Corridos About the Mexican Revolution


Key Staff

Primary instructor - Spanish

Key Skills

Developing Arts Literacies: Understanding Genres, Analyzing and Evaluating - Critique
Making Art: Producing, Executing and Performing, Composing and Planning
Global Connections: Connecting to History and Culture


In this lesson, students will be introduced to causes of the Mexican Revolution and key revolutionary figures. They will gain an understanding of a particular Mexican song form, the corrido, and its role as a vehicle for communicating the news and other important events. Students will be introduced to the causes and outcomes of the Mexican Revolution by learning about key figures, including then-president Porfirio Diaz and revolutionaries Francisco Madero, Francisco Villa, and Emiliano Zapata. The lesson will culminate in the students' creation of original corridos based on a current event.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Discuss the Porfirio Diaz regime in Mexico and Diaz's ties to the United States
  • Read a corrido about life under the Diaz regime in an attempt to gain a deeper understanding of the effects of a dictatorship on individuals
  • Analyze corridos that provide a greater understanding of tensions among revolutionary leaders who sought the presidency
  • Write original corridos based on the traditional form
  • Research a current event as the basis for subject matter for their corridos

Teaching Approach

  • Thematic
  • Project-Based Learning
  • Arts Integration

Teaching Methods

  • Discovery Learning
  • Discussion
  • Experiential Learning
  • Reflection

Assessment Type

Performance Assessment


Lesson Setup

Teacher Background

Teachers should familiarize themselves with The corrido genre and the Mexican Revolution using the following sources:


  • Keen, Benjamin. A History of Latin America. 7th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003
  • Paredes, Américo. A Texas-Mexican Cancionero. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1976
  • Paredes, Américo. With his Pistol in his Hand. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958


  • Various artists. Heroes & Horses: Corridos from the Arizona-Sonora Borderlands. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. CD 40475
  • Various artists. The Mexican Revolution: Corridos. Arhoolie Productions. CD 7041-7044


  • South Texas Border, 1900-1920: Photographs from the Robert Runyon Collection
  • The Handbook of Texas Online: Cortez, Lira Gregorio

Prior Student Knowledge

Prior to teaching this lesson plan, assign students a reading assignment on the Mexican Revolution, such as Chapter 12 in Benjamin Keen's Latin American History (see Print Sources) or selected sources available on the Internet such as the History of the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1920 on the University of San Diego's Border Revolution Web site and War and Revolution on Worldbook.com's History of Mexico section.

Physical Space



Small Group Instruction

Accessibility Notes

Students with physical disabilities may need modified movements.


Resources in Reach

Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.

Build Knowledge


1. Divide students into groups of five, and number the students in each group 1 through 5. Tell students who are assigned number 1 that they will be given some very important news that must be delivered to student number 5 in their group. But before student 5 can hear the news, the news must first travel from student 1 to student 2 to student 3, and so on individually, but without writing anything down—just like the game "Telephone."

2. Give students the following instructions: Each group will spread out across the length of the classroom in order as if lining up for a relay race. All the 1s will receive the breaking news on a folded piece of paper, but they cannot unfold the paper until you give the word. They will be given two minutes to read the news and do their best to memorize as many details as they can. When the two minutes are up, they must crumple up the piece of paper and return it to the teacher. Each student must "spread the news" to the next person in their group until the news spreads to the 5s. When all 5s have heard the news, each 5 will be given a piece of paper. On the count of three, the 5s in each group will write down the news as best as they can. Warn your class that the news will contain important specific details, so they'll need to pay careful attention when listening to and spreading the news. The group that has written down the most accurate news wins.

3. When the class has understood the instructions, give all the 1s a copy of the Breaking News info sheet located within the Resource Carousel folded in half and begin the activity.

4. After the activity is completed, remind students that important news was spread by word of mouth before newspapers were widely printed and distributed. Explain that one way individuals could help remember the details of a particular event was to write a song that told the story in its lyrics. Point out that we could each sing along to a number of different songs without looking at the lyrics, but would have a hard time reciting the same amount of stories by memory. Tell students that the corrido, a particular type of song developed in Mexico in the 1800s and still popular today, was often used to transmit information about current events.

Build Knowledge

1. Pass out the What is a Corrido? information sheet located within the Resource Carousel and discuss the characteristics of the corrido form. Tell students that they will be looking at corridos that provide information about the dictatorship of Mexican president Porfirio Diaz and other key figures during the Mexican Revolution.

2. Pass out lyrics to the corrido "Tiempos Amargos" (Bitter Times), available to you within the Resource Carousel. (You may wish to play an excerpt of the corrido for your class. See the ArtsEdge Look-Listen-Learn resource, Corridos.)

3. Ask students what they learned about Porfirio Diaz from their reading assignment. Tell students that "Tiempos Amargos" reveals just how awful people were treated under Diaz's regime. Review the reasons why most of the population was living in poverty while only a few in powerful positions were wealthy (i.e., Diaz's ties to U.S. corporations). Ask students for examples of feelings of injustice apparent from the corrido lyrics. Ask students what the symbol of "pants" signifies in the lyrics. Discuss how the act of buttoning someone else's pants reflects how oppressed the people were under the Diaz regime.

4. Discuss what students can learn from a song that they might not be able to learn from a history textbook. For instance, personal narratives might include emotional responses to then-current events. Discuss why this may provide a greater understanding for the effects of significant historical events such as war.

5. Pass out the lyrics to "Corrido Historia Y Muerte del Gral. Francisco Villa", located within the Resource Carousel, about a corrido about the legendary Mexican revolutionary leader Francisco Villa who attempted to overthrow Porfirio Diaz. Play an excerpt of the recording (available on the ARTSEDGE Look-Listen-Learn resource, Corridos) and note the less-than-perfect sound quality of the recording. Tell students that the recording was made on August 31, 1923, just sixty days after Francisco Villa's assassination–certainly a corrido about a then-current event.

6. Ask students whether they learned more about Francisco Villa from the corrido than from their previous readings. Discuss how Villa is represented as an infallible hero in this corrido, but remind students that Villa was the leader of one of several factions who were fighting for presidential control (another was led by Emiliano Zapata). Many corridos have commemorated a particular leader (such as former U.S. President John F. Kennedy) with just as much praise as the corrido about Villa. Ask students if they can point out instances in the corrido that reveal one-sided opinions.

7. Pass out "El Cuartelazo" located within the Resource Carousel (The Coup d'Etat) (Part I) , a corrido about revolutionary leader Francisco Madero who successfully defeated Diaz in 1911 and was elected president. Ask students whether they can detect any bias in the corrido. (Focus on the 8th and 9th stanzas of the poem if they need assistance.) Note that after Madero became president, he was challenged by both Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata. Zapata controlled the state of Morelos, where he took matters into his own hands and divided land among the peasants, thereby ousting the estate owners. Both Zapata and Madero were assassinated, in 1917 and 1913, respectively. Political instability continued after Victoriana Huerta's coup d'etat against Huerta in 1913 and through Venustiano Carranza's presidency, which began when he overthrew Huerta in 1913. (You may wish to play an excerpt of this corrido for your class. See the ARTSEDGE Look-Listen-Learn resource, Corridos.)

8. Discuss how personal bias affects the re-telling of history, and how there are at least two sides to every war and to every story.


1. Tell students that they will now become corridistas (composers of corridos). Have students research the topic of their choice for homework, and challenge students to write their own corridos about a pertinent current event. See the ArtsEdge How-to Turning Students into Songwriters: Tips on Writing Corrido Lyrics for helpful guidelines. (You may instead wish to ask students to write a corrido based on a topic dealing with the Mexican Revolution to reinforce what they have learned.)

2. Inspire students by sharing corridos written by fellow high school students. Winners of the annual Bilingual Corrido Contest in Arizona, a program conducted by the University of Arizona Poetry Center, wrote about current political and personal events. The winning 2001 corrido, "San Salinas" by Adolfo Salazar, critiques Vicente Fox, the elected Mexican president from 2000-2006. The winning 2002 corrido, "Sonocal" by Eleuterio Cortez, tells the story of a young man who was tragically killed by people he considered his friends. A copy of the winning 2002 "Sonocal" is available within the Resource Carousel (Both student corridos and additional examples of corridos are available on the ARTSEDGE Look-Listen-Learn resource, Corridos.)


1. Organize a corrido concert, asking students to read the lyrics of their songs aloud—or better yet, to sing or perform them if a student in your class plays an appropriate instrument (i.e., guitar, accordion). See the ArtsEdge How-to: There's a Song in Everyone: Tips on Composing a Simple Corrido for useful guidelines on helping students to compose music.


Assess the students based on the following criteria:

  • Evidence of understanding of major figures in the Mexican Revolution through insightful and frequent participation in class discussions
  • Evidence of understanding of the corrido form
  • Wrote an original corrido in the traditional form that reflects the student's understanding of a current event

You may also use the Assessment Rubric located within the Resource Carousel.

Extending the Learning

Examine how events and figures of the Mexican Revolution influenced visual art, including murals by Diego Rivera and paintings by Jose Clemente Orozco through the ArtsEdge lesson plan Five Artists of the Mexican Revolution.


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Jen Westmoreland Bouchard

Collaborating Organizations: The University of Arizona Poetry Center Tuscon, AZ The University of Arizona Poetry Center, an area of emphasis within the College of Humanities, is a nationally renowned special collections library and archive, academic and community resource, and sponsor of numerous outreach programs, including a distinguished poetry reading series. http://www.poetrycenter.arizona.edu

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