Walking in People’s Shoes: The Migration Experience

The Grade 4 class is looking at the transdisciplinary theme of Where we are in place and time. Through personal histories, homes and journeys, students looked at the history of migration. They discovered an overall understanding of the impact of migration on land, people and culture. What impact does it have? What causes people to migrate? The explorations of humankind showcase individuals and civilizations through both global and local perspectives…

“What is migration?”, asked the teacher to his grade four class.

“When animals move from one place to another,” Owen said with a smile. “It’s when someone moves from a country to a new country,” beamed Harry confidently.

Plenty of questions and many more answers followed from class to class. Some came amongst the break time, and others came following homework. Students researched and showed each other their queries. It soon became a Unit of Inquiry rich in research and experience. Through brainstorming, vocabulary exploration, and other tasks students tried to gain an understanding into the pulls and pushes of migration.

“I enjoyed making the house from cardboard boxes and plastic poles, but I wouldn’t want to live there”, Jimmy spoke thoughtfully.

“We found many videos of how refugees lived,” Amir advised. “It must be really terrible to flee your home and not know where your family is.” Sofia spoke up boldly, “I wouldn’t want to move away from my family. I love my family.” Alice laughed dryly, “I don’t want to live without my hamster.”

Sofia, Alice, Marline, Kitty, Kim, Angela and Lucy made a house together and as they watched it collapsed, t. Their collective frustrations appeared to the onlooking grade one student as a mixture of horror and anger. Kim spoke to her friends, “This is not easy to make.” Marline looked red in her face and complained that the team of boys had more resources, “They  have all the best things to make their house.” Each student was reminded that they could have all worked together. They soon realized the power of working together. “We need to do this like a team or we might die,” said Lucy.

“It was a decision of whether to live or die. My brother and I fled on our own.” – AHMED – SYRIAN CHILD REFUGEE

And then the alarm bells rang for several students. Suddenly, without warning they found themselves without a classroom…or a teacher…and quite a bit of uncertainty, as to what was or wasn’t happening. To grades one, two, four and five the grade four students went.

Here’s Jimmy’s reflection:

“Yesterday I went to Grade 1 because we were told that Mr. John went back to the UK. I felt sad and wanted to cry. I didn’t want to go Grade 1 because I’m not a baby. We went to music class Grade 4 but we felt we were not the same class anymore. Many people in Africa have no house. They have to flee every day. It’s very difficult, and many people die every time…Many people who don’t have a house can only live in other people’s homes. So Mr John made me jump from Gr 4 to Gr 1 to experience how hard it is to not be in your own home.


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