Drama, Pizzar, Tests

Trip Start Jul 01, 2011
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Flag of China  ,
Monday, August 8, 2011

Two days ago we spent the entire day writing stories and creating a drama. After one hour, most of my students were not motivated enough to create anything (as they always had been).  Finally I allowed the class to choose between two stories.  One was about Santa losing his sleigh and then being invited into the home of a family who was poor and had no gifts for the children.  When his wife found his sleigh he went back to the North Pole and sent presents to the children (who did not know he was the real Santa).  This story was probably inspired by the film "The Polar Express", which they watched not too long ago.  My students will also be performing “When Christmas Comes Around”, which is also probably what inspired the Santa story.

The other story was called “Who is Better?”  It is about a monkey and an elephant who argued about who is better.  The monkey said he was faster and the elephant said he was stronger.  One day an old man came and asked for them to cross the river to get him some apples.  The monkey could not cross the river so the elephant invited him to sit on his back.  As they got to the other side of the river, the elephant couldn't reach the apples so the monkey climbed the tree to get the apples.  They crossed the river again and gave the old man the apples.  From then on, they learned that no one was better than the other.  I found this story to be inspiring and the majority of my students voted for this story to be filmed even though most of them found it to be very traditional.  I will try to post the video on my blog if this stinky wifi will let it go through.

Yesterday, we had a free day so we went across the street to visit the national tourist attraction.  Since Shandong is where Confucius was born, he is all over town.  We went into a little cart ride that was supposed to give us a history lesson on Confucius, but it had dinosaurs, which made me laugh.  We also went into this maze where it was easy to get up, but difficult to get down.  I ended up going down the same way I went back up because it was so hot in there.  Then I learned archery (just shooting one arrow though).  Later in the evening we went to go eat pizza (or as the Chinese pronounce it “pizzar”).   I ordered a 7 inch seafood pizza, but it had very little seafood on it.  I wouldn’t order it again.

Before I can talk about the next thing, let me talk about the class schedule.  We have our homeroom from 8-9am and then teach 2 more classes until 11:30am (with 15 minute breaks in between each class).   Lunch break is 3 hours long because students have to go back home to eat lunch.  We have what’s called a “tutorial session” at 2:30-3:30pm where we do one-on-one conversations with students in our homeroom but usually I take out a couple or a few students at a time and I would ask them a question and they will respond in English.  From 3:30-5:30pm, we have a big group activity.  For the past week we have had “The Price is Right”, “Fashion Show”, “Photo Scavenger Hunt”, a “Drama Day”, and “Family Feud”. 

For the past few days, I have been giving all my students tests every morning.  They probably hate me by now, but the tests have always been on the same things so if they actually studied then it wouldn’t be that hard. Some students improved, some do worse, and others just stay the same.  I usually catch some of them cheating (looking at notes or copying off others), so I have been telling them not to cheat or they will fail.  I find that they don’t really care about studying since there’s no reason to, so today I told them that for every question they get wrong, they will have to jog half a lap around the track starting tomorrow.  That means 10 questions and 5 laps at the most.  I think this will pressure them to actually study.  It’s funny because every morning when I ask them how they are doing, one of my classes says “Bad”.  I would ask why and they would say “Because we’re having a test.”   I respond with a laugh.

I told them the reason why I am giving them tests is so they would study because if they want to attend university or study abroad in America or Europe or Australia, they would have to learn English.  If I don’t give them tests, they will not study, they will forget and they will not learn anything.  The past few tests have been on shapes, symbols, and words.  Tomorrow I will test them on animals and since I am serious about jogging for every question you get wrong, it shall be fun to see improvement.

Also, China is different about grades.  It’s not a private matter, but a public matter, so I read their scores on tests out loud so they know who is doing well and who is not.  Also, if any of my students speak Chinese without my permission they will have to dance or sing in front of the class.  The other students seem to enjoy this form of “punishment” a lot. 

Lately I have also been teaching them about respect because they talk and listen to music while I am teaching.  Hushing them doesn’t work and many of them don’t listen.   I taught them about respecting the teachers and their classmates and their classroom (because it’s dirty and in China, students have to keep their schools and classrooms clean). 

Last camp, I was in Inner Mongolia and none of us teachers had any troubles with our students.  They always showed up early and cleaned the hallways and classrooms and they weren’t noisy in class.  Here, it is a whole different story.  It’s interesting to see such differences from place to place. 
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