Global Migration Flow

Human migration has been happening for aeons.  The featured image of this post is a data visualization of the global flow of people.  This circular plot shows all global bilateral migration flows for the five-year period mid-2005 to mid-2010, classified into a set of ten world regions.

It was created by Nikola Sander, Guy J. Abel & Ramon Bauer, (February 2014), and is from their article, “Quantifying Global International Migration Flows.” (Science 343, no. 6178 (March 28, 2014): 1520–22. doi:10.1126/science.1248676.)  For an incredible interactive version, go to: and play with the different time periods.

The data visualization is terrific for getting a big-picture overview of human movement around the planet.  But there’s more to migration than just movement.

How do you teach about migration?  If you’re emphasizing geography, you could use WorldView Software’s World Geography, starting with materials such as Case Study: Human Geography that talks about push and pull factors in the abstract.  You could then move on to materials such as Case Study: Human Migration: Texas that gives concrete examples of the different waves of migration into the state, why they came, and how they changed the culture and landscape.

If you’re emphasizing history, there’s a wide range of examples, from the paleolithic migrations in World History A, Chapter 1: The Beginning of Civilization through to World History B, Internet Project: The Changing Faces of Europe.  Again, you can be very abstract and big-picture in your approach, or you can try a more targeted and personalized approach that puts an individual face on the data.  A great place to get migrants’ stories is from UNHCR, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (scroll down to “Refugee Voices”).

Another way to humanize the subject is to seek out and interview migrants in your community.  For pointers on how to go about such a project, check out the The Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide.  You and your students could create a valuable community resource with such a record!

BulbgraphOnOffHave students in your flipped classroom complete the study questions while you’re there to assist and discuss the mini-lesson answers.

Preview WorldView Software’s programs for free at company logo

Connecting to History through the National Park System, cont.

Previously, we discussed ways to use the National Park Service’s system of national historical landmarks as a teaching tool. Another way to connect to the nation’s shared heritage through the NPS is by making use of its Oral History resources.

There are two ways to use this site: reading or listening to oral histories gathered by NPS researchers, and by using the resources here to guide your students in creating their own oral histories. Oral histories can really make history come alive for students, by allowing ordinary people to describe events and situations as they appeared to participants, in ordinary language.

The Cold War was a very tense period in American history, when the threat of total nuclear war was never very far away from conscious thought. For examples of oral histories that put a reader (or listener) right in the action, check out the examples from the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota.  The featured photo above of the Deputy Commander’s Key Turn switch at Launch Control Center Delta-01 is from this site.

The members of the Air Force who served in the silos and support structures of the South Dakota Minuteman Missile Field included David Blackhurst, who remembers his job as a missile crew commander:

There were two members on the crew, a commander and the deputy. The commander’s job basically was to direct within a flight of ten missiles at one of the launch control centers. We were down in the capsule for, at that time we were down there on about twelve-hour shifts. We went out for, I think it was about a day and a half, two days, It must have been about three days. It was a three-day tour and we came home. During that time we would basically sit on alert waiting for something to happen.

Read the entire interview here:,David_19_May_1999.pdf

Have your students interview older relatives, family friends, neighbors, or nursing home residents about the events of the Cold War, and use the interviews to build a composite picture of the fear that governed that era.  An overview is available from History Matters, and you should discuss and follow the Oral History Association’s statement on Principles and Best Practices.

BulbgraphOnOffUse the overview audio files to help ELL students acquire language in context.