Essential Questions for a Borders & Belonging Unit | Facing History & Ourselves

Essential Questions for a Borders & Belonging Unit

These essential questions are designed to frame a Borders & Belonging ELA unit.
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At a Glance

guide copy


English — US


  • English & Language Arts
  • Culture & Identity

The following Facing History essential questions are designed to frame a Borders & Belonging unit. Each question invites students to wrestle with complexity as they engage their minds, hearts, and consciences in an exploration of the text and their own experiences. Consider which, if any, essential questions align with your anchor text and unit goals. 

Navigating the Borders of Belonging

  • What are the visible and invisible borders that influence our sense of identity and belonging in the world?
  • What are the borders that separate “us” from “them”? Who maintains these borders? Who has the power to dismantle them?
  • In what ways can cultural, linguistic, racial, socio-economic, and/or ability borders influence characters’ experiences of belonging in literature? How do characters in a work of literature navigate these borders and seek belonging?
  • How can we create environments where people feel a sense of belonging without having to sacrifice their values? What role can individuals play in fostering inclusivity and acceptance?

Global Migration: Finding Belonging in Others’ Stories

  • How and why do people cross borders? What factors can facilitate crossing borders? What factors can impede crossing borders? 
  • How can literature and storytelling help us understand the aspirations and challenges of migrants seeking a sense of belonging in a new place?
  • How can learning someone’s migration story help us understand the complexity of global migration and the emotional and physical challenges for the people involved as they navigate belonging in a new place? 
  • What role do stories play in creating boundaries around cultures and people? How can we tell a more inclusive story that honors the complexity of identity, culture, history, and tradition? 
  • How can literature and art promote understanding, empathy, and social change by challenging stereotypes and biases surrounding global migration and belonging in a new place?

Reimagining Home 

  • Where are you from? What do you think it means to be “from” a place? When do you get to be “from” a place? 
  • In what ways can borders—political, cultural, or social—impact an individual’s idea of home and their connection to their homeland?
  • How do characters in literature navigate the challenges of creating a home and a sense of belonging when they are displaced or live in a borderland region or marginalized space?
  • How does literature explore the experiences of individuals who are caught between multiple homes or find themselves at the margins due to the presence of borders?
  • How does your understanding of where you are shape who you are, your choices, and the decisions you make? 

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