Friday, January 23, 2009

Genealogy in School

The middle school kids on my bus don't spend much time talking about what they did in school during the day so I was very pleasantly surprised to find this article in the local paper. The kids do a unit on immigration and Ellis Island.

Continuing she explained, “They have the opportunity to base their character on an ancestor that may have traveled through Ellis Island. In order to research this valuable information they work with family members. I feel it helps to build familial bonds and develop a sense of family pride. So often, that rich family history is lost as family members pass on and this allows them to be gatekeepers of their family’s past. They can learn about and write this information down to cherish for a long time. Both students and parents loved this aspect of the project.”

At the end of the unit a classroom is turned into the waiting room at Ellis Island, the kids can show up in costume and have to go through several stations as immigrants. Be sure to check out the article for details. I'd love to see this in all schools. Does your school district have a program like this?


Colleen said...

Assignments like this can be so much fun, and I bet many of the parents of students have a lot of fun with it, too! However, I hope they consider that this type of assignment is tough on some kids. Kids who are in foster care, who have lost a/both parents, or who never knew their parents, can be greatly distraught by such an assignment. Yes, most teachers (hopefully all) have alternate options for students who may have a hard time with this type of situation, but it can still be tough to hear others talk about their family trees, and if there's a class presentation by students, it can be especially tough to be singled out as someone who either had an alternate assignment or as someone who doesn't have information on their family.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Hi Colleen,

As with all schools we have kids living in nontraditional family settings and we are sensitive to that. One of the things they allowed kids to do was make up a character based only on their imagination and the things they learned in the unit. Even having grown up in a traditional family I would have had to choose this option as none of my ancestors came through Ellis Island.