Phenomenon Project Based Learning Series: Migration/Immigration-Movement of People Through Time

Phenomenon Based Learning (PhBL) is a multi-disciplinary form of learning that approaches a topic (phenomenon) initially from a bird's eye view. PhBL was developed as a means to address the growing need for learning experiences which encounter and solve real-world issues while being aligned to 21st century skills. The topic or concept is deconstructed into distinct yet interdependent aspects. The learning then spirals full circle to encompass the topic or concept holistically.

PhBL SPOTLIGHT: Migration/Immigration-Movement of People Through Time

We are SO thrilled to share this PhBL concept that emerged from a design team collaboration here in Washington State as we support the opening of Cascade Charter School. Our design team developed multiple concepts for PhBL experiences before involving students and community members in selecting the most relevant concepts and contributing to their continued development for what will become the 9th grade PhBL curriculum.

We hope these concepts will seed some ideas with you!

Phenomenon: Migration/Immigration-The movement of people through time

Complimentary Phenomenon: Adaptation to environment/place/community

Guiding Question(s):

How do you know you belong?

Why do people move?

How do people move?

Context Anchors:

Culture: Art, food, music, beliefs

“Melting Pot”


Ellis Island names

“Guns, Germs, Steel”

Diamond-Impact on indigenous peoples/environment

“The New Kids” by Brooke Hauser

[Expansion, Colonization (“Manifest Destiny”) (of the colonizing efforts...Asia, Europe…?)


Anti-Chinese exclusion

Current Events

Possible student group inquiry choice points:

Great Migration

Dust Bowl

Potato Famine

Pacific Islander Migration

Land bridge to Asia

Forced Migration (Atlantic Slave trade, Trail of Tears)

White Flight

Origins of civilization: Migration from Africa, Indus River Delta

“Raisin in the Sun”- Lorraine Hansberry

Valeria Liuselli books








Text analysis & evidence supporting claim

L,S,W persuasive expository narration


Migration/Immigration historically

World geography, mapping

Cultural Anthropology


Environmental Science:drought, famine, topography

Physical Science: Plate tectonics, topography, navigation

Adult World Connections:

1st person interviews

WA State History Museum (MOHAI)

Case studies:

Those who have never moved (indigenous groups)

Those who always have moved (Rajasthan India Gypsies, Bedouin, Nomadic peoples)