Angel Island Immigrant Journeys: A Curriculum Guide

Now Available Free Curriculum Units for Teachers and Parents

A generous grant from AT&T in 2011 has enabled AIISF to make available for free download the  Angel Island Immigrant Journeys: A Curriculum Guide for educators, parents and students. This curriculum guide provides strategies and background material designed for teachers of Grades 3-12. This guide contains lessons, student worksheets, primary source documents from the National Archives, historical photographs, and list of resources to introduce students to the experience of immigrants on Angel Island. The curriculum is aligned with National and California state content standards.

Curriculum Guide - Historical Background (11 pages)
Curriculum Guide - Lesson 1 (8 pages) Where is Angel Island? An introductory geography lesson
Curriculum Guide - Lesson 2 (6 pages) The Chinese Exclusion Act
Curriculum Guide - Lesson 3 (5 pages) Conditions in China: Why might one leave home forever?
Curriculum Guide - Lesson 4 (3 pages) Leaving Home Forever: What would you put in your suitcase?
Curriculum Guide - Lesson 5 (4 pages) Film Screening: Carved in Silence
Curriculum Guide - Lesson 6 (3 pages) Exclusion Activity
Curriculum Guide - Lesson 7 (7 pages) Interrogation of Immigrant
Curriculum Guide - Lesson 8 (4 pages) Interview a Family or Community Member: Taking oral histories
Curriculum Guide - Lesson 9 (6 pages) Exploring Oral Histories of Angel Island Immigrants
Curriculum Guide - Lesson 10 (59 pages) Immigration Case File Investigation
Curriculum Guide - Lesson 11 (5 pages) How do pictures tell the story of Angel Island?
Curriculum Guide - Lesson 12 (5 pages) Moving to the poems of Angel Island
Curriculum Guide - Lesson 13 (3 pages) Making Your Mark: Free verse poetry
Curriculum Guide - Lesson 14 (3 pages) Culminating Writing Project - Reporting on Angel Island

We wish to thank all the teachers and writers who advised AIISF on this curriculum.

"Is Angel Island the Ellis Island of the West? Teaching Multiple Perspective-Taking in American Immigration History"

The following two articles by Dr. A. Vincent Ciardiello, Associate Professor of Education, Iona College offer insights on how to use the Angel Island immigrant poems in social studies education.  We thank Dr. Ciardiello for allowing us to post these articles.

The first article, "Is Angel Island the Ellis Island of the West? Teaching Multiple Perspective-Taking in American Immigration History," was published July 2012 in The Social Studies, 103, pages 171-176.

The second article, "Talking Walls: Presenting a Case for Social Justice Poetry in Literacy Education," was published in The Reading Teacher, a journal of the International Reading Association. Dr. Ciardiello received the 2011 Virginia Hamilton Essay Honor for this article.

Dr. Ciardiello can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 914 633.2079.


Angel Island Poetry: Reading and Writing Cultures

Understanding Poetry


Facing East Dance & Music
“Held So Close” remembering the poets of Angel Island
Educators Guide

Educators can download a free educators guide (6 pages, PDF, 252 KB) developed by Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. This short guide was designed to prepare teachers and leaders of community groups to use in preparation for the performance but can be used by any teacher wanting to know more about Angel Island Immigration Station. The guide contains historical information about the station, sample poems, suggested discussion questions and activities, and a list of resources.

“Held So Close,” a multimedia dance and live music production explores the little known years in U.S. history when Chinese immigrants had limited entry to the United States. Performed September 2003, “Held So Close” is an evening length work with modern dance, live music, spoken word and visual design that brings forth the feelings and images from part of our collective history as Americans. For more information, visit

San Francisco Chronicle’s Newspapers in Education Series:
Angel Island Immigration Station

Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation is pleased to present a 5-part series designed for upper elementary, middle and high students and their teachers, and readers everywhere.

This series first appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle Spring 2003 and highlights the experience of a few of the immigrant groups that passed through Angel Island Immigration Station (1 page each, downloadable PDFs, aprox 100 KB):

Chinese (correction: approximately 175,000 Chinese immigrants was processed through Angel Island Immigration Station)
South Asian

Special thanks to our graphic designer Stephen Lowe, our field trip sponsor Blue and Gold Fleet, and Jennifer Gee, Jay Gonzales, Harjit Gosal, Hardeep Gosal, Bill Green, Jeff Ow, Maria Sakovich, Ted Sibia, Jaideep Singh, and Judy Yung for their assistance with this series.

Angel Island Immigration Station School Tours

School groups can schedule visits to Angel Island year round. Programs about of the Immigration Station are approximately 30-45 minutes long and are led by park staff or volunteers. Immigration Station programs can accommodate 120 people (4 classes) per weekday during the school year.

To arrange a program, please contact volunteer coordinator at (415) 435-3522. When calling please have the following information ready: a few dates for the possible trip, the number of students, and the ferry that your group is planning on leaving from. A fee of $3 per person applies. Space is limited and teachers are encouraged to reserve tours early in the school year. Click here for more information.

When booking a tour, teachers should take into consideration their school’s and ferry schedules. Ferries to Angel Island leave from Tiburon and San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf. Ferries can be chartered for groups during the school year to allow more flexibility with time. California state accredited K-12 schools can request a fee waiver when booking a tour that waives the park entrance fees on the weekdays, reducing the cost of the ferry to the ride itself.

AIISF has produced a Angel Island Immigration Station Pre-visit Guide to assist educators in preparing for their trip to Angel Island Immigration Station. Click on the above link for a 6-page guide (PDF format) which includes background materials, short suggested activities, glossary, and list of resources.

Teaching about Angel Island through Historical Empathy and Poetry

Noreen Nassem Rodriguez wrote the article, "Teaching about Angel Island through Historical Empathy and Poetry" and it was published in Social Studies and the Young Learner 27 (3) pages 22-25 in 2015. It is about a lesson on Angel Island she developed for a third/fourth grade class (but also adaptable to other grades). She made this article available to our readers and we appreciate it very much. Click here to download the article.


Poetry by students throughout the United States

Many teachers have incorporated Angel Island poems into their coursework as a means to encourage students to write their own. Here are two collections of poems from different locations.

Students from Heber, California, near the Mexican border who shared their poems with each other and Angel Island State Park staff via the Internet. Find out more and read the poems here.

Students from New York City, who read their poems in New York City in conjunction with Judy Yung’s reading of Angel Island poems from Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island 1910-1940. Find out more and read the poems here.