The Rio Grande Valley Melon Strike of 1966

This is an upper elementary school lesson that can be taught when discussing major issues faced by the Rio Grande Valley. Due to the importance of discussing issues faced by the community and the need to implement such knowledge in instruction, this lesson could be presented at any time during the school year. The content in this lesson is aligned to the 4th grade social studies standards presented in the TEKS.

Procedure (How)

The overall goal of this lesson is to inform students about the struggles faced by farm workers in the Rio Grande Valley in the 1960s. Farm workers were exposed to very low pay for long hour days and harsh working conditions. To this day, agriculture is still a major part of the economy of the Rio Grande Valley. Therefore, students should know who times have changed with the farm workers. At the end of the lesson, students should have a deeper understanding of how the strike came to happen, what happened during the strike, and what occurred as a result of the strike (Saenz, 2018). To begin this lesson, students will be asked what they know about the crops that are produced in the Rio Grande Valley. Students will be encouraged to talk about any plants that they see growing, such as those containing fruit, cotton, or wheat. They can talk about the fields that they have seen, if any, where these crops are grown. Then, students will be asked if they ever see or know of people that work on these plantations. During this part of the introduction to the lesson, it is important to stress the significance of the work done by these men and women. Without the people who harvest and gather the crops, the community would experience major delays and problems in our acquisition of these products. It is important for students to understand just how hard-working and important these men and women are to the community.

Once students have been introduced to the topic of agriculture in the Rio Grande Valley, the lesson will proceed with introducing the hardships faced by these individuals, including low pay and long hour days. Students will be taught that these negative and unforgiving conditions led to the Melon Strike of 1966. The teacher will then proceed to detail the events that occurred during the strike. This will lead up to the final discussion on the results of the strike and how they impacted farm workers in the Rio Grande Valley.

This lesson will follow a particular sequence. The sequence begins with students discussing their personal knowledge pertaining to agriculture in the Valley. They will build on their experiences as they begin to learn how such pivotal issues in society can lead to strikes such as the Melon Strike. This will allow them to learn more about agriculture in the Rio Grande Valley, as well as make connections to the history of the Rio Grande Valley farm workers.