It’s been well over a month since the start of online learning in Huili School Hangzhou. During this period, teachers from the Mandarin Department have explored the most effective methods for teaching via cloud to apply an holistic educational approach online. They have combined the curriculum with the real-life experiences of pupils and encouraged them to read extensively.
Mandarin Classes Sync with Current Events
Tao Xingzhi, a renowned educator, once said, “Life is education; society is school and the unity of teaching, learning and doing shall be realised.” During the prevention and control of COVID-19, Mandarin teachers have led our pupils to turn the pages of the book of society, think about their personal experience in the process, and learn Mandarin from their daily lives.
G1 pupils designed posters and made picture writings about their understanding of the coronavirus. They showed their empathy for Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and their admiration of healthcare workers.
G2 pupils recorded their lives during this special time in their ‘My Staycation Diary’ during COVID-19. They designed creative diary templates, found beauty in life, and enjoyed it. To further teach pupils the meaning of gratitude, teachers proposed that pupils write a thank you letter to express their appreciation for healthcare workers fighting the virus. These letters from our young pupils overflowed with heartfelt sincerity.
G7 pupils also expressed their admiration of and gratitude for frontline healthcare workers – through character writings. One can easily see how they feel about life through their writings.
The masks Zhong Nanshan wears leave red marks that meet with the wrinkles on the face of this prominent Chinese expert in respiratory diseases. Mr. Zhong, however, remains undeterred, and has pioneered research on this virus. From a video taken in a hospital, Mr. Zhong entered with haste and seized every second to treat his patients. What we see from his unprotected eyes are unwavering faith and hope.
The first responders to Wuhan were healthcare workers, many of whom stuck to their posts even though they were not respiratory infection specialists themselves. Together, they risked their lives for our bright spring. May you smile the biggest smile when the March sun shines through the world.
G8 pupils looked into reports on the epidemic and spotted common language mistakes. They then summarised, explored and learned from them. These learning sources from daily life have served as huge stimuli to pupils’ learning enthusiasm, which in turn has improved their critical thinking and ability to apply their Mandarin knowledge.
Sharing Learning Results after Extensive Reading
Extensive reading is a significant factor in improving pupils’ literacy in Mandarin. Reading tasks for Huili pupils have steadily continued during this special period. As Mandarin learning takes daily efforts, teachers encourage pupils to spend 15 to 30 minutes reading on a daily basis, and classes have been holding reading workshops of different kinds every week to share their thoughts after reading.
The second unit for the G3 Mandarin class was “Fables.” After studying fables of various genres like classical Chinese, poetry and modern literature, we held online Q&A sessions for discussions, where we connected the fables with our own lives and pupils expressed and exchanged their ideas.
G5 and G6 pupils are given a recommended weekly reading list from their teachers as a supplement to their textbooks, which can broaden their horizons, expand their knowledge and cultivate their taste in literature.
The first unit for the G7 Mandarin class was about influential men and women. Teachers recommended biographies of famous people for pupils to read, such as the biographies of Su Dongpo and Leonardo da Vinci, as extracurricular reading tasks. To spark their reading enthusiasm, pupils were encouraged to read about people they admire, and many boys read biographies on Kobe Bryant. They then shared their thoughts after reading and learned from each other through our online class.
Exploring More Possibilities of Online Classes
Teachers from the Mandarin Department have explored the most effective teaching methods for virtual teaching, aspiring to offer the best online class experience for Huili pupils. Considering the ages of our pupils and their concentration span, teachers break up difficult and important points in preparing a lesson to make sure that all pupils can maintain their academic progress. In homework and lesson design, teachers pay attention to pupils’ differentiated learning needs and organise activities aiming to improve their literacy through various online strategies.
Online classes not only present a new opportunity for teachers and pupils to learn together during this special time, but also allow them to create a bond that is surely comforting and uplifting. After learning online for this period of time, some pupils have wished that they “could be back in school.” It was mentioned when G5 pupils were studying Chapter 1 from A Journey to the West, so teachers took this as an opportunity to set a writing task called Wukong/Bajie – ‘Learning in Huili School’. What a wonderful outlet for pupils to ease their longing to return to school! Their writings are full of imagination and fantasy. Impressive indeed!
Online learning promotes enquiry-based teaching as it showcases more channels of collecting learning materials. For example, G4 teachers enriched online learning with multiple teaching approaches and resources. In composing their enquiry reports in the areas in which they were interested, pupils were encouraged to search for resources in several ways and use ‘Knowbox’ and other Apps. As they moved to the unit on “Unveiling Nature’s Mysteries with Science and Technology,” pupils were asked to draft a manual for scientific research, which included activities like learning science terms, reading science books, investigating materials online, analysing news extracts and devising scientific research procedures. This was a comprehensive exercise of both Mandarin learning and deep thinking.
Teaching Mandarin during this special period is a brand-new attempt to apply our unique holistic approach to education online. We hope Huili pupils can incorporate Mandarin learning into their daily lives, as it will benefit them when they become lifetime readers and thinkers with a clear social conscience.