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pre-2011 middle school ideas

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Clay Dube
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pre-2011 middle school ideas

Let's use this area to discuss curriculum materials and activities to use with middle school students. Where possible, please include information about the skills being developed and any content standards that are being addressed. Please change the subject line to reflect the theme of your post.

-- What Asia-specific topics do you try to raise with your students?

-- For what topics (e.g., social organization, government, economic development, sculpture, family roles) do you use Asia-related examples?

-- How have your students responded to these? (Perhaps tell us a bit about your students.)

-- What books, films, and activities would you recommend?

Thanks for drawing on your experiences.

Please also use this area to ask questions. For example, perhaps you'd like to teach something on migration and would like a Silk Road activity that will develop writing or geography skills. Or perhaps you need a science, math, health, art, literature or physical education suggestion. Please ask.

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Message from jshults

Silk Road is a big idea of 7th grade curriculum. We can sneak it in at many different times into the standards. Today I snuck Marco Polo and the Yuan Dynasty into a review on the Renaissance...old Marco really is mentioned in the Renaissance Standards.

Corel has a beautiful photo CD disk called the Silk Road. You can run the CD as a slide show, with titles so you look like you know what you are doing (of course, that is a picture of x located in y.....) I bought my copy (and many other such disks) on ebay, as Clay recommended during our classes. Copyright free photos, so we are free of that Western sense of guilt....

Any Silk Road stuff people have to share would be fabulous....a really nice geography lesson, complete with mapping activity, would be stupendous!

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Message from dbrittenham

Have you been to the Silk Road Encounters site (through AskAsia.org) It's at http://teachers.silkroadproject.org/. There's a really nice curriculum unit FREE to educators. All print, not video like it says, but good stuff. And I LOVE the Spice unit on the Silk Road.
Talk about all Asia all the time: today I snuck in(segue?) Marco Polo in a discussion of Ibn Battuta, and get this, the North Korean army in a lesson about Sundiata king of Mali (you know, the dangers of a large standing army.)

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Message from droston

One of the novels we have used at Nightingale for 8th grade students is "Ties that Bind, Ties that Break." It is a story about a young girl who refused to have her feet bound. It is set a few years before this custom was no longer practiced and deals with a number of issues including women's rights and the political changes in China. It sparks a lot of discussion and students seem to become very engaged in the novel. We have taught it along with "The Diary of Anne Frank" as a thematic unit, but I'm considering possibly ending the year with this as part of a unit on solely Asian literature and topics.

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Message from eshorer

I'm curious about the reading level for this book. Our students have a difficult time with novels, and it would be nice to have something that deals with Asia at their level.

>One of the novels we have used at Nightingale for 8th grade students is "Ties that Bind, Ties that Break."

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Message from droston

According to Amazon.com, it is appropriate for 11-14 year olds. At Nightingale, we have used it successfully in 8th grade classrooms with a wide range of reading levels. Most of our 8th grade classrooms span several years in reading ability- usually grades 3-9.

Another book along similar lines that might be interesting is by Adeline Yen Mah (not sure about the spelling). She has a book called "Falling Leaves: A Tale of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter." She has two versions. "Falling Leaves" is the adult version. The teen version has a similar title. I think it is something like "A Cinderella Story: A Tale of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter." I have read the adult version and thought it would be interesting for my gifted students. I want to get the teen version and check out its possibilities.

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Message from eshorer

Most of us are familiar with the 5-7-5 formula for haiku, and we tend to use it in lessons having students write poetry counting syllables. As Prof. Miyake informed us, Japanese is "pretty much" pronounced like Spanish, so it might be fun to have students do bilingual readings of some of the poems we had. I'm picturing pairs of students standing in front of the classroom, and one reading (or reciting) the original in Japanese, and the other reciting the translation in English. It might give it a new "feel" and bring an added interest/appreciation.

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Message from eshorer

Controversy breeds interest, and I think the controversy surrounding Marco Polo could be something to attract the attention of our students. Students could be assigned to various groups with the task of 1) Tracing his route with maps 2) Introducing his discoveries 2) Retelling his hardships 4) presenting the views of those who don't believe he made the trip, etc. I think such a project could capture the imagination of our students.

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Message from cforfar

i'm a big fan of the History Alive Series(Teachers' Curriculum Institute. http://www.historyalive.com/) for augmenting the text. (and sometimes the other way around!)
Guided/Independent practice. Big picture concepts with attention to important details.
Kinesic activities, graphic organizers, visuals- combined with critical thinking development.
They provide great slides as well, but I read somewhere that the new version changed the slides into overheads?
They sell year long units (grades 6-8) that follow the standards rather faithfully.

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Message from lshifflett

I went to the History Alive site, and it is great. I'm going to use it as the basis for updating my pacing plan. It would be great if we could get the overheads for our classrooms through this program.

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Message from lshifflett

Don't forget to add music to your classroom. Yo Yo Ma has a great CD out called "The Silk Road" where he introduces and uses the musical instruments that were used in ancient China along the Silk Road. I use a variety of music in all my classes. It takes the students a moment to get used to different types of music, and then they start to ask for their favorites. I try to add both art and music to my classes, something that I had when I was in school.

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Message from lshifflett

I like the idea, but where do we get the original Japanese pronunciation?

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Message from lshifflett

I have been asked to design and teach a new course on "Communication Media". I would like a part of my web site to link directly to media, translated into English, from many parts of the world, particularly: Britain, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Ghana, Greece, Guatamala, India, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, South Africa. I want students on any given day to be able to compare perspectives on the news from around the world. I would appreciate getting the URL for any sites that you think might be good for this.

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Message from jdavis2

Hi, I am sorry not to know your name. I am taking the seminar on line from New Mexico, and teach in San Diego...Asian Studies as a year long class. Please let me know where this Corel cd might be obtained? Sounds excellent. Many thanks, Jan Davis

Clay Dube
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Topic Posts: 535
Message from Clay Dube

Hi Jan --

Corel has produced many cds with royalty-free images you can use for web sites and classroom projects. These are now offered by a number of dealers at greatly varying prices. An internet search will turn these up (use corel china photo or a similar search string). I've just done so and noted prices ranging from $10-$30 for a single disk. A friend has purchased about 30 of these disks via eBay at about $7/disk. She draws upon them in illustrating presentations.

Curious about seeing thumbnail versions of the images on these disks? Check out this Berkeley resource:

http://elib.cs.berkeley.edu/photos/corel/

Choosing one of the disks (e.g., "Exotic Hong Kong") and hitting search will produce several pages showing the images contained on the disk.

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Message from rmansdorf

Multimedia is the way to go. I'm constantly trying to expand my use of computers, on-line resources, and music or videos to the class. In the past I have been limited by the size and resources in my classroom, but the addition of music and taped readings from the text really enrich the experience. I will look for the Silk Road recording, sounds interesting.

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Message from lsutton

Buddhism and Its Spread Along the Silk Road
http://www.silk-road.com/artl/buddhism.shtml
I already posted this site under China curriculum but this seems a better place. This is an excellent overview story about Buddhism spreading through the trade routes. Illustrations are very good.

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Message from lsutton

Lyn mentioned getting the overheads. I have them, as in, the ones that came in their China/Japan box set last spring. They are, by and large, flat and lacking in interesting colors. I really was disappointed and have expressed that dissatisfaction directly to them several times. If you can get the slides that came in earlier versions, you may be happier. I doubt whether you could do any sharing of them without the company objecting. They want everyone to pay the mega-bucks/set that they charge. Oh, I do like a lot of their lessons, but you need to really walk through them ahead of time. There's no way to do them without a lot of xeroxing, but the students really get a lot out of them so they're a worthwhile add-on to each unit. I've had some difficulty deciding how best to assess and score these projects. Anyone who has a good idea on this, please post.

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Message from bglavas

When I teach about religions in Asia, I include a mandala art project. I recently found a most amazing book. It is about 3 feet tall by 2 feet and it has vivid printed images of traditional mandalas. It's called "Celestial Gallery" by Romio Shrestha. There is explanation of the symbols and some background information for each print. It's an expensive book. It retails for about $125, but I have found it on amazon.com for $79. Personally, I think it's very important to have as many authentic visual samples for the students to model. I thought this might be of interest for anyone who teaches about Buddhism. It's a great vehicle to bring many ideas to the students.

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Message from bglavas

The idea that students could read and compare newscasts from around the world and share their viewpoints is such a incredible idea. I would enjoy participating in something of that nature. What a truly worthwhile (beyond educational-- enlightening) endeavor for students to see the viewpoints of their peers from a global perspective.

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Message from tnguyen

There are also a few videos (In Chinese) that explain and capture the spread of Buddhism through the Silk Road. I have watched a series of these Chinese movies which are translated in Vietnamese. If this series of videos get translated in English, i think they would make an incredible educational material to teach Buddhism.

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Message from dbrittenham

This is a little off topic for Asia, but I have/ am creating a website for 7th grade teachers and students to discuss curriculum and other pressing topics. There is a writing section for each unit, and we are not yet to Asia, but there will be a China topic by February 1. The site also has a blog, with a thread for each unit. Students need to register for the blog, and I have all responses emailed to me, with blocking power, so it is pretty safe. We would like to have other students and classes join us. The site will continue to be improved and added to. especially the interactive parts. The address is: http://home.apu.edu/~dbrittenham/connections/
I also have a powerpoint on Japanese Castles at http://home.apu.edu/~dbrittenham/517/Castleleaf.htm
It looks best in Netscape, I have not been able to resolve a couple of problems in Explorer.

Clay Dube
Topic replies: 1463
Topic Posts: 535
Message from Clay Dube

Debbie's presentation on castles is quite helpful. It works fine in Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox. It includes photos (she took the Miyajima ones in 2003 when she participated in an NCTA study tour to Korea and Japan), diagrams, and lesson assignments. She also has helpful links to related books and more.

A reminder -- please follow Debbie's lead and share resources you create as well as those you find. You can copy and paste her web address into your browser or you can click on the link below to see it:

http://home.apu.edu/~dbrittenham/517/Castleleaf.htm

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Message from rramirez

One thing I did last year with my students was to introduce them to the three beliefs system (Buddhism, Confucianism and Daoism) with some materials from the HIstory Alive series. The material was some condensed notes and you had to have the students highlight important features about each belief system.
As a followup, I gave them a homework assignment in which each student had to decide which belief system is most similiar to me as their teacher. They had to defend their answer by tying together the way I run my class and my discipline policies to the beliefs of either Buddhism, Confucianism or Daoism. Most kids thought I was a Daoist, because they said I go with the flow of things a lot and don't "trip" about little things like other teachers do. The troublemakers and the overachievers of the school said I was more of a Confucianist because I promote respect for elders, hard work and education.
The next day I had some of the kids present their point of view to the class and debate it informally for a few minutes. It was a fun way to present the Three Beliefs System and also to get the kids to think a different way.
Ryan

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Message from pdobkin

Today while in class and discussing facets of "The Pillow Book," an idea popped
into my head from a passage that describes some outfits she hates. It would
be a great thing for students draw everything in their closets they hate and
want to get rid of, as one idea. Studentscould read the passage in English class, write about
clothes they no longer like, explaining the reasons why and tell what it is they would
like to have. Another idea for an art project would be for students could make a collage of items, no longer in vogue, at least in their minds, and compare it to the The Pillow Book. Thanks

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Message from jchan

Exploring Cultures Through Art China and Japan by Scholastic is a fantastic resource to have. There are 25 art projects and other activities that can be used as supplemental lessons to enrich student learning. Each lesson has background information as well as simple and clear directions. Some interesting lessons include name chops (China), calligraphy (China and Japan), woodblock prints (China or Japan), elevation map (China and Japan), scroll landscapte paintings (China and Japan) and Bunraku puppets (Japan). This book includes lessons focusing on geography, culture, cooking and field trips. Check it out for some great ideas![Edit by="jchan on Jan 21, 8:12:46 PM"][/Edit]
[Edit by="jchan on Jan 21, 8:14:10 PM"][/Edit]

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Message from jchan

Make your own printing block

For teachers who are teaching Ancient China, here's a fun idea for you! The ancient Chinese carved printing blocks out of wood. You and your class can make printing blocks by drawing a design and tracing it onto several pieces of lightweight cardboard. Cut these copies and glue them on top of one another. Then glue them to a piece of heavy carboard so the design is raised above the surface. Cover your printing block with ink and start printing!

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Message from sperez

I also think it is important to incorporate art in the teaching of different cultures since that not only reflects their aesthetic values but often is used to represent their philosophies and traditions as well. One of the forms of art I use to teach China is calligraphy because it is so highly valued in China, and because it allows students to, both figuratively and literally, translate their thoughts into Chinese. This makes it possible for them to more closely identify with, and appreciate this culture.

There are various sources for teaching some of the basic strokes and characters in Chinese calligraphy. History Alive has some very good lessons on this. I use handouts that I made from the book Long is A Dragon. The students make an English to Chinese dictionary of about 15 different characters (mostly the ones with th fewest strokes, such as Man, big, mountain, up, down, one, two, ten, etc.) Their homework is to write a simplified sentence using four of these characters.

In class the next day they work in pairs to choose one such four character sentence to write. Each practices writing two of the characters with a brush and black water colors as ink ( in a large class this avoids mishaps which might stain clothes.) Then, each pair is given a blank 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper which they fold in half, then folded two more times to the side to form eight rectangles about 2 x 5 inch. When they open it, they write their four character sentence in the top right rectangle, and trade it with another pair who has finished their sentence also. Each pair rights their sentence on the paper, starting on the top right, then middle right, bottom right, and likewise across the paper. Each also writes their names in small letters in the rectangle with their sentence. When the paper is filled, the last pair takes it back to the first pair whose job then is to translate all the sentences. In this way, each person gets a chance to write and read in Chinese.

This usually takes two to three days, but if you have extra time, more characters and more practice can be done before the paired writing. I've found that while some students think this is too difficult to do at first, they end up feeling very proud that they can actually read and write some in Chinese.[Edit by="sperez on Mar 22, 11:30:53 PM"][/Edit]

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Message from sperez

Another idea for China is to give student groups, either in twos or fours, information about the various inventions made in China, such as the compass, gunpowder, paper, porcelain, printing, etc. They must learn who invented it (if possible), when, where, how, and why, and what materials were used. Since none of these were known in the West, the students must then create a commercial, either as a live presentation, or a video, to introduce and sell this new invention to the West. Students watching the commercials must take notes on these same characteristics, and in this way they learn about all these inventions. I have found its best to have two or three different groups do each of these inventions so all the facts are covered.

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Message from sperez

I like to introduce medieval China (if I may use that term simply for chrononlogical reference) by showing parallels to the fall of Rome, and to the rise of feudalism in Europe. I also try to show common themes and methods of political, economic, and cultural development when I teach Islam, Africa, and other units as well. Of course, I also spend time on the unique characteristics and contributions of each culture. However, helping students see the common larger themes that are present in all civilizations not only provides a familiar schema for students to use, but also allows them to see the shared humanity of all cultures.

In Across the Centuries, this is particularly effective for its chapters on China. I cover China after I have covered Rome, Islam, Africa, and early medieval Europe (up to the rise of towns about 1100.) Hopefully, by then students understand the progression of creating order, then economic development which creates the time and wealth for cultural achievements. They can also predict problems which will lead to a collapse, since internal problems almost always precede invasions.

Starting on p. 192, I ask students to find similarities between the causes of Rome's and the Han Empire's collapse. They can see a corrupt, selfish, upper class, invasions from the north, landowners refusing to pay taxes, and army generals fighting each other. Of course, there were some other different problems, such as floods, which I also ask students to note down as well. Comparisons like this can be done in a Venn diagram, or the new "Y" chart, with similarites forming the bottom part of the Y.

On p.194, I ask students to compare the second paragraph under "A Period of Unrest" to the time in Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The paragraph is almost a perfect description of feudalism in medieval Europe. I ask students to use the terms they learned for feudal Europe as they write on their comparison charts (knights, lords, peasants, castles.) Since I spent time on the methods Charlemagne used to try to bring order and culture back to Europe (not all of these are in Across The Centuries) I also ask students to find parallels to these in Emperor Wen's policies (collecting and hand copying classics, regional governors, travelling inspectors.) Of course, here the differences are even more important (more organized system of administration, large public work projects, encouragement of different belief systems, etc.), and I ask students to explain how these might have affected the success and endurance of Wen's policies even after he died.

Students are often surprised to find so many similarities, especially if they had thought of China and other Asian civilizations as very strange and different from the West.[Edit by="sperez on Mar 25, 1:58:27 PM"][/Edit]

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Message from bbrown

Because we have so many immigrant students with little or no knowledge of English, I have started using the comic book or storyboard method of students turning in some of their reports on different topics. They include all of the necessary information without stressing over the correct phrasing or vocabulary. I find that more students turn in work with this technique. It also helps with our mainstreamed special ed students who sometimes get lost on a research paper project.

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Message from aarmas

I have taught Language Arts for the last 10 years, and I have discovered that students in Middle School react positively to images and graphics. While taking a look at the Pacific Asia Museum and their Buddha exhibit, I started thinking of a way to have them use the Internet Resources available on that website, which contains several excellent graphics and photos, along with some insightful and concise information on that spiritual figure. I haven't quite decided what to do for the final activity, but it could probably include some reflections on the images themselves, the themes, and might even put together a field trip to the museum's location. Our principal has expressed interest in developing more hands-on activities, projects, and multi-intellegences lessons. I need to explore and give the website more time to come up with an exciting and involving learning experience for my students. Take a look at it. It's very informational and with a nice design.

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Message from aarmas

Thanks so much for sharing this resource with us. I will pass it along to my school's 7th grade teachers and will use it to show some of my Language Arts 8th graders how informational/historical presentations do not have to be dull.

The PowerPoint you put together is a work of art and love. Once again, great job.

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Message from kmilton

I put together a website which will help teachers at the middle and high school levels create webquests in which they can use in their classrooms. An example is given on the geography of East Asia. Please see:
http://international.ucla.edu/asia/lessons/kmilton/

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Message from lmoakes

My middle school students have been working on creating and illustrating stories with ppt. We will start an expository unit in a few days and that is one I expect to to get online.

lm[Edit by="lmoakes on Oct 1, 3:14:58 PM"][/Edit]

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Message from ccelis

I also love implementing technology into the classroom. I've found a website in which students can utilize the Internet to create a multimedia scrapbook about China. The students' task is to surf through the net links to find pictures, text, maps, facts, quotes, or controversies that capture his or her exploration of China. The students will then put these items together in a multimedia scrapbook. This would prove to be a great introductory project to allow students to "get to know" China before actually beginning a unit. In my opinion, this task would serve as a great KWL chart. Check it out and see for yourself...

http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/China/scrapbook.html#intro

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Message from dsenteno

WOW!!! what a wonderful idea. I checked out the site and I will use this site and idea when I get to my China unit. Thank you very much for the heads up. This is a very innovative and fun way to introduce china to mIddle school students.
d senteno

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Message from zarooum

This is a great website which has historical portrait paintings of all the emperors from the Qin, Han, Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties


http://www.chinapage.com/emperor.html

Linda

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Message from mhogan

Wow indeed! You've created a wonderful site, with many links to allow students to access what interests them. I've always wanted to create a more rich experience for the students to experience the silk road. Perhaps I'll borrow your idea and have them do a scrap book of a journey along the Silk Road. Thanks for all of your work. I'll be sure to refer back to your links. Your site is officially on my "favorites" list.

Malynn
Miraleste Intermediate School

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Message from zarooum

I rely heavily on websites to supplement the information supplied by my textbook, for teaching ideas, and to "hook" students. I think it would be useful to collect all of the recommended websites for Middle School teachers in one place so I will start and hope everyone will reply here.

For those of you who would like to join me in cataloguing your ideas, I will include Clay's notes about including websites: "In evaluating websites, provide details on who created the resource, what are its particular strengths and weaknesses, and how might it be used by teachers."

One of the earliest problems I have enountered in teaching Asia in my classroom is the fact that I am completely ignorant when it comes to pronouncing Asian names. In preparing to teach my first lesson, I realized that I was just making up pronunciations and that if I actually taught these words I would be doing a great disservice to my 6th graders. They might make my mispronunciations their own for the rest of their lives. So I became determined to learn how to teach these words properly.

One website has become my best friend. I practice with it in the evenings and sometimes I even check it out just before I "go on stage" in front of my kids. This website allows you to type in almost any word and hear the pronunciation of it.

Of course, it has a lot of other features like an online dictionary and thesaurus, a computing dictionary, a medical dictionary, a legal dictionary, acronyms, idioms, an online Columbia encyclopedia, and an online Wikipedia enclyclopedia.

It is great for kids because it has illustrations of the definitions of words and important people, places and facts from history. For example, in describing "cuneiform," I needed to know how to define "wedge-shaped" and the site displayed a wedge of cheese. The kids really got it from that. The information is very timely as well. If you look up the Taklamakan Desert, you will find a photo from space of a dust storm in the Taklamakan taken on June 25, 2005.

The website address is: http://www.thefreedictionary.com

Who created the resource and its particular strengths and weaknesses are described in detail on its homepage:

"Wikipedia is a Web-based, free-content encyclopedia written collaboratively by volunteers and sponsored by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. It contains entries both on traditional encyclopedic topics and on almanac, gazetteer, and current events topics. Its purpose is to create and distribute a free international encyclopedia in as many languages as possible. Wikipedia is one of the most popular reference sites on the internet, receiving around 60 million hits per day.

The English section of Wikipedia has over 730,000 articles and is growing fast. It is edited by volunteers in wiki fashion, meaning articles are subject to change by nearly anyone. Wikipedia's volunteers enforce a policy of "neutral point of view" whereby views presented about notable persons or literature are summarized without an attempt to determine an objective truth. Because of its open nature, vandalism and inaccuracy are problems in Wikipedia.

The status of Wikipedia as a reference work has been controversial, and it is both praised for its free distribution, free editing and wide range of topics and criticized for alleged systemic biases, preference of consensus to credentials, deficiencies in some topics, and lack of accountability and authority when compared with traditional encyclopedias. Its articles have been cited by the mass media and academia and are available under the GNU Free Documentation License."

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Message from zarooum

In trying to keep all the Chinese dynasties straight in my head, I came across a great website published by Minnesota State University.

It has a great visual of a Timeline of Chinese Dynasties that makes it very easy to see who came first etc. I plan to display it on the overhead whenever I am speaking of a particular dynasty or time in Chinese history.

It has an added value in that you can click on each of the dynasty names and be taken to another webpage detailing important facts about the particular dynasty. There are relevant maps, pictures of artifacts and brief summaries of the important events for each dynasty. This would be a good website to include in a class Webquest assignment. A bibliography is included.

Website address: http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/china/timeline.html#ancient

Published by:
MSU EMuseum
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Mankato, MN 56001 USA
1-800-627-3529

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Message from crieder

I teach grades 6 & 7 in Palos Verdes and I am also a big fan of history alive to supplement the textobook. There are great activities for both 6 & 7. 6th grade now has overheads which I would find very helpful instead of getting out the slide projector all of the time. I am not sure if their are overheads yet for grade 7.

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Message from crieder

I work in Palos Verdes and my department is going to re do its curriculum this December for the last two trimesters. I went to the UCLA Center for East Asian Studies Ed REsources and found a great lesson on comparing AFrica, Asia Eruopean and Mesoamerican civilizations that I will explore more. I am really excited to find this great forum full of resources.

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Message from rrustamzadeh

I love comparisons. Will you let us know about some of your findings when you are done?

Thanks.

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Message from mdelaney

I'm also a fan of History Alive, I've only useed it this year so we have not gotten to Asia yet with my kids. I am planning to do a research/internet project that ties to the Great Wall.

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Message from mdelaney

Anyone have any suggestions for a 6th grade novel tied to the Asia CA standards?

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Message from eshorer

I am reposting a revised challenge that I made on the Net back in '96. How time flies when you're having fun!
=======================Original Post below==========================
Unuseless Inventions

Ed Shorer of El Sereno Middle School, in Los Angeles, writes that his school wants to challenge other schools to "top our 'Unuseless Inventions' (Chindogu, in Japanese)." These are inventions that are "almost" a good idea. This project, an adaptation of a Japanese book by Kenji Kawakami, is a lot of fun for students. See these sites for examples:
http://www.pitt.edu/~ctnst3/chindogu.html
http://website.lineone.net/~sobriety/

Any interested persons are encouraged to contact him about sharing photos and text of inventions online. If all goes well, they will get some of their best Chindogu uploaded to a homepage within a few weeks.

Contact:
Ed. Shorer
eshorer@lausd.k12.ca.us
=============================================================

While my original project dealt with inventions without a direct connection to East Asia, simply by going through Kawakami's books with students (there are two), one can find examples that are specific to Japanese culture, and thereby teach about contemporary Japan in a fun and engaging manner.
Comments? Suggestions?

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Message from mhogan

I'm not sure if you're looking to fulfill the language arts or social studies curriculum. Our 6th grade have previously used two novels that may work for you. A few years ago, we taught Journey to Topaz. This is a story of a Japanese-American girl and her family and their experiences during WWII. This would fulfill the language arts historical fiction standard.

Another book that was read at my school is Dragon Wings. I myself have not read it, but I believe it takes place in China, part of the social studies content standards.

Sorry I don't have more details to offer about Dragon Wings, but I do like Journey to Topaz. It does a good job of representing a variety of the Japanese-American experiences, although it seems especially dramatic, as many of the experiences from different camps have all been put into the author's story. I like the fact that the main character does retain a good relationship with one of her Caucasian friends, thus showing that not all of the Caucasians of that time were prejudiced and enclined to take advantage of the Japanese-American circumstances (although many did). When I taught the book, I also enjoyed bringing in a guest speaker to speak about his memories of the relocation camps. It made the experience come to life more for my students.

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Message from crieder

I love the idea about using music. I use it too in my 6th and 7th grade class. I will look for the CD Yo Yo... I have a great children's book I purchased at Borders that I read to my students when I teach the Silk Rode. I give them a map of the route and have them add visuals as I read. As i was reading some of the matrial today for our UCLA seminar some of the places mentioned in the children's book were mentioned in our text. They were familar to me because of reading to my classes. Maybe some of the places will actually stick in the mind of my students.

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What a fabulous site! I will definately use this for My China unit. I love the idea of the scrap book. Great pictures...you can't beat good pictures to get students interested in something especially the ELL's. Thanks for the info. I need as much help as I can get teaching this unit.

Karen

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Message from ccelis

The Asia Society Website has so many great links for kids. In fact, they have a link to learn to count Chinese...the best part is that they have a function called Speak it Now so that one can listen to how the words are pronounced. Although they have limited vocabulary (numbers and familial terms), it would be great to get the kids motivated about a unit on China! Another great feature is the link to Visbile Traces, a site in which students design their own gallery exhibition. They can select from an array of topics (i.e. politics, religion, calligraphy, animals, or clothing, or a specific medium of work, such as rubbings, paintings, or maps). Using this site, students can download or print images for their exhibition and then post them in a room to create a gallery space. It's very creative and user-friendly...they kids would love it!

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