Activity brings home the difficulties teen immigrants have fitting into a new culture.
My 7th-grade students were studying teen immigrants and the difficulties they sometimes have transitioning into American culture.
We used a nonfiction book written by Janet Bode called New Kids on the Block: Oral Histories of Immigrant Teens (Scholastic, 1991, ISBN# 0-590-44144-2) as the groundwork to discussing what creates boundaries at our school. (Some of our students are from the cultures in Bode's book.)
First, each student worked with a partner and chose a short oral history of an immigrant teen from the book. In their presentations, one student was the interviewer, while the other played the part of the immigrant teen. This led to a discussion of what separates students at our middle school.
The students then worked in groups of three or four to write survey questions about our school's social boundaries. We discussed the survey questions and chose the ones that we thought would evoke the most honest answers from other students.
The students took copies of the survey to social studies teachers. The teachers allowed the students to explain the survey and then monitor the class or answer any questions while their peers completed the survey.
My students returned with the responses and proceeded to tally their group results. They combined all of the group results and created a bar graph on an Excel spreadsheet to show the information.
The students were surprised at the results, and they learned a great deal about the students who attend our school. Many observed that multiracial students are the most left-out group, which also helped to heighten awareness.
Through these activities, we were able to have a genuine discussion about prejudice, racism and discrimination.
Memorial Middle School
This activity was designed in support of the Mix It Up program.