Lesson Plan

The Journey of a Refugee

Walking a day in someone else’s shoes.
Megan M.
Classroom teacher
Bilingual European School
Milano, MI
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My Grades 5, 6, 7, 8
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, English Language Learning
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Students will be able to...

  • Students will know/understand what a refugee camp is, and can describe basic conditions of a refugee camp

  • Students will know/understand the possible paths refugees have taken to safety over time and experience the journey of a refugee from their home country to a new country

  • Students will be able to use a variety of technologies to analyze issues related to migration/refugees

English Language Arts
Social Studies
Grades 6 - 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Time: 15-20 minutes

  • Teacher directs students to the map "Flow of Asylum Seekers to Europe Over Time."
  • Ask students:
    • "What does each moving dot represent?
      • 25 people, or one busload with every other seat taken
    • "What does the moving grey bar above the map show?"
      • The date
    • "What other functions does this map have?"
      • You can also change the speed
  • In pairs, students complete the visible thinking routine "Explanation Game" while looking at the interactive map
    • The routine focuses first on identifying something interesting about an object or idea:
      • "I notice that.."
    • And then follow that observation with the question:
      • "Why is it that way?"
  • Provide students about 10 minutes to observe, discuss and record their ideas
  • Briefly discuss ideas brought about in the discussions and record key ideas on the board
Student Instructions
  • Create a 2 column chart to complete the thinking routine "Explanation Game:"
    • "I notice that..."
    • "Why is it that way?"

2 Direct Instruction

Time: 15-20 minutes

  • Explain that only a small number of Syrian refugees successfully make it to Europe
  • Successful refugees  would fill 8 soccer fields standing shoulder to shoulder
  • Introduce the vocabulary term: refugee camp
    • Shelter for people displaced by war or political/religious oppression
  • Refugees in camps would fill 59 soccer fields standing shoulder to shoulder
  • Show the video: "Zaatari Refugee Camp"
    • Zaatari is a refugee camp located in Jordan, which as of March 2015 there were an estimated 83,000 refugees
  • Ask students to consider the following questions when watching the video:
    • What are some of your observations about the refugee camp?
    • What do you see, think or wonder?
  • Discuss observations with the class:
    • Typical responses may include:
      • Should be temporary but now looks like a permanent town
      • People have jobs and go to school
      • Poor living conditions
      • People making the best of their situation 
  • Highlight the fact that refugee camps are meant to be temporary, but people can end up living there for long periods of time
Student Instructions
  • While watching the video, consider the following questions:
    • What are some of your observations about the refugee camp?
    • What do you see, think or wonder?

3 Guided Practice

15-20 minutes

  • Students access the 2 Billion Miles interactive
  • Students complete this activity in pairs
  • This interactive takes students on the journey of a Syrian refugee beginning in Syria to their endpoint
    • The interactive works as a “choose your own adventure” allowing students to make decisions faced by refugees and seeing the consequences.
  • Students may go on more than one journey in order to experiment with different choices

Student Instructions
  • In pairs students complete the 2 Billion Miles interactive

4 Independent Practice

10 minutes

  • Students independently complete the thinking routine "I used to think... now I think..." in their notebooks
  • By examining and explaining how and why their thinking has changed, students are developing their reasoning abilities and recognizing cause and effect relationships
Student Instructions
  • In their notebook complete the thinking routine: "I used to think... now I think..."

5 Wrap Up

10-15 minutes

  • Teacher should have previously created a Google Form with the following question:
    • "Choose 3 words to describe what you think it is like to be a refugee"
  • Teacher collects the Google Form responses and pastes them into Wordle (or if using Chrome "Word it Out" is a good alternative)
  • A word cloud with the students ideas will appear
    • Larger words are more frequent responses, smaller words are less frequent responses
  • Examine the word cloud as a class and discuss:
    • How has our thinking about refugees developed? changed? remained the same?
Student Instructions
  • Students access the Google form and record their responses
    • For example: dangerous, displaced, angered