Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

American Exclusivity

The Chinese Exclusion Act

Mariana DeLoera, Laura Halstied, Kristen Sublett, Susan McHale | Published: June 30th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 11th
  • Subject Subject Social Studies
  • Course Course U.S. History
  • Time Frame Time Frame 1-2 class period(s)
  • Duration More 100 minutes


In this lesson, students explore factors leading up to the passage of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and reflect on the impact it had on Asian Americans. Students work in pairs to analyze a document packet and complete a H-chart that synthesizes the documents to answer an overall essential question.

Essential Question(s)

How did the Chinese Exclusion Act impact Asian Americans?



Students participate in a classroom discussion regarding push/pull factors for immigration.


Students complete a Stop and Jot activity paired with a timeline reading.


Students work in pairs to summarize a document set and complete a H-Chart.


Students analyze a response piece and complete the S-I-T strategy.


Students finalize the H-Chart.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Timeline of the Chinese Exclusion Act handout (attached, one per student or pair)

  • H-chart handout (attached, one per student)

  • Document Analysis Packet (attached, one per student)

  • A Chinese View of the Statue of Liberty handout (attached, one per student)

  • Pencil/Pen

  • Highlighters

  • Large easel pad


10 Minute(s)

Use the attached Lesson Slides to guide the lesson. Slides 2-3 include the lesson title and objectives to share prior to beginning the lesson. Begin the lesson by displaying slide 4. Tell students to think about some push and pull factors that contributed to immigration into the United States during the settlement of the American West. Remind students that they should consider factors already discussed in class and factors that they know from common knowledge.

Start with the push factors. Have students share out their response to "What are some push factors that contribute to immigration?" Write down the reasons as students share them out. Once they have wrapped up push factors, move onto pull factors by asking a similar question, "What are some pull factors that contribute to immigration?" Follow the same step and write down the responses.

Once reasons for immigration have been discussed, move to the essential question found on slide 5.

Explain to students that in this lesson they will look at the reasons Chinese citizens emigrated to America prior to the Chinese Exclusion Act and examine how implementation of the Act impacted Asian Americans.


15 Minute(s)

After lesson objectives and the essential question have been introduced, explain to students that they will analyze the timeline of the events leading up to the Chinese Exclusion Act, events that followed, and the effects the act had on America and Americans.

Begin by having students move into pairs. Distribute attached Chinese Exclusion Act Timeline handout.

Instruct students to read the events on the timeline and explain that as they work through the timeline there will be places on the handout where they complete the Stop and Jot strategy, the instructions can be found on slide 6. When they reach a Stop and Jot placeholder on the timeline, have students summarize in the handout what they have read so far.

After students have finished reading through the timeline and have completed their Stop and Jots, invite students to share their summaries with the class. Students may continue to fill in their notes if there is something they have missed as students share out. Use this time to answer any questions students have so far regarding the law and any misconceptions that might have already formed.

Transition by telling them they are now going to examine the Chinese Exclusion Act further by looking at historical personal perspectives regarding the law.


30 Minute(s)

Have students remain in their pairs for the next portion to analyze a set of documents.

Distribute the attached Document Analysis Packet and the H-Chart handout to the pairs, each student should have their own copy of the Document Analysis Packet and H-Chart handout. Partner One will read and analyze Documents A and B and Partner Two will read and analyze Documents C and D.

Ask students to use the Why-Lighting strategy to highlight in their documents answers to the question "What factors contributed to the Chinese Exclusion Act?" Display slide 7 with the question from the Why-Lighting activity for students to refer back to. Once both students have analyzed their two documents, have them explain what they highlighted to their partner and how this information answers the question.

Once students have discussed their annotations among themselves, instruct them to move that information to their H-Chart.

  • Left side of H-Chart: Have students summarize with their partner what they believe answers the question posed based on documents A and B on the left side of the H-Chart.

  • Right side of H-Chart: Repeat that step for documents C and D on the right side of the H-Chart.

Once students have completed both sides of the H-Chart, invite a few groups to share their summaries.


20 Minute(s)

Now that students have completed the annotation of the Document Analysis Packet set, pass out the handout, A Chinese View of the Statue of Liberty. Provide time for students to read the independently while staying in pairs.

Display slide 8. Ask students to use the S-I-T strategy as they read the article. Explain that each student is to write down one idea that was surprising, one idea that was interesting, and one idea that was troubling.

Once students have identified their S-I-T statements, have them turn to their partners, discuss their findings, and explain their reasoning. Ask pairs to share one of their statements to the class. Once pairs have discussed their statements, invite them to choose one of the statements they identified along with their reasoning and share with the whole class. Ask a few groups to share out with the whole class.

Once the S-I-T discussion has concluded, ask the class one final question.

Show slide 9: Why does Saum Song Bo feel both honored and insulted by the call for contributions?

Give students time to discuss their answers with their Elbow Partner and to discuss among themselves before moving the conversation to the whole class. Once students have discussed with each other, invite a few to share out their thoughts with the class. Instruct them to keep this question and the discussion in mind when completing the next portion of the lesson.


10 Minute(s)

Ask students to independently return to their H-Chart handouts to complete the middle section. Ask them to write a response that blends or synthesizes all four documents in the Document Analysis Packet.

Display slide 10. Ask students to respond to the question, "How did the Chinese Exclusion Act impact Asian Americans?" Encourage students to use all the documents they have analyzed during the lesson to write their responses. Ask students to write at least one paragraph in response.

If desired, ask for volunteers to share their responses. Collect the completed Stop and Jot handout and H-Chart handout to assess student understanding of the lesson content.