Yesterday, I had the opportunity work with 8th grade students who are in the midst of a project researching immigration in the United States. Rooted in the 8th grade Social Studies content standards, students work in small groups to research the reasons for immigrants to emigrate to America. In addition to looking at the reasons for the movement, students also analyze the cultural, political, economic, and social impacts that the immigrant groups experienced. They also look at ways immigrant groups impacted the United States’ politics, culture, society, and economy.
Later, students will take a look at a local organization, the Refugee Development Center. According to their website, “the Refugee Development Center was started in 2002 in an effort to provide the educational and social support refugees need to become self sufficient.” Since its beginnings, the RDC has grown tremendously, which speaks to both its need in the community and its ability to assist refugees. Part of the New Tech model that 7th and 8th grade students are engaged in at Everett New Tech High (ENTH) includes building connections to the community. Students had the opportunity to listen to a guest speaker from the RDC to learn a bit more about what the organization does. Many students attend school side by side with students from a variety of countries, so the connection is very real for them.
While the immigration to our country as a historical event is interesting and its impacts can be seen in our culture and society today, it is still somewhat distant and abstract. Learning about the difficulties and hardships that happened “back then” doesn’t always resonate with students today. By connecting the experiences of immigrants in the past to the experiences of refugees who come to Lansing and utilize the RDC, students will have a deeper understanding of the types of challenges immigrants experience when moving to a new place. As a way to support the work the RDC does, students will work on creating materials to help improve awareness of the RDC and its programs.
It is so inspiring and refreshing to see kids connected to their learning! There are so many awesome things happening in our local schools. I am excited to be a part of it, to support students, to work on harnessing technology’s powers to improve student achievement and to increase the awareness of what our brilliant students are doing.