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Understanding catastrophesBookmark

Learning area: English
Year level: Year 5
Country: India, Japan
General capability:

This learning sequence explores two catastrophes impacting on children in Japan and India. Students engage with a range of texts to develop cultural knowledge and sensitivity about the peoples and countries of Japan and India. Their increased intercultural awareness is applied to a writing task that can be used to begin an ongoing relationship with students from the Asia region.


Engage

Videos

Divide the class into two groups. One group will watch Japan Kids and the other School for street children in India (below). Each group should then be divided again into two groups. Half the students for each video will focus on one of these prompts:

  • List facts about life for some children in this country (Japan or India). Think about Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
  • Compare and contrast the culture of Japan or India with your own. For example, what values do they have? Describe the choices they make and the things they do.

If you want to work collaboratively you might want to use a shared writing space like Google Docs or PrimaryPad to collect everyone's ideas on the two topics.

Pictures

Staying in the same groupings use the same two questions, but this time apply them to the second links for images related to the videos: Japan Earthquake: before and after and In pictures: India's street children. You can continue to use the collaborative software to record your ideas.

Sharing and discussing

It's time to share what you've seen, learnt and thought.

  1. Gather in sets of pairs where two of the students have engaged with the links on Japan and two on India.
  2. Hold an informal discussion where everyone:
    • asks specific questions to clarify another's point of view
    • makes helpful comments that keep conversation moving
    • reviews ideas expressed
    • states possible conclusions about how these cultures are similar and different from our own.

Explore

Analysing literary texts

You can do this next activity alone, in pairs or as a group. If you work as a group, you can add what you learn here to what you wrote down when you looked at the videos (Japan Kids and School for street children in India) and pictures (Japan earthquake: before and after and In pictures: India's street children).

  • As an individual, choose to specialise in Japan or India. If you work in a pair or group, join other students focusing on the same country.
  • Depending on the country you chose, skim through the folktales and stories from Japan (Folktales from Japan or Zen Tales) or India (Panchatantra Stories or A Day in the Life: India) until you find one you want to explore.
  • Read the story carefully and a few times over so that you can find sections that might use the literary techniques of visuals, symbolic elements, dialogue and character descriptions.
  • Record the examples of these four literary techniques so you can refer to them and share them as examples.
  • Look at each of the four literary techniques that may have been used in the story you studied and decide what information they share about cultural elements, such as beliefs, traditions and customs.

Reflect

The information you have gathered has helped you to develop your intercultural understanding of another culture. This means that you have learned about diverse cultures in ways that recognise similarities and differences, so that now you can create connections with others and cultivate mutual respect.

Write a self-introduction similar to those on the Rural Indian children's photoblog. But don't stop there. Reflect on how you have developed an understanding of the hardships faced by students in your chosen country (from the earthquake and slum-dwelling).

So that you can actually share your writings with students in another country, your teacher may need to help you. It could be useful to find a sister school on the school lists for Japan and India from Wikipedia or use a social network like Twitter to find a classroom you can send your message to.

One of the great things about the Internet is that it can connect us to people across the globe. You have just learnt a lot about another country, culture and what it might be like to live there.

You can actually connect with students to see if what you have learnt is accurate and build the human connections that make learning and life rich and meaningful.


It is recommended that teachers preview websites and videos to ensure they are suitable for their students before they are used in class. Content accessed via these links is not owned or controlled by Asia Education Foundation and is subject to the terms of use of the associated website.


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