Lesson Plan

Think Deeply About Family Interviews

Teach students about how a Puerto Rican family made a difference with their oral histories.

This lesson is part of our Upper Elementary Unit Plan.


Students closely listen to interviews with José Velez who remembers growing up in the Lower East Side in the 1960’s after his family migrated from Puerto Rico.  They are prompted to think deeply about why José remembers and shares these stories.  To deepen their knowledge about the Saez Velez family, they read the family article, “The Saez Velez Family Story,” and discover how they made a difference in American society through education, community involvement, and military service.


Making a Difference

Important Information

What will students understand through this lesson?

  • Migration happens in many different ways (immigration, forced migration, voluntary migration, arrival as a refugee) and is core to the shared human experience. Immigration is one type of migration. Immigration is usually done by choice and is always a move from one country to another.
  • There are many common myths about immigrants and immigration. Among them are: that immigrants are taking jobs from American citizens, that certain immigrant groups have negative characteristics based on their cultural or religious identity.
  • Neighborhoods with many immigrants and their children develop because they provide work, support, access to culture, less racism and discrimination, and friendship. While adult immigrants often spend time with people who speak their home language, children often make friends across difference.
  • Cities like New York, and neighborhoods like the Lower East Side, have many jobs for newcomers and immigrants. Many of these jobs are difficult, but work can be a place where people find community to continue their cultural or religious practices, and also where they influence and impact American society, culture(s), and economy.
  • It takes many different people, sometimes with different interests, to create change. Immigrants work to make individual and community changes that benefit their lives but also others’ lives.


How do we do history detective work with a video to learn about a family?


1-3 Class Periods

Related Museum Program

This tour feature the families highlighted in this resource. Click the link below to learn more.

Under One Roof

Primary Sources

  • Oral History: Memory from José About Helping His Mom –  Listen to a migrant from Puerto Rico, José Velez, remember an important rule he had to follow as a child. (See below)
  • Video: José discusses Spanish channels on TV – Watch a migrant from Puerto Rico, José Velez, tell us how he maintained his Spanish in New York City. (See Below)
  • Saez-Velez Family Story article (See below)

Middle School: 6-8th Grade, Upper Elementary: 4-5th Grade

The Saez Velez Family Story

Learn about the Saez Velez family, who lived in 103 Orchard Street in the 1960s-1970s.

Read More

Questions on lessons and activities?

The materials on this page can enrich a visit to the Museum or help you teach about immigration. If you have questions or comments, please e-mail us.

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