Those of you who have seen cellist Yo-Yo Ma transported by his music, and felt so yourself, will hardly be surprised to learn that Classical New England, radio from WGBH in Boston, has dubbed the month of May “The Month of Ma.” While western New Englanders may be unable to hear daily broadcasts exploring the career and artistry of the acclaimed cellist, at PBS LearningMedia you’ll find a wonderful 3-minute video called Faces of America: “Ma Family History” for grades 3-12 and more.
The video segment from the PBS series Faces of America shows Yo-Yo Ma learning about his ancestors in China from historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and how dates, stories, poems and more have been preserved in traditional Chinese texts. It’s a powerful way to show students the importance of honoring the past, their ancestors and even their names. Here’s a preview of the interview with Yo-Yo Ma:
Along with discussion questions and text, PBS LearningMedia also features the lesson plan Exploring the Past for grades 2-12. In an Introductory Activity students work together to gather information from photographs. In Learning Activities they explore video segments from Faces of America and discuss how celebrity guests gained new insights into their family history through the help of primary sources. Optional activities include learning about the Chinese tradition of preserving family histories and creating a project to record important events in their own lives through the use of writing and drawings.