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Student Projects

This American Life: An Immigration Project

Authors: Melissa Cochran, Beth Deluca

Grade: 8th

Subjects: History, Humanities

Students listening to presentation
Students sitting on wall, listening to presentation
Students sitting on wall, listening to presentation
Fence heading down hill to ocean pier.

Why do people immigrate to the United States?

What challenges have immigrants faced throughout history?

What challenges do immigrants face today?

How do immigrants negotiate between two cultural worlds?

What makes a conceptual art piece “successful”?

This cross-curricular humanities/art project aims to engage students in exploring the human face of immigration. Through interviews, literature circle reading, and field experiences, students will better understand the challenges that immigrants face and their perspectives on life in the United States. Students will learn about the history of various immigrant groups and explore how immigration influences our local community.Students worked in groups to create an immigration podcast to share information and perspectives on a chosen immigration theme (e.g., The American Dream, 2nd generation immigrants, economic opportunity). Students had an individual role within the group and researched their chosen topic. These roles included a narrator, field reporter, literary expert, and interviewer.

All students read a literature circle book related to the immigration theme. These books included Breaking Through, Ashes of Roses, Alligator Bayou, The Red Umbrella, Uprising, Funny in Farsi,and Enrique’s Journey. Each literature circle group created a conceptual art piece to highlight an important quote in their book.

In addition to these group roles, students also created reflection journals, which documented their experiences in the field and classroom.

  • Group Products: 
    • 1) Podcast script and recording that includes information about chosen theme, interview of first generation immigrant, short story, and field report;
    • 2) Conceptual art piece based on literature circle reading
  • Individual Product:
    • Reflection Journal

Students will understand:

  • Push and pull factors that influence immigration trends
  • Themes that link historical immigration with present day immigration issues.
  • The challenges that immigrants face when starting a new life in a new country.
  • Various perspectives on immigration policy.


  • Historical Immigration
  • Immigration Policy
Week # Project Task
1  Historical Immigration Case Studies; Family History; Museum of Tolerance Field Trip; Border Patrol Guest Speaker
2  Immigration Policy (Frontline and 30 Days); Literature Circle Reading; Border Angels Guest Speaker; Friendship Park Field Trip
3 Interview preparation; Literature Reading and Dialectical Journal; Project Research
4 Field reports and interviews should be complete; Finish literature circle reading and dialectical journal
4-6 Podcast scripts; Conceptual Art Piece
7-8 Podcast recording

Field Trips and Guest Speakers: 

1) Border Field State Park and Friendship Park

2) Border Patrol

3) Border Angels

4) Museum of Tolerance

  • Individual Reflection Journals
  • Podcast Scripts
  • Literature Circle Assignments and Dialectical Journal
  • Presentations of Learning