Family Ties: Humanizing Migration

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Standards for this Guide

Read Family Ties in the Magazine


Twenty-five percent of students in our classrooms today have at least one immigrant parent. This reality exists within an increasingly hostile context in which both leaders and citizens perpetuate myths and misunderstandings about immigrants, often through generalizations.

Educators can help dispel these destructive messages and create inclusive spaces for all students by turning to individual stories of immigrants, with and without documentation, who are trying to make their way in American society. The faces and voices of fellow humans convey a truth that divisive rhetoric cannot suppress: migration is our shared human story.

In these lessons, students will read and study the essay “Family Ties,” using it as an entry point for social critique and the exploration of past and present realities of race, land, place, immigration, civil rights, laws, and legislation.


Standards met through this curriculum

Learning Outcomes/Essential Questions

Students will:

  1. Use reading strategies to enhance comprehension and engage critical thinking.

  2. Analyze informational text and structure using evidence.

  3. Explore issues of race, land, place, immigration, civil rights, laws, and legislation while demonstrating their ELA and history/social studies skills through reader response and discussion.

Essential Questions:

  1. Who benefits and who suffers from particular immigration policies and why?

  2. Why is it important to share and understand the immigration stories of ourselves and others, and how might these stories shape the ways in which we live and relate to one another?

  3. What are the obstacles and opportunities that people experience based on their immigration status, and how can we best address these obstacles to create more equal opportunities for all?

  4. What gives our lives meaning that has nothing to do with our immigration status, and what do we have in common with others simply as human beings?

  5. How do we define success and opportunity in our society, and in what ways can we choose to accept and/or challenge these definitions?

Depth of Knowledge (DOK)

Levels 1, 2, 3, 4

For more information on DOK, see DOK Slide Wheel


Classroom computer and projector to display images from “Family Ties” (optional)


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  1. Review all resources and decide which components you will include and how many lessons to allot for this curriculum. (Note: Almost every component can be used as a stand-alone piece or combined with other components.)

  2. Preview and take notes on the “Family Ties” images and text.

  3. Preview and prepare your chosen handouts.

  4. Plan the format and resources you will use for a final discussion.

Reading Strategies

  1. Model and instruct students to use the AVID® Marking the Text strategy as they read the text.

    1. Before reading, number the paragraphs. (A paragraph begins at any break in the text, even if it is not indented.)

    2. While reading, circle key vocabulary, dates, names, places, events, and important numbers/statistics.

    3. After reading, go back and re-read sections, underlining strong images, descriptions, dialogue, and author’s claims.

  2. While reading, pause at various places and model the think-aloud strategy to demonstrate comprehension/summarization of the text. Option: Pause at different points of the reading process to share and discuss the essay’s accompanying images and their relationship to the text. You may also use the map of Mexico to illustrate the Ramirez family’s journey.

  3. TAG Option: You may choose to give advanced readers the SOAPS Text Analysis handout for tracking the author’s argument and purpose during their reading. Students’ observations using this strategy can be incorporated into later lesson steps, such as discussion and writing responses.

Instructional Plan

Before Reading

Warm-up: Ask students to respond to the following questions in writing and/or discuss them with a partner:

Have you or anyone in your family ever migrated from one place to another? What pushed you or your family member away from the first place? What pulled you or your family member toward a new place? What challenges and opportunities were encountered along the way? Describe details of this experience using the information you know.

Consider sharing an example from your own life to help generate ideas. Give students time to think about and record their responses, then conduct a think-pair-share to review responses as a class before moving on.

If students get stuck, tell them that migration can involve moving from any place to another; for example, changing schools or moving to a new neighborhood can be considered migration.


During Reading

Reader response: After introducing the reading strategies you will use, read the essay with students or ask them to read silently. If reading aloud, pause to review, synthesize information, and model note-taking at various points during the reading process.


After Reading

  1. Reader response: Present the reader response handout and model how students should summarize the steps of the Ramirez family’s migration story. Give students time to review the text and add to their notes. Conduct an informal assessment of comprehension by reviewing students’ notes in a think-pair-share or mini-discussion format.

    Introduce the reflection questions of the handout, and ask students to review their notes on the Ramirez migration story steps. Give students time to think about and record their responses, then conduct a think-pair-share as an informal assessment of their comprehension.

  2. Discussion: After students complete responses to the reflection questions, conduct a think-pair-share or whole group/Socratic Seminar-style discussion on these ideas. For a more extensive and structured discussion, you may choose to incorporate the discussion handout of essential questions, discussion rubric and/or immigration flowchart graphic.


ELL and SPED Supports: Scaffolded assignment options

TAG Extensions: SOAPS Text Analysis handout to use during and after listening, optional extensions

Assessment/Student Performance Tasks

  1. Reader response notes (Formative)

  2. Reflection questions/closing discussion (Summative)

Additional Resources/Related Reading

Uncovered Curriculum Guide

To Live More Free Curriculum Guide

Whose State Is This?

Sanctuary in Name Only

Optional Extensions

The Book of Unknown Americans