This unit was created by Mary Aiken, a 5th and 6th grade gifted English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at Elkin Park School in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania as part of the 2022-2023 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program. It is designed for facilitation across approximately 6 weeks. For more units created by Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellows in this cohort, click here.
- Use close reading strategies to analyze texts
- Identify key members of their family to interview
- Compose open ended questions to ask their interview subjects
- Analyze underreported stories to learn interview strategies
- Learn basic filming and editing skills
How did my family and I get here?
Why did their family member migrate?
How did migration affect the extended family?
This unit will focus on students’ families and how they migrated either domestically or internationally to get to their current location. As a final project students will create a documentary that will chronicle their family’s journey and their lives now.
Students will analyze a range of first person narratives about immigrants and migrants from various sources in order to understand how and why people move from place to place. The class will analyze society’s treatment of refugees, undocumented immigrants, and documented immigrants.
Students will write personal narratives about their family’s lives, using information that already know and capturing things that they like to do as a family. Students should preferably write about a specific activity or tradition that their family observes participates in. As they are writing, students should start to think about a family member who has a compelling migration story to tell. Using that information, students will reach out to the family members who can tell that story.
Finally, students will craft a 5–7 minute documentary capturing one migration story from their family. Incorporating interviews from at least four unique family members, students will leverage the following questions to explore the legacy of migration in their family:
- Why did their family member migrate?
- How did migration affect the extended family?
Performance Task 1: Short Narrative
Students will write a short narrative about their family history. Using prompts such as:
- Where is your family originally from?
- Why did your family move to this area?
Educator note: Feel free to use more specific prompts if you know more about your students' immigration/migration status.
Performance Task 2: Documentary
Students will make a 5 - 7 minute documentary about their family. The focus will be on migration from one place to their current city/neighborhood. The documentary will feature:
- Student voice over
- Background music
- At least one compelling subject to interview
- Good use of transitions and a well organized layout
Educator note: Feel free to choose just one of these performance tasks if your schedule doesn’t allow for both. I also recommend leveraging accessible experts in filmmaking to support teaching documentary filmmaking skills
Six-week unit plan, including a range of multimedia texts and teacher-created worksheets.
Common Core Standards
Determine the central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences, conclusions, and/or generalizations drawn from the text.
Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium’s portrayal of the subject (e.g. how the delivery of a speech affects the impact of the words).
Students in Ms. Aiken's class made 5–7 minute documentaries about their family's migration story. Review the two examples below:
Andrew Wiederman chronicles his family's migration journey, taking us on a journey to New Jersey, Russia, the Netherlands, and finally, Philadelphia.
Capturing the unique journeys of his parents, Matias Fagnani takes us to Argentina, Delaware and New Jersey to trace his family's migration story.