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Lesson Plan June 17, 2021

Listening to Immigrants’ Stories: Comparing the American Dream to the Reality Upon Arrival to the United States


This unit was created by Vanessa Carcanaquez, a middle school writing and civics teacher at Rachel Carson Elementary  in Chicago, IL, as part of the Spring 2021 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program on Journalism and Justice. It is designed for facilitation across approximately 12 45- minute class periods.

For more units created by Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellows in this cohort, click here.

Unit Objectives

  • Students will gather information and organize ideas to develop into stories for different forms of news media.
  • Students will format and edit stories for publication in a range of media sources.
  • Students will  analyze different news sources to create a deeper understanding about the global stories of immigration. 
  • Students will practice interviewing skills.
  • Students will create an audio presentation to present the individual story of the person interviewed.

Unit Overview

This 12-day  unit focuses on the various experiences of immigrants traveling to the United States. Students will identify a variety of reasons people choose to move to the United States by analyzing a range of texts that detail the individual experiences of immigrants from various parts of the world. Texts and conversation will encompass themes common to the immigrant experience: hope, hardship, and adaptation.

In order to give students a real world application and view of the immigrant experience, they  will learn the skills of interview questioning in order to conduct their own interview. Students will use the texts explored in the unit to inform the questions they craft for their interview.

Performance Task

Students will  record an interview with someone in their life who emigrated: a relative, neighbor, family friend, or school staff member. Students will center their questions on the individual’s expectation of arriving in the United States and the reality of the arrival experience. 

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Migration and Refugees

Migration and Refugees