Sunday, 29 January 2012

The American Mosaic

This lesson looks at teaching young American children about the 'American Mosaic' and how immigration benefited both America and the immigrants themselves.

The lesson looks to teach the children that immigration was mainly a positive thing, as it focuses on solely positive aspects rather than focus on the negative connotations of immigration. It emphasises the fact that America was this land of hope and glory, stating right at the start of the lesson plan- "Even though the trip was very difficult people still considered America the land of opportunity"- this purposely focuses on the chance that all people were accepted and became part of America's melting pot, rather than the reality that many people were actually refused by American society before they even became citizens.

The lesson is well planned out and splits each group into different family members such as grandparents, mothers, fathers and children. This is clever because it helps the children realise that immigration is something that they can often easily relate back to, and that somewhere in their history, their ancestors would have been immigrants. A very powerful quote is used at the beginning of the lesson which supports this, "Remember, remember always, that all of us... are descended from immigrants and revolutionists"- Franklin D. Roosevelt. This quote shows the children how they all descend from immigrants, and the fact that 'revolutionists' is included shows how the immigrants revolutionised american society- this is also supported by some of the texts that are listed later on in the lesson that give examples of how different nations have made America what it is today.

In summary, the lesson focuses on the positive aspects of immigration rather than the reality; which in many cases is quite the contrary; however, this is expected because the lesson is for young children who might be quite shocked by many of the truths of immigration, such as the terrible living conditions many new migrants inhabited to begin with.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Immigrant Arrivals

On the website Education World is a course for students aged between 6 and 12 aimed at teaching children about the immigration to the United States. This course is of particular interest not just because of the statistical knowledge the students gain from it, but also by learning from emotive experiences. The course includes subjects such as geography, as it is comparing the arrival of immigrants at Ellis Island to those who arrived at Angel Island.

Throughout the project, the objective is that:
Students will learn about the variety of experiences that greeted immigrants to the United States during the first quarter of the 20th century and develop an understanding of the factors related to their experiences.
The project asks students to find evidence of ethnic, cultural, economic and social backgrounds of the immigrants and therefore discover what their pull to the United States was. In doing so, they should learn about the journey and the arrival, but also about how the immigrants then lived in the United States.

By asking students in the early stages of their academic years to think about the experiences of immigrants in the 20th century, schools are offering an education on the diverse culture within the United States and how it came to be the way it is today. Therefore, the different backgrounds of people are taken into account by the students and they are educated on the variety of nationalities within America. The research on immigrant experiences is essential for understanding discrimination that was felt towards different ethnic backgrounds and will thus give the students a wider understanding of people of the world and the origins of their own country.

The project appears to have been created in order to educate the youth of America on issues of culture and the idea of the 'Mosaic' representation of their country. The interactive aspects of the project engages children by allowing them to browse archives of people that actually passed through Angel or Ellis Island, and shows a balanced view of the expectations of immigrants and whether or not they were met upon arrival.

American Immigration: Teacher Notes
This is a website which provides teachers with activities to help their students learn more about immigration within America. The website provides students with the history of immigration within the USA, and how it led to America becoming a multi-cultural country, as well as the impact of societal issues, such as the World Wars and the Great Depression which affected both the increase and decrease of immigration. As a result, the website offers a balanced view toward the topic of immigration, recognising the way in which the topic has developed in both positive and negative ways.

Although immigration provides one of the most colorful chapters in our country's history, it has also brought a host of problems which have not been so easily resolved.

The website also offers student activities, such as creating a ‘Commission Hearing’ whereby the students attempt to arrive at an immigration policy. The commission encourages students to role play; to take on the roles of individual immigrants from various countries, while other students serve as lobbyists. The use of role play really engages the students within the topic which as a result encourages them to think for themselves, placing them in specific situations which enables them express their opinions freely.

This project does not force, or present any kind of biased view toward the issue of immigration within the United States. The website and activities present students with a balanced view toward the topic of immigration within the USA, addressing both the positive and negative views and issues that surround it. The activity also encourages students to think abut how the history of immigration can be applied to America today by asking questions such as, 'Should we maintain our traditional policy of openness to new migrants, or must we reevaluate this tradition in light of current circumstances?'. The students are encouraged to use their knowledge of the history of America to address these issues and to try and reach a conclusion for themselves.

In general, the students are not mislead in anyway, nor are their views shaped by the website and activities. It is the personal view of the students toward the topic of immigration that is important, welcoming their individual views without the risk of their opinions being swayed in anyway.

Teacher vision lesson plans

This is a website that gives ideas for lesson plans, providing articles and references for teachers to use whilst education children.

The section for immigration provides many information on the subjects matter with statistics on U.S. immigration, lessons on immigrant stories and experiences and also examples of citizen tests. The objectives of these lessons is to provide children between the age of 4-18 relevant knowledge of past and present immigration events and procedures, giving the students knowledge of how immigrant families' lives were shaped by the environment in which they lived. Also these lessons give the chance for the children to express their own views of the matter, for example; creating their own neighbourhood layout or landscape.

Having an interactive lesson seems to be what Teacher Vision is trying to achieve, they provide handout quizzes, immigration documents of which the students can see what the immigrants had to provide and go through. As well they provide prints that ask students to provide their own family history, this will hopefully intrigue the children by comparing their own history to the many immigrants of the U.S.There are many interesting references used like that of a 1920's timeline which outlines major events that have had some effect on the immigration throughout America.

This is a website goal is to be every teacher's trusted source of instructional resources, where by any teacher around has easy access to these educational resources. However the underlining of the website is money, and throughout the pages there are many free resources, however some more beneficial have to be paid for, there is also a membership although at a price of $39.99 a year.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Teaching Immigration in America

The unit Causes of Conflict: Issues of Immigration is taught in American high schools and 'is designed to closely align with Washington State's Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs.)'

In the introduction of the unit, students are asked to consider the controversies surrounding the consequences of immigration; for instance, the impact on jobs, wages and education. The unit therefore begins by provoking the fears and worries of immigration, showing the process in a negative light. Placing this activity in the opening of the unit suggests that the problems relating to immigration outweigh the benefits associated with it. Furthermore, instead of discussing these issues, students are merely asked to list them, providing an unbalanced view on the issue.

The unit does provide students with examples of discrimination America expressed towards some immigrants, for instance 'In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act to bar all entry of Chinese immigrants into the U.S.' Therefore, although students are exposed to the welcoming nature of America, they are also exposed to America's more unwelcoming side, providing an objective perspective.

Students are taught that the American Dream was not the only appeal to immigrants, as students are asked, 'What was the situation in the country of origin when members of this group began to leave?' The state of other countries is shown to be significant, therefore there are pushing factors as well as pulling factors that encourage people to move to the United States.

The issues of media portrayal are also explored, as students are given the task to 'evaluate 2-3 editorials and opinion articles on immigration issues ' and ' make decisions on which to publish.' This task illustrates to students that the media does not give a completely accurate angle on immigration, because all newspapers are edited, therefore not all available information is given to the public. The distrust for the media's interpretations on immigration is also highlighted in the imperative: 'Use oral history interviews as primary sources.' Therefore, the voice of an immigrant is equally, if not more important, than the voice of a journalist or historian.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Gay Rights in America

This website is involved in the celebration of gay rights within America. It organises events and tours specifically aimed at gay people within the American culture.

It is a very positive movement as it looks to celebrate the freedom of their sexuality, which, in past times would have been very much frowned upon within the American society. I believe organisations/societies of this nature are key in promoting and supporting the existence of the gay population within America. It promotes the fact that gay people in modern day America are something which is very much part and parcel of their culture and it makes it seem that is normal and socially acceptable, it also makes people who are unsure and uncomfortable with their sexuality realise that is something that can be celebrated and enjoyed.

IGLA North America – international lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex association.

This is a global organisation (this particular page is specifically for those living in North America) that works to bring about laws banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity in social services. It has 8397 supporters, and 814 members so is therefore a widely supported organisation.

This website aims to bring equality to those of alternative sexualities, allowing them to be treated the same as anyone else in terms of their identity. It is the belief that people should be able to be whoever they want to be and not have to hide it nor suffer because of who they are. This website reiterates that not being heterosexual is not something that should be prejudiced against.

There are a lot of articles and petitions over the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy. This refers to the prejudice against homosexuals, those who were homosexual being unable to join the military. The policy prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing ‘closet’ homo/bi sexual members or applicants, while barring openly gay/lesbian persons from the military service. Those willing to risk their lives for their country should be able to be themselves and not have to hide their identity. They are willing to give their lives for their country yet their country is letting them down by not allowing to comfortably live how they please as the person they want to be in society.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

American identity.....

The discussion of identity is a particularly important factor in American because of its relevance in an immigrant nation - America is a society of citizens of different ethnic and racial origins. Thus, the decadal US census is required to count and monitor the changing cultural mix and character of American society. Why is that so?
 Here are the questions asked by the US Census Breau, and a map which reflects why the the factor of identity has significance for America. What are the identity issues that are problematic and politically sensitive?

I look forward to seeing you and hearing your answers on Monday.

And, for an interactive map of changing immigration, send a moment observing how the patterns of immigration change over space and time - from 1880 onwards.......

Good wishes,

Friday, 20 January 2012

It Gets Better

The It Gets Better Project aims to support LGBT teens through their high school years by transmitting a message of hope. Originally starting on youtube in 2010 by Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller, the project has since gained attention from high profile figures such as President Obama and Lady GaGa, as well as employees from companies such as Apple and Pixar. Every support message comes in the form of a youtube video and reiterates to the non-straight youth of America that although they face prejudice in their every day lives, it eventually does get better. By showing creatives posting videos helps to reiterate that there is a place for individuals in the work place, that separate identities are encouraged, therefore conveying to teens that America is a diverse country, one in which they can find solace, so long as they can survive their teen years.

Growing up isn’t easy. Many young people face daily tormenting and bullying, leading them to feel like they have nowhere to turn. This is especially true for LGBT kids and teens, who often hide their sexuality for fear of bullying. Without other openly gay adults and mentors in their lives, they can't imagine what their future may hold. In many instances, gay and lesbian adolescents are taunted — even tortured — simply for being themselves.

The message the project portrays is one of acceptance but also one of support for those who feel they have to suppress who they are. The issue of identity thus becomes a major factor within prejudice felt toward LGBT members as they are essentially being denied the right to live as they choose to, as they were born to.

Interestingly, the website highlights the fact that the community is severely abused in the school systems of America, but by posting videos of adult role models, the project successfully offers teens a way out, a 'light at the end of the tunnel'. By doing so, they hope to combat the amount of teen suicides that result due to homophobic and transphobic bullying.

The website offers opportunities for visitors to "take the pledge", "take action", purchase merchandise and even get support for harassment they may be experiencing. Therefore, the It Gets Better Project can save lives by simply offering a place for community and acceptance, as well as a place for action and change. Eventually, these individuals will be able to see a future for themselves, even if it is difficult to imagine now.

American Association of University Women
The 'American Association of University Women' is a nationwide organisation and community that helps women and girls 'break through barriers' of educational, social, economic, and political issues, to ensure that they have equality within the educational and economic system. The AAUW have over 100,000 members, 1,000 branches and 500 college and university institution partners who each contribute to AAUW's 'powerful voice'. The website's homepage immediately draws emphasis to the many issues that effect women and girls today, from unequal pay to teenage sexual harassment, and what they are doing to overcome these issues for American women. In their 'About Us' section, the AAUW states their mission and value promise:
'AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. By joining AAUW, you belong to a community that breaks through educational and economic barriers so that all women have a fair chance.'
AAUW's main goal is to ensure that women and girls have access to higher education and 'the opportunity to achieve excellence in professions of their choice.' Without the chance of higher education it could be argued that women and girls lack specific identities, which as a result restricts their future identity and their sense of self. What I found really interesting about AAUW as an organisation, was that they actually offer the chance for women to move forward within the educational system through their leadership programmes:
These programs help women and girls break through barriers to acquire the skills they need to succeed and lead in their academic, professional, and personal lives. Each year, AAUW’s leadership programs shape the lives of thousands of women and girls.
AAUW asks for donations for each of their programmes, and this money is used to fund their programmes as well as the women and girls themselves through fellowships and grants. By creating opportunities like this, it automatically enhances women's identities as they are beginning to break through their restrictions, giving them more of an equal chance of enhancing their sense of self through educational means, which of course is the core to the organisation. The AAUW enables women and girls to secure their identity in a professional capacity.

National Youth Rights Association

This is a website created to explore and illustrate the struggles and issues the National Youth Rights Association are working for, the NYRA is a youth led non profit organisation dedicated to fighting for civil rights and liberties of young people. Their purpose is to create a world where people are not judged by their birth date, but by the content of their character, in doing they are fighting to lower the voting and drinking age, protect student rights and also appeal against any curfew laws. At the bottom of the homepage, the NYRA state their goal or mission:

"NYRA's mission centers on challenging age discrimination against young people, both in law and in attitudes and supporting the basic freedoms afforded to young Americans in the Bill of Rights"

The NYRA believes it is important for the youth to be recognized as a human being or individual rather than being portrayed as part of a struggling group, of which many minority groups do fight for. The NYRA are not trying to cause segregation or give any discrimination power over others, they are simply trying to educate people about youth rights and giving the youth the confidence to go out and work on the behalf of these rights. The website pages are clearly set up to inspire not only the youth but also the people discriminating, they have motivational messages that sum up to try and make the world a more acceptable society.

I noticed that the website came across as quite a demanding yet successful site, it has links to many stories of which in most cases influenced to help the NYRA's cause, there are stories of how the government are taking notice and are making due to the education of these rights. Anyone can join up to the site and express their views, which shows that the organisation believe that they can benefit from the public's opinions. The most demanding and almost forceful part of the site was where they were asking for donations, it not only had a link on the homepage but also throughout the pages, these donations came across as being the heart of the organisation and without it they wouldn't survive.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Hispanic Americans

This website has been produced by a combination of sources, with the main source being the Library of Congress. The website highlights the National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15,) which celebrates the Hispanic race; the month 'is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries.' Some Hispanic countries such as Costa Rica were therefore so determined to escape suppression and gain an identity, that they broke away from the United States. The celebration of independence shows that although America is closely associated with the term 'globalization,' individual identities are more important than a mass culture.
Firstly, the homepage displays images of famous and successful Hispanic Americans, thus illustrating that identity matters because it can lead to the American Dream, which can be interpreted as the achievement of wealth and status. However, these successful icons are also representing another interpretation of the dream which is the achievement of freedom from discrimination, because they have managed to succeed despite the prejudice against them.
The title 'Hispanic Heritage Month' provides an identity to this race of people, because it does not contain the hyphenated phrase 'Hispanic American.' As a result, the title represents the 'Salad Bowl metaphor,' because America encompasses many different groups of people, but each group maintains its identity and individuality. However, the slogan 'Many Backgrounds, Many Stories...One American Spirit,' contradicts this metaphor and instead represents the 'Melting Pot metaphor,' as it suggests that the different groups within America become one and represent one American identity.
The American identity overrules one's individual identity during wartime, because America must unite as a country in order to fight. The website contains stories of Hispanics who served in the American armed forces, thus demonstrating that the American identity is strongly patriotic. This is partly because the country has struggled to find its true identity, due to the diversity of its citizens. The story of Eva Romero Jacques is significant, as she was able to join the Army Air Force in WWII because 'she spoke Spanish and English.' The language a person speaks may determine their identity and for Eva the combination of two identities, (which can be termed as 'hybridity,') was beneficial for both herself and her country.