Monday, November 7, 2016

Celebrating Immigrants -- The American Story!

ELL Teacher Pros                                                                               November 2016 Newsletter
Thanksgiving was and is my favorite holiday.  Not only did we get out of school but we got to eat turkey and cranberry sauce (two of my all-time faves)!  My mom would make pumpkin, apple and pecan pies, mashed potatoes from real potatoes (she usually used powdered), sweet potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, etc.  My mother’s side of the family was far away from their immigrant roots.  My dad’s family, however, was not.  He was first generation American and his family was from The Ukraine and very poor.  As a child, he never had some of the foods we ate every Thanksgiving.

As I was thinking of my Thanksgivings I thought of my dad’s background and stories I’ve been told by other first generation folks and adult ELLs and thought about how we could validate their experiences through an exploration of the experiences immigrants have had with their first Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving in general.

The book, Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen, is directly about this experience and even older learners might enjoy having it read to them as a starter for discussion, project or unit on immigration or Thanksgiving.  The book is written for upper elementary school learners and is at a third grade reading level.

For elementary level learners there are a group of free lesson suggestions at:

For older learners, there are resources on the web that cover immigrants’ experiences with Thanksgiving and which could be used as reading activities.  This holiday includes culture, history, human rights, immigration and friendship – many themes to work with. These articles could be used for reading skill development as well as an introduction to personal experiences with Thanksgiving.

Some sites to review for Reading Skill work:
·       Reading Comprehension Skills for English Language Learners
·       Increasing ELL Student Reading Comprehension with Non-fiction Text
·       Reading Comprehension Strategies for English Language Learners

A lesson plan for Thanksgiving and the Immigrant Experience
LESSON PLAN Thanksgiving 2—The Pilgrim Story and My Immigrant Story

Articles covering the immigrant experience and Thanksgiving Immigrant Experience
 http://www.ibtimes.com/newly-arrived-immigrants-navigate-their-first-american-thanksgiving-turkey-all-1728786    An article in “International Business Times” on people from France, Burkina Faso, Mali, Yemen, and Dominican Republic.
“Beyond Turkey: The Migration of Thanksgiving Tradition”
Seriouseats.com                Cooks talk about food for Thanksgiving, from Ecuador, Turkey, Greek, Middle East, France, China, & Italy
“First Thanksgiving”
http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-sun/news/ct-abn-first-thanksgiving-st-1122-20151122-story.html           Story in Chicago Tribune on immigrants from Dubai, Mexico, India, Nigeria
An article on Vietnamese immigrants and their Thanksgiving experience
“Modern-day pilgrims in North Jersey mark their first Thanksgiving”
“Immigrants adapt Thanksgiving feasts with tastes from home”
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/features/sf-ethnic-thanksgiving-food-immigrant-families-20141124-story.html   “Sun Sentinel” FL,   Immigrants from Brazil, Basque area in Spain, Egypt, Haiti & the Virgin Islands
“Thanksgiving is a story of immigrants” “The First Immigrant Thanksgiving”

As an idea to help this along, I want to share the story of a co-worker whose family emigrated from Italy and a tradition her family created for Thanksgiving.

As Molly did, Marie came home from school and told her mother she had to make a Thanksgiving dinner.  One of the foods was to be a stuffed turkey.  Her mother did not know what the stuffing could be and, of course, Marie had no idea either.  After thinking about it for a while, Marie’s mother created a rice-based stuffing which the family uses to this day.

We hope these sites contribute to a rich discussion on immigration and different cultures and tales on how immigrant families develop their own traditions for this iconic American holiday. 

Have a great Thanksgiving Break!

Marnie, Denise, and Cheryl
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