Coming to America

The Story of Immigration By: Betsy Maestro

Summary

Coming to America: The Story of Immigration tells the story of migration to North America by multiple diverse ethnic groups. Travels by slaves from the slave trade immigrants on Ellis Island, and even the very first native settlers are discussed in this book, which represents multiple different situations of migration and immigration by diverse people in different time periods. There is also mention of why people migrate from their homes to a new country, discussing the hopes people had when they moved, and the challenges they faced once they reached this new country. Talk of the laws to reduce migration, along with immigration facts are also included in the book to provide students with knowledge current to them in regards to time period, and more background facts. This book is both informative and engaging to students, something that can be difficult in the subject of history, which makes this book good; it informs students on history, but does so in a simpler and more engaging way than a textbook. Most importantly students learn how America became such a diverse country with so many different cultures, languages, and people living within it.

Classroom Implementation

Coming to America is historical and also current book that could be used as a read aloud in the fourth grade as the reading level is at upper fourth grade. Many students do not know that North America is a country that became diverse through immigration over a long time period. Sharing this book with students allows the teacher to teach students some history of the country they live in and how it became the diverse country it is today. Before reading this book the teacher could ask students if they have ever met someone who spoke another language, or lived in another country. The teacher could then ask students if they ever moved to a new place. The class could discuss the people they know who speak another language, are from another country, and the places they have moved to and from. The teacher could then ask students how they think it would feel to move to another country, and not speak the new country's language or know anyone. Why would this be difficult to do, and how would students deal with this? The teacher could then introduce the book to students and explain how immigrants experience just that when they migrate from their home country to a new country, and that many different groups of people have done this and moved to America. While reading this book the teacher can stop and ask students what these characters might bring to America and why they would need to bring these items. Students could talk about items that are considered necessities and items that are considered wants and why it would it be difficult deciding which non-necessity items to take or leave. After the read the teacher could ask students why it is important to have a diverse group of people in the community.The teacher could then talk about famous immigrants and show students the contributions immigrants provide in communities. Then the teacher could go back to the question asked before the read, how would students deal with being an immigrant. Ask students how they could help a new person or family adjust to being in a new community and country. How could we make them feel welcome? How could we help them adjust and get into a routine? Are there items we could provide to help them feel more comfortable in this unfamiliar environment? After discussion, students could draw a flag representing their community, or draw a picture of their community, using symbols to represent different areas in the community. Students could then write about their community, and the aspects that make the community unique. The class could also create a flag for the community in the classroom and with the teacher decide how to symbolize different aspects of their classroom community on the flag. Students could even write from the perspective of one of the characters in the story and talk about what it was like to immigrate to a new place and leave their home. Students could write as if they were an immigrant and not as a character as well. Doing activities as a class and individually allow students to come together as a community and appreciate the diversity of the people and ideas each other has such as when they create the classroom flag together. And individual activities allow students to reflect on their own on what was read to them, and the challenges immigrants face and the positive contributions they give to communities. Having both group and individual activities help the teacher to assess students' understanding and allows students to reflect in a lower pressure situation, not in the eye of their peers. Coming to America is a book that helps students become more aware of the world around them, and understand how America became the country it is today in regards to its diversity. This book helps make more informed citizens in the world, and also more open-minded citizens, which is something all teachers should strive for.
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