Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thanksgiving Alternate Reading

A few years ago, an article about a historical group in southern California attempting to recreate interest in a Thanksgiving event that preceded the one of the Pilgrims was published in the Los Angeles Times. I've used it ever since in my ESL classes and it's been very successful on several levels: a straight forward reading activity, a cultural lesson about Thanksgiving, and also a springboard for a discussion about who creates the "history" that we learn about in school.

Basically, the article describes a group of European immigrants/colonists who came to the "new world" to start a new life, experienced a very difficult journey, and when finally successful, held a feast of Thanksgiving. All of this was recorded in official journals and took place 23 years before the feast of the Pilgrims. Why don't we know about this group and how come we don't celebrate them as the group holding the "first" Thanksgiving? The answer lies in the fact that this group was led by a Spanish conquistador who led them through the Mexican desert to what is now El Paso, the official records were archived in Spain, and the Spanish history of the southwestern United States did not figure into the traditions of the English colonies. The story is that of Juan de Onate, an important figure in the Spanish development of the southwest, and the colonists that came with him.

I've posted the LA Times article at and you can find more information about Juan de Onate by googling him or at a Wikipedia article at (One interesting tidbit-he was married to the great granddaughter of the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma. Another is that apparently he gained a reputation later in life of being cruel and ruthless in his dealings with the indigenous people including one episode involving the amputation of the left foot of 80 surviving Acoma men after the killing of more than 800 villagers who resisted the Spanish military.)

The brutal later history of Juan de Onate not withstanding, the account of this other "First Thanksgiving" is quite fascinating and makes for a good comparison between the circumstances of the other Thanksgiving that most of us grew up learning about in school.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

First video uploaded to Teacher Tube

I've obviously seen a few videos on Teacher Tube but I finally was able to successfully create one using Camtasia Studio software and upload it myself. This is a short training tutorial about how to create a link from one wiki page to another wiki page using pbwiki.

To view the same video directly on the Teacher Tube website click here!

The uploading process to Teacher Tube was quite easy. Recording using the Camtasia software was also easy. Figuring out how to export the video was more confusing and I'm still not sure if I selected the best settings for optimal file transfer and viewing on the website. I still need to experiment with that!