Lesson Plan

The Immigrant Experience

The Buttonhook by Mary Jo Salter is the focus of a unit that explores the immigration experience to Ellis Island. First, scholars bring in an artifact that represents their heritage. A group-exercise allows them to share and discuss their item. Next, the class examines a series of photographs, writing down their observations, and share their thoughts with a partner. Finally, learners watch a video of the author reading aloud her poem. They then analyze its text and compare the written word versus the oral method of delivery. 

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CCSS: Designed
Instructional Ideas
  • Create a museum in class—display artifacts on a row of tables, direct pupils to walk around and view their peers' items
  • Gather additional poems related to immigration, set them aside for pupils to browse as a May Do activity
Classroom Considerations
  • Make copies of the poem to offer a more guided practice in analyzing the text 
  • You can find the video here
  • Be conscious of your class members' feelings towards the poem's subject, be sure to set boundaries to ensure a safe and respectful discussion
  • The activities provide ample opportunity to boost speaking and listening skills
  • Includes actual photos from Ellis Island
  • Provides a list of vocabulary to review 
  • None