Monday, August 3, 2015

Here’s Why You Should Participate in the 2016 Celebrate America Creative Writing Contest

Now entering its 19th year, this contest inspires educators to bring U.S. Immigration history and lessons into their classrooms and gives fifth graders the opportunity to explore America as a nation of immigrants.

1. Free Interactive, Common-Core Lessons

We’ve designed lessons plans that engage students to learn more about our nation’s immigrant past. These lessons are easy to use, complete with scripts, PowerPoints and an interactive timeline to adapt as necessary for your classroom. Learn more about our Immigrant Experience Jeopardy Game, our Famous Immigrant Contributions, and our Interactive Immigration Timeline lessons here on the contest website. 

For more free interactive lessons, please visit our website.

2. Dedicated Contest Coordinators

Your local contest coordinator is usually a practicing immigration attorney who can provide your students with practical knowledge and insight into immigration past and present. Our coordinators go above and beyond simply running a contest: they visit classrooms either in-person or virtually to meet with students, they host award ceremonies for students and their families where students read their work in front of large audiences, and they solicit prizes for the winners. Some also work to get your school and classroom recognized as one coordinator did in this clip from a TV news broadcast.

To contact your local coordinator, please click here.

3. Unique Naturalization Ceremonies

Many local contests regularly organize an opportunity for the winning student(s) to read their entries at a naturalization oath ceremony.  Where else does a fifth grader get to read in front of an audience of potentially hundreds of new citizens?

4. Celebrity Judges

We are fortunate every year to have a prestigious panel of judges volunteer their time to read the winning entries. Previous judges have included prize-winning authors Edwidge Danticat, Junot Diaz, and Dave Eggers, Valentino Achak Deng, the Minister of Education in Sudan, Gerda Weisman-Klein, the Founder of Citizenship Counts, and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), and the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA).

To see a list of previous judges, please click here.

5. Opportunities to Engage Student Voices

Perhaps the most important reason to participate is that the contest offers several opportunities for students to thoughtfully write on the contest theme “Why I’m Glad America is a Nation of Immigrants.” Winning student entries are published on our website and feature a variety of poems, plays, essays, and short stories in response. 

Additionally, we offer ways for teachers to enrich student understandings through digital storytelling. Our easy-to-use lesson plan guides teachers step-by-step through the process of helping students transcribe their entries digitally with suggestions on how to share their stories with school and community members.

Teachers can also extend learning through collaborative, project-based assignments.  Suggestions include: hosting a book drive for diverse, multicultural books, partnering with local libraries, refugee centers, and literacy programs to learn more about immigrants in your community, and/or organizing a digital story viewing night for students and families. The possibilities are endless!

How to Get Involved…

If you’re a fifth grade teacher or elementary school professional, please visit our contest website for more information.  Find your local contest and click on the link to register. 

If you’re not a fifth grade teacher or school professional, you can still help us spread the word! 

  • Show them all the reasons the 2015 was so successful with this interactive resource made possible through our friends at HSTRY. 
  •  Follow our contest Twitter @ImmTeacher and use the hashtag #celebrateamerica16

We offer free lesson plans, resources, book/film reviews, and grants to #teachimmigration. Stay connected! Follow us on twitter @ThnkImmigration.

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