Header

Learning Together during Challenging Times

At the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, we believe that education serves as a bridge connecting educators, caregivers, and learners of all ages, with Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community members across the country and the Pacific.  

AAPI voices help us complicate and problematize how we understand America’s past, present, and future; AAPI voices help us recognize, remember, and celebrate long, often unknown, histories of solidarity with other communities of color. AAPIs are not a monolithic group; AAPIs are not a stereotype.  

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it a surge of anti-Asian racism and violence. According to the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center, approximately 2,600 hate crimes were reported across the United States from March through August 2020. Act to Change, an organization working to address bullying in the AAPI community, shares that children and youth are facing an increase in being bullied in schools across the country. As we enter 2021, we are horrified to see violent attacks on AAPI elders across the United States.  

We have much to learn, together, about how we can co-create more informed and equitable learning environments that uplift AAPI stories, and we have much to learn about how we must overcome the xenophobia and racism AAPI communities face, because anti-Asian racism has not gone away. It has, sadly, always been a part of the American story.  

Together, we can fill knowledge gaps about anti-Asian racism throughout American history, and work today to reject repeats of our past. It will take time and understanding. We encourage you to continue exploring our Learning Together page, which includes resources about how to address anti-Asian racism, as well as links to interviews with AAPI community members about major moments in our histories. One such resource, created by the Immigration History Initiative, is a great place to start.

IHI Logo

The Immigrant History Initiative seeks to educate and empower communities through the untold stories of immigrant diasporas in America. Founded by Julia Wang and Kathy Lu, the initiative’s mission is to change “how we talk about race, migration, and social justice as a global society.” In 2020, Julia and Kathy collaborated with restorative justice specialist Sarah Appelbaum on the creation of a new activity to help educators talk about anti-Asian racism with learners. Below is a link to an interview with them, and a link that will take you to the activity to download.

Julia Wang

Kathy Lu

Sarah Appelbaum

Kindness Heals

What message of hope do you want to share with others?

2020 was a difficult year. From the xenophobia towards Asians and Asian Americans caused by COVID-19, the disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases affecting Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, and to the national uprisings surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement, 2020 also brought attention to longstanding injustices and how we can hope to change for the better. We can become stronger together as we embrace the lesson that #KindnessHeals. The face mask has become essential in the fight against COVID-19. Using a mask as a blank canvas to inspire and educate youth, Act to Change, the Daniel K. Inouye Institute, and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center have created a personal protective equipment (PPE) mask design campaign around the theme “Kindness Heals.”

Connecting you to Asian American and Pacific Islander voices and stories.

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s Learning Together page launched in 2019 to connect the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s programs, curatorial expertise, and community anniversaries with K12 educators across the country. This page serves as an online venue for educational content featuring interviews with Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community members, links to community-created educational resources, book recommendations, discussion ideas, and more.

To support this era of online teaching and learning, we have edited this page thoroughly to provide information and resources to complement four categories:

• Addressing anti-Asian racism due to COVID-19
• Activities and videos for students, families, and lifelong learners
• Content complementing Social Studies units
• Resources about Asian American and Pacific Islander voices in literature

These grids will expand with new content and activities throughout the year. We hope you will continue to visit this page!

Continue scrolling down to view content and resources that can be modified for Social Studies and English Language Arts lessons, and activities suitable for all ages.

Resources Addressing Anti-Asian Racism due to COVID-19

Click on any title to visit the page

A Learning Together feature with anti-bias educator and consultant Liz Kleinrock. This resource includes:

  • Tips for educators on how to talk about racism
  • Liz’s TED Talk, “How to teach kids to talk about taboo topics”

A three-part activity for youth, 13-18 years old, reflecting on 2020 and looking toward 2021. This includes three activities that can be done at home:

  • Decorating a face mask
  • Writing a letter about the future
  • Identifying a support network

Smithsonian APA’s response to the dual pandemics of 2020, COVID-19 and racism.

  • Links to resources about the history of anti-Asian racism in the United States
  • Links to resources about Asian American and Pacific Islander history and heritage

Download the Immigrant History Initiative’s Restorative Justice Dialogue resource, a guide to address anti-Asian racism with students.

  • Links to the Initiative’s restorative dialogue resource and other educational materials
  • Interview with the Initiative’s founders and restorative justice educator Sarah Appelbaum

Activities and Videos and for Students, Families and Lifelong Learners

Click on any title to visit the page

A web series engaging Asian American heritage “in real life,” in progress, across a range of media and communities. Includes:

  • Poetry readings
  • Zine workshop
  • Readings by authors
  • Musical performance

An arts education module series introducing new art-making ideas created by educators and AAPI artists. Includes:

  • 4 art-making ideas, each with a Learning Lab collection, a downloadable PDF, recorded webinars, and video tutorials
  • Links to artist webpages

An online exhibition curated with love by the Smithsonian APA Center. This resource includes:

  • Short films
  • Poems & music
  • Audio and video meditations

An activity book featuring coloring sheets, writing prompts, discussion starters & more. Created by artists, scholars & activists. Available as a free downloadable PDF and includes 5 ready-to-print activities about action, empathy, ability, wellness and beauty.

A 7-minute short film profile of queer elder Lenore Chinn on queer artmaking and organizing in the Bay Area. Includes links to resources about LGBTQIA terminologies.

An online exhibition of video poems featuring 12 queer Asian and Pacific Islander diasporic poets. Includes 12 video poems and links to resources about LGBTQIA terminologies.

A short video and postcard series pairing images of film icon Anna May Wong with poetry by Sally Wen Mao. This resource includes:

  • One 4-minute film
  • Four downloadable postcards
  • Make Your Own Postcard activity

An online exhibition and tribute featuring a series of reflections from fourteen artists on the life and legacy of Yuri Kochiyama. This resource includes:

  • Nine images
  • Two short videos
  • Two audio tracks
  • Accompanying short reflections from artists

Content to Complement Social Studies Units

Hover over title to see details, click to visit

This page includes:

  • 40-60 minute talks on video
  • Links to Learning Lab collections
  • Q+A sessions with some speakers about why the topics in discussion are important for inclusion in classroom settings and teaching practices.

This page includes:

  • Documentary series, “Language of a Nation”
  • Podcast made by students in Grades 1-3 about a Native Hawaiian tradition
  • General information about the initiative

This page includes:

  • Worksheets for students
  • Tips on how to teach the activities in classrooms
  • Links to digital resources that expand on Japanese American World War II history

This page includes:

  • Brief biographies and historical images
  • Video interview with a scholar
  • Learning Lab collection
  • Links to articles about the overthrow

This page includes:

  • Artist interview
  • Music video
  • Links to archives and museums focused on Arab American histories
  • Close-look activity

This page includes:

  • Interview with a scholar and educator
  • Learning Lab collection
  • Activity using an object from the Smithsonian collection

This page includes:

  • Interviews with two scholars and experts on Filipino American history
  • Links to community archives
  • Links to book recommendations

This page includes:

  • Interviews with two poets and educators
  • Links to original poems
  • Link to archive about history of Guåhan/Guam
  • Book recommendations
  • Short animated film

Resources about Asian American and Pacific Islander Voices in Literature

Click on any title to visit the page

A Learning Together feature for teachers about the importance of selecting diverse books for the classroom. This page includes:

  • Interviews with two scholars
  • Links to book titles and resources about the importance of representation in literature

Website featuring book titles for all ages. This page includes:

  • Book reviews
  • Author interviews

A graphic diary of the early pandemic by artist Nguyên Khôi Nguyễn. This resource includes a viewable sketchbook diary.

A series of mini comics from nine artists adapting exhibition texts from I Want the Wide American Earth. This resource includes a 15-page viewable e-comic.

Resources Addressing Anti-Asian Racism due to COVID-19

Click on any title to visit the page

A Learning Together feature with anti-bias educator and consultant Liz Kleinrock. This resource includes:

  • Tips for educators on how to talk about racism
  • Liz’s TED Talk, “How to teach kids to talk about taboo topics”

A three-part activity for youth, 13-18 years old, reflecting on 2020 and looking toward 2021. This includes three activities that can be done at home:

  • Decorating a face mask
  • Writing a letter about the future
  • Identifying a support network

Smithsonian APA’s response to the dual pandemics of 2020, COVID-19 and racism.

  • Links to resources about the history of anti-Asian racism in the United States
  • Links to resources about Asian American and Pacific Islander history and heritage

Download the Immigrant History Initiative’s Restorative Justice Dialogue resource, a guide to address anti-Asian racism with students.

  • Links to the Initiative’s restorative dialogue resource and other educational materials
  • Interview with the Initiative’s founders and restorative justice educator Sarah Appelbaum

Activities and Videos and for Students, Families and Lifelong Learners

Click on any title to visit the page

A web series engaging Asian American heritage “in real life,” in progress, across a range of media and communities. Includes:

  • Poetry readings
  • Zine workshop
  • Readings by authors
  • Musical performance

An arts education module series introducing new art-making ideas created by educators and AAPI artists. Includes:

  • 4 art-making ideas, each with a Learning Lab collection, a downloadable PDF, recorded webinars, and video tutorials
  • Links to artist webpages

An online exhibition curated with love by the Smithsonian APA Center. This resource includes:

  • Short films
  • Poems & music
  • Audio and video meditations

An activity book featuring coloring sheets, writing prompts, discussion starters & more. Created by artists, scholars & activists. Available as a free downloadable PDF and includes 5 ready-to-print activities about action, empathy, ability, wellness and beauty.

A 7-minute short film profile of queer elder Lenore Chinn on queer artmaking and organizing in the Bay Area. Includes links to resources about LGBTQIA terminologies.

An online exhibition of video poems featuring 12 queer Asian and Pacific Islander diasporic poets. Includes 12 video poems and links to resources about LGBTQIA terminologies.

A short video and postcard series pairing images of film icon Anna May Wong with poetry by Sally Wen Mao. This resource includes:

  • One 4-minute film
  • Four downloadable postcards
  • Make Your Own Postcard activity

An online exhibition and tribute featuring a series of reflections from fourteen artists on the life and legacy of Yuri Kochiyama. This resource includes:

  • Nine images
  • Two short videos
  • Two audio tracks
  • Accompanying short reflections from artists

Content to Complement Social Studies Units

Click on any title to visit the page

An educational video series for educators, by educators. This series includes 40-60 minute talks breaking down various topics in Asian Pacific American histories that question and challenge what it means to be accepted as American. The content is for educators as they plan history, social studies and civics lessons. The videos can be shared with students in Grades 6-8, 9-12, and in higher education classrooms. This page includes:

  • 40-60 minute talks on video
  • Links to Learning Lab collections
  • Q+A sessions with some speakers about why the topics in discussion are important for inclusion in classroom settings and teaching practices.

A portal about the Our Stories Digital Storytelling Initiative that supports the dissemination and perpetuation of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island cultures through the media arts. The content in this portal can be used to modify units about Hawaiian Kingdom history, US history, and Media Arts activities for Grades 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. This page includes:

  • Documentary series, “Language of a Nation”
  • Podcast made by students in Grades 1-3 about a Native Hawaiian tradition
  • General information about the initiative

In partnership with the National Veterans Network, elementary and middle school activities about the Nisei veteran experience during World War II. Both resources include activities for students about everyday life in America’s concentration camps. These activities can be used in units about US history, Civics, World War II history, and activities meant to build empathy, for Grades 2-5, 6-8. This page includes:

  • Worksheets for students
  • Tips on how to teach the activities in classrooms
  • Links to digital resources that expand on Japanese American World War II history

A Learning Together feature about Queen Kapi‘olani, Queen Lili‘uokalani, and the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. This content can be modified to fit units about Hawaiian Kingdom history, US history and Activism, for Grades 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. This page includes:

  • Brief biographies and historical images
  • Video interview with a scholar
  • Learning Lab collection
  • Links to articles about the overthrow

A Learning Together feature about the Little Syria neighborhood in New York City from 1880-1940, and immigration from Greater Syria to the US. This content can be modified to fit units about US history, Immigration and Migration and Ellis Island for Grades 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. This page includes:

  • Artist interview
  • Music video
  • Links to archives and museums focused on Arab American histories
  • Close-look activity

A Learning Together feature about the legacy of the transcontinental railroad and labor of Chinese immigrants. This content can be modified to fit units about US history, Immigration and Migration and the Chinese Exclusion Act, for Grades 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. This page includes:

  • Interview with a scholar and educator
  • Learning Lab collection
  • Activity using an object from the Smithsonian collection

A Learning Together feature about the importance of Filipino American history as a vital part of understanding American history. This content can be modified to fit units about US history, Spanish-American War, Philippine-American War, Immigration and Migration, Activism and Labor Movements, for Grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. This page includes:

  • Interviews with two scholars and experts on Filipino American history
  • Links to community archives
  • Links to book recommendations

A Learning Together feature reflecting on the 45th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon through the intersections of war, migration and the environment. This content can be modified to fit units about US history, Vietnam War, Southeast Asian History, Pacific Islands History and Military Expansion in the Pacific, for Grades 9-12. This page includes:

  • Interviews with two poets and educators
  • Links to original poems
  • Link to archive about history of Guåhan/Guam
  • Book recommendations
  • Short animated film

Resources about Asian American and Pacific Islander Voices in Literature

Click on any title to visit the page

A Learning Together feature for teachers about the importance of selecting diverse books for the classroom. This page includes:

  • Interviews with two scholars
  • Links to book titles and resources about the importance of representation in literature

Website featuring book titles for all ages. This page includes:

  • Book reviews
  • Author interviews

A graphic diary of the early pandemic by artist Nguyên Khôi Nguyễn. This resource includes a viewable sketchbook diary.

A series of mini comics from nine artists adapting exhibition texts from I Want the Wide American Earth. This resource includes a 15-page viewable e-comic.

Come back regularly for new additions to these grids!