Texas History Awards
Texas History Teacher Awards
During the recent DRT Convention in Dallas, winners were presented for both the 4th and 7th grade Texas history teacher awards.
Cynthia Walker of Brock Elementary in Brock, Texas annually takes about 100 4th grade students on a three-day reenactment trip to Texas as a tribute to the Stephen F. Austin Old Three Hundred. The children bring their wagons to school packed with sleeping bags, food, and water for their journey. They spend several hours hiking and pulling their wagons through the “outback,” which is a wooded area around the school. During their trek, the students encounter simulated perils that the Old Three Hundred may have faced during their time of colonization. For example, if a “coyote” gets into a wagon, everyone has to give up a food item. All the while, the students are pretending to be settlers enduring all the hardships and triumphs of the Old Three Hundred. At the end of their journey, the students end up at the Methodist Church across the street from the school where the next two and a half days are spent learning more about Texas history.
Ramona Miller of Grapevine Faith Christian School in Grapevine, Texas used creativity, technology, and complex thinking skills as she challenged her students to connect to the story of the Alamo without providing a written account. Her 7th graders brought the Alamo story to life by recreating a life-sized battle scene from that epic battle that inspired the Texans to “Remember the Alamo” and defeat the Mexican Army at San Jacinto. Students were provided the materials to create the characters from the story of the Battle at the Alamo. The mission, cannons, and ladders were constructed out of refrigerator boxes by the students. Even Santa Anna’s horse was created with the lavishly decorated saddle. Students also constructed versions of Davey Crockett, William Travis, Jim Bowie, and Suzanna Dickenson and other brave men that fought and died at the Alamo. Santa Anna and the Mexican soldiers were crafted with their ornate uniforms and weaponry.
Students researched their characters and recorded a short narrative using iPads and then linked it to a QR code to be placed next to that character. The entire display was placed in the hallway of the school where visitors and students were able to use their smart devices and headphones to listen to the story come alive. It was like having a museum right in their school.
Both teachers received a check for $750, and each of their schools received a check for $1,000.
Student Essay Contests
DRT members were entertained by the 4th grade essay winner, Max Grinstein from Houston, Texas, as he read his winning essay “I am James Butler Bonham: History’s Mystery,” which told a lively story about the Bonham’s life.
Mark Hillman, the 7th grade Texas history essay winner, shared his essay “A Peddler’s Journey across Texas,” which took the listeners all across Texas and reminded us of the traditions that Texans have adopted from our German, French, Czech, and other early Texas settlers.
Each student received a check for $500. Their essays have been sent to the Texas State Historical Association in Austin and will be published in the 2017 issue of the Texas Historian.