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On the Road Again
by Matthew Roberts


TIME ALLOTMENT: Two class periods

The movement of people and goods is an important part of the New York State Global History and Geography Curriculum. It is listed as one of the themes that are emphasized in the core curriculum. Students are expected to understand why people migrate and what the impact of migrations has been on people, nations, and regions. Recently, the PBS WIDE ANGLE documentary series created two programs that relate to the movement of people. "Border Jumpers" (2005) documents migration between countries in Africa, and "To Have and Have Not" (2002) deals with migration from rural to urban areas in China. By studying these two migrations, students can deepen their understanding of events and trends in Africa and China since World War II. A study of these two migrations can also provide students with a framework for reviewing other migrations included in the core curriculum and help students to prepare for possible thematic essays on the Regents exam.

The purpose of this lesson is to show the reasons why people are migrating in Africa and China today and how these migrations are impacting those regions. In addition, students will be motivated to critically analyze national immigration policies and to consider the relevance of national borders in a world that is experiencing rapid globalization. As a culminating activity, students will outline a response for a sample Regents thematic essay question and will be assigned to write the essay for homework.

SUBJECT MATTER: Global History and Geography/World History


Students will be able to:
  • Describe how push and pull factors relate to migrations;

  • Identify and describe specific push/pull factors related to the migration of people from Zimbabwe to Botswana and from rural to urban China;

  • Analyze the effectiveness of national immigration policies and restrictions;

  • Compare and contrast modern and historical migrations;

  • Plan and write a thematic essay as they prepare for the Regents exam.


New York State Learning Standards for Social Studies
Standards available online at http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/ciai/socst/pub/sslearn.pdf.

    Standard 2. World History (commencement)
    Performance Indicators:

      1. Students:

      • Understand the broad patterns, relationships, and interactions of cultures and civilizations during particular eras and across eras.

      4. Students:

      • Identify historical problems, pose analytical questions or hypotheses, research analytical questions or test hypotheses, formulate conclusions or generalizations, raise new questions or issues for further investigation.

      • Interpret and analyze documents and artifacts related to significant developments and events in world history.

      • Plan and organize historical research projects related to regional or global interdependence.

    Standard 3. Geography (commencement)
    Performance Indicators:

      1. Students:

      • Understand how to develop and use maps and other graphic representations to display geographic issues, problems, and questions.

      • Investigate the characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on the Earth's surface.

      • Understand the development and interactions of social/cultural, political, economic, and religious systems in different regions of the world.

      • Analyze how the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of the Earth's surface.

New York State Regents Global History and Geography Curriculum Tie-Ins
Curriculum available online at http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/ciai/socst/pub/sscore2.pdf

    Unit Eight: Global Connections and Interactions

      A. Social and Political Patterns and Change

        3. Migration

          a. Urbanization

          b. Global migration

        6. Urbanization -- use and distribution of scarce resources

      B. Economic Issues

        1. North/South dichotomy: issues of development (post-colonialism)

          a. Africa

Advanced Placement World History Curriculum Tie-Ins
Course Description available online at:
(Requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader)

    Major Developments:

      3. Demographic and environmental changes (migrations; end of the Atlantic slave trade)

    Major Developments:

      8. Demographic and environmental changes (migrations; changes in birthrates and death rates; new forms of urbanization; deforestation; green/environmental movements)


WIDE ANGLE, "To Have and to Have Not" (2002) and "Border Jumpers" (2005) (selected clips)

Web Sites:


For the class:

  • Computer monitor or computer connection to television/projector for clip viewing

  • Overhead projector

  • Vocabulary Answer Key

  • Transparencies of Student Organizers, Vocabulary Answer Key, and Maps (optional)
For each cooperative group of students:

For each student or pair of students:

For each student:


Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom, or upload all links to an online bookmarking utility such as www.portaportal.com.

Preview all of the video clips and Web sites used in the lesson to make certain that they are appropriate for your students, currently available, and accessible from your classroom.

Download the video clips used in this lesson onto your hard drive, or prepare to stream the clips from your classroom. RealPlayer is needed to view the video clips. If your classroom computer does not have it, download RealPlayer for free at www.real.com.

Copy the student organizers for individual and group use.

When using media, provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments, Web sites, or other multimedia elements.

er viewing of video segments, Web sites, or other multimedia elements.

Procedures for Teachers


  1. Introduce the lesson to the students by having them brainstorm definitions for each term on "Student Organizer #1: Vocabulary." You may have students work alone, in pairs, or in groups. The "Vocabulary Answer Key" has suggested definitions; you may want to make an overhead transparency of the definitions for the class. Be sure students have a clear understanding of push and pull factors.

  2. Ask students if their families have ever moved from one place to another. Discuss the factors that might force a family to leave an area and some reasons why a family might choose to move to a new area. (Responses could include: loss of a job, a new job in a new area, change within the family, desire to live in warmer climate or a more affordable area) Ask students to identify the push and pull factors that they shared. Discuss how a major move impacts a family. What kinds of challenges does it present? (Responses could include: the financial costs of the move, having to make new friends and adjust to a new community, saying goodbye to family members and relatives.) During the discussion, you might choose to introduce or reinforce the introductory vocabulary and place the words on a word wall. Spend a few minutes discussing student responses and explain that we will be asking those same questions as we explore two current migrations.


  1. Distribute "Student Organizer #2: Botswana and Zimbabwe" to the students (or pairs of students). Ask students to sketch their own outline map of Africa and to label, roughly, the location of Zimbabwe and Botswana. You may want to refer students to the maps available online: see http://sf.factmonster.com/atlas/africa.html and http://worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/africa/afoutl.html. Another option is to create a transparency of the handout and demonstrate a rough sketch of the African continent and the location of Zimbabwe and Botswana.

  2. Clip 1, "Botswana Today," will detail the history of Botswana and its current immigration situation. Provide the students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION: ask the class to identify one pull factor that is attracting migrants from Zimbabwe to Botswana, and to mark it on their organizer. PLAY the clip for the class. Ask the class to discuss the pull factors. (Student answers may include: a strong and quickly growing economy based around diamond mines, cattle export, and tourism, and stability founded on free markets, free elections, and the rule of law.) In addition ask the class to identify the impact the migration is having on Botswana. (An influx of migrants is straining Botswana's security forces. The vast number of border jumpers in Botswana's prisons almost caused the collapse of the prison system.) NOTE: You may want to modify Student Organizers 2 and 4 by adding a graphic organizer. There is an excellent one available at this link: http://www.tidec.org/projects%20folder/Jamaica/push-pull.html. Another possibility is to have students create their own graphic organizer. A simple sketch of stick-men walking towards Botswana would suffice. Students could then list push factors behind them and pull factors in front of them.

  1. Clip 2, "Detainees," will detail some of the push factors that are motivating people to leave Zimbabwe. Provide the students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION: ask the class to identify one push factor that is motivating people to leave Zimbabwe, and to write it on their organizer. PLAY the clip for the class. Ask the class discuss to the push factors. (Student answers should include the lack of political freedoms in Zimbabwe: the fact that in Zimbabwe, opponents and critics of the government are often harassed, beaten, or jailed; and that elections in Zimbabwe have been regarded as rigged by international observers.) In addition, ask the class to identify the impact of the risks that the migrants are willing to take. (Student answers may include that border jumpers end up in jail on the Botswanan side.)

  2. Next, ask the class to put themselves in the position of one of the migrants. What would motivate them to go? How would migrating impact their family? What sacrifices might they have to make? (Student responses will vary.)

  3. In Clip 3, "Work Abroad," students will meet Mary, a migrant living and working in Botswana. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION: ask the class to identify the choices that Mary had to make before moving to Botswana and those she has made since moving there. PLAY the clip for the class. Discuss student responses to Mary's choices. (The discussion should mention the fact that Mary is college-educated and has many skills, but cannot get a job in Zimbabwe. She works doing domestic and menial labor in Botswana in lieu of making use of her education and training.) Ask the class whether they believe the benefits of the move were worth the sacrifices she has made. (Answers may vary.)

  1. Distribute "Student Organizer #3: Zimbabwe Migrant Arnold Moyo" to the students (or pairs of students), and direct them to the BBC NEWS article "Zimbabwe migrant: Arnold Moyo," at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4392378.stm. If there are sufficient computers with web access students can read the article directly online, otherwise you can print and duplicate copies of the article. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, having them refer to the article to complete their organizer. This will require students to delve deeply into the topic and identify information that can be used in a thematic essay. Depending on time, you may have students continue this part of the lesson for homework.

(End of First Day of the Lesson)


  1. On the second day of the lesson begin by reviewing the vocabulary from the first day of the lesson. Conduct a discussion in which you review the push/pull factors related to the migration of people from Zimbabwe to Botswana.

  2. Tell the class they will now learn about the movement of people in rural China to urban areas. Distribute "Student Organizer #4: China." Introduce the activity by asking the class to sketch an outline map of China. You may want to access an outline map of China available online: see http://sf.factmonster.com/atlas/country/china.html and http://worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/asia/outline/cn.htm. You may also want to make a transparency of Student Organizer #4 and demonstrate how to sketch China. Instruct students to label Beijing on their maps.

  3. Clip 4, "Farm and City," will detail the situation of farmers in China and will explain why many are deciding to move to urban areas. Provide the students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION: ask the class to identify one push and one pull factor related to the migration of people from rural to urban China, and to write them on their organizer. PLAY the clip for the class. Ask the class to discuss the push and pull factors. (Answers may include: PUSH -- life is getting harder for peasants; the government is no longer paying good prices for the rice peasants grow; taxes on farmers are increasing. PULL -- jobs and income in the city).

  4. Clip 5, "Migrant Workers," will detail the impact the migration is having on the migrants. Provide the students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION: ask the class to evaluate if they believe life has improved for people who migrated from rural to urban China. PLAY the clip for the class. After viewing the clip, discuss the obstacles and restrictions that the migrants face. (Answers may include: migrants to Beijing are poorly paid and live in poor conditions; migrants are not considered legal residents of Beijing and are not provided with any state services such as housing, healthcare, or schools; migrants may have to live far from their families and children.) Compare and contrast these to those faced by migrants from Zimbabwe to Botswana.

  5. Now refer students to the NEWSWEEK article "This is Really Home," at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8767989/site/newsweek/from/RL.1/ If there are sufficient computers with web access students can read the article directly online, otherwise you can print and duplicate copies of the article. Provide a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, having students refer to the article to complete "Student Organizer #5: 'This is Really Home.'" This will require students to delve deeply into the topic and identify information that can be used in a thematic essay.


  1. Explain to students that the two programs they have just seen give them a lens through which to view other migrations. Provide cooperative student groups with "Student Organizer #6: Migrations in Global History." Assign groups of students to complete the sheet by focusing on specific migrations from Global History. You might want to assign specific topics to cooperative groups of students. Some migrations to consider assigning are:

    • The migration of Jewish people to Palestine in the twentieth century.

    • The migration of Hindus and Muslims following the partition of India.

    • The migration of Palestinians after the 1948 war.

    • The migration of Africans to the Americas in the 1600s-1800s.

    • The migration of early human populations.

    • The migration of nomadic groups from Central Asia during the Han Dynasty.

    • The expulsion of the Moors and the Jews from Spain.

    • The migration of Spanish colonists and conquistadors to the Americas.

    • Migration of Irish people to North America in the 19th century.

    You may want to have the groups create a visual or poster on which the information from their handouts is displayed. Have each group select a spokesperson to present and share their findings.

    Also, you may want to modify the activity by incorporating some of the connections questions included in the core curriculum (page 118). These include:

    • What is the relationship between the migration of people and ethnic tensions and nationalism?

    • What opposition has arisen to the migration? Why?

    • To what extent are current migrations similar to early migrations? How are they different?

  2. Distribute a copy of "Student Organizer #7: Thematic Essay Question" and the "Migration Essay Scoring Rubric" to each student. Help the students to plan and prepare an essay on which they could earn a score of "5." Remind the class that the rubric is similar to the one that will be used to score their Regents exam essays. Work with students to plan and prepare an outline. Assign the essay for homework.


Language Arts

  • Create a journal entry or short story describing the travels of a migrant in Africa or China.

Social Studies


Contact local organizations that work with recent immigrants to the United States. Research the push/pull factors involved in their migration and the obstacles they have faced. Document your findings in an audio or video presentation.

© 2006 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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Funding for WIDE ANGLE: WINDOW INTO GLOBAL HISTORY is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation.