Curriculum Unit: Arts & Media

Arts Media
Project Name: One Day in the Life / Alternate Reality
Age Level: 12-14 (Middle), 15-18 (Secondary)
Length of Unit: 5 Weeks
Subject Areas: Social Studies, Technology & Media, English & Language Arts, Communication / Visual Arts, English Language, Arabic Language

Unit Description

This five-week unit encapsulates two iEARN projects: “One Day in the Life” and “Alternate Reality”.  How can students better learn to describe, both visually and in writing, their own lives from a global context?  How can students learn authentically about the real world – the ordinary as well as the extraordinary – through the eyes of their peers?  How can students learn to compare, contrast, communicate, and discuss their daily lives with students from an entirely different culture?

Individuals or teams of students will make documentary photographs, short videos, or other artwork (drawings, paintings, etc.) on an assigned theme, together with a short written explanation. At the beginning of the week, students will brainstorm ideas for specific topics to explore.  Later in the week, students will upload the best, edited, digitized work to the iEARN forum. Then, in groups or as a class, students will look at and discuss posts by their partner schools. Students will be expected to comment on at least two posts for each new post they make.

Week 1 – Where We Live

Explore a small aspect about where you live, whether it’s your room, your home, or your neighborhood. What makes where you live unique?

Week 2 – What We Eat / Drink

What do you eat or drink with your family on a typical day? Do you eat any meals at school? Where do you buy your groceries? Where does your water come from? Show us!

Week 3 – Our Community

What does your downtown look like – are you near a commercial district? Are there any stores, shops, or businesses nearby? Show us life on your streets. Visit a shop and show us the store owner or clerk. What does traffic look like?

Week 4 – Personalities or Alternate Reality

Teachers may choose one of two options:

Personalities – Using photography, drawing, painting, or other media, students will depict a person in their community, neighborhood, or family engaged in an activity: a parent at their workplace, perhaps, or a shopkeeper behind a counter, or a policeman directing traffic. The finished images are then captioned, uploaded, and discussed in the forum.

Alternate Reality – Students will photograph (or video) one or more volunteer students in their class posed against a blank background and share it in the forum. Then, students will download a partner photo, and make a photo composite (or “green-screen” video composite) using one of your background images of your school or community. The finished composite are then captioned, uploaded, and discussed in the forum.

Week 5 – Presentation

Students will prepare a final exhibit of their own work, their favorite partners’ work, and/or some of their exchanges – from the first four weeks, to share online or with their local community.

Essential Questions

What does life look like in my partners’ countries, and how can I most truthfully portray life in my own community?
How would my life be different if I lived in a different country?
How would my partners’ lives look different if they lived in my community?

Examples of Final Outcomes

Students may prepare local exhibits of their captioned photos, videos, and/or art – in a local gallery, book, poster, or short video collection.
Students may prepare an online exhibit, on the iEARN forum or elsewhere, as a slideshow, webpage, video, or other medium.

Content Standards & Sustainable Development Goals

Content Standards

This project is essentially about visual and written communication, but depending upon the direction teachers choose to take this project, native or advanced English-speaking students may participate under many different content standards – Visual Arts, Technology, Social Studies, or possibly even Science. Others – especially English language learners – may choose to center this project around English language skills.

Sustainable Development Goals

This project allows students to compare and contrast their lives, invites them to imagine how their life might be different if they lived in their partners’ countries, and encourages them to ask difficult questions and to discuss community issues and problems. Depending again upon the direction the teachers choose to approach this project, almost any of the Sustainable Development Goals could be addressed, such as #4 (Education), #6 (Water and Sanitation), or #10 (Inequality) as students compare their schools, communities, and the challenges they each face.  #16 (Partnerships) may also be addressed, as students educate each other on problems and solutions in their own communities.

Project's Contribution to Others and the Planet

This project promotes intercultural respect, breaks down stereotypes, and fosters empathy between students who come very different communities, even as it provides direct, first-person education about life in other countries.