skip to main contentNew Window: The University Of Texas At Austin
Study of the Spanish Speaking People of Texas search
why russell lee? photo essays cities lesson plans about this project about the collection russell lee biography finding aid Center for American History

  > Lesson Plans > Lesson 7


Lesson Plans

The Study of the Spanish-Speaking People of Texas
download .pdf version of this lesson plan
A Photo Essay by Russell Lee


Enduring Understandings:

Studying the history, geographic features, and demographic makeup of Texas cities facilitates a better understanding of the diverse nature of our state.

Essential questions:

What similarities are shared by four Texas cities: El Paso, San Angelo, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi?  Conversely, what features make each city unique?
How does a study of other Texas cities help us understand our town?


7.8 (A) create thematic maps, graphs, charts, models, and databases representing various aspects of Texas during the 19th and 20th centuries

7.8 (B) pose and answer questions about geographic distributions and patterns in Texas during the 19th and 20th centuries

7.9 (A) locate places and regions of importance in Texas during the 19th and 20th centuries

7.9 (B) compare places and regions of Texas in terms of physical and human characteristics

7.9 (C) analyze the effects of physical and human factors such as climate, weather, landforms, irrigation, transportation, and communication on major events in Texas

7.10 (B) explain ways in which geographic factors have affected the political, economic, and social development of Texas

7.11 (A) analyze why immigrant groups came to Texas and where they settled

7.11 (B) analyze how immigration and migration to Texas in the 19th and 20th centuries have influenced Texas

7.11 (C) analyze the effects of the changing population distribution in Texas during the 20th century

7.11 (D) describe the structure of the population of Texas using demographic concepts such as growth rate and age distribution

7.21 (A) differentiate between, locate, and use primary and secondary sources such as computer software, databases, media and news services, biographies, interviews, and artifacts to acquire information about Texas

7.21 (B) analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions


  1. Texas map transparency
  2. Copies of cities fact sheets (one for each group)
  3. Classroom chart for sharing students’ answers to fact sheet questions
  4. Computers with Internet access (minimum of four computers)


Students will:

  • Students will identify the physical features, demographic characteristics, and history of the four Texas towns featured in Russell Lee’s photo essay, The Spanish-Speaking People of Texas.
  • Students will write a comparison paper to demonstrate knowledge of the similarities and differences between the four towns.

Anticipatory set:

Display the map of Texas on the overhead, then draw points for the four cities featured in Russell Lee’s photo essay (El Paso, Corpus Christi, San Angelo, and San Antonio).  Ask students to identify the cities and consider why these cities will be examined in today’s lesson.  Explain to students that Professor George Sanchez and Russell Lee chose these four cities for their study of Latinos in Texas.


Explain to students:
The purpose of today’s lesson is to gain a better understanding of the cities that were documented in Russell’s Lee photo essay, The Study of the Spanish-Speaking People of Texas.  Working in groups, you will study the physical and demographic characteristics of one of the cities.  Afterwards, your group will report your findings back to the class.  Using these findings, we will make a chart showing the cities’ similarities and differences.  Finally, you will write a comparison paper demonstrating your understanding of the unique features of each city, as well as the traits they share.

Divide the students into four teams, and assign a city to each group.  If you have more than 24 students in your class, you may decide to create more teams with two groups studying the same city.  Assign jobs to each member in the group.  These jobs may include:

  • Team leader: keeps track of the progress of the group
  • Group mediator: responsible for asking for help from instructor, problem-solves when issues arise within the group
  • Record-keeper: records group findings on fact sheet
  • Computer researcher: uses computer to locate information (this may be expanded to two students if your class has access to more than four computers)
  • Presenter: presents group findings to class
  • Reporter: adds group findings to classroom chart

Pass out a copy of the city research form to each group.  Review the questions on the fact sheet, and discuss your expectations for their answers and behavior while working as a group.  Discuss strategies for research with students—should their group work on each question together, or should they divide up the questions?  Will they answer the hardest questions first, or should they begin with the easiest questions?  How will they determine the reliability of sources?Next, explain to students where they will find information about their cities.  Possible sources include:

  • The city pages of The Study of the Spanish-Speaking People of Texas Web site, available one at:, and

Before students begin research, clarify any questions or concerns.  Depending upon the level of detail you expect for completion of the assignment, give groups one or two class periods for research.  Have students fill in the class fact sheet chart as they find the answers to the questions on their city fact sheets to avoid a rush at the end of the time allotted for research.

When students have completed their research, call the class back together.  One student from each group will present their group’s findings.  Afterwards, pose questions that will encourage the students to compare the cities and make generalizations about their research. Questions may include:

  • Which city is the largest and which is the smallest?
  • Which city experienced the largest population growth between 1900 and 2000?  Why do you think this city grew more than the others?
  • What similarities do you see between the cities?  What differences do you see?
  • What did you find out about your city that surprised you?
  • How is your city the same as where we live?  How is it different?
  • What more would you like to know about the city you researched?
  • Which city would you most like to live in?  Why?
  • What challenges did you encounter during your research?  What was the hardest information to find?  What was the easiest information to find?
  • Which resource was the most helpful?  Which was the least helpful?

Using the Texas map from the anticipatory set of the lesson, have students identify the names of the four cities studied in this lesson.  Ask the students to recall facts they have learned about each of the cities.


If time permits, groups may create a travel brochure for their city.  Brochures can include pictures of the city, cultural attractions, a description of the climate, a brief history of the city, and important landmarks.

Purchase PhotosContact UsUsage Statement
UTOPIA    The Center for American History