Call for contributions: Nation of Immigrants teaching project

Jul 4, 2017

Immigrant rights march in downtown Los Angeles, California on May Day, 2006. Photo by Jonathan McIntosh, via Wikimedia Commons.
Project Description:

The “Nation of Immigrants” teaching project will develop one-week teaching modules for high school and community college teachers of U.S. history on topics related to immigration and immigrants. Immigration is a widely debated subject, but there is a severe shortage of reliable and nuanced resources to foster greater understanding and historical context for this complicated topic at this level of classroom. As the teaching of U.S. history shifts away from university and college campuses, and towards A.P., dual enrollment, and community college classes, the urgency for ensuring responsible teaching of immigration history grows. To address this critical need, the “Nation of Immigrants” teaching project will draw upon the informed expertise of Immigration and Ethnic History Society members to provide pedagogical guidance, materials, and strategies to be used by trained and experienced practitioners for curriculum and instruction in secondary social studies in developing “Nation of Immigrants” teaching modules.

These modules are being developed in consultation with a nationally-renowned arts and education organization that provides curricular support for teachers to provide a home for these teaching modules to facilitate distribution of the “Nation of Immigrants” teaching modules to school districts across the U.S.

Project Plan:

The “Nation of Immigrants” team includes experts in immigration history and curriculum and instruction. Madeline Hsu (IEHS, UT Austin) serves as team leader and is working with research assistant Esther Kim (UT College of Education) and two consultants, Maddalena Marinari (IEHS, Gustavus Adolphus College) and Noreen Naseem Rodriguez (Iowa State University). The project is sponsored so far by the Center for Asian American Studies and the History Department at UT Austin,IEHS, and in consultation with Humanities Texas. If others wish to serve as consultants, please contact Madeline.

We are developing a list of major topics about immigration for which we are soliciting from IEHS members contributions and suggestions about key secondary readings, summaries of major questions and issues, accessible primary sources, classroom activities, and digital resources, as described in greater detail below. Colleagues who contribute resources used for the teaching module can be designated as “Contributing Scholar, ‘Nation of Immigrants’ teaching module project.”

The “Nation of Immigrants” team will organize and package these contributions as set out in Appendix 1 to make them accessible and usable for high school teachers. Each teaching module will include sections such as: an introduction with a brief history and essential question; guiding questions for teachers and students; learning objectives (Students Will Be Able To (SWBAT)); materials for preparation and guide to resources such as materials and online sources such as timelines, pictures, text; links to other websites like PBS; lesson activities featuring primary and secondary sources, links to other websites; assessments measures; activity worksheets; and article recommendations to provide background for teachers.

Please bear in mind that the teaching modules need to serve the needs of professionals who teach in public institutions and have to be in compliance with national and state standards. Ideally the teaching modules would work with various school district guidelines regarding social studies. Additionally, to serve the needs of teachers in public institutions, the materials we develop must be nonpartisan. Contributed materials should be historically grounded and educate students about the evolving sets of issues involving immigration, citizenship, and various ethnic communities. We are seeking to represent a number of historical perspectives, debates, and interpretations in order to encourage student engagement and active thinking about the complexity of each topic.

Requested Materials:

Please forward suggestions of topics or interpretations and your contributions to Madeline and Esther.

Based on input from Humanities Texas, teachers, and social studies administrators at several public school districts, we developed the following goals for the teaching modules:

  • High school teachers are eager for materials that engage students in different historical events and debates and are particularly eager to include primary sources for students to absorb and discuss. As students have varying degrees of English-language literacy, the more effective primary sources will be visual or short texts. In some school districts, teachers would also be able to use Spanish-language sources.
  • Exposing students to historical debates and controversies is encouraged as a strategy to help students understand multiple, nonpartisan perspectives on key issues and experiences.

In particular, we are seeking articles that summarize the following topics for nonspecialists [preferably open access] and/or 1-2 paragraph summaries of each topic and relevant major issues and questions. Each major topic will be introduced by the short summaries and accompanied by only 2-3 article recommendations, so we are eager to develop cogent overviews and identify the most relevant articles.

  • U.S. immigration flows
  • Principles for restricting immigration and citizenship legally
  • Institutionalization of differential rights and protections based on immigration and citizenship
  • Immigrant contributions
  • Variations of ethnic communities
  • Assimilation; “Melting Pot” dynamics
  • Migrant motivations and trajectories
  • Empires and migration
  • Immigration and practices of national boundary-making
  • Intersectional vectors of marginalization: gender, race, religion, class

We are also seeking pedagogical materials, guides, and activities such as primary sources, secondary readings, and digital resources targeting students. With each suggested material or activity, provide a statement or question to guide teachers. We are seeking such materials for the following topics.

  • Borders and Walls
  • Deportation and Detention/Incarceration
  • Refugees and Asylum
  • Immigration Legislation: Exclusion and Inclusion
  • Citizenship
  • US-Mexico: Borderlands, Trade, and Labor
  • Immigrant success stories
  • Immigration and Labor Markets
  • 1965 Immigration Act
  • Temporary migrants/statuses
  • Nativism
  • Asian Exclusion
  • Immigrant experiences and trajectories
  • Multiculturalism
  • Ethnic foods and entrepreneurship
  • Immigrants in the Gilded Age
  • Segregation
  • Racial categories
  • Immigration Stations: representing different regions


Appendix 1: Sample Structure/Template


1) The Lesson

  • Introduction: brief history/context and essential question
  • Guiding Questions for teachers and students
  • Learning objectives (SWBAT)
  • Brief Background
  • Preparation and Resources: materials and online sources such as timelines, pictures, text; Links to other websites like PBS
  • Lesson Activities: Uses primary and secondary sources; Links to other websites; LAUNCHPAD: where students can access online links
  • Assessment: essay for example
  • Extending the Lesson

2) The Basics

  • Time Required (class periods, but block not indicated)
  • Subject Areas: Themes and standards (Common Core, etc.)
  • Skills

3) Resources

  • Activity worksheets
  • Student resources
  • Article recommendations to provide background for teachers

For a substantive model of such teaching modules, the EDSITEment website provides many examples of lesson plans, for example the “Imperialism and the Open Door” as part of “The Birth of an American Empire” sequence.


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