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Teachers > Immigration > Lesson Introduction

This is one of six modules of "What Does It Mean to Be an American?",

a curriculum resource designed for high school and college classrooms. 

In this lesson, students explore the history of immigration to the United States, discuss the challenges and opportunities that migrants and their families encounter when settling in the United States, and consider the roles that immigration, immigrant integration, and citizenship policies have played in the building of U.S. society. For their final project, students research an immigrant group or U.S. immigration/integration policy of their choice and summarize its past and/or present role in U.S. society.

Lesson Introduction

What is the history of immigration to the United States? 

What factors drove and/or impeded the immigration and integration of different migrant groups in the United States?

What kinds of challenges and opportunities do migrants and their families encounter when settling in the United States?

How have immigration, integration, and citizenship policies in U.S. history impacted the experiences of different migrant groups?

Organizing Questions

Reflect on and assess the idea of the United States as a “nation of immigrants”

Learn about the history of Japanese migration to and within the United States

Hear and reflect on the family immigration stories of several young Americans

Consider the wide diversity of immigrants and immigration experiences in the United States today

Conduct research on an immigrant group in the United States or an immigration/integration-related policy of their choice

Understand how the history of immigration and integration in the U.S. has both shaped and been shaped by various government policies and public sentiment toward immigrants

Trace the “four waves” of immigration in U.S. history, including their differing causes, contexts, and characteristics

Learn several migration-related concepts and terms

In this lesson students:


The following are suggestions for assessing student work in this lesson:

  1. Assess written responses to Case Study: Japanese Migration and the United States based on students’ factual accuracy, quality of thought, and clarity of writing.

  2. Assess group research reports in Immigration Research Project based on

    • quality and accuracy of research;

    • clarity of writing;

    • use of appropriate and reliable sources;

    • proper citation of sources; and

    • equitable division of group work among members.

  3. Assess student research projects in Immigration in the News based on

    • quality and accuracy of research and analysis;

    • clarity of writing;

    • use of appropriate and reliable sources; and

    • proper citation of sources.

  4. Assess student participation in group and class discussions, evaluating students’ ability to

    • clearly state their opinions, questions, and/or answers; 

    • exhibit sensitivity toward different cultures and ideas; 

    • respect and acknowledge other students’ comments;

    • ask relevant and insightful questions; and

    • provide correct and thoughtful answers to classmates’ questions.


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