How to teach Asian-Pacific American Heritage in school

Nearly 23 million people across the United States have an Asian or Pacific island heritage, which means that many of your students are probably connected to different histories and cultures of the Asian-Pacific American community. To make sure your lessons reflect the diversity of the students you serve, it’s important to reflect on how you can bring Asian-Pacific American history, heritage, and contributions into your classroom throughout the year (both May), which is Asia-Pacific American Heritage Month, and Even after that). Here are some recommendations from educators in the Asian and Pacific Islands that you can use as a starting point for this work.

5 Ways to Teach Asian-Pacific American History, Culture, and Experience

Use these techniques to teach about the breadth and depth of Asian-Pacific American history, culture, and experience – in May and throughout the school year.

Do your research.

While the experiences and perspectives of Asian and Pacific islanders prioritize teaching in their classrooms, Donat Lovin’s teacher, Stacey, a 5th-8th grader, recommends them as the first step in their own research and learning. “Just like teachers bring to the classroom, you first have to create your own context and understanding,” he says. “You can start by thinking about what you’ve already learned and look for ways to incorporate representations of the Asian and Pacific islands, or you can dive in to learn more about a specific topic.”

Extend the voices and experiences of Asian and Pacific islanders in your curriculum.

The Asian and Pacific island communities – both in the United States and around the world – are incredibly diverse groups of people, each with their own unique culture and history. For this reason, it is important for educators to look at and include the voices of Asian and Pacific islanders to ensure a broad and accurate representation of these communities. Stephanie, a middle school math teacher from Math with Mrs. Yee, emphasizes the importance of finding, listening, and expanding the voices of people from Asian and Pacific islands in your curriculum. “If you are looking for an Asian or Pacific island history, person or cultural resource,” he says, “try to find [materials by] Authors whose experience may be reflected in the resources you use. “

Book leverage as a starting point.

Books written by and about Asian and Pacific islanders are a good starting point for gaining new insights and perspectives. For young readers in particular, books can be a great way to introduce topics like diversity and acceptance into the curriculum. Good day in first class, first class teacher ha Said “I have found that using picture books and explaining the importance of celebrating diversity has been most effective in helping my students become more engaged. In addition to learning about well-known and prominent Asian-Pacific Americans, it has further expanded my students’ understanding and appreciation of the contributions of these individuals throughout our history. ”

In addition, books not only serve as a great way to bring diversity to your classroom, but also allow students in Asian and Pacific islands to see themselves in the materials they are learning. Jane, a first-grade teacher from Keep Your Chin, talks about why this is so important. “Lack of variety in children’s books can be detrimental to the self-image of students whose stories are unspoken and under-presented. If our students don’t see themselves consistently or see a connection between the books they read and the subjects they learn in school, “he says,” it sends a message that learning about their culture isn’t important enough. “

Connect with content that they are already learning

Many of the teachers-writers we interviewed emphasized the need to build connections and highlight the history, culture and people of the Asian and Pacific islands in their daily lessons. Doing so can help students spread cultural awareness as well as help them gain a more global understanding of the world we live in. From Kip Your Chin Up, Jane had a lot of ideas in other ways that teachers can do In English, read biographies of influential Asian Pacific Americans or books written by authors from Asian or Pacific islands. In social studies, learn about the geography of Asian countries. Can study. ”

Similarly, a teacher from high and low to 4th grade will make a connection between Haimi American history and the history of his native Korea. “While learning about the American Civil War, I highlight the Korean Civil War and discuss some of our similarities and differences.” He says. “And while learning about famous American leaders, I mention some notable Korean leaders, such as King Sejong who created the Hangul (Korean alphabet) for his people.” He noted that sometimes when he makes these connections, students in other Asian and Pacific islands feel encouraged to share what they know, starting rich discussions where students can learn from each other.

Chloe, a K-2 teacher at Tiny Teaching Shack, added: “As much as possible, I want to highlight API culture and history to make sure my students are aware of the sheer breadth of diversity and differences within that region. There are so many things to choose from – cultural growth stimulated by South Korea’s K-Wave, or the nature and wildlife of a diverse region like Australia – there are usually ways to incorporate these topics into the curriculum for students of all ages. “

Go beyond cultural celebrations and traditions.

While it is important to teach about the diverse culture of Asian and Pacific island communities through tradition and celebration, Donat Lovin’s teacher Stacey urges teachers not to limit their curriculum to just that. Rather, take a critical look at history and past and present injustices and facilitate conversations around alliances and advocacy. “A certain part of history that I would like to see highlighted more often,” he says. I’ve seen the ways it worked. Still, in middle school I remember a few short sentences from my history textbook that seemed to suffice for this huge part of my own family history. “

If you’re looking for resources to teach Asian-Pacific American history and heritage, here are a few from Asian and Pacific Islands educators to get you started:

Free Famous Asian American Digital Research Notebook (Distance Learning)

Free Famous Asian American Digital Research Notebook (Distance Learning)
1st-5th class

Children's Day Tradition in Japan - Digital Resources

Children’s Day Tradition in Japan – Digital Resources
4th-8th grade

Asian Heritage Month Resource Freebie - Evaluation included

Asian Heritage Month Resource Freebie – Evaluation included
4th-8th class

Asian American Pacific Islander Month Divide by Decimal for Education

Asian American Pacific Islander Month Divide by Decimal for Education
5th grade

This post, originally published in 2021, has been updated for 2022.

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