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China in the Red
teachers guide

Pre-Viewing Lesson Plans

First Reactions

The lesson will require 50 to 100 minutes depending on the options that you selected.

  • A Note to Teachers

  • Pre-Viewing Lesson Plans
  • A Blending of Socialism and Capitalism
  • Meeting the People

  • During-Viewing Lesson Plan
  • Watching the People

  • Post-Viewing Activities
  • What Happened?
  • Globalization and a Changing Society
  • Literature as a Window Into Culture I
  • Literature as a Window Into Culture II

  • Resources

  • Summary of China's Economy
  • Glossary

  • Student Assignment Sheets
  • A Brief Overview of China
  • Economic Giants
  • The People
  • Meeting the People
  • Viewing Chart
  • Literature Comparison Chart
  • Lesson Objectives

    In this lesson students will:

    • Compile a brief overview of China.
    • Review key economic terms.
    • Compare the economic growth and standard of living in China to that of the United States.
    • Contrast the coverage of China's economy using sources from China and the United States.

    Materials Needed


    (1) Prior to viewing the documentary, you may want to review and discuss the terms in the glossary and the summary of China's economy.

    (2) Have students collect information on China using the CIA's World Factbook, found at http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ch.html.

    (3) Have students answer the questions on "A Brief Overview of China."

    (4) Using the answer sheet, discuss progress and problems that have developed in China.

    (5) Continuing on this site, have the students complete a chart comparing the economies of the United States and China using the "Economic Giants" student assignment sheet. Using the answer sheet, discuss the strengths and weaknesses of both economies. Make a transparency of the chart from either of these sites:

    Then point out the discrepancies between the site the students used and the transparency. Note that household incomes and distribution of incomes at the highest and lowest levels are dramatically different. Ask students what accounts for the differences. Point out that agencies and organizations can paint different pictures of the economy depending upon how they present their statistics, what methods they use, and differing perspectives.


    • Completion of worksheets.
    • Participation in class discussion.
    • Class presentations on the economies of the United States and China.

    Extending the Lesson

    Media Literacy: Examining statistics

    Create two groups in the class and assign one group China and the other group the United States. Students assigned to do the United States should do an Internet search on wealth distribution in the United States and create a report for the class that includes answers to the following questions:

    • What kinds of discrepancies did you discover among the sources?

    • Which sites reported the same or similar statistics?

    • How can we judge the quality of information from a particular site?

    Students assigned to do China should do an Internet search of the wealth distribution in China. They could check Chinese Internet Information Center at http://www.china.org.cn/english/, Xinhuanet Newspaper at http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/, or the People's Daily at http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/. All have excellent search engines and Internet links.

    After their search, students should create a report for the class, which should include answers to the following questions:

    • What kinds of discrepancies did you discover among the sources?

    • Which sites reported the same or similar statistics?

    • How can we judge the quality of information from a particular site?

    Meeting the People

    The activity will take approximately 30 minutes.

    Lesson Objectives

    • To engage students in an interactive exercise that will familiarize them with some of the people they will be watching in the documentary.
    • To give a human face to the economic issues China is facing.

    Materials Needed


    Begin by telling students that they are going to watch a powerful film called China in the Red about the effect of Chinese economic reforms on ordinary Chinese people. Tell them that before the class watches the film, every student will assume the identity of one of the people in the film.

    Give each student one of the descriptions from the student assignment sheet titled "The People." Allow sufficient time so that they can read these carefully. Tell students that their goal is to commit as much of what is in each of the descriptions to memory because they will be "meeting" each other and talking about their person. To help students absorb the information, you might, if you wish, ask them to write a short paragraph, in the first person, describing how each was affected by economic reforms in China.

    Distribute the adhesive name labels. Have students write the name of their individual on the label and affix them so that these will be visible as they circulate throughout the classroom.

    Distribute copies of the "Meeting the People" student assignment sheet. Ask students to move through the class, finding and conversing with people who can answer the questions on their handout. (Note: Students must talk to each of the six other people in answering their questions.)


    • Participation in the activity.
    • Completion of handout.

    (Note: This activity was inspired by an activity written by Bill Bigelow for the Regret to Inform Teacher guide.)

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