Lesson 4: Talk Show

Grade Level



History, Social Studies, Humanities, Language Arts


During this lesson, students will:

  • examine notions of individual identity and the intersecting categories that shape identity;
  • consider prejudice and discrimination;
  • explore and understand the diversity of immigration experiences reflected in the classroom;
  • summarize and reflect on central ideas contained in THE JEWISH AMERICANS

Estimated Time Required

Two-three class sessions for discussion and activities.



THE JEWISH AMERICANS, Night Three highlights several topics from 1945 to the present. One prominent theme is the relationship between Jewish Americans and African Americans. 

Watch these clips:

As they view, ask the class to reflect on the segments about Julius Lester. Review his story to illustrate how people’s ideas of themselves and of other groups develop over time. Steer a discussion and ask students to consider:

  • changing perceptions of self identity
  • how others may view Lester’s conversion to Judaism

Complete the conversation by asking each student to write a question they would like to ask Julius Lester or any other person encountered in THE JEWISH AMERICANS. Direct students to review their notes and journal entries for ideas. Collect the questions.



Using the questions as a guide, announce that the class will create a talk show. Guest panelists will be composed of people highlighted in THE JEWISH AMERICANS.  Ensure that panelists reflect different time periods and represent different entry points into the topics covered in the episodes. Assign or invite students to volunteer for these panelist roles.

Allow students to prepare for their roles by reviewing episode footage or by undertaking internet research. To engage more students, determine whether to assign understudies/co-researchers.

Organize a second group of students to review student questions. The group should prepare a final set of questions that draw from student interest. Encourage students to refrain from sharing the questions with panelists until the talk show. Review the questions to make sure they reflect key ideas covered in the episodes and in previous student discussions (for example, questions can range from interfaith dating and marriage, struggles with adapting to U.S. life, the benefits and drawbacks of living in diverse or non-diverse neighborhoods, language barriers, culture clashes, education and employment issues, and subjects suggested by panelist identities). 

Assign a student to moderate the talk show. This student has the job of pacing the questions and maintaining order. Direct other students to be the audience. These students are expected to listen and to ask follow up questions to panelist responses.

Additional members of the school community may be invited to participate as audience members. Welcome guests to view the class tree.

Assign a final journal reflection following the talk show. Collect entries, assess, and provide feedback.


Extended Activities:

Put together a panel discussion about the immigration experiences that are reflected in your school population. The panel may be composed of student participants, or broadened to include parents and grandparents.  If the school lacks a diverse population, extend the discussion to the larger community. Include both newcomer families and families who have been in the U.S. for several generations. Panelists each prepare a brief presentation about the experience emigrating to the U.S. Encourage panelists to include historical events in homeland countries that contributed to migration. The moderator should guide the discussion to explore issues associated with leaving a homeland and building a life in a new place. Include audience questions and panelist interaction.

Create an intergenerational research project that explores culture change. Direct students to interview at least two family members who represent different generations. Interview questions draw from issues identified in THE JEWISH AMERICANS, such as perceptions of identity, culture clashes, and community associations. Students may use videotape, audiotape, or take notes. The goal is to identify changes in one family across generations. The product may be a report or a class presentation. Consider inviting the interviewees and create an intergenerational conversation.

Challenge students to create a board game that incorporates immigration to the United States. Milton Bradley’s board game, The Game of Life, can serve as a (limited) example. Encourage students to add details that pull from their knowledge about leaving a homeland, entering a new country, and building a rewarding life in a new location.

Many English words have their roots in other languages. Have students build a classroom “word tree” composed of contributions from the languages connected to their families and backgrounds.

Create original poems, songs, or visual art that reflect ideas about immigration in the United States. Instruct students to frame their works around an organizing question, such as, “What does it mean to be an American?”

Hold an “Our Stories” culminating event. Invite family members and people in the school community. Display the timeline and other student work.  Enhance the event by welcoming families to contribute foods of their heritage.