Understanding Immigration Through Popular Culture
This activity is intended to introduce a project-based learning unit on the history of U.S. immigration. Students analyze sheet music published in 1916 and a historic sound recording of the same song to discover one perspective on immigration from this time period. Students then analyze a variety of immigration-themed primary sources from the early nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century. They compare and synthesize evidence from these primary sources to better understand how immigration created new social patterns, conflicts and ideas of national unity and to generate related research questions.
Project-based learning extension ideas include students researching an immigration-related question or topic both in a time period of their choice and in current times.
After completing this learning activity, students will be able to:
- examine purpose of music;
- analyze a primary source;
- compare findings from a variety of primary sources; and,
- generate research questions based on evidence from primary sources.
One to two 45-minute class periods; activity extension ideas require additional class periods.
Recommended Grade Range
Immigration, American Expansion; Performing Arts, Music
Standard 2. Understands the historical perspective
Standard 7. Understands the relationship between music and history and culture
United States History
Standard 17. Understands massive immigration after 1870 and how new social patterns, conflicts, and ideas of national unity developed amid growing cultural diversity
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