An Exploration of Immigration & Empathy - PBL

You’ve just discovered a time capsule containing artifacts your relatives buried when they first immigrated to the United States.. It contains letters, pictures, souvenirs and other objects they left to convey the story of who they were. After exploring the time capsule, you’ve decided to create a digital story to share their remarkable journey.

How has your family’s immigration story contributed to the United States ‘melting pot’ and help to develop empathy with others?


Part 1:  Discovering Buried Treasure!

You will be divided into 'critical teams' and provided with a scavenger hunt sheet.  Once the safety and rules of 'the hunt' are discussed, you will go with your team to locate the time capsule.  Once a team has found the capsule, the class, as a group, will return to class to view its contents and see Mrs. Zacharyasz's digital immigration storytelling video.

Our Google Classroom site will house all directives, artifacts and resources you will need to begin this PBL.  You will upload your completed digital video to the Classroom.

Part 2:

1.  With your 'critical team', you will share and discuss what you believe your immigration story to be.  Open up your Google Drive and create a Doc to start gathering your thoughts regarding your familiy's journey.  You can use these thoughts later in your reflection exercise.  Think about those people in your family you can 'interview' to discover your story.

2.  With your 'critical team', create a shared Google Doc to begin formulating and composing interview questions that those in your group could use.  Include your teacher in the sharing!

Part 3:

1.  Using the interview questions your team created, choose a relative(s) to interview.

2.  During this pre-writing stage, use a digital graphic organizer or your Blogger site to start journaling your discoveries.  Share the URL to your pre-writing artifacts on the shared Google Doc in our Google Classroom.

3.  Ask your family members to share any pictures, documents or other resources that you can use to display or use in your digital and/or in class presentation.  Upload any pictures or online resources to your Google Drive for easy access in your video creation.

4.  After discovering your family's country of origin and year, or predicted year of immigration, begin researching primary and secondary sources of information to discover what was going on in America at the time of their immigration.  Add this information to your journaling.  You should include at least 3 world facts in the completion of your video when discussing why your familiy immigrated and what effect it had on them.  In your critical team, you will take turns pinpointing on the class map, and on the digital map in Classroom, your country of origin and reason for immigration.  Compare and contrast if your initial belief about your families immigration was correct.

5.  As you begin collecting, researching and interviewing your relatives, make time with your critical teams to spend time in Peer Review.  A document to use for this purpose is shared in Google Classroom.  Everyone should have a Peer Review Form Doc with their name on it for everyone to collaborate on.  All team members should add to this document.  Remember good digital etiquette when making comments and replies!  The link to this shared Peer Review document should be added to the Google Sheet in Google Classroom.

Part 4:

1.  Using a digital video application of your choice (WeVideo, Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, etc), and your pre-writing, journaling notes and world research information, summarize and begin developing your immigration story.  You should include the following:

     *Title slide with your name

     *Collected photos, documents, audio and/or video clips that you acquired.  Add appropriate pictures from the web that depict your family's story.  Use your creativity!

    *Add music to part of your video and be sure to not use copyright material as discussed in class.  Make sure to cite any work that is not your own!

    *Add text or titles to your video slides to help the audience (your class and others) discover your story.  These should be appropriately placed based on your content.

    *Ending slide with credits to those in your family who you interviewed and any cited resources.

     *  Video should be between 3-5 minutes in length.

2.  Complete the video and upload the link to the shared Google Sheet in Classroom.  If you used a digital video editing application like Windows Movie Maker, save and upload your movie in Google Drive to create a URL or upload to your Youtube account.

Part 5:

1.  Prepare and present your family's immigration story through your digital video and other resources you bring to class to share.  

2..We will be using a collaborative Padlet to compare and contrast your classmates' family's immigration experiences to analyze unique and similar circumstances.  

  • The Padlet will be the jumping off spot to initiate conversation on how Empathy may play a role in the family’s immigration story.

3.  In addition to adding your video's URL to Google Classroom, you will also upload the video to your Blogger site.  You will add your personal reflections on this PBL experience.  Please indicate the 'pluses and minuses' and any recommendations you have for future uses of this project.  Your teacher loves your input! :)

Rubrics & Checklists

Standards & Objectives

English Language Arts Standards - Writing, Grade 7

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.3Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.


Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, and description, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.


Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to capture the action and convey experiences and events.

English Language Standards - History & Social Studies, Grades 6-8.

Key Ideas and Details:


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:


Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts

Student ISTE Standards

  1. Creativity and innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
    1. Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes
    2. Create original works as a means of personal or group expression.

An Example Video - Enjoy!