Teacher Notes

What's Next for China and the US?

Members of the Interim Council on National Security - Asia:

I am writing you today on behalf of our entire country and the free world! The largest country on our planet today is China. China is truly foreign to the United States. I personally know very little about the country and every time I make a decision regarding China, it gets me into all sorts of hot water. That's why I have come to you. China is about to step into a tumultuous period. How they face those changes could affect us all. Will the people revolt against change and unify under one strong leader? Or will the Chinese government continue its trend toward free enterprise? Will China's stance on civil rights ever change?

China has experienced such critical events before. The Communist Revolution, The Great Leap Forward, The Cultural Revolution, and even Tiananmen Square were key events in the last 50 years of China's history. These events can be measured against the upcoming crisis in China and hopefully they will give us a better idea of China's future.

I certainly don't know the answers to these questions, but having a better idea of China's future would certainly give us an advantage in dealing with them. Please send me your report as soon as it is complete.


Your Commander in Chief


You have been contacted by the president of the US and he would like you to give him some advice regarding a country he knows very little about. The president is aware that China is going through a great deal of change -- both economic (toward capitalism) and political (the addition of Hong Kong and a change in leadership). He also knows there are factions within China that are incredibly resistant to change. An example of this resistance occurred during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 70s. The President would like you to study this key event and any others you feel are relevant and to prepare a report detailing your view of the effect these changes will have on China and a prediction of how the government will react. Will they reverse their current policies or continue to relax controls? The report will be in writing (2 pages) with a presentation created in HyperStudio using 5-7 cards.


Step 1 Form teams of three. Choose your job as team members. Remember, the security of our nation may depend on your report, so you should all plan to do the initial stages of research and decision-making for your report. You should have a writer, an illustrator/designer, and a fact checker. The writer will be responsible for composing the first draft of your report. The illustrator/designer will create the first draft of charts/graphs or other visuals to increase the impact your report might have. The fact checker will continue to research during the final phase of your work. All of you must be ready to sign off on the finished report that it is what you want to present.

Step 2 Review your information on the Cultural Revolution. Be sure to take adequate notes or print resources you will need for your report to the President. As you collect your information, be aware of the biases of these sources. For example, are they written from the perspective of someone whose family suffered or from the position of an outsider looking at the long term impact of the Cultural Revolution?

Step 3 Read the newspaper and watch TV reports on China. Look for comparisons between the Cultural Revolution and the present.

Step 4 Attempt to form a conclusion, "How will China react if/when this happens . . . In the past they reacted by . . . ." Be as specific as possible. Refer to the historical event and tell the President what the key aspects were then as well as what will happen next.

Step 5 Develop an outline for your report and begin the writing process.


Internet ~ Cultural Revolution

Virtual Museum of the Cultural Revolution

The Cultural Revolution

Cultural Revolution Posters

Internet ~ General History

CHINA: Concise Political History

The Birth of Modern China

People's Republic of China: III

Propaganda Posters

Internet ~ Recent News in China

Washington Post - China

Human Rights Report

Print Resources

Through Chinese Eyes: Revolution and Transformation.
Edited by Peter J. Seybolt. New York: A Cite Book, 1988.


Remember to work as a group. The value of your report will be determined by your ability to work as a unit. Be sure to have facts and opinions for both the historical event and the prediction.


Provide the rubric (last page) to students when you assign the project so they know specifically what is needed.

Information Gathering Critical Thinking
4 Through and complete grasp of specific content area Highly effective use of oral and written skills Thorough and complete grasp of resources available for research Consistently demonstrates use of critical thinking and problem solving skills
3 Substantial grasp of specific content area Effective use of oral and written skills Substantial grasp of resources available for research Sometimes displays critical thinking or problem solving skills
2 Partial grasp of specific content area Minimally effective use of oral and written skills Partial grasp of resources available for research Rarely displays critical thinking or problem solving skills
1 Serious misconceptions in the learning of content Ineffective use of oral and written skills Student does not make use of resources available for research Never displays critical thinking or problem solving skills


Present your conclusions to the president. The President makes his/her decision. How well did that decision reflect the evidence you gave him?


1. What did you learn from this activity that surprised you the most?

2. How important was the Internet to this activity? How much help was your textbook in researching these issues? Would you have found the necessary information without the World Wide Web?

3. How would you evaluate your contribution to the group research and paper? How well did your group work together?

4. The next time you do an activity such as this, what will you do differently?


Author: W. J. Davis
Walnut High

World History Grade 10
Nationalism in Asia - China

Lesson Purpose:

  • Students will make connections between the Cultural Revolution and China today.
  • Students will develop critical thinking skills.
  • Students will learn to work as a unit to accomplish a goal.
  • Students will learn to gather and organize information to reach a conclusion.

History/Social Science Standards

10.9 Students analyze the international developments in the post-World War II world, In terms of the Chinese civil war , the rise of Mao Tse-tung, and the subsequent political and economic upheavals in China (e.g. the great Leap forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the Tiananmen Square uprising.)

History/ Social Sciences Analysis Skills

Chronological and Spatial Thinking

1. Students compare the present with the past, evaluating the consequences of past events and decisions and determining the lessons learned.

2. Students analyze how change happens at different rates at different times; that some aspects can change while others remain the same; that change is complicated and affects not only technology and politics, but also values and beliefs.

Historical Research, Evidence, and Point of View

3. Students evaluate major debates among historians concerning alternative interpretations of the past, including an analysis of authors' use of evidence and the distinctions between sound generalizations and misleading oversimplifications.

4. Students construct and test hypotheses; collect, evaluate and employ information from multiple primary and secondary sources; and apply it in oral and written presentations.

Historical Interpretation

1. Students show the connections, causal and otherwise, between particular historical events and larger social, economic and political trends and developments.

2. Students recognize the complexity of historical causes and effects, including the limitations on determining cause and effect.

3. Students interpret past events and issues within the context in which and event unfolded rather than solely in terms of present day norms and values.

4. Students understand the meaning, implication, and impact of historical events while recognizing that events could have taken other directions.

Language Arts Standards

1.0 LISTENING AND SPEAKING STRATEGIES: Students formulate adroit judgments about oral communication. They deliver focused and coherent presentations of their own that convey clear and distinct perspectives and solid reasoning. They incorporate gestures, tone, and vocabulary tailored to audience and purpose.

2.0 READING COMPREHENSION: Students read and understand grade-level-appropriate material. they analyse the organizational patterns, arguements, and positions advanced.

Lesson Length:
5-10 class periods


1. Encourage your students to be specific in their comparison. How is what happened during the Cultural Revolution similar to or different from what is going on today?

2. Encourage the students to have visuals, charts, etc. to show the impact of the chosen event. For instance, they could use the number killed or arrested at one event as an example of what might or might not happen next.

3. Students could certainly complete this assignment in teams of three to four before or after their initial research. Roles assigned could be fact checker, writer, and illustrator.

4. You might want to keep one group out of the assignment to act as president. They would do the research listen to the other groups' recommendations and then file a report of their own -- the president's decision! They could ask questions as the class presents their reports.

5. The teacher could also encourage students to keep a notebook or log of their findings. Homework assignments could be to add news reports to the log/notebook.

Here are some basic steps for the teacher:

Step 1: Spend a few days teaching about China's communist revolution and have basic information regarding the Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen Square, etc. before making this assignment.

Step 2: Review and collect available resources - text, internet, magazine, newspaper, etc. and determine precisely what the final product will be.

Step 3: Help students examine current conditions and choose one event in China's recent past to compare it to. Step 4: Coach students in preparing for their presentations by using the rubric as a guide.

Step 5: Great a formal conference environment for the student presentations by creating tent signs, microphone-like props, etc..

Step 6: (optional) Teacher or group of students may question each group and then write the decision.

Technical questions on the website to: hoa_nguyen@sbcss.k12.ca.us

Last Revised: 03/21/06