This is a comprehensive, engaging Immigration Unit for students in grades
4-7, beginning with students’ input regarding their “background knowledge”
about immigration. Another day students will have access to a computer site
to become familiar with five young immigrants’ stories. I have provided a
note-taking chart for students to fill in important immigration information.
The next day students will observe “primary source” photographs of
immigrants on ships and at Ellis Island in groups, (filling out reflection
sheets I have provided). The day after, students will read two immigrants
transcripts about crossing the Atlantic Ocean and will fill out a graphic
organizer that is included. On the following day, students will watch an
award-winning documentary entitled “Immigration Through Ellis Island,”
and answer some critical thinking questions. Last, but not least, students
will do a “close reading” of a young immigrant’s story about his mother,
living and working in the kitchen in America.
I have a list of reading books that students can read in small groups to
complement what they already know about Immigration. As a read aloud,
students can view The Arrival, by Shaun Tan, a brilliant wordless graphic
novel, comparing and contrasting the main character’s immigrant story and
travels to an unfamiliar place students have never seen.
As a culmination of the unit, I suggest that students take events from The
Arrival, create a mini-graphic novel retelling/summarizing this tale, adding
bubbles for words to tell the main character’s story. This will be the final
“application” and “synthesizing” of students’ knowledge that led up to the
reading of The Arrival.