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Immigration and Migration: My Family and My CommunitybyJulie So
There you are perhaps isolated sitting at a table in the middle of a crowded café with the world at your illuminated fingertips, searching back in time for a leaf that connects you somehow to your past, your family's personal story of immigration or migration to help you better understand who you are and how you fit into this world. What has taken place before you, and what are the stories of your family's collective past? The complex concept of history as change over time is compelling and alive because it teaches us a multitude of facts shaping our understanding of who we are and how we engage and interact in the world.
We all have a family history to discover, understand, and embrace as we make an impact in this world leaving behind our own legacy for better or worse. It is my hope to empower students to strive for the former, and make a difference in their life for the better, dynamically building up "community cultural wealth". 1 According to Tara Yosso, "community cultural wealth involves a commitment to conduct research, teach and develop schools that serve a larger purpose of struggling toward social and racial justice." 2
Perhaps you have found as I have that there is much more we can teach students in the area of history in addition to what is in our elementary curriculum. For example, all of the activity and controversy at the border seems to have given the term "immigration" a negative connotation about unresolved political, social, economic, and ethical conflict specifically with the movement of people through and from Mexico into the U.S. This is a "hot topic" that fuels debate, and more importantly, it is our global reality and responsibility to seek understanding beneath the "what is happening" and delve into the "why is this happening" realm of thinking. There are always significant reasons for a population to move from their established home, especially in the large numbers we are seeing coming through and from Mexico into the U.S. The issues occurring at the border of our two nations highly affect my students' families, whether they have themselves experienced being processed through the border or whether they are supporting others in their journey. Discovering why friends, family, and those in our community needed to uproot their lives, move, and settle into a new land is a story with richness and depth, leading to a better understanding with better compassion.
In this unit, I have taken these high-level understandings of immigration and migration histories and development of cities, and targeted concepts important and appropriate for young students. I have pulled out key concepts to introduce specifically to my first grade class that also align with our grade level standards. This unit helps teachers to direct students in considering family history, and the cultural stories in the historical spaces of their community. It is designed with background information, strategies, and activity examples to help teachers bring history and social science to life through the topic of immigration and migration, and the building up of our city. This unit will also provide details specifically about San Jose, California and our East San Jose community. There is much history within the city of San Jose. Students will discover different ways to find history throughout this unit such as family and buddy interviews, neighborhood tours and mapping illustrations, and meet and greets with our school alumni or community residents.
Last year, my entire Kindergarten class represented a range of Hispanic culture, including Californios, Mexicans, Chicanos, and Mexicanos. Two months before the end of the school year, we had an immigrant from Vietnam join us who had very little experience with the English language. He was a very enthusiastic and boisterous boy who spoke out in his language of Vietnamese. Unfortunately, no one in our class nor I understood his words and relied on gestures, facial expressions, and body language. The reaction some students had to his words was giggles and laughter at the unfamiliar sounds and intonations of his language. I immediately directed the class in a mini lesson about our differences, similarities, and friendship. We shared some Spanish words, and I shared some Japanese words, and we all enjoyed learning something new together in English – including our new friend. From then on until the end of the school year, we sought to understand and learn a little more every day about our Vietnamese friend. This was a great reminder that there are many different cultures in our own school, neighborhood, and community. But as a teacher, I continued to work through how do we understand what makes us different and how can we better interact with one another bypassing those immediate unkind reactions in a diverse environment.
Mount Pleasant Elementary STEAM Academy is part of a small and diverse ethnic community in the eastern foothills of San Jose, California. It currently serves 362 students, Kindergarten through 5th grade, in general education with a new focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM). The school population is categorized primarily as Hispanic with few students of Vietnamese, Chinese, Cambodian, and Japanese descent. Approximately 82% of our students are Hispanic, 9% are Asian, and 9% are Caucasian. 3 The school community is rich with the cultures of our student body and staff, and we have been marketing and recruiting this year to keep our enrollment up. Keeping the daily difficulties and tensions inherent in our community in mind, one of the strategies of outreach includes partnering with community counseling agencies presenting summer programs and promoting our school.
A layer of difficulty is added perhaps because kindergarten is not mandatory in California. For our school, this impact of low enrollment means less income, fewer classroom teachers, and more students packed into a fewer number of classes available. In this environment, the diversity of students as mentioned before allows for a wealth of cultural capital being brought into the classroom, and presents the need for more dynamically engaging learning opportunities. Along with a larger group of individuals converging into each class, comes a need for appropriate social interactions skills such as conflict/resolution to encourage tolerance and respect of our differences. A curriculum unit on immigration and migration in early childhood education can indeed be a vehicle in building these key character traits with the hopes of also nurturing compassion within these young ones. Participating in personal and family history activities to learn about immigration and sharing our stories with one another provides meaningful connections, skills, and strategies that broaden the lens of how students see and interact in their community and the world.
For most of my upcoming first grade students, this is their second year of experience with academic language, skills development, and being in a structured environment for learning. For a few, it may be their first. Some of these students are English Language Learners from my SEI kindergarten class from last year who are learning the English language. The majority of my students will be Hispanic, and few will be Asian. Even within these two groups, there are differences categorizing their history. Mainly, the Hispanic categories are Mexican-Americans (born or long established in U.S.) and Mexicanos (recent immigrants from Mexico). In an informal session with our principal, Dr. Jose Gonzalez, I learned that subgroups of our Mexican-Americans students are the following: Californios, Mexicans, and Chicanos. The different groups within Mexicanos or recent immigrants can be distinguished by rich or poor, Spanish or Indian, Northern, Central, or Southern. 4 This information is also documented in Stephen Pitti's book, The Devil in Silicon Valley (2003). 5 The Asian students representing the Vietnamese culture descend from mainly three different groups of refugees and immigrants: the first wave of refugee resettlement fled to the U.S. following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, the second wave of Vietnamese refugees referred to as "boat people" fled to the U.S. beginning as early as 1978, and Amerasian immigrants who arrived beginning in 1982 with the Amerasian Act. All migrants and immigrants have very different stories of how they were received in our city and how they have added to the cultural wealth of San Jose, California.
Not all, but many students at our school come from difficult family situations. However, students bring with them what Tara J. Yosso (2005) calls cultural capital. She breaks it down into these types of cultural wealth, "… aspirational, navigational, social, linguistic, familial and resistant capital." 6 A typical trap we fall into as educators, of which I am guilty of as well, is looking at our students and families with the lens of deficit thinking that focuses on cultural poverty disadvantages rather than the wealth students bring to our school and community. I am inspired by Yosso's (2005) explanation of aspirations capital as well as by the families in our community who display this positive strength.
For example, as noted above, aspirational capital is the ability to hold onto hope in the face of structured inequality and often without the means to make such dreams a reality. Yet, aspirations are developed within social and familial contexts, often through linguistic storytelling and advice (consejos) that offer specific navigational goals to challenge (resist) oppressive conditions. Therefore, aspirational capital overlaps with each of the other forms of capital, social, familial, navigational, linguistic and resistant. 7
Even though our East San Jose students represent only a portion of cultural diversity of the population within the city of San Jose, they bring their valuable cultural wealth to our school. With this in mind, it is a reality that families in our local neighborhood have had to struggle with stressors and tension in our community that have been alive and well for immigrants and migrants throughout the history of San Jose de Guadalupe, "the first pueblo (Spanish civilian town) in Alta California…," established in 1777. 8 History is change over time, and throughout our local history we can still connect personally with those who came before in all the various challenging interactions that occur in being a part of a diverse community then and now.
Some of my first grade students do, unfortunately, have to deal with hardships in their young lives. For example, their family may be dealing with such stressors as crowded living spaces, financial difficulties, gang affiliations, drugs, abuse, and relatives in jail. They may also be isolated without kinship, surviving in a new country. Their family's socioeconomic well being often takes precedence over education. The difficulties are nothing new, as I have learned in my seminar research of the tensions and struggles of natives, immigrants, and oppression since the early beginning of this area in which we live now known as San Jose, California. As Stephen Pitti writes, "The Ohlone had inhabited the area for at least six thousand years prior to Spanish explorations, existing amidst an atmosphere of political rivalries and occasional violence…" 9 There has always been struggle over resources and labor as natural human migration and immigration occurs over time. People naturally look for ways to better their lives, including moving to where there are opportunities to do so. The tensions over this land between natives of various tribes like the Ohlone and Mexicans who migrated from the south to Alta California, for example, were mixed with religious conflicts because of the "Franciscan strong-arm tactics" of the mission's friars to join their communities. 10 The Americans who came to conquer the West, and civilize with their efficiency and industry then oppressed the Mexicans and natives. People continued arriving and taking over the land as their own without much care of displacing or disenfranchising those who had settled before. After the U.S./Mexico war ended, "Many migrants assumed that local lands were there for the taking, and squatters commonly expressed little compunction about stealing Californio properties." 11
Of course there were uprisings and protests scattered throughout San Jose's long history, again showing the tension in this area as nothing new. Labor unions were formed through the years to stand up against unfair labor practices and laws in agriculture, railroad work, and mining. Struggles can be found throughout time since San Jose was established in the eighteenth century to the present day. In the late 1960s, for instance, farm workers joined to boycott grape growers until they improved labor conditions. The leader they followed to inspire nonviolent protests and marches for dignity, equality, and justice is now honored in East San Jose with the Cesar E. Chavez Memorial Walkway. 12 There are many great and inspirational Hispanic role models who have made a difference in San Jose adding so much to the cultural wealth of this community. This history is of great importance for me to better understand my students, not only their cultural and immigration history but also how they contribute to our community so that I can better teach them and guide them in making meaningful connections with their own family history and plant seeds of hope and inspiration for their own future legacy.
History of San Jose, California
The native tribal name of Ohlone, natives who first occupied the land between the current counties of Napa-San Joaquin-Santa Cruz in California, still remains in the name of Ohlone Community College located northeast of San Jose in Fremont, California. The well-known technologically savvy city of San Jose begins its story as a pueblo in 1777, named after a patron saint of the Spanish colonist, Jose Joaquin Moraga, called San Jose de Guadalupe. He claimed the land for Mexico (New Spain), and colonized the Ohlones who continued farming the land. A diverse population was always represented in this area throughout the years from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first century. There are records of European immigrants from Belgium, Germany, Italy, France and Ireland for example living in San Jose in the 1870s found on the U.S. Federal Census database. 13 San Jose was a farming valley that witnessed much movement of migrants and immigrants to work the land over the centuries. It was "envisioned as an ideal midpoint for creating crops to feed the residents of the presidios of San Francisco and Monterey." 14 In the late eighteen hundreds, Migrants also came up from the southern area of Mexico to work on building the railroads in the U.S. including in California. Land ownership disputes were plentiful as American politics undermined what Mexicans claimed as their land rights. Social, economic, and political conflict was also continuous as many groups converged here to farm the land and mine the natural resources that were plentiful in this area also descriptively referred to as "The Valley of Heart's Delight." These resources and labor opportunities in the area shaped where people lived and where they worked in the valley.
In the eighteenth century, agriculture was cultivated and maintained for sustainable development and commerce in this settlement. In the nineteenth century, mercury and nearby gold (to the north) were mined, drawing in even more migrant and immigrant laborers. The cinnabar and quicksilver mines attracted many to what is currently the Almaden Valley area of San Jose. As mentioned above, the railroads were a big source of work opportunities during this time. San Jose has had several nicknames throughout its history and at this time was also fondly known as the "Garden City" because of all of the plentiful and fruitful orchards. This was in part thanks to a Frenchman, Louis Pellier, who came to this valley in 1850 and six years later had over five hundred pounds of French plants, seeds, and cuttings imported to the fertile San Jose land. One in particular fruit flourished, "la petite prune d'Agen", becoming a main agricultural crop of Santa Clara County, and creating a multimillion-dollar industry. 15 Much was simultaneously occurring locally and in the nation at this time affecting interactions such as heated national debates regarding liberal and republican ideals and political rights. Also, the war between Mexico and the United States took place during this time period where Mexico ceded and signed the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty establishing the line between the two nations and creating U.S. citizenship for those north of the border. After the war the U.S. annexed California and major areas of the Southwest. "Within a few years, the colonizing majority Mexican population, which had ruled California, became a colonized minority." 16 During this time frame in America, Asian immigrants were denied the right to become citizens under the Naturalization Act of 1870 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, yet eventually populated large spaces in San Jose once the U.S. allowed entrance of these ethnic groups. 17
In the twentieth century, as the U.S. suffered a wartime labor shortage during World War II, the Bracero Program of 1942 institutionalized migration by inviting Mexican migrants to cross the border and work in the U.S. temporarily, promising to protect their rights and privileges of their Mexican citizenship. These promises were not kept, yet the program continued for twenty-two years, transforming life in Mexico and in the U.S. by the nature of it being an invitation only for men to work on railroad construction and agriculture. Industry continued creating more jobs in construction while canneries and orchards dwindled in the valley. The suburban sprawl and high-tech industry expansion made land more valuable and "By the late 1970s the majority of canneries in San Jose had closed or moved to Mexico and other parts of the country." 18 And most recently, technology in the twenty-first century has dominated the area contributing to its branding as Silicon Valley referring to the innovation of silicon in semiconductors which speeds up current and voltage in circuits (transfer of electronic information in electronic devices) and the plethora of technology companies in the area.
In the late twentieth century, I actually worked at one of these dominating technology companies, one of very few if not the only one located in East San Jose. The invisible city within the walls of this warehouse was composed of a diverse population categorized into job titles. The workers at this North American distribution organization were visually distinguishable by skill level. Unskilled manual laborers were operators who worked on a manufacturing assembly line and consisted of Mexican Americans, Filipino Americans, and Vietnamese immigrants all of which lived and worked in or nearby this East San Jose community. The technicians, administrators, and engineers were highly skilled Caucasians and a few East Indian immigrants who commuted to this worksite from more affluent suburban communities miles away. Manufacturing assembly work is an example of the "predilection on the 'low-tech' side of 'high-tech' industry…many employers' predilection for basing hiring on gender, race, and nationality," speaks to the old division of race and class that still exists today often hidden in the new high-tech world, and locally here in the economy and landscape of Silicon Valley. 19
Looking more closely at our city, the population is diverse like my example above and 51.3% live and work in the community. 20 I have included links to the 2010 Census maps for the city of San Jose in Internet Resources to show interesting demographics of the population in our community. This can be found online and shows that the highest concentration of Vietnamese in the U.S. reside in San Jose, specifically in and around East San Jose. East San Jose has the highest concentration of Latinos in the city. In addition, the neighborhood has the highest concentration of persons below poverty level, multigenerational households, and overcrowded housing in San Jose. There is also a map depicting the demographics of the Asian population including the ethnic groups of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Filipino in San Jose. 21
I also want to give brief historical information regarding these significant ethnic groups in San Jose, including links for further interest and research. Subgroups of the Asian population include Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino. The History San Jose, a local organization, hosts an online exhibit about how construction workers discovered remnants of the Market Street Chinatown dating back to 1880 in the downtown area of San Jose. This site provides original stories, photographs, and commentary on the changes over time regarding this culturally important space in the downtown. Following 1880, numerous discriminatory laws against Asian immigrants passed on the local, state, and national levels. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited Chinese laborers from immigrating and naturalizing, until that law was repealed in 1943. The 1885 Alien Contract Labor Law kept foreign laborers from working in the U.S. These laws applied to other Asian immigrants groups such as the Japanese.
San Jose still has a functioning Japantown that includes a plot of land that used to be a Chinatown called "Heinlanville" dating back to one hundred years ago. In the "Internet Resources" section of this unit, there is a link for educational videos created by children from two different schools about immigration listed. This Japantown also has a Japanese American Museum of San Jose that offers several avenues of education about this group's experiences during World War II including their wartime service as well as their mass removal and internment following the 1942 issue of Executive Order 9066. Within blocks of Japantown is the Filipino Community Center. The website for the Filipino American National Historical Society is listed in "Internet Resources" and provides more information on the Filipino population. 22
Hispanic Migration History: The History of Students (Descendants) in East San Jose
The Mexican Americans in our community who are called Ohlones descended from interracial marriages between Ohlone natives in the Santa Clara Valley and Spanish colonists starting around 1786. These "mestizos" were accepted in Alta California and were able to hold significant social status. There were also other "castas," mixed blooded members of this small, yet ethnically diverse population who could also enjoy such status such as the "mulatos" who were of Spanish and African heritage. The group known as Californios in our community descended from mestizos around 1820, distinguished by being of the Castillian Spanish blood line. In the nineteenth century, they placed themselves above the rest in Santa Clara Valley, believing in only their group of mestizos and regarded others as a lower class or race. After Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico lost Alta California to the U.S. in 1848. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 defined the line between the U.S. and Mexico. The population south of the border became the ancestors of the early migrants within the group of Mexican Americans now categorized as Mexican. The Mexican American group known as Chicanos is a more historically recent culmination of young people who identified themselves as a political voice speaking out against inequalities since around 1960. The Hispanic population in California also includes those from Central and South America. The 2010 U.S. Census breaks down the classifications of Hispanic or Latino as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or Other Hispanic or Latino that includes Dominican, Central American (countries listed), South American (countries listed), Spaniard, and All Other Hispanic or Latino. 23 San Jose is listed as one of the ten places with the highest number of Hispanics or Latinos in the U.S. Census 2010 records. In our East San Jose community, the Hispanic population is mostly Mexican American and Mexicanos. This population in East San Jose is large and continues to grow, while the largest Vietnamese population in the U.S. is also here in East San Jose.
Vietnamese Immigration History: The History of Students (Descendants) in East San Jose
In the same year that San Jose pueblo was established (1777), Vietnam was being overpowered by France who wanted access to their ports for trade commerce and also to convert the Vietnamese to Catholicism. 24 Throughout Vietnam's history there were conflicts with China, France, and Japan occupation before the war between North Vietnam and South Vietnam began in 1961. The history of Vietnam began in 2800 B.C. and was colored with conflicts of rule and independence by and from China until 1428. In 1890, France ruled Vietnam until during World War II (1939-1945) when "the Japanese seized control of Vietnam from the French." 25 However, after the Japanese were defeated at the end of the war in 1945, France was determined to regain control of Vietnam. "Finally, in 1954, the conflict came to an end with France's defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu." 26 North and South Vietnam were then established as two separate republics at the Geneva Convention. In 1956, at the Geneva Convention the U.S. refused to sign off on the reunification of the two republics of Vietnam and the result was that they remained divided. The tension between the two governments heightened, and U.S. congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964 that allowed military involvement in Southeast Asia. By 1965, the U.S. became involved in the war between North and South Vietnam. By 1973 the U.S., South Vietnam, and North Vietnam agreed to a cease-fire but after the U.S. troops left, the two sides continued fighting. In April 1975 the war ended abruptly when Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, was captured by the communist North Vietnamese military.
There are three main categories of Vietnamese in San Jose; refugees from the first wave in 1975, refugees from the second wave beginning in 1978, and Amerasians in 1982. The first wave of Vietnamese migrants arrived in 1975 as refugees from South Vietnam fleeing from North Vietnam's Communist forces. According to Steve Gold, "Members of the South Vietnamese government and military elite, they were well educated and competent in English." 27 Many of these refugees of the first wave had worked in highly respected and well-paid professions. They were automatically eligible for government support to help settle into this new home of the United States. The federal and state aid included medical benefits, cash assistance, and job training programs. The second wave that started as early as 1978 of Vietnamese "boat people" arrived after the Refugee Act of 1980 was passed, allowing migrants to bypass the refugee camps and directly enter the U.S. This group of Vietnamese migrants was less privileged, and was also received into the U.S. with federal and state support. Fortunately, some were better able to settle because of their connections with those who had arrived in years prior and could streamline key information needed for life in a new land upon arrival. Many Amerasians, in this case Vietnamese children fathered by Americans, arrived in 1982 under the Amerasian Immigration Act affording them immigration privileges in the U.S. The 1987 Amerasian Homecoming Act allowed Amerasians, "gold children," entry into the U.S. with one immediate family member. 28
I believe our nation overall is learning more and more about the dynamics of immigration, migration, and their affects upon cities because we have a great need right now to understand the powerful issues stemming from such movement of populations. The conflicts and current events surrounding this topic are great reminders that there are many different cultures in our nation, city, community, and our own school but how do we understand what makes us different and how can we better interact with one another bypassing our immediate unkind reactions in a diverse environment. For me, the first place to start in this journey of understanding is education, especially background information and making connections to this history. There is an abundance of history to learn about regarding our own East San Jose community, the city of San Jose, and our state of California, and I am creating this unit to pull out key concepts and understandings for my first grade students to learn what is appropriate at their level of development and comprehension using such basic academic themes as "My Family and My Community." I want my students to feel proud of their family heritage and who they are because of their family immigration and migration history. It is meaningful for them to connect with the important academic concepts of history as changes over time, but to also realize that we are all different and have our own immigration stories to respect and share. My students need to know this makes them each special, and that they carry their own unique legacy to add to the cultural wealth of the community. Ultimately, I want to teach these young ones tolerance and compassion for one another no matter their skin color, race, or station in life with strategies to seek respectful understanding as we target California State Standards of History and Social Science for "A Child's Place in Time and Space."
This unit addresses first grade curricular themes of Family and Neighborhood. It also addresses many required standards in Common Core ELA and Math, California State Standards HHS and VAPA. (Please refer to Appendix A for unit connection to standards.) Children's books, music, dance, and videos found through research will help introduce different cultures and celebrations. This unit is filled with activities that not only cross over the various areas required in the standards, but it highly engages students with multifaceted learning opportunities. This unit also includes mandatory texts from the Treasures reading curriculum used across areas in Language Arts, Art, ELD, and History and Social Science. The texts include fiction, realistic fiction, non-fiction, and folktales. It involves read aloud stories about different family histories and cultures. Students will practice describing words, story telling, and illustrating. Ensuring collaboration strategies, students will participate in large group, small group, partner, and buddy activities.
Guiding first grade students and their families through simple open ended interview questions regarding immigration will not only give students more stability in their own back story but will also provide empowering insight into self awareness and critical thinking in their future development. If your demographic is like mine, the challenge is to encourage parent and family support in a sensitive and respectful manner since some families are legal residents and citizens, and others are not. In all aspects of this activity, take opportunities to assure them in clear and non-threatening ways that all the information collected is only used to enrich student learning and will not be published outside of the classroom. Students will manage interview data in class as they create charts, graphs, and a pictorial timeline helping them connect to their past as well as connect to one another.
Students will practice interview questions and answers with each other, buddies, and family. They will also practice interview question and answers through their pen pals who are local convalescent home members. A good resource is this link to a lesson plan for first and second grades on interviewing their families about their immigration. http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/learning-interview. Another good resource is a lesson plan for fourth through eighth grades on immigration and includes interviews. www.ailf.org/teach/lessonplans/m11_makingimmigrationcomealive.pdf
Students will experience our neighborhood close up and personally with a walking tour, a bus tour, as well as meeting and greeting culturally diverse owners at their places of business or as invited guests at our school. On our walking tour students will walk with clipboard, paper, and pencil to document places and items of interest to them, drawing and labeling to help them remember what they saw and to which things they felt connected. On our bus tour, students will visit landmarks of cultural interest such as sites along the Cesar E. Chavez Memorial Walkway that was established in March 2010. The sites include the following: the Mexican Heritage Plaza, established in 1999 and serves as a cultural museum, community center, school, and performing arts venue; the Cesar E. Chavez Elementary School, opened in 1992 and serves 600 students K-5; the Mayfair Community Center, opened in 2009 in the neighborhood formerly known as "Sal Si Puedes"; and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, officially established in 1962 and instrumental in community organizing efforts such as the United Farm Workers' movement in 1950s and 1960s. Other sites of cultural interest include those in the "Sal Si Puedes" neighborhood such as the following: Plaza de San Jose Retail Center, opened in 2005 on the site of a former dairy farm; the Tropicana Shopping Center, once an expansive orchard sold to Tropicana housing development; Emma Prusch Farm Park, donated in 1962 upon Emma's passing to ensure the history of this once large dairy farm remain; Mayfair Community Garden in operation since 1977 providing garden plots to neighborhood families; Little Saigon Business District indicated by the signs unveiled in 2011, and the Grand Century Shopping Mall, opened in 2000 to cater to post 1975 immigrants with reminders and comfort foods from Vietnam. 29 (Also see Appendix B) Links to the list above and maps are provided in the "Internet Resources" section of this unit as well.
Students will have the opportunity to draw something important to them in the neighborhood, bring it to class to share. Knowing that it will be natural for students to compare and judge one another, we will create a more comfortable environment for sharing through practice of listening respectfully. Imbedded in the lessons and activities will be guidance to practice respect with the class perspective that whatever they choose to share, different is neither good or bad, and same is neither good or bad. After sharing, students can work in groups to create a collage of important landmarks in neighborhood through their perspectives. Students can also work with their older buddies from the fourth grade class and high school class to create a map of where these landmarks really are in our neighborhood. To show their learning, students can present their illustrated maps and take us on a Neighborhood Walk while they narrate and tell about their chosen landmarks.
I have found kinesthetic and whole body strategies so important in my teaching, and try to use as many of students' senses as possible in lessons not only in science, but also across all areas of instruction. This strategy of Cognitive Mapping, a way to discover more in-depth social and political information about a population, also engages students' five senses to connect and find meaning in historical places or objects and to keep the aesthetic experience of that space more concretely in their memory. Yi-Fu Tuan, a geographer quoted in Hayden's The Power of Place says, "Children show an interest in landmarks at three or earlier and by age five or six can read aerial maps with great accuracy and confidence, illustrating the human ability to perceive and remember the landscape." 30 Students can practice and build this strategy starting with one of our activities of finding a landmark in the neighborhood with which they connect. They can gather all the appropriate information through their senses, illustrate, write, and share about it. Students can practice this strategy throughout our unit as we advance our activities engaging more comprehension and critical thinking with our tours, mappings, and writings of the physical and cultural community and city landscape.
Visual Thinking Strategy
This unit implements the Visual Thinking Strategy (VTS) with art and photographs. VTS is based on Phillip Yenawine's book, Visual Thinking Strategies: Using Art to Deepen Learning Across School Disciplines. Use the techniques to draw out prior knowledge, vocabulary, and critical thinking. This strategy allows several entry points for all students to feel comfortable and confident in sharing their ideas beginning with what they see in this case the historical art piece or photograph projected large enough for whole class engagement. For example, I can show my students an old photograph I came across of downtown San Jose, specifically Market and San Fernando Streets. 31 We actually went on a field trip to that site last year as it is now the San Jose Museum of Art, and across the street is the Plaza de Cesar Chavez. The VTS activities are helpful to also build in young student skills in listening, taking turns, sharing, and collaboration.
When gathering students closely around the projected image, the facilitator asks these three open ended questions: "What's going on in this picture?", "What do you see that makes you say that?", and "What more can we find?" The facilitator paraphrases the students' comments neutrally, points at the area being discussed, and links and frames each response. Students need to look carefully at the artwork, describe what they observe, back up their observation with evidence, listen respectfully to others' input, and discuss multiple possible interpretations.
Throughout this unit there are many opportunities for parents and family members to participate, enriching the children's experience. One way to participate is through our family interviews to share their own basic immigration and migration stories with their children. They will be able to complete simple interview questions, and hopefully, supplement the answers to pass on their unique family history. Students are encouraged do more to capture their family stories in creative ways that include drawings, writings, and photographs. Another avenue for parents and family to participate is by being one of our Mystery Readers. These are adult volunteers who come in specifically to read a story aloud to the whole class addressing different cultures and traditions. These stories will be in English and hopefully in other languages such as Spanish and Vietnamese. Exposing the students to different languages, cultures, traditions, and celebrations will help them better connect with one another and in our diverse community. Another fun way to participate is for parents, family, alumni of our school, and community members to be Mystery Speakers. These adult volunteers can share their immigration stories and help students understand the complex idea of how the changes in immigration and migration are reflected in the school and the community.
Project Based Learning
Project Based Learning (PBL) is a great strategy to help teachers plan effective and engaging lessons with high quality end products. As an example of an end product of a project, students will create a way (poster) to show the history of our community and present to a public audience. The planning involves eight main areas of competencies for the teacher to address. The first element is "Significant Content" which ties the project to the Common Core and Content Standards, such as our California History/Social Science standards for "A Child's Place in Time and Space" (HSS 1.5) The second element is "A Need to Know" which involves creating a list of questions students have and considering what students need to be successful in reaching a high quality end product. The third element is "A Driving Question" that is open-ended yet focuses on the heart of the compelling project, for instance "How can we show the history of our community?" The forth element is "Student Voice and Choice" which allows students to express what they have learned incorporating their own style. The fifth element is '21 st Century Competencies" ensuring collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity/innovation. The sixth element is "In-Depth Inquiry" which drives students' authentic search and discovery in answering their own questions. The seventh element is "Critique and Revision" which involves planning for drafts, peer feedback, and revision along the way to a high quality end product. The eighth element is "Public Audience" which means to invite parents, peers, representatives of the community, business, and government organizations for the exhibition or presentation, including a question and answer time at the end. A link to more PBL information is included in the "Internet Resources" section.
Listed below are several ideas for meaningful and engaging student activities. The first activity is to interview others; family, school staff, our fourth grade class of buddies, high school buddies, and pen pals at the local convelesant home in our community. These interviews will be simple, yet documented in writing and some recorded on video. The data we gather from our interviews will allow for math projects in data analysis, graphing, and sequencing/measuring time creating a timeline.
The second activity is to take a walking tour with our older buddies of our immediate neighborhood to look for places and things of cultural interest. In order to help students see objects with a more critical eye, we can practice the Visual Thinking Strategy (VTS) with carefully selected photos regarding the city of San Jose or even specifically East San Jose, to observe and make relevant connections. Again, an essential question for students to answer with this VTS activity is "How are stories from other places and times about me?" Then, using graphic organizers on our tour of the neighborhood, students can document with illustrations and words as they go when they find a place or thing with which they connect. Together students will pair share before we have a shared writing time. They will also create maps, building on what students see or notice in the neighborhood. One of the main essential questions for students to consider and answer through this walking tour activity is "Why is that there?"
The third activity is to take a bus tour of our East San Jose community to reach places and things of cultural interest in a wider area, and yet available to their families. Cultures are focused on those represented in our class. Students will document their learning of each place with illustrations, labels, and writings. They will provide opinions to share with their teammates, creating a team book of collaborative learning. Before the book is bound, teammates will together present their information to the class. They will have a chance to dedicate and autograph their work as authors and illustrators. After books are bound, they will be presented and displayed at our school library and hopefully the local library as well. Again, one of the main essential questions for students to consider and answer on this community bus tour is "Why is that there?" A specific technique will be based on Dolores Hayden's Power of Place (1997), called Cognitive Mapping, and spaces in the community as shared public memories.
A fourth activity is to invite parents to be Mystery Readers, and alumni of the school and community to be Mystery Speakers. These volunteers will read stories exposing the class to a diversity of cultures, traditions, and celebrations. Students will have a time of reflection and retelling. The volunteers will also share their stories of immigration and how they make a difference in the community showing its history over time. Students will have a time of reflection, illustrating and writing about the Mystery Speakers. An essential question for students to answer with these volunteer activities is "How are stories from other places and times about me?"
A fifth activity is to create a class photograph timeline to connect with the concept of change over time. Students will view images and videos comparing familiar objects in their past and present form, such as the telephone – now smart phone or the typewriter – now computer/iPad. We will transfer the concept to people. The timeline will start with the students' birth to the present year, and expand back through the past from there. The class will participate in a shared writing with photos to observe, find words to speak, whisper out, partner share, mingle share, and create lists together. Again, an essential question for students to answer with this timeline activity is "How are stories from other places and times about me?"
One more activity for us to do is to take a field trip to Ardenwood Historic Farm, which teaches students about life in the past, specifically the 1800s. Students are able to participate in activities of the past such as spinning and weaving wool, toy making, and farming practices all led by docents dressed in attire from that time period. I am hoping this will serve as our entry event into the unit to really peak students' interest and inquiry regarding history; however, Ardenwood selects schools for field trip dates by lottery, so our date may come later in the school year. It will be a powerful activity for students to experience and make meaningful connections with the concept of history as change over time and their own place in time and space.
Primary grades are foundational in addressing the need for social emotional well being skills. This unit will introduce students to practicing thoughtful consideration when interacting with one another at school and in the greater community. It teaches them the fact that we all have our own unique family migration story and legacy to respect and share. Each of us is different and it is all our differences that add a richness to the diversity of our community. It is a privilege to guide students to be more thoughtful and think about who they are and how they interact with others. It is important to move further not only into how they can interact with others, but how they can interact better with others. The hope in creating this unit is that students will have developed a good foundation to thoughtfully consider their families and communities and how they relate and fit in to the larger history of migration and settlement in San Jose.
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