I was lucky enough to be chosen as a chaperone for a school trip to China. We took 20 Grade 8 and 9 students, who were all learning Chinese, to Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai.
I took so many photos - here are just a few:
During our first week we stayed at Shanghai High School. The students attended classes throughout the week and we all stayed in dorms. We ate the amazing school food and got to learn lots about the education system in China. During one weekend the students stayed with host families and we were taken on an adventure with some of the Chinese Teachers. This was a really wonderful opportunity, as it gave us an authentic experience.
A short while later many of the students visited us in Atlanta. Chinese students stayed with their host families and we had one of the teachers stay with us. Most of the time students just shadowed their buddies, but we also had a few opportunities to come together as a group - including for a session I ran on stereotypes, assumptions and understanding different cultures. This session included both students from our school and SHHS.
Below is the presentation I used for the students and beneath that is a breakdown and reflection of the activities, with a few extra photographs! (You can see in the presentation that in the last slides I added in the students responses)
We started off the session with a Kahoot I created, called 'Where in the world? China or the USA?". Here I purposefully chose some images to confuse students! This was a good opening activity to get the students to be a bit more flexible.
During the next section I used the Chalk Talk thinking routine - where students walk around adding their thoughts to some prompts, and then add further thoughts to their peers' ideas. Many people do this in silence, but I often think the oral discussion which happens when doing this activity is very valuable (and especially important as many of our students, and obviously SHHS' have English as a second language!)
Here students had several venn diagrams, with one side being 'America' and the other side being 'China'. They had venn diagrams for; food, city life, education, entertainment and family life. I had all the students work together, but it may have also been interesting to have had the groups work individually or give each school different color pens, as it would help us understand who wrote what (both schools made many of the same assumptions about each other) - however, most of this information came out in the group discussion which followed after.
Much discussion actually happened while students were filling in the venn diagrams - but we also came together as a group after.
The next activity was a I Used to Think, Now I think - here students wrote both responses on a post-it note and added it to the board. I would like to have students brainstorm ideas about the country they are visiting before going and then reflect on those later - however as this was a single lesson, students were allowed to look back to before the trip or the start of the class for their 'I used to think' answer.
To end off the session I gave students the prompt "Why is it important to experience and appreciate another culture?". Students answered this through PollEverywhere, which showed all the responses on the board and also turned them into a live word cloud. I was super impressed with their thoughtful and mature responses, as well as how articulate the students were.
Some of my favorite responses:
I've added the responses from the last two activities into the last slides of the presentation at the top of this post.
Taking part in this Chinese exchange was truly inspiring - This exchange is organized by our Chinese teacher Jie Wu. She has given me so much 'food for thought', as well as so much delicious Chinese food! My teaching is better because of her influence. Hopefully we will collaborate more together in the next school year (watch this space!)
Here are some other unit/lesson ideas I had from our trip:
This was a great opportunity for me, as I tend to only ever visit France (where my mum lives) and England (where the rest of my family live). Although I am slowly exploring more and more of America, I definitely want to see more of the world. On the top of the list of Japan and Mexico. Where else should I visit? What has been your most inspiring vacation?