Designed for students enrolled in any high school US History or US Government course
I’m a high school US history and US government teacher who has increasingly been hearing the call for high-quality, long-term project suggestions that:
- Focus on the topic of the Asian American experience.
- Provide high school students with ample opportunity to demonstrate their research and writing skills, public speaking skills, critical and creative thinking skills, and tech and digital media skills.
- Can result in work likely to open wide the eyes of college and university admission officers.
In this regard, I’ve produced this blog post:
Project #1 — The Adam Norris Video
Have the students produce a no-more-than-three-minute-long video that relates to the topic of the Asian American experience and corresponds in appearance and quality to an Adam Norris APUSH video
Project #2 — The Reading Through History Video
Have the students produce a no-more-than-five-minute-long video that relates to the topic of the Asian American experience and corresponds in appearance and quality to a Reading Through History video.
Project #3 — The Museum Wall Exhibit
Have the students create a digital wall exhibit for a museum of their choosing, with their exhibit to focus on a topic relating to the Asian American experience.
Below, is a 5:23 second video produced by five SMHS APUSH students, with this video introducing to the public the students’ proposed exhibit: The Chinese in the Sierra Nevadas from 1848 to 1883.
And now, an even better idea of what the students are envisioning for one of the walls of the Museum of the Sierra.
Project #4 — The TED-Ed Video
Have the students produce a 3–5 minute content-rich animated video modeled after the hugely popular TED-Ed videos.
Project #5 — The Exploration into America’s Past
Have the students produce a modern-day research paper modeled along the lines of what appears below.
Project #6— The Commemorative Artwork
Have the students produce an original work of art that attempts to recall, memorialize and/or show respect for an Asian American relating event or person.
The below-appearing acrylic was produced by Ellie K. while enrolled in a junior year, 2017, APUSH class. Ellie’s work of art is entitled Reprise and it seeks to commemorate the 1871 Chinese Massacre.
Project #7 — The Fictional Diary Entry
The below says it all.
Project #8 — The Hip History Podcast
Project #9 — The Historical Fictional Letter
In 2013, my friend and fellow high school social studies teacher Scott Petri shared an article written by Cindy Heckenlaible entitled The Research Paper: Engaging Students in Academic Writing.
Then at a 2014 California social studies teachers conference, I read Lisa Moorhouse’s Edutopia post entitled Engaging Students with History: The Power of Slave Narratives.
Then in 2016, Scott also shared with me his article Writing Historical Narrative.
Then I viewed this video:
From then on, I have required my US History students to produce what I call a Historical Fiction Letter (a 750–1000 word letter written by someone living at the end of an important day in US History.)
Below are several good examples
The Korematsu Decision
Stella Y. / Google Doc: For her letter, Stella assumed that she was a Japanese-American who, while working as a newspaper journalist for the Los Angeles Times, had been assigned to write an article describing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the precedent-setting case of Korematsu v. the United States. Stella also assumed that she was writing her letter at night on December 18, 1944, many hours after Justice Hugo Black had announced the court’s decision.
The Attempted Suicide of Tojo
Ellie K. / Google Doc: For her letter, Ellie assumed that she was a 20-year old nisei (aka a person born in the US but whose parents had immigrated from Japan) grappling with thoughts having to do with her cultural identity and nationalistic views after having heard about Hideki Tojo’s attempted suicide. Tojo was the leader of Japan during World War II. Ellie also assumed that she was writing her letter from her home in California on September 16, 1945, the day after Tojo’s attempted suicide.
The Manzanar Internment Camp
Catherine L. / Google Doc: For her letter, Catherine assumed that she was a Japanese American who, following the issuing of Executive Order 9066, had been forced into the Manzanar Internment camp. Catherine also assumed that her letter was written after dinner on April 13, 1942, the day after she had first arrived at Manzanar.
Project #10— The Local History Blog Post
A few years ago, at a National Social Studies Teachers Conference (NCSS), I heard about the book Teaching Local History in Grades 6–12.
In this book, the author, social studies teacher Robert Stevens, claims that “there is a renaissance occurring in American history classrooms: teachers have discovered that local history offers students not only far richer content and more enjoyable learning experiences, but also a unique insight into our national character. And they can even address social studies standards.”
Though I have no way of knowing whether Stevens’ “renaissance” claim is accurate, I believe that the teaching of local history can provide students with several wonderful learning opportunities.
One way that I, since hearing about Professor Stevens’ book, have tried to get my students to learn about their local history is to increasingly call upon my students to produce a 750–1000 word Local History Blog Post (with a good example found below:
Below are several articles that should prove of value for teachers looking to incorporate the topic of the Chinese Americans into their curriculum.
- So You Want To Teach Asian American History? These Educators Are Here To Help
- Asian Americans: Thirty Lesson Plans
- 4 Ways to Incorporate More Asian American Perspectives Into the Curriculum
- Teaching Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage
- Why Teach Asian American History
- A ‘History of Exclusion, of Erasure, of Invisibility.’ Why the Asian-American Story Is Missing From Many U.S. Classrooms
- How the Pandemic and Anti-Asian Violence Spurred 2 States to Change History Lessons
- The Necessity of Teaching Asian American History