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Immigration Studies

November 5, 2020 | Cindy Kuperus

Third graders spent six weeks studying the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” of immigration.

Who are immigrants?

Where do they come from? Where do they settle?

Why do some come to the US?

How do they travel?

What do they take along, and what do they leave behind?

What challenges do some face, and what opportunities do they have?

What gifts have immigrants given to the US?

How do students learn the answers to such important questions as these when there are limited book resources written at a third grade level?

Fortunately, there are many experts among us. One of the many great resources of our parent community is that there are many who have immigrated to this country and have stories to share. AND let’s not forget that there is ZOOM!

In two weeks’ time, third graders interviewed eight parents to learn their stories. They each asked questions of the immigrants and recorded the answers:

They contrasted and compared immigrants’ stories, using Venn diagrams:

Students illustrated answers to the who, what, where, why, and when of immigration. They added these to a table:

or concept map:

Some students had extra time to go more deeply into their studies. They learned about the dates of important events in our country’s history–and how these events changed the lives of people who were already here. They put some events on a timeline:

One student, inspired by the musical, story, and soundtrack of Hamilton, worked on a poster of immigrant contributions, with the title,

“Immigrants! We get the job done!”

Throughout the study, children showed curiosity, made so many connections (in these year of connections!) learned how to interview and ask questions, and asked provocative questions themselves. As they learned, a common theme emerged:

Immigrants tend to be determined, hard-working people, who hope to make a better life for themselves and in the process, have made their communities stronger places.

What a valuable thing to learn at such a young age!





Cindy Kuperus

Teacher, Grade 3 Mountains Class

Ms. Kuperus attended a small Lutheran grade school and has always been a student in multi-grade classrooms. She became interested in teaching, in fact, when she would assist classmates when the teacher was busy helping others. Her 5th/6th grade teacher, Mrs. Roman, encouraged her to think broadly about the world beyond their small town (population: 500), giving stickers to those who could answer a question from the World News segment from television the night before. She would be thrilled to learn that Ms. Kuperus has taught internationally in Masaya, Nicaragua, and Chengdu,China.

After graduating from Calvin College, Ms. Kuperus taught students in grades two-six for almost 10 years in Kentwood, Michigan. In 1994, Ms. Kuperus sought a teaching position in a school in the Northeast, anywhere but New Jersey. She’s now taught for over 23 years in NEW JERSEY! Two of her former students, Becca Brasser and Sam Martino, are now on staff at MSS.

Ms. Kuperus loves opportunities to travel, interact with the people, and taste the foods of the world. She’s also a person who ‘travels” with the characters in the books she reads!

It’s important to Ms. Kuperus that people’s voices are heard and that their needs for shelter and food are met. To that end, she volunteers for organizations like First Friends and the Sharing Place.

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