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Build a strong core of evidence-supported writing and understanding of the main ingredient to America’s world-renown success, the immigrant, with this project-based unit that introduces your students to three major waves of 1900s immigrant- the Ellis Island “new” immigrant, the Great Migration African American, and the Vietnamese American refugee.
Voices heard in this unit:
- Poetic words of Emma Lazarus, Langston Hughes, and up-and-comer, Ocean Vuong
- Oral histories of surviving Ellis Island immigrants
- Narratives of African Americans’ harrowing escape from the South
- Interviews with thriving Vietnamese American business owners
By the end of this unit, your students will be able to:
- Annotate and analyze written, oral, and statistical primary sources for quantitative and qualitative evidence
- Assess and compare the strengths and limitations of various types of primary sources
- Annotate and analyze poems using a simple analytical method
- Utilize and organize source-based evidence to support a claim
- Plan, conduct, narrate, and reflect on own interview
Check out the Preview for a detailed look at this compelling unit or download the FREE Unit-At-A-Glance.
Or, try out this FREE "The New Colossus" Poetry Analysis Lesson from the introduction section of this unit.
Greatness is balancing the individual story with the overarching statistics for effective persuasion.
America is a nation like no other, for many reasons, but perhaps most so for its perennial storyline of the one-part-hopeful, one-part-determined immigrant citizen. Faceless souls who make up the swelled statistics of census data reports; poignant stories of mothers and fathers and children wanting nothing more than what we all want: self-determination. Both tell the rich and patriotic stories of the convergence of our dearest American values: hard work, opportunity, and equality.
Introduce your students to various Americans of three major 1900s immigrant waves with a careful examination of statistical, personal narrative, and artistic expression, helping them truly articulate their beliefs on “What is our American story?” in a culminating DBQ essay.
Leave the boring chronological textbook behind and head straight to the compelling sources that make this question central to our pride and identity as Americans, and engage your students to create their own oral history!
The beauty of a thematic unit is your freedom to mix-and-match, add-and-subtract: each activity is self-contained, allowing for complete customization to meet local standards, time restraints, and interests.
This unit can be done well in anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks.
Included in this complete unit:
>>> Teacher Materials <<<
- 2-Page Unit-At-A-Glance to provide your administrator or parents
- Unit Overview & 8 pages of Daily Lesson Plans from the unit hook to the final assessment
- Answer keys and rubrics (both CCSS-aligned and generic)
- 100-slide editable PowerPoint slideshow with images, links, and student directions
>>> Student Materials & Activities <<<
Focused Skill Mini-Lessons and Handouts
- Annotating a text
- DECODE Poem Source Analysis
- Citing Evidence & Sourcing
- Constructing a Thesis Statement
- Writing appositive clauses sentences
- Maximizing various search databases
- Creating annotated citations
Note Taking & Schema Building Activities
- T-Chart Notes graphic organizer sheet for deeper unit-long understanding
- Concept Definition sheet to develop a nuanced understanding of "immigrant"
- Unit Hook take a close hear to Emma Lazarus’s famous poem, “The New Colossus”
4 Historical Spotlights
- Current Day collaborative quote and data graph activity exploring present-day demographics & analysis of interviews with recent naturalized citizens
- Ellis Island oral history interview and statistical analysis
- Great Migration literary non-fiction, poem, and statistical analysis
- Vietnamese Refugees documentary, poem and statistical analysis
- Document-Based Essay supported by outline template, sentence stems, and rubrics (CCSS-aligned and generic), answering the not-so-simple question, “What is our American story?”
- Oral History Interview supported by step-by-step planning guide, rubrics (CCSS-aligned and generic), exploring the diversity and opportunity that make up the American Dream
NOTE: The Great Migration section of this unit relies on excerpts from the fantastic book, The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson, easily available at your local library or for purchase on Amazon
Note to Homeschoolers
Though the included teacher lesson plans and PPT slides are written to fully support a traditional classroom teacher, this unit is also a great fit for your teenage homeschooler:
- the inquiry, thematic structure of this unit is driven more by critical thinking, reading, and writing skills and a central high-interest question than any one set of state-specific, grade-specific content standards
- a wide age and ability range can easily access the rich variety of sources utilized in this unit, making it perfect for a multi-grade group
- your student’s voice is central to each activity, through talking out their learning, maximizing the one-on-one
- activities can be completed independently and aren’t solely reliant on group or whole-class work
- all utilized resources are included, linked, or easily found at your local library or inexpensively from Amazon
- this unit is independent of a textbook, though one could be used for greater background knowledge
- any activity can easily be left out to customize for your student’s skill level or personal interest
Just want part of this unit?
Mini PBL Unit: Ellis Island Immigrants great way to round out your Gilded Age or Progressive Era unit
Mini PBL Unit: African American Great Migration great way to round out your 1920s, WWII, or Civil Rights Movement unit
Want just the project?
Interview Narrative Project use this universal writing project pack to make almost any unit into a PBL unit!
Want more U.S. History PBL Units?
Six Degrees of Separation: kick off a study of our country’s political and physical features with a “Flat Stanley” style project
1600-1800s American Values: explore the founders of America, from the Puritans to the Nez Perce, and their core values in order to develop one’s own goal and motivational plan of action for the school year
1900s Protest Movements: be inspired by Silent Sentinels to Alcatraz Occupiers to develop one’s own statement of protest or support
1900s American Heroes: explore what it means to be a hero from Madam CJ Walker to John Glenn in order to nominate one’s own hero for recognition
What to go entirely PBL?
U.S. History PBL Course Mega Bundle: get all posted PBL resources in one download and save big!