An approach to teaching migration

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Last term our year 7 students were learning about migration in their humanities lessons. This blog outlines how we facilitated the learning through authentic outcomes.  It also considers assessment based on the pragmatic rehearsal of geography and history knowledge, understanding and skills we wanted students to acquire.

Authentic outcomes

By clicking on the image at the head of this blog, you will be taken to a free ebook download.  Students, mainly for home learning were asked to create stories based on a real world migration.  Many of the students have family members who have immigrated to the UK.  Students therefore had to interview family or friends to be able to write deeply personal accounts of migration.  In the case of the minority of students who could not partake in first hand interview, they based their stories on internet based research.  This was a successful way for students to practice literacy across the curriculum whilst applying key geographical and historical knowledge understanding and skills.

The checklist below was provided to allow students to see success criteria for what they were asked to produce.  Models from the previous years project were also critiqued in depth as part of a lesson.  Students also took part in in depth peer critique against the success criteria.  A masterclass was also delivered by the schools literacy expert in the forum area to all 90 students (half the year group) at a time to enable students to apply a range of sentence starters and literacy techniques being developed in their English lessons.  The ebook above, will also be printed as a hard copy and presented to parents on a celebration of learning evening, some students will be asked to tell their stories to parents and relatives as part of the book launch event.  Of course, the ebook will provide a welcome model for future year groups to improve on the quality of the work produced previously.

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Launching the unit

The current refugee movements into the EU provide an exciting and relevant route into a unit on migration.  We used a couple of kick-off activities to raise the engagement of students into the topic. We did a free writing activity initially based around the image of a sunken migrant boat in the Mediterranean.  Students had to imagine what had happened. We then followed that using the learning space effectively, bringing together all 90 students to share stories and then showing an accompanying video about the actual events surrounding the boat sinking.  See here for these resources from Channel 4.

The wonderful twobillion miles website provided a fantastic resource and interactive experience for the students.  Students had to vote to decide where the refugees should travel to from specific locations in the Middle East.  This was also an opportunity to teach key terminology and concepts of refugee, migrant, immigrant and economic migrant for example.

Students were also inspired by guest speakers in the second week of the 5 week project. One speaker, Chris, talked about his experiences as a doctor in the jungle camp in Calais. Adelina shared her emotional refugee story from Kosovo.

Assessment and pragmatic rehearsal

Students were assessed against the ‘I can’ statements below (geography example).  The unit involved the creation of knowledge tests that also interleave prior knowledge from previous units.  The statements below are an example from geography lessons and are designed around the knowledge, understanding and skills we think students should acquire.  This was achieved through various tasks that were designed within the unit.  For example drawing route maps from Syria and reading articles around the Syrian Civil war in geography lessons to understand specific push factors.  We also looked at Mexican migration to the USA, linking it to recent comments from Donald Trump and looking at the positives/negatives to give an educated rebuttal to Trump.  In History groups were focusing on the Huguenot, Irish and Jewish migrations of the past focusing on their push and pull factors.

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The culmination of the class work aspect of the unit ended in an exciting debate with all 90 students.  Students were placed into 4 class groups and were asked the essential question ‘should immigration in the UK be controlled?’.  This gave a lively competition element as it was 2 classes v the other 2.  The question design may need some work as it was much easier to debate ‘yes’ than ‘no’.  Most students came to the consensus that it should be controlled to some extent.  Although, this topic is not traditionally covered in schools until later years, the year 7 students really demonstrated high levels of thinking on the topic and were able to articulate excellent responses and rebuttals to each others points. Teachers had 2 lessons to prepare students for the debate using a range of resources, internet, peer reading articles and video to stimulate the positives and negatives of immigration into the UK.

Please feel free to comment, feedback and ask questions on the blog. We would also be delighted for you to read the students stories and to comment on your favourite story using the google form here.


2 thoughts on “An approach to teaching migration

  1. What a relevant and meaningful project. I think many adults both in the UK and the US would benefit from hearing these stories from your students. The assessment sheets you included are just further evidence of how rigorous content can be learned and tracked in a purposeful way.

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