Today, I will start something new. It’s inspired by Ann Mennonno, the new IPS Teacher of the Year. When I learned that she would spend time in China, I asked for blog posts to help us learn more about what she and colleagues are doing so far from home. The following is a blog post from Chris Collier, the head of Center for Inquiry [CFI] Schools. She is part of the IPS delegation:
Day 1 was spent preparing for the first Elementary Education International Conference that begins in Beijing on June 14, 2013. Teachers Amy Wackerly and Ann Mennonno will model inquiry-based lessons in YuYing Elementary School, Beijing, China.
A classroom was designed at the school to replicate the inquiry based learning environment found within the Center for Inquiry schools. Students from Ann’s and Amy’s classrooms designed displays for the walls that illustrate the elements found in an International Baccalaureate school. Third and fifth grade students, all dressed in their uniform of red workout pants and matching red and white shirts, came to the newly designed classroom to meet with the CFI teachers and to explore the learning environment. They especially loved the skeleton and the collection of literature provided for them. Nasco partnered with our teachers to provide the science equipment and literature that was requested for the lessons. Our classroom is quite different from their classrooms, where we observed students in rows facing front with the teacher leading all instruction and students reciting in unison.
Later in the day, our team visited an English teacher’s classroom to observe the methodology used to teach our language to Chinese students. There was much singing, the use of pictures as prompts to storytelling, whole group instruction followed by practice work in groups of 4. The students were very happy to have English speaking visitors to try out their conversational skills.
After lunch, we were escorted to a private dorm-type room for a 30-minute nap time. Amy and Ann loved this feature of the school. These rooms are available to teachers but the teachers told us they rarely have time to go for the rest. The students were engaged in their “Happy Noon” time, which is like our recess period.
We then fine tuned our presentations for the conference and viewed the conference area located within the stand-alone library. We then toured the campus. The high school, middle school, and primary school consisting of grades 3-5 were located on the same campus in 3 separate buildings. The primary school has 2000 students and the entire school campus has over 5000 students. There is a head principal that oversees the campus and each building has a building level principal. We then watched 3rd graders engaged in a swimming lesson in the Physical Education complex.
Our day concluded by meeting with the teachers of English to discuss educational practice and answer questions regarding instruction in state schools and particularly in our school. We taught the teachers some board games and showed them how to use some of the Nasco provided materials.
Our day ended by dining with the principal of the elementary school and two visiting teachers from Hong Kong. The sampling of Chinese delicacies was an enjoyable learning experience.
Chris Collier says internet service is spotty.
I will provide posts and pictures from China as often as possible during their visit.