"When we reached the dock we were glad we
were off the boat! We were smelly and we needed a bath. We had
to be examined and my children were taken away from me. When they
checked my eyes, I didn't want to cry, but there were tears in
them. I was wondering if I would get into America. When they told
me I could enter I went looking for my children. Then I saw my
husband and went running towards him. I was crying and when I
reached him I saw my children were with him. We were so happy
to see each other and we cried together."
"I remember waiting for my dad at the "Kissing Post".
I remember seeing my dad coming down those stairs and I was filled
with emotion! When I saw him, I ran towards him. I felt so relieved
that he made it. I thought he wouldn't make it!"
Witnessing the level
of engagement demonstrated the students, sold me on the value
of using virtual fieldtrips. Our classroom discussion went beyond
just knowledge-based conversation onto questions about why there
was an absence of certain nationalities at Ellis Island, why the
rich underwent a more private form of medical examination than
the poor and the exaggerated hopes that these people entered America
The History Channel
provided my students with the sites and sounds of Ellis Island
at the turn of the century. Listening to the testimonials and
viewing the tours of the buildings allowed them to feel like they
had "been there". These emotional connections translated
into meaningful written expressions of what they understood and
felt. By the end of the project I felt these young people had
truly had taken a journey and they wouldn't ever forget what they
had learned along the way.