As part of our Humanities curriculum, the sixth graders have been studying immigration through literature, historical artifacts, news articles, political cartoons, and more. The sixth graders began our study of U.S. history this year by learning about Ellis Island and Angel Island. Students learned about the push and pull factors for immigration. Students went on a virtual tour of Ellis Island and even had the opportunity to study artifacts from an immigrant (just like real historians). The Museum of American Jewish History sent us a suitcase with replicas of artifacts from a Jewish young woman who immigrated in the early 1900s. Students analyzed these artifacts in order to understand this woman’s journey and greater themes of immigration as whole. We were lucky that an educator from the museum could lead this discussion for our students through video conferencing. He led our class in exploring what it means to be a historian, the complexities of studying history, and the connections to immigration today.
The sixth grade class has also been reading Inside Out and Back Againwhich details the story of a Vietnamese girl who flees Vietnam for refuge in Alabama in the 1970s. Students have learned about Vietnamese culture, geography, and also discussed the refugee experience. Students have been making connections to earlier immigrant experiences we have studied and also a book we read last year, Home of the Brave, about a Sudanese refugee.
This study of culture, identity, and diverse experiences in becoming American is ongoing in the sixth grade, and throughout the year, students will continue to examine trends in history, literature related to diverse experiences, and how people form their identity and culture.