I wrote this for a job of mine 5 years ago. Not sure what grade it was intended for and if I’d use all the suggested activities etc. I think it’s interesting that issues that I thought might require empathy 5 years ago are just as relevant today. Sort of sad, actually.
In other news, contemplating closing this blog and just starting a new one. Hmm. This one is hopelessly disorganized.
Teaching Empathy Regarding Immigration via The Arrival
Session 1: Establishing Background Information (Half-session)
A. Build Common Experience
Run an informal survey of classroom demographics (By a show of hands, ask how many students moved to the US. How many students have parents who moved to the US. How many students have grandparents who moved to the US., etc).
B. “Where do I stand?” Survey
Based on the tenor of your class and the current political climate, create a series of statements for students to respond with the following options: “Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.”
Statements should vary around the themes of immigration, settling, hospitality, and identity.
“Immigration is bad for the country.”
“America is what it is today because of immigration.”
“People should stick to what is familiar.”
“I consider myself American.”
**When thinking up statements, make sure they connect to the lesson objective of teaching students about empathy.
This survey will be brought out again for students to see where they used to stand and where they stand after the unit.
Read The Arrival and in their journal write a personal response answering some or all of the following questions: What facets of the book stuck out to you and why? Why do you think Shaun Tan chose to use a wordless medium? What might have been conveyed via this picture book that would not have been or could not have been shown if there was text?
Read and Annotate “The Immigrants.” Be prepared to discuss both pieces in class.
Session 2: Synthesizing what we know
A. Collective Knowledge Sharing
In groups, allow for discussion surrounding The Arrival and “The Immigrants.”
If you like, you may ensure that discussions remain on task and is split up equally by assigning 1 note-taker, 1 timekeeper, 1 facilitator, and 1 reporter.
Possible Questions for discussion:
Go over questions from the journal write.
What stuck out to you in “The Immigrants” and why?
How are “The Immigrants” and The Arrival the same and how are they different?
How do these alternative mediums (poetry and graphics) help to get the message across?
Have reporters report on their groups’ discussion (or have a reporter report on a specific question) and use this moment to unpack The Arrival and “The Immigrants.”
Transition from the wordless The Arrival to the language-rich “The Immigrants.”
B. Lesson on Language
Depending on your teaching style and your current classroom level, explain or review the following:
Difference in word/phrase meanings
Connotation vs. Denotation
*Be sure to use/find examples from “The Immigrants” to bolster your points.
C. Themes Study
Although the topics are similar, the themes and opinions differ between “The Immigrants” and The Arrival.
Engage class in a dialogue about the different themes and have a group brainstorm about what areas are connected and what areas differ. Be sure to put in textual/graphic/narrative support.
Have them start on their assignment
Assignment: Pick a specific theme or issue that is covered in “The Immigrants” and The Arrival and write a 2-3 paragraph analysis explaining how this theme/issue is approached in each piece and which approach is more effective, more relatable, more fair, or more (insert own opinion).
Session 3: Connecting to the Real World
A. Current Event Stations
Have students spend 10-12 minutes per station to read the article / watch the YouTube clip and then have them respond to questions specific to the article/clip that relate to the themes and connect to or challenge students’ personal opinions/beliefs.
Break students into small groups and have students take turns being one of the following at each station:
1 Facilitator / ensures everyone speaks
Suggested station materials:
B. Personal Response
Have students journal about their overall thoughts concerning immigration and relocation. Encourage them to draw from The Arrival, “The Immigrants,” and their impressions from the news articles today.
After five minutes, tell students to push back on what they have written or respond to what someone else might have said in their journals.
Assignment: Prepare for In-Class Debate tomorrow (will be assigned tomorrow) by thinking up pros and cons and its respective supports for the following statement: Children of illegal immigrants should not be allowed to receive state grants from college. (Question may be changed for whatever is appropriate/current).
Session 4: Challenging our Thoughts
A. How to write an Op-Ed
Refer back to articles from the previous day.
Talk about what they noticed about the elements of an op-ed.
Pass out a checklist for what is needed in an op-ed and tell them they will be writing an op-ed (so pay attention during the debate).
B. In-Class debate
– Explain the format
10 minutes to prepare; 3 minute opening statement for each side; 2 minutes for rebuttals on each side; 5 minutes for questions from the audience (teacher); 5 minutes for final preparations; 2 minutes for concluding thoughts.
[Total time: 34 minutes]
– Split the class into two teams.
One interesting way to do this is to have students raise their hands for “in favor” / “opposed” and have students argue the side they are against.
– Run the debate
Assignment; Write Op-Ed Draft
Session 5: Pulling Everything Together
A. Partner Revision/Edit
Provide revision/editing checklist (or however you do it in class) and have students edit/revise 2 students’ papers.
Ask students to also include a double-positive-delta (two positive things about the op-ed and one suggested change).
Give students about 7-9 minutes per paper and enough time to dialogue about it.
B. Personal Reflection
Take the same survey from day 1 (statements should be mixed up)
Have students compare and contrast and then fill out the following saying: “I used to think…, now I think…”
C. Class-wide Reflection Sharing:
Have students crumple up the sheets, throw them into the room, and then given the amount of time, have the whole class read from a sheet they pick up or choose a few and have them read.
D. Teacher Encouragement
Encourage students that this is a gray area issue and to keep wrestling with it.
Assignment: Op-Ed Final Draft