Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chinese Apple Trees

The school I work at is 'unique' compared to other schools in the city in that every January we have an 'intercession' where students stop all their core classes and instead work on an interdisciplinary project. This year the twelfth graders are focusing on sustainability, so we have developed a project for them to use data they collect about our school to write a paper citing their data as evidence on how to make our school more sustainable. For the math/science part we have been teaching them basic statistics and data collection specifically in the school, while the humanities have taken a larger scope to focus on what an "ideal" sustainable city would be like. For both parts they have to write a paper AND present a poster as the final project.

I've been working with one other teacher aligning EVERYTHING we do with common core standards (the new education shift the nation is taking on) and teaching the same lesson 3 times a day. OH and I always have another teacher in the room.. sometimes even 3. As a result, I have been having a very EASY January. It's VERY weird for me to be going from 60 hours per week to essentially 35! I don't know what to do with myself and I've been going a little crazy (since all my friends are new teachers and they don't have free time), but I guess it means I get to write more blog posts, so that's cool I guess. 

That all being said, here are some of the challenges I've been facing. 

My ELL (English Language Learners) students are REALLY struggling with this task. For instance, we started off the project talking about sustainability and had them draw a visual poster of what sustainability means to them after the teachers did a brief intro to it. The idea behind this was to give my ELLs a picture to know what the heck we are talking about AND to make them practice their presentation/English skills as they leave much to be desired. They HATE it, but they need it. And also, as I've discovered, sustainability doesn't really translate well into Chinese. Who knew right!? I had them look it up in the Chinese/English dictionary and after they read it and looked all our posters they just looked even more confused. I think the Chinese word it translated to was something like the English word "support" and not sustain. Now all my Chinese students think Americans are even more bizarre. Oh well... challenges. 
Chinese Apple Trees?

However, I did learn something new about my Chinese students- they all draw apples in a VERY strange way. Originally I just thought it was just one group, but then ALL my Chinese students were drawing apples that way. SO.. I don't know if they weren't drawing apples and some other fruit they grow in China? Or that's just how they draw apples? I don't know, but I thought it was pretty funny. Here's a picture.

So, there you have it, another blog post. I guess now I will continue on pinteresting, reading other blogs, reading the Times, or writing up sketches for future blog posts. Exciting!

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