Tag Archives: United States

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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PBS: The Border

Bibliographic information: PBS: The Border. http://www.pbs.org/kpbs/theborder/about/index.html

Brief description: The Border is a PBS Documentary focusing on six stories of the Mexican/American border. The documentary focuses on everyday life, traditions and opportunities in border towns on both sides of the border, contrasting life within the border towns. There is also a timeline telling what the border area was like in the past, up to the present day. Links to other related sites are also included. There was also a follow up documentary called Beyond the Border, which tells the stories of four Mexican brothers and their transition to life in the United States. The website also contains information about a writing contest for students, which includes both creative writing and poetry categories on themes related to the border. PBS is public broadcasting, a nonprofit organization recognized for making quality programming.

Qualitative Analysis: I think the stories will be of interest to students because they remind them that all of their families were at one time immigrants to this land, whether it was recently or before this place was called the United States. The vocabulary and sentence structure varies throughout each vignette and even more widely between vignettes. The documentary is broken up into six separate sections that each have their own focus related to the U.S. Mexican border. The narration is all done in conventional English, with a more formal tone. The parts of the story that are interviews and first hand accounts from people living along the border are more conversational and familiar. Some of the people speak English as a second language, so their vocabulary and sentence structure can vary from traditional American usage at times. The documentary is filmed on video so the moving images and actions of the people are integral story telling elements.

Subject area: Social Studies, English

Personal thoughts: This is an appealing piece because it offers a more intimate look at life in border towns. It focuses on day to day life of people in border towns, rather than border crossing. We get to know more personal stories about immigrants, as seen through the documentary.

Subjects/themes: immigration, traditions, border towns, history, Mexico, United States

Series information: 1st in the PBS Border Documentary Series

Character names/descriptions: families and communities living in border towns in the US and Mexico. For example, one segment follows Richard Montoya, Herbert Siguenza and Ric Salinas who are part of Culture Clash, a Latino theater group, as they work on a piece commissioned by San Diego Repertory Theatre.

High interest annotation: See what life is like on both sides of the border in this documentary featuring the people and lives of those in border towns.

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