Cultural Exploration of Japan

This unit explores the art and culture of Japan. The original focus of this unit was to incorporate reading strategies into the unit to increase studentsʼ reading and writing aptitude. The culmination of this unit is a handmade book, which is a succinct and apt symbol for the tenets of this project. I have not included the actual making of the book as a lesson, because that can be accomplished many different ways, depending on the time and resources of the classroom. The nice thing about this unit is that the lessons can be changed and adapted. In the past I have added lessons in haiku, the tea ceremony, Japanese food, and language. Often, the students will ask how to do something, and we will go from there.

The big idea for this unit is increasing the studentsʼ understanding of the culture of Japan. The students should be able to describe a variety of Japanese art forms and demonstrate how to do them. The students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the cultural differences between the two countries and be respectful and aware of the uniqueness of the Japanese culture.”Students should also be able to appreciate commonalities between Japan and themselves. Literacy strategies from the Pennsylvania Literacy Network (PLN) are included in the lessons and focus on opportunities during the school day for students to read and write. According to PLN, students should have at least 10 – 12 reading and writing activities throughout the school day. This can be accomplished through reading, transacting with text, writing and composing oral or written text, self selecting reading materials, investigating and decoding, and reflective or self chosen research activities.

Reading and writing opportunities engage the four lenses of learning: human, social, language and meaning. These lenses make sense of knowledge, facilitate communication and interaction, develop language skills, and promote critical thinking and reflection. They encourage the student to use higher level thinking skills to develop creative solutions to educational challenges.

There are many ways to include 10-12 reading and writing opportunities throughout the day. These include activities such as Please Do Now, Ticket Out the Door, Literature Circle, Written Conversation, Jigsaw, Word Wall, Word Splash, and Text Rendering. Opportunities can also be promoted through digital means, such as differentiated text on the Internet, blogs and RSS feeds, journaling through discussion boards or online chats, online media such as Glogster, Voicethread and Google +, and picture sharing and tagging.

The studentʼs ability to learn is directly linked to reading comprehension and writing ability. PLN addresses this by emphasizing the importance of reading and writing opportunities throughout the school day.


An overview of Penn Literacy Network strategies can be viewed on a slide show I created


A list of literacy strategies adapted from the Penn Literacy Network