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Lesson Plan June 14, 2021

Underreported Stories of Migration: How Displacement Empowers Global Youth


This unit was created by Ruth-Terry Walden, a public high school teacher in Stamford, CT, as part of the spring 2021 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program on Stories of Migration. It is designed for facilitation across approximately seven 7590 minute live or virtual class periods.

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

Unit Objectives:

Students will be able to…

  • Familiarize themselves with, and identify, various terms relating to human displacement and movement (both voluntary and involuntary)
  • Discuss cogently the following:
    • Why various human groups migrate:
    • The challenges youth face when migrating
    • How migration impacts identity
    • How migration influences the value students (particularly youth) place on their country of origin?
  • Improve vocabulary in preparation for their reading in this unit and possible standardized assessment
  • Complete several assessments designed to them understand the concept of human movement for safety and survival; contemporary geopolitical issues; youth empowerment and activism
  • Demonstrate their ability to connect historical events and contemporary geopolitical crisis for deeper understanding of the global human condition
  • Develop independent exploration skills as critical thinkers, readers, and writers as they progress academically.

Unit Overview:

As part of this seven-lesson unit, which is designed to be facilitated over 10-15 days, students examine several underreported global news stories of human interest that focus upon the displacement of youth worldwide. They also evaluate how this displacement fosters both individual and collective empowerment for positive social change. Students process their analysis through the creation of original videos and scripts that capture personal connections they have made to themes in the articles they explored.


Enduring Unit Understanding(s):

  1. Cultural memory begins at birth; place, space and time shape cultural identity. Displacement and human movement for safety and survival assumes that the resilience of children and youth in adapting to new surroundings is “an erroneous given.”  
  1. Yet the testimonies of youth in exile demonstrate that this particular demographic faces tangible social trauma as a result of various forms of displacement and human movement. 
  1. And it is through overcoming this cultural /social trauma that they empower themselves with agency and advocacy to find their individual and collective voices to effect positive social change. 
  1. An individual is shaped by many experiences during the course of his/her/their life, and these experiences determine whether morality and social activism, or materialism, or a combination of both become the guiding force in their lives.  Human Migration in many cases can place these dilemmas squarely in front of displaced youth and demand that they choose. 
  2. Resistance through direct action and peaceful protest is the foundation of human liberation, as evidenced through the sustainability of global democracies. 

Yearlong Essential Question:

Morality (Social Activism) vs. Materialism: How does each concept shape an individual’s path in life?

Unit-Specific Essential Questions:

  1. Does the American Dream exist for global youth born outside of the U.S. today and/or is the fight for global equity and gender equality actually that dream?  
  2. How does agency (individual and collective) form identity?
  3. How does contemporary pop culture/American literature illustrate and reinforce that dream? 
  4. Who are the global protest artists that provide the background music for youths’ motivations and actions?  
  5. How does this global pop culture support the need for resistance through the reclamation of street space?
  6. How does human displacement foster youth empowerment and agency?
  7. How do the voices of youth who have been displaced from their countries of origin influence how adults make policies globally?
  8. What role does access to global information technology play in driving youth communication and empowerment?  

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