So (post-very-tragic-computer-death) I’m FINALLY reviving my book illustration project for English teachers in rural China. The idea is to make a (free! yayy) series of cheaply printable books (aligned with the PEP curriculum) for students to read as extra material.
Sadly, the computer crash also deleted my scripts and ideas for the rest of the books. If anybody wants to contribute scripts or ideas, please email or message me!
Answers to FAQ:
- No, I don’t get paid for this.
- I am doing this because I promised my clever little 7th graders books and comic books as extra reading material. (I will have to make books real fast now to keep that promise! D:)
- Yes, I would give you credit — you could be famous throughout rural villages everywhere in Yunnan and Guangdong (and also, Suzhou, hehe)!
- Yes, you can read the ones I’ve already written. Yes, you can use them if you are not a TFC teacher. You can use them if you’re in America, actually.
What’s the catch? There basically is none. All I want is to make as many quality books as quickly as possible for students who otherwise will not encounter English books in their lives to suddenly have a library of fun reading material.
So I will be in Wudaokou, Beijing, starting sometime early/mid-July! I’ll be working on:
Sounds like…I’ll be very busy this summer, so I’ll try to bang out a couple of these projects this semester (or at least get a good head start.) I’ll head back to Zhen’an sometimes late August for the new school year. :D
So I noticed some major differentiation problems in the classroom — the brighter kids like kouyu class but think that our pace is far too slow for their genius brains, and some kids completely don’t know their ABCs.
That is tough.
One of my attempts of differentiation (and better use a specific kouyu method - WAYK) involved splitting my classes up into separate groups based on what I thought their “skill level” to be. Each ban has a different experimental number. 243 has many small groups of about 6-8 students, 246 has 5 small groups of about 10-12, and so on and so forth. Some groups had some “sleeper” members; a quick learner in one of my slow groups, or a lazy but smart slacker in a fast group.
Because the classroom is crampy and the desks are not arranged ideally, I also took them (wait for it…wait for it…) OUTSIDE for class! (AAAAAAAaaaa!)
I had them sit at the cafeteria in little pods, and then I went around, spending about 5 minutes per group, giving each group new information to practice and teach itself.
I appointed a “teaching leader” and a “behavior leader” for each group: the teaching leader was generally the quickest student in the group (or a student I had worked with one on one before) and responsible for helping out slower students in the group, and the behavior leader was responsible for making sure students didn’t run away or goof off like idiots.
a) Well, an obvious pro is that it’s FUN to have class outside (plus more teaching attention and learning with friends and not all those other fools in the classroom) and in groups, and
b) students teaching other students is def one of my favorite things. I had one student from 244, Matt, who isn’t all too well-behaved or particularly quick in class, but who once helped me tutor three problem students (they can barely write Chinese. o_o)
I told him, hey, I actually think you have pretty great leadership and teaching abilities, and instantly, he became a fantastic teacher, helping to spoon-feed and correct within his group.
Also, c) The “faster” kids didn’t feel as much that the “slower” kids were holding them back (this is a common complaint I receive…), and the slower kids are able to receive more digestible information.
a) students may goof off if you don’t hound them constantly like you do in the classroom.
b) students may run away (if outdoors) …this happened in one of my classes. I gave three of them detention and stern talking-tos.
c) students may feel sad if they are in the “slow” group (try to make it not so obvious that there’s a “basic” group…)
…was not as great as I hoped it would be. (note: PDC stands for Professional Development Conference, and it’s a mandatory conference that Fellows must attend every few months or so.) I was glad to see people though! Some thoughts:
Generally, I was a bit disappointed, because I learned a lot from the Mid-Year PDC in terms of techniques (study skills, vocab sessions, kouyu techniques, 2nd-year and 2nd-semester fellow advice.) Oh well! >_<
Some friends came over on Saturday, and I made for them:
One friend also made her famous super sugary sangria. I don’t drink, but I had a sip and it was tasty!
And then we played Super Smash and Mario Kart! And Munchkin at night (the first time the game has ever resulted in a tie).
Today was the first day of my third week teaching here at 龙陵二中.
All my mornings classes (242, 243) didn’t go…super well. I forgot at least one (sometimes small, sometimes major) thing from each lesson. (ie. suddenly forgot the TPR for “eat breakfast” and just resolved to teach that another day.)
Behavior-wise, a lot of 242, which is normally my sweetest and best behaved class, was spaced out and disengaged. Aaaa! 243 was ill-behaved in their first period with me (I introduced a new “management plan” that tracked their behavior as a class on the board under a happy face and a sad face), but was angelic during their second period. ”Management plan” is in quotes because generally the class self-polices itself because they tend to just want more points under the happy face. .
Or 243 was angelic during second period because Sebastian ditched class. (Er…hope not.)
I also had 晚自习 (night time classes) with 246 and 244. I was really apprehensive about my class with 246 because of the Zhao Tan/Clifford incident from last class, so I wasn’t sure how to approach them. (More on this in a separate blog post later.) The class was extremely ill-behaved, and I had them stay after class for 9 minutes (they had 10 marks under the sad face, and 1 mark under the happy face.) I told them that I wanted kouyu class to be fun for them, and I wanted to be nice to them and give them a break from the rigors of their normal schedule, but they had completely taken advantage and just went wild.
After class, 246’s best student approached me and asked if I were a little angry with them. ”No,” I told her. ”I’m really just disappointed.”
The class was pretty chastened.
My second night class was with 244, which was absolutely angelic, earning 10 points under the happy face, and two points under the sad face. (like, a record score of goodness.)
The happy point of my day was when my girl students from 242 (most of the ban) came over to my room right before my 晚自习 and asked me to watch their 手语 performance practice. It was super adorable.
Also…they didn’t know I was born and educated in America.
Uh. That explains a lot, I guess?
As the four us (our team is two Chinese fellows, one male, one female; two foreign fellows, one white male, and me — the TFC “standard team”) settle into our third week here, I’ve had some time to notice and ponder some uncomfortable things.