Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Opportunity and Danger
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

In this lesson, elementary students develop an understanding of the risks and rewards of immigrating to the U.S., focusing on Chinese immigrants but including other groups as well. Using various resources, including video segments from the documentary BECOMING AMERICAN: THE CHINESE EXPERIENCE, Web sites, and student organizers, students examine the treatment, often exclusionary, of Chinese immigrants in the U.S. and explore the dynamics of inclusion, exclusion, and prejudice. As a culminating activity, students interview first- or second-generation immigrants.

Note: To invite family participation, a letter can be sent home. A sample letter to parents is provided; it may be adapted or used as is.

Grade Level:
Grades 4-6

Time Allotment:
1-2 weeks.
Note: This lesson can carry over anywhere from a few days to two weeks, depending on the level of interest and commitment to the topic.

Subject Matter:
This topic offers tie-ins to many curriculum areas: social studies/history (immigration; assimilation; diversity; racism; citizenship); science/health, the arts (Chinese contributions in these areas); and language arts (speaking, listening, research, expository writing, interviewing).

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the terms "immigration" and "immigrant."
  • Demonstrate understanding of the Immigration Acts of 1862 and 1965.
  • Explore the meaning of prejudice.
  • Identify at least three ways in which Chinese immigrants enjoyed opportunity and three ways in which they faced danger.
  • Name at least three ways in which U.S. culture changed the culture of Chinese immigrants and three ways in which Chinese immigrant culture changed U.S. culture.
  • Articulate ideas and debate social issues related to Chinese immigration to the U.S.
  • Interview and write about someone who is a first- or second-generation immigrant.


National Standards:

MCREL Behavioral Studies Standard and Benchmarks, Standard 1, Level II, Benchmarks 3-4, Level III, Benchmark 1 ID=20&StandardID=1
Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity, and behavior

MCREL Behavioral Studies Standard and Benchmarks, Standard 2, Level II, Benchmarks 1-3, 7-8, Level III, Benchmarks 3-8 ID=20&StandardID=2
Understands various meanings of social group, general implications of group membership, and different ways that groups function

MCREL Behavioral Studies Standard and Benchmarks, Standard 4, Level II, Benchmark 6, Level III, Benchmark 1 ID=20&StandardID=4
Understands conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among individuals, groups, and institutions

MCREL Language Arts Standard and Benchmarks, Listening and Speaking, Standard 8, Level II, Benchmarks 1, 7 ID=7& StandardID=8
Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes.

MCREL Grades K-4 History Standards, Topic 4, Number 5 ID =4
Understands the causes and nature of movements of large groups of people into and within the United States, now and long ago.

This lesson was prepared by: Kathleen Cochran, Ed.M.