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Why Teach Immigrant History? Exploring Language Communities of the U.S.

Published on Mon, 12/16/2019

In 2010, when Emerging America first focused on teaching strategies using primary sources to engage and support English Learners, we built the course content around immigration history, expanding the investigation to include the history of American communities that speak languages other than English. A key part of making curriculum accessible to all learners is teaching topics, concepts, and skills that are directly relevant to their lives. Not all English Learners are immigrants, of course. Yet many are, and today’s volatile politics of immigration impact all English Learners. 

Accessible English Learner Lesson Plan - Esperanza Rising & the Great Depression

Published on Tue, 10/01/2019

The novel Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan, offers an immigrant story that can engage all students in themes of loss of home, fairness to workers, and struggle in new situations. It is available in Spanish (print and audio versions) as Esperanza renace. Set in the Great Depression, it is an entry point to historical inquiry, and the following lesson has been written with access for English Learners in mind.

Immigration

The massive influx of immigrants to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries shaped American society both at the time and indefinitely. The following primary source set explores materials organized for the Collaborative for Educational Services and by the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress has crafted a vast number of primary source sets, interactive presentations, and collections to showcase the tremendous volume of materials on the subject.

Modern America: Radical Labor Movement: Radical Labor in the Age of Reform

Beginning in the 1870s, America underwent a second industrial revolution driven by the metal industries. For the worker, opportunities abounded; the United States experienced a massive migration from country to city, while immigrant workers flocked to America from Eastern and Southern Europe. As industrial wealth grew, so did class divisions and class unrest. In this period, a succession of organizations sought to mobilize workers according to a variety of ideologies and structures.

The Immigration Experience Flow Map

The following immigration flow map is a valuable resource both to further understanding of the progression of the immigration experience and as an example of a flow map for virtually any topic or lesson plan. Tracing the origins of the immigrant decision to leave their homes through their settlement into a new environment, this flow map provides visual clarification through primary source materials from the Library of Congress. In addition, educators may use the flow map as an example of how to produce a flow map and how to incorporate primary source documents into sequential order.

Immigration: The Making of America

The following unit plan highlights how patterns of immigration are both similar and different for immigrant groups coming to America. The cornerstone of the unit is a diagram and PowerPoint Presentation detailing the progression of the immigrant experience that serves as a model for a variety of immigrant groups. Included in the set is a Universal Design for Learning chart and an extensive annotated list of primary source documents from the Library of Congress provide a visual reinforcement of the immigrant journey both before, during, and after their arrival in the United States.

Historical Fiction: Setting Study through Primary Sources of the Novel Esperanza Rising

This two-day lesson is based on students acquiring a better understanding of the effects the Great Depression had on migrant workers and their children as portrayed in the novel: Esperanza Rising. The use of photographs, as primary sources, will support understanding of this time period, as well as provoking oral discussion among English Language Learner students. As a summative assessment, students are asked to write a paragraph explaining their increased understanding of the time period through the use of primary source documents.

Immigration versus Nativism

The topic of immigration is just as controversial today as it was at the turn of the twentieth century. In this one-day lesson, students will immerse themselves in the attitudes and opinions of many native-born Americans (Nativists) who did not welcome the arrival of immigrants from certain countries. Students will use music and political cartoons from the period to wonder, investigate, and construct new understandings of the popular opinions towards immigrants at the time.

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