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Teaching Guide

Teaching Immigration: Era of Restriction

Let the controversy begin.


The immigration debate crosses borders between the past and the present, and we'll help you guide your students through it all.

In this guide you will find

  • activities analyzing documents, images, and statistics of the era.
  • a research project on personal immigration histories that would make Henry Louis Gates, Jr. proud.
  • current events resources on modern immigration debates.

While not quite Shmooping Your Roots, our teaching guide is the next best thing.

What's Inside Shmoop's History Teaching Guides

Shmoop is a labor of love from folks who love to teach. Our teaching guides will help you supplement in-classroom learning with fun, engaging, and relatable learning materials that bring history to life.

Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:

  • 3-5 Common Core-aligned activities (including quotation, image, and document analysis) to complete in class with your students, with detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes to be sure students are looking at the material through various lenses.
  • Resources to help make the topic feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop's teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the topic and how you can overcome the hurdles.

Instructions for You

Recent immigration trends have replaced the “new” immigrants of the turn of the century with a group that might be called the new "new" immigrants. In this exercise, your students will analyze some immigration statistics, identify the changing composition of American immigration, and construct tables or charts that provide clear summaries of their findings.

1. Review the national and ethnic composition of the “new immigration” during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. You can direct them here for that information.

2. Briefly explore their sense of contemporary immigration patterns.

  • How similar is contemporary immigration?
  • Do the same national and ethnic groups make up the majority of today’s immigrants?

3. Ask them to construct a statistical hypothesis regarding contemporary immigration.

  • What percentage of contemporary immigrants come from Mexico, Ireland, etc.?

4. Direct them to these sites, where they can gather statistical data on immigration. Ask them to focus on the period between 1960 and 2010 to gather statistics on immigration over the past 50 years.

  • From which seven regions or countries have most immigrants come over the past 50 years?
  • Has immigration changed within the past 50 years?
  • How similar are the immigration statistics for each of the last five decades, in terms of country or region of origins?

5. Ask your students to construct a set of charts (bar graphs, pie charts, etc.) that summarize their findings about recent immigration.

Instructions for Your Students

One hundred years ago, native-born Americans drew sharp and critical distinctions between the “new” immigrants and those that had arrived in earlier decades. How similar are today’s new "new" immigrants to the new immigrants of 1900? In order to answer this question you will be examining some statistics in class. You might want to prepare by reviewing the old new immigration.

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