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Exploring Immigration

In this unit students explore immigration by reading a series of narrative nonfiction and fiction texts that highlight the experiences of early and recent immigrants.

Unit Summary

As part of the upgrade to Fishtank Plus, this unit was revised in November 2020. Some texts, materials, and questions may have changed as part of the revision. If you are looking for the 2018-2019 version of this unit, visit our archives.

In this unit, students explore immigration by reading a combination of informational nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, and fiction texts that highlight the experiences of early and recent immigrants. In the first bend of the unit, students are pushed to notice and think about the different reasons people choose to leave their homes and settle in a new community or country. They will also learn about—historically and in the present day—who is allowed to come to the United States and wrestle with whether or not the system is fair.

In the second bend, students will be pushed to think about the different memories, cultural traits, goods, ideas, languages, and skills that individuals and families bring with them when they move to a new place and how these characteristics enrich the community. While students are exposed to a wide variety of immigrant experiences over the course of the unit, not every experience or feeling about immigration is captured in this unit. Because students might be first- or second-generation immigrants, it is crucial to be sensitive to and respect the varying experiences and feelings of students and families. It is our hope that this unit, in connection with others, will help students build sensitivity and empathy for varying cultures and experiences within the United States.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Assessment

This assessment accompanies this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • Why do people immigrate to the United States?
    People immigrate to the United States for many reasons. Some come for the opportunities. They may think that they can get a better job or a better education here. Others are pushed to leave their home country because of war, violence, or persecution. Other people did not get a choice, and were brought here without consent.
  • What challenges do people face when they are immigrating to the United States?People face many challenges when they immigrate to the United States. Sometimes the journey itself is challenging. Alfredo and his father made a dangerous trip across a river and through a desert to find a better life. Amada had to wait for many months without her father as her family waited for their green cards to enter. In the 1900s, Chinese immigrants at Angel Island had to wait for months before they were even let into the country! Sometimes, these challenges are emotional. It is hard to move to a new place because you miss your home country and your life there.
  • How are our communities enriched by the contributions of immigrants?
    All of our communities are enriched by the contributions of immigrants. For example, immigrants bring their customs and traditions for everyone to enjoy. Xochitl’s family loved flowers and brought them to their new neighborhood in San Francisco. Pura Belpre made sure that Puerto Ricans were included at the library. Immigrants also teach their communities about their culture. Kanzi taught her class that Arabic is beautiful and it united them. (Other potential answers: share memories of their home country, speak different languages, create neighborhoods that highlight the culture of their home community for others to enjoy, open stores or businesses to help share talents and customs, participate in community events, etc.)

Foundational Skills

Fluency Focus Areas

  • Read with expression and volume to match interpretation of the passage.
  • Use proper intonation to show interpretation of the passage.

This unit is one of the only units in the science and social studies sequence where the majority of texts are Read Aloud to students. Therefore, the focus of this unit is on modeling reading aloud with prosody. This involves reading with expression, timing, phrasing, emphasis, and intonation in a way that supports comprehension and meaning-making. In later units and during independent reading, students will have multiple opportunities to practice fluent reading in grade-level texts.

Writing Focus Areas

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Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Combine simple sentences to make longer, more interesting sentences.

At this point in the year, students have mastered writing complete sentences and have also learned how to use the conjunctions "because," "but," and "so" to make their sentences more interesting. In this unit, they will learn how to combine, or put together, two or more sentences so that their writing is clear and interesting for their readers.

Opinion Writing Focus Areas

  • Choose strong evidence to support an opinion

In Units 1 and 2, students generated evidence and brainstormed strong topic sentences that are supported by this evidence. In this unit, students will practice using strong evidence to support an opinion. Rather than adding every single fact as evidence, students will weigh which is most important and why.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

Academic Conversations Focus

  • Speaks in complete sentences
  • Uses multiple sentences to answer a question
  • Uses key vocabulary words in answer

Building Language Proficiency

  • Recount/Explain:
    • Identifies key details from a text Read Aloud
    • Elaborates on the causes of events
  • Argue/Discuss:
    • Expresses own ideas and support others
    • Challenges others’ ideas respectfully
    • Asks clarifying questions

Vocabulary

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Text-based

"chimed in" "word got around" admit amnesty appeal ashamed authorities begged bitter bilingual border citizen clenching compass collage defeat descendant denied deported dreading dreadful examine familiar flourish forsaken green card hardship hastily humiliation identification card immigrant interpreter interrogation limit merchant nursery official opportunities poverty provide regulate refugee reunite relief settle/settler speechless steerage stern steamship stealthy unite

Root/Affix

-ful -less de- in- re-

Related Teacher Tools:

Content Knowledge and Connections

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  • People immigrate to a new country for many reasons: Some are looking for a better life (push); others are fleeing poverty, violence, or persecution in their home country (pull). Others live in a place that is not safe and need to leave to live in a safer place. Enslaved people did not get to choose—they were forced here without their consent.
  • Refugees are people who leave their country because it is unsafe.
  • People migrate, or move, in order to solve a problem, such as moving closer to relatives and friends, to be safe, to find a less expensive, healthier, or better life, to find work or education, to be free to practice religion.
  • It is not easy to come to a new country. Sometimes the new country only lets certain people come in. Other times, the journey itself is dangerous. Even though it is difficult, people come because they are desperate to move to the United States.
  • Immigrants make their communities even richer. They bring memories, cultural traits, goods, ideas, and languages or ways of speaking when they move to a different place that makes the community more beautiful.
  • A person’s immigration journey is a major transition that involves a long process of moving to another country and establishing a new life. Not everyone wants to immigrate, but needs to for a better life for themselves and their family.
  • People experience an enormous transition and adjustment in moving to another country. Experiences vary based on how different their new home is, why they left their old home, and if they have support in the new community.

Lesson Map

1

  • Coming to America pp. 1 – 18

    RI.2.3

Describe different reasons people chose to settle in the Americas by identifying and explaining the connection between historical events and ideas.

2

  • Coming to America pp. 18 – 30

    RI.2.3

    RI.2.7

Describe what happened at Ellis Island by identifying and explaining the connection between historical events.

3

Writing

  • Coming to America

    L.2.1.d

    L.2.1.f

Explain why the United States is called “a nation of immigrants” by writing simple sentences in the past tense.

4

  • Ellis Island pp. 4 – 11

    RI.2.7

Explain how the author uses images and diagrams to help a reader better understand early immigration by explaining how specific images contribute to or clarify understanding of a text.

5

  • Ellis Island — Pages 16-23, 26-28

    RI.2.7

Describe how the author uses photographs to help a reader better understand life on Ellis Island by explaining how specific images contribute to and clarify understanding of a text.

6

  • Gittel's Journey pp. 1 – 20

    RL.2.2

    RI.2.3

Describe the challenges Gittel faced when immigrating to the United States by identifying key details in the text.

7

  • Gittel's Journey pp. 21 – 36

    RI.2.6

Identify the main purpose of the text and infer what the author is trying to explain or describe.

8

  • “Discovering Angel Island” — (0:00-6:32)

  • “Angel Island...”

    RI.2.3

Describe what life was like on Angel Island using details from the video.

9

  • Landed — Pages 1-4, 12, 15-24

    RI.2.3

    RI.2.7

Explain why Sun can only use his memory to get to America by recalling key details and events from the text.

10

  • Landed pp. 25 – 35

    RI.2.6

Identify the main purpose of the text and infer what the author is trying to explain or describe.

11

  • Landed

  • Gittel's Journey

    L.2.1.f

Make sentences better and more interesting by combining two or more sentences.

12

  • Brothers in Hope pp. 1 – 20

    RI.2.3

    RI.2.8

Describe the dangers and hardships the Lost Boys faced by describing reasons an author uses to support points in a text.

13

  • Brothers in Hope p. 21 — to end

    RI.2.3

    RI.2.8

Explain what life was like for the Lost Boys in the refugee camp and how life would be different in the United States by identifying and describing reasons an author uses to support points in a text.

14

  • Islandborn pp. 1 – 22

    RI.2.7

    RI.2.8

Describe the memories the people from the Island bring with them when they moved by describing how reasons support particular points. 

15

  • Islandborn p. 23 — to end

    RI.2.6

Identify the main purpose of the text and infer what the author is trying to explain or describe.

16

  • My Diary from Here to There pp. 1 – 21

    RI.2.3

    RI.2.8

Describe the challenges Amada and her family face when trying to get to the United States and how they feel about the different challenges by drawing conclusions about characters and character feelings.

17

  • My Diary from Here to There p. 22 — to end

    RI.2.6

Identify the main purpose of the text and infer what the author is trying to explain or describe.

18

  • La Frontera pp. 1 – 24

    RI.2.3

    RI.2.8

Describe the challenges Alfredo and his Papa face when trying to get to the United States and how they feel about the different challenges by drawing conclusions about characters and character feelings.

19

  • La Frontera p. 25 — to end

    RI.2.6

Identify the main purpose of the text and infer what the author is trying to explain or describe.

20

3 days

Writing

    W.2.1

    SL.2.2

    SL.2.4

    SL.2.6

    L.2.2.b

    L.2.6

Interview a family member, neighbor, friend, or school staff member. Write a letter to the person explaining what you learned from them and why you admire them.

21

3 days

  • All unit texts

    W.2.1

    W.2.5

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.2

    L.2.1.d

    L.2.2.b

    L.2.6

Discuss the different reasons people choose to immigrate and settle in a new community.

Write a letter to a child whose family is about to immigrate and settle in a new community by stating an opinion and supplying supporting reasons.

22

  • The Storyteller's Candle pp. 1 – 15

    RL.2.3

Describe how Hildamar and Santiago’s feelings about living in El Barrio began to change by drawing conclusions about characters and character feelings.

23

  • The Storyteller's Candle p. 16 — to end

    RI.2.3

    RI.2.6

Explain what the author is trying to describe or explain about immigration by identifying and explaining how the Three Kings Day celebration brought the community together.

24

  • Xochitl and the Flowers pp. 1 – 19

    RI.2.3

    RI.2.8

Describe how and why Xochitl and her family bring El Salvador to California by describing key details and events from the text.

25

  • Xochitl and the Flowers p. 20 — to end

    RI.2.3

    RI.2.6

Explain what the author is trying to teach a reader about immigration by identifying and explaining the main purpose of a text.

26

  • The Arabic Quilt pp. 1 – 14

    RI.2.3

    RI.2.8

Describe the confusing feelings some immigrants have when they immigrate to a new country by identifying character actions, dialogue, and feelings.

27

  • The Arabic Quilt p. 15 — to end

    RI.2.6

Explain what the author is trying to teach a reader about immigration by identifying and explaining the main purpose of a text.

28

4 days

Project

    W.2.2

    SL.2.2

    SL.2.4

    SL.2.6

    L.2.6

Research a culture that is represented in your class or community. Create a presentation to teach others about the culture. 

29

4 days

Writing

  • All unit texts

    W.2.1

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.6

    L.2.1.d

    L.2.2.a

    L.2.2.b

Defend how immigrants enrich a community. Write a letter that explains how immigrants can enrich the community.

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.2.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.2.1.d — Form and use the past tense of frequently occurring irregular verbs (e.g., sat, hid, told).

  • L.2.1.f — Produce, expand, and rearrange complete simple and compound sentences (e.g., The boy watched the movie; The little boy watched the movie; The action movie was watched by the little boy).

  • L.2.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.2.2.a — Capitalize holidays, product names, and geographic names.

  • L.2.2.b — Use commas in greetings and closings of letters.

  • L.2.6 — Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.2.3 — Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text.

  • RI.2.6 — Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.

  • RI.2.7 — Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text.

  • RI.2.8 — Describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text.

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.2.2 — Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

  • RL.2.3 — Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

  • RL.2.7 — Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

Reading Standards: Foundational Skills
  • RF.2.3 — Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

  • RF.2.4 — Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.2.1 — Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

  • SL.2.2 — Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

  • SL.2.4 — Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.

  • SL.2.6 — Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

Writing Standards
  • W.2.1 — Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.

  • W.2.2 — Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.

  • W.2.5 — With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.

  • W.2.7 — Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).

  • W.2.8 — Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Spiral Standards

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RI.2.10

RL.2.10