Santa Anna on Staten Island (or, The U.S.-Mexican War)

2008 November 5
by Ellen Noonan

Today one of ASHP’s Teaching American History faculty development groups met to tackle the topic of the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-1848. It was the first in a year-long sequence of retreats on U.S. foreign policy (and we couldn’t have picked a better day to begin contemplating the role of the U.S. in the world for the past 150 years…)
The day included vigorous and thoughtful discussions of ideology and U.S. foreign policy, a talk by NYU historian Maria Montoya, and an afternoon spent using Smartboard technology to parse the evidence of various ideologies in primary sources. We’ve spent a lot of time with this group experimenting with how Smartboard can be used to foster historical thinking skills and active learning. A big teaching challenge comes in making ideologies concrete for students, rather than abstractions. Today’s experiment involved asking teachers to label documents, like the one below:

Smartboard annotation of U.S.-Mexican War document

Smartboard annotation of U.S.-Mexican War document

The teachers’ verdict? The balloons are fun, kids will recognize that they embody thought, and—here’s the big one, in my opinion—the process of labeling the document for all to see makes student thinking visible to students and to teachers alike.

Also, we learned that during one of Mexican president’s Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s many exiles from his country, he took up residence on the north shore of Staten Island. Who would have guessed?

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1 Comment
2008 November 7
Aaron Knoll permalink

And while on Staten Island, Santa Ana helped invent chewing gum:
“During his time in New York City he is credited as bringing the first shipments of chicle, the base of chewing gum, to the United States, but he failed to profit from this, since his plan was to use the chicle to replace rubber in carriage tires, which was tried without success. The American assigned to aid Santa Anna while he was in the United States, Thomas Adams, conducted experiments with the chicle and called it “Chiclets,” which helped found the chewing gum industry”
Source: Wikipedia,

Who knew!

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