Unit 3: 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.
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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Book: Coming to America: The Story of Immigration by Betsy Maestro (Scholastic Press, 1996)
Book: Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan by Mary Williams (Lee & Low Books, 2005)
Book: Islandborn by Junot Díaz (Dial Books, 2018)
Book: My Diary from Here to There by Amada Irma Pérez (Children's Book Press, 2009)
Book: The Storyteller's Candle by Lucia Gonzalez (Lee & Low Books Inc., 2012)
Book: Xochitl and the Flowers by Jorge Argueta (Children's Book Press, 2008)
Book: Ellis Island (National Geographic Readers) by Elizabeth Carney (National Geographic Kids, 2016)
Book: Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story by Lesléa Newman and Amy June Bates (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2019)
Book: Landed by Milly Lee (Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux, 2006)
Book: La Frontera: El Viaje Con Papa/My Journey with Papa by Deborah Mills, Alfredo Alva, and Claudia Navarro (Barefoot Books, 2018)
Book: The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story by Aya Khalil (Tillbury House, 2020)
Assessment Text: “Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist” by Julie Leung and illustrated by Chris Sasaki ( Schwartz & Wade)
Video: “Angel Island Immigration Station Tour - AIISF” by JJMediaLabs (YouTube)
Video: “Discovering Angel Island: The Story Behind the Poems” by KQED (YouTube)
These assessments accompany this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
Download Content Assessment
Download Content Assessment Answer Key
Download Cold Read Assessment
Download Cold Read Assessment Answer Key
Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
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.
Specific skills to focus on when giving feedback on writing assignments
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.
In this unit, students build on the research skills they started to develop in Unit 2 and research a culture in their community. They then focus on writing strong topic sentences that introduce the topic to the reader.
Students write three different opinion pieces in this unit: one letter to a community member explaining why they admire them, another letter to a child whose family is about to immigrate, giving advice, and the final writing defending why and how immigrants enrich a community. In each project, students state an opinion and include reasons to support that opinion. The other focus areas vary, depending on the project.
In this unit, students continue to work on engaging with the thinking of others. Students continue to focus on building on others' talk in conversations, with an emphasis on asking for clarification and further explanation as needed. The focus areas and discourse in this unit align with Tier 2 of the three tiers of academic discourse and all rows of the Academic Discourse Rubric (K-2). See the Teacher Tool on Tiers of Academic Discourse to help support students with the focus areas for this unit.
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
"word got around"
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 3, view our 2nd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
Fishtank ELA units related to the content in this unit.
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.
Describe different reasons people chose to settle in the Americas by identifying and explaining the connection between historical events and ideas.
Describe what happened at Ellis Island by identifying and explaining the connection between historical events.
Explain why the United States is called “a nation of immigrants” by writing simple sentences in the past tense.
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.
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.
Describe the challenges Gittel faced when immigrating to the United States by identifying key details in the text.
Identify the main purpose of the text and infer what the author is trying to explain or describe.
Describe what life was like on Angel Island using details from the video.
Explain why Sun can only use his memory to get to America by recalling key details and events from the text.
Make sentences better and more interesting by combining two or more sentences.
Describe the dangers and hardships the Lost Boys faced by describing reasons an author uses to support points in a text.
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.
Describe the memories the people from the Island bring with them when they moved by describing how reasons support particular points.
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.
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.
Writing – 3 days
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.
Discussion & Writing – 3 days
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.
Describe how Hildamar and Santiago’s feelings about living in El Barrio began to change by drawing conclusions about characters and character feelings.
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.
Describe how and why Xochitl and her family bring El Salvador to California by describing key details and events from the text.
Explain what the author is trying to teach a reader about immigration by identifying and explaining the main purpose of a text.
Describe the confusing feelings some immigrants have when they immigrate to a new country by identifying character actions, dialogue, and feelings.
Informative Writing – 4 days
Research a culture that is represented in your class or community. Create a presentation to teach others about the culture.
Opinion Writing – 4 days
Defend how immigrants enrich a community. Write a letter that explains how immigrants can enrich the community.
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The content standards covered in this unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
— Form and use the past tense of frequently occurring irregular verbs (e.g., sat, hid, told).
— 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).
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Capitalize holidays, product names, and geographic names.
— Use commas in greetings and closings of letters.
— 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).
— Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
— Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
— Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text.
— Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.
— Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text.
— Describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text.
— Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.
— Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
— Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
— Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
— Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
— Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.
— Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.
— 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.
— Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.
— With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.
— 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).
— Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
Standards that are practiced daily but are not priority standards of the unit
— Consult reference materials, including beginning dictionaries, as needed to check and correct spellings.
— Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 2 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.
— Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
— Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
— Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., describe foods that are spicy or juicy).
— Distinguish shades of meaning among closely related verbs (e.g., toss, throw, hurl) and closely related adjectives (e.g., thin, slender, skinny, scrawny).
— Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
— Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.
— Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently.
— Compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic.
— By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 2—3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
— By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the grades 2—3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
— With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.
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