Sunday, 29 January 2012

Teaching Immigration in K12

I found a very simple website this week which is host to written lesson plans for classes in 8th Grade.
The website shows a lesson plan written in 1996, by a teacher at Eleva Strum School on an 8th Grade Middle School Research Project on Immigration in the United States.. .

The purpose of this particular lesson structure is to "provide the students with an understanding of the important contributions made by various ethnic groups who immigrated to the US..."

This Wisconsin school teacher usually starts with her students looking at more personal histories, such as family trees and local issues. These subjects then become more wide spread and relevant to my topic as the project moves on. According to the website, most of the students in attendance have an ethnic past relating to Scandinavian and Central European immigration.

The project outline is very detailed, and focusses on conducting meaningful research and developing skills in accessing information as well as gaining a thorough understanding of the history of immigration. Also to recognize not only the impact of immigration on family culture, but also the importance of intergenerational learning.

The following are the points of learning I have selected from the lesson plan because I feel they are the most relevant and interesting objectives;

Objectives: Students will gain an understanding of the Following:
1. Why immigrants left Europe, Asia and the Southern Hemisphere for the
United States.
2. the difficulties immigrants faced when they arrived
3. an awareness of cultural diversity
6. the important contributions made by immigrants
10. the important contributions family members and members of the community
can be as research facilitators.

1. Why did these people immigrate to America (i.e. Irish/Potato
famine,Jewish pogroms)?
2. What are some customs, traits, foods, accomplishments, art forms which
make these
people unique?
3. What was the immigrants' voyage like?
4. Where did each group settle and why?
5. What problems had to be overcome?
6. What problems still remain today?
7. What important contributions did each group make to American culture?

The questions asked in the last bank of questions above work well, as they relate not only to the historic period, but they also level the students with global issues, bringing something not normally thought about by eighth grade students into their minds with relations to their own lives. Linking personal experiences with subjects like immigration and world culture makes it easier to grasp and become passionate about.

The way that the immigration aspect of US history is presented and portrayed during this lesson plan is very effective, especially as the lesson plan goes on to say that the evaluative process is to have the students create work about the subject in one of the following ways; creative writing, poetry, diaries, family trees or research papers.

This gives the students their own choice on what the outcome of their knowledge will be, and gives them free reign on creating it, which would naturally spark more of an interest, and hopefully produce better results.

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