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Interpreting the Impact of Cesar Chavez’s Early Years

In this immigration lesson plan, students will understand how Cesar Chavez’s adolescence as a migrant farm worker influenced his later achievements.  First, students will analyze how an artist and biographer have interpreted Chavez’s legacy.  Then by reading excerpts from Chavez’s autobiography, students will draw connections between how his early years shaped his later beliefs and achievements around organized labor, social justice, and humane treatment of individuals. Once students have read and critically thought about these connections, they will write a response supported with evidence from the text to answer the investigative question on the impact of Chavez’s early years and development.

Extensions and adaptations are available for English Language Learners and readers at multiple levels.

For lesson procedures, Common Core and C3 standards alignment, please click here

Year Released: 2015

6-8 and 9-12

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From Writing the Page to Pressing Play: More Tips on Teaching Digital Stories on Immigration

This article completes a two-part series dedicated to the art of teaching the digital story on immigration to build writing and research skills while engendering empathy and engagement. 

These practical insights come largely from middle school teacher Brian Kelley who regularly incorporates digital storytelling and podcasting on family heritage and immigration into his curriculum. The American Immigration Council’s teacher’s guide “Crossing Borders with Digital Storytelling” complements these tips. It provides educators with easy instructions to develop similar projects in their classrooms. It is Common Core aligned and adaptable for multiple grade levels. Read more...

Year Released: 2015

Digital Learning on Immigration: Quick Lessons for Students by Students

A guide for educators to seamlessly integrate engaging multimedia content on immigration from the films produced by young adults (14-25) for the American Immigration Council’s “Change in Motion” contest.

How can I use this guide? Teach digital learning day (#DLDay) any day of the week with relevant content!   No more than five minutes in length, these films inspire dialogue, critical thinking and creative teaching on immigration. 

The tools in this guide include Common-Core aligned questions that can be used as warm-ups, homework, extra credit, advisories, in-between time during standardized testing days, full lessons, etc. in order to provide students with real-world accounts on the impact of immigration today.

Additional activities are provided to extend learning and explore themes and topics covered in the individual films, as well as a prompt to make connections to primary texts via political cartoons.

Teachers have to flexibility to adapt the guide to best meet classroom needs.

How can I extend the conversation beyond the classroom?  Participate in short commentary via Twitter using the hashtag #DLDay and our handle @ThnkImmigration for longer conversations via Today’s Meet (classroom name: TeachImmigration), a free educational tool that enables discussions and empowers students.Read more...

Year Released: 2015

8 Tips for Teaching How to Write a Digital Story on Immigration

This is part one of a series dedicated to the art of teaching the digital story on immigration. The second part is accessible here. Digital storytelling about immigrant heritage is a way to access a shared past and present, however distinct the individual stories are, develop reading and writing skills, and most importantly, build empathy while thoroughly engaging students. It can, however, be challenging to teach for a number of reasons: 1) uncertainty in the writing process when there may be unknown variables in immigration experiences 2) fears of technology 3) relevancy within what may be a restrictive curriculum.

The American Immigration Council’s “Crossing Borders with Digital Storytelling” is a comprehensive guide adaptable for any grade level and aligned to Common Core, but best practice often involves learning from other teachers to improve.  Middle school teacher Brian Kelley has been developing family heritage podcasting and digital storytelling with his students for several years and has shared some of his methods for working with students in writing about their immigration journeys.  His tips connect well with our curriculum.Read more...

Year Released: 2015

9-12+

Crossing Borders with Digital Storytelling

In this Common-Core aligned immigration lesson plan, teachers are guided step-by-step through a process for launching a digital storytelling project on immigration in their own classrooms.  Recommended writing prompts, easy to use digital platforms, as well as resources and collaborative planning tools are shared and explained. 

Using digital storytelling to capture immigration stories is a powerful way for teachers to create opportunities for “empathetic moments” among students and shape classroom environments.  Telling stories of family immigration history – no matter how distant or recent – allows for common threads and variations of the immigration experience to be seen, heard, and reflected upon.  Digital storytelling offers the advantage of authentic engagement to reach all learning styles as well as to teach technological skills while exploring connections and understandings to an important issue.

Watch this video for an example of a digital story based on a poem written by a fifth grade student about her grandfather’s immigration from China to the U.S.

Year Released: 2015

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Teaching Freedom, Fairness, and Equality

In this immigration and civic engagement lesson plan, student will wrestle with the essential question: how deep is our commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?  They will learn about five historical examples of restrictive immigration law and policy and also about the value of young people’s voices in movements to secure rights.

In the U.S., our political framework requires citizens be involved, informed and engaged. A ‘government of the people’ cannot function if there are no avenues for civic involvement, no methods for community deliberation, or no opportunities to influence government decisions.  Elections, petitions, and public deliberation are all a form of civic participation. It is the role of the people to exercise these rights to participate, and the responsibility of the government to respond and respect them.  Until the civil rights movement over 50 years ago, youth were traditionally left out of opportunities to engage civically, and one of the first places students get an opportunity to engage civically and think critically is in the classroom. 

In "The Purpose of Education" (1947), Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." 

Martin Luther King Jr. activated the power of voice and helped people understand that you don’t have to be a gifted orator to be heard; rather, you have to possess passion and be equipped with knowledge that allows you to make critical, well-informed decisions that improve our society.  With social media and technology at times taking the place of marches and protests and augmenting others, the young activist of the new millennium has the power to bring the issues of their community to be heard and seen globally.Read more...

Year Released: 2015

9-12

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Writing A Way In: Multiple Perspectives on Executive Action

The President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Action has been greeted with joy, relief, sadness, and contempt.  How can one decision trigger so many varied responses?  By weaving non-fiction accounts into creative writing, students will be able to write their way into understanding the multiple perspectives that surround this immigration issue. 

For lesson procedures, Common Core standards alignment, please click here.

Year Released: 2015

9-12+

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"Behind the Mountains" by Edwidge Danticat

Teach students about the values of immigration and increase awareness of the adjustments faced by immigrants by reading Edwidge Danticat’s novel Behind the Mountains.  This gripping story chronicles the experience of Celiane Esperance, a young girl living in Haiti, who is forced to flee political violence to the US with her mother and brother and reunite with her father in Brooklyn, NY.  Along the journey, Celiane captures her thoughts and feelings in a journal she affectionately names her “sweet little book.”  This comprehensive unit plan includes activities for students to: keep a dialectical journal while reading, decipher the meaning of figurative language in Haitian proverbs and art, apply the “push-pull” factors of immigration, understand how a “duality of cultures” and “stages of adaptation” function in the lives of immigrants, as well as write an argumentative essay.

For lesson procedures, Common Core standards alignment, please download the Unit Plan.

Download Handouts:Read more...

Year Released: 2015

9-12

Just What is Executive Action? A Lesson From the Principal’s Desk

Much has been made of the president’s use of executive action in order to carry out the nation’s laws. It is a vague term that puzzles many in the media and raises large questions. Is it legal? Is it an abuse of power? Is it constitutional? Has it been used by Democratic and Republican presidents alike?

As suggested by the title, “Just What is Executive Action? A Lesson from the Principal’s Desk” students will apply inductive reasoning skills about individual school policies that are determined by the principal in order to understand what execution action is and its limitations. Students will apply their knowledge of school policy in order to define executive action in their own words as well as to read the media for accuracy and bias. An extension of this activity is also available for students to closely read a report Executive Grants of Temporary Immigration Relief, 1956-Present published by the American Immigration Council.

  • For lesson procedures, Common Core standards alignment, please click here.
  • For the student handout close-read of Executive Grants of Temporary Immigration Relief, 1956-Present, please click here.

Year Released: 2014

9-12

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The First American Settlers and the First Thanksgiving

Learn and discuss the myths and facts surrounding the first Thanksgiving and the first immigrants by engaging students in a thought-provoking and humorous read-aloud that challenges them to identify dominant and resistant readings of this national holiday.

For lesson procedures, Common Core standards alignment, please click here.

Year Released: 2014

3-5

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