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Exploring East Asian Art

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Taylor Bub
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Exploring East Asian Art

Lesson Plan


Grade: 9-12th

Content/Subject: Advisory (SEL) -

Time length of Lesson: 1 week (60 minutes course each day)


Learning objectives: Students will explore and understand different aspects of East Asian culture.  Students will discover the role of literature in Asian culture, as well as research history, celebrations and people of East Asia.  Students will individually choose a topic involving East Asian culture (art, literature, technology, identity, etc.) and will research their chosen topic, ultimately creating a small presentation about what they have learned.  



Day 1

(5 min) introduction of topic and project


(15 minutes) - Geowalk World factbook - Geowalk is an online atlas where students can do light research into East Asia culture.  The website does not go super in depth but works well as a way to get students interested in the subject matter. - this gives students an idea of what aspect of Asian culture they will want to research.


(15-20 minutes) - Direct instruction - Students are shown the Asia Society website and guided through how to use it for their research.  The site is a good resource for students because they can easily research their topic using the search bar and will get good results.


(20-25 minutes) - Independent research time - Students will use the Asia society website to conduct some research on their chosen topic.  Students are welcome to use other web resources, however the Asia Society website is encouraged.  For students that are interested in art, teacher will recommend looking up Kintsugi (the Chinese art of fill in in pottery cracks with gold to show that there is beauty in things that are broken), and for students interested in literature, teacher will encourage them to look into waka poems as well as haiku to make comparisons.  


Day 2

(15 min) - direct instruction - Teacher introduces Chinese literature by having students popcorn read the “Peach Blossom Spring” short story by Tao Yuanming; translated by John Millen. After reading, students are given a few minutes to think about and re-read the story again if they need.


(20-25 minutes) - discussion - Teacher leads a discussion among students about the story. (Using some guiding questions like “What do you think about the rumors of this ancient lost valley?”, “Do you think the valley really exists?”, etc.)  Teacher will project the painting of Peach Blossom Spring from the walkway at the Summer palace in Beijing on the board.  Students will discuss the artwork and how to depicts the story.  Students will be encouraged to use this story and/or artwork in their presentation as a comparison to other stories or art that they find.


(20-25 minutes) - independent research time - students will have the remainder of their class time to research more stories/artwork or other aspects of East Asian culture for their project.  They can use this time to add in information from the earlier class discussion.


Day 3

(15 minutes) - direct instruction  - Teacher opens class by discussing some symbols of Chinese culture that we see in pop culture.  Teacher can bring up symbols like the Force in Star Wars, and how it is modeled after the Chinese idea of Qi; the sort of life force that surrounds everything.  (Teacher can also focus on other cultures during this time such as Japanese, Korean, etc.)


(25-30 minutes) - discussion - Students are asked what symbols they have seen in pop culture, and how they are used within pop culture today.  Teacher will lead students in this discussion, asking questions about whether these symbols are being used appropriately, and could potentially discuss whether some of this use could be seen as cultural appropriation.  Teacher can project information from the article “Top 25 Ancient Chinese Symbols and their Meanings” found on Students might bring up symbols like the Yin and Yang symbol, origami, or Chinese characters being used in tattoos or on clothing.


(15-20 minutes) - independent research - students will have the remainder of their class time to research more symbols or ideas that stem from Asian culture.  They can add information from the earlier discussion to their projects, as well as use the internet to conduct more research.


Day 4

(5 minutes) - introduction for the day - Teacher explains that today is a more fun day of exploration of Asian art.  Shows students the interactive Asian Art Museum website. Students will be asked to spend a good amount of time exploring the virtual museum collection.  Students are encouraged to find pieces that they really enjoy or connect with, and will be asked to write about the piece they like.  


(20-30 minutes) - exploration of virtual museum - students will use this time to browse the online collection and find a piece that they connect with.  They will fill out an informational sheet about the piece they found, describing what the piece is, where it is from, when it is from, why the piece is important to the museum, and why the student found it important to themselves.


(20-30 minutes) - sharing - students will be asked to share some of the pieces they found with the class.  Teacher will ask for volunteers or use other methods to choose students to speak.  While the student is talking about their piece, teacher can project the artwork onto the screen for the class to see.  Students will be asked to share the name of the piece, where and when it is from and why they liked the piece.


Day 5

(5 minutes) - introduction for the day - Teacher explains that today students will be presenting their projects to the class. 


(45-50 minutes) - student lead presentations - students will individually present for about 3-5 minutes each (depending on class size - may need an additional day).  Students will present, and teacher and other students will have the opportunity to ask about what each student learned individually


(5 minutes) - wrap up - Teacher thanks students for their presentations and discussion about Asian culture. Teacher can also use this time for any announcements needed before the weekend (assuming that Day 1 starts on a Monday).