SABEH Summer Teaching Blog

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I had the honor and pleasure of working with students this summer through the SABEH program in Hangzhou China. Students in first through fourth grade  today worked in collaborative groups to complete the challenge of creating the longest paper snake possible from a single piece of computer paper. Each group was given one piece of paper, a mailing label and a pair of scissors. They were challenged to create the longest snake possible after a thoughtful group discussion.

     All groups enthusiastically and strategically tackled the problem and came up with  interesting and unique solutions. The snakes were then carefully measured and a winning team was announced. The competition was tough but all students worked hard and enjoyed the challenge....

October 29, 2018

In early September my department coordinator asked me if I would like to be a guest speaker at a local China Town Hall discussion in October. He explained that this was part of a larger event supported by the National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSR) in which I would discuss my experiences in China and then we would televise a live webcast between Condoleezza Rice and NCUSR president Stephen A. Orlins. Excited, I immediately accepted the offer.

The night of the Town Hall, two other local teachers and I discussed our adventures in China. Specifically, I talked about my summer visiting Hong Kong and Beijing, and the differences between these two great cities.

I enjoyed listening to my fellow teachers explain their experiences as much as I enjoyed reflect...

August 11, 2018

Nothing can encourage a teacher more than seeing students implement what has been taught to them. One strategy I taught in my class was to create a broadside or single sheet newspaper.  I did it as a small group activity where each group of four or five students put together their own newspaper.  It went very well in all three classes.

                  In the second week of the workshop each of the three classes in our cohort puts together a demonstration lesson implementing some of the strategies they have learned.  One class used the broadside as one of their strategies but they adapted it.  To help the activity move more quickly they did a single class broadside and assigned each group a topic for an article.  Their lesson also went v...

August 10, 2018

One of our primary class’s culminating activities included having the Chinese teachers create an ABC book that would serve as both an assessment of the application of strategies and the three keys that were introduced in class, as well as an opportunity to share their Chinese cultures and traditions. The ABC book provided the opportunity for the Chinese teachers to apply their knowledge of ABC order, increase their writing motivation and confidence, recognize letter names, develop vocabulary, and make use of sentence structure with sentence starters learned in class. This book challenged the students’ creative artistic abilities with their colorful illustrations. The activity was a wonderful way to create an authentic USA/China connection and memory that I...

August 4, 2018

The activity I chose to do for my students was a Gallery Walk. The Gallery Walk’s theme was the history of Jamestown, Virginia. Students received a chart comparing and contrasting Powhatan Indians, Africans, and the English. I posted various historical pictures of each of the types of people around the room. The 6 topics students had to compare were: clothing, food, housing, technology, transportation and communication. For each topic, I provided leading questions to help guide their thinking. For example, “What does it look like their clothes are made from?” Students worked in small groups on each topic moving around the room. There was movement as students were engaged in learning about the history of my home state, Virginia!

August 4, 2018

This year was my second time at the SABEH Summer Institute, and I wanted to show some new strategies I hadn’t used before. Among the new teaching methods I shared with the Chinese teacher-learners, my favorite was Literature Circles. When considering my approach to Literature Circles, I decided to combine the strategy with one I had discussed with classes previously, namely Jigsaw. Our classes had a positive experience with the Jigsaw strategy, so I combined it with the Literature Circle roles to split the class into four corners: Word Watchers, Illuminators, Summarizers, and Connectors. Each corner group discussed their reading of the story, “The Gulls of Salt Lake,” and recorded their responses on their role sheets. Everyone then reconvened in table group...

My colleagues of SABEH and I embarked on a wonderful week of touring three cities in China; all of them as beautiful as they are different. We left Zhoushan Island after a week of collaborative teaching and learning with our Chinese counterparts. We traveled on a comfortable air conditioned bus driven by Mr. Xu accompanied by a very delightful and well informed guide, Jackie, who had meticulously choreographed our itinerary from dumplings to Tea!

Our first stop was in the city of Hangzhou where we visited the Hangzhou Longjingshan Tea Cultural Village. We enjoyed a walk in the garden and then had a wonderful and informative tea ceremony. The green tea was delicious as well as we learned - healthful.


We continued onto West Lake where we took a boat tour of...

Today's lesson emphasized alternative methods of teaching vocabulary.  The purpose of the lesson was to demonstrate how teachers can implement hands-on activities by integrating English and Science to teach vocabulary relating to the environment. Environment, filter, filtration, pollutant, and pollution "came to life" today when the teachers worked together to build a water filtration system.  Active participation and exposure to vocabulary by applying concepts in real-world context is an effective way to remember information long term.

July 26, 2018

Games were perhaps the most engaging and exciting part of our comprehension, speaking and especially vocabulary games. One of the favorites was a game called spoons. Students create four cards. One with the vocabulary word, one with the definition, one with a sentence using the word and then a picture of the word. Cards are mixed up, and four cards are passed to each person. This game would be practical in a Chinese classroom. Once the cards are dealt, players need to try to match the four cards that go with the word. One card is passed simultaneously. Players must quickly decide if they will keep the card or pass it on. Once a player has a four card set, they take a spoon from the middle of the table. Everyone else must quickly take the remaining spoons(th...

July 26, 2018

One of the strategies that I used in two different ways to demonstrate the three keys of increasing interaction, thinking, and comprehension to Chinese primary school teachers of English was “talking circles”.  One half of the class forms an inner circle which does not move and the other half forms an outer circle that rotates so that each person has a partner. The first time I used this strategy was after focusing on vocabulary using motions in a book read aloud. The Chinese teachers first worked in groups to write sentences with the vocabulary words. Then they shared their sentences with several partners in the talking circle before returning to their table teams to share what they had heard and add to their vocabulary sentences. The second time I used ta...

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