Searching for China: WebQuest

Introduction | The Task | The Process | Learning Advice | Conclusion

An Introduction

China is a land of many secrets and subtleties. Searching out the beauty in China's landscape, art, and wisdom is a fruitful exploration requiring a careful eye and an inquiring spirit. Through this WebQuest, you will be challenged to create your own understanding of China based upon your observations. Good luck, and remember the Chinese proverb:

A jade stone is useless before it is processed;
a man is good-for-nothing until he is educated.

And this "education" probably has a lot more to do with life and wisdom than it does with homework and good grades. Challenge yourself to get to know this wisdom.

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The Tasks

China is a complex country with a long history. What makes understanding China even more challenging is that you have to look carefully at the details. Your task is to look in this careful way at five main aspects of China:
    Activity 1 - Exploring the Country
  1. View A Map of China (260K).
  2. Name 10 countries that share borders with China.
  3. Select 5 countries that you feel are probably the most important neighbors to China.
  4. Use the CIA World Fact Book to find out the main ethnicity of the people in these countries and whether the country is currently in a dispute.
    Activity 2 -The Great Wall
  1. Go on a tour of The Great Wall of China. Explore the Wall at various points.
  2. How long is the whole wall in terms of miles? Do you need help converting kilometers? Compare it in length to some other well-known "yardstick" (city blocks, football fields, etc.).
  3. Describe when different parts of the The Great Wall were either first built or restored.
  4. Who built The Great Wall and why?
    Activity 3 -The Forbidden City
  1. Enter The Forbidden City (extra credit for each spelling error you find!)
  2. How long did the Ming and Ching Dynasties live in the Forbidden City?
  3. What was going on around the same time in The Mediterranean World?
  4. Study one of the Halls or Pavilions carefully and then write a description of it so that someone who had never seen it could draw a reasonable picture based on your description.
  5. Who has lived in the Forbidden City and what has changed this over the centuries?
    Activity 4 - The World of Beauty
  1. People say that once you've seen theYellow Mountains you never have to see another. But you might want to take second breathtaking look!
  2. After looking carefully at the Yellow Mountains, come to a decision as to whether you think these are probably very "young" or very "old" mountains. State the reasons for your decision. You might find it useful to get more information about geology to help you make your decision.
  3. Now take a look at a painting by Chou Ying of the Ming Dynasty (Remember, they began building the Forbidden City?).
  4. What aspects of the beauty you saw in the Yellow Mountains did Chou Ying choose to capture in his painting?
  5. Why do you suppose the artist included people in the painting in the way he did?

    Activity 5 - Words of Chinese Wisdom
  1. Take a look at the The Chinese Zodiac.
  2. Look up the birth years of three people you know very well.
  3. How do the predictions of their personality from the Chinese zodiac match with your understanding of them?
  4. Skim through a neat selection of Chinese Proverbs that share truths and insights about life.
  5. Select the one that you like the best and make up a modern American version that means the same thing.

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The Process

These five activities can each be done by individuals, pairs, or small groups. If the activities are done in groupings, the information and answers gained from the WebQuest should be collected so that everyone in each of the groups learns the information and/or understands the reasons for each person's responses. This will require some teaching on the students' parts. Once the teaching sessions are complete, a culminating Grand Finale activity can take place.

For the Grand Finale, students must create a composite picture of China as they have learned about it. Possible composite products might be:

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Learning Advice

The main point of this WebQuest is to come away with a good understanding of the historic and cultural aspects of China. By exploring the World Wide Web you have gained first hand insights into the thing people call "China." This understanding is an important first step. People call it "declarative knowledge." That means that you are so knowledgeable on a subject that you could declare, or state, the information you know. So you see, it's a lot deeper than just "knowing something about a topic." You have begun processing and working your "jade" into something truly special. Congratulations!

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As you may have guessed, there is more to such a complex and historic country than a person can learn in one short period. Now that you know about such things as China's risky geographic location, its artistic focus on peace and tranquility, you might be interested to find out that: But, that's another WebQuest...

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This WebQuest written by Tom March. Last updated April 12, 1995.