Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.
Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Synthesize major trends in the history of American immigration
- Present major arguments for and against immigration throughout American history
- Work in groups to prepare for and participate in a debate
2-3 class periods
Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.
- Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.
Evaluate an author's premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
- Copies of the quiz
- Access to basic research materials
- Begin class by asking students what immigration means to them. What role do they think immigration played in US history? How do people in this country feel about immigration?
- Begin the video lesson Immigration to the U.S. (1900-2010: Changes & Trends. Pause the video at 1:40 and discuss this information as a class.
- Have you heard America referred to as a melting pot before? Turn to a partner and talk about what this concept means to you personally, then we'll talk about it as a class.
- Do you think Americans always understood the concept of the melting pot in the same way? How do you think this changed over time? When were immigrants expected to fully assimilate (or melt into the pot) and when were they expected to retain some of their national or ethnic foods, holidays, and languages?
- Why has America felt more welcoming to Europeans than other groups of immigrants? Is there such a thing as a right or wrong kind of immigrant? How would people in the past have answered this question?
- Resume the video, pausing it at 3:28 to discuss this information.
- What is the point of limiting immigration? What sorts of fear do you think inspired these policies?
- Why do immigration policies change? What other cultural, political, and economic factors might encourage a change in immigration policies? What conditions do you think encourage an acceptance of legal immigration?
- Resume and complete the video. Discuss this information as a class.
- What does undocumented immigration mean to you? Discuss this question with a partner.
- What are some of the issues in the debate on undocumented immigration in the USA today? Why might people feel the need to immigrate outside of legal channels?
- Answer any remaining questions.
- You may test student understanding with the quiz.
- Divide the class into five groups. Assign each of the groups one of the following dates: 1900, 1930, 1960, 1990, and 2010.
- Divide each of the groups into two - assigning one half the argument that immigration should be encouraged, and the other that immigration should be discouraged.
- For the rest of this class period, students will work in their groups to research immigration policies in the year they were assigned. The goal is to craft an affirmative or negative debate from the perspective of people in that year. This means they can build on immigration policies, events, and cultural attitudes prior to that date, but cannot use events after that debate in their arguments.
- Students will prepare a presentation of their ideas, as well as work to anticipate the arguments their opponents will make.
- In a second-class period, you will host the debates. Each group will present their debate while the rest of the class watches. Each debate should follow this format:
- Affirmative: 5 minutes to present argument.
- Negative: 5 minutes to present argument.
- Affirmative: 2 minutes rebuttal.
- Negative: 2 minutes rebuttal.
- Once all the groups have gone, talk about the major issues you saw throughout both affirmative and negative arguments across the decades. What arguments changed? Which ones stayed the same?
- Have students research immigration policies and events from 1900-2010. They will select what they believe are the 15 most relevant dates in the history of US immigration and create a physical timeline of those dates. They will also craft a very brief paper describing these events and the reason for choosing them.
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