Ch. 21 Webquest

  • American Immigration




    America has often been referred to as a “melting pot”.  Many people have left their homeland and immigrated to America in search of a better life.  Between 1820 and 1924, over thirty-five million people came to America.  For many of them the trip to America was a difficult and often very dangerous trip.  When the immigrants arrived most of them had to go through Ellis Island, the immigration headquarters.  At Ellis Island, immigrants were inspected and had to pass many tests before they were allowed to enter America.  By completing the activities in this Web Quest you will learn about many of the difficulties and hardships immigrants had to overcome before being allowed to enter America. 




    Your task for this Web Quest is to gain an understanding of what it was like for people who immigrated to Americaduring the years 1890 to 1920.  You will learn what it was like for them on their trip to America, their experiences at Ellis Island, and what it was finally like to arrive in America. 


            Students will:


    -         Create a timeline of American immigration.

    -         Read and listen to first-hand accounts of what it was like to immigrate to America.

    -         Read an online story about a young boy, Seymour Rechtzeit, who left his homeland of Poland and journeyed to America in 1920.

    -         Create a fictional immigrant and write a friendly letter to a person living in the country that they emigrated from.  The friendly letter will explain what it was like to immigrate to America during the years 1890-1920.




    Every student will be responsible for completing the following activities.  The first three activities will be done in cooperative small groups.  The final activity will be researched in small groups, but completed and assessed individually.


    1.  Timeline

    -         In small groups students will investigate American immigration and create a timeline.

    -         The timeline will need to include at least seven important dates relevant to American immigration.  Five of the dates need to be times when large waves of different groups of people immigrated.

    -         After your group has completed your timeline you need to briefly explain why this date was important to conclude.  

    -         Use the websites below to help you create your timeline and research.

    o       Immigration Introduction




    Boy’s Journey

    -         Read the story Relive a Boy’s Journey: A Story of Immigration at the Scholastic website.  It is an immigration story about a young boy, Seymour Rechtzeit, who left his homeland of Poland and journeyed to America in 1920.

    -         As you read each chapter, answer the questions on the “Relive a Boy’s Journey: A Story of Immigration”recording sheet. 


    3.  Tours of Ellis Island

    -         Listed below are several interactive tours of Ellis Island.  Choose two websites to visit to learn about American immigration. 

    -         As you are visiting the sites record on your Immigration Letter Brainstorm sheet details that might help you when you are drafting your letter.  Remember you will need to include details about the journey, Ellis Island, and life in America.

    o       Scholastic’s Interactive Tour of Ellis Island

    o       Ellis Island – The History Channel

    o       Ellis Island Immigration Museum


    4.  An Immigrant’s Friendly Letter

    -         Individually students will use the information that they have gathered during the previous activities to write a friendly letter as if they are an immigrant.

    -         Each student will choose a country that they want to emigrate from.  After choosing your country of origin, write a friendly letter back to a person still living in your homeland.  This person can either be a friend or a relative.

    -         The letter will be written in first person, as if you were really the immigrant coming to America.

    -         In the letter you will need to include details about your journey, Ellis Island, and life in America.  You may use the Immigration Letter Planning sheet to help you plan your writing. 

    -         The friendly letter should be written using all the steps of the writing process (drafting, revising, editing, and final draft).  Your letter needs to include all five parts of a friendly letter.  




                            The Immigration WebQuest will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

    -         The first three tasks are done cooperatively.  Each student contributes time and effort on each task.

    -         The timeline and questions for Relive a Boy’s Journey: A Story of Immigration will be graded based on a four-point rubric.





    America is a true “melting pot”.  We are a country rich in ideas, traditions, and customs, which have come from the thousands of immigrant who have made the journey to America.  After completing the Immigration WebQuest you will have a better understanding of what it was like for the early immigrants.  Never forget the risks, hardships, and sacrifices our ancestors endured in order to have a better life in America.