Common Sense Review
Updated March 2013

Asia Society

Asia culture site has wealth of text resources, needs more to do
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Common Sense Rating 3
  • A section for students features articles and a few games.
  • A separate Asia Kids Society site offers simple games and activities for younger users.
  • With school resources, tips for best practice, and afterschool program ideas, the education section may interest teachers more than students.
  • The tabbed site sections feature articles on subject areas like Women and Gender.
  • Educators can download guides, some of which are free, to help them set up, maintain, or improve language programs.
Pros
An abundance of information on Asian arts, education, policy, business, countries, and lifestyle awaits.
Cons
Content isn't that accessible for kids and isn't updated frequently.
Bottom Line
Start here for solid resources on Asia, but be prepared to create your own activities.
Erin Brereton
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

The student section covers interesting topics but doesn't offer many activities or games. Also, based on the sporadic user comments, it looks like the site's rarely updated. Teens may not come back.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

You'll find plenty of helpful materials about Chinese-language programs, as well as globally related topics, but not as many ways "in" for students interested in Asian countries.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

The museum section offers additional arts and culture info. Some resources also touch on topics outside of language education. You can buy handbooks and guides, and there are some lesson plan ideas.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

If you want to dig in, Asia Society offers free webinars, and you can buy guidebooks and DVDs. Guidebooks feature ideas for Chinese-language programs and suggest best practices for grade schools and high schools. However, tips mostly center on how to find qualified language teachers and how much time to spend on language skills.

One helpful starting point is several sections that directly relate global awareness to the Common Core State Standards, even addressing afterschool programs. One article, for example, suggests having older students read Vietnam War soldier and civilian interviews. Turning articles into classroom activities is all up to you, though. Materials suggest developing students' skills through field trips and other hands-on experiences. Well, yes! It's just that you'll have to come up with those ideas on your own.

 
 

 

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What's It Like?

Asia Society is the website for the nonprofit of the same name, which promotes global awareness and language education through a museum and a website. It was founded in 1956 by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller III who wanted to teach the U.S. about Asia. Today, the Asia Soceity wants to create global citizens and suggests programs that set the stage for students to "make a difference locally, regionally, and globally." Great! There's plenty of information. Just don't look here for obvious tools for teaching.

Content is grouped into six major subject areas: the arts, education, policy, business, countries, and lifestyle. Four games offer geography, trivia, and language skills practice. A small separate site lets young kids read proverb-based stories or learn Chinese or Hindi words (although parts of the language section don't seem to work). The education section links to an online store with teacher-focused guides, some of which are free, but most of which cost under $25.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Most of the website is static, though students can get updates on global, environmental, and social issues. The business section doesn't cover every current topic but does have information on international development and economic trends, for example. Original articles on things like the increase in private lending in China and India, as well as analysis, could be of interest to students studying current events. A section on India, China, Korea, and other countries gives background on their conflicts and discusses their religions, traditions, and cultures. Students can even view and test dozens of regional recipes for dishes such as Chinese stir-fried beef and bubble tea.

The education section offers a few items for older students, including global career information, descriptions of cultures and cuisines, and about 25 articles on historical and cultural topics like the spread of SARS and nuclear weapons. Students can comment on these topics -- a good way to engage them. They can also read about recent global literature festivals and films, and, perhaps most interestingly, they can read artist interviews. Finally, there's information on the Asia Society museum and exhibitions.

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See how teachers are using Asia Society

Lesson Plans