A Country of Migrants?

Author: Sara Chavarria
Editor: Stephanie Nardei

Time: 1 Class Period
Overhead preparation if needed
Materials: None


This lesson finishes the discussion begun in the Engage lesson and the question posed in the Explore and Explain lesson on whether the United States is a country of migrants or immigrants. The discussion is meant to transition into the following learning cycle in which individual United States migration episodes will be explored.

Students will be able to:
i. List reasons in support or rejection of the United States being a country of migrants through a written statement and discussion.

Historical Thinking Standards

  • Standard 2G: Draw upon visual data, literary, and musical sources.
  • Standard 4C: Interrogate historical data.
  • Standard 5E: Formulate a position or course of action on an issue.

United States History Standards

  • Era 1 Standard 2: How early European exploration and colonization resulted in cultural and ecological interactions among previously unconnected peoples.

Teacher Background
If Applicable.

Resource Websites

Migration Information Source http://www.migrationinformation.org/Resources/unitedstates.cfm
National Geographic Lesson Plans http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/lessons/09/g912/migration.html
CIA World Factbook for United States: https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/us.html
Justice for Immigrants: http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/
U.S. Department of State: http://www.state.gov/g/prm/rls/fs/2006/72145.htm



1. Write the following statement and request on the board and have students answer in their notes.

The United States is often defined as a country of immigrants, but it would be more appropriate to state that it is a country of migrants. Define migrants, immigrants, and emigrants. (5-10 minutes)

2. When done using the matrix compiled from the previous lesson, students will answer the following on a separate sheet of paper:

Would you agree that ‘migrants’ is a more appropriate term to identify Americans? Defend your answer using the information on migration just researched.

3. Follow up by having students exchange work. A student will read a classmate’s work and write comments in agreement or disagreement over the views expressed by the writer (classmate). The students commenting must identify themselves by signing their name.

4. When done have students turn in their work.

5. After students have turned in their work allow time to discuss the ponder question: Is the United States a country of immigrants or migrants? Take a count of how many people said yes to the last question and how many said no. Discuss.


If applicable.

Embedded Assessment
The primary answer to the question of Americans as migrants can be assessed for accuracy and supportive evidence used.

The student’s comments on their classmate’s answer to the question of Americans as migrants can be assessed for accuracy and supportive evidence used.

Participation in informal discussion can be assessed.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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