QR Codes Help Students Tell Immigration Stories

QR Codes Help Students Tell Immigration Stories
Posted on 02/22/2019
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Third graders in Ms. Sanchez’s class at Oaklawn have created personal immigration stories inspired by the experiences of thousands of immigrants who have come through Ellis Island.  With help from the historical fiction text, The Orphan of Ellis Island, students learned about the process followed by individuals seeking citizenship through Ellis Island, and the many challenges and hardships that families faced to make the journey. They wrote stories, created personal recordings of each tale, and created a photo to represent each character - all showcased in the “American Immigration Wall of Honor,” display just outside her classroom. Stories from each student are available for anyone to listen to, via specially created QR codes.

The project began as they read as a group The Orphan of Ellis Island. In the story, the main character Dominic is on a class trip with his new class shortly after being placed in a new foster home, and eventually finds his way into a janitorial closet. He falls asleep. He wakes up lonely and afraid, and picks up display telephones talking to the recordings that are the voices of immigrants who talk about their lives and their journey to America. He is then transported in time to 1908, where he experiences an immigrant journey in person. Students discussed the various reasons that so many chose to come to the U.S., including the need for jobs, freedom from persecution, and investment opportunities.

Students were challenged to write their own immigration stories to encourage them to dive deeper into understanding the history and hardship often surrounding the process of becoming an American citizen. They were required to provide information about their family dynamics before their journey began. Once their ship made it to the New York Harbor, they continued their story at Ellis Island. Students described what happened to themselves and their family members as they were processed through each of the 10 stations. Once their journey was over and they were finally accepted to America, students were asked to describe emotions from a day they would never forget - when they were released to build their new lives.

When stories were in final form, Ms. Sanchez had them practice reading tales aloud. After rehearsing delivery, students read aloud in front of Chromebooks, utilizing the website “Vocaroo.” Vocaroo is a free online voice recorder site, that provides a link to replay a recording after it is saved. She took links provided from the Vocaroo site, and used QR Stuff, a free QR code generator site, to create QR codes unique to each recording.

The final component to the project was photos. Ms. Sanchez took photos of students wearing a hat of their choice (selected from the fabulous OVPA Drama Closet) to best represent characters chosen for stories. She used a phone app to place a vintage filter over each photo to make images look dated and similar to other photographs from the early 20th century. The group worked to combine the written copy of each story, the QR code, and a photo to represent each project - and then showcase the entire collection on the “American Immigration Wall of Honor.”  Next to the display, viewers find a note to borrow an IPad from inside the classroom so that they can view each story and photo, as they use the IPad to scan the QR code and listen to the story being read aloud by the author.

You can listen to these wonderful stories, too! You’ll find a photo album here, featuring each individual project in the “American Immigration Wall of Honor.” You’ll need to be in front of a computer or IPad, so that you can look at the photo, and then use your mobile device to scan the QR code, which will allow you to listen to the story read aloud by the student author. We hope you enjoy these exciting tales of adventure from our creative third graders at our HSSD OVPA Magnet School.
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