Title: Ellis Island Topic: Urbanization Standards

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Social Studies

Gina Giannone

Marissa Merdinger

Leigh Wishney

Title: Ellis Island

Topic: Urbanization
Standards: Social Studies Standard

  • Patterns and waves of immigration from 1840 to 1890 and 1890 to 1910 1.2a, 1.2b

  • Push-pull factors 2.4d

  • Diversity among immigrant groups 2.1a


  • Describe the process of Ellis Island

  • To what degree could Ellis Island be seen as the “Island of Hope” “Island of tears”

  • Organize photographs in chronological order from depart from their old country to living in tenements in America

  • Describe what tenement housing was like.

Materials: Laptops with internet access, Headphones, Projector, Packets with photos to be


Purpose: Was the “American Dream” realistic to New Immigrants?
Mini Lesson: Sequencing photos activity & Teacher explanation
Group Work: Online immigration/ tenement activity of Victoria. Visit interactive site and fill out graphic organizer. http://www.tenement.org/immigrate/
Independent work: Do you think immigrants like Victoria still believed that the “streets were paved with gold” when they settled in America? Was tenement life the “American dream” many had hoped for?

Write a 2 to 3 paragraph response justifying your answer, be mindful to use details and examples from the documents used throughout the lesson.

Reflection: Think pair share to compare student writing responses.

Name __________________ Date _____________

Tenement Museum: From Ellis Island to Orchard Street

Activity adapted from tenement.org

I. Go to website http://www.tenement.org/immigrate/ Click “go inside”
 Click “Make Your Immigrant Life”
II. Who Do You Want To Be? Create your identity on this page and write the information below:
Boy ___ Girl ___ First and Last Name __________________________

Country of Origin ______________________ Age ______

 Click “Select Your Belongings”
III. What Will You Bring? Select three items that are most important to you. You will bring these on your journey to America. Drag the items into your luggage.
 Click “Brings These Items and Set Sail for America”
IV. You’re On Your Way to America! Listen to Victoria’s story about her journey to America.
Describe Victoria’s journey to America in one sentence. _______________________


According to this page, approximately how long did the journey across the Atlantic take? ________________
 Click “Go To Ellis Island”
V. America! First Stop: Ellis Island! Listen to Victoria tell you about Ellis Island.
Why does Victoria warn you to “be careful” at Ellis Island?


Click on the red #4. Complete the information to earn a nickel to see a movie! Did you earn the nickel?
Yes___ No___
 Click “Go to New York City”
VI. Welcome to New York City! Listen to Victoria tell you about tenements.
How many families live in one tenement according to Victoria? ______________
How many rooms are in each apartment? What do they serve as? ____________
How many people live in Victoria’s apartment? _________________________
Click through the three photographs at the bottom of the page (street, store & tenement). What impressions or feelings do you get about city life from these sources? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 Click “Come Inside 97 Orchard”
VII. 97 Orchard Street Use your mouse to move around the apartment. Click on any icons in yellow to learn more and listen to Victoria’s story.
Which did you pick?







Select one artifact that you saw while moving around the apartment that would best tell the “story” of what Victoria’s life was like and why.


Select one artifact from your own home that would best tell the “story” of what your life was like growing up and why.


Evaluation Questions:

Write a 2-3 paragraph response on a separate sheet of paper.
Do you think immigrants like Victoria still believed that the “streets were paved with gold” when they settled in America? Was tenement life the “American dream” many had hoped for? Be mindful to use details and examples from the documents used throughout the lesson.



Grade 8

Content Standard(s) CS

Patterns and waves of immigration 1.2a, 1.2b

Nativism and ethnic clashes 1.4b

Unsafe working conditions, poor wages, child labor 1.4b, 1.4d, 2.4a, 2.4c

Tenement life 1.4b, 1.4d 2.4a, 2.4c

Push-pull factors 2.4d

Diversity among immigrant groups 2.1a

Rise of factories 2.4a 4.1f, 4.2c 5.1a

Rise of cities 3.1c, 3.1d,

Urbanization 3.1c, 3.1d

The Great Irish Potato Famine 4.1b


Understanding(s) Students will understand that…

  • Historical interpretation is influenced by one’s perspective

  • Not all immigrants may have experienced the same American Dream.

Essential Question(s) Q

  • Assess what it means to be an American.

  • What is the American Dream?

  • How did immigration and industrialization change the face of American life?

Students will know…

  • Push Pull Factor

  • Process through Ellis Island

  • Living conditions in ethnic ghettos

  • Nativist reaction to immigration

  • Immigration contribution to American industrial society.

Students will be able to:

  • Explain why immigrants came to the United States in the past.

  • Compare and contrast the “old” with the “new” immigrants.

  • Make a judgment regarding the push-pull theory of immigration.

  • Describe the obstacle faced and met by the different “waves” of immigrants.

  • Explain the economic and social problems facing Americans during the early years of the twentieth century.


Performance Task Webquest

You are an award winning play writer who is famous for writing about social problems in history. While looking through a book you receive the inspiration for your next play, a photo of an immigrant family at Ellis Island. Your play will be based on this immigrant family dealing with their struggle to come to America, get into America and a social problem they faced living in America. Write a play based on the photo above of a immigrant family coming to American and settling in New York City. The play will consist of three acts titled (Act1) “Should We Stay or Should We Go”, (Act 2) “Lady Liberty Opens Her Door” and (Act 3) “A New Home Where the Streets are Paved with Gold”. Most importantly act three must contain a particular social problem your immigrant family is facing.

Key Criteria:


Assigned websites & worksheet

Other Evidence T OE SA

  • Test

  • Large & small group discussions

  • Map activity, Quiz, Homework packet, picture analysis, differentiated reading and writing assignments

  • Learning activities

  • Student Reflection


Learning Activities for Immigration Unit

tage 3 – Learning Plan

Push Pull

Students participate in a map activity that allows them to place push pins on where their family emigrated from. Students and teacher can share their own immigration stories or read other peoples stories. Teacher can present personal artifacts linked to their immigration experience and encourage students to find their own family artifacts aliened to immigration.

Ellis Island

Students are provided with a variety of different pictures displaying the process of immigrating to America. Students will do a sequencing activity where they organize the photos in chronological order from old country to living in America


Students will read an article about working conditions for immigrant adults and children. As a group they will have a discussion. Write a letter to the editor voicing your thoughts about the fire and how fellow Americans can prevent future tragedies such as the Triangle factory fire.

Ethic Ghetto Life

Tied in with Ellis Island activity, students will complete an online activity demonstrating the process of immigration through what it is like living in America and growing up in a tenement.  Students are given a guided worksheet with questions to hold them accountable for completing all the same elements of the activity.


Students should understand Americans have had ambivalent attitudes towards immigration; empathy and welcome have been mixed with resistance and prejudice.

Create a political cartoon with an illustration presenting the nativist view of the new immigration

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