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Day 2 at No 27 Beijing School

Day 2 spent at No 27 Beijing school was another day of learning about the Chinese culture and history. It started with breakfast in the Dining Hall, followed by formal classes in our allocated classroom.

Each class had a Chinese teacher and usually an interpreter. The interpreter was one of the Chinese teachers who taught English in the school. The first class of the day was a handicrafts class. Students were taught the importance of and history of Chinese knots. We were then provided with threads, pins, beads and a foam placemat and taught how to tie a variety of knots to produce a bracelet. Examples of beautiful handcrafted Chinese knotting were also displayed.

Martial arts in the playground followed. The weather was warm and humid and these were not easy skills to master. Whilst we were learning, other physical education groups were involved in marching activities in other corners of the playground. Lunch was then provided with a noon break for us. Paper cutting in the art room involved using stencils to cut out shapes. Students were then encouraged to create their own paper cutouts, then to cut out their Chinese birth year animal.

A favourite activity amongst some of the boys was the flight simulator. We were taken to a computer lab where impressive flight simulators were located, together with desktop computers with flight programs on. Most of us kept crashing our planes soon after take off!! One clever student had built his own drone and demonstrated its use.

After school we were treated to Chinese folk music in the auditorium, where we could listen to and see many of the traditional Chinese musical instruments. This was followed by an Evening Reception.

 

 

 

 

 

An evening reception

evening-meal

On the second night of our stay at Beijing no 27 school, hosting students, our students and staff, family members and several staff from no 27 were treated to a school evening reception. A number of welcome speeches were made.

dinner-bob-and-eric

The evening was hosted by the Secretary and chaired by Eric, a Mongolian student who also acted as interpreter for us all.

A selection of traditional Chinese musical instruments were demonstrated by skilled Chinese students.

traditional-instrumenttraditional-instrument1traditional-instrument2

Australian students were able to attempt playing the instruments. An evening banquet meal was enjoyed by us all.

Attending a Chinese school

Too excited to sleep well, I got up early to go for a short walk and bumped into John Ralph, our assistant principal who was the other supervising teacher. We decided to check out the street breakfast food, found a restaurant that looked clean and respectable and enjoyed a quick dumpling and green tea. As we were enjoying this, our students were actually being dropped off near us so we could say hi before they actually started the school day.
breakfast-options

The school also treated us to breakfast with a wide variety of dishes including rice, meats, salads, eggs, steamed buns (pork and custard), yoghurt etc. The yogurt poured out of the bottle just like our milk!!!

Day two of activities and learning at Beijing no 27 school included:

  • Breakfast in the dining room
  • Handicrafts class- Chinese Knots
    chinese-knotsharrison-tying-knot
  • Martial Arts
  • Lunch in the School Dining Room
    lunch-optionsat-the-table
  • Paper Cutting
    paper-cutting
    paper-cutting1stencil-and-product
  • Afternoon Excercise
    afternoon-exercise
  • Simulated Flight Class
    at-the-table
  • Chinese Folk Music performance in the Auditorium
    music-concert

Successfully introducing classes of different cultures

name Sophie

When classes from two different countries and cultures connect or collaborate for the first time, it can be very difficult to determine the names and gender of the students involved.

My school had a Chinese language assistant teacher  from Shanghai for 12 months several years ago. She introduced herself as Wang Yi,so we called her Wang but after she had left we realised her first name was actually Yi!!! We had been calling her by her last name.

There will be differences in the order of names. In Australia we state our first names followed by our surnames (or last names). In China, students’ last names (or family names) come first then their first name. Some Indian citizens do not have even have a last name just their first name or name of their father which is carried down through generations.

When classes do connect and collaborate for the first time, it is essential for success that teachers share student details with clear headings for first and last (family) name. Pronunciation of the name using a audio would be useful. Gender should also be shared, as foreign names may not convey whether they are a boy or a girl.

If using webconferencing software such as skype, polycom videoconferencing, ghangouts, zoom etc, signs or printouts showing the name of the student (and pronunciation if possible) could be used as the student comes up to the camera.

What tips and hints do you have? How else do names differ around the world?

Mystery Animal

Video call snapshot 151.png

As our school teaches mandarin Chinese, any connection with a school in China is of special interest. The assistant principal of an Bozhouu International School in China found me on the Skype in the Classroom website.

As we had already completed a mystery skype connection, Richard suggested that we do a mystery animal game this time, using skype as the videoconferencing tool. He had prepared a wonderful sheet to share with the students bearing images of African animals complete with the names in both English and Chinese.
mystery animal1

Following is how it looked:-

  • Each class had previously chosen an animal from the sheet.
  • My students  had printed off their names on an A4 sheet for clearer understanding.
  • Boxhou rang us on skype. There were technical difficulties on their end but all was resolved within 10 mins.
  • Students played paper rock scissors over the camera to see who was to start first. Hawkesdale, Australia won.
  • Students had to ask questions only with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. eg Is your animal grey? Is your animal a carnivore?, does it have a long nose or trunk?  etc.
  • They took it in turns to ask questions and each student would introduce themselves one at a time.

There was much laughter in the classroom on both sides as we tried to understand each other’s accents, names etc. It took approximately 20 mins for each side to actually determine the other’s animals. All the Chinese students stayed in over their recess period to complete the  a second mystery animal.

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Student reflections on their individual blogs:-

 

 

 

When English is not a common language!

books on languages

This was topic that I put up for round table discussion at the recent Global Education Day, which was part of the ISTE 2016 conference. The full agenda for the Global Education Day can be found here.

As technology enables teachers/students/classes/community members to become increasingly globally connected, it cannot be expected that all connecting parties will speak English or a share a common language. This leads to different demands in communication and collaborative skills.

This session will encourage participants to discuss, share, interact and take a look at some of the apps, tools and physical ways of ensuring that communication and collaboration can still take place. Looking at challenges and enablers.

Although most participants were interested in working with their own mixed culture/language classroom, the same principles apply with virtually connected students.

Questions to be considered:

  • Why is it important to work around students who are connected but do not speak a common lanugage?
  • Other means of communicating?
  • Where do we find people who do not speak English?
  • Resources available
  • What tools can we use – synchronous and asynchronous to overcome the language barriers?
  • What would/could you put into your grab bag of objects to share local culture?
  • Further tips and hints on being prepared.

Participants at the Global Education Day round table included representatives from 

  • Edutopia
  • The Wonderment – creativity is the common thread
  • 1to1 Learning

A number of individual educators

Students with neurology problems – communication is important for these.

 

Suggested Apps used for teaching and learning for students who are bilingual within your classroom

Lingro – brand new students who have no English – converts into their own language. How to mediate meaning

Need to be very explicit in connecting visual materials with language.  Tech helps bringing to life eg little farmers, toca nature, age dependent – kinder: framework for basics of how things work in world, little builders etc Break it all down visually in explicit steps.  PBS kids, visuals show timelines, visuals extentuate.

Skype – direct audio translation Tried European languages, Latin America

Figures of speech can cause problems

 

Autistic kids – stories to tell, bring in the photos, audio. Social stories. Where do I live? Made it personal – pics of sons room, house etc to make personal connections. Could make it cross cultural.

Edmodo, facebook, twitter, google have translation options.

Make videos that are very visual so that anyone of any language can understand that. Takes away from the spoken language. Kids around world, kids create what they like. Biggest problems is to make connections. Language is a form of communication but not the only one. Kids creativity is universal. They all have ideas. Art based, pictures based, what do you hear?

Common Challenges and Strategies – how to group students

What is the common challenge for teaching students of mixed languages:

Often the baggage that comes to classroom, how to create a culture that helps them handle their “baggage” (ie the problems they bring with them from previous experiences).. Students come from war torn countries, some dont have electricity, some are here illegally. What stops them completing their homework etc and how can we overcome that.

Brian’s connections are with refugees, how to preserve culture, figures of speech, how to understand different types of humour, sarcasm – didn’t translate on any and every level. Cultural barriers. Global Education projects – use a variety of technologies that can be tailored to student needs.

System challenge is assessment – regardless of advancement of students, they never get to the top.

Assisted technology is a huge barrier – the classroom cannot be carried over into the community – digital inequity. Disagreement – Columbia has private school – all resources, cf with another school that only has books both achieve well on the standardized tests.Gifted kids from other cultures/languages- how do you meet them. Can’t even assess what they really know.

Multi lingual team in some districts – if one school has more than 20 non-English speaking students, then get language experts to come in for 1 hour per week. Google translate is used – gets ideas across, although translation is not yet fully functional. Get students onto one platform so they can communicate – translation problems, get teachers to be able to access the site.

China cannot access the sites. Google translate does not translate all the alphabets. Trying to meet stakeholders wherever they are. Parent/teacher interviews: greet parents in their language first, then communicate using lots of pictures etc.

 

Difference  between real time mediating and non real time.

When starting with students at personal level, educators can give support at different levels. Classroom of 60 students, the more you give to enable students to make decisions, the less you have to provide support. Eg crying may indicate being hungry, pain, outside comfort zone etc when kids need you.  Get others to collaborate with those who are good at certain subjects.  Collaboration is key to synchronous learning.

Learning one to one foundation Erika Twani CEO Community and parents want the kids to attain a certain grade but kids new to country it is ok if you try it again. Unlimited ‘redos’. Collaborate collaborate collaborate

The first story that kids will read in class is Romeo and Juliet – come up with ways of teaching it that does not talk about Shakespeare.

 

Second session –

Apps – google translate – audio conversion. Google translate app on the ipad or android devices- even translates signs overseas – images, audio and text

 

An idea for collaboration beyond languages

Bi-lingual setting – English and Spanish will look at pattern of shadows – different shadows in different latitudes.

Gnomon Project –thegnomonproject.com

Look at what the shadow does every day for a long time, it will alter. How will it look if other side of equator, north of equator.

Dept of Defence Schools cos they speak English

 

Collect height of the shadow, length direction, Record as a percentage – 50% is a common language-

Winter vs summer, different hemispheres etc

 

 

Teaching, learning and “Presenting on the fly!”

Shannon from Taiwan

My presentation at #EdutechAU ran for 1 hour and 15 mins and was to be a combination of a presentation, interactive learning and some hands-on. I allowed 30-45mins for the interactivity. Some participants used the backchannel to ask questions, which I duly answered. When I asked for suggestions as to what people would like to learn or see demonstrated, I was surprise to hear one attendee ask me to demonstrate skype.

Rather taken aback as I assumed that nearly everyone knew what it was like, I had to think on the fly! I showed them my HLW Skypers group where people are usually about 24/7 but as it was 1:30pm most of the US, Europe and Africa would be asleep, leaving possibilities of Asian colleagues who were probably teaching. I put in a quick plea for help

my plea for help

In my haste I wasn’t very clear with the message, told the audience they may have to wait a while and we went on to play kahoot. Within 10 minutes, Shannon Huang from Taiwan responded. A real connection was made, the bandwidth was perfect and many of the advanced features of skype demonstrated. Shannon talked about her students’ work which we could see just behind her. Then I asked a favour to see whether we could trial the skype language translator. We had to hang up, I set the translator on, rang back and much to our amusement watched it try and interpret our conversation.

What an amazing and perfect demonstration, on the fly, in real time to show how well we can engage with Asia. Thanks a heap, Shannon!