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The Buddha Chronicles 

How it works:
Each student or team of students invents an imaginary character that has the ability to time travel to Japan. In preparation for meeting an “enlightened being,” students take their characters on several virtual tours. They visit modern and historical sites in 20th century Tokyo and then travel back several centuries to Tokyo during the Edo period. The students (and their characters) learn about the history and lore of an enlightened being known as Buddha . They explore how Buddhism originated, flourished, and continues to be practiced in Japan. They learn what a Bodhisattva is and have a “Buddha brainstorm”  to imagine their characters encounter with an enlightened being. They use their research to word-process information about Buddhism and the difference and/or similarities between a Buddha and a Bodhisattva. Imaging software such as Photoshop is used to illustrate their stories. The students create linking html pages that incorporate the chronicle of an encounter with an “enlightened being” in Japan along with information about Buddhism as well as introductions to their character.

Standards addressed:  
Students understand and apply media, techniques, and processes related to the visual arts and communicating various ideas . They understand the visual arts in relation to history and cultures ; the similarities and differences among the characteristics of artworks from various eras and cultures; and the historical and cultural contexts of a variety of art objects. They also use computer databases to locate sources for research topics .

Materials used: 
The program was designed for a networked Macintosh lab. Each station is equipped with Internet access. The students can use word processing software (Simple Text or Microsoft Word) to write their own html, web authoring software (Dreamweaver or BBEdit), and graphics and animation software (Photoshop ImageReady and/or Flash).

The students:
The original participants were heterogeneously grouped seventh grade students at the Institute for Collaborative Education, a small New York City public school. The writing, artistic, and technical skills of the students varied.

Overall value:
The Buddha Chronicles enlightens students' minds and imaginations. They learn about an Eastern philosophy/religion/belief system and themselves as they search for information and answers about Buddhism. They also write and illustrate imaginative, soul-searching narratives while learning about other cultures.

Tips: 
Go to a museum, library, gallery, historical society, or Buddhist center in your locality to see “real” representations of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

 





   

About the teacher:
Meryl Meisler, digital art teacher at the Institute for Collaborative Education, has taught art in the New York City public schools since 1979.  Meryl was recipient of a Japan Society Travel/Study Award for three weeks in Japan during the summer of 2001. She also serves on the Teachers Network Board of Advisors.

E-mail:
meryl.meisler@gmail.com

Subject Areas: 
Art s
Social Studies
Language Arts
Technology


Grade Levels: 
7-8

 

 

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