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TeachNet NYC  |  Lesson Plans  |  Teachnet

Ask the Oracle (About China)

How it works:
In this program, each student, or team of students, invents an imaginary character that has the ability to time travel to China. The students create stories in the tradition of a traveler's tale, whereas their characters visit China's capital city, Beijing (formerly named Peking), and go to the Great Wall of China in search of a personal goal. The students’ characters journey onward to the Forbidden City and come across the earliest forms of writing, an oracle bone. They prepare ten questions that they (or their characters) have about China. They use a virtual oracle bone and the World Wide Web to find information and answers to their questions, and employ graphics software to create digital drawings that illustrate their characters and their adventures. They utilize hand-coded html or web authoring software to create web-based narratives that include information about their characters' journeys, finding the oracle bone as well as answers to their questions about China.

Standards addressed:  
Students understand what makes different art media, techniques, and processes effective (or ineffective) in communicating various ideas. They recognize similarities and differences among the characteristics of artworks from various eras and cultures (e.g., materials; visual, spatial, and temporal structures) as well as 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 in this program were heterogeneously grouped eighth 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:
Ask the Oracle (About China) draws upon your students' imaginations, and dares them to define their own learning experiences. They are immersed in a fantasy world, based on history, wandering upon an oracle bone in the Forbidden City in search of answers to their questions about China. Their virtual oracle bone becomes a metaphor for the World Wide Web, a powerful medium for finding information, inspiring creative writing, and learning about other cultures.

Asking kids to come up with their own questions is a key to the success of the project. There are things they alone want to know. It's important to remind students again and again that they must be wary about the information found on the Internet. It's best for them to look via educational oriented search engines such as http://britannica.com or http://britannica.com


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 China Institute Travel/Study Award during the summer of 2002. She also serves on the Teachers Network Board of Advisors.


Subject Areas: 
Art s
Social Studies
Language Arts

Grade Levels: 




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