Activities will help students:
- Break down myths and stereotypes about immigration
- How do stereotypes begin?
- Why do people perpetuate myths?
- How can myths and stereotypes be broken down?
- Chart paper and markers (at least six different colors)
- "Ten Myths About Immigration"
A vast debate swirls around the topic of immigration to the United States. Unfortunately, the frustration many have with our immigration system has also caused some people to stereotype all immigrant populations. But where do stereotypes come from? This is the question students will explore in the following activities. The focus here is on facing some common misconceptions about immigrants as a group. By connecting stereotypes to myths and then dispelling those myths, students will confront the lies that are the foundation of bigotry toward immigrants.
Note: Prepare six workstations around the room. Place a sheet of poster paper at each workstation. Write one of the immigration myths below on the top of the poster paper. Use each myth only once and use all of the myths.
Workstation 1: Most immigrants are here illegally.
Workstation 2: It’s easy to enter the country legally. My ancestors did; why can’t immigrants today?
Workstation 3: Immigrants take good jobs from U.S. citizens.
Workstation 4: “The worst” people from other countries are coming to the United States and bringing crime and violence.
Workstation 5: Undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes and burden the national economy.
Workstation 6: Banning immigrants and refugees from majority-Muslim countries will protect our country from terrorists.
To help with classroom management, time students during this carousel activity. Divide the class into six groups, and number the groups 1 through 6. Give each group a different color marker.
1) Your classroom has been divided into six separate workstations, each showcasing a different common myth about immigration. Go the workstation that matches your group’s number.
2) With your group, hypothesize why that myth is not accurate. Assign one person to record your responses. Complete the following information for that myth:
- Where you think this myth comes from
- Who benefits from this myth
- Why this myth is untrue
Remain at this first workstation until given your next task.
3) Now, smoothly and quickly move to the next workstation. If you are now at workstation 1, move to 2, workstation 2 to 3, etc. Once there, offer feedback on what the previous group answered and expand upon their responses. You have 3 minutes.
4) Repeat step 3 (move stations, offer feedback and expand upon responses). Repeat continuously until your group has a chance to offer feedback on all the myths.
5) Finally, return to your group’s original workstation to see what others had to say or add. Do you agree with the feedback? Why or why not?
6) As a group, read the facts about your specific myth in "Ten Myths About Immigration." In addition to what’s listed, why is your group’s workstation myth inaccurate? As a group, present your immigration myth chart to the rest of the class along with what you’ve learned. Take a poll. Ask your classmates to raise their hands if they have ever heard of your immigration myth before. Then, share the reasons why that myth is untrue, using the feedback gathered from the collective experience and from "Ten Myths About Immigration."
Note: Call on each group to come up and present in front of the class. Take notes on the board as each group dispels a myth.
7) As a class, read and discuss the four myths listed in "Ten Myths About Immigration" that were not covered during the carousel activity. They are:
- Today’s immigrants don’t want to learn English.
- The United States is being overrun by immigrants like never before.
- We can stop undocumented immigrants coming to the United States by building a wall along the border with Mexico.
- Refugees are not screened before entering the United States.
8) Now that you’ve learned about immigration and immigration myths, who else in your life might want to know about this? Think about at least three people in your life with whom you can share this new knowledge. In your journal, write down:
a) the person or people you plan to talk to about immigration myths and stereotypes;
b) what you plan to say to the person (feel free to copy some quotes directly from the article).
Be prepared to share with the class how the experience went the next day.
Create myth-busting posters to hang all around your school to help spread knowledge and prove immigration myths wrong. Include all the myths listed in "Ten Myths About Immigration."
As a class, ask students to brainstorm an “Immigrant’s Bill of Rights” that outlines how people new to the United States should be welcomed and treated. Ask students to draw from their own families’ experiences in creating the list. Select the best responses and have each of the above groups create a poster illustrating their ideas and place them in the school or community.