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.
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.
This program uses a networked Macintosh lab with Internet
connection, Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Word or other word processor
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 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.
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.