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Possibilities in Practice

Social Justice Teaching in the Disciplines

Edited By Summer Melody Pennell, Ashley S. Boyd, Hillary Parkhouse and Alison LaGarry

This edited collection illustrates different possibilities for social justice practice in various grade levels, disciplines, and interdisciplinary spaces in P–12 education. Chapters in this unique volume demonstrate teaching with a critical lens, helping students develop critical dispositions, encouraging civic action with students, and teaching about topics inclusive of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Based on empirical research, each contribution is rooted in a critical theoretical framework and characterizes findings from sustained study of pedagogic practice, spanning subject matter from social studies, English Language Arts, music, mathematics, and science. Through this work, both pre- and in-service teachers as well as teacher educators will be inspired to practice social justice in their own classrooms.

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Chapter Five: Immigration Today: Perspectives from Primary Classrooms 2nd Grade (Sunghee Shin / Beverly Milner (Lee) Bisland)


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Immigration Today

Perspectives from Primary Classrooms

2nd Grade


With a new national administration, immigration is in the forefront of the country’s news and political discussions. As the new president begins his administration with an executive order barring some individuals and groups from immigrating into the United States (Gonchar & Schulten, 2017), essential questions arise for discussion in the nation’s classrooms. Who comes to this country from other countries? Why do they come? How does my community reflect immigration today?

This topic can be explored by young children in the primary grades, and should not only be a topic in U.S. history courses in the upper grades. The concepts of who comes to the United States and why are initial understandings that build a foundation for more critical exploration of challenges facing immigrants as students’ progress through the grades. Younger children understand the push and pull of immigration with concrete examples and typically without interpretation. They recognize that immigrants want a better education, better financial opportunities, and a better life than they had in their home countries. Older students are able to investigate with more depth and nuance the conditions in an immigrant’s home country that provide the push to leave: wars, famines, and persecution, for example. Also, they can explore more critically the pull of a better life in a new country and how...

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