IPS in China: Final Thoughts

July 8th, 2013 at 2:50 pm by under Eric Halvorson's Blog

The the IPS teachers who visited China — Chris Collier, Ann Mennonno and Amy Wackerly — have been back for awhile.  But, the final blog post arrived while I had a few days off.  So, here are the final thoughts on the journey — shared by the Center for Inquiry’s Chris Collier:

china flowersWe returned from our trip to China just past midnight on Tuesday, June 25th. World travelers warned us that it might take several days to revive our energy and to re-set our body clocks. It was Friday night before I was able to sleep and wake in our local time zone. Amy is not a nap-taker but has found they are needed for survival.

As this was the first-ever international elementary education conference, which has taken place in Beijing, we have a reflection form to provide to the conference organizers this next week. One of the reflection prompts asks us to reflect upon the similarities and differences in the Chinese schools and our own school and how we might apply the knowledge and insights gained from the conference to our school now that we are back home.

As we reflect upon the differences in education in China and our Center for Inquiry schools, we know that they wish to learn strategies that will increase students’ engagement and desire in their own learning and to give students a more active role in critically thinking about and connecting to the learning.

We discussed the physical activity that is so prevalent at the schools we visited and how we might incorporate healthier habits in our students, not just through the subject area of Physical Education, but as a whole school community and on a daily basis. Amy and Ann plan to share their cultural experience with their students and colleagues.

International travel and spending time in a place where we were the minority, didn’t speak the language, and the cultural practices were unfamiliar led us to practice the IB Learner Profile attributes of risk-taking, open-mindedness, inquiry, and reflective practice.

We also ask ourselves, “What’s next in our new global partnership?” We plan to continue growing our relationship with the main campus of the Experimental School in Chengdu. Technology will allow students to connect through face time. The English teachers in the Chengdu school expressed a desire to continue working with Amy and Ann as they try out student-centered strategies in their learning environment and learn to use the materials that Nasco supplied to their “American classroom.” 

china callig classThe teachers and administrators in our Beijing matched school as well as the Chengdu school hope to have the opportunity to come to Indianapolis and see first hand inquiry in action across grade levels and subject areas. The first visit may occur as early as the October.

The “president” of the school will be in Ohio this September and we are working on plans to get him to our school for a day or two during his visit.

In turn, we would love to provide an opportunity for our students, parents, and teachers to visit Chengdu, participate in Mandarin language lessons and experience the culture of this wonderful city. Of course, a visit with the great pandas is a must!

We begin our school year in less than a month. I am busy working on doctoral assignments, hiring additional staff, and preparing for the new school year.

Amy has been uploading our photos to share in Shutterfly and spending time with her daughters around Indy and back at the softball diamonds.

Ann is spending quality time with her 5 children and her granddaughter before she heads out for a trip to the Honduras for another HETO mission in July.

We are so thankful for the learning experience provided to us through this conference

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