Japan – Lesson 1 – What Do You Know About Japan?

Rebecca Smith, Art Instructor, Williamsburg High School, Williamsburg, Pa

Grade Level: 7

Duration: One Class Period


The objective of this lesson is to gauge the students understanding of Japanese culture through a series of short PLN strategies that introduce the students to the culture of Japan.

PLN strategies used: 3,2,1; pair/share, word wall, I search

PA Art Standards

9.2.D: Historical and Cultural Perspectives

9.2.E: Historical and Cultural Impact on Works in the Arts

9.2.F: Vocabulary for Historical and Cultural Context

9.2.G: Geographic regions in the arts



  1. Before: 10 minutes. Hand out paper and pencil. Ask students to write down 3 things they know about Japan, 2 things they think they know about Japan, and 1 thing they want to know about Japan. Pair/share with the person next to them, and then share with class. Discuss if facts generated by the class are true or false. Class discussion about things they think they know.
  2. During: 10 minutes. Hand out post its. Ask students to think of Japanese words that they know. Model by asking about food or movies or sports. Put on poster board which is serving as a word wall. Discuss answers. Discuss how students are aware of the culture of Japan through prior knowledge.
  3. During: 10 minutes. Japanese culture and conversation. Teach students basic hello, goodbye, thank you. Have them practice with a partner. Write words on board.
  4. After: 10 minutes. Handout of Japanese terms. Ask students to think about what they would like to research for themselves about Japan. They can either use the topic they wrote down for the 3,2,1 or use the list of Japanese terms. The research will be in the form of an short oral presentation and a handout for the other students. Guide students with choices. This assignment will be due at the end of the unit. Students will write down their choice and hand in to the teacher before leaving class.


This lesson focuses on the prior knowledge of the students. The students are actively engaged because they are talking about things they know about. In the 3,2,1 portion of the lesson, the students discuss what is factual with each other and come to a consensus with the guidance of the teacher. The I search topic allows them to have some ownership in the choice of research topic.

This lesson includes all four lenses of learning: human, social, meaning and language. The students make correlations between the similarities and differences of their own culture and the culture of Japan through simple exercises that focus on things that they already knew, with the addition of a simple introduction to Japanese vocabulary.

This lesson also includes two of the five reading/writing/talking processes: investigating language and learning to learn. Students learn to investigate language through the identification of Japanese words and start the process of learning to learn by being given the opportunity for an I search.