Immigration Mini Unit

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Immigration Mini-Unit

Lesson 1: The „Push and Pull‟ of immigration

Essential Questions:

    ; Why did many immigrants decide to leave their native countries?

    ; What factors made them decide to come to the United States?

    ; What was the journey like for steerage passengers?

    ; What factors might prohibit entry to the United States?


    ; Students will be able to describe the motivations of immigrants coming to the United States.

    ; Students will be able to connect qualifications/restrictions on immigration to the social, economic and

    political issues of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.


    - Students who arrive to class are given an identity card (Family D, child).

    See PowerPoint Lesson 1 Slides

    - Students are asked to have family „meetings‟. Students are asked to consider what factors would

    cause them to immigrate and come to America. What would „push‟ them out of another country?

    What would „pull‟ them to America?

    - Class puts ideas on the board. Ideas can be current or historical.

    - Explain to the families that they have made the decision to immigrate; they will have to purchase

    tickets to come to America. Ask- What factors might prevent you from gaining entry?

     th- Put student responses on the board- explain that there were few immigration restrictions in the 19

    century, but that some people would be denied admittance to the country if they could not support

    themselves, had radical political beliefs or if they had a transmittable disease.

    - Explain to the students that their „family‟ will be immigrating today. Due to a law passed by the US,

    anyone rejected by immigration officials will need to be transported back to their port of call at the

    expense of the steamship company. Since steamship companies wanted to prevent this cost, they

    would perform the same inspections of immigrants that would occur in Ellis Island including a

    medical exam and questionnaire.

    See blank manifest PDF

    - Families should fill in the manifest. They should do their best to answer the questions so that they

    will be able to enter the country.

    - After filling out their manifest, discuss the purpose of the questions on the manifest. What did this

    demonstrate about America at the time?

     stndrd- Explain the difference between 1, 2 and 3 class. Ask students what problems they might

    encounter on the steamship journey. Where will they go when they arrive at NYC?

    - Collect student‟s manifests before they leave, you will use these tomorrow.

Immigration Mini-Unit

Lesson 2: Arrival at Ellis Island

Essential Questions:

    ; What was the purpose of Ellis Island?

    ; In what ways did the decisions made at Ellis Island impact families?

    ; What decisions had to be made after leaving Ellis Island?


    ; Students will be able to describe the process of arriving at Ellis Island and the consequences of the


    ; Students will be able to work collectively to come to a solution about the problems they are confronted

    with at Ellis Island.


    See PowerPoint Lesson 2 Slides

    - Put on board- Welcome to Ellis Island!

    - Have students get back into their family groups, and deposit their „luggage‟ (backpacks, books)

    outside the door or somewhere in the classroom.

    - Tell students that they will need to get in line for inspection.

    See family identifications and chalk marks document (p. 6)

    - Sit at a desk in the front of the room and ask students questions about the answers on their manifest.

    Give students chalk marks according to the „family chart‟.

    - After completing the interviews, put the chalk mark „key‟ on the Smart Board (or overhead or hand

    out) and discuss why certain medical conditions would exclude you from gaining entry. As you

    explain, call each family member marked with that chalk mark.

    o Explain that certain conditions, like trachoma or a confirmed mental illness, would exclude

    you outright. Conditions like senility and lameness (if it prevented you from working) would

    exclude you if you did not have relatives that would provide for your support.

    o SI- Special inquiry, in this activity, is applied to women traveling alone or with children.

    These women would not be allowed to leave until their husbands or male relatives arrived at

    the island. If a woman came to America to join her fiancé, he would be required to come to

    the island, and the two would be married before she was allowed to leave with him.

    o Discuss the problems, like conjunctivitis and favus, which would require hospitalization.

    Ellis Island had hospitals where most immigrants could receive free care for ailments. What

    should the families do? Would you leave a child on the Island to receive treatment? Try to

    stay on the Island with them?

    o What about the conditions that cause you to be denied entry? Should everyone go back? Just

    one person? What about the children?

    - Have a final family meeting and make decision- what will you do with those people who cannot

    enter? How did you arrive at your decision? What decisions do you need to make now that you are

    allowed to leave Ellis Island and go to NYC?

    Assessment: LETTER HOME. See assignment sheet for details and requirements. (Page 7)

Immigration Mini-Unit

    Lesson 3: “The Streets are not paved with gold- they aren‟t paved at all, and I‟m expected to pave them!”

Essential Questions: th; How did America of the late nineteenth/early 20 century measure up to immigrant‟s expectations?

    ; What was typical work and housing like for immigrants of the late nineteenth century?


    ; Students will be able to describe typical housing and work for immigrants.

    ; Students will be able to communicate the myth v. reality of immigration to America. Activities:

    See PowerPoint Lesson 3 Slides

    - When students enter the room, the quote: “The Streets are not paved with gold- they aren‟t paved at

    all, and I‟m expected to pave them!” should be on the board with these questions: How does the

    quote above describe the myth v. reality of immigration? What hardships might immigrants face

    upon arrival? What do immigrants do for work and housing?

    - Discuss student‟s responses to each question

    - Display the background information on Riis on the board

    - Display the image of a Tenement on the board and ask the students to make some observations about

    Tenements. Explain that Architects designed the dumbbell tenement to fit as many people as

    possible into a city block while providing all rooms with light and air. Ask the students: How

    successful was the dumbbell tenement at meeting these two goals?

    - Pass out the Jacob Riis reading and the 5 senses chart (Page 8 & PowerPoint)

    - Discuss Riis‟ description of tenements and the information the students filled out on their 5 senses


    - If tenements were so bad- why live there? Discuss- discrimination, wages v. rent, not much legal

    protection, etc.

    - Handout the images from Riis (see PowerPoint) and the photograph worksheet (Page 9)

    - Discuss student answers for each photograph

    Immigration Mini-Unit

    Lesson 4: The Tenement Museum

    Essential Questions:

    ; What was life in a Tenement apartment?

; What challenges did immigrant families face and how did they overcome them?


    ; Students will be able to create and perform a skit or other presentation about an immigrant ththfamily from the late 19 or early 20 century.


    - Have students get into small groups to complete the Tenement Museum virtual tour and project

    (Note: There are 5 apartments available to view, you may want to divide the class into 5 groups)

    - Explain the history of the museum

    o Opened in 1992, the Tenement Museum is located at 97 Orchard St on the Lower East Side of

    Manhattan. Built in 1863, the top 5 floors of the building were condemned in the 1930's while

    store fronts still operated on the bottom floors. Shuttered from use and left to decay, the top

    floors were (and continue to be) renovated by the museum to offer a glimpse into immigrant


    - Have students go to

    - Click on „Play‟ and then go to „Virtual Tours‟

    - Have the students click on the „Ruined Apartment‟ tour to view the hallway

    - Ask students- does anything surprise you about the hallway? How does the hallway contrast with the

    images displayed by Riis?

    - Have students listen to the virtual tour of the ruined apartment and investigate the apartment.

    - Next, have student groups go to their assigned apartments and view the virtual tours, read the

    information about the families, and fill in their Tenement Worksheet (Page 9)

    - Explain the Tenement Presentation project using the assignment and the rubric. Have students work

    on their presentations, then act them out! (Page 11)

    - Ask students- which gives a better picture of immigrant life- Riis or the Tenement Museum? What

    are the advantages and drawbacks of each? See PowerPoint Lesson 4 Slides

Assessment: Tenement Presentation

    Family Identifications and Chalk Marks

    Family A Family B Family C Family D Mother Mother SI Father Mother Father child CT child SC Father child child SC child Grandmother S teenager SC child L teenager child teenager child teenager Circled X child CT

Family E Family F

    Woman SI Grandfather

    child SC


    Letter Home

    Name: ______________________________ Date: ________________________________________ You have now gone through the journey to America. You need to write to your family and friends back home telling them what has occurred. Some of them have not even heard why you left in the first place- you will need to explain your decision. This letter should be an „open‟ letter to your family and friends- these were common in the

    ninetieth and early twentieth century. They would be sent to the local parish priest, reverend or rabbi or the head of your family at home to be read to family, friends, or the congregation.

Your letter should explain:

    ; Why you left home

    ; The process you went through at the steamship company

    ; The boat trip to America

    ; Ellis Island and your experience there

    ; What happened to members of your family during the inspection process

    ; What decisions your family had to make

    ; What decisions your family is facing now that you are in NYC (or, let them know you are coming back


    ; Would you recommend immigration, based on what you have experienced so far? Why or why not?

    Excerpt from How the Other Half Lives, by Jacob Riis

    Be a little careful, please! The hall is dark and you might stumble over the children pitching pennies back there. Not that it would hurt them; kicks and cuffs are their daily diet. They have little else. Here where the hall turns and dives into utter darkness is a step, and another, another. A flight of stairs. You can feel your way, if you cannot see it. Close? Yes! What would you have? All the fresh air that ever enters these stairs comes from the hall-door that is forever slamming, and from the windows of dark bedrooms that in turn receive from the stairs their sole supply of the elements God meant to be free, but man deals out with such niggardly hand. That was a woman filling her pail by the hydrant you just bumped against. The sinks are in the hallway, that all the tenants may have access--and all be poisoned alike by their summer stenches. Hear the pump squeak! It is the lullaby of tenement-house babes. In summer, when a thousand thirsty throats pant for a cooling drink in this block, it is worked in vain. But the saloon, whose open door you passed in the hall, is always there. The smell of it has followed you up. Here is a door. Listen! That short hacking cough, that tiny, helpless wail--what do they mean? They mean that the soiled bow of white you saw on the door downstairs will have another story to tell--Oh! a sadly familiar story--before the day is at an end. The child is dying with measles. With half a chance it might have lived; but it had none. That dark bedroom killed it.

    . . . . What if the words ring in your ears as we grope our way up the stairs and down from floor to floor, listening to the sounds behind the closed doors--some of quarrelling, some of coarse songs, more of profanity. They are true. When the summer heats come with their suffering they have meaning more terrible than words can tell. Come over here. Step carefully over this baby--it is a baby, spite of its rags and dirt--under these iron bridges called fire-escapes, but loaded down, despite the incessant watchfulness of the firemen, with broken household goods, with wash-tubs and barrels, over which no man could climb from a fire. This gap between dingy brick-walls is the yard. That strip of smoke-colored sky up there is the heaven of these people. Do you wonder the name does not attract them to the churches? That baby's parents live in the rear tenement here. She is at least as clean as the steps we are now climbing. There are plenty of houses with half a hundred such in. The tenement is much like the one in front we just left, only fouler, closer, darker--we will not say more cheerless. The word is a mockery. A hundred thousand people lived in rear tenements in New York last year. Here is a room neater than the rest. The woman, a stout matron with hard lines of care in her face, is at the wash-tub. "I try to keep the childer clean," she says, apologetically, but with a hopeless glance around. The spice of hot soapsuds is added to the air already tainted with the smell of boiling cabbage, of rags and uncleanliness all about. It makes an overpowering compound. It is Thursday, but patched linen is hung upon the pulley-line from the window. There is no Monday cleaning in the tenements. It is wash-day all the week round, for a change of clothing is scarce among the poor. They are poverty's honest badge, these perennial lines of rags hung out to dry, those that are not the washerwoman's professional shingle. The true line to be drawn between pauperism and honest poverty is the clothes-line. With it begins the effort to be clean that is the first and the best evidence of a desire to be honest.

    You may download, print and make copies of these pages for use in your classroom, provided that you include the copyright notice

    shown below in all such copies.

    Copyright ? 1999 Houghton Mifflin Company. All Rights Reserved.

    Jacob Riis Tenement Images

Name: _____________________________

    Date: ______________________________ Choose one image that makes an impact on you. Choose one person in the image to „become‟. Ask yourself-

    1. What do I see?

    2. What do I feel?

    3. What do I think?

Name: ________________________________ Date:


    In your group, visit one of the tenement apartments at The Tenement Museum, in NYC. Read the description of the family and listen to the audio tour, if Family Name Place of Origin + why Family size/members Dates at 97

    they immigrated to and jobs of each Orchard St


Describe one How did the family Item in apartment Why did the family

    hardship the family survive/overcome this that represents the leave Orchard St?

    faced hardship? family and why

    available. Be ready to present what you learned in a creative format!

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