Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Telling Family Immigration Stories

Telling family immigration stories is a powerful way to build community within and outside of the classroom. Whether the story comes from a student, parent, or a school professional, giving voice and an audience to the story opens channels for empathy and understanding on what can be a divisive topic.

Our latest lesson plan, created by English Language Learner (ELL) teacher Ms. Angeline Sturgis from Eldridge Park School in Lawrence, NJ, demonstrates how to record, illustrate, and share family immigration stories from individuals in your school and community. Ms. Sturgis implemented this project as the result of our Community Grants program.

The finished product of this lesson is an illustrated book and an opportunity to read the story aloud to others. Although this project can be done digitally, the physical book makes an important gift. A culminating public reading with a focus on celebrating, acknowledging, and supporting the immigrant author's triumphs, struggles, and continued efforts to build a new life in the U.S. transforms a lesson into a truly special and unforgettable event. 

Reflecting on the project, Ms. Sturgis wrote, “I've always believed that everyone has a story to tell. Encourage your families to share their stories, whether orally or written and illustrated, like I was able to do. One of the authors, a mother who came to this country as an impoverished child, said to me at the end of our event, ‘I actually feel different. My story needed to be told. All those years, it was living inside me, and I needed my children to hear it. Not only have they heard it---they illustrated it! Now my story is a part of all of us.’ To read the full article, please click here (and scroll down).

Students illustrate a story.

Teacher Ms. Angeline Sturgis records Eldridge Park School staff member William Perez's immigration story from Cuba.

Books wrapped for presentation on the night of the event.

Illustrations are presented on a large screen as the audience listens and watches.

The American Immigration Council grant program is an initiative to provide educators and community organizers with the resources they need to implement a successful immigration curriculum or an immigration-themed project. Grants are awarded on a bi-annual basis. The deadline for the next grant is July 1, 2016, so it’s not too late to think of an idea and apply by clicking here.

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