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.
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
computer databases to locate sources for research topics
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
ImageReady and/or Flash).
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.
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
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.