You are on page 1of 10

ImMIgration: Narrative

Our unit is entitled ImMIgration. It is a unit for 4th grade that starts at the very

beginning, assuming the students have no prior knowledge on the topic. However, we

acknowledge that students will all have some thoughts or ideas about what immigration is and

how it impacts our country due to the fact that it is very prevalent in current events. We want our

students to come away from our unit with a better understanding of immigration as a complex

topic that affects many people in many different ways, and give them a safe space to learn and

discuss the issue. We want our students to come away with in increased understanding of the

experience immigrants to the United States face, and the challenges that come with it. We also

hope to emphasize the importance of being informed citizens, especially about topics such as this

that are quite controversial. This is a practice of good citizenship.

We put our lessons in the order that we believe helps weave the threads together the best.

The threads are woven together by including things from previous lessons throughout the other

lessons, and by including sub-threads within the larger lesson plan. Some examples include: In

the first lesson, we introduce immigration, and help the students consider the personal story of an

immigrant, as well as consider the push & pull factors present in the story. In our second lesson,

geography, we again tie in push & pull factors when thinking about geography and how it

influences and draws people. Again in the history lesson, push & pull factors will be considered,

along with the economic influence immigrants had in the United States historically. In our

economics lesson, we will help students understand how immigrants influenced the culture of the

United States by starting businesses, which will also tie in history. In our second lesson on
culture, students will again consider how the cultures immigrants brought to the United States

influenced that culture in the past and present.

Cross-content material will be taught throughout the unit. Students will consider the

percentages of immigrant populations and graph the populations of immigrants in the past (both

concepts they will have already learned). Students will read the story of an immigrant, and read

and summarize different current event articles on immigration. As you can read in the narrative,

a variety of pedagogical approaches will be taken. Several include: showing videos, grouping

students in partners or small groups, and a simulation activity.


To start off our immigration unit, we first want to brainstorm with students about what

they think immigration means. We want this to be a conversation that will kick-start students

thoughts and also help the teacher gauge where the class is in terms of prior knowledge on the

topic. We do not expect students to have any prior knowledge, but we know they will have their

own beliefs based on their experiences. This is inevitable because it is such a current hot-button

issue in our country.

First, the students will write their own ideas on scratch paper. After a few minutes of time

to think, the whole class will enter into a discussion and share their ideas with the class, while the

teacher writes the responses on the board. Next, students will receive an article entitled Julia

Moves to the United States, which they will read independently. This article is beneficial

because it provides a very personal look into the story of an immigrant. After all students have

finished reading, they will discuss what they read with someone sitting around them. The

discussion questions include: What did you think about this story? How did it make you feel?
Can you relate to any part of Julias story? During this time, the teacher will be patrolling

throughout the room and listening in on conversations. After the students have discussed with a

partner, the teacher will call the class back together, and give students the chance to share with

the whole class what they talked about in their partnerships.

The class will then work together to create their own definition of immigration. The

teacher will help in guiding the students to make a definition that is both accurate and respectful.

This definition will be referred to by the class throughout the rest of the unit. The teacher will

then pose the question, How did immigration affect the characters in this story? The teacher

will define push & pull factors and ask the students to identify the ones specific to this story.

Finally, the teacher will ask After reading this story, did anything you think change? Do you

think any differently about immigration after reading this story? The class will then add to their

brainstormed list from the beginning of class. As an exit ticket, students will write their answer

to the following question on a post-it note: What are 2 new things you learned about

immigration through reading Julias story?


This lesson will start off with an activity on push & pull factors. The class will be divided

up into partners, and each partnership will receive a slip of paper with either a push or pull factor

on it. These include: Drought, Poverty, Religious Freedom, Family in an area, Natural disasters,

New job opportunities, Safer environment, Better education, Unemployment, Lack of land,

Better healthcare, Higher income, Conflict/Fighting, and Poor living conditions. The board will

be labeled with Push and Pull, one on each half. After a minute or two to discuss with their

partner, each group will take turns going up to the board and placing their slip of paper on the
correct half of the board, taking a few seconds to explain their choice. If someone in the class

disagrees with their answer, have the class vote on where to put it. After all students have put

their slips up, ask this question to the whole class: Why do you think these push & pull factors

are important? Discuss this questions together.

Next, using something to project, the teacher will pull up the GCIR (Grantmakers

Concerned with Immigrant Refugees) website. This is an interactive map that provides

information and statistics down to the county within the United States. The teacher will give a

basic tutorial to the students of how this site works, and explain that the days lesson will focus

on seeing geographical patterns of where immigrants live. The students will then receive a

worksheet that they will complete with a partner. This worksheet will structure an investigation

where the students will compare different counties and their rates of immigration.

After about 15 minutes of work time, the class will come back together and students will

share what information they found. The teacher will guide the discussion by asking, What

patterns are you noticing? Why do you think more immigrants would settle in that area? What

factors would contribute to this? The teacher should make sure that students understand that

immigrants are generally concentrated around cities because there are more jobs there, and

communities begin to form and attract more people.

The teacher will then continue this discussion after showing some video clips of

immigrants to Detroit, MI talking about the factors that influenced their immigration. Students

will identify push & pull factors mentioned in the video. As an exit ticket at the end of class,

students will answer the following question: How would you feel if you immigrated to a new


For this lesson, students will have already developed an understanding of push & pull

factors, and also know that immigrants tend to flock to cities for work and community. The

lesson will begin by a graphing activity. The students will have to guess where certain numbers

representing the population of Michigan should go on a graph that is labeled with years from the

past. The students must be able to provide an explanation for their graphs. A few students will

share their graphs with the class while their peers can agree or disagree with their graph. The

class will then discuss why the graph looks the way it does and what influence immigration had

on the population of the state.

The students will then learn about the history of farming in the state of Michigan. First,

the students will label a map of Michigan with different groups of immigrants in the proper

location. Next, the map will be labeled by three major crop yields. Students will be able to see

that the agricultural hotspot correspond to where immigrants settled. Next, students will learn

about the history of the lumber industry in Michigan and examine historical photos; Finally, the

automobile industry and its origin will be studied. For both of these, discussion will take place

to solidify the connection between the immigrants and the industries.

At the end of the lesson, a review of push & pull factors will take place, along with a

discussion on where immigrants tend to settle and why. Students will consider the question: If

you were an immigrant to Michigan in the year 1910, where would you settle, and why?

Several students will share their answers with the whole class. As an exit ticket, students will

answer the following questions: How would the state look different if immigrants had stopped
coming in 1860? In 1910? & How did the presence of immigrants shape the culture of



This lesson will begin with activating students background knowledge by asking them to

talk with a partner about what they learned in the last lesson about how immigrants impacted

Michigans economy in the past. This will then open into a whole class discussion.

The teacher will then introduce the simulation game that the class will be playing in this

lesson. The three possible roles that students will fill for the game include worker, consumer, and

business owner. The purpose of the game is to either to have as much money or as many apples

as you can. The students will receive an envelope with their role, apples or money, and the

instructions included. After running the simulation for five minutes, the class will then discuss

what they had to do to be successful. The simulation will then be run again, this time with fewer

workers and consumers. This is intended to represent immigrants in society. After the simulation

is run again, the teacher will help the students understand this, as well as explore the reasons why

the simulation was different this time.

Finally, the teacher will show an infographic to the class, which will provide information

about immigrants and how they have influenced the economy of the state of Michigan. As an

exit ticket, students will answer the following question: What is one way immigrants affect the

economy in Michigan today?


The first civics lesson of the unit will begin with a review as students talk with a partner

about what they have learned about immigration so far throughout the first four lessons of the
unit. After then discussing this as a class, students will again talk with their partner about what it

would be like if there were no rules at school. Again, this will then open up to sharing with the

whole class. Finally, pairs will discuss what it might look like in our country if there were no

laws before moving to the larger group.

The teacher will then write the word citizenship on the board. The class will then work

together, with the teacher helping to scaffold, to create a definition for the word. Then, the class

will respond the the question: What do you think it means to be a good citizen? After students

have a chance to answer, the teacher will then introduce five important parts of good citizenship:

valuing education, using political power, having a strong commitment to their country, being

responsible, and obeying laws. After introducing each of these, the teacher will call on students

to share why why they think these are important.

The teacher will then move on to the next part of the lesson, reading articles, and

emphasize to the class that we can educate ourselves to become better, more informed citizens.

The whole class will read an article called Issue Overview: Immigration Reform, and then

summarize what they read in 2-3 sentences. Half the class will then read and summarize one

article, while the other half of the class will do the same with a different article. The class will

then pair up with someone that read the opposite article as them and share their summaries. Each

half of the class will then share what they learned from the article with the rest of the class, using

it to provide facts.

The class will the debrief with a discussion. The teacher will ask the class: What aspects

of good citizenship were mentioned in the article? and How do you think this activity

represented a part of being a good citizen?. Students will hopefully answer that they became
more educated through learning about current events through a reliable news source. Encourage

students to know their facts from trustworthy places before forming opinions. Finally, the

students will complete an exit ticket by writing down one thing they learned about immigration

that day and one thing they can practice being a good citizen in their community or school.


The second lesson on civics focuses on learning about the legal side of immigration. It

will begin by brainstorming all the ideas that students can think of as to what it takes for

someone to become a legal citizen of the United States. All ideas, correct and incorrect, will be

recorded so that students have something to look back on at the end of the lesson.

The teacher will then write the definition of visa on the board and explain it to the class.

They will also explain to the class how a visa can be obtained. A video will then be shown that

will explain the challenges of entering the United States legally, after which the teacher will lead

the class in a discussion. The purpose of learning about this is to better understand the US

government and how its processes work, as well as destigmatizing the term illegal immigrant.

Next, the process of becoming a citizen of the United States will be outlined, and the term

naturalization will be defined and written on the board. The students will then work in small

groups to complete a 15 question citizenship sample test. The students will likely not know most

of the answers, but part of the purpose of this activity is so that they will realize how challenging

it is. The teacher will then guide the class in correcting this test.

The students will then receive a handout called What Are the Benefits and

Responsibilities of Citizenship? After time for them to read through it, the teacher will quiz them

by having them raise their hand to identify each of the items as being a benefit/right or a
responsibility. The teacher will then direct the class attention back to the brainstormed list of

what it take to become a citizen that was made at the beginning of class. All items will be

reviewed, and either removed if inaccurate, or left if correct. The teacher will end the class with a

discussion on the students opinions on the process to obtain a visa or become a citizen, before

finishing with an exit slip where students will write three things they learned in the lesson.


This second lesson on culture is rooted primarily in discussion, as students will consider

their own cultures and the cultures of others, and share with the class. It will start with a

worksheet that has a matching activity on it, to be done with a partner. There will be a list of

things common in American culture (Olympic games, Christmas trees, etc.) along with a list of

the countries they originally came from. The purpose of this worksheet is to help students

understand that American culture is very rich and diverse, and many other cultures have

influenced our country, often by means of the immigrants that bring their traditions with them.

After going over the correct answers of the worksheet as a class, invite the students to share other

things that American culture has adopted .

The students will then brainstorm ideas of what the broad term culture means. After

brainstorming as a class, the teacher will then offer a definition of culture. Students will then

consider the following question: What role did immigrants play in the culture we see in

America? The teacher ask students to think about the elements of culture in their own lives,

modeling for the student what this could look like. Possibilities include religion, family

traditions, and foods. The students will form their own list, then share in small groups. The
teacher will then ask to the class Did you all write down the same things? The students will

likely answer no, and from there the class will talk about why they did not.

The class will then move on to discuss why having different cultures is important and

why it is a good thing. The teacher should emphasize the importance of cultural differences and

diversity. The students will then answer the final question on the worksheet: What would it be

like to move to a totally new culture? What would be hard about it? What would be exciting?

Scary? Encourage students to consider all the aspects of culture that were discussed: language,

food, religion, etc. Students will share their responses. Finally, the teacher will ask, Does this

make you think differently about immigration? After discussing this as a class, the students will

complete the following exit ticket: Name two elements of culture, and give one example of

culture unique to your own life.