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Elgin Heinz Winners Teaching Ideas

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from Patience Berkman

The Doctor’s Wife by Ariyoshi Sawako


This moving historical novel tells the story of Seishu Hanaoka (1760– 1835), a Japanese physician who specialized in breast cancer and pioneered the use of general anesthetics in surgery. The novel focuses on the courageous wife and domineering mother of this surgeon and personalizes the story. I highly recommend this novel for high school students.

from Patricia Burleson

Hiroshima Peace Site: Official Homepage of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum


In “Kids Peace Station,” younger students will learn the story of Sadako, have an opportunity to contribute to discussions about peace, and contribute to a collection of presentations of peace studies from schools around the world. Older students will discover the horrors of nuclear warfare through the virtual museum and a photo essay “War Through the Eyes of Children.”

from Alejandro Echevarria

Visualizing Cultures: “Black Ships and Samurai: Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan (1853–54)”


This Internet source gives students a study of “first contact” between two cultures through visual images. The essay by John Dower, the vast collection of visual narratives from different perspectives, and the curriculum created by Lynn Parisi, make this an outstanding resource and one of my favorite lessons.

from John Frank

Dr. Seuss Goes to War


One of the most effective teaching resources that I use concerning United States -Japanese relations is the book Dr. Seuss Goes to War by Richard H. Minear (The New Press, 1999). (The same two hundred cartoons found in the book, without the book’s interpretation, and an additional two hundred World War II Dr. Seuss cartoons, are found on the website).

These cartoons are a valuable teaching resource because students are already familiar with the work of Dr. Seuss and know his cartooning often promoted racial tolerance. Some of the 1941 and 1942 era cartoons demonstrate how Theodor Geisel himself was swept up in the American anti-Japanese sentiments of the early 1940s. In particular, I find the September 4, 1941, February 13, 1942, and October 13, 1942 cartoons the most useful for instructional purposes.

from Sandra Garcia

Japanese Home Unit Idea

In Japan, everyone takes off their shoes upon entering the house, so I tape off a section around the classroom door. As the students come in the “house,” they say, “tadaima” (I am home) and take off their shoes.

from Barbara Horowitz

National Geographic “Living Treasures of Japan” DVD on YouTube


This video, in six parts on YouTube, is an excellent introduction into the traditional arts of Japan and a way to show why custom and tradition are so important to the Japanese. After watching the video, my students have a greater insight into other aspects of Japanese life—family, history, patience, striving for excellence, and “becoming one” with whatever is being taught.

from Michelle Pearson 

Japanese Language


Japanese language links are updated regularly in this collection. From flashcards and character lessons, to reference sources and research aids, this site is a treasure for language teachers and students.

from Masumi Reade 

Virtual Travel Plan

My favorite project asks students to create a virtual travel plan to Japan. An avid soccer fan would go to a soccer game of his favorite team. An otaku anime fan would go to the anime convention in Tokyo. Everyone must create a two-week plan, making sure that they find a good ryōkan where they can stay, reasonable Japanese restaurants to eat, and get involved in local, well-known sites and activities. This is a great way not only for them to get to know Japan, but I also discover something new from every student’s research.

from Fumiko Ziemer 

NHK World: Your Japanese Kitchen


NHK World’s “Your Japanese Kitchen” with Harumi Kurihara introduces Japanese cuisine and culture in twenty minutes. Content teachers may discuss modern Japanese living, cuisine, gardens, history, and simple cooking procedures.