Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Two Timely Lessons to Teach about Executive Action on Immigration

In November 2014, President Barack Obama announced a series of administrative reforms to his immigration policies, collectively known as executive action on immigration.  The centerpiece of these reforms are two deferred action programs—Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an expanded version of an existing program called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). These programs have been tied up in litigation. On January 19, 2016, the Supreme Court announced that it will review a lower court’s ruling which has blocked implementation of the programs. The Supreme Court is likely to hear oral arguments in April 2016. A decision is expected in the case, United States v. Texas, by the end of June 2016.

Without a doubt, the deferred action programs, which taken together could provide as many as 5 million immigrants with temporary relief from deportation, will continue to be a fixture in the presidential election year. As such, it is a rich opportunity in the classroom to: extend critical discussions on the separation of powers, examine the effects of policy on individuals, and analyze the arguments made by both sides to help students become civically engaged and informed.

In light of the continuous stream of misinformation and inflammatory comments in the politicized immigration debate, these executive actions are no exception.

We seek to address how teachers can use this timely and relevant case with updates we’ve made to our lessons on executive action that allow high school students to examine the issue both critically and creatively. Our lessons are aligned to the Common Core and C3Framework for Social Studies Standards.

Additionally, we explain below some basic information on executive action as well as links for further understanding the legal challenges.

Engaging, Adaptable Lessons

As suggested by the title, students will apply inductive reasoning skills about individual school policies set by the principal in order to understand what execution action is and what its limitations are.
The President’s executive action on immigration has been greeted with joy, relief, sadness, and contempt. How can one decision trigger so many varied responses? By weaving non-fiction accounts into creative writing, students will be able to write their way into understanding the multiple perspectives that surround this immigration issue. Importantly, the lesson uses multimedia to engage students and provide the relevant context and background information for the lesson.

To view a related resource for the classroom, see:

If You Want to Learn More… Here’s a Brief Summary

There are more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.  In 2012, the Obama administration allowed young immigrants who were brought here as children to apply for renewable two-year deportation deferrals, work permits and social security cards. This original program, called DACA, is still in effect and is not challenged by the lawsuit United States v. Texas. 

The reforms in the 2014 executive action range from temporary protections for an expanded group of unauthorized young people (expanded DACA) and for certain parents (DAPA), to modernizing and streamlining the visa application process, to new guidance to better prioritize the immigration agencies’ use of their limited enforcement resources.

The centerpiece (and most debated) of these reforms is an expansion of the current DACA initiative and the creation of the DAPA initiative for the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who meet certain criteria — including passing a background check and having lived in the country at least five years. Together, these initiatives could provide as many as 5 million immigrants with temporary relief from deportation.

The Obama administration’s executive action was subsequently challenged by 26 states and blocked by lower courts. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a trial court decision to enjoin, or halt, expanded DACA and DAPA. The federal government then requested that Supreme Court hear the case (this is called a petition for certiorari), and Seven groups filed amicus (or “friend of the court”) briefs in support of the request.  The Supreme Court agreed to review the case in January 2016.

To view related, more detailed resources, see:

We seek to connect teachers and students with the most relevant, fact-based information to teach immigration critically and creatively – at no cost.  If you like our work, please share this email, tell a friend and give them this link http://bit.ly/1KdE5Zz to receive updates and free resources such as lesson plans, books reviews, and community grants. Follow us on twitter @ThnkImmigration #teachimmigration.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

5 Engaging Ways to Teach about the Refugee Experience

In 2015, displaced people around the world faced incredible challenges. The well-being of refugees and the policy decisions affecting them are still at the forefront of many people’s minds. Throughout history, the U.S. has responded at times with generosity and at other times by shutting out those seeking refuge. 

We highlight these historical perspectives in our lesson plan, “A Land of Refuge or Refusal? Perspectives on the Refugee Experience in the United States” which we’ve recently updated to include the ways refugees have contributed to the U.S. Some—like Albert Einstein and Elie Weisel, who were Jewish refugees—have become well-known. Yet there are countless others whose stories may not be as familiar. Meet some of these notable figures now featured in our lesson plan and help students learn about their significant contributions through advancements in the fields of public service, science and technology, entrepreneurship, literature, and the arts. Undoubtedly, these stories will inspire youth to achievement. 

As the global refuge crisis continues to make headlines, we’re highlighting some of our favorite resources and methods to teach about this important topic in addition to or to extend our lesson plan:

  • Incorporate Global Perspectives to Broaden Understanding: The Global Refugee Crisis, Region by Region (New York Times) uses maps, photos, and short narratives to highlight some of the major geographic pressure points and the reasons people are migrating.

  • Engage with Interactive Maps: Use National Geographic’s MapMaker to explore how and why people are forcibly displaced. The interactive layers on Mapping Displaced Persons Around the World can be used to teach about push immigration factors and introduce key terms. The Teaching Channel has a terrific lesson on Sudanese refugee migration “Exploring Emigration: Cultural Identity” that demonstrates how students use MapMaker in class.

  • Target an Area of Study: Students will learn well from a close-study of any one of the global migration crises. With teacher guidance, students can break into groups to investigate and educate their classmates. To extend on the Syrian refugee crisis which has dominated headlines and is included in our lesson plan, consider using the Pulitzer Center’s Flight From Syria: Refugee Stories.

  • Listen to Youth Voice: Harness the power of youth voice to educate peers and adults.This short video “Teens Talk About the Hardest Part of Being a Refugee” (Mashable, 3:17) is comprised of students in Atlanta, GA talking about what they imagine life would be like in the U.S. before they arrived and what their lives are like now. Additionally, to lighten what can be a challenging topic in the classroom and to learn how a community can make a huge difference in welcoming refugees, listen and learn from the inspiring Pihcintu Multicultural Chorus, a nationally recognized immigrant youth choir based in Portland, ME.

We hope you find plenty of ways to incorporate these resources into your classroom.  If you find this information helpful, please tell a friend about our work, and give them this link http://bit.ly/1KdE5Zz to sign up to receive updates and free resources.

We offer free lesson plans, resources, book/film reviews, and grants to teach immigration. We also welcome teacher and student book reviews and contributions to our blog. Email us at teacher@immcouncil.org and follow us on twitter @ThnkImmigration #teachimmigration

Monday, January 11, 2016

Teach Fairness, Freedom, and Equality to Commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a week away, we wanted to provide you with resources that underscore the power of youth voice in addressing equity and justice. 

In "The Purpose of Education" (1947), Dr. King wrote, "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." Dr. King helped people understand that youth have to be equipped with knowledge to make critical decisions that improve our society and possess passion.  
Dr. King addressing students at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul 1967 (Photo Credit: Minnesota Historical Society)
With social media and technology at times taking the place of marches and protests and augmenting others, today’s young activists have the power to amplify the issues heard and seen in their communities globally. It is the responsibility of all who teach and mentor them to be sure they know how to get correct information and know how to critically analyze it. 

In this light, immigration is one of many topics where the need for factual information, dialogue, and youth voice are integral for understanding our past and present as a diverse nation. We developed an immigration and civic engagement lesson plan for high school students where they wrestle with the essential and “American” question: how deep is our commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Using our nation’s founding documents and Dr. King’s words as a launching point, students will learn about five historical examples of restrictive immigration law and policy and also about the value of young people’s voices in movements to secure rights. This Common-Core and C3 Framework aligned lesson plan has an adaptable Prezi presentation, Cornell Notes handout, and opportunities for student writing. It would make a great extension to a close read of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech.

To access our “Teaching Freedom, Fairness, and Equality” lesson plan, please click here.

Additional Resources

  • Turning Current Events into Social Justice Teaching (Jinnie Spiegler, Edutopia) – This brief blog post offers tips for teaching social justice through current events including considering who your students are, exploring opinions and perspectives, clarifying social justice themes, using interactive technology, and encouraging activism.
  • 10 Ways Youth Can Engage in Activism (Anti-Defamation League) – As the title suggests, this article provides ten strategies that can be acted upon individually, or organized as a group where young people can join with a larger effort that is taking place locally or nationally.
  • Event Analysis (HSTRY) – Sign up for a free account and have access to a suite of current and historical event graphic organizers (among other templates) that get students not only thinking, but creating cause-effect relationships in a multimedia, easily shareable format.

Stay Connected!

We offers free lesson plans, resources, book/film reviews, and grants to teach immigration. We also welcome teacher and student book reviews and contributions to our blog. Email us at teacher@immcouncil.org and follow us on twitter @ThnkImmigration #teachimmigration

If you like our work, please pass this email, tell a friend, and give them this link http://bit.ly/1KdE5Zz to sign up to receive updates and free resources.