Stories of 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 4

2nd Grade

Unit Summary

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 part 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 part of the unit, 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.

Students focus on noticing the connection between events. While the language of the standards does not explicitly state the type of connections students are exploring, students notice the cause-and-effect and chronological connections between events and how the connections influence events in a person's or family’s life. Students also begin to explore the author’s purpose, exploring why an author may write a particular text and how that influences the type of details they include in the text and why. When discussing the text with partners, small groups, or the whole class, students will continue to work on engaging with the thinking of others. Students will continue to focus on building on others’ talk in conversations, with an emphasis on asking for clarification and further explanation if needed.

Students will continue to work on building writing fluency by writing daily in response to the Target Task question using simple and complex sentences. Throughout the unit, students will also participate in both informational and opinion writing: Students will research culture in their community and, through a variety of opinion writing projects, learn to state an opinion, include reasons to support the opinion, use linking words to connect the opinion and reasons, and write a strong concluding statement.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials


These assessments accompany this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Before you teach this unit, unpack the texts, themes, and core standards through our guided intellectual preparation process. Each Unit Launch includes a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning to ensure you're prepared to support every student.

Essential Questions

  • Why do people immigrate to the United States?
  • What challenges do people face when they are immigrating to the United States?
  • How are our communities enriched by the contributions of immigrants?

Reading Focus Areas

  • To understand the big idea in an informational text, readers need to think about how key details are connected.

  • Authors always have a purpose for writing a book. They use the details in the book to convey their purpose.

Writing Focus Areas

Informational Writing

  • Participate in shared research and writing projects.

  • Brainstorm and outline using a Single Paragraph Outline.

  • Introduce the topic to a reader.

Opinion Writing

  • State an opinion. 

  • Include two to three reasons to support the opinion.

  • Choose strong evidence to support an opinion.

  • Use linking words to connect opinion and reasons.

  • Write a strong concluding statement.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Build on others' talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others.

  • Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation.



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


-ful -less de- in- re-

To see all the vocabulary for Unit 4, view our 2nd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Supporting All Students

In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.

Content Knowledge and Connections

  • 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.

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Common Core Standards

Core Standards


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