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Studying the African Immigration Lesson Plan
This lesson is designed for use with the narrative African Immigration. Students will use the site maps and other resources and will interview a recent Sub-Saharan African immigrant to learn about his or her individual experience. Using the information from the interview, students will write a brief biography summarizing the immigrant's experiences in leaving his or her country and coming to the United States, as well as his or her plans for the future.
Grade Levels:Middle and high school, grades 9-12
For use with:For use with: African Immigration
Concentration Area:History
National Curriculum Standards met by this lesson
The following standards have been taken from the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel) standards.
Students will understand

  • How recent immigration and migration patterns impacted social and political issues that affect immigrants and resulting conflicts; changes in the size and composition of the traditional American family; demographic and residential mobility since 1970.
  • Rates of economic development and the emergence of different economic sections of the globe (e.g., systems of economic management in communist and capitalist countries, as with the impact of multinational corporations; the impact of black markets, speculation, and trade on national and global markets; patterns of inward, outward, and internal migration in the area of North Africa, types of jobs involved, and the impact of the patterns upon the national economy and economic development of East Asian countries in the late 20th century, and the relatively of Sub-Saharan African countries).
Time required
From two traditional class periods to two weeks, depending on depth and breadth of student research
Materials needed
  • Narrative, African Immigration
  • Internet connection for viewing of internal and external links
  • Library resources
  • A source for finding a recent Sub-Saharan immigrant such as a church, chamber of commerce, university, community or counseling centers, or religious schools
Anticipatory Set

  1. Ask students to share their aspirations after high school. Do they want to attend college? If so, do they want to attend nearby, in another part of the country, or abroad? Ask students what their ultimate goal is. (Many will say their goal is to have a nice home, nice cars, etc.)
  2. Remind students that wanting a good job to be able to buy nice things is typical of most middle class people in the United States. Many other people in the world wish to come to the United States to acquire those things, too. Some stay and become citizens of the United States. Others return to their country after acquiring a degree or achieving other success in this country.
  3. Have students imagine that they are living in Sub-Saharan Africa. Would they want to immigrate to the United States? Would they eventually return to Africa or remain in the United States? Have students write their responses to these questions in a journal entry.

  1. Have the map of the migration on the overhead projector or on students' computer screens. (link to map of this migration)
  2. Hand out copies of the narrative; or, if students are online, they can read it on their screens. If the reading level of the class is low, you may opt to read and stop at intervals to check for understanding.
  3. Once students have read through the essay, have them start filling in any information that they can based on the following series of springboard questions:

    1. What are the dates, from beginning to end, that frame this migration. Where is the point (or where are the points) of origin of the people?
    2. What was their existing circumstance in that location? How did conditions differ from the city to country plantations and estates?
    3. Why did they leave?
    4. How many left?
    5. Where did they go?
    6. How did they choose their destination(s)? Were the destinations chosen before they embarked upon their journeys, or were they arbitrary in nature?
    7. What was the economic result of their immigration for both countries?
    8. What hardships did they endure because of their immigration?
    9. What is the legacy today of this migration in both the points of origin and destination?
    10. How does this migration fit in with the other migrations (can only be done if studying a group of migrations)? Are there any connections between migrations?
  4. For any unanswered questions, direct students to other resources, such as the gateway, other areas of the site, or library resources.
  5. So they can continue their study, instruct students to locate a person who has immigrated to the United States from the Sub-Saharan area since 1970. This may be a challenge depending on your location, so students may need your help in locating a suitable person. Consider using churches, a chamber of commerce, universities, community and counseling centers, religious schools, the Internet, or even the telephone book (to look up businesses that may have been started by Sub-Saharan immigrants).

    If these resources have been exhausted without finding someone, two students may have to interview the same person, although their projects could still be individual. Some topics the students might want to ask about include:

    1. The person's background.
    2. Circumstances that motivated them to immigrate.
    3. The person's experiences once in the United States. (Where did they settle? What was their occupation?)
    4. The legacy of the actions. (Will they remain in the United States or return to Africa?)
  6. Then, have students write up their findings in an autobiographical format, including a picture of the person, if possible, and a bibliography of sources.

Grade the autobiography using the rubric below. With a total of 16 points possible, figure a letter grade from the number of points each student earns.

Grading Criteria Excellent (4) Good (3) Unsatisfactory (2) Poor (1)
Organization Information is in a logical, interesting sequence, which the reader can easily follow. Information is presented in a sequence the reader can follow. Reader has difficulty following the work because the student jumps around. Sequence of information is difficult to follow.
Content and Knowledge Student includes answers to all questions asked in the interview in an elaborate manner. Student answers most questions, but with little elaboration. Student doesn't answer most of the questions, and the information is basic. Student doesn't have a grasp of the information at all.
Grammar and Spelling The writing has no grammatical or spelling errors. The writing has two or fewer grammatical or spelling errors. The writing has three or four grammatical or spelling errors. The writing has more than four grammatical or spelling errors.
References The bibliography is written correctly with at least two references. The bibliography has minor errors in it. The bibliography has several errors in it. The bibliography has numerous errors in it.

Interdisciplinary Links

  • Audiovisual Production: Students may collaborate with the school's audiovisual or media production teachers, particularly the video production instructor, to tape the town hall meeting, including setting up lighting, microphones, and camera angles to capture all participants of a "meeting-in-the-round" effectively.
  • Sociology: Students may wish to conduct oral histories of immigrants living in their community, examining the more general conflict between American culture, especially in the media, and values cherished by immigrants. The Schomburg Center has suggested oral history interview "Do's and Don'ts" at:
  • Government/Political Science: Many immigrants chose to become citizens of the United States. If possible, obtain a sample page of the citizenship test and ask students to take it and see how well they can do. Ask students to find out the current requirements for citizenship and the steps immigrants must go through to become naturalized citizens. If the administration and school board are willing to coordinate with the Federal immigration judge, it is possible to hold a naturalization ceremony in a non-courthouse venue, such as at a school.
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