What is Migration

Author: Sara Chavarria
Editor: Stephanie Nardei

Time: 1-2 class periods

Make copies of Handout 1
Prepare Overhead

Materials: What is Migration? Handout / Overhead


This lesson introduces migration concepts. During this lesson, students come to an understanding of the differences between forced and voluntary migration.  Addressed are the push and pull factors that influence migratory episodes.

Purpose: This Engage lesson introduces these important concepts so students gain an understanding of migration in the U.S.

Students will be able to:
i. Through individual research and shared discussion be able to identify difference between forced and voluntary migration.

ii. While working in pairs identify if push and pull factors are caused by political, social, economic, or environmental influences. 

National Council for History in the Schools
Geography Standards

  • Element 4 Standard 9: The Characteristics, Distribution, and Migration of Human Population on Earth’s Surface.

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

Dr. Deborah G. Martin’s lecture notes, University of Georgia, Dept. of Geography http://www.ggy.uga.edu/courses/geog1101_dgmartin/week3l6mod02.html#migration
JSTOR Push/Pull in Recent Mexican Migration in the U.S.: http://www.jstor.org/view/01979183/di009715/00p00963/0
Lesson Plan on Push/Pull Factors (MS Word):
Lesson Plan on Emigration & Immigration: http://www.ulib.iupui.edu/KADE/unit19/unit19.html



1. Display Overhead 1. Have students address the question posed by the handout. The answer is movement or migration.

2. Pose the second question on the handout. The answer to this question is a differentiation between voluntary and involuntary (or forced) migration is being made. It is important that this differentiation be made.

3. Finally, have the students look at the 1st statement and the 3rd statement of the handouts on voluntary migration and see if they can further differentiate the two. The difference is one represents a long-distance border crossing migration while the other is representative of internal migration (note: In today’s context this would be international.).

4. Having introduced the terms migration, voluntary, involuntary, international and internal, students will now define them in their notes, either individually or as a class project.

Note to teachers: In defining forced and voluntary migration it is important students be able to clearly differentiate the two and understand involuntary or forced migration is considered forced, because the individuals who move have no control over it. Their choice has been taken away by others. Voluntary migration does not eliminate choice. The choices may not be optimal but they are still there.

5. When done with definitions, introduce the concepts of push and pull as factors that influence migration. Push factors are disadvantages in an area that influence individual choices to move to another locale. Pull factors are advantages within an area, which attract migrants. Most pull factors are the opposite of push factors.

6. Pair students and give each a copy of Handout 1. Give students time to go through the list and check when economic, social, political, or environmental influences represent the factor.

7. When students are done, have them ask about any factors they were unsure of. Discuss as a class what the answer(s) might be.

Review the lesson and answer questions students may have.

5. Have students share on their experience in learning about Native American history. Address how different their answers were in their handouts and why that may have been so. Pose the question: Was any of this information new to them?

6. Finally, Ponder: Are there other instances of forced migrations or movements taking place today? Where? 

If applicable

Embedded Assessment
Assessment can be done by reviewing:

* Student definitions in their notes * Student participation in discussions


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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