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Contemporary Immigration Lesson Plan
The contemporary immigration of Africans to the United States is the focus of the narrative African Immigration. The narrative explores the reasons for the immigration to the United States, the educational background and employment opportunities for those who immigrate, the transformation of family life attributed to emigration, along with the religious and social impact on the community and the immigrants. In this lesson, students will research contemporary immigrations of Africans to the United States. Student research will focus on why individuals are immigrating to the United States, the immigration laws and regulations impacting the movement of Africans to the United States, and the impact the immigration has had on the United States and the immigrants' home countries. After exploring contemporary immigration on the larger national scale, students will select to study either their state or local community, and to develop an information guide for African immigrants.
Grade Levels:High school, grades 9-12
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

  • Developments in foreign policy and domestic politics between the Nixon and Clinton presidencies.
  • The impact of the Reagan presidency on relations with other countries (e.g., the issues raised in the Iran-Contra affair, Reagan's view of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire" and how that view shaped defense policy, the Reagan administration's policy toward South Africa).
  • The influence of U.S. foreign policy on international events from Nixon to Clinton (e.g., the U.S.'s role in the evolving political struggles in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America; foreign policy in the post-Cold War era; U.S. goals and objectives in the Middle East; the pros and cons of U.S. intervention in the Persian Gulf under Reagan and Bush; how human rights issues have been used in American foreign policy).
  • Economic, social, and cultural developments in the contemporary United States.
  • How changes in the national and global economy have influenced the workplace (e.g., sluggishness in the overall rate of economic growth, the relative stagnation of wages since 1973, the social and political impact of an increase in income disparities, the effects of increased global trade and competition on the U.S. economy, the influence of new technology on education and learning, and the relationship between education and earnings in the workplace).
  • How recent immigration and migration patterns impacted social and political issues (e.g., major issues that affect immigrants and resulting conflicts, changes in the size and composition of the traditional American family, demographic and residential mobility since 1970).
Time required
Four 50-minute class periods, plus additional reading, research, and homework
Materials needed
Anticipatory Set

  1. Have students list all of the obstacles they would face if they moved to a new country where they did not know anyone, couldn't speak the language, and did not understand the social, economic, or political system.
  2. After students have created their lists, have them share with the class using the Stand and Share strategy as follows:

    1. All students should stand with their lists.
    2. One student shares the information on his or her list.
    3. Students with the same ideas check them off their lists.
    4. Continue with another student who shares new ideas from his or her list.
    5. Each student should sit down once he or she has checked off all of the ideas on his or her list.
    6. Continue the process until all students are seated.
  3. After the class list is developed, explain that some emigrants from Africa face the same types of obstacles when they arrive in the United States. Explain further that this lesson will explore contemporary immigration at the national and at the state or local levels.

  1. Assign students to read the narrative African Immigration and then complete the Information Chart.
  2. After students have read the narrative and completed the Information Chart, review key ideas from the reading with the whole class.
  3. For homework, have students find three to five agencies or organizations, including African immigrants' associations that provide support for recent African immigrants at either the national, state, or local level. The list should include the name of the agency and contact information including address, telephone number, and web address.
  4. Have students share, in groups of four, their lists of agencies and organizations that support African immigrants and develop a group list. After each group has a master list, combine and make copies of the lists for each student to help students develop their information guides.
  5. Then, disseminate the Information Guide Description and Information Guide Rubric to the class.
  6. Have students, working in groups of four, identify whether they will develop their research projects for the local or state level. Then, have the groups complete the Project Planning Guide before beginning their research.

  1. Assign students to work in groups of four and have each group research contemporary African immigration to the United States at either the state or local level. The research should include all of the following:

    1. Data on the number of immigrants to the state or local community.
    2. The countries of origin.
    3. The reasons for immigration to the area.
    4. The impact of the migration on the area as well as the home countries.
  2. Students, if possible, should interview recent emigrants from Africa to gather information for the project.
  3. As the final project, have students develop for the state or local community an information guide that will provide information and resources for recent African immigrants to the area.
  4. Assess students' work using the Information Guide Rubric.
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