For the Teacher

1. Preview of Main Ideas

The movement of people, goods, and ideas is a constant and increasing synergy, giving birth to globalization. In these lessons, students will identify and explore patterns of human immigration, migration flows, and the globalization of cultural characteristics that results from those flows.

2. Connections with the Curriculum

  • These activities can be used in geography, social studies, math, English/Language Arts, and technology applications classes.
  • These lessons are designed for high school, community college, and first and second-year undergraduate students.

3. Time Required

One to two sixty minute class period for each Geographic Investigation lesson.

4. Materials

  • Computer with Internet access.

5. Preparation

These lessons use select web sources to introduce the movement of people, goods, and ideas through the exploration of geospatial data. The lessons are intended to illustrate how the geographer’s unique perspective - the “geographic advantage” – contributes to the understanding and analysis of the phenomenon of movement. Before leading students through the Geographic Investigation lessons, teachers should visit each website to 1) ensure that they are permitted (not blocked) by the school and 2) familiarize yourself with the information on each site.

Lesson 1: Exploring Patterns of Human Migration


By the end of the lesson students will be able to:

1. Identify “push” and “pull” factors which influence international and domestic patterns of migration.
2. Describe and compare contemporary patterns of migration around the world and within the United States.

Opening the Lesson

Introduce the concept of movement with an informal poll of the students’ own history of movement:

  • Have you ever lived in a different town? State? Country?

Developing the Lesson

Discuss possible reasons why a family might move from one location to another. Explain that in this module they will be exploring the movement of people and the causes and consequences of such movement on a number of different scales.

Ask students to look at the Regional U.S. Migration Flows at the start of the module on the Geographic Question page of the Movement module. As a class, identify the patterns of movement to and from the Northeast between 2005 and 2007. If your own school is in a different region, identify the patterns of movement to and from it as well. Explain that they will be using this map again later in the lesson to explore recent patterns of movement within the United States.

Activity 1: Push-pull factors in human migration

Opening the Lesson

Explain that the first activity in this lesson will explore patterns of international migration – movement from one country to another. Discuss the concept of “push” and “pull” factors in the decision to migrate.

Developing the Lesson

1. Using the "Immigration: Global Hot Spots” map, ask students to identify some of the “push’ and “pull” factors among the nine “Hot Spot” countries listed. Discuss the term “Hot Spot” and what the term might suggest.

2. Ask students to compare the range of responses of different Hot Spot countries to receiving significant inflow (or outflow) of immigrants from beyond their borders. Ask them if they know of any specific events or issues related to immigration in any of these nine countries such as the issue of Muslim females wearing veils in school in France, the large number of “guest workers” in Persian Gulf countries, or recent ethnic conflict in Germany. If time permits, divide students into nine groups and ask each group to learn more about immigration issues in one of the Hot Spot countries and report their findings back to the class.

3. Conclude the activity by discussing reasons why some countries view immigration as a problem while others welcome it.

Activity 2: International migration patterns

Opening the Lesson

Explain that students are going to use a unique kind of map in the second activity – a cartogram. In a cartogram, the size of a political unit is determined by some data value such as total population or per capita GNP. Look at the International Immigration cartogram patterns as a class and demonstrate how to use the index map to identify country names.

Developing the Lesson

Have students work briefly in pairs or small groups to answer the questions in the Student Response: International immigration box. Compare small group observations and – as a class - compile a list of shared observations about international immigration that can be supported by the cartogram and the Global Hot spots map.

Activity 3: Exploring population movement in the United States

Opening the Lesson

Take a few minutes to demonstrate how to use the "Mapping the 2010 Census" map to students (hover over a county to get county data, zoom to a state, change in data scale as you zoom in).

Developing the Lesson

Have students work briefly in pairs or small groups to answer questions 1-5.

Assign each pair or group one of the geographic regions to focus on for question 6. In addition to looking at the Census 2010 map, instruct them to go back to the Regional US Migration Flows map at the beginning of the module, Geographic Question page, to identify patterns of movement to and from their region since 1975.

Compare and discuss responses to questions 1-5 and ask groups to summarize their observations about their assigned region to the class.

As a class, look at your own state to identify and analyze patterns of movement within the state.

Assessing Student Learning

Create a document or media presentation that identifies and provides examples of the similarities and differences between the push and pull factors driving international migration and those driving internal migration within the United States.

Lesson 2: Globalization of Food


By the end of the lesson students will be able to:

1. Identify the ways immigrant groups may influence economic activities in the communities where they settle.
2. Define globalization and identify some of the processes that foster it.
3. Describe the transportation factors that influence the retail cost of food in the super market.

Opening the Lesson

Ask students to list the foods they ate yesterday. Ask them to put a check mark next to any item that is identified with a specific culture (Mexican, Chinese, Indian, etc.). Ask them to put a star next to any item that comes from a national or international corporation (canned fruit or soup, coffee, cereal, hot dogs, etc.). Put an arrow next to any item that was grown or produced locally.

Developing the Lesson

Compare student results by asking whether they had more checks, stars, or arrows. Discuss the factors that might influence the outcome of this exercise. Would the results be the same in a classroom in another part of the country? Why or why not?

Explain that this lesson will explore the concept of globalization through the example of food.

Activity 1: Immigrants’ impact on local food availability

Opening the Lesson

Ask students to watch the video, a slice of NY Life: Mexico Lindo, and give them time to consider the Student Response questions.

Compare student answers to these questions. Challenge students to identify and compare ethnic markets in your own region. Do they support local immigrant populations the way Mexico Lindo does? Who else shops at these markets?

Activity 2: Globalization of food in the USA

Opening the Lesson

Many American food producers and retailers have established franchises around the world.

Ask students to explore the image comparing facts about the globalization of Starbucks and McDonalds. Before considering the Student Response questions, ask students to look at each of the four quadrants of the poster and summarize the information presented in each. Challenge students to compare the globalization of the Starbucks and McDonalds corporations based on the information presented in the poster. As a class, compile a list of observed differences and similarities.

Discuss student answers to the Student Response questions.

Activity 3: Calculating food costs

Opening the Lesson

Prior to the activity ask students to visit a local grocery store and document the different kinds of produce available and the country (or state) of origin for each.

Open the activity by asking students to identify potential advantages and disadvantages of consuming locally produced food. Explain that this activity will explore one aspect of that issue: transportation costs.

Developing the Lesson

Instruct students to watch the slide show, From Farm to Fork and consider the following questions:

  • What is organic farming and why is it more labor intensive than other farming methods?
  • The slide show says that the eBay chef buys food from the Serrano farm so that his meals will have both “high taste and low carbon.” Explain what he means by that.

Give students time to follow the directions on the lesson page to calculate transportation costs for one of the foods they found in the local grocery store. When they have finished their calculations, instruct them to answer the Student Response questions. As a class, compare results for various produce items found in the local grocery store. Which ones were most/least expensive?

Challenge students to summarize what this exercise suggests about the differences between locally produced food and food produced at a distance. What other factors need to be considered in this discussion?

Assessing Student Learning

Create a document or media presentation that illustrates the connections and relationships between the migration of people and the movement of goods such as produce.

Concluding the Lesson

Discuss as a class the reasons for and effects of human migration. 
Discuss as a class the globalization of food at the national and international scales.

Credits and References

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    Bachelet, Pablo. October 17, 2007. Study: Migrants leave huge worldwide money trail. McClatchy., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    Bloch, Matthew, Carter, Shan, and Gebeloff, Robert. April 7, 2009. Immigration and jobs: Where U.S. workers come from. New York Times., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    Bruner, Jon. 2011. Map: Where Americans are moving., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    California Energy Commission. 2011. The Energy Story Chapter 8: Fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    Economic Research Service, 2011. Food Environment Atlas,, Accessed September 30, 2011.


    Fessenden, Ford, and Roberts, Sam. 2011. Then as now – New York’s shifting ethnic mosaic. The New York Times., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    GOOD, Sahin, N., and Ozcan, S. 2009. Transparency: How far your produce travels. Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University., Accessed September 30, 2011. 


    Hambouz, Annissa, and Ojalvo, Holly Epstein. 2011. One-way ticket? Exploring the Great Migration in literature and the Arts. The Learning Network. The New York Times., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    Hossain, Farhana. 2007. Snapshot: Global migration. The New York Times., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    Immigration Policy Center, Unauthorized Immigrants Pay Taxes, Too, April 2011,, Accessed September 30, 2011.


    International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. 2010. The World Bank: Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. 2010. The World Bank: Dilip Ratha on ‘Migration and remittances factbook 2011.’, Accessed September 30, 2011.


    International Fund for Agricultural Development. 2007. Sending money home: Worldwide remittance flows to developing countries., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    International Networks Archives. 2003. Princeton Mapping Globalization Project., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    Kaluza, P., Koelzsch, A., Gastner, M.T., Blasius, B. 2010. "The complex network of global cargo ship movements". Journal of the Royal Society Interface 7: 1093-1103 doi:10.1098/rsif.2009.0495.


    Mangum, L. 2011. Immigration: Global hot spots. National Public Radio., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    Migration Policy Institute. 2011. Global remittances: Formal remittances inflow in 2010 by migrants’ origin countries*.


    Oliver, Lynne. 2011. Editor, The Food Timeline.


    Organic Linker, The Organic and Eco Directory. No date. Food miles calculator., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    Pew Social Trends Staff. 2008. Map: US migration flows., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    Richards, Mark. No date. From farm to fork. Time Magazine.,29307,1917925_1923881,00.html, Accessed September 30, 2011.


    SASI Group , University of Sheffield and Mark Newman. 2006. International immigrants., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    U.S. Census Bureau. 2005-2009 American Community Survey. September 30, 2011.


    U.S. Census Bureau. Summary File 1 (SF 1) and Summary File 3 (SF 3)., Accessed September 30, 2011.


    Walsh, Bryan. 2009. Getting real about the high price of cheap food. Time Magazine.,9171,1917726,00.html, Accessed September 30, 2011.


    Wilson, Gretchen. 2008. Cocoa made sweet without child labor. Marketplace Morning Report., Accessed September 30, 2011.

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