April 25 marks the official beginning of the Mexican–American War in 1846. As Rethinking Schools editor Bill Bigelow explains in the intro to his lesson,
Today’s border with Mexico is the product of invasion and war. Grasping some of the motives for that war and some of its immediate effects begins to provide students the kind of historical context that is crucial for thinking intelligently about the line that separates the United States and Mexico. It also gives students insights into the justifications for and costs of war today.
A free downloadable lesson by Bigelow features a reading by Howard Zinn and a role play with many voices on the war typically missing from textbooks such as: Cochise, Colonel Ethan Allen Hitchcock, Frederick Douglass, General Mariano Vallejo, Henry David Thoreau, María Josefa Martínez, Padre Antonio José Martínez, the Saint Patrick’s Battalion, and many more. (A version of the lesson is also available in Spanish.)