The China Project

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  • The Walls Around Us (By Julie M. Hoffman, Brooklyn School for Global Studies)
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    This lesson introduces some of the ways in which walls have been used around the world for both political and personal reasons. Students are asked to identify and discuss the impact these walls have on a particular society. A detailed lesson plan is provided.
  • Poets, Politics, and Paintings: The Significance of Rivers in Chinese History (Four Lessons by Dalia Hochman, LaGuardia High School for the Arts)
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    This four-lesson plan looks into the significance of Rivers in Chinese history. In the first lesson, students will examine the first Chinese valley civilizations on the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers around 3500 B.C.E. The lesson explores the peculiarities of the two rivers and how they have affected the peoples dependent on them. A lesson plan and handouts are included. The second lesson analyzes the role of water and rivers as understood by Taoist philosophy. Students are introduced to the historical background of Taoism and are asked to interpret basic Taoist philosophical concepts. A lesson plan and handouts are included. The third lesson identifies the basic elements of classical Chinese landscape paintings and analyzes how they reflect the Taoist ideal of nature and the theme of water. Students are asked to sketch their own interpretations of Taoist thought. This lesson contains a lesson plan, handouts, and pictures. By introducing the contemporary Three Gorges Dam project on the Yangtze River, the fourth lesson analyzes to what extent water now is perceived and used differently from before. Students are split into groups, each representing a different side in the issue, and asked to debate the pros and cons of the Three Gorges Dam project. A lesson plan and a handout are included.
  • Perceptions of minority cultures in China and U.S. (Two Lessons By Vincent Amato, Stuyvesant High School)
    Grade Level: 6- 12
    Preliminary Lesson : “Future will be Better”
    This lesson’s purpose is to acquaint the student with concepts of cultural diffusion and cultural borrowing through a simple artifact from contemporary China, a Chinese cola label. By comparing the label to an archaeologist’s shard, students will learn how a small piece of a complex culture can have surprisingly broad implications.
    Grade Level: 11- 12
    Lesson : Minorities in China and the U.S.
    This lesson analyzes the concept of a “minority” culture through a selection of assigned readings. Students will learn how China defines its ethnic minorities and whether all of its minorities are treated equally. An attempt will be made to determine whether the Chinese concept of minority cultures differs from the American one. A sample list of references and Internet resources is included.
  • Language and Culture – a Case Study: the Naxi Minority (By Sandra Abrams, Education Consultant , Lawrence Abrams, Principal Mentor, New Visions for Public Schools)
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    This lesson examines the relationship between language and culture by teaching students about the Naxi ethnic minority and its pictographic language. Students are asked to interpret how the pictographs reflect the beliefs and norms of the Naxi society. A lesson plan, pictographs, and handouts are included.
  • Migrants in the U.S. and China (Two Lessons By Sarah Anderson, Morris High School)
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    Lesson 1: Migrant workers in the U.S. and China
    By reading newspaper articles, students will understand what a migrant worker is and will learn about the situation of migrant workers in the United States and in China. Students will analyze the similarities and the differences between the two cases, and will propose possible solutions.
    Lesson 2: Improving the Education of migrant children
    This lesson extends students’ knowledge about migrants by focusing on the problems faced by migrant children in China. Students will consider and evaluate the efforts of the Chinese government to improve the education of migrant children, and will practice writing a persuasive letter to the Chinese government.
  • Is Mao Zedong a Hero or a Villain? (By Nina Wohl, L.D. Brandeis High School)
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    In this lesson, students will understand Mao Zedong’s role in the development of China after World War II. The lesson compares Mao’s honor to that of other great leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, and asks students to analyze the differences. A lesson plan, pictures, and a handout are included.
  • An Exploration of Human Rights Issues in China (By Sandra Abrams, Education Consultant, Lawrence Abrams, Principal Mentor, New Visions for Public Schools)
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    By examining and interpreting several cases of human rights abuse in China, students will consider how, if at all, they should take action to protest against human rights violation. The lesson engages students in a simulation by assigning them the roles of witnesses, lawyers on both sides of the conflict, and a human rights panel. A lesson plan and a worksheet are included.
  • The Falun Gong Movement in China (By William Boericke, Bronx Coalition Community School for Technology)
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    This lesson introduces the contemporary Chinese movement Falun Gong and asks students to compare it to the movement that led to the Taiping Rebellion. The lesson explores the political, philosophical and religious implications of the Falun Gong movements and seeks to determine to what extent it is the result of the collapse of traditional Chinese lifestyles. A detailed lesson plan is provided.
  • The Teachings of the Dalai Lama as a Threat to the Chinese Communist Government (By William Boericke, Bronx Coalition Community School for Technology)
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    Through a selection of readings, students will understand the teachings of the Dalai Lama and will discuss why they are considered a threat to the Chinese Communist government. Students will analyze whether the teachings of the Dalai Lama can in fact be supplemental to communist ideology. A detailed lesson plan, including suggested readings, is provided.
  • Representation of Chinese Minority Groups in Propaganda Art (By Brenda Garcia-Taveras, Stuyvesant High School)
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    By analyzing propaganda posters from the 1950s to the 1980s aimed at minorities, students will examine the attitudes toward Chinese ethnic minorities and the roles assigned to them as reflected through images. Students will also evaluate the effect this portrayal has had on Chinese minority groups. A lesson plan and a handout are included.
  • China Becomes a Capitalistic Nation (By Nina Wohl, L.D. Brandeis High School)
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    This lesson introduces Deng Xiaopings Four Modernizations in contemporary China and analyzes to what extent the implemented economic changes make China a capitalist state. Students will discuss the pros and cons China faces today as it strives to modernize. The teacher can address a wide range of issues such as the WTO, employment, the environment, women, and U.S. relations. A lesson plan is provided.
  •  The China Seminar
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    This is a simulating unit comprised of 10 different lessons, which range from studying historical places in China, Chinese philosophy to Feng Shui and Chinese Astrology. There are a host of activities provided which are both educational and fun. Students will have an opportunity to not just study China, but become immersed in the culture, politics and history.
    4. Credit
    Karen Cheramie, Teacher
    Academy of American Studies
  • Depicting Abstract Concepts Through Art
    Grade Level: Any ESL
    In this lesson designed for any level of ESL, students are given both a written description and a photo image of Gwan Yin/Guanyin, a key devotional figure that symbolizes compassion in Chinese Buddhism. After analyzing these handouts, students produce their own image of such abstract ideas as compassion, love, and money through art. The lesson is supplemented with new vocabulary.
  • A Comparison of Images: Guan Yin and The Lady of Guadalupe
    Grade Level: Intermediate ESL
    In this excellent intermediate ESL lesson, students compare stories from two different cultures, Chinese “Gentle Guan Yin” and Mexican “The Virgin of Guadalupe.” They analyze the significance of Gwan Yin/Guanyin, a key devotional figure in Chinese Buddhism. The lesson is supplemented by a reading comprehension sheet and vocabulary.
  • China’s Little Ambassador
    Grade Level: Beginning/Intermediate ESL
    This ESL lesson is designed for the beginning/intermediate level student. In addition to mastering their reading, comprehension and analytical English skills, students will learn how to compare and contrast Chinese and American customs and traditions, as well as traditions of their own cultures. The lesson is divided into three lessons and includes three sets of activities, vocabulary and questions.

  • Chinese Literature for Regents Comprehensive Examination in English
    Grade Level 9-12
    This is a sample of a lesson plan created for an English Regents Prep class. The teacher substitutes the some text in the Regents Exam with an article by Chinese female author, Ding Ling. It works very well and generates a healthy discussion on China and women’s issues.
  • Chinese Wedding in “The Joy Luck Club” ESL through Chinese Film and Culture
    Grade Level 9-12 and up
    Through this ESL lesson, students have the opportunity to compare Chinese culture with their own. After viewing the wedding scene in the movie The Joy Luck Club, the class will compare the event with the wedding traditions in their own cultures. Students also develop listening, speaking, and writing comprehension in the English language.
  • Chinese Art
    Grade level: 9-12
    This is an excellent unit that seeks to fuse Chinese Art with history. After introducing the Internet as a tool for conducting research on art, there are lesson plans available that offer different techniques on studying paintings, pottery and calligraphy. It also includes guidelines for implementation, provides readings for discussion and a host of fun activities for the students.
  • Has Geography Contributed More to Uniting or Disuniting China?
    Grade level: 9-12
    This is an excellent lesson that describes major geographic features of China, determines the effects of geography on the social, political and economic elements of China, and examines the impact of geography in uniting and disuniting China up to the present time.  It offers a well-structured lesson plan and follow-up questions.
  • Was the Silk Road the Internet Highway of the Ancient World?
    Grade level: 9-12
    This is a well-structured lesson, which aims to explain to students the concept of Eurasia, examine the effects of geography and environmental factors on the movement of people, talks about the origins of and motivation behind the appearance of the Silk Road.  It provides an excellent lesson plan, a reading and maps.

  • Creating a Hand-Made Hanging Scroll With a Chinese Landscape
    Grade level: 9-12
    This lesson introduces students to three different types of hanging scrolls as well as the historical background of the Chinese scroll and its function in Chinese society. They will also be able to create their own hanging scrolls. There is a lesson plan, six handouts and follow-up questions offered.
  • Creating a Photo Montage with Chinese Characters
    Grade level: 9-12
    This lesson introduces students to the historical background and the evolution of Chinese characters.They will also learn about the role of the Chinese calligrapher in Chinese society. There is a lesson plan, reading, three handouts and follow-up questions offered. In addition to the lesson plan, handouts and follow-up questions are offered.
  • Buddhism in China
    Grade level: 9-12
    This is an introductory article and a short reading on the spread of Buddhism in China, coupled with a follow-up question on the topic.
  • Nationalism and Paper Money
    Grade level: 9-12
    The objective of this reading is to teach students about nationalism in China through the use of Chinese paper money. Pictures were made of the denominations of a 1, 10, and 50 Yuan note. The key is to get the students to examine the banknotes and come up with as many details as possible about the banknotes.
  • Ethnic Groups in China
    Grade level: 9-12
    This reading offers information about the diverse population of China. This is an excerpt from the 1980 National Geographic magazine, which offers synopsis on the various ethnic minorities, dominant in different regions in China.
  • Food in History: Regional Chinese Cuisine Project
    Grade level: 9-12
    This lesson consists of a plan for a research, and a reading on the theme of Chinese Cuisine. There is also a list of supplemental bibliography on the topic. The aim of the research is to explore how geography affects specific aspects of Chinese culture, such as cuisine.
  • Thematic Current Events Journals
    Grade level: 9-12
    This lesson plan proposes a format for a current events journal that students will keep. Through their observation of specific events in the news, the students will understand the changing economic, technological, and social developments occurring in China. This entry includes sample readings and student answers.
  • Five Confucian Relationships
    Grade level: 9-12
    This is an excellent unit that aims to identify the effect of Confucius and Confucianism on Chinese society, as well as examine rules that govern the five basic Confucian Relationships. After introducing the concept of Confucianism, the unit connects 5 Confucian relationships to Chinese literature. It includes guidelines for implementation, provides readings and offers a great set of teaching methodology.
  • China: A History Treasure Hunt
    Grade level: 9-12
    This is an excellent lesson, which offers an interdisciplinary study of Chinese history and art. It takes a chronological approach to the study of Chinese history and culture, using objects as the focus of inquiry. This lesson includes useful handouts and suggests a list of essential objects for study. There is a comprehensive list of summary questions offered.
  • China Unit & Resource Packet
    Grade level: 6 – 9
    These 20 lessons place students in the role of “Historian.” In addition to introducing students to China’s history the unit develops research and analysis skills, which will allow students to “access a whole world of information beyond the content.” Includes an excellent resource packet consisting of maps, charts, and excerpts from primary sources.
  • Writing Women in Modern China
    Grade level: 9 – 12
    This packet contains five standards-based lessons, intended to be used at the high school level in English Language Arts and/or English as a Second Language advanced-level classes. Each of the five lessons includes a series of vocabulary, active reading, critical thinking and  interpreting.
  • Current Environmental Challenges in China : Comprehensive Examination in English
    Grade level: 9 – 12
    This lesson covers current Environmental Challenges in China. It can be used in classes of English, Social Studies and Sciences. Its format is structured to meet the New Standards in English required by the State Education Department and may be used in Regents preparation.
  • Democracy as a Value
    Grade level: 9 – 12
    Using the American model of democracy as a ground for comparison, the lesson explores the question of democracy as an absolute value for societies like China. Through reviewing the features of the American democratic system, analyzing current news reports on China, and contrasting Chinese view of democracy with our own, the students should be able to hypothesize about China’s political future.
  • A Chinese Lesson Overview
    Grade level: 9 – 12
    The following is a description of a lesson plan provided by a student participating on the 1998 China Project. This overview offers insights from a high school junior about what might be important to consider and include when teaching about China.
  • Confucian/Taoist Influence on Life in China
    Grade level: 9 – 12
    Using textbooks, videotapes, maps of China, Chinese Calendar and Handout sheet, the following two lessons introduce students to the concept of Taoism and Confucianism. These lessons can be done together as a short unit, or separately related to belief systems. When the lesson is used as a unit the students should be able to clearly identify differences and similarities between the two philosophies.
  • A Focus on Women in Chinese History
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    Using magazine, newspaper or postcard images, this lesson explores the role of women in China. Student activities include journal entries, researching specific images, and group work.
  • The Chinese Diaspora in Literature and Film
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    Using contemporary film and literature, particularly the novel Bone, by Fae Myenne Ng, this lesson explores issues of changing values and cultural assimilation among the Chinese diaspora. An excellent interdisciplinary lesson for language arts and social studies.
  • Environmental Issues: Natural and Human Geography
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    This extensive activity explores the advantages and disadvantages of building the largest dam in the world along the Yangtze River’s Three Gorges. This plan has generated much discussion among environmentalists, historians, and sociologists alike as the potential impact on the entire country is immense. Depending on the application, this lesson has multiple activities and may include research, debate, and role play
  • Issues of Geography
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    This lesson focuses on issues of migration and immigration related to China’s geography. Mass migration in China, due to economic transition, is changing the face of cities and villages throughout the country. Good interdisciplinary lesson with links to relevant literature and statistical data on rural and urban China.
  • China’s Changing Economic Concern
    Grade Level: 9 – 12
    This lesson provides an excellent introduction to China’s complex economic transition using a variety of data analysis. Includes two student worksheets and useful background information for teachers on China’s industry, agriculture, and general economy.