Our theme is the Middle Ages. In the passport project, each student studies an image connected to the medieval world. The images are taken from books, scanned, often enlarged, and laminated. Students must find their image from among twenty books, answer a few questions, and write an inference. They exchange images and repeat the activity several times. The project enables students to experience a visual journey through the medieval world, enhancing their understanding of diverse cultures.
Students learn to analyze all aspects of text for information. They develop a sense for the characteristics of artistic expression found in diverse cultures. They become sensitive to the importance of natural resources in expression of culture. The four fifth grade classes at our school participate in this project, each class with different images centered on a different theme. Comparison of thematically related images fosters the development of inferential thinking.
Each student is given a prepared booklet in which to record their work. The first page is designed like a passport including a small photo of the student. In advance the teacher must select nonfiction books with high quality images relevant to the course of study. These images should be scanned in full color and laminated to preserve them. Our images are numbered and kept in large mailing envelopes. Each teacher keeps a list of the books (and page numbers) where images are located.
Having different sets of images related to different topics allows for much deeper exploration and understanding. One set of images I work with is related to warfare. Consider the observations and conversations that occur when students are simultaneously studying a metal helmet with a hinged visor produced in Italy, a bright orange and blue shield covered in feathers made by the Aztecs and a Samurai mask of leather and wood, complete with stiff bristled mustaches.by