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Book Review: Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel by Anya Ullnich

Graphic novels are not just for students. Although the genre tends to appeal to a younger audience, some authors such as Anya Ullnich, who writes for an older audience, uses the genre in order to literally illustrate the complexity of her personal immigration story.

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Year Released: 2015

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

Students Read and Review Shaun Tan’s The Arrival

Author: Shaun Tan

Reviewed by: Owen Bouchard, Tyler Garry, Alia Higgins and Julia Semmel
Joseph A. DePaolo Middle School, Southington, CT

A number of people have never been to another country. They don’t know what it is like to be an immigrant; however, if they read Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, the readers would have a better understanding of the troubles that people go through. The immigrant protagonist in the story leaves his family behind to start a new life. This story helps the reader relate to the sorrow, longing, and unfamiliarity that many immigrants experience. 

Tan’s abstract art conveys a difference between old and new. The fanciful and bright details in the artist’s depiction of a new, more advanced country is relatable for any reader who has experienced awe of their surroundings. There is plenty more to this story than simply the journey and acclimation of the character, such as: the emotions of his departure, the loss of his family, and the wonders of a new world. Further, the story is all told through black and white pictures.

Tan’s story starts with a simple family: a husband, wife, and young girl in a gloomy and melancholy environment. They are seen packing to leave. Whilst they walk down the street, reptilian spines snake their way in between uniform rows of drab, dreary houses. Later, the husband gets on a train after a seemingly painful farewell.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+

How the Novel Americanah Explores Immigration, Race, and Love

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Told through a series of flashbacks,  by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, captures the stories of two Nigerians, Ifemelu and her childhood friend/first love, Obinze, who enter themselves into self-imposed exiles in America and Great Britain after their options for education are squelched by a military dictatorship back home. Read more...

Year Released: 2015

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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How the Film Spare Parts Presents an Opportunity for Educators

The film, “Spare Parts” is both emotionally uplifting and disheartening, and a film that can resonate with the viewer on both these levels is worth watching.  Based on the true story of four undocumented students and their quest to compete in a national robotics championship against the likes of prestigious, well-funded universities such as MIT, the film recounts a compelling tale of the underdog, which is why it made a successful article when it first appeared in Wired magazine in 2005 and a popular book written by the same author, Joshua Davis.  (A book review by us can be found here).  There is something fundamentally relatable about the pursuit of individual dreams and Hollywood capitalized on this phenomenon, while to its credit, showed that part of this dream remains unfulfilled.  Read more...

Year Released: 2015

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