Postcards from...

Trip Start Apr 17, 2010
Trip End Jul 02, 2010

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Flag of China  , Sichuan,
Thursday, May 13, 2010

This morning our breakfast consisted of two steamed rolls (one with a finely shredded golden beef topping that adds a deliciously different flavor...we LOVE their breads!), hard boiled eggs, an apple, coffee, and a yogurt smoothie drink with strawberries and blackberries. It fueled us up for a morning of teaching at #1 Middle School of Nanxi.

As we left the high school campus, we noticed that the Chinese flag was a half-staff. We were not sure why until later when we discovered that Tuesday was the anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake.

Once we arrived at the Middle School, we prepared our rooms for class. Mr. O discovered an ethernet cable to connect to his laptop, which meant that the internet was probably available in our classrooms. Would it be possible then, to use Skype, a free video messaging service, for distance learning between Nanxi and Jenks schools? After a few failed attempts to contact family at home, he saw that Ms. Chalker, a teacher at JEI, was online. He electronically called her, and up popped her friendly face. We were both excited to see each other, as well as know that we could connect our two schools by this technology. Ms. Long came in to visit with Ms. Chalker while Mr. O's first class (Junior 3 - Freshman) was coming into the room. The class was puzzled but became very excited when Mr. O explained what was going on. Ms. Chalker's image was projected onto the classroom screen. We turned the camera towards the class so she could see our students. It definitely was a highlight of the day!

To start our lesson, we both spent a few minutes answering questions students had about us or America. They were so surprised at the smaller class sizes, shorter school day, and shorter school year. When they heard how long our summer vacation was, their eyes widened in amazement.

Next, we went over last week's homefun, then guided our students using a story about a writer whose brother was in Australia working as an engineer. After hearing the story several times, the students were asked to create a 5 W's chart analyzing the story (Who, What, Where, When, Why) in pairs. They did quite well with it once any questions were answered. We applied this skill by letting them create two 5 W's charts for a realistic and a fantasy trip of their choosing. Mr. O even encouraged them to "pack their bags" to get ready. Their homefun was to use one of the charts and create a postcard, using an envelope we gave them. They were to use the information on the chosen chart to write a letter to a family member or friend about their trip on one side of the envelope and illustrate the back side, just like a real postcard. We are anxious to see what they produce.

After a typical afternoon at the hotel, we looked out our windows at darkening skies. As we got near the high school for our dinner, it began to lightly rain. By the time we were eating, it had turned into a late afternoon shower. Neither of us had brought raingear, so we waited outside the cafeteria, hoping that it would end soon. It didn't. Finally, a kind-hearted young lady saw us and offered an extra umbrella that she had with her. We got her name and class in order to return it to her tomorrow. Such is the generous spirit of the Chinese people!

We walked a few laps around the soccer field with Wilma and her husband, Vice-Principal Jiang. During our walk, we found out that a generous and successful former student had donated money to not only renovate the entire campus, but to build a new arts building near the main entrance to the campus. Wilma shared how students were affected by the earthquake several years ago. They felt the shaking, and many of them slept on the soccer fields for several days for fear of additional quakes. The campus received only minor damage.

Then, it was off to singing practice with the teachers. We have a week to memorize two songs. We got the pinyin wording for each song, which will make the learning a little easier. One song is about not forgetting the motherland of China. The new one is a story about the army crossing a major river during their Civil War. The singing is very spirited, a fun way to end the day!

We heard about the early Thursday morning storm in Tulsa. We hope that our families and friends were spared any major damage or injury.

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Andrea C. on

It was SO great to see your faces and hear your voices on Skype last night! I had just gotten home and turned on my comptuer. :) It was fun to see your students and to hear how excited they were when they realized that they were seeing someone who was halfway around the world. Isn't technology amazing! Miss you both!

docandpam on

Pasm is going to be so excited about the 5 w's exercise and the imaginary trip to spur the students imagination. Great work. Please share any other of your lesson plan ideas. The students here are so curious and want to know. also love the idea of homefun instead of homework. You guys are great. Thanks for the inspiration. Doc and Pam

Pam Eaton on

Today I am going in for an extra class, then dinner with the teachers. One 8th grader class is going to write letters to American Pen Pals. I will scan them into my computer and email them to Kennesaw students and residents who joined the Pen Pal Possee .Snail mail takes 3 weeks and Kennesaw is in its final week of school. We are all every excited to have this exchange.

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