Bobby Jackson has received much recognition for engaging students in the classroom, including an award for “Texas history of the year.” A look at one very popular history teacher’s classroom:
He starts challenging kids’ expectations the first day of school. ‘We do a brainstorming activity where I put the kids on a timer and ask them to give their perceptions of a Texan. Then we talk about stereotypes, myths, and legends. I tell them that a lot of our stories could or could not be true. The kids need to know there’s more to every story.’ Then he stays as personal, passionate, and interactive as he can. He has his students write letters to Stephen F. Austin applying to be among the first three hundred colonists. He reenacts Gonzales, Goliad, and San Jacinto in his classroom. ‘I portray a survivor of the Battle of San Jacinto, Stephen Franklin Sparks, who lived and died in Rockport. He was sixteen when he fought for Ben Milam, and he ended up being the second-to-last survivor of the Texas Revolution to pass away. And he was just about their age when he did all this.’ When he gets to the 1919 hurricane, he plays interviews with aging eyewitnesses that he recorded as part of his master’s thesis at Corpus Christi State. He also tells the students his own family’s hurricane stories, all while dressed in a two-piece, striped bathing suit and straw boater that look like an outfit Buster Keaton would have worn to the beach.