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WIlliam Travis' Big Decision: The Alamo


William Travis: Before the Battle of the Alamo [50 minutes not including processing]

PREP: Sheet with William Travis Facts, Role on the Wall Outline

TOPIC: WIlliam Travis’ decision to go to the Alamo

FOCUS QUESTIONS: Who and what impacts decisions you make? Whose influence and what factors shaped William Travis’s decision to go to the Alamo?


7th Grade SS TEKS (3)

History. The student understands how individuals, events, and issues related to the Texas Revolution shaped the history of Texas. The student is expected to: (B) explain the roles played by significant individuals during the Texas Revolution, including George Childress, Lorenzo de Zavala, James Fannin, Sam Houston, Antonio López de Santa Anna, Juan N. Seguín, and William B. Travis; and (C) explain the issues surrounding significant events of the Texas Revolution, including the Battle of Gonzales, William B. Travis’s letter “To the people of Texas and All Americans in the World,” the siege of the Alamo and the 189 heroes all the heroic defenders who gave their lives there.

7th Grade Theatre TEKS (7.2)

Creative expression/performance. The student interprets characters, using the voice and body expressively, and creates dramatizations. The student is expected to: (A) demonstrate safe use of the voice and body; (B) define characters by what they do, what they say, and what others say about them; (C) select movements and dialogue to portray a character appropriately; and(D) create and improvise collaboratively


Exploding Atom

Clear a space in the room and ask that all participants join you in the center of the room. You are now standing in the YES or I AGREE area. When I read a statement, if you agree with what I have said then stand in the center of this space as close together as possible. Expand (explode) out as far as you can from the center. You are now standing in the NO area. Please move where you think MAYBE might be. Each of you is on their own continuum between YES and NO. Lets try one: “I like to watch movies.” Please vote with your feet by standing/exploding to the place that best expresses their opinion.


1. I know what it’s like to make hard decisions. (full group processing)

2. I gather all the information I can before making decisions. (think, pair, share)

3. I make decisions entirely on my own without consulting anyone else. (full group processing)

Thank you for participating, please take a seat.

One person that had a big decision to make was William Travis. He was the official commander of the Alamo garrison. However, for this lesson we are going to explore how Travis MADE the decision to go to the Alamo. I’m going to give you two minutes to look over the fact sheet about William Travis, just to refresh your memory of his life up until the Alamo. Here is what we know about William Travis and his decision to lead troops to the Alamo: After success at the Siege of Bexar on December 19, Travis was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel of the Legion of Cavalry and became the chief recruiting officer for a new regular Texan army. His command was to consist of 384 men and officers, divided into six companies. Smith ordered Travis to raise a company of professional soldiers to reinforce the Texans at the Alamo Mission in San Antonio. Travis considered disobeying his orders because he was worried about defending the Alamo Mission with such few men and meager supplies and ammunition. So for this lesson we’re going to be asking: Who and what impacts decisions you make? Whose influence and what factors shaped William Travis’s decision to go to the Alamo?

Transition: In order to get a better idea of the many factors effecting Travis’ decision whether or not to go to the Alamo we’re going do an activity that make those people and issues visible.


ROLE ON THE WALL - What’s happening with William Travis?

Draw a very simple outline of body on the board, label it William Travis. Who do you think are the people in his life that might be telling him their opinion on whether or not to go to the Alamo? (scribe). What are some things that these people might have been saying? Write these around the outside of T’s body. How does hearing these things make William Travis feel? Write down T.’s feelings inside the outline of his body. Connect certain statements to certain feelings and people.

Transition: It sounds like there were certainly people around William Travis who were having an effect on him. (Note this response may change depending on what students say!) He could interpret these statements in many different ways. Let’s explore these situations a little bit further.


Split class into groups of two by counting around the circle. Ask each pair to sit together. Each pair needs to make a decision. One person will play William Travis and the other will play a character who is invested in whether or not he leads a group of soldiers to the Alamo. In just a moment, you will engage in a brief improvisation. Will all the William Travis’ raise their hands? Terrific. I remind you that we can play across race/ethnicity and gender in our improvisation. Before you begin, please agree on who the secondary character will be. If there is a name (real or made up) for the other character please decide on this as well. Once this is done, Travis will find a place in our room to sit. You are in the middle of your room with your pack open and empty. You are trying to decide whether to start packing your belongings. Second character you enter and offer the first line to start the scene. Any questions as to what this line could be? When I clap my hands please stop talking and give me your attention. I will do this several times during the improvisation. I encourage you to use the dialogue we created on the board to get you started.

Students move to places and begin. The improvisation is facilitated through parallel play with all the scenes unfolding at the same time. The facilitator freezes the action and “spotlights” certain groups’ conversation then asks all the groups to resume their conversation. CLAP As I move around the room, if I put my hand on your shoulder please complete the phrase “I feel...” Transition: .....Let’s take a moment and find out a little bit more about how all this felt for Travis.


Ask all of the Travis’ to come to the front of the room to answer some questions about what has been happening with them. I hear that a lot of people have come to see you. Who has come to see you and what did they have to say? How have the visitors affected your choice to go to the Alamo or not? Take a few questions from the audience for the character of Travis. Scribe some of the key information we learned about the character on the board.

Ask all of the people in Travis’ life to come to front of the room. Invite each character to introduce who they are before they talk. Who are you and why did you decide to go talk to Travis about whether or not to go to the Alamo? How did the conversation go? Did you get what you wanted? Why or why not? Take questions from the audience if there is time and interest. Thank the characters and discuss/scribe some of key information we learned from the folks around Travis.

Transition: We will all step out of characters, now. Let’s return to our seats and reflect on all the exploration we did today.


Describe: As we look at the information we generated about William Travis what motivates people around Travis to tell him certain things?

Analyze: As we look at the information we generated about William Travis what or who do you think influenced his decision to go to the Alamo? Which character around Travis do you predict might have the most influence on his decision? Why? Does anyone have a different opinion?

Relate: We started our class today thinking about how we make decisions. Think now about who influences the decisions that you, as a seventh grader, make today. Who do you think affects a seventh grade students decisions? As you think about your own decisions I invite you to consider what motivates your decisions? Who puts pressure on you to make a certain decision? And why they might be putting this pressure on you?