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Lesson Plan June 10, 2021

Which Way Home? Exploring the Relationship Between Migration and Identity Through Personal Narrative


This unit was created by Keith Calix, a ninth grade teacher in Washington, D.C., as part of the spring 2021 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program on Stories of Migration. It is designed for facilitation across approximately three 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…

  • Explore single stories and counternarratives related to Iranian/Iraqi relations, and their respective implications
  • Creatively explore the intersections of armed conflict, forced migration, identity and health/wellness
  • Identify main ideas, cite textual evidence, and explore author intent/bias through analysis of news stories presented in various media
  • Incorporate personal narrative/experiences to produce clear and coherent writing

Unit Overview:

As part of this three-lesson unit, students engage with several news articles about migration from the Middle East to evaluate how migration, and media representation of migration, influences how the identities of migrants and their children. Through close reading, analysis, and discussion, students engage with the following themes and skills.


  • How do you define home? What has shaped/influenced your definition of home?
  • How might migration impact your sense of identity? Our relationship with “home”?
  • How might single stories/stereotypes impact how we view ourselves? Our relationship with “home”? 
  • How might underreported stories be used to address the negative impacts of single stories?


  • Identifying and analyzing claim and counterclaim 
  • Using current events and underreported stories to identify and interrogate single stories
  • Exploring author intent
  • Incorporating personal narrative to creatively explore core course themes 

Performance task:

In her piece “The Journey Home: The Welcome Home Committee,” which students explore as part of the unit,  journalist Zahra Ahmad’s aunt observes: "There's something deep inside your [Zahra’s] eyes. You seem lost, like you're not fulfilled. That something is missing, like you're caging yourself in. It shows that you've been through a lot and it's trapped you. There is something weighing you down." 

At the conclusion of the unit, students compose a personal essay that responds to this observation and asks students to reflect on their own relationships with “home”. Essays should engage with the following questions:

  • How do you define home? 
  • Have you ever felt disconnected from your home? Why (e.g., perhaps you felt disconnected to an aspect of your culture, perhaps your community was misrepresented on the news, etc.)?
  • How did you respond/What have you learned from that experience?

The pedagogical vision for this unit is to…

  • Foster global citizenship
  • Empower students to seek out underreported stories to combat single stories
  •  Utilize formative and summative assessments to provide regular, individualized and targeted feedback
  • Cultivate a learning experience where students…
    • Encourage one another to consider counter-narratives 
    • Identify and interrogate their own biases and single stories
    • Consider the role of personal narrative, storytelling, and identity

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teal halftone illustration of a family carrying luggage and walking


Migration and Refugees

Migration and Refugees