Thinkfinity.org Offers Free Online Resources for Teachers to Bring Asian-American Heritage Month Studies to Life

NEW YORK -- From the grandness of the Great Wall of China, to the vast diversity of Asia's 49 nations, to the centuries-old tradition of shadow puppetry, Asian history and culture provide a rich variety of treasures to discover.

To help educators introduce their students to the wonders of Asia and celebrate Asian-American Heritage Month, observed in May, Thinkfinity.org is offering a rich collection of lesson plans and educational resources on Asia.

Thinkfinity.org is the Verizon Foundation's comprehensive program and online portal to more than 50,000 standards-based, grade-specific, K-12 lesson plans and other educational resources provided in partnership with many of the nation's leading educational organizations.

Among the resources in the Thinkfinity Asian-American Heritage section are:

  • "Playing with Shadows: An Introduction to Shadow Puppetry," an interactive resource that uses animation and videos to help students discover the secrets behind the art of shadow puppetry, in which puppets are placed behind a lighted screen so that only their shadows or silhouettes show through to the audience. This Webby Award-nominated site was developed by ARTSEDGE, a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  

  • Following the Great Wall of China," which includes an interactive quiz that allows students to help "build" the Great Wall by answering questions about the ancient Chinese dynasties responsible for building it. The lesson was created by the National Endowment for the Humanities' EDSITEment.

  • What is Asia?" -- a lesson plan for  students, grades six to eight, that introduces students to diversity in the continent, highlighting the geography and culture of the land and its people. The lesson was created by National Geographic Society for its Xpeditions Web feature.

"I always like to incorporate other cultures into my lesson plans to help break down barriers," said Jennifer Sharpe, an ESL teacher at East Iredell Middle School in Statesville, N.C. "I'm using National Geographic's 'What is Asia?' and MapMachine as part of an online scavenger hunt to find answers to questions about Asia's culture and history."

Content for Thinkfinity is provided through a partnership between the Verizon Foundation and  11 of the nation's leading organizations in the fields of education and literacy: the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Reading Association, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National Center for Family Literacy, National Council on Economic Education, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Council of Teachers of English, National Council of  Teachers of Mathematics, National Geographic Society, ProLiteracy Worldwide and the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

"Thinkfinity provides teachers with powerful resources to truly engage today's students and enable them to experience and explore Asian culture in greater depth," said Verizon Foundation President Patrick Gaston.

Thinkfinity is the Verizon Foundation's signature educational and literacy program and includes the program formerly known as Verizon MarcoPolo and the Verizon Literacy Network. Thinkfinity combines authoritative educational content and robust professional development with research and evidence-based resources and practices for literacy across the lifespan. 

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, is committed to improving literacy and K-12 education; fostering awareness and prevention of domestic violence; and promoting the use of technology in health-care delivery.  In 2006, the foundation awarded more than $69 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched charitable donations from Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $29 million in combined contributions. Under the foundation's Verizon Volunteer initiative, one of the nation's largest employee-volunteer programs, company employees and retirees have also contributed nearly 3 million hours of community service since Verizon's inception in 2000.

For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 60.7 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 238,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.