Last week was one of those opportunities where we as foreign teachers in China are able to share more about our culture within lessons centered around a holiday. To be honest, I didn't do anything with my 2nd graders because another FT covered the basics for them. When it came to the 5th graders, I had them complete their presentations on endangered animals done "Steve Jobs" style. With the remaining time, I went into the reasons behind a TeachingChannel Thanksgiving blog called I Am Thankful For...
I quickly explained a few points:
A) Blog is 博客 (bókè) in Chinese. This was followed by several students in every class who said, "Awww, ok."
B) This is a neat way for people to show what they are thankful for whether it be a teacher, friend, etc.
C) I would place some of the students' thoughts on my blog by taking their pictures.
D) Why? Because I really want everybody in the world to know who and what students in China are thankful for. (It's kind of a dream for me)
I made this task optional, but still nearly 100% of my 70 fifth graders filled out to their hearts' desires. How is that possible?
I have a couple potential explanations:
1) The students want to share their heart because so many teachers want to only grade their work, specifically their homework.
2) The students want their voices to be heard. They want a more global audience than the 20+ faces inside their classrooms. They're screaming to get outside the walls and have authentic audiences collaborate with them in ways they don't even know yet how. This comes off the lesson today where I asked a class for ideas on how to use a blog. I should have given a little more support since I don't think any of them have had one before except for the short blurbs they post on QQ.
All that to say, we as teachers can always learn from our students. This is why last weekend I took time to be thankful for them and how they have helped shape me into the person and teacher I should be. They, along with my phenomenal PLNs, challenge me to better the education and future of every student at our school.
Lastly, thank you(!) to the TeachingChannel and Sarah Wessling. My students wouldn't have ever had this experience if it weren't for you.
(Posted below are some of the students' writings. The original pictures have been cropped and will be until the students and their parents sign the media permission form.)