Sixth-graders journeyed back in time, researching their own family roots and exploring 100 years of immigration to the United States during a comprehensive Humanities project that culminated with a presentation to families at Case Middle School on April 17, 2012.
That evening, students screened iMovies they had made about their own family histories; acted out skits they had written about the challenges various immigrant groups faced in their homelands, on the path to America and once settled in the United States; and topped it all off with a musical performance in Twigg-Smith Pavilion featuring songs from the era.
"Starting in America: A Look Back in Time," spanned time and place, allowing students to delve deeply into U.S. history and to share what they had learned. Half the students -- those in Malia Chong's '87 and Nicholas DeBoer's classes -- interviewed family elders and then transformed the oral histories into iMovies that they presented in their classrooms. Bob Tam's '67 and Laurie Ching's classes researched, wrote and acted out skits (in period costume); and all four classes participated in the musical finale in Twigg-Smith, singing and providing the musical accompaniment on piano, bass, viola, violin, mandolin, percussion and flute.
Earlier that day, the four classes presented their learning to fellow sixth-graders, describing the experiences of U.S. immigrants from about 1900 to 2010.
The hands-on learning brought history to life for Noa '18, who portrayed a Filipino navigating a Hawai'i immigration station circa 1900. "It felt like we were really walking in their footsteps. I learned a lot and I hope the audience did too," he said.
Daniel '18, who portrayed a Russian immigrating through San Francisco's Angel Island in the early 1900s, said the project helped him learn more about other cultures and understand his own family history better. Students in his class wrote papers about their own ancestors before being assigned an aspect of U.S. immigration to research, write about, and present.
Students also watched webcasts from Ellis Island and prepared and shared ethnic food from the many lands that have contributed to America's cultural stew. They learned about immigration in the early 20th century from Malaysia, China, the Philippines, Japan, Portugal, Russia, Ireland, Germany and Eastern Europe, and the experience circa 2010 for immigrants from India, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
"People come to live in the United States from all over the world," said Daniel. "It's been very interesting to learn about why they came and what happened once they got here."
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