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Fifth Grade Feature: Angel Island

During fifth grade, there is an emphasis on building students’ understanding of immigration in America, focusing on immigration through both Ellis Island and Angel Island.

In this unit of study, students engage with a range of historical sources to develop their knowledge about such a pertinent and relevant topic. Within the unit, students have the opportunity to visit Angel Island. There, they are able to explore the immigration station with a docent who provides insight into what life may have been like for immigrants entering through that port of entry. Students learn about the island kinesthetically, connecting with the topic in a tangible way.

As part of the excursion, students travel to the island aboard the Derek M. Baylis, an environmentally friendly research vessel that acts as a floating classroom. The Baylis is equipped with resources that allow students to discover more about the bay and to take part in exciting marine research projects.

Back in the classroom, students engage with a range of historical resources and, through class discussions, collaborative activities and individual reflections, are given the opportunity to develop empathy for immigrants of the past, thereby helping them to better understand the challenges faced by today’s immigrants.

This powerful unit ensures rich discussion and immerses students in a topic that is so critical to ensuring that they grow to be positive citizens in our society.