Name: Karen D. Kanedistrict : Lowell Public Schools

Name: Karen D. Kanedistrict : Lowell Public Schools

Lesson Plan

Name: Karen D. KaneDistrict: Lowell Public Schools

Subject & Grade: Social Studies, Gr 7Date: June 11, 2009

Primary Source Course: History Book Discussion

Immigration East and West: Coming to America through Ellis Island vs Angel Island

Goal: To compare and contrast the immigrant’s experience in coming to the US via two US locations: Ellis Island and Angel Island

To investigate the conditions that made the entry into the US different in these two locales.

Essential Question(s): In examining immigration, most students believe that although immigrants may have experienced difficulties in arriving in the US, this country welcomed its newcomers and made room for them. After all, isn’t the United States of America the world’s “Melting Pot?”

My students will compare the immigrant experience at Ellis Island, where most were admitted, and Angel Island, where the Chinese were detained, interrogated, or deported. We will listen to accounts and read the poetry of immigrants who experienced one of the two entry points.

Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework Standards Addressed

Guiding Principle Five:“An effective curriculum in history and social science draws on and integrates several disciplines and fields of study.” Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework, 1997, page 10.

Guiding Principle Six:“The historical narrative should provide the continuous setting for learning in social science, as well as the frame of reference from which teachers choose the current events and public policy issues for student study, presentations, and classroom discussion.” Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework, 1997, page 10.

Learning Standard 1: Chronology and cause: Students will understand the chronological order of historical events and recognize the complexity of historical cause and effect, including the interaction of forces from different spheres of human activity, the importance of ideas, and of individual choices, actions, and character.

Learning Standard 3: Research, Evidence, and Point of View:Students will acquire the ability to frame questions that can be answered by historical study and research; to collect, evaluate, and employ information from primary and secondary sources, and to apply it in oral and written presentations. They will understand the many kinds and uses of evidence; and by comparing competing historical narratives, they will differentiate historical fact from historical interpretation from fiction.

Learning Standard 19: Citizenship: Students will learn the rights and duties of citizens and the principle of equal rights for all; consider the nature of civic virtue in a school, a community, a nation; and identify major obstacles and threats to civil rights.

Learning Objectives

Students will identify facts and evidence from material presented about each group. They will interpret and analyze the quality of lives for each group.

Students will compare, contrast and analyze what they have learned, and determine the underlying reasons for the differences between treatment at the two sites.

Students will interpret writings or oral recordings of those who immigrated to America via Ellis Island and Angel Island, then will compare the two experiences.

Learning Activities/ Special Instructions

Day One: Ellis Island

Students will view portions of a video about entering the US via Ellis Island:

The three segments are:

Arrival at Ellis Island (5 min)

Immigrants Reunited with Loved Ones (3 minutes)

Immigrants Detained at Ellis Island (3 minutes)

Working in small groups, students discuss, then respond questions about the immigrant experience through Ellis Island. They will also read and discuss Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, The New Colossus. (See 1 Ellis Island.doc).

Day Two: Angel Island

Students view a 6-minnute video, AngelIsland, The Ellis Island of the West .

Then, working within the same small groups as on Day One, they will discuss the video, comparing the experience of immigrants at Angel Island to the experience at Ellis Island (See 2a Angel Island.doc).

Finally, students will construct a Venn Diagram to compare the two experiences (See 2b Ellis Island vs Angel Island Venn Diagram.doc).

Day Three: Poetry from AngelIsland/ Timeline

Students will view a 12-minute video clip “DiscoveringAngelIsland” ( which discusses the discovery of the poetry discovered on the walls of AngelIsland, and also an interview with individuals who went through this facility. Students will then read selections of the poetry found written on the walls of Angel Island.

Day Four: Wrap Up

Students will examine a timeline that details the experience of the Chinese in the US. (Driven Out, pages 256 – 290), then answer questions (4 Timeline.doc).

Discussion will focus upon racism – what it is, where it is experienced and what might motivate it.

Finally, students will reflect on their thinking about this unit, bias and whether the immigrant experience has changed (Wrap up.doc).

Annotated Bibliography


Chang, Iris. The Chinese in America: A Narrative History. New York: Penguin Books, 2004. An account of the history of the Chinese coming to the US – how, why and when. Provides a clear description of the Chinese Exclusion Act and how it contributed to the opening of the Angel Island facility as a detention center.

Pfaelzer, Jean. Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 2007. Book that offers comprehensive overview of Chinese immigrant experience in the US. Includes a timeline of that chronicles America’s anti-Chinese sentiment.

See, Lisa. On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family. New York: Vintage Books, 1995. A family history of one Chinese-American family’s journey and settling in the US. This book puts faces on the history described in Driven Out.

Yep, Laurence. The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung: A Chinese Miner, California 1852. New York: Scholastic, 2000. A good fictional, first-hand account of the life of a young Chinese man working as a miner in 1852.

Yin. Coolies. New York: Philomel Books, 2001. A fictional account of two Chinese brothers coming to the US. A good touchstone book for opening a discussion about the difficulties faced by Chinese immigrants.


The following website includes a video, information and background about Ellis Island:

These websites provide good information about Angel Island:

This website provides a 6-minute video, AngelIsland: Ellis Island of the West that provides an overview of the immigrant experience there. It also defines “Paper Sons” and alludes to the Chinese Exclusion Laws.

A website that provides a 12-minute history of AngelIsland, complete with poetry recitation.

Timeline useful for middle school discussion

angel_poetry.html: Offers a sample of poems taken from the walls of AngelIsland.

Offers a sample of poems taken from the walls of AngelIsland.

Provides information about AngelIsland and tells about “Paper Son,” a play, written and performed by the son of a man who was detained at AngelIsland.

Primary sources on Chinese Immigration and the reasons for Chinese exclusion legislation.

Day One: Ellis Island

Group discussion after viewing

  • Describe the immigrants who entered the US through Ellis Island.
  • How did they benefit by coming to the US?
  • What were some of the obstacles faced at Ellis Island? How many were detained? For how long?


This sonnet is engraved on a bronze plaque at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. Read then answer the following questions:

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

—Emma Lazarus, 1883

1)What does the poem tell us about the US and its feeling about those immigrating?

2)If you were an immigrant, how would the sight of “Lady Liberty” affect you?

3)What obstacles lay ahead for the immigrants? Do you think they felt this journey was worth it? Why or why not?

Day Two

Today we will explore the AngelIsland immigration facility.

1)What is the Chinese Exclusion Act? Why was it put into effect?

2)What is a “Paper Son?” Why did this cause a problem?

3)How long did people stay at Ellis Island? How long did they remain at AngelIsland? Why was there a difference?

Comparing Ellis Island to AngelIsland

Day 3

AngelIsland Poetry

Read each poem. For each one, answer the questions that follow it. Be sure to support your opinion with evidence from the poem.

There are tens of thousands of poems on these walls

They are all cries of suffering and sadness

The day I am rid of this prison and become successful

I must remember that this chapter once existed

I must be frugal in my daily needs

Needless extravagance usually leads to ruin

All my compatriots should remember China

Once you have made some small gains, you should return home early.

Written by one from Heungshan

1)What is the mood of the poet?

2)Why do you think he felt compelled to engrave this poem on the wall of AngelIsland?

The sea-scape resembles lichen twisting

and turning for a thousand li.'

There is no shore to land and it is

difficult to walk.

With a gentle breeze I arrived at the city

thinking all would be so.

At ease, how was one to know he was to

live in a wooden building?

Because my house had bare walls, I began

rushing all about.

The waves are happy, laughing "Ha-ha!"

When I arrived on Island, I heard I was

forbidden to land.

I could do nothing but frown and feel angry at heaven.

In the quiet of night, I heard, faintly, the whistling of wind.

The forms and shadows saddened me; upon

seeing the landscape, I composed a poem.

The floating clouds, the fog, darken the sky.

The moon shines faintly as the insects chirp.

Grief and bitterness entwined are heaven sent.

The sad person sits alone, leaning by a window.

America has power, but not justice.

In prison, we were victimized as if we were guilty.

Given no opportunity to explain, it was really brutal.

I bow my head in reflection but there is

nothing I can do.

1)What is the mood of this poet?

2)What were his expectations when he came to the US?

3)Why do you think he felt compelled to engrave this poem on the wall of AngelIsland?

Poem #32

Imprisoned in the wooden building day after day,

My freedom withheld; how can I bear to talk about it?

I look to see who is happy but they only sit quietly.

I am anxious and depressed and cannot fall asleep.

The days are long and bottle constantly empty; my sad

mood, even so, is not dispelled.

Nights are long and the pillow cold; who can pity my


After experiencing such loneliness and sorrow,

Why not just return home and learn to plow the fields?

1)What is the mood of the poet?

2)Why do you think he felt compelled to engrave this poem on the wall of AngelIsland?

3)What does he want to do?

Poem #8

Instead of remaining a citizen of China, I willingly became an


I intended to come to America to earn a living.

The Western styled buildings are lofty; but I have not the

luck to live in them.

How was anyone to know that my dwelling place would be a


1)What is the mood of the poet?

2)Why do you think he felt compelled to engrave this poem on the wall of AngelIsland?

Poem #7

Originally, I had intended to come to America last year.

Lack of money delayed me until early autumn.

It was on the day that the Weaver Maiden met the Cowherd

That I took passage on the President Lincoln.

I ate wind and tasted waves for more than twenty days.

Fortunately, I arrived safely on the American continent.

I thought I could land in a few days.

How was I to know I would become a prisoner suffering in the wooden


The barbarians’ abuse is really difficult to take.

When my family’s circumstances stir my emotions, a double stream of

tears flow.

I only wish I can land in San Francisco soon.

Thus sparing me the additional sorrow here.

1)What is the mood of the poet?

2)What is the name of the ship that takes him to the US? Why do you think he names the ship in his poem?

3)Why do you think he felt compelled to engrave this poem on the wall of AngelIsland?

Day Four

Examine the timeline that shows events that led to the Chinese Exclusion Act and the aftermath. (Driven Out, pages 256 – 290).

1)How did the US treat Chinese immigrants?

2)What reasons might people have given for this treatment?

3)Why didn’t the Chinese return to China?

Name ______Date ______

Immigration: East vs West

Read and think about the following quote:

“As long as the differences and diversities of mankind exist, democracy must allow for compromise, for accommodation, and for the recognition of differences.”

Eugene McCarthy

Answer each question in 2-3 paragraphs (4-5 sentences per paragraph). Use the back of the paper, if needed.

a)Do you agree with Senator Eugene McCarthy? Why or why not?

b)Over the past few days, we have investigated how immigrants were treated in two US facilities. Why do you think many immigrants continued to try so hard to stay in the US? If you were an immigrant, how would the treatment at each place affect your feelings about the US?

Karen Drew Kane-#-