Immigration: Perception and Reality

K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

In this lesson, students examine myths about immigration and research credible sources to find truths to share with others in a Myth-Buster poster. For younger students, they celebrate differences in our school and local community as strengths.

Photo Credit: immigrant rights protest by Betsy Tsang is licensed under CC by 4.0 

PrintOne class period, plus time for a project

The learners will:

  • identify misconceptions about immigration.
  • discuss opinions and questions about immigration.
  • research factual information on the subject.
  • attempt to "bust myths" about immigration by sharing facts.
  • copy of the PowerPoint slide show to facilitate this lesson (below)
  • butcher paper, construction paper, or large dry erase board for stations activity
  • supplies for the Myth-Busters posters service project

Resources with Facts about Immigration:

Teacher Preparation 

Use the attached PowerPoint to guide classroom discussion.


Follow the project with a brief reflection.

In a written response, address two or more points listed below:

  • How can common perceptions mislead our actions when it comes to the issue of immigration?
  • Why is it important to bust myths about immigration?
  • What are ways that immigrants improve our country?
  • What did you learn in this activity? 

Follow-up: Discuss what they’d like to do next to continue impacting their community.


  1. Adapt this one-period lesson plan for any grade level and follow it with a simple and powerful service project on MLK, Jr. Day. The reflection brings learning and service impact together. 

  2. Anticipatory Set: (20 minutes)

    Students do a SEE, HEAR, FEEL reflective activity while they watch a video about understanding immigrants. Tell them to try to separate what they see, hear, and feel while they watch. 

    • SEE: Record observations of things you see. The observations should be only facts, no feelings or opinions at this point.
    • HEAR: Record observation of things you hear. The observations should be only facts, no feelings or opinions.
    • FEEL: Lastly, record how the clip makes you feel. Do not record interpretation or beliefs, just feelings.

    Show one of these YouTube videos, and then hold class discussion of the SEE, HEAR, FEEL activity. Talk about ways we can separate facts from opinion and use credible sources for facts.

    1. Newcomers High School (8 minutes) shows students in two different schools coming together to dialogue about differences and combat bias about immigrants.
    2. For a Better Future (3 minutes) features a mother explaining why America offers better opportunity, especially for her daughter.
    3. (younger students) I'm New here: Welcoming Immigrant Students (3:45 minutes) Children express what it is like to be new to a school and how to welcome new students 
    4. (book option) Read aloud an immigration picture book
  3. Part One: (20 minutes) for older students:

    Set up six stations in the room, each associated with a different common misconception about immigration, and butcher paper and markers.  

    Directions: With your group, respond to the myth that is assigned to your station, using the following questions as a discussion guide: Why might some people believe this myth to be true and why did it come into existence? Why is this myth false? 

    The bibliography contains sourced information to counter the myths.

    • Workstation 1: Most immigrants are here illegally; my grandparents came here legally, why don't they?
    • Workstation 2: Immigrants don't want to learn English or become citizens.
    • Workstation 3: Undocumented immigrants take good jobs from U.S. citizens.
    • Workstation 4: “The worst” people from other countries are coming to the United States and bringing crime and violence.
    • Workstation 5: Undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes and burden the national economy.
    • Workstation 6: We should ban immigrants from certain countries and/or build a wall to protect our country.
  4. Variation for Younger Students:  

    Students make a poster expressing a welcoming statement and picture for children who are new to the school or community. See the example in the video "I'm New Here" above. 

  5. Part Two: (10 minutes)

    Older Students: Allow the students ten minutes to develop a short presentation to deliver to the class with the truth of their myth. Have each of the six groups present to the class and allow discussion after each presentation. 

    Younger Students: Identify on a map the different parts of the world represented in the cultural/ethnic make-up of the class (if students know) or school (using school data). Talk about different traditions and unique characteristics as interesting traits that together make us stronger. 

  6. Service Project

    This service project may be started in class and completed in subsequent days, either with the class or with friends and family.

    Project Overview: Create Immigration Myth-Busters posters to hang up around your school to help spread accurate knowledge and prove myths wrong. Students may use the myths from their group activity above or research another myth from one of the Bibliographical resources above.

    Tell them to cite the original sources for the data so the facts have credibility, not based on emotion or misrepresentation of facts.


    1. Meet in groups to determine the myth they are busting. 
    2. Find sources for accurate information and list facts to share.
    3. Brainstorm and decide on the message and design of their poster.
    4. The groups should plan their design and language with the location where it will hang in mind (placement and audience).
    5. Make a poster to accurately and clearly communicate an immigration truth that dispels a common myth. 
    6. Include a call to action for the reader. 
    7. Cite references, preferably primary sources.
    8. Hang up the poster. 
  7. Variation for Younger Students

    Create a booklet of useful resources and information for new immigrants (or people who move into your neighborhood). Brainstorm what someone who is new to this country (or school or community) might need. [Where to play, shop, school procedures, common words, local favorites, etc.] Make the booklets available in the school office and at local community organizations that serve immigrants and their families.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Analyze philanthropic traditions of diverse cultural groups and their contributions to civil society.
      2. Benchmark MS.1 Examine several examples of philanthropic traditions practiced in diverse cultures.
      3. Benchmark E.1 Give examples of philanthropic traditions of diverse cultures.
      4. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
      5. Benchmark E.2 Discuss the importance of respect for others.
      6. Benchmark HS.2 Give examples from history of how intolerance of ideas, religion, and minorities contributed to social disintegration.
      7. Benchmark HS.4 Identify constitutional principles that protect minorities in a republic. Relate these principles to the role of nonprofit organizations.
      8. Benchmark MS.5 Discuss examples of groups denied their rights in history.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.8 Compare actions for the common good in a variety of economic systems.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.12 Explain why private action is important to the protection of minority voices.
      2. Benchmark MS.12 Identify the dilemma of minority rights in a pure democracy.
      3. Benchmark MS.8 Define civil society.
    4. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.
      2. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
      3. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.