This companion document to the Issue in Focus provides educators with guidance to incorporate the content into classroom teaching. This component is geared towards grade 6-12 teachers, with connections across subjects and disciplines.
Contents of this Classroom Companion include:
Below are some links to articles and reports at various reading levels that would be appropriate to use with students to learn more about global migration today. As highlighted in the Issue in Focus, there are many different aspects to migration around the world, including economic, environmental, socio-cultural, and political. For this issue’s student readings, the topic of each article below is different – highlighting different aspects or different regions. Choose one article for your whole class, or have students read the articles in groups and do a jigsaw discussion afterwards.
Possible Discussion Questions
- Which countries typically receive the largest numbers of immigrants?
- Which countries today have a large number of migrants leaving for new countries?
- Why do people move? What are some of the reasons and factors that influence people to move from one place to another (often classified as push and pull factors)?
- China is a country that has a large internal migration – meaning people are moving to new cities and regions inside China. What are some of the reasons for this? Reference the China edition of the World Savvy Monitor for more detail on migration within China.
- Not all migrants move voluntarily – what is the name given to those migrants forced to flee their homes? From what countries do many of these migrants come? What are some of the factors forcing them to flee their homes?
- Immigration is sometimes a controversial topic, not just in the United States, but also around the world. What are some of the reasons that migrants are not welcomed in some countries? Find out more about the immigration policies of countries besides the United States, such as France or Germany or Egypt. Would you say their policies are generally welcoming or not welcoming to immigrants? What type of immigration policy would you recommend?
Lesson Ideas and Curriculum
This portion of the guide contains selected suggestions for engaging activities and curriculum to teach students about this issue - across the disciplines. In addition, there are links to recommended curriculum units that are available to download or purchase from the web.
- This edition of the World Savvy Monitor focuses on Human Migration in the world today. This is a rich topic for all social studies and history classes, as the movement of people, whether voluntary or involuntary, has played a significant role in shaping social and political trends throughout human history. Using the annotated timeline in this issue of the World Savvy Monitor as a guideline, have students create a timeline related to the subject matter your class is currently studying and include specific migration-related events. Discuss how this migration impacted historical events.
- Discuss the importance of geography and climate in influencing migration patterns. Choose a region or particular country of study. What natural resources determine or have determined the development of industries that have attracted people to look for work? How does the existence of these natural resources affect the local and global economy? What types of policies do governments and non-governmental organization establish to regulate these industries in which they have an interest?
- National borders are one of the key elements relating to the issue of human migration. Have students identify the means by which different countries regulate their borders. Use the resources in the World Savvy Monitor to learn about the definitions of individuals as they migrate across borders. Look at a handful of countries to compare their border regulation procedures. Help your students transpose their understanding of these regulations to your immediate school environment by analyzing how and why movement is regulated throughout the school building.
- Look historically at the slave trade and its relationship to specific global industries (cotton, sugar, etc). Discuss the similarities and differences between how those industries were carried out historically and how they are carried out now. How is modern slavery affecting migration in today’s world?
- “You can host Mexicans to pick American tomatoes, or you can buy tomatoes from Mexico.” Have your students analyze this statement by former Mexican President Vicente Fox. Debate the pros and cons of multinational companies outsourcing or offshoring jobs to lower or middle income countries vs. importing labor from these countries to do those same jobs. Should the search for cheaper labor be the only factor in policies regulating migration?
- Have students analyze the various categories of migrants, and discuss the push and pull factors affecting migration. What are the differences between voluntary migrants and forced migration? What is a refugee vs. an internally displaced person (IDP)? Research some of the agencies that monitor human migration around the world, such as the International Organization of Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. For advanced classes, look up some of the documents cited in the “Key Foundation Documents” portion of this edition. What should be done to help refugees and IDPs? What rights do students believe refugees should have? In groups, have students create their document laying out the rights they think refugees should have.
- Creative writing—Have students step into someone else’s shoes and think about what it would be like to live life as a refugee. Have students research a refugee population somewhere in the world. Learn about the reasons these people have been displaced, for how long, and under what conditions they live. Have students imagine that they are a member of this group, and of the same age and with a similar family background as they currently have. Have them write a personal essay appealing to the international community for a set of solutions that would enable them to go home and live in peace and security. What do they miss about home? What discomforts do they face daily? What do they think should be their guaranteed rights? What does it feel like to live without dignity, as many refugees do?
- Expository analytical writing—What are the Obama Administration’s policies on the Human Migration dilemma? Write an essay about these policies, and analyze the issue in terms of both domestic immigration policies and foreign policies with respect to trade, conflict and security, and working with the international community through direct aid packages or supporting the work of the United Nations and other non-governmental organizations.
- Literature exploration—Read The Arrival by Shaun Tan in class. It is a graphic novel, and the only words in the book are an invented alphabet, which simulates the unknown language many immigrants are faced with when they arrive in a new country. Have students share their reactions to this work. What would it be like to move to a new place, and not be able to communicate with anyone? How would you get by? How would you learn the language? If possible, talk to an ESL class about their experiences, or create a service learning project addressing this issue.
- Natural disasters—Have students identify and understand a major natural disaster that occurred in recent years and displaced people from their homes (flood, tsunami, hurricane, earthquake, etc.). What happened? How did scientists and government leaders know or learn about what happened? What instruments are used to detect or predict potential events? What agencies are in place to share information about these types of events? What activities or measures are in place in order to predict future events? Finally, what do scientists currently understand about the impact that urbanization and greenhouse gases have on the likelihood of these events occurring?
- Water resources have often been diverted to accommodate human migration and settlement patterns. Have students look at contemporary water projects and understand how water is used for energy, agriculture, daily consumption, recreation, etc. Explore dam technology, hydroelectric power, irrigation technologies, and water pipelines. Examples could include Lake Powell, the levees along the Mississippi Delta, the Hoover Dam, the Three Gorges project in China, or the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers projects.
- Human Migration and disease: Sickle cell anemia—Have students learn what this disease is, how it is transmitted, who is inflicted and why. To be a carrier of sickle cells (to be a heterozygote, and therefore not symptomatic) is protective against malaria infection, which is why it is a trait that became prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa. Those who are homozygote carriers develop the symptoms of the disease, which is painful and shortens life expectancy. By learning about this disease, trace how migration has impacted this disease.
- Know the Numbers—Pick a country and review the statistics on Human Migration. Look at total population as well as numbers that fall into different categories – from legal to estimated illegal immigrants – and the various categories of classification. Compare two or more countries. What stories do the numbers reveal? For a reliable and up-to-date resource for the United States, see The Migration Information Source.
- Travel statistics—The United States Government’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries compiles statistics on individuals entering and leaving the country via air travel. Use information from their website to analyze who is going where and how those numbers have changed over time. Correlate those findings with estimates on dollars spent on plane tickets and fuel consumption for an estimated number of plane rides. See the Bureau of Transportation Statistics for these numbers.
- Track a trend—Pick a category of migrants (refugees, internationally displaced persons, unauthorized migrants, guest workers, etc.) and chart the estimated numbers for a 10-year span. Use estimates for international totals or just look at numbers for one country. Refer to the International Organization for Migration as a starting reference point.
Recommended Curriculum Units
Human Migration: The Story of a Community
This lesson from National Geographic helps students understand some key concepts of human migration through the examination of maps and migration patterns.
Global Migration Patterns
This lesson from the Population Reference Bureau leads students to look at migration patterns to the United States, and then to focus in on refugee movements, and look at the impact of refugee flows on source and host countries.
U.S. Immigration Policy: What should we do?
The Choices Program offers an interactive curriculum unit that engages students in consideration of divergent policy alternatives concerning the goals of immigration policy, and includes valuable background resources concerning this issue.
Current Issues of Immigration, 2006
The materials consist of six lesson modules designed to put the current controversies about illegal immigration in the U.S. into historical and political context. They consist of readings, guided discussion questions, and interactive learning activities designed to help students explore and deepen their understanding of the issues presented.
The Line Between Us
The Line Between Us explores the history of U.S-Mexican relations and the roots of Mexican immigration, all in the context of the global economy. Using role plays, stories, poetry, improvisations, simulations and video, veteran teacher Bill Bigelow demonstrates how to combine lively teaching with critical analysis. The Line Between Us is a book for teachers, adult educators, community organizers and anyone who hopes to teach, and learn, about these important issues.
Books and Readings
Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario
In this astonishing story, award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario recounts the unforgettable odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to find his mother in the United States. Good for high school students.
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Tan captures the displacement and awe with which immigrants respond to their new surroundings in this wordless graphic novel. It depicts the journey of one man, threatened by dark shapes that cast shadows on his family's life, to a new country. The only writing is in an invented alphabet, which creates the sensation immigrants must feel when they encounter a strange new language and way of life.
Becoming American: Personal Essays by First Generation Immigrant Women by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah
This collection of essays explores the journeys these women undertake as new citizens, in defining themselves, navigating the delicate balance between their old and new cultures, and learning to “become American”.
First Crossing: Stories about Teen Immigrants ed. by Donald R. Gallo
This collection of stories for teens explores issues faced by immigrant youth. It’s hard enough to be a teenager, trying to fit in, trying to get along with your parents, trying to figure out how the world works. Being from a different culture makes everything that much harder.
Atlas of Human Migration by Russell King
This reference book, filled with narratives, maps, and timelines, explains how humans have constantly overcome environmental and physical barriers and adapted to new social, political and environmental realities. From an estimated original 10,000 to 20,000 individuals, the world population has expanded to more than 6 billion, and this book describes the spread of these people around the world.
Uprooted: Refugees of the Global Economy. How does globalization disrupt poor societies and create economic refugees?
Uprooted tells the stories of three immigrants to the United States from Bolivia, Haiti and the Philippines. Each story reveals the way in which global institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as multinational corporations, erode people's capacity to survive in their home countries.
The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey
This National Geographic/PBS documentary series, and the book by evolutionary biologist Spencer Wells, is an extensive global odyssey tracking the Y chromosome and illuminating the genetic and migration history of human beings from East Africa to the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Wells demystifies cutting-edge population genetics with accessible explanations and an exciting trek around the world visiting an array of different cultural groups. The work answers long-held questions about where humans come from, what accounts for human diversity, how we got from one place to another, and, most startling of all, how racial distinctions have no basis in biology.
The New Americans
From the producers and director of Hoop Dreams, The New Americans captures the lives of contemporary immigrants in all their complexities. The series portrays ordinary people, engaged in the day-to-day struggles of earning a living, raising a family, and leading productive lives, while struggling with differences of race, language, and culture. The three-tape boxed set features the eight episodes featured on national public television.
Put today’s patterns of human migration into a historical context by watching this incredible 7 minute video from Population Connection. The video follows the last 2000 years of population growth on the planet by using dots distributed across the globe.
God Grew Tired of Us: The Story of the Lost Boys of SudanOrphaned by a tumultuous civil war and traveling barefoot across the sub-Saharan desert, the film profiles 3 boys who were among the 25,000 “Lost Boys” (ages 3 to 13) who fled villages, formed surrogate families and sought refuge from famine, disease, wild animals and attacks from rebel soldiers. The “Lost Boys” traveled together for five years and against all odds crossed into the UN’s refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. A journey’s end for some, it was only the beginning for these three boys, who along with 3800 other young survivors, were selected to re-settle in the United States.
Websites and Multimedia
International Organization for Migration
The International Organization for Migration is the leading inter-governmental agency working with governments and non-governmental organization to manage global migration through the promotion of legal and policy guidance and advocacy of migrants’ rights. They provide a wide array of resources, including publications and links to current events and basic background on migration around the world.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
With headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the United Nations agency mandated to protect and serve refugees by providing direct relief services and assisting in repatriation and resettlement negotiations. In addition to a staff stationed worldwide, the UNHCR is represented by Goodwill Ambassadors who are typically international artists or celebrities.
Migration Policy Institute
The Migration Policy Institute is a U.S. non-partisan think tank dedicated to studying global migration issues. They also put out an informative online publication The Migration Information Source.
The New Americans
The New Americans Web site offers an online educational adventure for 7th-12th grade students. The site supplements the PBS documentary mini-series, which explores the immigrant experience through the personal stories of immigrants to the United States. Also has links to ESL adaptations.
Activities described in this Classroom Companion correspond to the following national standards from McREL (Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning).
World History Standards:
- Era 9: The 20th Century Since 1945: Promises and Paradoxes
- Understands how post-World War II reconstruction occurred, new international power relations took shape, and colonial empires broke up
- Understands major global trends since World War II
- World History Across the Eras
- Understands long-term changes and recurring patterns in world history
World History Topics:
- Cultural diffusion, adaptation, and interaction
- International diplomacy and relations
- Tension and conflict in the contemporary world
- Immigration and demographic shifts in the United States
- Immigration and the immigrant experience
- Immigration in the United States, late 19th century
- Understand and know how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns
- Understands the historical perspective
- What is the Relationship of the United States to Other nations and to World Affairs?
- Understands how the world is organized politically into nation-states, how nation-states interact with one another, and issues surrounding U.S. foreign policy
- Understands the impact of significant political and nonpolitical developments on the United States and other nations
- Impact of world economic, technological, and cultural developments
- Impact of world political, demographic, and environmental trends
- International diplomacy and relations
2. Knows the location of places, geographic features, and patterns of the environment
6. Understands that culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions
9. Understands the nature, distribution and migration of human populations on Earth's surface
12. Understands the patterns of human settlement and their causes
13. Understands the forces of cooperation and conflict that shape the divisions of Earth's surface
- Cultural diffusion, adaptation, and interaction
- Global economic interdependence and society
- International diplomacy and relations
- Migration and settlement patterns
- Places and regions over time
1. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
3. Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions
4. Gathers and uses information for research purposes
5. Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process
7. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts
- Understands Earth's composition and structure
- Energy in the Earth System
- Populations and Ecosystems
- Science, Technology, and Society
3. Uses basic and advanced procedures while performing the processes of computation
6. Understands and applies basic and advanced concepts of statistics and data analysis
9. Understands the general nature and uses of mathematics