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TeachNet NYC  |  Lesson Plans  |  Teachnet

The Great American Melting Pot

Project URL: http://http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/ps88/ps88/prest/index.htm 

How it works:

This project is used to teach students about immigration as it encourages them to learn about their family history. Each student will bring in a photo of relatives or people they know from other countries. These photos will then be scanned into the computer. A narrative writing component will be added. This will describe the photo and provide a history of the family's immigration to the United States. There is an alternative for this project, in the case that a student has no recent immigrants in their family. Students could write a creative piece from the perspective of an immigrant. They could imagine what it would be like to be new to the country. Pictures may be obtained from books or the Internet. All photos along with the corresponding narrative account will then be used to create a multimedia presentation, titled, "The Great American Melting Pot."

This unit involves four main activities. the students will learn how to:

1. Scan photos into the computer

2. Write a narrative account

3. Use AppleWorks word processor

4. Display work using multimedia presentation software

Internet links are provided throughout the lesson to benefit both teachers and students.

Standards addressed:

This project requires students to meet many of the English Language Arts performance standards. This includes the students producing a narrative account. The students will also participate in one-to-one conferences with a teacher regarding drafts of their writing. They will demonstrate a basic understanding of the rules of the English language. The students will analyze and subsequently revise work to improve its clarity and effectiveness.

This project also requires students to meet social studies standards as well. They will learn about the countries immigrants came from and they will improve geography skills.

Software or materials used:

The new media being used include: a scanner, Adobe Photoshop, AppleWorks, a laser printer, the Internet, and multimedia presentation software.

The students:

Students of all cultural backgrounds and ability levels are suitable for this project. The students do not have to have any prerequisite skills when it comes to the computer. Any computer skill that is needed will be taught during the unit.

Overall value:

This program has many features and innovative aspects that enhance technology skills. Students will become more familiar with new media and will be better prepared to take advantage of technological benefits. Students will be more successful in school and therefore be more marketable in the workforce. This project can be adapted into any classroom to improve cognitive processes while increasing self-esteem, as well as improving racial relations and ethnic tolerance.

Tips for the teacher:

You must become familiar with the software you will be using before showing students.  You may choose to enlist the aid of your school's technology coordinator to demonstrate various procedures to the students.
If you have a limited number of computers in your classroom, you can instruct a small group at the computer while the rest of the class is conferencing with each other, revising, and editing their writing.


Joe Prestianni and Michele Forschner-Prestianni are both 5th grade teachers in their 3rd year at P.S. 88. They met on their first day of work and married in August 2000. Michele received a BA in Psychology and Elementary Education and then an MA in History. She has a dual certification in Elementary Education and Secondary Social Studies. Joe received his BA in Business and later obtained an MA in Elementary Education.

Joe runs the P.S. 88 Techno-Tykes program which allows kids to get hands-on experience with audio/visual equipment, digital cameras and computers.

Both hope their dedication will make an impact on the future generation and inspire their students to reach their full potential.

E-mail: jp5302@hotmail.com 

Subject Area: Social Studies         

Second Subject Area: English Language Arts

Starting Grade Level:  4

Ending Grade Level:  6

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