Your village is caught in a pogrom. Should you stay and try to rebuild your village, move to Israel, or move to the United States, the land that you have heard is full of opportunity? As an intellectual, you are swayed by the writings of Trotsky and you want to help bring about change for all of Russia; but as a Jew, you face major discrimination. Do you stay or leave?
These are the types of choices the 5th graders considered as they began the study of Jewish immigration this week. Each student was given the opening story of a character and then were given two choices. The choice they made determined how the narrative continued and then, once again, they were given the choice of two paths. The students chose their own adventures, moving from location to location in the school as they made their choices and discovered how those choices affected their lives. It was an exciting and fun way to begin the unit and start their exploration of the issues and themes of immigration.
The unit will culminate in a class journey to the Lower East Side of New York, to see the institutions and streets that were home to the millions of Jews, including many of their own grandparents and great-grandparents, who immigrated to the United States between the years of 1880 and 1920.