Virtual Ellis Island Museum Unit
- Grade level:Elementary, High School
- Subject Area: Social Studies, Language Arts
Using the criteria developed in lesson two,
conduct oral histories of family members to learn about their cultural and
ethnic heritage. Prior to starting, students and teachers develop a list of
questions that students will use in their interviews and research.
In conducting their oral histories students will:
- Develop an understanding of their cultural and ethnic heritage and the
cultural and ethnic heritages of others.
- Learn to conduct interviews.
Materials and Resources Needed
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about
and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit
LETSNet website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons
or activities have a computer
(PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components (mouse,
keyboard, and monitor) as well as software (operating system, TCP/IP
software, networking or dial-up
software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape,
Mosaic or Lynx). In the section below, we specify any "special"
hardware or software
requirements for a lesson or activity - over and above those described above
well as our sense of the Internet access required to do the activity.
Special hardware requirements: None.
Special software requirements: None.
Internet access: Medium-speed (28,000 BPS
- Talk with students and describe what an oral history is. Discuss how
they will conduct oral histories of family members to examine their cultural
and ethnic heritage from the perspective of immigration.
- As a whole group, brainstorm a list of questions that students will use
as a guide in their interviews.
- Have students develop a list of items-- photographs, drawings,
artifacts, etc.-- that students might gather as part of their research to
enhance their final reports.
- Talk with students about how they might choose which relative or
relatives to interview. They may end up interviewing a family member who
immigrated to this country. If no living family member immigrated, students
should talk with parents, and grandparents to find out what their ancestors'
- Students conduct their interviews and write up their findings.
Below are some sample questions that you might
use with your students to guide their oral history interviews.
Students may be interviewing family members who
immigrated, or they may interview family members to find out what they
know of their ancestors' and why and when they immigrated. These questions
have been designed to work with people who themselves immigrated. They
can be easily reworded to work in the latter case.
- What was the primary reason you immigrated to this country?
- When did you come to the United States?
- Where was your home before you moved to the United States?
- What did you do in your homeland before you moved here?
- Where did you first settle when you came to this country?
- Did you know English when you came here? What other languages did
- What was the trip to the U.S. like? Did you come over land, by boat, or
by plane? Was the trip hard or easy? Were you ever worried or frightened?
- What were your first impressions of the United States? Did your first
experiences live up to what you had hoped for?
- Did you experience any racism or prejudice when you moved to this
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