Gold Mountain




Map Work



Teacher Notes


History-Social Science Content Standards

Goal: Students will gain historical information and empathy about the living and working conditions of Chinese immigrants from 1848 until 1882 in California.

Grade 4: Standards Addressed

Unit 4.3 Students explain the economic, social, and political life of California ... through the Gold Rush and California statehood, in terms of:

2. comparisons of how and why people traveled to California and the routes they traveled

3. the effect of the Gold Rush on settlements, daily life

4. the immigration and migration to California between 1850 and 1900; its diverse composition, the countries of origin and their relative locations, and the conflicts and accords among diverse groups (e.g., the 1882 Exclusion Act)

Grade 8: Standards Addressed

8.12 Students analyze the transformation of the American economy and the changing social and political conditions in the United States in response to the Industrial Revolution, in terms of:

7. the new sources of large-scale immigration and the contribution of immigrants to the building of cities and the economy; the ways in which new social and economic patterns encouraged assimilation of newcomers into the mainstream amidst growing cultural diversity; and the new wave of nativism

H/SS Thinking Skills

Chronological and Spatial Thinking

1. students explain how major events are related to each other in time

2. students construct various timelines of key events, people, and periods of the historical era being studied

3. students use a variety of maps and documents to identify physical and cultural features of ... states, and countries and to explain the historical migration of people...

Research, Evidence and Point of View

1. students frame questions that can be answered by historical study and research

2. students distinguish fact from opinion in historical narratives and stories

3. students distinguish relevant from irrelevant information, essential from incidental information, and verifiable from unverifiable information in historical narratives and stories

5. students detect the different historical points of view on historical events and determine the context in which the historical statements were made (the questions asked, sources used, author's perspectives)

Historical Interpretation

1. students explain the central issues and problems of the past, placing people and events in a matrix of time and place

6. students interpret basic indicators of economic performance and conduct benefit/cost analyses in order to analyze economic and political issues

English/Language Arts Standards

Grade 8

2.0. READING COMPREHENSION: Students read and understand grade-level- appropriate material. They draw

upon a variety of comprehension strategies as needed, including generating and responding to essential questions, making predictions, and comparing information from several sources.

Structural Features of Informational Materials:

2.3. make and confirm predictions about text by using prior knowledge and ideas presented in text itself, including illustrations, titles, topic sentences, key words, and foreshadowing clues

2.4. evaluate new information and hypotheses by testing them against known information and ideas

2.5. compare and contrast information on the same topic after reading several passages or articles

2.6. distinguish between cause and effect and fact and opinion in expository text

WRITING STRATEGIES: Students write clear and coherent sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea. Their writing considers audience and purpose. They successfully use the stages of the writing process (i.e., pre-writing, drafting, revising, and editing successive versions).

Information Literacy Skills:

2.3 Students will extend ideas presented in primary or secondary sources through original analysis, evaluation, and elaboration.

2.4 Students will synthesize the content and ideas from several sources dealing with a single issue or written by a single author, and paraphrase the ideas and connect them to the other sources and related topics to demonstrate comprehension.

2.5 Students will extend ideas presented in primary or secondary sources through original analysis, evaluation, and elaboration.

2.6 Students will demonstrate use of sophisticated learning tools by following technical directions (e.g., graphic calculators, specialized software programs, access guides to Internet Worldwide Websites)

Length of Lesson

Lesson length is dependent on the ability if the class and may involve 5-10 fifty minute periods.

Interdisciplinary Connections

Students write pervasive letters from the perspective of a historical character (Language Arts).

Students Analyze musical lyrics and write a "Response Song" or poem. (Arts, Language Arts)

The Task

Students will assume the identity of a Chinese immigrant to San Francisco between 1850 and 1880. Students will analyze job and living opportunities open to them and determine a job and place to live west of the Rocky Mountains. Then they will analyze a folk song, make a map and decide whether or not to stay in the US. Students will develop empathy for the immigrant experience and discuss comparisons and contrasts with today's immigrants.

The Process

Students will read primary and secondary sources to find jobs open to them as a Chinese immigrant. Students will analyze local laws and attitudes regarding Chinese and leverage the laws against the job potential. After completing a background worksheet:

1. Students will locate the possible living sites on a map and develop a key showing what jobs they would do there.

2. Students will jigsaw groups to share information, make a chart which shows jobs for Chinese in the most positive light, and write an honest letter about job and living conditions to a Chinese friend.

3. Students will read and listen to a folk song and write a response or write a paper coming to a decision on staying or leaving the US.


The following provide a good background in Chinese immigration. Students should also encouraged to use print, video, and CD Rom as resources. The instructor might consult Stranger From a Different Shore by Dr. Ronald Takaki. (Penguin Books New York, NY. Copyright 1989. ISBN01401.38854)

Some of the content matter of the links below may be offensive or have explicit links not suitable for all students. However, there is useful material from which teachers will want to select for this lesson.

Political cartoons

Opium dens, gambling, vice etc.


Learning Advice

Tips for Students (included on student pages)

When you are visiting a website with pictures, clicking on the pictures will enlarge them, but this may take a long time.

It is not necessary to visit each website under "jobs", but do look at at least three in your category. Keep your work in a folder. Place a bookmark for each site you visit, so you can easily return if you need more information.

Notes for Instructors

Background information on the History of the Chinese in California in the 1860's ins found at

The background worksheet is designed to aide the poor reader. Skip this section if it's not needed. If students do have reading difficulties, consider using a display station to read this section as a group.

There are several strong political cartoons that can be incorporated into this lesson. An index of some is available:

Copyright for making multiple copies of the song, "John Chinaman, my Jo John" are not granted. Single copies for classroom use are approved, so put the words on the overhead.

For additional information about the Chinese and Irish confrontations in San Francisco, try this website

Students have been told to save the residence certificate, check from time to time and reward them.


  • map of states west of the Mississippi at least legal size
  • butcher paper for poster
  • overhead or display station
  • residence certificate



NAME____________ LOCATION ______________




Native of _______________________________



Kathleen Cohen,
Joaquin Miller JHS
Cupertino Union SD
Reviewed by Dr. William Deverell, Caltech