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"Helping Hands"

By Nancy Mussetter
Standards: 4.1, 4.4, 4.9
Grade Level: Elementary
Topic: Wisconsin's Response to 20th-century change

Lesson Plan Text:

Introduction/Background:  Wisconsin was a destination for many immigrants in the 19th century with the largest ethnic group coming from Germany.  In the early 20th century, Poles, Italians and Greeks began settling in larger numbers in Wisconsin, and later, Hispanic Americans with Mexicans being the largest Spanish speaking group in Wisconsin.  Asian immigration to Wisconsin has occurred in recent decades, especially of Hmong refugees from Laos.  Currently, Wisconsin has the third largest population of Hmong after Minnesota and California.

Lesson Objectives:  The students will¿
1) locate Laos on a map.
2) learn some history of the Hmong people.
3) produce a handbook for new students.

Information/Resources:  Article¿Thang Tien. Wisconsin Ways¿a bilingual newspaper containing general information about life in Wisconsin.

Suggested Activities:
1) As a class list items on the board or overhead that students would want to know if they were going to be transferring to a different school.  This may include lunchroom procedures, gym class, recess, etc.

2) Discuss how people moving to Wisconsin from foreign countries would find it helpful to have information on life in Wisconsin to help them become acclimated into the communities. 

3) Find Laos on a world map and provide the following history to the students:

a. Hmong people from Laos sided with the United States during the Vietnam War.
b. When the United States pulled out of the war the Hmong fled to refugee camps to escape the communists they had fought against.
c. Many settled in Wisconsin
d. Wisconsin has the 3rd largest Hmong population in the country after Minnesota and California.
e. The Resettlement Assistance Office published a bilingual newsletter containing information about life in Wisconsin.

4) Assign students to read the article.


refugee¿a person who flees from his/her own country for protection from danger
bilingual¿two languages

Conclusion:  Refer back to the list of topics students thought would be helpful if transferring to a new school.  Have pairs of students work together to write up the information for new students coming to their school.  Have students go through the writing process to form a handbook for new and prospective students for your school called New Student Handbook for_______________________(name of your school) School.

Assessment:  The students will be assessed by¿
1) contributions to the new student handbook.

Additional Information:  For additional history of the Hmong, read the article Glimpses of Hmong History and Culture.

Possible Lesson Extensions:  Obtain a list of students who have transferred to your school in the past two years and have 4th graders interview them about their experience in moving to a new school. 

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