En la Clase: A BadA** Retelling of the Mexican Revolution

Pancho VillaThis week’s En la Clase highlights another activity from our most recent curriculum project: Viva la Revolución: An Educator’s Guide to the Mexican Revolution. This activity is inspired by Ben Thompson’s BadA** descriptions of important historical figures. We’re particularly fond of his entry on Pancho Villa.  Please be aware: There is liberal use of profanity in Thompson’s writing; it is not appropriate for all audiences and should be pre-screened before any part of it is used in a classroom setting or with students.

We so enjoyed Thompson’s site that we decided to have a little fun and try to write our own (cleaner and less explicit) BadA** version of the Mexican Revolution.  The teachers at our workshop seemed to think students would really like it.  The purpose of the activity is to provide students a more detailed overview of the events and people of the Mexican Revolution through reading the provided hand-out “BadA** Retelling of the Mexican Revolution.” This is a simplified version of the Mexican Revolution that has been written in a more ‘teen-age friendly, tongue in cheek’ style. It can be used in conjunction with textbook readings or other materials written about the Mexican Revolution. I’ve included a portion of our retelling below with the lesson plan at the end.  Click here to access the pdf of the entire retelling and the lesson plans.

A BadA** Retelling of the Mexican Revolution:

The Mexican Revolution, one of the most epic wars ever fought by guys with awesome moustaches, began in 1910 during the perennially crappy rule of one Porfirio Diáz, whose moustache was weak. Life during this period sucked equally for rural and city dwellers. Lands that traditionally belonged to indigenous peoples were taken by the state and transferred to a tiny group of Diáz’s ridiculously wealthy friends and allies. City dwellers worked twelve hour days for next to nothing, while rural indigenous peasants were essentially slaves on their own land. These conditions pissed off a peasant from Morelos, rightfully so, named Emiliano Zapata and he began raising an army in southern Mexico. More on that later.

While Diáz had originally come to power in Mexico by running on a campaign of “no-reelection,” he stayed in power for decades and was re-elected president like a billion times. One day, an upper-class politician named Francisco I. Madero decided it would be a great idea to run against Diáz in the 1910 elections. Diáz soiled himself when he heard the news. He immediately had Madero arrested and thrown in jail, warning him beforehand that “snitches get stitches.” Madero was none too pleased. He orchestrated a jailbreak and fled to San Antonio, Texas, where he drafted the inexplicably named Plan of San Luis Potosí, which basically called Diáz a total jerk and set a date for the Revolution to begin.

It was on. Diáz mustered up his federal troops and began crushing Madero and his followers in battle after battle in northern Mexico. Madero, who apparently couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag, needed some serious help. Luckily, a bandit from Chihuahua by the name of Francisco “Pancho” Villa joined Madero’s cause and started smoking federales left and right. Villa teamed up with an arms dealer named Pascual Orozco and together the two were unstoppable.

At this point, Diáz was tired of getting his a** kicked and decided that it was time to negotiate with Madero. The two agreed to meet. However, Villa and Orozco pretty much ignored the message that the a** kicking was on standby. They stormed into Ciudad Juárez, guns blazing, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake. The loss of Juárez was so bad that Diáz stepped down from the presidency and ran away to Europe where he would die uneventfully after a long life of ruining Mexico. Madero was now president.  Click here to get the rest of the story. . .

Lesson Plan:

Materials

  • Copies of the Hand-out “Bada** Retelling of the Mexican Revolution” for each student
  • Pens, pencils or highlighters
  • Optional paper and markers for the timeline

Procedure

  1. Provide a copy of the “BadA** Retelling of the Mexican Revolution” to each student. In preparation for this activity, you may want to divide the document into sections or setting stopping points where the class can discuss what occurred in the reading and ask questions about the events of that specific section.
  2. Ask students to read the “BadA** Retelling of the Mexican Revolution”. Students can read this individually, in pairs, or small groups or it can be used as a read aloud activity. As students move through the reading, they should highlight or underline anything they think is important or significant.

Extension

Once students have completed the reading, have them create a timeline of the major events of the Revolution. The reading purposefully doesn’t focus on dates, but the description of people and events. The created timeline wouldn’t have to include dates, the purpose would be to assess student understanding of the major events of the Revolution. As a whole class, ask students to identify the major events of the Revolution in the order they occurred using the reading. Once a major event is correctly identified, designate a student to write that event on the provided paper and hang it up. Continue this until the timeline is complete. Leave the timeline up as a reference resource for students.

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