Save the Prize

16 10 2009

What do I know?

13 10 2009

I know that we are all Dream Seekers!

In order to introduce the story of immigration in the United States of America to a group of heterogeneous 21st Century Learners, there first needs to be the acquisition of a common realization that the universal struggles of freedom, happiness, and longevity are prevalent across ethnic backgrounds and time.  The background development begins with an understanding that no matter who you are or where you are from in the United States, you are the son or daughter or distant ancestor of an immigrant, or you yourself may be a immigrant.  Success stories run wide and far in this country.  From the school principal who was traveled across the tough US-Mexican border to the grandson of a Russian-Slav who traveled through Ellis Island to get into America, everyone share a migration story.

To illustrate this point with students, here is an activity that will hook them in while building background information.  This game is famous in the student leadership and student council circle.

Never Have I Ever…

Students will ALL start standing up at their tables.

Students who HAVE done the following things will sit down.

After every 3 questions have everyone stand back up again.

1)    Never have I ever… been out of the United States

2)    Never have I ever… been on a roller coaster

3)    Never have I ever… broken a bone

4)    Never have I ever… been on a cruise

5)    Never have I ever… locked my keys in my car

6)    Never have I ever… been skinny dipping

7)    Never have I ever… shaved my legs

8)    Never have I ever… been to a Star Trek / Harry Potter / Lord of the rings/ or Star Wars convention

9)    Never have I ever… died my hair a funny color

10) Never have I ever… been to a professional sporting event

11) Never have I ever… owned a Barbie doll

12) Never have I ever… broken the dress code

13) Cheated on a test, quiz, or class project

14) Lied to my parents

15) Stolen something

From this game, take the self-realization and group building to the next level.  A deeper round of questions should be asked.  This scene from the 2007 film “Freedom Writers,” illustrates “The Line Game.”

This scene illustrates an intense moment to be a student or a teacher in any classroom.  Teachers who are willing to bring this style of learning to their pedagogy create a comfort zone and will have more success connecting with students on their level.  The discussion and self-awareness that students form through this activity, creates more thoughtful citizens while bringing relevancy and a sense of community to the classroom environment.  The questions should start out easy and comfortable while working towards more personal and emotionally driven intrapersonal and interpersonal development.

A useful resource for this lesson can be found in the book, Make a World of Difference by Dawn Oprah (2006).

Here is an example of other questions that can be asked of students:

Step to the line if…

I like guacamole.

I’d rather go to the beach than the mountains.

I enjoy hunting/fishing.

I have called someone a derogatory name.

I have been the butt of a racist joke.

I have told racist jokes.

Etc. etc.

To bring closure to this lesson plan, finish the day similar to how Erin Gruwell finishes her class in the “Freedom Writers” clip.  Give a writing assignment.

Background Builder Prompt: Reflect on a time in your life when you felt different from the rest of the crowd.  How did you over come this situation?

Universal Connector Prompt:

Describe the American Dream.

Cross Cultural Historical Perspective Prompt:

Then to have students look ahead to the immigration unit, have them come up with a list of reasons why people come to the United States?  What attracts them to this country?  What forces them to leave their homelands?

Then, wrap up the lesson with the Dream Seekers video.  This will allow students to reinforce their ideas about push and pull factors of immigration.

The end goal for the unit is a data based question that asks students to foster their own values with an in-depth study of immigration history.

DBQ: What should the United States’ policy be regarding illegal immigrants today and in the future?

To answer this question consider the following:

Describe the history of immigration in the United States.  What attracted immigrants to this land?  What forced immigrants to leave their homelands?  Push vs. pull factors.  Where did immigrants come from prior to 1850? After 1850? And today 2009?  What laws or restrictions have impacted immigration?  How has US society been affected by the interactions and contributions of various cultures?

Other important activities to build on this research include:

-Recent interviews with immigrants

Glenwood Post Independent runs a great series of interviews with local immigrants from all sort of family backgrounds.

Immigration Stories

-Film study of “Destination America” (2008).


LaGravenses, Richard & Gruwell, Erin.  2007.  Freedom Writers.  USA.  Paramount Films.

Oprah, Dawn.  2006.  Make a World of Difference. Minneapolis, MN.  Search Institute Publication.

Stept, Stephen and Grubens, David..  2005.  Destination America.   USA,  PBS.

Channel 21st Century Classroom

7 10 2009

Was it only four short years ago that the world was introduced to what is now the most popular media viewing platform, YouTube?  Indeed, it is hard to imagine what life was like before all the emails being sent from friend to friend with the latest laugh reel on YouTube.  With an endless number af channels to choose from and a production staff from all corners of the world, YouTube is reshaping the media’s world in unimaginable ways.  MTV’s early days could easily be compared to YouTube’s own introduction to the media world.  Both have reshaped the media industry.  However, only YouTube is giving teachers a resource worth using in the classroom.

Teachers are now finding just the exact teachable short clip to full documentary to use with students.  In the past month I have shown numerous clips from YouTube channels.  My students are seeing short five minute clips to help effect the lesson or they are watching hour long pieces that would normally cost me countless dollars to purchase the films.  In the past I might have to search out for licensing rights and public relations folks to access major corporate films.  Now, I can access many Discovery Channel, National Geographic, or PBS series’ to bring in to the classroom.  Every subject across every lesson plan can be enhanced through a simple YouTube search.  Students are even finding ways to spread their message through YouTube.

As students learn to develope and play with new media they are excited to publish their own work.  YouTube is giving students public access channels which in the past might mean huge corporate funding or extensive grant writing.  Today, we can implement student news media networks for free and from any computer.  For my students, this means active engagement in their own learning.  Alternative media is allowing students to network within the school and even throughout the community.  With a small cheap video camera and simple editing tools, students are engaged in the uploading process of YouTube in addition to the countless pieces they watch.

Leadership students in my class are utilizing both YouTube and Facebook to spread the word about homecoming this year.  Here is the first YouTube my students deigned, constructed, and shared with the school and the community.  My role was simply a consultant and advisor.  The rest of the work is their own creation.