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IMGALTTAG Volume I: Against Our Will:  Forced Migration & Immigration


A Brief Look at Meadowcroft Rockshelter with a Subsequent
Focus on the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois)
Lea Blumenfeld
Clayton and Grandview Elementary Schools

One purpose of this unit is to take a brief look at evidence of the earliest First Nations peoples in North America, dating back to prehistoric times. The social studies books currently in use do not trace back the peoples of North, Central, and South America beyond the advent of the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayas. With the close proximity of Meadowcroft Rockshelter to Pittsburgh, the unit will address the archeological and anthropological findings there. This is significant because the discoveries indicate that people inhabited the area 16,000 to 17,000 years ago. Previously it was thought, and by some still is, that no humans existed here before 11,200 years ago. Pittsburgh Public School children will become aware of a phenomenon of international interest within an hour’s drive from their homes.

Most of the unit will focus on the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy and how they influenced the development of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well as the United States of America and the philosophy of people in other parts of the world. To show respect for the First Nations peoples and their right to self-determination, from this point on, I shall use the First Nations name that they use for themselves and not the French word, Iroquois, unless the latter appears in a title, quotation, or document. The unit will enable the children to see how the First Nations peoples have suffered from racism, broken treaties, theft of property, cultural sublimation, and genocide, and how some of these acts of aggression continue to this day. It will also demonstrate that, unlike the impression left by many books and movies, Native Americans still live here today. Because the library is connected to all of the subject areas in the schools, this will be an interdisciplinary unit, touching upon literature, history, geography, cultural geography, science, art, and music. The targeted audiences will be mainly fourth and fifth graders, with some activities including the third graders. However, with some modifications the unit can be utilized by upper grades as well. 


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American Citizens of Japanese Ancestry: Their Internment of the 1940’s
Bradley J. Hoffer
Taylor Allderdice High School

The purpose of this document is to have the students become aware of a major event in the history of the United States.  All students study World War II and the attacks by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. We do a good job as teachers in teaching about the battles that the United States won and about the marvelous technologies of war that made the United States so successful and look so good to the rest of the world. However, there is one major event that occurred that does not make the United States look so good. It is a time in our nation’s history that the government took the freedom and property from an entire group of people based solely on their ancestral backgrounds. The internment of more than 120,000 people of Japanese descent happened on the west coast of the United States in the 1940’s as a direct result of the attacks at Pearl Harbor.

What this unit will show the student is why the camps developed and how they were allowed to happen in direct contrast to the liberties guaranteed to citizens of the United States. Students will be instructed as to the reasons for development, what life was like living in a camp, and what they found after the war. Students will read accounts of people who were there and gain insight into psyches of the internees. They will then be given an opportunity to show their understanding of the events by creating their own internee and writing about their experiences based on the knowledge they have gained.


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Pioneer Women and the American Frontier
Frances E. Jetcyk
Carrick High School

The purpose of this curriculum unit is to provide students with an opportunity to gain personal insights into the life of a pioneer woman by reading excerpts or portions of her journal and letters that she wrote to members of her family. This project will also serve to train students to identify and differentiate between primary and secondary sources.

Juniors in high school will explore the role of American pioneer women in 19th century America through the journal and letters of Narcissa Whitman. While some women personally chose to make the arduous and dangerous journey, many others were forced to accompany their husbands and fathers, leaving their families, friends, and homes, probably forever. From the vantage point of a 21st century American, could we or would we do the same today? We can never truly know how we would react, what choices we would make and what we would be capable of doing to survive if we were put to the test.  Ultimately, this lesson is designed to raise more questions than it can answer.


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The African Slave Trade and Middle Passage
Richard O’Brien
Brashear High School

During the course of the year teaching the tenth grade world cultures curriculum the students always seem to take a couple of issues and run away with them. The one that stands out the most is the Atlantic Slave Trade and Middle Passage. The students have some prior knowledge on the subject learning in the middle school U.S. History class about slavery, and some take African American History which certainly discusses the Middle Passage. The students, although saddened by the Middle Passage, are always curious to why and how it happened. This curriculum unit attempts to explain briefly how and why.

I have added this unit as a supplemental unit into the World Cultures curriculum. It touches on the themes of imperialism and nationalism, which dominate much of the curriculum. It attempts to briefly pull out the prior knowledge of the students and have them use their critical thinking abilities to understand the dynamics behind the Atlantic Slave Trade and Middle Passage. Through a variety of different activities, the students are taken through the Slave Trade from its beginning to end.


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Agency: The New Migration Paradigm
Carol M. Petett
Taylor Allderdice High School

As stated in the title, this curriculum unit will focus on Agency: The New Migration Paradigm. Agency is defined as the ability of people to actively take charge and change their current condition. That condition could be fleeing from war, as a refugee or migrating to another area for better work opportunities. This unit will use the movement of America’s Fighting Men: United States Colored Troops or USCT in the Civil War. The particular emphasis here will be a personal narrative of the agency of my great-grand father who had been a slave but became a soldier in the Union Army during the Civil War.

The curricula currently taught in the history courses in our schools continues to embrace the idea that people came to America and stay because life was better here than from where they had come. Students who try to fit their own family history into the common held beliefs taught in our schools on immigration find new and recent research into immigration history difficult to teach and even more difficult for students to comprehend. By Americanizing their family history they may in fact not ever learn the history of their own families. I think it is extremely important for students to understand their own history and hopefully by learning their family history they will develop both inquiry and research skills that will lay the foundations for more scholarly approaches to their studies across the curriculum. This curriculum unit will focus on agency, the ability of people to actively make decisions about improving their conditions in life. I will apply the concept of agency to a personal narrative. In this way I hope this unit will encourage students to use the same techniques and ask the same questions I asked when researching my own family.


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Primary Sources Speak:  Part 4—
Indentured Servants in Colonial America
Dr. Donald Roberts
Pittsburgh Gifted Center

This curriculum unit was written specifically for eighth grade American History teachers, but high school history teachers could easily adapt it for their students. Middle and high school Communications/English teachers could use the writing activities. Detailed summaries of indentured servitude and the transition to slavery supplement and enrich information currently in Social Studies textbooks. Opportunities are provided for students to interact with a variety of primary sources. These include such things as first-hand accounts of indentured servants aboard ships crossing the ocean, brutal working and living conditions in colonial Virginia, advertisements for fugitive indentured servants and slaves, and colonial laws that legalized the institution of slavery. There are both traditional worksheets and open-ended activities designed to introduce students to the study and appreciation of primary sources.


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Early American Captivity Narratives and Their Indian Captors
Janis L. Wnuk
Taylor Allderdice High School

This three-week unit is designed for an eleventh grade scholars’ English class.  Aligning with the curriculum in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, which focuses on the study of American literature in the junior year, this unit uses ancillary material from actual captivity narratives from Puritan times. Included in this study are: reading of captivity narratives, discussion, and full-process writing and oral presentation of original student narratives.


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Chatham University
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IMGALTTAG Pittsburgh Teachers Institute
Jointly sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
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