U.S.-Mexico Border: Fences and Deaths

Bibliographic information: National Geographic Education: U.S.-Mexico Border: Fences and Deaths. http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/media/tijuana-border-fence/?ar_a=1

Brief description: National Geographic Education has several great lesson ideas for an immigration unit. There is one about the border between Mexico and the United States that discusses what the border is like in different areas and what reinforcements are used to keep illegal immigrants out, such as the triple fenced section at the crossing near Tijuana. The article would be especially good for English Language Learners or students with lower vocabularies because it has definitions linked to vocabulary words.  There are also links to other National Geographic resources (articles, images, worksheets, etc) on related topics. Another related article and assignment on the site has student’s interview migrants in their community to gather their own first hand accounts. I would love to have my current students do a project like this, since many have friends and family who are immigrants (or are themselves from another country). National Geographic is a well respected nonprofit scientific and educational institution.

Qualitative Analysis: A vocabulary list is provided, which lists terms, parts of speech, definitions and links to encyclopedia entries for some terms. This list should help clarify any vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to students. There is also a Spanish phrase that is used in the text, but its meaning is also provided. An image is at the focal point of this webpage. It is a photograph of the fence that separates the US and Mexico at the border near Tijuana. The image is essential for evoking sentiment in the reader. It shows hundreds of white crosses hanging from the fence, which many students will recognize as evoking images of crosses on graves. The caption of the picture explains that the crosses represent those Mexicans who died trying to cross the border, so students who are not familiar with the Christian symbols of gravesite crosses still have access to the meaning of the image.

Subject area: English, Geography, Social Studies

Personal thoughts: I especially like the piece about interviewing immigrants to find out about their personal experiences. This would be especially relevant in my school community where there are many immigrants and diverse cultures.

Subjects/themes: immigration, history, migrants, border crossing, United States, Mexico

Series information: National Geographic Education: U.S.-Mexico Border

Character names/descriptions: The main character of this segment is the border and its different characteristics, such as fences, deserts and rivers, as it makes its way from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. In one activity the characters will be the immigrants interviewed by students.

High interest annotation: Find out about what the border is like at different points along the frontier between Mexico and the United States. Do your own interviews to discover what migrating was like for family, friends or community members.

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