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Teacher Lesson Return to "Blaming Immigrants Won’t Solve the Problem"
Blaming Immigrants Won’t Solve the Problem
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Media/News Literacy Lesson: Is There An Immigration Problem? Reading, Discussion About Evidence, and Reporting Assignment

Story to use: “Blaming Immigrants Is Not Going to Solve the Immigration Problem”

Objectives: Students will be able to identify different types of evidence that writers use in their stories. They will identify and reflect on some of the issues involved in America’s immigration debate.

Before the lesson: Write this list on the board:
Type of evidence
1) References to studies, books, and reports issued by colleges, government agencies, and research institutions
2) References to newspapers, magazines, Web sites, and other news organizations
3) Interviews with experts such as college professors, government officials, and authors
4) Interviews with people affected by what’s being reported on: flood victims, civilians in a war zone, immigrants, high school students, etc.
5) Interviews with people who know the people being written about
6) Eyewitnesses to an event or situation
7) Personal accounts by the author that describes his or her experience with the issue

Then write these headlines on the board. The first is from the November 24, 2011 New York Times. The second is from the Times’ January 25, 2012 issue.

“In New York, Mexicans Lag in Education”

“Police Gang Tyrannized Latinos, Indictment Says”

Warm up activity: Tell them that the first thing they should do when reading a news story is look at the headline. This is a reading strategy that will offer important clues as to what the story is about. Then ask them to look at the headline of the YCteen story (“Blaming Immigrants Is Not Going to Solve the Immigration Problem”) and to take a few minutes to write a 2-3 item list that answers these questions: Who do you think is blaming immigrants? What do you think they are blaming immigrants for?

Take five minutes to ask for one or two volunteers to read their list items out loud. Ask the group if they agree with the items.

Activity on sources: Tell the group something like, “We are going to read a story by teenager Julieta Velazquez. She thinks it is unfair that some people stereotype (be sure they understand the word stereotype) undocumented immigrants and blame them for America’s economic problems.”

Then say something like, “Look at the list on the board. As you read the story, your job is to identify the type of evidence that the author provides. Notice that each type of evidence on the list is numbered. Write the appropriate number next to the text that has that kind of evidence.” NOTE: There are three places in the story that mention sources of information: Paragraph #3 has FactCheck.org; paragraph #5 has the Associated Press, and paragraph #8 has The Nation magazine. Also note that there are no other kinds of sources.

After they read the story, ask them to identify the sources for the article and see if any of them have heard of these organizations. Chances are few of them will have heard of them, so be sure to offer a brief explanation of each.

Then lead them into a discussion on sources of information. Here are some questions you can use based on the story they just read:
• Is it ok to trust a source if you haven’t heard of it? How can you find out more about an article’s source?
• What other kinds of evidence from the list on the board could the author have used? For example, could she have interviewed anyone? If she had a personal experience with immigrants could she have used it for the article? Would the interviews and quotes be trustworthy? How can a writer/journalist verify the accuracy of statements made by a source during an interview?
• What sources do you rely on for information about the things you care about? Have you ever read or heard something that you thought was true but turned out to false?

Activity on the article’s arguments: After a discussion on sources ask, say something like “Look at the lists you wrote down before about the headlines. Who is convinced by Julieta’s argument that undocumented immigrants don’t cause economic problems for American citizens? Raise your hands and tell me what in the story helped convince you.”

After the “convinced” have their say, ask if anyone is skeptical and does anyone believe that undocumented immigrants are a problem? What evidence in the story bothers them? What kind of evidence would convince them?

Writing activity: Then point to the two headlines and tell them they are from recent issues of The New York Times. Tell them one is for a story about the how Mexican students are doing in New York City schools. The other is a story about police officers in East Haven, Connecticut who have been charged with beating, harassing, and illegally arresting Latinos.

Their assignment (in class or at home) is to pretend they are an editor at a newspaper (you might have to explain what an editor does) and they have to write a memo to a reporter who is covering both stories. The memo should detail what kinds of evidence the reporter should gather and what the readers should know about the situation. Read an example out loud for them: “Be sure to interview at least three parents of Mexican students. Try to get a report from the Department of Education.” Each story should get a 6-8 sentence memo.

Collect and correct the memo. Choose one or two that you think do the best job of instructing the reporter. Read them out loud and guide a discussion about what makes the memos effective.



Common Core 9-12 Standards:

Anchor Standards for Reading:
Key Ideas and details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Anchor Standards for Writing
Text types and Purposes
1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Production and distribution of Writing
4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Range of Writing
10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening
Comprehension and Collaboration
1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.



Blaming Immigrants—Reading Comprehension and Persuasive Writing Response

Story to use: “Making U.S. Immigration Work,” and “Blaming Immigrants Won’t Solve the Problem”

Objectives:
• Students will comprehend key vocabulary in context associated with a non-fiction text
• Students will understand basic background information about how the U.S. immigration system works
• Students will analyze an argument in defense of immigration
• Students will practice writing short responses to questions that are based on reading

Before the lesson:
Vocabulary in Context (Optional): All of the following words appear in the story. You may wish to do a pre-reading lesson in which students learn the definition and practice writing or discussing the words in context:

Immigration
Reform
Comprehensive
Document
Penalize
Oppression
Persecution
Stereotype
Fraud
Corruption
Restrictive
Productivity
Economy

Prewriting: Write the following writing prompt on the board:
What are some of the reasons why people immigrate to the U.S.? What are some of the benefits of immigration? What might be some drawbacks?

Have students share out responses. Encourage a diversity of responses:

Reasons for immigrating: employment, education, family ties, war/violence, crime, political pressures, etc.

Benefits: New/different ideas about art, music, politics/government, etc.; different/special skills and expertise to contribute to education and jobs

Drawbacks: Bad economy means more people create a burden on public services; might take jobs that citizens need; might be more crime

Activity #1: Reading and discussion

Introduce the lesson by saying something like, “A lot of people are confused about immigration, and it is complicated. There are legal and illegal ways to come to the United States. We are first going to read about some of those different ways and talk about why people think the immigration system needs to be reformed.”

Have students take turns reading short passages of the story aloud to the class. For reinforcement, ask them to underline key vocabulary words as they read.

Discussion: Break students into partners or small groups to discuss the following questions. Have students write out their responses during the discussion. Alternatively, assign a note-taker for each group and a speaker who will report back responses to the entire class. This will ensure that all students participate in the discussion.
• What are some reasons why the U.S. can’t accept every immigrant who wants to live here?
• What are some benefits of immigration?
• Think of at least three reforms to the immigration system that would make it better.

Activity #2: Writing

This is a great opportunity to have students practice writing a persuasive essay, which would mean extending the lesson by several days, depending on whether you wish to have students do a full revision. Alternatively, you can have students respond to the questions as a freewrite/journaling exercise. Use the previous discussion activity to identify arguments and supporting statements to defend arguments. Possible prompt:

Julieta Velazquez argues immigrants do not harm the economy, as some anti-immigration advocates say. Write an essay in which you summarize Julieta’s argument, and then say whether you agree or disagree, and why.



Common Core 9-12 Standards:

Anchor Standards for Reading:
Key Ideas and details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Anchor Standards for Writing
Text types and Purposes
1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Production and distribution of Writing
4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Range of Writing
10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening
Comprehension and Collaboration
1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

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[Other Teacher Resources]
(NYC-2012-01-06b)

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