Investigative Question

How do many different people make one nation? Sub questions: Who are some of the people who make up our state of California and our nation? What traditions do they bring? What are some ways that people in California are similar, and some ways that we are different?

Standard 1.5 focuses on people from many places, cultures, and religions who live in the United States and who have contributed to its richness. Through contemporary stories as well as folktales and legends, students discover the many ways in which people, families, and cultural groups are alike despite their varied ancestry. Teachers may employ the question How do many different people make one nation? and use quality literature such as Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley, Whoever You Are by Mem Fox, and Cinderella stories for multiple cultures, such as Jouanah: A Hmong Cinderella by Jewell Reinhart Coburn and Tzexa Cherta Lee, to teach and reinforce these concepts. In developing this unit of study, teachers draw first from the rich fund of literature and folklore from the cultures represented among the families in the classroom and school. Then, as time allows, teachers can introduce literature from other cultures for comparison, emphasizing how American Indians and immigrants have helped define California and America. Throughout this unit, students should be encouraged to discuss and dramatize these stories and analyze what these stories tell about the culture. Understanding similarities and differences of people from various cultural backgrounds allows students to have increased awareness of the beliefs, customs, and traditions of others.
California is a remarkably diverse state. The California Department of Education has identified 65 different language groups spoken among today’s public school students. And this population diversity is not a new development. This inquiry set is meant to provide sources to showcase California’s historic population diversity. Recognizing and appreciating the diversity in our students, families, community, and nation is an important and sometimes difficult task for teachers. By examining and acknowledging students’ religions and beliefs, traditions and customs, ethnicities and racial identities, family structures, and disabilities and abilities, we can help students develop empathy for others in the classroom. The images in this inquiry set span a wide range of years in California. Teachers can help students see that California has always been a diverse state. The suggested activity for this set engages the whole class in making observations together, and hearing each other’s thoughts and experiences is one more example of the diverse perspectives in California’s population. It may be useful for teachers to have a world map to show where different immigrant groups in California have come from.
This activity is meant to engage students in a critical observation of each image so they can build evidence for answering the investigative question. Teacher Directions:
  1. Display eight images (one at a time) and introduce the 3-2-1 Image Analysis strategy:
    • 3: at first glance, what three thing stand out to you in this picture?
    • 2: When you look closer, what two thing catch your attention?
    • 1: Write one question you would ask of one of the people in this picture.
  2. Students share observations out loud and the teacher records responses on a classroom chart.
  3. To guide students' observations about the sources, these questions can be used as prompts:
    • What does this source tell us about some of the people who live in our community or nation?
    • Is there anything in the source that tells us about the people's customs or cultures?
    • What is the evidence?
  4. After recording student observations for each image and listening to input from their peers, the class will develop one statement representative of the topic. A sentence starter could be used to help students with their statements. Students could also be given the opportunity to write their own statement for each image.
  5. Students can also draw their own pictures that match up with the theme or main idea and write a couple of sentences about their drawings. For all pictures, teachers may include a discussion that asks students to compare and contrast their own experiences with each photograph.
    • Example: Some families have many different age groups living together.
    • Example: Annual events are a way for families to share stories and have fun.
1.5 How Do Many People Make One Nation Student Handout
  • The Library of Congress. The Library of Congress’ Primary Source Analysis Tool supports an inquiry model of instruction by asking students to first observe, then reflect, then question. Their customizable tool includes specific prompts for student interrogation of books and other printed materials, maps, oral recordings, photographs and paintings, and many other types of primary sources.
  • The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA has developed a vast collection of document analysis worksheets, ready for classroom use. Their website offers teachers a wide collection of customizable tools – appropriate for working with photographs, maps, written documents, and more. NARA has also customized their tools to meet the needs of young learners, and intermediate or secondary students.
Teachers should be mindful that students and their families come from a variety of socioeconomic, cultural, religious, ability, nationality, gender, and racial/ethnic backgrounds. Their neighborhoods and hometowns might share common cultural, religious, social, or architectural aspects from the past communities shown in this exercise. This standard will aid in providing a more inclusive interpretation of what other communities might look or function like while also helping students analyze how and why nations experience change over time. Please take care to consider the context of immigration.