Understanding the historical, economic, social and cultural implications of living in a vibrant American city is in my belief of considerable importance to the educational upbringing of the New Haven Public School student. They are taught, on the middle-school level, many important skills across the curriculum: for instance, analytical problem-solving, scientific method, history and social justice, and important skills in reading, writing and understanding literature, non-fiction, and the purpose of each. In 8th Grade Language Arts, it is important to help them synthesize these skills in a way that would encourage them to apply them to their everyday lives, and therefore enter high school with a view of education and academics as an important personal and cultural aspect of their lifestyle.
To challenge students to think hard about how history applies to them, their families and their varied perspectives, they will discover poetry as an expressive outlet to the many Americans who became so through immigration, and/or changed their lives and that of their family's through migration. The history of the United States, particularly surrounding the occurrence of building the largest, most globally significant cities, has much to do with the movement of different populations from around the world, and throughout the country. Students will begin by discovering the experience of African-Americans during the Great Migration and reflect on poetry written during the Harlem Renaissance; then they will travel to San Francisco where Chinese immigrants met persecution and even detention in anticipation of admittance to America, and wrote poetry about their experience on the walls of the detention center on Angel Island; they will then return to further study of the Great Migration, journeying to Chicago, and finalize with modern poetry centered around Arab immigration. So that students are not confused by the jumps from population to population – they will have several maps and timelines, both digital and physical, to reference during the course of the unit.
The unit will beg the question of this American movement, did things get any better for these people? They moved to discover better options, to improve their lives and that of their family, to earn more for their hard work, to escape persecution and poverty. Throughout the unit the goal is for them to come to understand that different is not always better, and better doesn't necessarily mean absence of struggle. As Americans historically learned this lesson, they expressed their feelings about it through poetry.
Students will develop the understanding that his is still a very viable option for anyone, anywhere, in relation to how they experience the world.
Urban migration and immigration played a significant role in shaping modern America. Students will be responsible for demonstrating understanding of that role as can be related to the art of the written word born of said movement.