Every year, in my U.S. history class, my students do the U.S. Mexico War mixer. My students have a lesson on the war and, through readings and lecture, are encouraged to see the war from many perspectives, including the Mexican perspective of the war as a “War of Dismemberment,” in which Mexico lost one-third of its territory to the United States in a conflict provoked by the Polk administration. The mixer provided a great way for students to jump more in-depth into trying on the various perspectives of people affected by the war.
During the pandemic, I didn’t want our district’s move to “distance learning” to deprive my students of valuable lessons in people’s history, so I taught a modified version of the mixer. Fortunately, my students have school-issued laptops, access to the G-apps suite, and (as far as I am aware) decent access to broadband internet.
Using Google Classroom, I posted the variety of roles in a .pdf for students to access and asked them to complete the worksheet provided in which they had to “meet” a variety of figures. If we had more time to spend on this lesson, I could see myself making a more robust version, where the students are assigned roles — as they traditionally were in the normal classroom version — and then post videos of themselves introducing themselves on FlipGrid or “meeting” in groups using Zoom.
I won’t let the challenges we are presented with stop me from allowing my students access to meaningful lessons in social studies that integrate principles of human rights and social justice.