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Lesson Plans

An Educator’s Guide to Orange County Diversity is a set of interdisciplinary lesson plans highlighting the rich history and diversity of Orange County. To create this resource, Orange County educators met monthly in 2022-2023 to collectively explore culturally relevant pedagogy, drawing on the knowledge and resources of the Heritage Museum of Orange County, Educate to Empower, the OC Human Relations Commission, UCI Libraries and UCI Social Studies Project, as well as the authors of the book, A People’s Guide to Orange County. Thanks to a grant from the National Writers Project “Building a More Perfect Union,” together, we developed lesson plans and student activities uplifting local history, diversity, community, and representation. 

Curriculum Developer: Joel Medina

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Develop critical and historical thinking skills for analyzing art and images in their local communities.

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Explore examples of public art in Orange County and the historical contexts that surround them from the national and local events that may have shaped or inspired the art, to the lasting legacy and effects (positive or negative) of the art itself.

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We will explore how public art can be used to express a message about the history of a community, or to cover up a community’s past. At the end of the unit, you will demonstrate your critical lens by analyzing a public image or work of art in your own community through a scrapbook project.

Curriculum Developer: Kearci Moir Thompson

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Students will consider why Southern California's doughnut shops are significantly Cambodian-owned, and will study the artwork of Phung Huynh in relation to these spaces. They will then study an LA Pop Artist who is famous for using imagery of desserts in his work, and make a piece in reaction to one or both of these artists work around treats.

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The goal of this lesson is to tell students about the realities of human trafficking and how it impacts
communities in Orange County, with a focus on community and advocacy to counteract it. We will spend time debunking common myths about human trafficking, address digital literacy and online safety, and discuss how intersectionality impacts this issue.

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Students will be choosing a place in Orange County with a complex history to make an art piece that
considers the contemporary use and purpose of the space as well as the context that their research into the history gives them.

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Students will consider how California Missions have been taught in California curriculum, considering if they made a mission project when they were in 4th grade and what that experience was like. They will reflect on the romanticization of the mission spaces - how they have become tourist spots, wedding venues, places to get photos before prom. Then we will discuss the real lived experience of Native communities in Orange County were treated in Mission San Juan Capistrano.

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Through the use of semiotics and signage, students will begin the lesson discussing how images and words communicate quickly to society through traffic signs and logos. They will then consider a sign that used to be on the freeway outside of San Onofre, considering the messages inherent in the sign. They will then study artists that subvert commonly used symbols or signs to make a piece of art that changes or uncovers the original meaning of the sign.

Curriculum Developer: Naehee Kwun

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This lesson aims to be a counternarrative about how the land was acquired by Disney to build their theme park. The mathematical portions are also a counternarrative to the belief that this land was too valuable to be left for agriculture, that being a farmer is “simple”. 

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The lessons highlight how powerful data visualizations can be in portraying stories. Students are led through investigations into the labor practices of the Disney Corporation, specifically at Disneyland and California Adventures in Anaheim, focusing primarily on data visualizations extracted from a report written about a survey taken by the Coalition of Resort Labor Unions (CRLU).

Curriculum Developer: Naomi Breedlove

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The lesson moves into another important figure during the Gold Rush, Biddy Mason. Now that students have an understanding of how one person’s efforts can change so much as well as the fact that all of this did not happen as long ago as they once thought, they can understand the gravity of Biddy Mason’s efforts.

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This lesson is the second part to learning about and understanding the impact of Biddy Mason’s
achievements. Biddy Mason overcame racist hurdles during the era of the Gold Rush when people from all over the world were coming to California for a better life. While learning about this time in history, students are also learning about the lifelong impacts this historical event created.

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This lesson is designed to guide students to understanding how drastic the living situation was after the Gold Rush. Most immigrants risked and lost everything when they decided to come to America in search of gold. They made communities to try and find freedom and support their families back in China. After those communities were built, it was not long before they were subjected to prejudice and violence. Students are intended to understand the lifelong implications of the oppression Chinese communities faced.

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This lesson is designed as an end of year project. It encourages reflection on all things learned throughout the 4th grade year of social studies and California history. This project can be used as a summative assessment. Through art, students will understand the impact of statements made through murals and how they can accurately or inaccurately represent history.

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This lesson is designed to not only teach about the transcontinental railroad, but to offer students the multiple perspectives of this pivotal event in history. They will continue to develop an understanding of life for Chinese immigrants after the Gold Rush while developing their own opinions about how they were treated. This lesson is an interactive activity that encourages discussion of ideas surrounding the differences in the ways white and Chinese workers were treated when building the transcontinental railroad.

Curriculum Developer: Paola Rosenberg

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The purpose of the unit is to transform science learning by developing students as culturally sustaining, globally minded, ecocentrism active citizens. Students will use and develop computer models to investigate how Earth’s systems respond to changes, including climate change. They study the historical evidence and histories of their local Orange County communities and design solutions to mitigate the impacts of these changes on the biosphere.

Curriculum Developer: Stacy Yung

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In this lesson, students will examine primary and secondary sources and describe key features of the Chinese immigrant experience in Orange County. Then, they will build upon their understanding of the Chinese Exclusion Act and how it impacted the Chinese community in Orange County.

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In this lesson, students will build upon their prior knowledge and learning of the Mexican-American War by exploring stories of Mexicans and Indigenous people living in Orange County. Students will identify examples of resistance and resilience from these stories and make connections to the past, present, their lives, and future learning.

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This place-based lesson builds upon topics 8th-grade students have already learned about:
Mexican-American War, Manifest Destiny, westward expansion, Indian removal, and territorial acquisitions. Use this lesson as an extension to connect students’ learning and understanding of those topics to Orange County's stolen land from the Acjachemen and Gabrielino-Tongva Indian Tribe. Students will learn about reparation and the #LandBack Movement and will consider what #LandBack looks like for the indigenous people of Orange County.

Curriculum Developer: Virginia Nguyen

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This lesson is an introduction to Orange County’s diversity. It starts by asking students to identify how Orange County is identified and defined. Students share on a Jamboard or other type words, images, ideas, etc of Orange County. Using what the students shared, the teacher can direct students in reflecting on what is the common narrative associated with Orange County by moving on to popular shows about Orange County and the white homogenous population centered in each show. At this point the students will use the see, think, wonder thinking routine to reflect on what these popular images of Orange County say about what Orange County is and who and what is missing.

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A follow up to the lesson “Introduction to Orange County’s Diversity”, this lesson, “Redefining Orange County” will have students define Orange County based on their experiences and the community they belong to.  The goal is for students will widen their lens of what is Orange County with each additional community being introduced. Upon conclusion of the lesson, students will answer the questions: What is Orange County? And Who should get to define what Orange County is and why? What is the “real” Orange County?

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Students will examine the life and legacy of Dr. Sammy Lee. The lesson starts with an introduction to two-time gold medalist and doctor, Dr. Sammy Lee. Examining photos, and watching a video of him diving, students begin to form a story of Dr. Sammy Lee and his accomplishments. Students are then introduced to de facto segregation and housing discrimination in Southern California, both of which impact Dr. Sammy Lee’s life.

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Students will explore and define hero and changemaker. Using Dr. Sammy Lee’s life, students will consider if Dr. Sammy Lee is a changemaker. Using their understanding of changemaker, students will explore and name local, national, and international changemakers.

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Students apply the characteristics of changemaker. Through inquiry, research and creation, students will create a 1 page creative project about a changemaker. Their 1pager will show how the individual they researched is a changemaker.

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