This lesson uses the 21st century “travel ban,” ruled constitutional in 2018, as an entry point to explore previous shifts in US immigration policy. More specifically, students will use primary sources to examine social contexts of three specific immigration laws (Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Immigration Acts of 1921 & 1924, and Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952) in order to understand who was banned or excluded from the US and why.
Kelley McDermott, History teacher in a Massachusetts Department of Youth Services facility developed this lesson to attract her 8th grade students interest in research and public policy. Historically, students with disabilities are disproportionally caught up in the juvenile justice system. The lesson employs many strategies and tools for accessibility from Emerging America's Accessing Inquiry course. These include a focus vocabulary analysis and Universal Design for Learning plan.
From Social Justice Books: A Teaching for Change Project, this powerful site offers more than 60 curated lists of literature and history books on social justice and multicultural points of view for children, young adults, and educators. Book lists are organized by topic areas–including Changemakers, Disabilities, Immigration (and specific immigrant groups), Organizing, and Voting Rights!
Finding Primary Sources on Disability History
Browse the thorough and easy-to-follow: Using the Library of Congress Online: A Guide for Middle and High School Students. Also very useful for teachers!
Emerging America's lesson plan template features a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) grid borrowed from Social Studies & Exceptional Learners (see below). It is designed to support teaching of Social Studies. Three columns call for strategies that support the UDL instructional framework (see description in Accessing Inquiry clearinghouse).
Analysis of the timelines below can help students to locate important events in Disability History in a larger historical framework. Timelines also offer opportunities to explore the impacts of activism, policy, and social change. Disability History timelines work best when students are also gaining contextual background knowledge about larger social forces and events. Thus these particular timelines are recommended for grades 6-12.
Scan Multiple Timelines
In this lesson, students learn about the Social Security Act and its provisions to care for the elderly, the unemployed, mothers and children, and children and adults with disabilities. Students will examine several primary source images and documents related to the New Deal era, using a primary source analysis organizer. The lesson offers options in how students can show their learning. This lesson plan has a special feature: the teacher who authored it offers reflections on how teaching the lesson worked with her class when she taught it the first time.
This lesson encourages students to visualize the journeys and lives of immigrant children in the early 20th century and also of immigrant children today. It features video interviews with kids who have recently immigrated and archival photos of child immigrants from the turn of the 20th century. The multi-day lesson is designed to help elementary school students learn from primary and secondary sources, and also uses historical fiction and imaginative prompts to develop understanding and empathy for the immigrant experience.
Who gets accepted as a citizen or as an immigrant? Who is considered a desirable immigrant? Students will work in small groups to examine a primary source text and image set about immigrants at the turn of the 20th century. They will use the sources to develop a deeper understanding of the hurdles and discrimination many immigrant groups faced. In addition to learning about race-based entry policies, students will observe that many types of disabilities were considered undesirable and would keep an immigrant out.
Civics and U.S. History courses raise the question: What does it mean to be an American? The case of Puerto Rico is an interesting one because Puerto Ricans find themselves in limbo between American citizenship and Puerto Rican nationalism. The following primary source sets explore the unique relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States including the different factors that influence Puerto Rican identity, including nationalism, political status, culture, and migration. By examining these primary sources, students will gain an understanding of: