Activity-Learning from Photos

Lesson Plan

Activity-Learning from Photos


Best for students in grades six through twelve

Students will discuss their thoughts on immigration, learn about the Bracero labor program, and use photographs to develop deeper understandings of the Bracero labor program.



Students will be better able to
•    describe aspects of the Bracero labor program, which operated from 1942 to 1964.
•    use photographs as primary resources.


•Photographs: several images are posted (photographs by Leonard Nadel) online at and from the exhibition America on the Move at the National Museum of American History
•Bracero Photograph Analysis Worksheet (Available at
•Computer with Internet access
•Pen/pencil and paper

Lesson Plan Text

1.    Divide the class into small groups. In small groups, have students discuss the following: What is immigration? What news, commentaries or stories have you read or heard about immigration to the United States? Do you know anyone who has immigrated, either recently or in the past, to the U.S.?
This discussion is to prompt a dialogue between students and should not include a lecture. Also, each student should have equal and ample opportunity to describe what she/he has heard or learned about immigration from outside the usual classroom context.  
To extend this discussion, consider having students create a concept web. ReadWriteThink offers an online Webbing Tool ( that allows students to create webs online and print them to share.

2.    Have students write short statements summarizing their thoughts about immigration.

3.    Introduce students to the history of the Bracero labor program using the attached Background Information. You may want to share the content orally or have students read the essay individually.

4.    Divide the class into small groups.

5.    Hand each group one of the attached photographs to analyze and one of the attached Bracero Photograph Analysis sheets. Have them complete the first two columns (“evidence” and “conclusions”) based on the photograph. (Photo 1) (Photo 2) (Photo 3) (Photo 4) (Photo 5)

6.    After groups have completed the first two columns on the Bracero Photograph Analysis worksheet, have them access the Internet and view the photograph’s descriptive information.

7.    Have groups compare their “conclusions” to what is online. Students should compare their conclusions (column three in the Bracero Photograph Analysis Worksheet) to the information provided on the online title and description of the photograph.

8.    Have students take notes on whether or not their conclusions match what is online. Are they the same? Different? What new information can be learned from the online title and description for the photograph? Record these notes in column four in the Bracero Photograph Analysis Worksheet.

9.    Bring all of the small groups back together to report out on their findings. Be sure to ask them to mention the evidence they saw in the photographs that lead them to make conclusions.
To extend this activity, consider having students combine their knowledge of the Bracero labor program with their earliest thoughts on immigration. Ask students to reflect on whether this new knowledge impact (changes, confirms) the thoughts that they wrote down earlier (Step 2).

Download an Assessment Rubric for this Activity

Download this activity guide


Magdalena Mieri, “Activity-Learning from Photos,” Bracero History Archive, accessed June 25, 2024,