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Frequently asked questions

  • How do I get started?
    See the instructions on the Get Started page.
  • What equipment and materials do I need?
    The lessons are self-contained; no additional textbooks, images, or videos are required. Everything you need is included, and you’ll be able to teach every lesson via the internet. If students have access to the internet, they can follow along with you from their own devices. However, you may also want to have access to a classroom projector that connects to your computer so that you can project the images and videos in class for a shared communal experience. You also have the option of printing out handouts. PDFs or Google Docs are available on the Materials and Teacher Preparation page that can be accessed from the lesson’s Overview page.
  • Why do teachers have to create a login?
    Without a login for teachers, we have no way of tracking usage information. We ask for a minimal amount of information: name, email address, zip code, and grade level (or other). We will not give or sell the information to any third party, but we may occasionally send you updates or curriculum information. Students do not need to create a login.
  • How do teachers know which curriculum standards the lessons fulfill?
    Each lesson’s Overview page shows all the elements of that lesson and includes a Lesson Introduction page, a Connections to Curriculum Standards page, and a Materials and Teacher Preparation page. Click the Connections to Curriculum Standards to see which standards that lesson fulfills.
  • What grade level and reading level was this created for?
    Generally, this curriculum is best suited for high school and college students. Teachers will want to adjust the expectations and assignments according to grade level. An example is that each lesson includes source material information and reference sources. The primary source detail would be more relevant to a student on the advanced range of the spectrum. Conversely, most of the videos can be easily comprehended by middle school students.
  • Who funded this curriculum? Are there ads?
    Many donors funded the development of this website; the three major donor names appear on the bottom of each web page, while others are listed at the bottom of the About page. The curriculum is the educational component of the Mineta Legacy Project, conceived and developed by Dianne Fukami of Bridge Media, Inc. and Debra Nakatomi from Nakatomi & Associates. From the outset they wanted to produce a film about Secretary Norman Y. Mineta’s life and career and also create a free online educational curriculum that took key themes from Secretary Mineta’s life and expanded upon them. Debra and Dianne were joined by Amy Watanabe, and their fundraising efforts resulted in the production of the documentary film, Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story, which was broadcast nationally on PBS in May 2019, and the curriculum "What Does It Mean To Be An American?" The text content of the curriculum was developed by Dr. Gary Mukai and Rylan Sekiguchi from the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) at Stanford University, with Bridge Media, Inc. producing the videos, and the web team of Hannah Eaves and Monica Olivera of Multiply Bureau creating the website. Other than what was mentioned above, there are no ads or commercial pop-ups on this site.
  • Is it necessary for teachers and students to have seen “Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story” to maximally benefit from this curriculum?
    Although the documentary film and curriculum are related, they are stand-alone separate entities. Three of the videos in the curriculum are short excerpts from the film, but the other 20 were produced specifically for the curriculum. If you’d like to access the film for educational purposes, please use the Contact page or email For more information about the film, visit
  • How should I use the videos in the curriculum?
    The use of the videos and accompanying discussion questions is up to the teacher’s discretion. In creating the videos, our intent was to bring diverse perspectives into the classroom. Many of the interviewees are students in high school and college who share their personal experiences and opinions. Some videos feature high-profile political leaders, such as former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton (yes, we did interview them for the film and this curriculum). Other interviewees bring a unique perspective to the subject matter, such as Japanese Americans who were imprisoned during World War II and talk about the Civil Liberties Act in the lesson Justice & Reconciliation.
  • Can this curriculum be used for distance learning?
    "What Does It Mean To Be An American?" was originally intended to be a classroom-based curriculum that relied on the internet. But it can just as easily be used in online learning situations, including those caused by the current coronavirus pandemic. In most cases, there is little to no adaptation needed on the teacher’s part.
  • May other people besides teachers use the resources in this curriculum?
    Absolutely. Although we created the curriculum for classroom use, many people have pointed out that the components of this curriculum can be used for community workshops or other gatherings outside of a school. At the time of conception, we had no way of knowing that race would become an even larger part of the national dialogue or that civic engagement would emerge as a national issue. There are many elements in the curriculum that have become even more relevant than when they were originally conceived.
  • Are there plans to create a similar curriculum for younger students?
    Not at this time.
  • Is this site free to use?
    Yes! This site is completely free to use for both students and educators.
  • If I have additional questions, how can I get answers?"
    Please feel free to contact us via the Contact page or email

Need more help?

If you have any questions about the curriculum or specific components, feel free to share your questions or comments with us. 

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