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Access Portland: A Resource Guide for New Immigrants and Refugees

School: King Middle School

City/State: Portland, ME

Grade(s): 6, 7, 8

Format(s): Field guide: Cultural/historical

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Social Studies

Project Overview

This resource guide was created by students at the King Middle School in Portland, Maine, in an “attempt to make the resources of Portland, ME more easily accessible to new refugees and immigrants” (from the introduction). 

Over the course of 8 weeks, students from the English Language Learners program researched and created this field guide to community resources, which served a real need for people who had newly arrived to the Portland area. As a center for Catholic Charities Refugee placement, the city and the school have a large percentage of recent refugees, particularly from East Africa. The school had students with thirty-one native languages. 

Students met with representatives from local organizations and agencies to learn about the resources available to immigrants. Students also visited many of the sites listed in this guide, interviewed people who work with refugees, looked through the phone book, researched resources online and made calls to verify information. Students took digital photographs of many of the entries.

The project was a way for students to practice their English and learn about local resources at the same time. They were consumers of their own product, learning about the city for their own benefit and that of their families. 

The guide includes immigrant owned businesses, businesses that cater to cultural needs, and community centers geared toward immigrant resources. The guide even includes information on public restrooms, with the down-to-earth subtitle, “When you gotta go, you gotta know!” 

Copies of the guide were given to the placement center and were widely distributed to those in the immigrant community.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • A powerful idea that would be useful in any city or town– a social/cultural guide for refugees, immigrants or any new city residents
  • A brilliant way to engage new American students in learning about their city and making a contribution to their community at the same time
  • Exemplifies the learning/practicing of language skills while researching and creating a product
  • Layout is user-friendly, with well-thought out categories
  • Exemplifies fieldwork, through which students gained knowledge about their community

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and concepts using relevant information that is carefully selected and organized.
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and concepts using relevant information that is carefully selected and organized.
  • I can produce clear and coherent writing that is appropriate to task, purpose and audience.
  • I can use correct grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • I can use correct capitalization, punctuation, and spelling to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I can use resources to build my vocabulary.
  • I can use resources to build my vocabulary.
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