Strengthen your Gilded Age or Progressive Era unit with an exploration of the Ellis Island immigrant’s experience. Read the moving poetic words of Emma Lazarus, hear the retelling of memories by living immigrants, and examine the massive statistics each of these 12 million American Dreamers helped create. Culminate your students’ understanding with an interview project of their own!
Historical thinking skills strengthened
- Annotate and analyze written, oral, and statistical primary sources for quantitative and qualitative evidence
- Annotate and analyze poetry using the DECODE method
- Plan, conduct, narrate, and reflect on own interview
learning to really listen and learn from others’ experiences.
America is 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 a sampling of Americans who help make up the Ellis Island immigrant story, guiding them truly articulate their beliefs on “What is the American dream?”
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 mini unit can be done well in anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks.
Included in this mini unit:
- Unit coversheet and detailed daily lesson plans from the unit hook to the final assessment
- Concept definition sheet for student note taking
- Hook: Analysis of Emma Lazarus’s famous poem, “The New Colossus”
- Current Day: Recent naturalized citizens and current immigration data analysis
- Ellis Island oral history interviews annotating and analysis
- By the Numbers statistical analysis
- Short film “Ellis” analysis
Culminating, summative assessment
- 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
- 2 Skill Sheets: Annotating a Text, DECODE Poem Source Analysis
- 23-slide EDITABLE Power Point of images, maps, data, links to online resources, and student directions to support your daily lessons
Want to make this into a whole unit?
What is Our American Story: Immigration & the American Dream PBL Unit
explore Ellis Island, the Great Migration, and Vietnamese Americans in this complete thematic unit