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Impact II: Projects & Lesson Plans: Coming to America

Coming To America

HOW IT WORKS
Coming To America teaches students about the history of immigration in the United States: how it has affected the population of our country, and how it continues to change and influence its development. We learn about the many different groups of people who have left their country of origin for the United States. We explore some of the reasons someone might be compelled to come to America, leaving their past and perhaps their possessions and family members behind. And we discuss the different feelings that a new immigrant to this country might have, as well as what a person might experience upon entering his/her new home. Students also get a chance to discuss and explore the backgrounds, experiences, and stories  that are part of their own family history. During this program, students read literature and respond to it in writing, artwork, and discussion.  They conduct research on the Internet using non-fiction sources, write reports and narrative accounts, and interview immigrants. They take part in an imaginative role play in which they pretend to be an immigrant family—designing and measuring suitcases and deciding which items would be most useful in their new country. 
Students also role-play dealing with all the procedures of immigration, step-by-step, in a mock Ellis Island setup; and they create graphs and charts using computer applications (Kid Pix) and go on a field trip to Ellis Island. 

THE STUDENTS
This program is appropriate for grades three through nine, with the reading level of the literature varied according to grade level, and it can be used with small groups or larger ones that are divided into cooperative groups. It addresses all learning styles including visual and kinesthetic, and audio learners can be utilized cooperatively, so all levels of achievement and learning abilities can be accommodated.

THE STAFF
Frances Hidalgo is the teacher of a third-grade integrated class at P.S. 164 Caesar Rodney School in Brooklyn, New York. She was a literacy cluster teacher last year. This is her first year teaching in a classroom and the first year the program Coming To America has been used. 

WHAT YOU NEED
Coming To America can be implemented in any classroom-type setting. Computers (one for each cooperative group is suggested) are needed as well as Internet access. Since the program relies heavily on a literature impetus for all activities, trade books with immigration themes are very important. The books are chosen according to the class population for that year. We are located in a neighborhood with a large Jewish population, so we also choose books with themes that deal with Jewish immigration. 

OVERALL VALUE
This program utilizes many web sites about immigration that the children visit to perform research and to generate ideas. It also includes interviews with parents who have immigrated, as well as a field trip to Ellis Island. Coming to America addresses the curriculum areas of Social Studies, Mathematics, Science, and Art. It uses technology in the form of Internet research, incorporates illustration programs and spreadsheet/chart applications, and provides a subject matter that children can easily identify with. And exploring their own family history and perhaps their own personal experiences with immigration can have a positive effect on the students’ self-esteem.  

CURRICULUM AREAS
Social Studies
Math
Science
Arts
Technology

GRADES
Grade 3-9

MORE INFORMATION

Frances Hidalgo
Caesar Rodney School
P.S. 164
Caesar Rodney School
4211 14th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11219
franchlk@earthlink.net
Principal
 Ann Marie Gillen

IMPACT II Catalog 2001-2002

 

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