Lesson #6
Home Up "Lament" Journal Exercise


The Famine Ships

Background and Rationale: 

This lesson begins the second week of a unit which examines coerced Irish migration to Iowa for a grade 10-12 advanced placement, American Studies class. Having concluded discussions the previous week on Irish History and the causes of the Great Famine (c. 1845-1849),  students learn the history of Irish individual migration and the Famine Ships, emphasizing conditions at ports of debarkation and during the passage to America .

Why study individual migration? Sole survivors of Irish families, some younger than high school students, migrated alone to America . They and their stories can serve as examples for all of us.

Objectives and Procedures: 

(50 minute class period)

Given the following activities, the students will:

Learn the history of Irish individual migration
Understand the emotions experienced by Famine survivors by reading "The lament of the Irish emigrant"
Understand the conditions aboard the Famine Ships
Create their own conceptual knowledge of individual migration through writing a historical journal

Teaching strategies:

Vocabulary building (vocabulary terms are defined during the lecture)
Guided reading
Applying concept understanding through writing historical journals
Note: The lecture which accompanies this lesson stresses a phenomenon fairly unique to Famine Irish immigration: migration by desperate individuals. At times, individual children managed to migrate to American, many of whom would have been younger than the students in this class. This historical journal exercise is designed to put each student into the role of a famine survivor, relying on their own abilities to escape starvation and survive the passage to
America .


Sequence of Events:

Minutes 1 through 5:
Administrative functions (attendance)

Minutes 5 through 10:
Topic introduction/hand out materials

Minutes 10 through 15:
Reading: "The lament of the Irish emigrant"

Minutes 15 through 20:
Discussion of "Lament"

Minutes 20 through 25:
Lecture: Individual Migration

Minutes 25 through 30:
Lecture: Famine Ships

Minutes 30 through 35:
Discussion of individual migration and the Famine Ships

Minutes 35 to 40:
Introduction of journal exercise

Minutes 40 through 45:
Individual work on journals

Minutes 45 through 50:


Writing to learn strategy: Historical Journals

How will I know this is working?

            a) Reading of the "Lament" elicits an emotional response from students
            b) Questions and response on conditions in the Famine Ships
            c) Enthusiastic beginning on the journals

Associated projects: Historical journals (modified version of project from Fortman, N. in bibliography)

Readings : The Lament of the Irish Emigrant (poem)