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This year students in the 5th grade at The Park School in Brookline, Massachusetts studied immigration in-depth. They used stories on Listenwise to hear immigrant voices, understand their perspectives and connect modern day immigration stories to history.

At the end of the year, groups of student worked on a project called The Immigrant Journey. They interviewed local immigrants about their transition from their home country to America. In the past students created posters, books and power point presentations of these stories. This year, in collaboration with Listenwise, The Park School added podcasting as an option. The students used their iPads to record interviews with immigrants who visited their classrooms. They edited the interviews and in some cases combined them with posters, artifacts and written stories to make a multi-media presentation of each person’s immigration story. Here is a sample of their excellent work:

The First Orange

Park.Imm.VietnamOne immigrant from Vietnam vividly recalled how he tasted his first orange when a U.S. soldier gave him one at a refugee camp in the Philippines. He also recalled how when his family fled Vietnam, the escape happened quickly and they all had to leap on board a boat. He tells the story of watching his pregnant mother jump onto the boat. They all made it out safely.

Later he recalled how in America, they made a turkey every year for Thanksgiving as a way of assimilating. But instead of stuffing the turkey with seasoned bread – his family filled it with Vietnamese spring rolls.

The students who worked on this Immigrant Journey including a picture of a turkey and a map with push pins and yarn showing the journey his family made to America in addition to the podcast.

Out on the Last Plane

Park.Imm.UgandaAnother immigrant from Uganda remembers how he came to America when he was 6 years old. His family boarded the last plane out of Uganda for refugees during a turbulent time in the country. His first stop, like many immigrants in the project, was not America, but Austria. After spending time as a refugee in Austria, he moved with his family to America.

The students who documented the Uganda’s journey made the podcast the central feature of the story. They built a box with colorful paper and cut out leaves to surround the box and the immigrant’s story.

Connecting With JazzPark.Imm.Detroit

A French immigrant ended up in Detroit on his first stop in America. In his podcast he talks of feeling isolated in the mid-West where there weren’t that many people like him. He found connections with other immigrants by going to jazz clubs where African American musicians played.

The students who collaborated on this podcast each used a separate iPad to isolate parts of the interview with the immigrant. Played one after the other, they told a complete story.

Great work by The Park School 5th grade!

  1. Fantastic work being done at the Park School! A history teacher myself, it is great to see a little emphasized area of history-oral histories being explored. Oral history is a great way to get students engaged as they see themselves as makers of history instead of others. Technology further enhances this experience as content can be conveyed through multiple formats and in interesting/ interactive ways.

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