Cart 0

Asian Americans in Education

Author: Kimberly Sweeney


Add B. Anderson

Year: 2022

Seminar: Asian Americans in U.S. Schools

Grade Level: 3-5

Keywords: Asian Americans, culturally responsive teaching, immigration, model minority

School Subject(s): English, Language Arts

This unit focuses on creating a culturally inclusive classroom for all students with a focus on Asian Americans.  It was designed for elementary students, specifically in third grade, to help them understand the perspective of people that are different from them and help encourage empathy among students.

This unit will first take a look at the diversity within the Asian community.  Not everyone is aware of the many different countries and cultures that Asian Americans come from.  Then we will look at the stereotypes that affect Asian Americans. Next, we will look at the issues around immigration and the actions the country took against immigrants.  Lastly, but possibly most importantly, we will look at the actions teachers can take now to promote a culturally responsive classroom.  Although it is important to learn about stereotypes and the history of immigration, learning how to take action and improve the quality of education for all students is what is important.

Download Unit: Sweeney-Kimberly.pdf

Did you try this unit in your classroom? Give us your feedback here.

Full Unit Text
Unit Content

Schools in the United States are becoming more and more diverse.  It’s essential that educators adapt and include culturally responsive teaching in their repertoire. This research will focus on Asian Americans, which are one of the fastest growing populations in the United States.

Asian Americans include a wide range of diverse groups of people that come from many different countries. This means that the Asian American population has a diverse range of language, culture, religion, education levels and socioeconomic status. The term Asian American was first used in 1968 by University of California Berkeley students as the name of a group that was established to unite Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino Americans and others to gather together to fight for social justice. (Chavez, Krishnakumar 2021).  Since the population is growing quickly, educators should be aware of these differences in culture in order to best meet the needs of their students.

This curriculum unit was designed for all students with the intent to educate non Asian American students of the challenges Asian Americans face and to improve the overall quality of education for all students, while building empathy for others.  The unit was written specifically for third graders, but the lessons can be modified to meet the needs of other grade levels.  In this unit, we will look at the diversity in the Asian American community, the stereotypes and challenges Asian American students face in the typical classroom, the impact of immigration, and steps educators can take to create a more culturally responsive and inclusive curriculum and classroom.

Diversity in the Asian American Community

 Asian Americans come from more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent so there are a wide range of languages, religions, and cultural differences among the group. (Pew Research, 2021) Chinese Americans are the largest Asian group in the U.S., making up 24% of the population.  The next largest groups are Indian Americans, followed by Filipinos.  (Pew Research, 2021)

The Asian population in the United States varies in each state but one third of all Asians in the United States are in California.  The other states with high Asian American populations include New York, Texas, New Jersey, Washington, and Hawaii.  (Pew Research, 2021).  In Pennsylvania, the Asian population is made up of 29% Indian Americans, 25% Chinese Americans, and 9% Korean Americans.

There is some debate on the correct way to account for individuals that identify as Asian Americans.  The U.S. Census has categories to count individuals based on age, income, marital status, nativity, citizenship, and race and ethnicity.  The last two, race and ethnicity have caused the most concern and gained the most attention. Since the term “Asian” is an umbrella term that includes many different countries, it is not easy to collect data and account it to the general population.  Due to the diversity in the population, the census has had to change many times over the years with the purpose of being more inclusive and accurate. (Espiritu, Omi 2000).

Stereotypes and Challenges

Asian Americans are often referred to as the model minority so many people don’t usually consider them when discussing racial discrimination. They are often seen as hard-working, smart, and successful.  All these are very positive terms to describe a person.  One major problem with these generalizations is that the term Asian American is a broad term that includes people from many different Asian countries and not all Asian countries have the same opportunities for success and the same positive stereotypes. Since Asian Americans are made up of people who identify as Chinese, Indian, Filipino, and many other ethnicities, general stereotypes don’t seem to be a fair representation of the population as a whole.

One well known stereotype is that all Asians are well educated.  In the United States, about ⅓ of all Americans over 25 years old have a Bachelor’s degree, according to Pew research from 2019.  Many Asian Americans in the U.S. far exceed that average with 75% of Indians, having a bachelor’s degree.  (Budiman, 2021).  On the other hand, many other Asian American groups fall well below the average.

Another stereotype is that all Asians have high income levels.  The truth is the Asian American population is very divided with the amount of income they earn.  According to CNN, Asian Americans at the top of the earning ladder make 10 times more than Asian Americans on the lower income earning ladder.  (Chavez, Krishnakumar 2021). A Pew research study actually found out that within the Asian American group, Indian Americans were the highest earning group and made a median income of $127,000 a year.  Burmese Americans were on the lower end of the income group, with the median income of $46,000 a year. (NPR 2021)

The word “stereotype” usually has a negative connotation, but it’s more complicated when the stereotype type includes being highly educated and successful.  Many people believe that the positive stereotypes fuel Asian Americans to achieve even more success, since that is the expectation. (Lee, Zhou 2016). Lee and Zhou state it is a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.   Unfortunately, not all Asian immigrants have the same opportunity for success and some who come from more rural areas don’t have the same education levels and earning opportunities.

Immigration Struggles

As Asians tried to immigrate to the United States, many had to deal with discrimination.  People complained that Asians were bringing disease, economic competition, and mortality to the Americas.  (Lee, 2007)  In response to these concerns, the United States passed many restrictive immigration laws to reduce Asian immigration.

The first wave of Asian immigration began in the mid 1800s.  Now, more than 22 million Asians live in the U.S, and almost all trace their roots to specific countries or populations from East and Southeast Asian, and the Indian subcontinent, according to a Pew Research Center Report. (Budiman, 2021).  According to research, Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese groups make up 85 percent of the Asian American population. (Asian American Milestones Timeline, 2022).

In the 1850s, Chinese workers migrated to the United States to work as miners, factory workers, agricultural workers, and also worked with garments.  They held many jobs working on the railroads to the West.  Unfortunately, many Americans saw Asian Americans as threats and this led to discrimination against them and then laws to limit immigration in the future. (Office of the HIstorian

The Page Act of 1875 was established to prohibit the importation of unfree laborers and women brought for “immoral purposes” but was enforced mostly against Chinese immigrants.  Basically, the goal was to restrict Asian American immigrants without specifically naming them in the act. It targeted people or laborers that were brought against their will for immoral purposes.

The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited all Chinese workers from entering the United States to gain citizenship. The law was to stop Asians from taking job opportunities from Americans.  Americans were arguing that Chinese immigrants lower the moral standards of the country. (  In response to this law, Chinese immigrants would migrate to Canada or Mexico and then illegally enter the United States. Over 7,000 Chinese Immigrants are estimated to have entered the United States through Canada or Mexico between 1882 and 1820 (Lee, 2007). There was so much tension that immigrants would set up their own neighborhoods.

In 1907, a U.S. immigration law prohibited Japanese and Koreans from entering the United States from Hawaii. Japanese immigrants started going to Brazil, Mexico, Peru and other Latin American countries since the United States and Canada were enacting such restrictive laws. (Lee, 2007)  In that year, there were a series of riots referred to as the Pacific Coast Race Riots.  They took place in San Francisco, Bellingham, and Vancouver.  The riots in San Francisco were led by Caucasian Americans that wanted to keep Japanese immigrants out of Caucasian schools.   In response to this, Japan agreed to not issue passports to the United States if the individual had not been to the United States before.  In Bellingham, Asian Americans had been hired at cheaper wages which led to tension between the workers.  A large group gathered to force the Asian migrant workers out of the city and they did a lot of damage to the city in the process.  Eventually they got the South Asian immigrants to leave the city.  The last site of rioting was Vancouver.  This riot took place right after the Bellingham riot in response to concerns with the Asian population.  This riot ended up causing many new restrictions placed on immigration.

In 1910, Angel Island opened in San Francisco Bay, California and was the major port of entry for Asian immigrants.  Over the next 30 years, more than 100,000 Chinese and 70,000 Japanese immigrants went through Angel Island. (  The station closed in 1940 and is now a State Park. In 1917, Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1917 which banned Chinese, Asian Indians, Burmese, Thai, Maylays, and more.  Japan was not on the list since there were already laws prohibiting them.  The Philippines was excluded because they were a U.S. territory at that time.

In 1941, the Japanese bombed Peral Harbor.  Due to high tensions and fears that immigrants were a danger, President Roosevelt ordered the Japanese Americans on the West Coast into internment camps. Many were targeted and lost their homes, livelihoods and businesses.  In 1986, President Reagan signed a law apologizing for the previous order since it was an injustice and the United States paid each person that was held in an internment camp.

Steps for teachers

“Promoting a culturally responsive classroom” cannot just be a buzz word used during professional development.  Teachers and administrators need to take action to ensure and advocate for equity and cultural responsiveness for every student.  Teachers and students need to address biases and stereotypes and focus on positive social and academic outcomes.  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining (CR-S) framework is intended to help education stakeholders create student-centered learning environments and policies that affirm cultural identities, foster a positive academic outcome, and help students to connect regardless of differences.

There are many ways that teachers can encourage a positive and diverse school culture.  Being aware of their own biases is an important first step.  Taking a look at their current curriculum is also important.  Some teachers don’t have the freedom to choose curriculums, but adding diverse and relevant text is essential.  Diversity is an important topic to address and should be talked about with students to encourage students to speak up for themselves and others.

In recent years, school curriculum has been the topic of debate and many school districts have worked to create a more diverse curriculum that is inclusive of all students.  Many schools are updating their current curriculum or even writing their own. One of the major pushes is that the curriculum is culturally relevant for students to promote equality in the classroom.  This unit will introduce students to several books with Asian American characters with lessons designed to create an inclusive classroom, focusing on empathy for others. The book Cultivating Genius by Gholdy Muhammad will be used as a reference guide to ensure lessons are culturally and historically responsive.

There are some amazing pieces of literature that will be included in this unit to help students understand Asian American culture and the challenges immigrants face in a new country.  One book is The Name Jar.  The main character is Unhei, an immigrant from Korea who is worried about what people will think about her name. Another book included in this unit is The Bracelet by Yoshiko Uchida.  In this book, a young girl and her family are sent to an internment camp for Japanese Americans.  Many other books will be used to explore cultural differences, identify and cultural assimilation.

Teachers have an important responsibility to incorporate culturally responsive instruction in the classroom. Encouraging students’ cultural awareness helps them feel connected to the class.  There are several things teachers can do to ensure culturally responsive teaching but the most important is probably getting to know students.  Taking time to get to know students helps build relationships and students are more likely to learn from people they respect.  According to Rita Pierson’s Ted Talk: Every Kid Needs a Champion, kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.  She encourages students to be the best version of themselves and works hard to uplift students to like school to encourage them to do better.  Recently, a student told me that students respected one of their teachers more than another one because they can tell one teacher cares about them and the other doesn’t.  This proves how important establishing a positive relationship with students is.

After focusing on relationships, teachers need to make sure they have high expectations for all students.  People often say that expectations become reality so having high expectations can set students up for success.  It’s important to set a stretch goal so that students will continuously work to meet the goal and close the learning gap. (Fisher 2018). It’s important to make sure students are aware of their goals and your expectations so they know what they are working towards.

Making sure work is designed to help students meet their goals is important.  Students often get bored if work is too easy and get frustrated when work is too hard.  Work has to be carefully planned to help students push themselves without giving up.  According to research in Visible Learning for Literacy, ensuring challenge is calibrated to the particular needs of a learner at a particular time is one of the most essential roles of the teacher and appears to be a non-negotiable for student growth. This can be a challenging task since students all have different learning needs and differentiating work for a large number of students can be hard to manage.

In addition, teachers need to focus on consistent communication and check in with students on an ongoing basis.  Feedback can be extremely helpful if it is provided in a positive manner and even celebrated.  I know a Math teacher that has a poster hanging up that says M.A.T.H  (Mistakes Allow Thinking to Happen)  Having a poster doesn’t change the student mindset but she celebrates mistakes, uses them as learning opportunities and praises students for being brave enough to make mistakes.  It’s truly amazing to see students willing to go to the board and not be worried about not knowing an answer.  Feedback is in the top ten influencing factors on learning so it should not be overlooked. (Fisher, 2018).

Teachers have challenging jobs.  They need to recognize differences and celebrate them. When communicating, teachers need to focus on their language to be sensitive to cultural, religious, language, or other differences. They need to be aware of the many differences in their classroom and be able to differentiate the instruction to meet the needs of all their students.

Many teachers incorporate cultural diversity into their literacy instruction or other lessons.  This is an easy way to open up communication and spark student discourse.  Students often learn best when they have some input and freedom in the learning process so including options and some flexibility can help students become more active participants in their own learning.

Teaching Strategies

There are many teaching strategies included in this unit, but teachers can select which ones work best for their students and objectives.  Some strategies include differentiated instruction, technology, graphic organizers, inquiry-based learning, and turn and talks.  In addition to these strategies, there are several instructional reading strategies that can be used with each of the texts in the lessons.

Differentiated instruction is crucial in order to meet the needs of the diverse learners in classrooms. Many teachers differentiate instruction by content, process, product or environment.  Differentiating content means you provide options about the material used, but the student still meets their objectives.  Differentiating processes means teachers adapt the learning to the students.  They may group them and teach the lesson through visuals, auditory, or kinesthetic ways. Product differentiation provides students with flexibility on the product they submit to show mastery.  Changing the environment is another strategy and some teachers can provide special areas or seating options to optimize learning.

Cooperative learning is a strategy to allow students to work collaboratively in small groups.   Cooperative learning has proven to deepen student understanding, while direct instruction works better with surface level learning.  (Fisher, 2018). Groups can be changed according to the task at hand.  This gives students a chance to work together with different classmates.  Teachers can use this time to meet with groups to check for understanding.

Since Covid-19 began, schools have had to pivot and at one point had to go completely virtual. Although this was a difficult shift for most teachers and students, many teachers became more comfortable with technology.  At this point, schools are back in person full time and some teachers have incorporated more technology into their lessons.  This has been made easier in some cases because prior to covid, not all schools had enough computers or tablets for students to have their own.

Inquiry-based learning helps students become more involved in their own learning.  It allows them the opportunity to make some choices and feel more connected to the process.  Inquiry based learning is a great time to use technology since students might not all be working on the same thing at the same time. Managing inquiry-based learning is often challenging for teachers but with proper modeling and guidance it can yield great results.

Graphic organizers are simple tools used to help students organize their thoughts and work.  They allow students the opportunity to break the work down into manageable parts before writing.  In this unit, graphic organizers are used for various reading strategies.

Turn and talk in an informal strategy that gives students the opportunity to share their thoughts with a classmate in a small group setting before sharing with the entire class.  This strategy can be planned out and used during read-alouds to answer questions related to the text.

There are so many instructional strategies that can be used in the lessons below. Each lesson includes at least one strategy but others can be added.  Some reading strategies to improve comprehension include activating prior knowledge, making predictions, making inferences, making connections, and questioning. A story map is a graphic organizer that can be used to help students organize the text information.  Some story maps include characters, setting, plot and theme.

Classroom Activities

The lessons below can be used as is or modified to meet the needs of your students.  Additional lessons can be added using materials in the resource section.


English Language Arts Standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.2  Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.3    Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events  CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.3.3  Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.3.6 Distinguish their own point of view from that of the author of a text.

Writing Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2  Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.7  Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

Speaking and Listening Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1  Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Lesson 1: Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say

Materials Needed:

Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say

Index cards for vocabulary

Post it notes

Optional video read aloud at


Text to self connection

Turn and Talk

Asking questions before, during and after reading

Vocabulary words: astonished, enormous, bewildered, surrounded, exchanged, scattered

Objective: SWBAT generate and answers questions before, during, and after reading in order to deepen their understanding of the text.

Synopsis: Allen Say’s Grandfather left Japan and came to the United States as a young boy.  He loved California.  He eventually went back to Japan and after getting married, he returned to the United States.  When in the United States, he missed Japan and when in Japan, he missed the United States. He loved both countries, but eventually returned to Japan.  Allen Say grew up and learned to love both countries, like his grandfather.

Prior to reading (possible opening questions)

Good readers often ask questions before, during and after reading.

  1.  Given the title of the story, what do you think this story is about?
  2. Do you know about your own grandparents’ lives?  Where did they live?  Where did they work?

During reading, use post it notes to jot down questions you may have during the story?  You can also use turn and talk and allow students to work with a partner to answer some questions. (some possible questions are below)

  1.  How does the author know his grandfather’s story?
  2. When does this take place?  What are European clothes?
  3. Who are considered yellow men and red men?
  4. What are warblers and silver eyes?
  5. What war are they talking about in the story?

After reading, students can share their questions one at a time and allow time for other students to answer the questions if they can.

Other after reading questions could include:

  1. Who is telling the story? (the Grandson)
  2. Of all the places the Grandfather liked, where did he like best? (California and the Sierra Mountains)
  3. At the end of the story, the author says I think I know my grandfather now.  What do you think that means? (He feels a connection because like his grandfather he loves both Japan and the United States.)

Lesson 2: Kamishibai Man by Allen Say

Materials Needed:

Kamishibai Man by Allen Say

Index cards for vocabulary

Video to build background knowledge about Kamishbai

Optional: Video Read aloud at


Citing textual evidence

Differentiated Instruction

Cause and Effect – Remind students that causes make other things happen.  What happens is the effect or the result of the cause. Understanding how events are related help students comprehend the story.

Vocabulary words: gaped, sprout, applause, familiar, blasted, vacant


SWBAT use textual evidence to answer text dependent questions

SWBAT identify the cause and effect in a story.

Synopsis: Kamishibia Man is about an older man that would tell stories using his paper theater and sell candy.  As time passes, fewer children come out to hear about his stories, but when he gets older he goes out again and sees the familiar faces of the children that were all grown up.

  1. Pre Teach vocabulary:
    1. gaped
    2. sprout
    3. applause
    4. familiar
    5. blasted
    6. vacant
  1. Explain cause and effect relationships and create an anchor chart with students.(see appendix for example)
  2. In order to differentiate instruction, you can provide students with the causes and have them fill in the effect independently or with a partner.

After reading page 4, ask students what does Jiichan miss doing? Use the image on the front and the text to answer the question.

After reading page 8, ask students, why does Jiichan think he took the wrong turn? (Time has passed ad not there are more

After reading page 10, what does Jiichan think about all the changes? How do you know? (He is not happy.  He says “Can’t a man ride his bicycle in peace?  Who needs to buy so many things and eat so many different foods?” )

After reading page 16, ask students what do you think he means when he says he will get to the boy who never has any money later?

After reading page 20, ask students what do you think it means when Jiicahan says that television antennas started to sprout from the rooftops like weeds in the springtime?

For additional background information, in addition to the Afterword, visit

Lesson 3: The Name Jar

Materials Needed:

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

Paper and markers for name tent

Graphic organizer for Character Changes and summarizing.


Character Changes throughout the story


Turn and talk


SWBAT summarize fictional text to enhance understanding

Synopsis:  Unhei is a young girl that has moved to America from Korea and she is nervous to tell students her name because it is different and difficult to say.  A few students tease her so she decides to come up with an “American name”.  After some help from classmates, she ends up keeping her Korean name and making a good friend in the process.

  1. Ask students to draw their name on a name tent (fold a piece of paper in half lengthwise) and decorate it as they’d like.  Discuss what makes their name special and allow students to share information about their names. (Possible questions to ask:  Were you named after someone?  Does your name mean something?  Is you name part of your cultural identity? )
  2. Pre teach vocabulary
    1. pouch
    2. grooves
    3. ridges
    4. replied
    5. grace
    6. souvenir
    7. relieved
  3. Use the Character Change Worksheet as a class or google slides found HERE .
  4. As a formative assessment, students will summarize the book working cooperatively with a partner, using the story element graphic organizer. HERE
  5. There are a wide range of reading strategies that can be used for this text. Cause and effect, asking questions, making connections, etc.
  6. Discussion questions:
    1. How does Unhei feel as she gets off the bus?  (embarrassed, she blushed)
    2. How come Unhei doesn’t tell everyone her name when they ask?  What does she tell them? (She said she hasn’t picked a name yet)
    3. What is special about Kim’s Market?  (they sell Korean food)
    4. What is a name master?  (turn and talk)
    5. Unhei shows Joey, the curly haired boy the block with her name on it.  Why is that block so special?  (it has her name in Korean, can be used as her signature in Korea, and it reminds her of her Grandma)
    6. How does Unhei feel after telling Joey her name? (she smiled)
    7. Why do you think Joey was at Mr. Kim’s?
    8. How does Unhei feel after sharing her name with the class? (She likes the names they suggested, but likes her name because it means Grace so she is not upset that the name jar was missing.)
  7. Optional: The Name Jar Read Aloud

Lesson 4: Research

Materials Needed: Google Slide


Build background knowledge

Using graphic organizers

Collaborative work


SBWAT identify some countries in Asia and present the the similarities and differences between two or more countries


  1. Review slide 1 of the countries of Asia to build background knowledge.
  2. Examine the map of Asia.  Point out the size and location of some of the more well-known countries.        Ask students what surprises them about the map?
  3. Use the links to learn about China, Japan, and Vietnam.  Teachers can add additional slides with more countries.
  4. Pick two countries to compare and contrast.  Use the Venn Diagram to organize your information.
  5. Provide questions for research: (Students can do research individually or with a partner)
    1. How large is the country?
    2. How large is the population?
    3. What type of government is there?
    4. What would it be like to live in that country?
    5. What is the main difference between the 2 countries?
    6. Describe one of the photos on the National Geographic site and explain how it helps you understand what the country is like.
  6. Use what you have learned and your Venn diagram to write a two-paragraph essay.  The first paragraph should compare the two countries and include one or two things that are similar.  The second paragraph should compare the two countries and include one or two of the major differences between the countries.  Students will be given the PSSA student friendly writing rubric to help guide their writing.


Focus My writing is clear and completely answers all parts of the prompt.  I did not forget or lose the main idea when I added details. Sometimes my writing moved away from the main point of focus of the prompt.  Sometimes my details did not relate to the prompt and made my ideas confusing. My writing is not clear and I drifted away from the prompt. I did not stay focused on the topic or prompt.  My writing is  very difficult to understand when I read my work or when someone else reads my work.
Content I used important details and information.  I developed my ideas and made sure all of my sentences connected to the prompt. I used some details to support my topic but I needed to add more information and supporting details. I need to use more details to make my writing complete. I did not use details or ideas to support my topic or respond.
Organization I wrote a strong introduction, body, and conclusion.  I used appropriate transitions to connect my ideas. I need to put my story in order.  I need to strengthen all portions of my response.  I need to use more transition words to make my ideas flow. I did not organize my response.  I was missing paragraphs.  My writing seems more like an outline than complete paragraphs.  I did not use transition words. I had no introduction, body, or conclusion.  I have many mixed-up ideas.  I did not use transition words.
Style I used descriptive words that help readers “see” my ideas.  My sentences varied in length, word usage, and structure.  My tone and voice are consistent. Most words address the prompt.  I should choose a wider variety of words.  I did not use different types of sentences.  Tone and voice are not always consistent. I used a few descriptive words.  I had little sentence variety.  The tone and voice are not consistent. I used no descriptive words.  My sentences all begin with the same word or are not complete.  there is no consistent tone or voice.
Conventions I had few, if any, errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  My wiring is neat and legible. I made a few errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, but my meaning is still clear and understandable I had many mistakes in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  Sometimes my writing is hard to read. My writing has so many mistakes that it is difficult to read or understand.

Other books to consider in this unit:

  1. Yo-Yo & Yeou-Cheng Ma Finding Their Way by Ai0Ling Louie
  2. My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits
  3. The Paper Crane by Molly Bang


Student texts

Choi, Y. (2001). The Name Jar. New York: Knopf.

This name jar is about a young Korean girl, Unhei, who moves to America and is uncertain about using her name in school.  She considered picking an “American” name, but in the end she decides to keep her Korean name that meets Grace.  Along the way, she makes good friends with her classmate, Joey.

Say, Allen. (1993).  Grandfather’s Journey.  New York: Scholastic.

This is about a man that leaves Japan to come to the United States. It details the similarities and differences between life in both countries.

Say, Allen.(2005) Kamishibai Man. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

This is a story of an older man who tries to remember the happier times when he was a storyteller using his paper theater.

Teacher Texts

Ankeny, Jing Gao.  Learning from Asian American High School Students’ VoiceVol. 22, No. 3 International Journal of Multicultural Education 2020.  Retrieved from

This journal looks at the perception of Asian American high school students in regards to Social Studies.

Budiman, A., Ruiz, N. (2021) Key facts about Asian origin groups in the U.S.  The PEW Research Center.  Retrieved from

The Pew Research group provides facts on the various aspects of Asian American culture including various countries with a focus on Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese since they account for the majority of Asian Americans according to recent data.

Chavez, N, Krishnakumar.  (2021).  CNN. “We speak about Asian Americans as a single block.  Here’s how incredibly complex they are.”  Retrieved on Apr 11, 2022 from

This website looks at the complexity and diversity within the Asian American community

Espiritu, Yen Le, and Michael Omi. 2000. “Who Are You Calling Asian?”: Shifting Identity Claims, Racial Classifications, and the Census.” The State of Asian Pacific America: Transforming Race Relations 5 (2000): 43-101.

This describes how Asian Pacific Americans (APAs) are classified by the Census and how categories change and still need to change.

Jin, C. 6 Charts That Dismantle The Trope Of Asian Americans As A Model Minority.  NPR.  Retrieved from on March 28 2022

This website tackles the myth that Asian Americans are a single group of similar people with similar life experiences.

Lee, Erika, 2007.  The “Yellow Peril” and Asian Exclusion in the Americas.  Pacific Historical Review 76(4): 537-562.

This article looks at Asian migration and the alleged threat they posed to America and the actions the Americas took to prevent immigration of Asians to their countries.

Lee, Jennifer, and Min Zhou, eds. 2004. Asian American Youth: Culture, Identity, and Ethnicity. Psychology Press. The Asian American Achievement Paradox Chapter 2.

This looks at the negative effects of positive stereotyping.

Muhammad, G., Love, B. L., & Scholastic Inc. (2020). Cultivating genius: An equity framework for culturally and historically responsive literacy.

This book is currently being read by the district Curriculum team and will serve as a reference to ensure lessons are culturally and historically responsive.

Pierson, Rita: Every kid Needs a Champion Ted Talk Retrieved from on Apr 24, 2022.

Drexel University School of Education,lines%20of%20difference%3B%20elevate%20historically

National Geographic for Kids website

Office of the Historian

PA Department of Education,are%20processed%20through%20the%20station.




Name: __________________________________     Date: ______________________

Cause and Effect Worksheet














Name: _________________________________                  Date: __________________

The Name Jar

How does Unhei change throughout the story?  Use evidence from the text to support your answer.


Trait Evidence from Text


Trait Evidence from Text
Beginning nervous and excited




She was on a bus looking at strange buildings going to a new school.


Unhei hurried off the bus


NOTE: Please delete the answer key if you are printing for student use.

Academic Standards Addressed in the Unit:


English Language Arts Standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.2  Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.3    Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events  CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.3.3  Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.3.6 Distinguish their own point of view from that of the author of a text.


Writing Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2  Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.7  Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

Speaking and Listening Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1  Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

See PDF for photos.