Tacoma Narrows Bridge lesson plans - Language Arts - Immigration

Pacific Northwest History - Immigration

Imagine you are Hawaiian, German, Scandinavian, Jewish, Canadian, English, Irish or Chinese living in your native country some time between 1850 and 1900. You decide to immigrate to the Pacific Northwest. After researching the history of your ethnic group in the Pacific Northwest, write a narrative in the form of a journal, letters, autobiography, obituary, short story or other format.

Lesson objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. List the immigrant groups that migrated west, explain why they came and what they did upon arrival;
  2. Explain the importance of geography on the development of the Pacific Northwest;
  3. Discuss the different modes of travel available to early settlers and immigrants.


5 days or class periods, including two days research, two days preparing project, and one day to share findings with other students.

Materials needed:

Textbooks and books of other types for research, Internet access, white drawing paper, colored markers and pencils, rulers, etc.

Lesson steps

1. Count students off by fours and assign each group an extractive resource: timber, fishing, mining, and agriculture. Ask students to research the history of these resources in the Pacific Northwest region. Have them answer the following types of questions during the course of their research.

2. Ask students to prepare a presentation explaining what they learned. They should also create a map showing the journey of their immigrant group.

3. Put students in groups of four, representing different ethnic groups and have them share their findings with one another.

4. Come back together in a large group for further discussion of overarching themes and conclusions.


After the students have been working on their projects for a day or two, bring them together in a large group and ask them to help create a grading rubric. Ask them what attributes a top-quality project might have, and list those attributes on an overhead projector or white board. Possibilities might include:

Evaluate each attribute on an appropriate scale based on your own school's grading system, for example giving points or letter grades, or ask students to evaluate the projects that they observe.