Lesson Plan: Immigrants in Our Communities G9

Written By: William J. Demke
Grade Level: Grade 9

Time Allotment

Three to six class periods


In these lessons students will be introduced to the issues many immigrants face when they arrive in America. Students will become aware of different nationalities in their communities and what resources are available for immigrants to integrate into American society. Students will also come up with a plan to make their communities more accepting and welcoming to the immigrants. It will be up to the students to brainstorm and create this plan. The teacher’s role in this process will be facilitator, guiding the students instead of directing. For more information on student centered learning go to: http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Papers/Resist.html
For a copy of lesson plan, including hand out, go here. Immigrants_in_Our_Communitites_Lesson.pdf

Subject Matter

Civics, Local Government, World and Local Cultures

Learning Objectives

  1. Students will understand what it is like to be a stranger in a strange land.
  2. Students will understand what cultures are represented in their community.
  3. Students will know what problems local immigrants and foreign exchange students have had with integration and being accepted in the community.
  4. Students will know how to improve cultural acceptance at a community level.
  5. Students will be able to successfully utilize Edmodo, wikispaces or another social networking site for communication and reflection.

Media Components - Video/Web

  • Lost Boys of Sudan. There are several 3‐5 minutes segments of this video that could be utilized for this lesson. The most poignant are the sections of the boys moving into their apartment that would make their friends back home think they are “rich” as well as their struggle to either go to school or work. Information as well as ordering information for the film can be found at ‐ http://www.lostboysfilm.com/

  • A Lyrical Life: The Struggle and Hope of South Sudan This documentary introduces people to the culture, history, music, and dance of the Ma’di people of southern Sudan and northern Uganda. Through three traditional songs, the issues associated with the struggle of South Sudan are revealed; centuries‐old conflicts over religion, slavery, race, genocide, displacement, war, and refugee status. “Hope” refers to the reconciliation process taking place in Africa and in America in places like North Dakota where the featured musicians now live. http://www.ndstudies.org/media/a_lyrical_life_the_struggle_and_hope_of_south_su dan. There is a lesson plan with benchmarks and standards for grades 9‐12 in the content areas of English, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Music at this site.
  • http://www.nd.gov/arts/arts_ed/images‐pdfs/LyricalLife.pdf

  • The New Pioneers: North Dakota's New Pioneers Opportunity brought the first wave of pioneers from Europe to North Dakota. Today, many of the same reasons are bringing a new wave of settlers to the state. These are the new pioneers.
  • http://www.ndstudies.org/index.php/media/the_new_pioneers_part_1

  • The New Pioneers: The Lost Boys of Africa North Dakota has become a viable place to settle refugees. With the aid of Lutheran Social Services, refugees from the Sudan and other parts of Africa are coming to North Dakota. Some of them are called “the lost boys of Africa.”
  • http://www.ndstudies.org/media/the_new_pioneers_part_2

  • The New Pioneers: Challenges for Immigrants Old and New Today’s immigrants face many of the same challenges that our ancestors did when they settled in America. A lack of English skills can be the biggest problem for many immigrants, sometimes leaving skilled professionals working in entry‐level positions.
  • http://www.ndstudies.org/media/the_new_pioneers_part_3

  • Homesteading: Facing Disaster Original letters, photos, and accounts from authors and relatives of homesteaders all provide an account of what it was like to live in North Dakota in the mid‐ to late‐ 1800s in this clip from the Prairie Public documentary Homesteading. Disease, weather, and drought were all risks the settlers faced and disaster was never far from the homestead.
  • http://www.ndstudies.org/media/homesteading_facing_disaster

  • Liberty Minutes: Migration to the Dakotas Historian William Sherman describes the people who migrated to the Dakotas in the 1880s and 1890s and the reasons they came here
  • http://www.ndstudies.org/media/liberty_minutes_migration_to_the_dakotas

  • The Germans From Russia: Who are the Germans from Russia? Catherine II, a German‐born princess ascended to the Russian throne in 1762. She issued a manifesto offering free lands along the Volga River to European settlers. They were also to be exempted from military service. What followed was a great wave of immigration of German settlers into Russian lands.
  • http://www.ndstudies.org/media/germans_from_russia_who_are_the_germans_from_russia

  • The Germans From Russia: Germans From Russia in North Dakota America’s Homestead Act offered free lands in America, just as Catherine’s manifest had offered free lands in Russia. This brought many Germans from Russia to America. Many of them settled in the Midwest in lands that resembled those that they lived on in Russia.
  • http://www.ndstudies.org/index.php/media/the_germans_from_russia_germans_from_russia_in_north_dakota

  • The Independent Lens’ film Pushing the Elephant is another film about the immigration story of a family of refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo. Video clips and lesson plans are available online at:
  • http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/pushing‐the‐elephant/classroom.html

  • The following site offers 11 lesson plans that address varied historic and modern day immigration issues. These lesson plans give students hands‐on opportunities to grasp the essence of immigration to the United States, from analyzing factual data to conducting oral histories of first or second generation immigrants.
  • http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/newamericans/foreducators_index.html

  • Teen Immigrants This video clip explores the topic of immigration. A record number of immigrants are being naturalized in America, especially Hispanic and Asian groups. However, animosity towards immigrants and tensions over race and customs are often sources of violent confrontations. In addition to breaking down stereotypes, the program is supportive and of high interest to teen immigrants.
  • http://prairiepublic.pbslearningmedia.org/content/22683d1f‐09ad‐4c92‐a5c8‐748e199d0f8c/

  • Somali Muslims in Maine In recent years, more than 1,000 Somalis have moved to Lewiston, Maine. At first, Lewiston's mainly white, working class residents were accepting of their new neighbors, but as more and more Somalis streamed into the former mill town, tensions began to flare between longtime residents and the new immigrants. This video from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly looks at this controversial migration and its impact on the community.
  • http://prairiepublic.pbslearningmedia.org/content/islam08.socst.world.glob.somalimusl/

  • Students should use the Edmodo website to communicate with each other outside of class or with another class if the teacher does this with multiple classrooms. The website runs much like “Facebook”.
  • http://www.edmodo.com

  • If a teacher does not want students to utilize the Edmodo social network, a wiki can work as well. One recommended site is http://www.wikispaces.com. It is simple to use and set up. Students can journal about their assignments.


  • List of available agencies or groups that work with immigrants and immigration for students to contact or research
  • Computers with internet access
  • Video cameras (if students want to make a video for their assignment)
  • PowerPoint/Google Presentation/poster board

Teacher Preparation

  • Create an Edmodo group/Wiki for your class.
  • Preview and pick 2‐3 video clips that show the difficulties of assimilating in a different country from the Media Components list.
  • Contact a local community group to invite several local immigrants to come and discuss their experiences about moving into the community. A local college is an excellent resource for this. Nearly every college has exchange students who are willing to discuss with students their experiences of living in America. There may be parents of a student in your school who would like to share their experiences as well. Schedule a time for students to be able to hear from these people.
  • Do some online investigating to find available websites that discuss the different cultures present in your community.

Introductory Activities

  1. Ask students what difficulties they think they would face when moving to a different country? Allow time for brainstorming. Create a class list.
  2. Show different video clips from the Media Components section. Pause where appropriate to refer to the class list of difficulties created by the students. Refer to Media Components section for other video clips of various immigrant groups – past and present.
  3. Inform the students they will hear from immigrants in their community in the coming days. Have students prepare questions to ask. Be sure to go over the fact that the goal will to be to develop a plan on how to make the community more welcoming to immigrants.
  4. Review the questions with your students. Make sure the questions are appropriate.
  5. Direct the students to sign up on either Edmodo or the class Wiki. The students will journal about what they learned, and what they hope to learn.

Learning Activities

  1. Students listen to the experiences of the immigrant speakers. Ask questions.
  2. Direct the students to journal about what they learned. List ideas of what they could do to improve their community.

Culminating Activity

  1. Have students brainstorm on what they could do to make the community more welcoming to different cultures.
  2. Share the ideas together as a class. Allow students to create their own groups and choose what they want to create as an action plan.
  3. Student groups should create a plan of how they will fulfill their action plan.
  4. Students will need access to computers, cameras, phones, and reference materials to fulfill their action plans.
  5. Students present their action plans to the class with information on how they will implement that plan. Implementation of the plan may take several days/weeks. It may be more appropriate to have the actual implementation aspect as an extra credit assignment.
  6. Students should utilize Edmodo or your class wiki for journaling, keeping track of the progress in their assignment, as well as a forum to discuss ideas with other students. At the end of each class period students journal for five minutes on what they did, what they learned, questions they still have, and plans for the future.

Cross-Curricular Activity

  1. Students could map out where different ethnicities have gathered (geography).
  2. Students could read a biography centered on an immigration story.
  3. A computer class could spend time on social networking and research techniques online.

Community Connections

  • Students should locate local community resources for immigrants.
  • Students should find people to interview to get more information and a better idea of the challenges immigrants face.
  • Utilizing e‐mail, students could contact local immigration officials for information on what is available and what they see as difficulties that are unique to their community.