Skip to main content
1 Hour
1 Day
8th - 11th
1800 - 1861
Explore full timeline

Academic Standards (1)

CCSS English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.11-12.2: Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical processes.

NCSS C3 Framework

  • D2.His.2.9-12: Analyze change and continuity in historical eras.
Map of the United States and Mexico
Mapa de los Estados Unidos de Méjico, 1847
Courtesy of Library of Congress


Key Terms and Concepts

  • Manifest Destiny
  • expansionism
  • annexation
  • incorporate (land)

Essential Questions

How and why are borders created and recreated throughout our nation’s history?
What is it like when a border crosses you?


Mexican-American War and U.S. Southern Borderlands

Provide text-based evidence to explain the impact of conflict on political geography and social life using primary and secondary sources, including maps and personal narratives, to complete the Exit Ticket.


Warm Up (1)

  • Present students with two different, unlabeled maps. Have students compare the differences between a map that shows Mexican territory before the Mexican-American War, and a current map of Mexico.
  • Choose from the tasks:
    • Analyze the two maps in front of you. What do you see?
    • Infer what occurred to create two maps. Why do you see what you see?
    • Have students discuss their work with each other using a discourse strategy (ie. Single Round Robin for a group, or Timed Pair Share for partners).
    • Debrief with the class and explain that what caused the change was the Mexican-American War and its resolution.
  • Illustrate the war’s impact by focusing on the geography of our south western border and The Mexican Cession of 1948.

Mini-Lesson (1)

  • Read and review the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), which ended the war with Mexico and, along with the Gadsden Purchase of 1853, gave the United States control over modern-day border-states Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico, as well as Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming.
  • Pose the essential question for discussion, “What is it like when a border crosses you?” If students have trouble connecting with the question, rephrase it to say, “What do you think it would feel like if a border ever crossed you?” Remind students that these are the questions they should have in mind as they read and answer questions. Emphasize that after the Mexican-American War, entire groups of people—the Tejanos, Nuevo Mexicanos, and the Californianos, as well as Native Americans and mestizo peoples—found themselves in a new nation, even though they were on the same land they had lived on for generations.

Close Reading (1)

Depending on time, have students read and answer text-dependent questions for one, two, or all three of the following sources: “A War of Violence and Violations: The Consequences of Conquest,” and “Living on the Border: A Wound That Will Not Heal.”

Discussion (1)

After students complete these tasks, reread the following quotes from the sources above:

  • “Families were literally split in half. Families held land and had homes. Then an artificial political border was created and suddenly part of the family was on one side, and the other part of the family was on another side. Suddenly, these families became enemies on opposite sides in a sense, although they didn't see themselves that way.”
  • “These lands have always been here; the river of people has flowed for centuries. It is only the designation "border" that is relatively new, and along with the term comes the life one lives in this "in-between world" that makes us the "other," the marginalized…”
  • Pose the essential question, What is it like when a border crosses you? Have students discuss using the discussion strategy Talking Chips.

Exit Ticket (1)

Have students complete the following task: Using the Mexican-American War as an example, how can conflict impact political geography and social life? Please provide text-based evidence from the sources we examined in class today.