Teaching Changing Loyalties and Histories: The Queens Immigration Project

AHA Session 196
Saturday, January 5, 2019: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Stevens C-6 (Hilton Chicago, Lower Level)
Michael Freydin, JHS 157 Stephan Halsey
Sean McManamon, Brooklyn Technical High School
John Ronzino, Flushing High School
Stephen Spear, Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Kathryn Shaughnessy, St. John's University

Session Abstract

Teaching Changing Loyalties and Histories: The Queens Immigration Project

The Queens Immigration Project is funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for three years. It supports funding for teachers to enhance their digital skills while learning new approaches to teaching world history. The New York City borough of Queens is the most diverse county in the United States, and its libraries and archives have served as a model to study change over time in NYC. Many of the New York City high school students are first generation Americans, and their family’s histories are an integral part of a changing United States.

The project offers the opportunity for teachers and students to analyze their family histories as tools to teach Units 5 and 6 of the NYC Social Studies Scope and Sequence that focus on the essential questions of modernization and globalization. In these units, teachers and their students address two questions: What is the price of modernization? And, Is globalization a force for progress and prosperity? In the units, family history offers a way to contemplate the questions in the sequence such as “How has modernization created tension and conflict regarding social norms, gender norms, and institutions?” The family histories inspire teachers and students to consider changing loyalties through time and place within the stories of migration and immigration.

The project's principal investigators and teachers will demonstrate how they have created and employed open educational resources to assist students in collecting and positioning personal digital archives and interpreting open-access historical documents to understand their and their families' pasts. In doing history, students also contribute to “open” repositories and to local community archive projects such as the Queens Memory Project by creating online family histories. In the process, the students develop an individual understanding of the technologies and concepts behind archiving. They also develop key skills of historical thinking by considering the continuity of the history of immigration and changing neighborhoods in NYC. By researching their family histories like a historian, NYC students challenge the history of U.S. immigration by expanding the traditional narratives through an exploration of the motivating (or push) factors that contribute to migration and immigration in recent history.

The presentation is an interactive roundtable. All participants and attendees will have access to the materials that have been created for the project by the principle investigators, teachers, NYC high school students, and graduate students on the project. The lesson ideas, digital archives, and methodological approaches have been collected and made open to all who wish to use the materials to teach global studies and world history.

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