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

A note from our team: As part of the upgrade to Fishtank Plus, this unit will be revised this year. Some texts, materials, and questions may change as part of the revision.

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 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. Students will then 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 many of our students are first- or second-generation immigrants, it is crucial to be sensitive to and respect the varying experiences and feelings of our 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.

Note: This unit was revised in November 2018 to meet the 2018 Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework Standards.

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Texts and Materials

Core Materials

Supporting Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • What are the different reasons people choose to settle in a community? 
  • Why is the United States called “a nation of immigrants”? 
  • What do individuals and families bring with them when they immigrate to a new place? 
  • How are communities enriched by the contributions of immigrants? 
  • What big ideas do the authors hope to teach about immigration?

Reading Enduring Understandings

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  • Narrative nonfiction texts are written like stories but include factually accurate details. Authors write narrative nonfiction texts to help readers learn and connect with the world around them. 
  • Realistic fiction texts are stories that could have actually occurred to people. The stories resemble real life and are sometimes based off of real-life events. 
  • Authors write texts for a specific purpose. Authors often write narrative nonfiction texts and realistic fiction texts to help answer questions about current or historical events, to explain why things are a certain way, or to describe events or people in the world around them. 
  • Authors include specific details and reasons to help support particular points. Readers notice the reasons an author includes in order to learn more about a topic or idea. 
  • Authors use illustrations in order to help a reader make connections between what they have read and a visual image. Illustrations help a topic or story seem more real. 
  • Identifying the connection between two ideas helps a reader understand what happened in a story and why it happened. (Note: The standards do not specifically mention cause and effect at this level; however, this enduring understanding begins to develop an understanding of cause and effect.) 

This unit uses a combination of narrative nonfiction texts and realistic fiction texts to build students’ understanding of immigration. Across both genres, students will be pushed to think about why the author wrote the text and what the author is trying to answer, explain, or describe. Additionally, students will begin to think about which details an author includes to help support the particular points they are trying to explain or describe. Since understanding why an author writes a text or decides to include certain details requires a deep understanding of the text itself, students will always analyze why an author has written a particular text and what key details they include on the second or third read of a text.

Writing Focus Areas

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Language Focus Areas

  • Forms and use the past tense irregular words
  • Uses commas in greetings and closings of letters

The main language focus of this unit is on using the past tense of irregular verbs. It is assumed from first grade that students are able to form the past tense of regular words, therefore, the focus of this unit is on forming and using irregular verb tenses to write and discuss events that have happened in the past. Students will be introduced to the most common irregular verbs over the course of the unit. After an irregular verb has been introduced, students should be pushed to continue using the verbs daily during discussions and in writing.

Writing-About-Reading Focus Areas

  • Correctly answers question
  • Selects and explains best evidence 
  • Uses effective organization 

The writing about reading focus area in this unit is on answering the question correctly and selecting and explaining evidence. In this unit, students work on using the best evidence, particularly in lessons that push students to notice what the author is trying to teach. This does not mean that students should be quoting from the text or that students should be told to always include two details. Instead, students should learn how to include details that help answer the question correctly. Most often those details should be in their own words. Student work should be scored using our Short Answer Rubric.

Opinion Writing Focus Areas

  • States an opinion about a book or topic
  • Supplies reasons that support the opinion 

In this unit, students begin to explore the genre of opinion writing by writing multiple letters. 

Foundational Skills

Fluency Focus Areas

  • Readers read with expression and volume to match interpretation of the passage
  • Readers 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. 

Suggested Supports: 

  • Multiple times over the course of the unit, prompt students to notice and explain how you are modeling fluent reading. Potential prompts:
    • What did you notice about the way I read X? How does it help a reader better understand what is happening? 
    • What did you notice about my expression during this section of text? Why did I read with expression? How does it help a reader better understand what is happening? 
    • Why did I place extra emphasis on X word? How does it help a reader? 
    • When I read aloud I read fluently. What do you notice about the way I read? How does it help you better understand the story?

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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Literary Terms

explain, describe

Text-based

immigrant, descendant, settle/settlers, hardship, poverty, regulate, limit, admit, examine/examination, newcomer, native, refugee 

hopeful, recognizes, journey, opportunities, wise, tend, refugee, hardships, survive, attacked, anxious, reunite

doubt, welcome, delighted, authorities, pleaded, familiar, dreadful, defeat

Content Knowledge and Connections

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  • Explain the different reasons people choose to settle in a community. 
  • Explain reasons why people migrate to different places around the world. Explain how some migration is voluntary and some is forced (e.g., refugees, people driven from their homelands, enslaved people). 
  • Explain how 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. 
  • Explain why the United States is called “a nation of immigrants.” 
  • Identify what individuals and families bring with them (e.g., memories, cultural traits, goods, ideas, and languages or ways of speaking) when they move to a different place. 
  • Explain how the community is enriched by contributions from all the people who form it. 
  • Explain that a person’s immigration journey is a major transition that involves a long process of moving to another country, becoming a citizen, and establishing a new life. 
  • Explain that individuals and families 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. 

Assessment

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

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

  • Coming to America pp. 31 – 36

    RI.2.3

    RI.2.8

Explain how immigrants have made our country a better place by identifying and describing reasons an author uses to support points in a text. 

4

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. 

5

  • When Jessie Came Across the Sea

    RL.2.2

    SL.2.2

 Retell what happens in When Jessie Came Across the Sea by recounting diverse stories. 

6

  • When Jessie Came Across the Sea

    RI.2.6

    RI.2.8

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

7

  • My Diary from Here to There

    RL.2.2

    SL.2.2

    L.2.1.d

Retell what happens in My Diary from Here to There by recounting diverse stories. 

8

  • My Diary from Here to There

    RI.2.6

    RI.2.8

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

9

  • Going Home

    RL.2.2

    SL.2.2

    L.2.1.d

Retell what happens in Going Home by recounting diverse stories. 

10

  • Going Home

    RI.2.6

    RI.2.8

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

11

  • Brothers in Hope pp. 1 – 20

    RI.2.3

    RI.2.8

    L.2.1.d

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

12

  • Brothers in Hope

    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. 

13

  • Brothers in Hope

    RI.2.6

    RI.2.8

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

14

3 days

  • Interview questions — Student- or teacher-created

  • Suggestions of people to interview

    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.

15

3 days

Writing

    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. 

16

    RL.2.7

    RI.2.3

    SL.2.2

    L.2.1.d

Retell what happens in The Storyteller’s Candle by recounting stories from diverse cultures. 

17

  • The Storyteller's Candle

    RI.2.3

    RI.2.6

Explain what the author is trying to describe or explain about immigration by identifying and explaining the main purpose of a text.

18

  • Xochitl and the Flowers

    RL.2.7

    RI.2.3

    SL.2.2

    L.2.1.d

Retell what happens in Xochitl and the Flowers by recounting stories from diverse cultures. 

19

  • Xochitl and the Flowers

    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.

20

  • Islandborn pp. 1 – 22

    RI.2.7

    RI.2.8

    L.2.1.d

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

21

  • Islandborn — p. 23-end

    RI.2.7

    RI.2.8

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

22

  • Islandborn

    RI.2.6

    RI.2.8

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

23

    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. 

24

2 days

    W.2.1

    SL.2.1

    SL.2.6

    L.2.1.d

    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.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.

  • RI.2.10 — 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.

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

  • RL.2.10 — 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.

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.