Common Core: Korea. Lessons and Resources for K-12 Classrooms
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National Korean Studies Seminar and the Korean Cultural Center Los Angeles
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Teaching East Asia: Korea, An Excellent Collection of Resources for Educators
Teaching East Asia: Korea is a compilation of resources, lessons, and instructional materials for educators in the United States to help guide instruction on Korea. Published in 2015, this up to date book features nearly 300 pages of helpful content for teachers. This book is broader than a single curriculum unit; it features content for grades K-12 in 5 chapters, divided on the topics of (1) History-Social Science (2) Language (3) Literature (4) Art (5) Religion/Philosophy, with a final compendium including essays, complete lesson plans, and articles, and much more. The book mas many helpful graphs, maps, charts, images and illustrations. Although it is true that some chapters feature more content for certain grade levels than others (such as how the literature chapter has more content for grades K-5), there is material for any grade level on all the topics listed above. One of the most noteworthy chapters is the language chapter; Asian languages are infrequently taught in primary or secondary schools in the United States, and Korean is one of the least commonly taught, so this is a particularly valuable aspect of this collection. Adding to its completeness, Teaching East Asia: Korea is particularly focused on ensuring that all of its instructional materials meet Common Core standards, and lists the relevant Common Core standards for its lessons. All in all, Teaching East Asia: Korea is an excellent resource which all educators hoping to give instruction on Korea in the United States should examine and consult.
Bridging the Divide: Curriculum Guide for Korean Studies
Familiarity with Asia is often a lacuna in the repertoire of many students, teachers, and scholars, especially in the high school classroom. Although Asian Studies do not factor prominently in the curriculum of many elementary and secondary education courses, this need not be the case, and can be easily remedied through proper training and resources. Student exposure to a global perspective on politics, religion, culture, and economics, are essential to twenty-first century learners. By analyzing current events through the lens of past developments, student can better appreciate the world around them, and their role in it. This is exactly what the National Korean Studies Seminar endeavors to accomplish through its curriculum guide, authored by Mary Connor.
The curriculum has several benefits, the strongest of which is its wide scope of topics on Korea. As a whole, the contents of the book are accessible to all grade levels, K-12, but some chapters you will find more tailored toward either secondary or elementary classrooms. For example, most of the literature chapter is for younger readers, while the religion and philosophy units would be above the reading level of most elementary students. The chapter devoted to language satisfies the most selective niche, as it is primarily only useful for a general understanding of Korean language complexity, or for schools that explicitly teach Korean linguistics (in which case a better resource would suffice).
The next most useful section of the book is actually found within the first chapter, where Connor provides essential primary source texts, scholarly essays, document excerpts, and sample lessons for direct application into the classroom. For anyone who wishes to gain a summary knowledge of key issues facing the Korean peninsula, many of the resources found here would be useful. Connor also designates lessons and sections useful for Honors, AP and even IB (International Baccalaureate) classes. Overall, Connor’s classroom guide is prime material for anyone thinking about including Korea in their history or social studies curriculum on East Asia.
Common Core and Korean Education Resources
Winchester Thurston School, North Hills Campus
Curriculum Unit Review—Common Core: Korea by Mary E. Connor
Mary E. Connor’s Common Core: Korea, Lessons and Resources for K-12 Classrooms is a comprehensive look into how historical and contemporary Korean resources and lessons can be integrated into a classroom where Common Core standards guide the curriculum.
The book is divided into five chapters that address different content areas: history/social studies, language, literature, art, and religion/philosophy. The final chapter provides lists of resources for teachers. Certain chapters are more complete than others—for example, I found there to be much less information and resources on language and art than there were on history and social studies, but that may be dictated by Common Core standards and not a reflection of the materials available. The book also includes a list of California state standards, beginning with a framework of the history and social studies standards from Kindergarten through 12th grade. There is a helpful chronological table and timeline in the introduction, which is useful for social studies educators. Being a PK-5th grade librarian, my focus was on the literature section of the book, but the other chapters do an excellent job of matching up Common Core standards with available Korean teaching resources and content. Sprinkled throughout the unit are book reviews on relevant texts, essays, maps, graphs, and guides to assist teachers in effectively covering these subjects.
I was drawn to the literature portion of the book, which incorporates a variety of texts for grade levels PK-12 and includes objectives, activities, assessments, questions, and list of Common Core standards addressed. It brought to my attention several books I was not familiar with and will now be purchasing for my own collection. I appreciated that even the books meant for younger readers were discussed with how they could be used not only with their intended age levels, but with older readers as well (the power of picture books in a middle or high school class is well noted in this curriculum unit!). Particularly useful for me were the discussions on The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi, Dear Juno by Soyung Pak, Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth by Joan Schoettler, and several titles by Korean author Linda Sue Park. When discussing cultures that are largely unfamiliar to your students, accessible texts like these can help to jump start discussion on important topics. For example, the section on Linda Sue Park’s The Firekeeper’s Son, a story about a young boy who must keep his village’s fire lit to signify all is well, provides various extension activities. These include questions like “Describe a time when you had to choose between your wants and those of your family or community. How did you feel? What helped you make your decision? What would you advise a friend in the same situation?” These activities help the teacher juggle the difficult task of meeting the Common Core standards while initiating stimulating conversation that will lead to further inquiry into the topic.
While I work at an independent school and am not bound by the Common Core standards, I do appreciate and applaud Connor’s curriculum unit for doing something that all teachers struggle with—balancing standards with inquiry and project-based learning. This book will help any teacher or librarian, whether they work in a school with Common Core or not, successfully integrate Korean resources into their curriculum in a thoughtful and valuable way.