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Magnets for Character Learning

For Lower Elementary students whose hand motion muscle are still in development, writing characters on an exercise book can be a struggle and humdrum task . Assembling magnets into characters is a fun activity facilitating character learning. Magnets are cut into various length as the different strokes. Students can bend them easily on the whiteboard into the shape of strokes and put them together into a character. For example, one student comes up and shape them into a character and other students say what character it is, or vice versa (teacher say a Chinese character and students shape the character). For larger group of students, students from each group can in turn be the character shapers and the rest the guessers. The purpose of the activity is to engage lower Elementary students in active learning of characters.

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Making Your Own Moon Cakes – Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival in Chinese Class

“I really enjoyed making the moon cakes. It was really fun and unique. They tasted really good!” – Raine-Monet Williams.

“It was a great way to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival. I hope we do it again next year.” – Anna Martin.

“It was very fun getting to learn how to make moon cakes. It tasted delicious!” – Jessica Wang.

Lots of positive feedbacks were received! A traditional activity organized by Pudong ES Chinese department every year with Grade 5 students, it has been a celebration of Mid-Autumn Festival and a truly educational experience.

On the morning of September 27th, ES cafeteria is brimmed with the smell of moon cake dough and stuffing. Students with no allergy to the ingredients selected their favorite fillings among read beans, milk, lotus, pork and spicy beef prepared beforehand by a local DIY studio. If the student is allergic, he or she got to use clay to make moon cakes.

All the Grade 5 students watched closely how the baker wrapped the filling into the dough and molded it into the shape. They can’t wait to make their own! The minute they got the fillings and dough, they started rolling and pressing. First, they rolled the dough into little balls and pressed them flat. The oil oozed when they were rolled too much. Then they put the fillings on the flattened dough and wrapped the dough around the fillings. It was one thing to see how the baker made it but another thing to do it on your own. Closing the small dough evenly around the huge filling is not an easy job! When they were finally wrapped into a big round ball, students put their moon cakes into a mold and pressed super hard, with all their strength, to make it look fabulous! They were ready to be baked. Last but not the least, the students learned the beautiful legend about Mid-Autumn Festival. All in all, everyone had loads of fun and a moon cake to share with family members.

We would like to express our gratitude to 18 parent volunteers who joined and helped in this cultural activity and the support from Elementary Admin. (Parent volunteers: Rongli Liu, Helen Xiong, Amy Ding, Leah Chen, Connie Chou, Annie Li, Caroline Wang, My-linh Mckenzie, Veronica Corkery, Bi Hong Ying, Kai Wang, Sabrina Williams, Xin Lin, Jin Tao, Cathy Weng, Sharon Lo, Lou Kaixian, Jennifer Veum.)

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“读经典诗词 诵千古美文”诗词诵读大赛 Classic Chinese Poetry Read Aloud Contest

“读经典诗词 诵千古美文”诗词诵读大赛 Classic Chinese Poetry Read Aloud Contest will be held at Jin Cai Secondary School International Division in Pudong on October 12th, 2012 by Shanghai Education Committee. It is targeted at students with international background and those speaking Chinese as a second language. CFL and CL students in SAS are encouraged to attend the contest as an individual or as a group larger than five. Chinese teachers will help students to get a better understandings of the read aloud materials and practice at school. We believe students Chinese language skills will be polished and have a rich culture experience through the preparation. If any students are interested in participating as a contestant, please let your Chinese teachers know by September 20th.

Contest Details and Registration

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We’re in a book!

Gr. 1 and 2 students picked a book page that they want to be in and pose in front of green screen wall. The idea came from Mo Willems’ We’re in A Book and The Three Pigs by David Wiesner. We all had fun of being read!

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China Connection

Our Library Pages (student helpers) have a lot of comments on our China Connection Page! Thank you for your replies!

I noticed that some of the questions might have different answers if students are in local schools in Shanghai, such as #5. Are there many students in your class and where are they from? #8. Do you need to wear a uniform to school? #19. How long does it take for you to get to school each day and how do you get there? We are planning a field trip to a local school to do some interviews of students there, so they will have different perspectives for these questions.

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Interesting news article

“Clicks” Get Bricks reported that online schools serve a large amount of home-schooling families, student actors, athletes and others with health problems in the States. However, full-time online education institutes are seeking growth by moving to a blend model of buildings and face-to-face instruction.

This article said researches found that a combination of virtual and face-to-face learning achieves the best academic results for students. Michael Horn stated some purely virtual schools have added check-in centers and others moving to hybrid model. Besides, completely virtual setting has its limit to promote growth in in-person social skills. One of the main online schools, Connections Academy is extending itself “into a bricks-and-mortar setting” by creating partnership with schools which provides physical setting. It is reported that the institute also opened a learning center for high school students who dropped or failed courses or had trouble fitting required courses into schedules. This blend mode provides students with flexibility of e-learning and in-person instruction. It is quite interesting for me to learn from the article that students got better results in certain subjects in online learning than in traditional classroom. And I agree that one of the benefits of virtual education is students are “allowed the flexibility of going their own pace and learning on their own time.” I definitely can see the great value of it. Last but not the least, the article pointed the importance of having different hybrid models to meet diverse and changing needs.

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Web 2.0 and Effective Communication

Mind map about Web 2.0 tools and effective communication http://mind42.com/pub/mindmap?mid=3322d28b-a996-4419-93ec-a8c7e361adb1
Effective communication involves collaboration, interactive communication, interpersonal skills and personal/social responsibility.

Language is a tool for communication. Triggered by notions in Reynard’s The K-12 Web 2.0 Debate: Learning to Communicate, I am thinking that Web 2.o is a new language that teachers and students are learning to survive in digital era. This new language is multidimensional, which combines letter-based codes, graphics, sounds, creative art, digital editing. Fluency of the language influence the effectiveness and efficiency of communication.  It’s mostly a second language to teachers that we need to acquire and model for teaching. I can use Podcast for audio book review, VoiceThread for visiting authors events (welcoming movie), Glogster for research project and call numbers introduction. Mixbooks and PicLits are great for stroy writing. I am still learning this multidimensional language, hoping to find more useful tools for library activities.

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Thoughts on Knowing Where to Look is More Valuable than Knowing What

Knowing where to look is more valuable than knowing what

When knowledge is accessible by a single click on Google, teaching students how to filter and verify information is becoming more and more important. Shepherd pointed that it is “far better to concentrate on important underlying concepts and principles than on factual knowledge and routine algorithmic procedures.” There is no lack of information for students in this information explosion era. But what kind of thinking or values do we want to deliver to students behind this tangle web of information? What does this imply for teaching research skills in 21st century library? Library is undergoing tremendous change with resources moving to digital and emergence of huge web library of information, such as Google, Baidu etc.

As traditional education had an emphasis on factual knowledge, Chinese students had incredibly good memory. Exams testing mastery of facts and concepts entail passive acceptance of knowledge and declining ability of critical thinking and innovation. A shift of teaching focus means changing of assessments, that is, adopting measures other than just exams, that has a focus on media literacy and real understanding.