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TeachNet NYC  |  Lesson Plans  |  Teachnet

China CultureQuest

Project URL:

How it works:
Go on a dig with your students, using both digital tools and Chinese brushwork to learn about the art and culture of China. Students brainstorm topics they would like to research for a China CultureQuest report, collage, and Web page. Using Internet resources,  they learn about Chinese brush painting, calligraphy, and names. Then they practice using the brush with tempera paint, as they draw and write Chinese words they find in their online research. For homework, they collect digital and "physical" images and ephemera related to their topic, which they then assemble as a collage. The finished collage is scanned in and added to a Web page with the report and relevant links.

Standards addressed:  
Students understand the visual arts in relation to history and cultures; apply media, techniques, and processes related to the visual arts; and know a range of subject matter, symbols, and potential ideas. They use the general skills and strategies of the writing process, along with grammatical and mechanical conventions, employ information for research purposes, and use viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.

Materials used:
This program uses a networked Macintosh lab with Internet connection, Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Word or other word processor program, Dreamweaver or other Web authoring program, and a scanner. Catalogues, travelogues, brochures, menus, and other ephemera about China, along with glue stick, scissors, paper, and Chinese bamboo brushes and paint, are also employed.

The students:
The eighth grade digital art students at the Institute for Collaborative Education, a small 6-12th grade New York City public school, embarked on the China CultureQuest as part of a year-long curriculum about Asia. The students are racially, socially, academically, artistically, and technically heterogeneous.

Overall value:
In China CultureQuest, the students are "captains of their own ships."  They decide what they want to research and then follow their own action plan for the quest. China may physically be quite far away, but here it becomes a part of their everyday lives. They become conscious of the food the Chinese eat and the merchandise they buy, and develop an understanding of influence of Chinese Americans on local and national culture here in the United States. 

Kids are often very interested in the horoscope; a component of the research can include each student learning about his/her Chinese zodiac sign. Enrich the classroom experience by eating at a Chinese restaurant and learning about the region of China where the cuisine originates. Take a trip to Asian museums or galleries that are in the vicinity. Do a "label watch"  to see how many products students use and wear are imported from and/or manufactured in China.


About the teacher:
Meryl Meisler, digital art teacher at the Institute for Collaborative Education, began teaching in 1979. She has received a Disney American Teacher Award in visual arts, serves on the Teachers Network Board of Directors, and is a consultant to the Whitney Museum's online learning department. Meryl is an accomplished artist in her own right.


Subject Areas:                          

Grade Levels: 



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