Texas Insights - January 2013

Volume III, Issue 3

What’s New?

How do you celebrate Texas History Month?  The Texas State Historical Association’s, Texas Quiz Show, is an excellent way to test students’ knowledge of Texas history in the middle school classroom, while having a good time. If you have competitive students, they can enter one of the many Regional Quiz Show competitions. Regional Competitions take place in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Brownsville, El Paso, Nacogdoches, and Lubbock. The deadline to register for the 2013 middle school program is January 15, 2013. Winners from each regional competition earn a spot in the Texas Quiz Show State Championship, which is scheduled on May 4, 2013 at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Attention all fourth grade students and teachers! The Texas Quiz Show now offers a competition in the month of March for fourth grade students and lesson plans for fourth grade teachers. Learn how to utilize the Texas Quiz Show State Championship footage in your classroom and help your students submit their own questions. Seven lucky fourth grade students will have their questions read during the 2013 Texas Quiz Show State Championship in our new “Are You Smarter than a Fourth Grader” round. For more information on how to register for the competition, view lesson plans, or view competition footage, please visit TexasQuizShow.org or find it on TeachingTexas.org.

Twentieth Century Texas Workshop

Join Humanities Texas and the Texas State Historical Association for a workshop for Texas history educators, on Twentieth Century Texas.  This one day workshop will be held in Austin at the Byrne-Reed House on February 8, 2013.  Workshop presenters will include: Alwyn Barr (Texas Tech University), George Green (The University of Texas at Arlington), Monica Perales (University of Houston), Michael Gillette (Humanities Texas), Joseph Pratt (University of Houston), and Ambassador Chase Untermeyer (Humanities Texas).  This workshop is free of charge to teachers and schools. Humanities Texas will reimburse schools $80.00 per teacher who attends to cover the cost of a substitute. Participants will receive books and other instructional materials. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more information.


Women Shaping Texas in the 20th Century

The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum is proud to announce the opening of their newest special exhibit, Women Shaping Texas in the 20th Century, open now through May 19, 2013. Take a step back into the Texas that your mothers and grandmothers knew, and discover how their contributions helped forge the Texas that you live in today. Re-encounter inspirational and pioneering Texas women such as Barbara Jordan, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Clara Driscoll, and Juanita Craft, along with countless other women and women’s groups in the fields of business, education, civil rights, healthcare, government, the arts, and the preservation of both natural and historic landmarks. For more information, visit Teaching Texas.org.

Featured Institution

Law-Related Education

Educating the public about the rule of law is part of the State Bar of Texas’s mission. For more than 30 years, the State Bar’s Law-Related Education (LRE) program has been training educators on civics education programs and curriculum. As funding for civics education has declined, the Bar’s programs are more important than ever.

Lesson plans for educators and interactive games for students of all ages can be found on www.texaslre.org. LRE provides teachers updates on quality professional development opportunities, information on available curriculum, and teaching resources such as the "Lesson Plan of the Month" feature. Teachers and students are able to access and engage in fun, interactive web games built around key civics knowledge and skills.

In 2011-2012, the State Bar’s Law-Related Education Department created Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! Civics Resources for Texas Students and Teachers, an interactive web-based project to assist Texas teachers and students in preparing for Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards in social studies.

Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! is an award-winning project which helps prepare students for the court cases in the TEKS standards. It explores the court decisions that have helped shape our country and the state of Texas — and, most important, how these decisions have affected our everyday lives.

The website, www.texasbar.com/civics, focuses on the landmark court decisions that middle and high school students need to know for the TEKS test. The website includes summaries of the required court cases (a PDF version is also available for download), including discussion of the court’s decision, as well as videos, educational games, lesson plans and numerous links to curriculum materials and other resources. Also included are introductory videos by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson. The State Bar of Texas continues to enhance the program and Oyez, Oyez, Oh Yay! will continue to be a part of public school curriculum for the next 12 years.

Coming soon to www.texaslre.org is an animated book for elementary students, focused on “firsts” in history. Fourteen 30-second animated video segments will also be available in a print version, in both English and Spanish. In addition to advancing students’ skills in the areas of reading, history, math and social studies, students will be able to vote on their favorite video segments, and ultimately name a school after one of the historical characters!

Working with the legal community, public and private school districts, universities, Law Focused Education, Inc. and Regional Educational Service Centers, LRE serves as a catalyst to advance law-related education programs throughout the state, promote civics education and participation, and improve the administration of justice.

As educators well know, civics education is critical to fostering engaged citizens who understand our democracy and the liberties the rule of law protects. Making sure our students receive a foundation in civics is essential to producing the next generation of responsible citizens. By using technology in creative ways, teachers can find new ways to connect with students. Readers of Texas Insights are encouraged to visit www.texaslre.org to take advantage of the many resources designed to assist them and their students.

Historian's Corner

Civil War Texas in the TEKS

By Richard McCaslin
Chair, Department of History
University of North Texas

Since the establishment of broad-based public education in Texas during Reconstruction, lively debate has focused on the subjects to be taught in the Lone Star State. The teaching of history has never escaped the close scrutiny of those determined to have their favorite subjects, and perspectives, included in curricula. The expansion of professional bureaucracies devoted to the "assessment" and "upgrading" of public school programs has only enhanced the conflict, and thus the potential degree of difficulty for those who teach.

The state standards for "what students should know and be able to do," as the website for the Texas Education Agency explains, can be found in the list known as the "Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills," or TEKS.  Every Texas history teacher in the fourth and seventh grades is familiar with TEKS, but recent expansion of the requirements has led to some good questions about how to incorporate its requirements into effective lesson plans. Simply put, it does require a bit of academic triage. My specialty happens to be the Civil War, so I will devote my attention to that topic.

In the TEKS for teaching Texas history in the fourth grade, the section devoted to the Civil War, 4(A), directs that all students be able to "describe the impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction on Texas." There are no changes in this latest round of amendments to the TEKS, which also offers no further directives on how to teach about this crucial period. In fact, the amended list for fourth graders devotes much more time to other subjects in a five-part section that focuses on all of Texas history in the last half of the nineteenth century.

The TEKS for seventh graders is much more specific about what should be taught about Texas in the Civil War, and thus it is both more useful and more problematic. Section 5 begins with a simple statement that again has not been modified in the latest rounds of amendments: "The student understands how events and issues shaped the history of Texas during the Civil War and Reconstruction." Seems clear enough, but wait, there's more.

The first subdivision of this section, 5(A), directs that students should be able to "explain reasons for the involvement of Texas in the Civil War." This is the same as the old wording, but to this has been added a list of specific reasons: states' rights, slavery, sectionalism, and tariffs. The irreconcilable issue that divided the nation was of course slavery, and that can take primacy in any explanation of secession in Texas. States' rights were advanced as a defense of slavery, and sectional rivalries center on one major issue: slavery. And it should not take long to explain to students that tariffs dropped by half from 1830 to 1860. To drive the point home, have them read the "Declaration of Causes" issued by the Texas Secession Convention. It never mentions tariffs, while slavery is repeatedly mentioned as the focus of conflict.

Subdivision 5 (B) declares that students must be able to "analyze the political, economic, and social effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction in Texas." This is admittedly a tall order, and it was not directly amended in the latest upgrades.  Instead, a new subdivision, 5 (C), was inserted. It asks that students be able to "identify significant individuals and events concerning Texas and the Civil War such as John Bell Hood, John Reagan, Francis Lubbock, Thomas Green, John Magruder and the Battle of Galveston, the Battle of Sabine Pass, and the Battle of Palmito Ranch."

The list in 5 (C) can actually be used to address the requirements of 5 (B). John H. Reagan was the Postmaster General of the Confederacy, while Francis R. Lubbock served from 1861 to 1863 as governor of Texas and later joined the staff of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. The issues they confronted, from mail service and taxes to the draft and frontier defense, connect with the "effects" listed in 5 (B). The discussion of such military leaders as John Bell Hood in the east and Thomas Green in the west allows some focus as well on the many men who fought for them, and the impact of the war on them and their families. Finally, the war can be brought home to Texas students, as it was for Texans in the 1860s, by a discussion of the trio of victories won against United States forces within the Lone Star State. John Bankhead Magruder, who won at Galveston and others, became heroes, but the battles can be used to discuss larger issues such as slave labor, wartime trade, and the blockade.

At the risk of preaching to the choir, I will close with a gentle reminder that the online New Handbook of Texas is a goldmine of information for teachers charged with using TEKS, or any other bureaucratic guidelines, to teach Texas history.  It can also be useful for students, too, as they explore the rich past of the Lone Star State.  Remember, no less a person than Jefferson Davis declared that one of the best uses of Thomas Edison's new "talking machine" would be to record great stories of the Civil War, such as the testimony of the Texans who defended Sabine Pass. Such human connections must never be lost as we struggle to teach Texas history to an ever-changing audience of young people unfamiliar with the Lone Star State and its past.

Featured Lesson

As you plan instruction on Texas in the Civil War, consider this issue’s featured lesson, Annotated Map of the Civil War, from The Portal to Texas History’s, Resources 4 Educators website, and available on TeachingTexas.org. For this lesson, students will work together to create an annotated map documenting Texas’s role in the Civil War, while investigating the roles of Texas soldiers, women, unionist, government, the economy, and the blockade of the South. Students will also discuss the battles in Galveston, Sabine Pass, Palmito Ranch, and Brownsville, using primary sources of information.

Texas History News

Several opportunities for Texas history educators and students are available or are on the near horizon:

Join the Region 10 Education Service Center and the Texas State Historical Association for two days of learning and fun at the annual Energizing Texas History Conference, as a part of the Exploring Texas Workshop Series. The event will take place at the Old Red Museum in Dallas, January 24-25, 2013. Participants will tour the exhibits at the Old Red Museum, and be given the opportunity to attend an optional tour of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and the Dallas Holocaust Museum.  For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


Join the Galveston Historical Foundation as they mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Galveston, January 11-13, 2013. Commemorative events taking place include battle re-enactments, lectures, living history encampments, a wet-plate collodion photography demonstration and a variety of special tours and programing focusing on Galveston’s part in the 1863 battle. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more information.

Fort Richardson State Park will host its 5th annual World War II living history event on February 2, 2013. Living history performers will be on the parade grounds all day Saturday. Performances will include a battle and weapons demonstration. Re-enactors will be available to interact with the public and answer questions. Admission to the event is free, with the purchase of regular park admission. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


Washington On-the-Brazos State Historical Park will host A Light in the Dark on January 26 – 27, 2013 at the Barrington Living History Farm. Participants will learn about products that could be used to create light before the use of electricity. Visitors age 6 and older can join in on the fun by making a small pair of tapers to take home. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Join the Texas Buffalo Soldiers Heritage and Outreach Program and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as they take part in the 14th annual African American Heritage Festival, February 26, 2013 in Austin.  The buffalo soldiers will set up a small encampment to share stories and answer questions on the historic contributions of the first professional African American Soldiers in the peace time army. For additional information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


Join the Texas State Historical Association at its 117th Annual Meeting. This year’s meeting will take place at the Worthington Renaissance hotel in Fort Worth, February 28 – March 2, 2013. K-12 educators who attend the meeting and conference will earn CPE hours, while attending content rich sessions. The registration fee for K-12 educators has been discounted to only $15.00, by a generation donation by Fieldstone Partners of Houston. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more information.

Celebrate the anniversary of Texas Independence at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site, March 2-3, 2013. During this free, two day historic celebration enjoy period craft demonstrations, military encampments, Texas tunes, and costumed re-enactors. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.


The Fort McKavett State Historic Site invites the public to celebrate history at the annual West Texas Heritage Days, March 22 -23, 2013.  Activities throughout the day will include: cavalry, artillery and infantry action drills, Native American living history performances, Buffalo Soldiers, Buffalo Hunters, and other frontier skills demonstrations.  For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Live the History! The San Jacinto Museum of History would like to invite you to participate in the annual San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Reenactment, on April 20, 2013. Highlights of the Festival include family entertainment, living history demonstrations, a children’s area and vendors reflecting all things Texas.  In the late afternoon, the largest battle reenactment in the state celebrates the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto.  For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.

Join the SMU Center for Presidential History for their event Memoirs and History: The (Evolving) Story of the George W. Bush Administration, February 1, 2013. Speaker, Melvin Leffler, will address the foreign policies of the Bush administration, focusing on the myriad memoirs produced by members and contemporaries of the administration. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org.

TeachingTexas.org welcomes a new partner, Not Even Past. Founded in 2010 and developed by the Department of History at The University of Texas at Austin, Not Even Past speaks to everyone interested in the past and in the ways the past lives on in the present. For more information on Not Even Past, visit the partner’s page at TeachingTexas.org.

  TeachingTexas.org welcomes a new partner, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. From dinosaurs to conquistadors, you’ll find it all in Texas’ largest history museum. Relive the stories of courage and hardship, victory and defeat over the past 14,000 years. For more information, visit the partner’s page on TeachingTexas.org.

Texas Insights is a publication of the Texas State Historical Association
in cooperation with the University of North Texas.

Texas State Historical Association
1155 Union Circle #311580
Denton, TX 76203-5017

Stephen Cure - Editor
Kim White - Associate Editor
JoNeita Kelly - Associate Editor


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