During the 2015-2016 school year at Cook MS I was tasked with teaching 7th and 8th grade history to Students in my history Special Day classes. Most of the students at Cook Middle School have Mexican roots. They were unaware of Mesoamerican history. So, we dove into the Aztecs, Maya and Inca.
We learned about the engineering prowess of Tenochtitlan, the last Aztec emperor Cuauhtemoc, Spaniard rule, French rule, the Mexican American war, and Cinco DeMayo. We then, went into the Chicano movement in the 50’s and 60’s and Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers striking. Of course we looked into the future and how education can improve life for the people.
The mural was designed and painted by the 7th and 8th grade history students. They had to ask permission to paint on the school wall, show concept designs to the school Site council, and present the mural design and meaning to the principal. Each section of the mural was given to a group of students to present and explain. Of course, Principal Gannon was impressed and approved the design. It took my four classes about a month and a half to paint.
In the end, it was a fabulous project to start a chain of student-centered projects to engage the school as a community and give struggling learners a real stake in their school.