Investigative Question

Why do people move?

Students learn to describe the absolute and relative locations of people, places, and environments. Students learn to locate specific locations and geographic features in their neighborhood or community by using a simple letter–number grid system. Maps should be utilized frequently to provide practice in the use of such map elements as title, legend, directional indicator, scale, and date. Students demonstrate their spatial thinking skills and concepts by labeling a North American map with the names of countries, oceans, the Great Lakes, major rivers, and mountain ranges.

Students may utilize world maps to locate places of family origin as part of the study of family history, allowing them to explore the theme of movement – why people move from place to place, as well as how and why they made the trip. Students gather evidence about the reasons and ways in which people move, by interviewing family members and neighbors, sharing their interviews with each other, and by reading historical fiction and nonfiction accounts of immigration experiences. Historical fiction books such as Watch the Stars Come Out by Riki Levinson and The Long Way to a New Land by Joan Sandlin allow students to draw comparisons between their families’ immigration stories and those of other people in other times.

This inquiry set is designed be taught after students have had the opportunity to research family and/or local history, with the desired outcome of answering the question Why did my family settle in California? or Why did families decide to settle in our region? While being careful to respect that many students may not know or may not want to discuss their own family circumstances, teachers should take time to explain the circumstances by which people have come to the community. Most Californians have stories that relate to movement — grandparents or great-grandparents likely came from other regions, states, or countries. Acknowledging the diversity of the community is one way to build an inclusive classroom environment; studying similarities and differences in this movement allows second graders to make connections between their current and past communities. Doing informal research will hopefully include identifying which family members came to California, the reason for the move to California, and what the family did once they arrived in the state. The sources in this inquiry set are designed to introduce students to the push and pull factors that have motivated migration in California. Students will learn that people migrate or move for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons are push factors — reasons that cause people to move voluntarily like conflict, drought, famine, or situations that might put them or their family at risk if they stay. Other push factors include poor economic activity, a lack of job opportunities, and racial/ethnic/religious and political intolerance in the community. Pull actors are elements in a new place that attract individuals to leave their home. Better economic opportunities and jobs or the promise of a better life are considered pull factors. Students will examine three pull factor sources and three push factor sources from different periods in California history. Students will be asked to identify the source and state the push/pull factor illustrated in the text or image using evidence found in the source. Students begin by reading an introduction to the concept of push and pull factors. This material is intended for students to read at the beginning of the investigation. It introduces them to the idea of motivations for movement and to the discipline-specific vocabulary related to migration, and it focuses the discussion on California
Student Handout 1 provides an introduction to the reasons that people move. Guide students to read the paragraph closely, reading it out loud as a class on the first read. Then, on the second read, instruct students to circle words that define or relate to push factors and underline words that define or relate to pull factors. Teachers may wish to ask students Why did your family move to California? Was this a push or a pull factor? Student Handout 2 provides a way for students to evaluate the primary sources in this collection. Have students complete this handout in pairs. Student Handout 3 is a paragraph and sentence frame in which students synthesize and make meaning of the sources they have viewed and evaluated. Students should complete this handout individually after having worked collaboratively to collect and evaluate evidence. Handouts 2.2 Why Do People Move_ Student Handouts
  • The Library of Congress. The Library of Congress’ Primary Source Analysis Tool supports an inquiry model of instruction by asking students to first observe, then reflect, then question. Their customizable tool includes specific prompts for student interrogation of books and other printed materials, maps, oral recordings, photographs and paintings, and many other types of primary sources.
  • The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA has developed a vast collection of document analysis worksheets, ready for classroom use. Their website offers teachers a wide collection of customizable tools – appropriate for working with photographs, maps, written documents, and more. NARA has also customized their tools to meet the needs of young learners, and intermediate or secondary students.