Posted by: daynamcdowell | June 22, 2010

Day 8-Emotions and History

our transport to Ellis Island

Thursday, June 10, 2010 Day 8

Wow!  Ellis Island was eye opening!  Instead of another long walk, a ferry ride was an enjoyable change to start the morning.  Gliding along the water,

view from "Miss Liberty"

the ferry took us around Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty, giving us plenty of great photo opportunities.

looking from the middle of the harbor

Looking at Ms. Liberty while aboard "Miss Liberty"

     Docking at Ellis Island, we received a professional development that taught us more about Ellis Island and the procedures of processing immigrants.

teachers at work

     After analyzing various objects, we learned as a whole group the medical procedures and the staff member jobs that were in place when processing and inspecting immigrants. The gift of a flash drive filled with lessons and activities for Ellis Island was an unexpected bonus that brought cheers and applause! Teachers LOVE freebies!

trying on hard hats

     The Hard Hat Tour of the unopened Ellis Island buildings was absolutely cool!  To be in the buildings where so many had taken their first steps in America was remarkable. There are thirty-one buildings located on Ellis Island, which was originally a smaller island. To think that 3 different sections of landfill were used to enlarge the island speaks of the advancement of humans. We all learned a new word today too. . . .steerage. What a derogatory word to use for a human being! The buildings and rooms we saw were haunting in appearance; so much history held within those brick walls. The sick wards, the kitchen, the long hallways with windows providing views of the outdoors and freedom hinted silently of the dreams and thoughts of immigrants long forgotten. One sick ward in particular was for the immigrants who were so sick that they would never leave Ellis Island. Inside this large room was a window which offered a view of the Statue of Liberty. How heart wrenching to sit in your bed, seeing that symbol of freedom and promise, knowing that you would never have the opportunity to fulfill those dreams because you were dying of a deadly disease. The fact that families were broken apart because of the labels written on them after the medical inspections also became more evident while walking through the vacant buildings. Also noticeable was the difference in the staff living quarters from the rooms where the immigrants were housed. Staff quarters consisted of finer wood trim, a sweeping staircase, and more refined fire places. So many human emotions were present on this tour, if time was taken to think and feel for those who are long dead.

So close to the American Dream, yet so far away.

inside the Ellis Island "Immigration Station"


     After this tour, we were free to do as we wished. I chose to explore the museum on Ellis Island and then while eating some yummy fudge and watching the ferries and ships travel past, I had a chance to reflect upon the tour and how it affected me. The Hard Hat Tour was definitely THE field trip. Nothing else has matched it yet. I decided that no matter what I teach next school year, I will sneak in a lesson centered upon Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and immigration somehow! This place is a HUGE part of America’s history and should not be forgotten, despite what curriculum maps try to dictate. I can always find a way to teach historical connections within the required teaching parameters.


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