- Grade level:Elementary, High School
- Subject Area: Social Studies, Language Arts
Meet the Teacher
John Schick teaches fifth grade at Alderwood Elementary School [http://wwwald.bham.wednet.edu/] in Bellingham, Washington. John has been teaching for four years -- the past two years at Alderwood and two years in Steilacoom, Washington. Alderwood is a Title One school and has about 300 students, many of whom receive free or reduced lunches. Students at Alderwood come from a rich variety of ethnic backgrounds: Vietnamese, Cambodian, Mexican, Ukrainian, and members of the Native American Lummi tribe. Bellingham is a community about 90 miles north of Seattle and is home to about 60,000 people.
(To learn more about John and his students' Virtual Ellis Island Museum, take a look at his Teacher Case in the Table of Contents on the left.)
In this unit, students will conduct primary and secondary research to learn more about their cultural and ethnic heritage. These explorations will serve as a personal link for students to the historical importance of immigration in United States history. Such personal connections serve both to make history more meaningful and accessible to students and provide a vehicle for developing students' historical thinking skills. Students will use their research to develop web pages on their own cultural and ethnic heritage that will be formed into a virtual museum.
Students' research will include interviews with family members, investigating their heritage using library and Internet resources, and visiting sites set up by other children that are related to the concepts of immigration and ethnic and cultural heritage.
Some important considerations: Some students may not be able or wish to explore their family's heritage. Adopted children and children from troubled familes may prefer to engage in more generalized research on immigration. An ideal subject for such students would be to research and write about the history of immigration in the United States and at Ellis Island in particular. Further, Native American children will have a different perspective on immigration, since many of their ancestors were always here. A research project on their families' heritage can provide these students with an invaluable chance to express their cultural heritage which is so often denied. Students may also be given the chance to research how Native Americans viewed the waves of immigration that took place. African American children also will have a different perspective on immigration, since many of their ancestors were involuntary immigrants. These students can be given a similar chance to research and document their cultural and ethnic heritage. They may also be given the chance to research the realities of the forced immigration that Africans went through, such as the capture and sale of slaves in Africa and the middle passage.
- Students will learn more about their own, as well as their classmates', ethnic and cultural heritages.
- Students will learn about history by conducting primary research through interviewing family members.
- Students will learn about history by conducting secondary research through literature and WWW/Internet searches for information about their cultural and ethnic heritage.
- Students will have the opportunity to learn from their peers by visiting sites set up by children that are related to the unit's concepts of immigration and cultural heritage.
- Students will learn about the resources available on the WWW/Internet through research and guided browsing.
- Students will gain a wider audience for their writing and research.
Materials and Resources
In developing our lessons and activities, we made some assumptions about the hardware and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit the 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, but perhaps 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 - as well as our sense of the Internet access required to do the activity.
- Special hardware requirements: None.
- Special software requirements: None.
- Internet access:A medium speed Internet connection and our list of Internet resources.
For advice on how to adjust the plans if you have only one computer with a hook-up, see below.
Unit Lesson Plans
- Lesson One: Introduction to Immigration. Read and discuss selected resources about children and immigration. Children develop an understanding of the concept of immigration and reasons why people immigrate.
- Lesson Two: Immigration Explorations, Part 1. Organize students into research groups to visit John Schick's Virtual Ellis Island Museum. This site will provide models for students to complete their own research. While students visit the site they should evaluate what type of research students carried out to create their site, how they structured the site, and what sort of information and graphics they included. The list of criteria students develop from their research will guide them in conducting their research and constructing their own site.
- Lesson Three: Oral Histories. Using the criteria they developed earlier, students begin to 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.
- Lesson Four: Immigration Explorations, Part 2. After they've completed their oral histories, students conduct secondary source research using the internet and library resources to learn more about the backgrounds of their family's cultural and ethnic heritages. Students can work together in research groups that have common ethnic/cultural interests.
- Lesson Five: Final Reports. Students write reports, including a summary of their research findings to be shared with friends and families. Students should draw on the criteria developed during their initial explorations to guide the format of their reports.
Relation to Standards
We have drawn on the historical thinking standards outlined by the National Center for History in the Schools as well as evolving standards for K-12 language arts from the National Council of English Teachers (NCET). We feel that these standards provide excellent guidelines for teachers on how to conceptualize social sciences work in their classrooms.
One Computer vs. Many
The plans for this unit are tailored to fit classroom situations where students and teachers have access to several computers with Internet access. To accomodate the classrooms which do not have access to a computer lab with full Internet access, students can work in research groups to explore internet sites and conduct research.
If you have only one computer hooked-up to the internet, you may choose to do one of several things.
During the intial stages of the unit:
- If you have the technology, you may hook-up the computer to a TV monitor or LCD projector. This will allow the whole class to see sites in the preliminary stages when students are exploring sites created by other children.
- You may choose to have students rotate through computer with Internet access in groups.
- You may also download files from the Internet and save them to a disk. Then transfer Netscape [http://home.netscape.com] onto your other computers. Now you can transfer the files you down-loaded to the other non-internet computers to view with Netscape. This will not allow students to explore the pages with hyper-links, but they will be able to access and view the information by opening each file with Netscape.
During the research phase of the project:
- You may choose to have students rotate to a computer with Internet access in research groups composed of students from similar backgrounds, allowing them to gather research as a group.
- You may choose to focus on one ethnic/cultural background for a given period of time-- say one day or week-- where you explore the links broadcasting with a TV or LCD projector. This way students get a sampling of the sort of information that is available.