, historical context, and point of view; (D) evaluate the validity of a source based on bias, corroboration with other sources, and information about the author; (E) analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, drawing inferences and conclusions, and developing connections between historical events over time; and (F) construct a thesis on a social studies issue or event supported by evidence.

§113.50. Ethnic Studies: Mexican American Studies. (c) Knowledge and skills (3) History. The student understands developments related to Mexican independence and Mexico's relationship with the United States from 1800-1930. The student is expected to: (A) explain the significance of the following events as turning points relevant to Mexican American history: the Grito de Dolores, Mexico's acquisition of independence, Texas's declaration of independence from Mexico, Mexican-American War, Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexican Revolution, creation of the U.S. Border Patrol, and Mexican repatriation of the 1930s; and (B) examine the contributions of significant individuals from this period such as Father Miguel Hidalgo, José María Morelos, Augustín de Iturbide, Emiliano Zapata, Francisco (Pancho) Villa, Francisco I. Madero, Porfirio Díaz, and Álvaro Obregón.

Evaluate Primary Sources from Today

Authority is constructed and contextual. Information resources reflect their creators’ expertise and credibility.... Authority is constructed in that various communities may recognize different types of authority. It is contextual in that information needs may help to determine the level of authority required.”

This exhibit demonstrates how primary sources can offer historical perspective, evidence, or misinformation. As mentioned in the conclusion, Santa Anna’s memoirs reveal why we must critically evaluate sources of information. How can we consider primary sources in context, to evaluate them today? How can we discern the creator’s intention and credibility?


Primary sources are those created soon after the event of phenomenon it describes. Identify a primary source — such as a news report, political cartoon, editorial article, medical forum, letter, artwork, song, blog post, food review, or podcast — that was created within the last six months and provides information on a chosen topic. Compare that source to other primary sources that give accounts of the same topic, and use lateral reading strategies to investigate the source's origins. Respond to the following questions:

——What does the information source claim?

——What is factual or subjective about it?

——What evidence or context led me to determine what is factual?

——If the source presents subjective information, what can it still tell me about current events or society?

Digital technology and the internet have transformed the boundaries of traditional primary sources. It can be a challenge to evaluate accuracy of sources in the information landscape of the 21st century. How can our reception of primary sources affect our daily lives? Choose a source by considering how the information we encounter today can relate to medical, political, ethical, financial, or recreational choices. With effective fact-checking and research strategies, you can build habits that prevent you from daily life consequences of misinformation.

Teacher Resources:


§110.36. English Language Arts and Reading, English I. (c) Knowledge and skills. (5) Response skills: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking using multiple texts. The student responds to an increasingly challenging variety of sources that are read, heard, or viewed. The student is expected to: (A) describe personal connections to a variety of sources, including self-selected texts; (B) write responses that demonstrate understanding of texts, including comparing texts within and across genres; (C) use text evidence and original commentary to support a comprehensive response; (D) paraphrase and summarize texts in ways that maintain meaning and logical order; (E) interact with sources in meaningful ways such as notetaking, annotating, freewriting, or illustrating; (F) respond using acquired content and academic vocabulary as appropriate; (G) discuss and write about the explicit or implicit meanings of text; (H) respond orally or in writing with appropriate register, vocabulary, tone, and voice; (I) reflect on and adjust responses when valid evidence warrants; and (J) defend or challenge the authors' claims using relevant text evidence.

§113.48. Social Studies Research Methods. (c) Knowledge and skills. (2) Social studies skills. The student applies a process approach to a research topic, applying the ideas, theories, and modes of inquiry drawn from the social sciences in the examination of persistent issues and social questions. The student is expected to: (C) collect information from a variety of sources (primary, secondary, written, and oral) using techniques such as questionnaires, interviews, and library research; (D) use current technology such as library topic catalogues, networks, online information systems, academic journals, primary sources on the Internet, email interviews, and video interviews to collect information about the selected topic; (F) differentiate between primary and secondary sources and use each appropriately to conduct research and construct arguments.

§10.47. Reading I, II, III. (b) Knowledge and skills. (6) The student reads critically to evaluate texts in order to determine the credibility of the sources. The student is expected to: (A) identify and analyze the audience, purpose, and message of the text; (B) evaluate the credibility and relevance of informational sources; (C) analyze the presentation of information and the strength of quality of the evidence used by the author; and (D) evaluate the author's motivation, stance, or position and its effect on the validity of the text.