As we approach another fall holiday, and we are certainly all giving thanks for a break to spend time with our families, fur babies and other loved ones, I thought I would share some of the exciting work that Rebecca Feng has been doing with her Chinese classes and Chinese Club.
Guest Blogger: Rebecca Feng, RBHS
Here you see the Mid autumn festival Field Trip to Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, performances of Lion dance and Kung Fu show (dancers flew from China for this festival). Lanterns are also directly from China.
We left school at 1:00 and arrived back at 10:00, but students didn't want to leave because they were enjoying the lanterns so much. This holiday is equal to U.S. Thanksgiving Day because it is the second largest festival in China and a day that family gets together to celebrate because it is the full moon in the middle of the year. Traditionally, we go outside and place a table in the garden and have dinner together and appreciate the moon. In ancient times, large families would do singing and dancing and poets would recite poetry. The trip was open to any Chinese students, and Chinese club and students interested in Chinese culture. Afterward, we went directly to a restaurant that serves Southern Cantonese style Dim Sum. Next year during Chinese New Year we are going to Atlanta to the Buddhist Temple.
In the classroom, Rebecca has been working very hard on a virtual exchange with several classes from China, in which her students actually Skype back and forth in order to practice their Chinese. The students in China are practicing their English. Rebecca shared:
We (the EFL teacher of XinDu No. 1 Middle School & I) started with one Skype session every 3 weeks on Thursdays 8:25am--9am U.S. Eastern Time. The ones we did in past weeks were with my Chinese 1 students. Based on what they learned, the first Skype communication was simply to ask and answer personal information and hobbies. Motivated by this authentic communication opportunity, my Chinese 1 students came to me after class asking questions beyond the learned vocabulary and structures, so as to be able to ask and answer seasonal questions to Chinese students about Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas in their second communication session. They also started to greet and talk to me in school in front of other students and explain the meaning of our short conversations to other students. I'm so thrilled to see this important step forward in fostering a positive atmosphere toward learning Chinese (spread on campus as the most difficult language in the world to study) initiated by Chinese students themselves. One more time I am convinced that Authenticity is Powerful.
So far the Chinese 1 class finished their exchange with the Chinese school this year. Due to the 13 hour time difference, Chinese 1 will have to wait until next year Daylight Saving Time in March to resume their Skype with the Chinese school. Made hyper by the authentic speaking communication, Chinese 1 students requested more culture exchange. Students took the lead a few weeks ago and started a "25 Days to Christmas calendar" project with both Chinese and English sessions on each date, to send to XinDu No.1 Middle School as their first hand-made culture & language exchange gift! I was truly touched by their passion and action.
With the successful experience from Chinese 1, now we (the EFL teacher and I) are working to include more Chinese EFL teachers in their school and their students to communicate with my other levels of Chinese classes using Skype, in order to share the load of working at evenings in China while getting more students on both sides to experience this language and culture exchange. We are even working to possibly broadcast some of our other classes, such as physics, to the Chinese school so they can sit in and observe.
Rebecca, your work is encouraging and inspiring! Thanks to all of you who regularly go above and beyond to make language learning real and authentic to our students. They notice!
Guest Blogger: Sarah Buckliew, RBHS
October was a busy month for our River Bluff German Program. Students attended two German workshops; one at College of Charleston and one at USC Upstate. At these workshops students participated in station activities in the target language and learned about the University German programs. The most exciting trip however was a trip to IFA Rotorion, a German company in Charleston. Over the summer I applied for a grant from the American Association of German Teachers, to sponsor field excursions for our students who are enrolled in both German and Mechanical Design at River Bluff. After being awarded this grant, we are able to meet with German companies in the state of South Carolina, to see how their German background knowledge and mechanical design skills can be used in future employment. Our first trip to IFA Rotorion was a huge success. Students were introduced to the company by the CEO Mauro Amarante. Then the human resources department spoke to them about their CO-OP opportunity and how what they are learning in high school will help them get a job in the future. IFA Rotorion is opening a new facility in the next two years and will be employing 600 more employees. Then students were then able to tour the facility, complete with steel toed shoes and eye protection. Students were able to see first hand how what they are learning in class can be directly used in their future. Students can’t wait until our next trips in the spring to BMW and BOSCH! A huge thank you to AATG for sponsoring these trips for our students.
Sra. Shumpert: "Why do you think I painted my face, and prepared this display for you today?"
Student: "Because you're a Spanish teacher and Day of the Dead is a Spanish holiday, so you have to teach us about it."
Sra. Shumpert: "Well actually, there is a bigger purpose behind it. When you don't know about something or understand it, sometimes you become a judge and start to judge it. But I want you to open your minds to what other people do, and even if you don't understand it or do it yourself, you can respect it."
Later in the lesson Sra. Shumpert went on to say, "How can you say you won't like something if you've never even tasted it? In the same way, how do you know you won't be friends with that person over there just because of the way he or she looks?"
These are the questions that we must ask ourselves and our students on a regular basis if we want our teaching to be truly transformational. Teaching a student how to speak Spanish is certainly an important and valuable skill, but encouraging a student to have an open heart and mind...what could possibly matter more?
Today I want to thank Sra. Shumpert, and all of you who share from your hearts every day with your students. I had the joy of observing a class in which Sra. Shumpert shared from her heart about her own ancestors who have passed away and why she celebrates their lives on November 2nd. She explained to students that because she is not Mexican, she does not celebrate Día de los Muertos in the same way that many Mexican families do. Instead she does have a practice from her Puerto Rican heritage in which she lights a candle in remembrance.
Guest Blogger: Jessica Oberly, PM
Last week Ms Jacome and myself taught our students about the practices of Día de los Muertos. We discussed the the signficance, altars, typical food, and the atmosphere of the celebration. Then we gave our students 3 days in class to participate in a Day of the Dead art contest.
Ms Jacome's Spanish 1 student created calaveras or sugar skulls.
All of the Novice A and B classes created Catrina or Catrin skeletons.
My Spanish 2 class and I discussed Diego Rivera's mural "A dream of a Sunday afternoon in Alameda park". The students then created their interpretation of the mural.
Winners are featured below.
World Language Teacher Support Specialist (and Language Enthusiast)