Thursday, January 7, 2016

Digital Learning and Empathy Underscore the Classroom Projects of our Community Grant Winners

The American Immigration Council is proud to announce the winners of the 2016-2017 Community Grants Program. The grant program is an initiative to provide educators and/or community organizers with the resources they need to implement a successful immigration curriculum or community-based project.
This year’s winners are using digital tools in the classroom with students to make personal and relevant connections to immigration and importantly to engender understanding and empathy. The awardees are teachers Ms. Ashley Fort at Batesburg-Leesville Primary School, Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina and Mr. Tyler Thornburg at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The idea behind Ms. Fort’s project titled “Family Artifact Research Project” is that “young students need to know how culture has contributed to the diversity of their community and country” and digital storytelling on immigration and family heritage supplemented with literary and informational texts can help provide students with both context and personal content to deepen their understanding and appreciation for diversity. To produce their digital narratives over the course of this one-week unit, second-grade students will conduct online research, use the Little Bird Tales storytelling app (which we feature on our Crossing Borders with Digital Storytelling lesson plan), and read the The Granddaughter’s Necklace by Sharon Dennis Wyeth among other texts. 

In Mr. Thornburg’s project, “How Immigrants Affect Us,” students will create a podcast interviewing an immigrant about their journey to the U.S. and how that affected their life. The theme for eighth grade students is immigration particularly “understanding how immigrants have played a critical role in the creation of the U.S. and how often their side of the story is left out of textbooks.” The interview podcast project aims to insert those often overlooked, but critically important voices in American society. The interviews will take place during an evening at the school when community and family members can be present. Mr. Thornburg noted that “many of our students come from immigrant families and I do not think that many of them understand the sacrifices that their family members have made to get them to where they are.” It is his hope that the project will tell the stories of the people who make their school.

Senior Manager of Education Claire Tesh, says, “Our grant program rewards classroom teachers and community leaders who have innovative ideas in integrating immigration issues into their teaching. In return, the American Immigration Council shares their results with the greater public through lesson plans, multimedia and other projects.”  Please join us in celebrating these two noteworthy projects and stay tuned as we follow their developments in the classroom.

For over the past decade, the American Immigration Council has been providing educators with funding for projects that support its mission of promoting the benefits of immigrants to our nation. This collaboration with motivated educators across the nation engages students and communities in thoughtful dialogues centered on the issue of immigration and multiculturalism. 

Please share this email with fellow educators to spread the word about the great work of these teachers. To learn more about our 2016-2017 grant programs and resources, including how to apply, please click here. Our next deadline is July 1, 2016. Congratulations to our deserving and inspirational teachers! 

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