Immigration Lesson Plan for Grades 6-8
This lesson plan for the Immigration: Stories of Yesterday and Today interactive online unit exposes students to the unique contributions of immigrants to American history and culture.
- Grades: 6–8
- Unit Plan:
The focus for students in this age group is on researching the effects of immigration on American history and culture.
- Use Web technology to access immigration history
- Develop an understanding of the concept of immigration
- Develop oral history writing skills, including note-taking and coming up with questions
- Read for detail
- Use real-world examples as models for writing an oral history
- Compare and contrast immigration stories of the past with the present
- Compare and contrast immigration through Ellis Island and Angel Island
- Use technology to explore a historical place and event
- Use graphs and facts to respond to several research-based questions and activities
Set Up and Prepare
- Depending on the grade level and maturity level of each class, activities can be facilitated as independent work, collaborative group work, or whole class instruction.
- If a computer is available for each student, guide students to the activities either through printed URLs on handouts or on the board.
- If you are working in a lab, set up the computers to be on the desired website as students walk into class. If there are fewer computers than students, group the students by reading level. Assign each student a role: a "driver" who navigates the web, a timer who keeps the group on task, and a note taker. If there are more than three students per computer, you can add roles like a team leader, a team reporter, etc.
- If you are working in a learning station in your classroom, break out your class into different groups. Have rotating groups working on the computer (s), reading printed background information, holding smaller group discussions, writing first drafts of their scrapbook, etc. Details described further in the Teaching sections.
- You may also want to create a special display for your classroom library in honor of Immigration. Check out the unit booklist for suggested print materials. Be sure to keep a shelf available for students' oral history scrapbooks!
Activity 1: Immigration Introduction. 1 to 2 days.
Introduce the topic of immigration to the United States through a class discussion. Use the Discussion starters at the end of this article for ideas. Ask students to volunteer any information they may already know about U.S immigration, both in the past and the present. Encourage students to share family stories. Write repeating themes on the board for students to copy down.
Have students explore the Immigration: Stories of Yesterday and Today unit, either as a class on the interactive whiteboard or individually on computers or tablets. Hand out the KWL graphic organizer (PDF) for students to fill out as they explore the activity. You can also print and hand out copies of Seymour Rechtzeit and Li Keng Wong's stories for home or class reading.
Activity 2: Explore Immigration Data. 1 to 2 days.
Explore the immigration data. Look over the various charts and tables with students. Ask volunteers to describe the kind of information each chart is showing. Have them support findings with examples from each chart.
- Ask students to compare two graphs or charts that give the same information. How are they similar and different?
- Have students state the advantages and disadvantages to using each one.
Invite students to create a graph or chart showing the class's immigrant history. Then have students investigate and discuss the following questions, among others, about the immigrant history of your area.
- Was your area primarily settled by people from one country?
- Why would immigrants have chosen your region in America?
Have groups of students respond to five questions of those relating to the immigration data. When groups have finished answering the questions, challenge them to write questions to pose to other groups. Have them explore the immigration timeline for ideas of how they might write interesting questions that relate to world events.
Use this activity to visually identify connections students have to other countries in the world. Display a large map of the world. Have students draw self-portraits or bring in photos of themselves. Place the pictures around the border of the map. Have each student stretch a piece of yarn from his or her picture to a country or region where his or her ancestors lived, and secure it with push pins. You may want to color code the yarn by country, continent, or world region. Take time to discuss the finished map.
Hall of Fame
Invite the class to create a Hall of Fame of immigrants who have made important contributions in the United States. For their Hall of Fame submission, each student should provide a photograph or other likeness of the person, identify his birthplace and when he came to America, and explain in a paragraph his accomplishments.
Music From Around the World
Work with students to investigate examples of music and literature from other lands that have influenced American writing and music.
Have students investigate words, foods, sports, and fashion that have their origins in other countries.
- What is the definition of immigration?
- What are some reasons people immigrate?
- Why is America a popular destination for immigrants?
- What are the differences between immigrate, emigrate and migrate?
- What are some of the obstacles that an immigrant faced in the past?
- What are some of the obstacles that an immigrant faces today?
- Who were some famous immigrants that made important contributions to America?
- What are some controversial issues surrounding immigration today?
- What is an illegal immigrant?
- What is the process of becoming a legal immigrant?
- What may happen if you are an illegal immigrant living in the United States?
- How many immigrants does the United States allow each year?
- What is the estimated population of illegal immigrants moving to the United States each year?
- What does it mean to be "Americanized"?
- What is the meaning of assimilation?
- What are some creative ways Americans can assist newly arrived immigrants?
- What are the pros and cons of assimilation?
- What are the pros and cons of Americanization?
Formal Assessment Ideas:
Immigration Written Reflection
Students will reflect upon and answer the following questions. Convey to students that they are to be thinking about the Immigration online activity's overarching concepts and ideas.
- What are some reasons that people have immigrated to the United States?
- What can we learn about American attitudes toward immigrants from the experiences of immigrants themselves?
- See Discussion Starters for a list of interesting questions to use for the written reflection.
Oral History and Research Paper Writing
Have students publish their stories for the Oral History Scrapbook or the Writing Workshop: Research Paper online and post them on your class homepage or publish them in a printed booklet. Encourage students to read one another's submissions.
Students can also present their learning to their peers with a PowerPoint presentation, a poster board, or an oral report for the class.
Use the writing rubric as a way to assess your students' writing skills. This rubric can also serve as a model for a modified version that might include your state's writing standards.