Over the past four years, I have attempted (in various ways) to teach immigration to my 4th graders, but I've never quite been satisfied with my lessons, and have never felt like I've adequately struck a balance between the past and the present.
And then 2016 happened, and the conversation shifted and everything felt more urgent and personal. Now the challenge became how to address the topic of immigration in all its complexity and nuance. At the heart of it all, I wanted my students to have some kind of empathy for the decisions that prompt people to immigrate (legally or otherwise) and the struggles immigrants have faced along their journeys.
This past winter, I took a course on Guided Inquiry Design, and I decided that even if I couldn't implement it 100% faithfully, I would borrow elements from it to help shape my unit. To start, I created poster-sized primary source images from different periods of immigration. I divided students into groups and asked them to write down their observations and thoughts on stickies. It was fascinating to listen to them and to read their observations - some were outright shocked at the blatant racism of the posters, others were not sure what they were looking at, but it got them thinking and wondering.
The next step was to debrief what we had looked at and to examine some statistics/charts/maps as a group. I would have liked to give the kids more time to dig in independently, but we were fast up against the end of the year. I put each of the images on a Padlet (free to copy and adapt!) along with some other questions for us to consider. I was really impressed with some of the thoughts kids came up with, especially as the context of some of the pictures became clearer to them. They wondered what might happen to the migrants riding on top of the trains if there were a thunderstorm, what it must be like to walk for miles and miles across Turkey and Europe. We talked about legal immigration and what barriers may exist for people who wish to immigrate legally, we talked about leaving behind everyone and everything you know to start a new life, and we talked about the risks involved.
The next step was to look at two excellent data sources from
My name is Ms. Bery. I am a PK-8 library media specialist in the Boston area. In addition to being a certified school librarian, I am also certified in instructional technology, and have a strong interest in exploring and integrating technology in new and exciting ways in the classroom.
I am also a 2016 PBS LearningMedia Local Digital Innovator, and a 2015 recipient of the Massachusetts School Library Association's President's Award.
Check out the Sandbox for apps and websites I've found useful in supporting student learning and creativity. I also review children's, middle grade, and young adult books on Instagram.
Other Library Websites