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Where is that West Texas Town of El Paso?



Use Marty Robbins' popular song, "El Paso" ("Out in the West Texas Town of El Paso") to compare and contrast the image of the area as depicted by the writer with the students’ ideas of the region at the present time or at another time in history.


Students will gain a new appreciation for the area in which they live. They will learn how the El Paso region differs from other places and will take pride in the things that make their home unique. They will learn about specific people, events, dates, and places important to the Pass of the North. They will learn about contributions of the people of our region.


  1. Students will be able to identify at least three features of the El Paso area that:
    1. Can be identified in the popular song.
    2. Reflects the El Paso of today.
    3. Illustrates another time in history.
  2. Students will be able to create detailed geographical, political and every day life lists concerning today’s El Paso Region and another selected time in history.
  3. Students will be able to name people who have made or are making history.


  1. Introduction and discussion
    1. Play the popular song and give students copy of words
    2. Lead students in making a Features List from the song on the chalkboard.
    3. Make a Features List for Today’s El Paso
    4. Make a Features List for another time in history.
    5. Have students record lists (notebooks or computer)
    6. Set up writing task for groups: verses written to the tune of the popular song that use some of the concepts developed in the lists. Assign Features List topics to each group.
  1. Research and writing activity
    1. Refer students to Pass of the North booklet or website for the historical perspectives.
    2. Provide current maps of El Paso Region
    3. Provide appropriate books from school library
    4. Discuss research and verification of facts to be used in lyrics
  1. Lyrics Publication and Performance
    1. Have groups share the new verses with whole class
    2. Pass out lyrics so that the whole class can sing them or create a performance event.
    3. Lead discussion as to how the new verses tell the intended story.


  1. Examine lyrics for "facts" versus fiction. This can be done as a class activity in which statements may be challenged and defended.
  2. Have students create "true and false questions" for a review quiz. Then actually give the quiz so they can see how they did. This can give teacher information as to the level of learning.


Supplies Needed


  1. Use lists to have students write 12 diary entries that would take place over a year for present-day El Paso or a time in history.
  2. Use lists to create classroom murals.
  3. Rework Features List to compare and contrast lists for different time periods
  4. Continue the list making exercise as class discusses various time periods in history. Have students step back in time and make journal entries for each time period.

NOTE TO TEACHERS: This lesson plan can be flexible and used to introduce subject, review, or as extra credit activity.

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