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Chinese number 2.

Exploring China today

Curriculum connections:

  • Social sciences
  • English
  • Languages – Chinese

Focus concepts:

  • Sustainability
  • Culture and heritage

Effective pedagogy:

  • Enhancing the relevance of new learning

Learning intentions

Students will:

  • work in jig-saw groups to research one aspect of 'China today'
  • present a summary of their findings to the class
  • collaborate in designing a concept web to link ideas and concepts.

Activity 1 – Researching "China today"

Set up jig-saw groups to explore an aspect of "China today".

Note: Allow 2–4 periods in classroom – have materials ready, that is, print out the information from these links and allow access to Internet for students to research:

Each group needs to construct a rich question to investigate within a chosen area of research. This could be linked to the initial photo activity questions and needs to meet the overall aim of a focus on "China today". Adapt these suggested areas to meet the interests of your students.

Area of research

 Web links about China:

Summary and presentation –

oral or visual

Religion and beliefs



Geographic landforms and resources



Historical events







Enterprise today

Science and technological development


National symbols



The aim is for each group to contribute to a wall display on "China today" by the collective display of their static images. (See ideas later in this unit on contributing to an installation with visual arts and language.) Groups will also present a summary of their findings to their class so others can learn from their research.

Research process

Depending on the focus of your inquiry and the intended outcomes, design a student-based inquiry using one of the two following options. Option A has an English language focus. Option B is a social inquiry approach, as used in the social sciences.

OPTION A: Students frame question, gather information (note-taking/summarising information), analyse, and re-write in their own words (choosing the most important points, using appropriate language for audience [other students], considering layout and design and use of font and colour to convey meaning). Students then summarise their learning to present to class, applying critical thinking about their process of research (for example, which text was the most useful and how could they improve their research).

OPTION B: Students use the template provided in Appendix 10 and, in their groups, choose a focus for their research and social inquiry. For example, the choice of population issues in China will lead to consideration of the beliefs of the government, parents, and interest groups. The group may develop a rich question such as: “Why did China introduce a one-child policy?". Consider the social action people make in response to this focus and the values that inform their actions and decisions. Use the prompt question in each section of the social inquiry template to guide the research process.

Present your inquiry and its outcomes to the class.

What to look for:

  • links between layout, design, and language in the static image – how well these have been used to convey meaning
  • the selection and development of purposeful ideas and relevant meaning information (ie that work toward the aim)
  • the use of increasingly comprehensive ideas in their research and effective communication of these for their audience
  • the development of key ideas
  • the exploration of values and social actions in reference to the focus of the inquiry
  • the development of conceptual understandings about culture and heritage.

Key questions

  • What are the really important ideas we have come up with?
  • What are the connections between the findings? For example, what is the link between population and historical events?
  • How have historical events influenced all the other categories?

Webs – spider, attribute, or concept

Source: Cubitt, Irvine, Dow (1999)
A spider web map shows all the main ideas (concepts and conceptual understandings) emerging from a central spot (the centre of the web). Subheadings go along the"‘spider web branches" and can show linking concepts. These links could also be colour-coded. For example, a spider web diagram on focus concepts for a unit on a special place might look like this.

Spider map with rectangle in the centre containing text: Topic. Lines radiate outwards to each corner of the image.

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