NWHM Chinese American Women Lesson Plan

Content Area/Online Exhibit:Chinese American Women

Grade Level: Secondary Grades

Lesson Prepared By: Jessie Regunberg





History is not just about important dates and turning points, but about the people whose experiences shaped these events.  For students to understand the lives of Chinese-American women, each will attempt to enter the mindset of a particular time and place through this lesson in writing historical fiction.  They will take on the persona of a fictional Chinese-American woman and write a letter from her perspective.  Their letter must be based in the knowledge they gain from their research and access to Chinese American Women: a History of Resilience and Resistance.



Two class periods.




  •  Students will hone their skills in critical analysis.
  • Students will develop the ability to identify historical context to create an individual picture.
  • They will emulate historians in reviewing a large amount of material to focus on the specific.
  • By navigating through the CyberExhibit to find the information important to their assignments, students will also gain a peripheral knowledge of a much wider range of history.



  • None






           Begin with a brief overview of Chinese immigration to the United States:

  • Talking Point:
    After giving some background based on your own familiarity with the exhibit, say something along the lines of:  “Today I want you to imagine what it would have been like to be a woman of Chinese descent living in the United States.  While no one lived the same life, it is the historian’s job to identify the trends that shaped specific groups of people over time.  Today you are both historian and historical figure.

    I will be passing out sheets of paper with your specific assignment shortly.  Each sheet has on it a name, date, place, and short character description.  It is your job to become this fictional person.  Your assignment is to write a letter from your figure to another person of your choosing: your husband, mother, sister, etc.   Read through the Online Exhibit in order to decide to whom you should address your letter; consider the historical accuracy of this choice.     Your letter should be 1-2 pages typed and double-spaced – or, if you choose, handwritten, which would have been how your character would have expressed her thoughts. “

    (Note: Some boys might be uncomfortable with taking on the persona of a girl or woman.  You may want to use this opportunity to remind students that until recently, girls had no choice except to identity with male historical figures.)

  • Give the students the rest of the class period to read through the Online Exhibit.  It is long, so you may want to remind them that if they are running short on time, they should use the section titles to navigate to pages that may be more important to them.

    You can either assign the letter as homework or give them the next class period to write it.  You may want to have students read their letters aloud.  If so, make sure the students know that this is a possibility at the beginning of the assignment.  If the class is too large for everyone to read, it may be more efficient to exchange letters with peers or read in groups.








I-d Culture: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of culture and cultural diversity, so that the learner can compare and analyze societal patterns for preserving and transmitting culture while adapting to environmental or social change.


II-b Time, Continuity and Change: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ways human beings view themselves in and over time, so that the learner can identify and use key concepts such as chronology, causality, change, conflict, and complexity to explain, analyze, and show connections among patterns of historical change and continuity.


IV-e Individual Development and Identity: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of individual development and identity, so that the learner can examine the interactions of ethnic, national, or cultural influences in specific situations or events


V-f Individuals, Groups and Institutions: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of interactions among individuals, groups, and institutions, so that the learner can identify and analyze examples of tensions between expressions of individuality and group or institutional efforts to promote social conformity


IX-g Global Connections: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of global connections and interdependence, so that the learner can describe and evaluate the role of international and multinational organizations in the global arena.





5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.


7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, as well as posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.


12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).