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Lesson Plans

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.

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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 Immigration Policy Center.

For lesson procedures, Common Core standards alignment, 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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Public Education for All? Lessons From Plyler v. Doe

Today’s debate about immigration’s effects in public schools raises important questions of access, citizenship, legality, and fairness. 

In this lesson, students will explore personal beliefs about immigration and education, and then do a close reading of an article about the landmark Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision.   Lastly, students will read the Joint “Dear Colleagues” Letter sent by the US Department of Education and US Department of Justice in May 2011 to school administrators reminding them of the court’s historical stance on ensuring public education for all.  Using this knowledge, students will then have an opportunity to respond in email to a scenario where public education for all is threatened.

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

Year Released: 2014

9-12

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Interactive Immigration Timeline

Students will understand key government legislation on immigration in order to explore the historical tensions between welcoming and barring immigrant groups by engaging in an interactive immigration timeline scavenger hunt.

To access the lesson, you will need student computers with Internet capability.

For lesson procedures and standards alignment please click here.

Year Released: 2014

5-7

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Famous Immigrant Contributions

Use this slideshow presentation and writing activity to help students challenge perceptions of immigrant contributions and to explore how the US benefits as being a culturally rich nation.

To access the lesson, you will need PowerPoint and audio/visual equipment.

For lesson procedures and standards allignment, please click here.

 

Year Released: 2014

5-7

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"Jeopardy Like" Immigrant Experience Game

This interactive activity will entertain your classroom and get your students thinking about US immigration history, policy, and experiences.

To access this lesson, you will need PowerPoint and audio/visual equipment.

For lesson procedures and standards allignment, please click here.

Year Released: 2014

5-7

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