Making Curriculum Pop


MC Popper Jeff Stanzler is not just a professor of education at the University of Michigan school of education - he’s a technology whiz. He’s the kind of dude every school dreams of having in their IT department – if your school is fortunate enough to have an IT department.

Jeff wrote me a few weeks ago about in incredible opportunity for upper elementary, middle school or high school teachers and their students. He’s looking for teachers who have an interest in having their students explore, discuss and write about China and Chinese culture with a group of graduate mentors at the University of Michigan School of Education.

Jeff has been running these online programs with schools all over the globe for over fifteen years. "China Odyssey" is one of many programs he runs though the Interactive Communications & Simulations Program at The University of Michigan - Flint and Ann Arbor.

When I was doing my MA in the late 90s Jeff and my advisor, professor emeritus Dr. Fred Goodman were way ahead of the online learning curve creating international simulations like the Arab-Israeli conflict and the early Earth Odysseys.

Dr. Goodman (who has also collaborated with MC Popper Nick Sousanis), has spent his entire life creating games. Although Fred spends more time enjoying his retirement in California than he does in Ann Arbor – his unique and playful vision clearly guides Dr. Stanzler and ICS's brilliant work.

Last year, I had a chance to witness first hand the power of another ICS program called the International Poetry Guild. MC Popper, Lauren Fardig, a former co-worker from the South Bronx (and recent UM grad) blocked out every other Friday for technology and poetry. Even though we only had one computer lab out our school Lauren found ways for her students to get online to receive feedback from the UM mentors. This mentoring inspired her students to improve both the quality and quantity of their writing.

This work with UM was a catalyst for Lauren's students to create the Bx Live Poets Ning to share their poetry with a larger audience. Last summer Lauren and her class took their show on the road by traveling to a national media education conference in Detroit. Students found there voices online and in front of a lively audience in the D with the boost they received from ICS.

You don't have to take my word for it - you can check out a write up of another ICS simulation - "Michigan Matters." While this program has a more local focus, it is another successful model of online and interactive history curriculum for elementary students.

If you’d like to engage your students with some grad students mentors up in the hand...

... "Earth Odyssey: China" is for you and your class:

China Odyssey is web-based social/cultural issues forum in which middle school and high school students discuss with peers topics including gender roles, the place of religion in society, how we calculate and think about wealth, how America is seen abroad, and a number of issues related to contrasting social mores. This issues are framed in a series of story-based reports, written by two young Americans who lived and worked in Shanghai. The project structure is simple and flexible, such that teachers can tailor their participation to suit their needs, whether it be a special "Friday Activity" in which students read and discuss only selected reports, or something more involved. In addition to University of Michigan mentors, students from Taiwan’s National Central University will also be taking part in the project and serving as mentors. The China Odyssey starts in late September and lasts approximately 10 weeks, with two travel reports posted for discussion each week, and a teacher's guide and other support materials available through the project web site. There is no cost for participating, and all you need to join us is web access. More information (including access to the ICS demo site) check out:

This is not something you have to do on a daily basis. You can customize the program as Jeff and his team are always willing to work around the needs of your students, curriculum and school.

I think China Odyssey would be great for World History, English, ELL and Chinese classes. All these students could benefit from this unique program.

If you want to talk to Jeff about singing up It is NOT TO LATE! Contact Jeff Stanzler here on the Ning or at:

Don't be shy about contacting Dr. Stazler for your class and your students. This is a rare opportunity for your students to:
1. engage a truly global educational experience
2. impress your administrators with your forward thinking use of technology.
3. show of your cool connections to institutions of higher learning :)
4. make your curriculum POP!

For those of you who might not be interested in this project you might still be interested in China. China is an economic and cultural giant that is on everyone’s mind these days, as such it seems ripe to become a larger part of American curricula.

If you teach Middle School and above, and you want to introduce them to Chinese culture, you should check out American Born Chinese (ABC) written by Gene Yang. I’ve worked with many teachers over the last three years teaching American Born Chinese. Judging from the fact that they’re already offering the book in a PermaBound edition I'd put money on this book becoming part of the 6-12 canon.

Here's a link to the second ABC discussion on the NIng.

Mr. Yang is trained as a math teacher - you may have caught an older post about his math work - Gene Yang Rocks Algebra/Factoring in WebComics - in the Math group.

In one of my favorite (but still very small groups) is for people who work with Art and Visual Cultures. In that group I posted some great images for those of you interested in using visual literacy to teach about politics and culture: Olympic Posters China Doesn't Want to See (2008)

And lastly In the World Literature group you can read about an interesting trend in Chinese literature called “the Officialdom novel” - Orwell would be proud.

Happy Monday!


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Here is a podcast from that highlights American Born Chinese:
Lisa - thanks for the extra info - if you get a chance could you also past this in the Two ABC discussions so folks can find it there:


Thank you!!




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