Undocumented Status: Creating Informational and Promotional Media

From The Graduates: Youth Action Guide collection, lesson plan 3 of 7

Objectives: Students will investigate how undocumented immigrant status can create an obstacle to social and academic success, and create slogans, sketches, and draft ideas for media that will raise awareness around the issue of undocumented youth and the resources available for support. They will explore ways to incorporate technology and the internet into media campaign strategies.

Principal Writer: David Maduli is an independent educational consultant who has contributed many curriculum guides and conducted various workshops for PBS and ITVS programs. He has a master's in teaching and curriculum from Harvard Graduate School of Education and has extensive experience as a veteran Bay Area public school language arts and social studies teacher. He is currently at Mills College as a new teacher coach and Community Engagement Fellow in the Mills College creative writing program.

Time: 60 minutes


Word Graffiti (5 minutes)

  1. Prepare two walls, easels, or large sections of the board with these labels in large letters:

  2. As participants enter, hand out markers and direct them to write what comes to mind around each title: word associations, definitions, stories, people, etc.

  3. After everyone has had a few minutes to write and read what others wrote, discuss what ideas and themes came up. Call on participants to elaborate on what they wrote and/or share anecdotes and examples.

    Dream Act Infographics (5 minutes)

  4. Show these two brief video infographics:

  5. Discuss the statistics, quotes, and graphics that stood out and why. Go even deeper into how colors, fonts, and animation was used. Lastly, talk about how language and word choice contrasted in each video, referring back to the opening activity that everyone just did.


The Graduates/Los Graduados Film Module (16 minutes film + 10 minutes discussion)

  1. Screen the module spotlighting Gustavo's story. Preface by reading or distributing the background text about his story from the Community Cinema Discussion Guide.

  2. Discuss reactions and responses

    • How do you relate to Gustavo? What similarities and differences do you see in his situation when compared with your own experiences?
    • What is the difference between calling someone "illegal" versus "undocumented"? Does it matter?
    • Is the DREAM Act the best way for undocumented students to have better opportunities? If not, what else is needed?
    • How can parents with limited education themselves, and/or without legal immigration status, support their children's path to college? How can schools better involve parents?
    • What should the responsibility of communities, states, and the U.S. government be in supporting undocumented youth?


"Drop the I-Word" Campaign (15 minutes)

  1. Pair off with mobile devices/smartphones/tablets/laptops/computer stations or project the website for Applied Research Center and ColorLines' Drop the I-Word public education campaign on the screen. Have everyone explore the website and the media included within, especially the Campaign Toolkit section. There are also some short video clips embedded around the site. If internet and devices are not available you can download the entire toolkit as a PDF from the website, and then print and distribute to groups to review.

  2. Discuss how the information is organized and presented and how the Drop the I-Word campaign uses different types of media:

    • Informational materials: fact sheets, FAQs, talking points/top three reasons, video discussion questions, etc.
    • Promotional materials: images, graphics, logos
    • Action materials: organization pledge, sample resolution letter of support, letters to news editors, etc.
    • Technology and social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, text messaging, website
  3. Evaluate the pros and cons of the materials, and other ideas for use of media.

  4. Analyze the different audiences (for example, which platforms are directed more toward youth vs. adults, etc.) Other media ideas could include:

    • Informational materials: press releases, physical pamphlets, flyers, and leaflets
    • Promotional materials: stickers, buttons, t-shirts
    • Action materials: petitions, proposals
    • Technology and social media: Instagram, Prezi, QR codes, etc.

    Create Sample Media (15 minutes)

    Break into small groups of around four participants and assign each group one of the four types of media above to create a sample of to raise awareness around the issue of undocumented immigrant youth. There is a limited time, so they should come up with a concept and create a draft for something that could be further developed later. For example:

    • Informational materials: create a poster with a message, image, text, and graphic design
    • Promotional materials: create a logo that could be used on stickers, buttons, or t-shirts
    • Action materials: create a draft letter of support that students in your school or community could sign
    • Technology and social media: create a short video that could be posted on social media


The previous activity is an introduction to engaging with the topic and exploring the corresponding strategy. The following research and development activities can be done as outside assignments or can be the focus of future sessions to develop this organizing strategy for your campaign. Depending on your priorities, you may choose to go deeper here, or with any of the other modules over the course of weeks or even months:

  • Establish committees that will work to further develop media materials for your campaign.
  • Research websites of other organizing campaigns, including their social media pages, graphics, etc. Analyze their messaging strategies; what seems to work better or have more impact? What stories and experiences stand out?
  • Contact and develop relationships with traditional media and business outlets in your community — radio, television, chamber of commerce, etc. — and send them the materials you create.
  • Distribute information inside your school or create a bulletin wall that displays information about your campaign.
  • Screen and discuss Immigrant High, a short film available on The Graduates/Los Graduados Engagement Toolkit DVD

A SUCCESS STORY: Freedom University

Founded in 2011, Freedom University is a volunteer-driven organization in Georgia that provides rigorous, college-level instruction to all academically qualified students regardless of their immigration status. The faculty provides undocumented students with college courses equivalent to those taught at the state's most selective universities. Their mission is to make sure that all Georgians have an equal right to a quality education. The organization mobilizes young people to take collective action to oppose the Georgia Board of Regents' decision to ban undocumented students from the state's top universities.

The Freedom University Scholarship provides financial awards to low-income immigrant students who have been admitted to a four year college or university for with at least 80 percent of tuition cost covered. The organization also provides information and resources about the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intention to give deferred action and employment authorization documents (EADs) for a period of two years to certain young people who came to the United States as children.

  • Film module:

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