Building Bridges through Chinese

Doris King is a Chinese teacher at #sisrocks. She specifically teaches students from grades one to five who come from a household where Chinese is the first language. Typically, the traditional approach to learning the Chinese language is to memorize characters. This is especially true when it comes to learning how to write each character stroke correctly. Doris realized that there was a disconnect between how students were learning in their English-speaking homerooms and how she had been teaching Chinese to her native speaking students.

Doris wanted to transform her Chinese heritage class to make the language more accessible by creating more personal and deeper connections within the class, at home, and far away from her classroom. For Chinese heritage students, the goals are to instill the value of learning Chinese and also to illustrate progression. With that in mind, Doris began by encouraging her students to write and share their thoughts, opinions, and experiences through their personal blogs. Their first blogging task was to write about a time they experienced a challenge with a positive mindset. Once these pieces were posted to their blogs, students were asked to send their URL to a parent and a friend to receive feedback. The responses from their parents and peers were astounding. Parents told their children that they never knew they could express themselves that way. They were so proud of their child’s writing and were excited for them to share more.

Doris was pleased with the results but wanted her students to dig deeper. She took inspiration from colleagues at SIS, Ceci Gomez-Galvez and Nathan Lill. Doris used the mentor text that both Ceci and Nathan used for their Big DEAL event that has happened for four years now, based on “This I Believe,” from CBS’s Radio Network program, journalist Edward R. Murrow. In this instance, students had to scribe their works all in Chinese then use their speaking skills to showcase their deeper inner thoughts about what they believe.

The Chinese language program is still striving to have students digging deeper in their understanding and use of the Chinese language. Cross-campus connections, such as the “This I Believe” podcasts, are a great way for colleagues to encourage and challenge one another to try new strategies in their classrooms, often with incredible results.

For all resources check out the links below:

Doris King’s Chinese Heritage Students Links
http://share.sis.org.cn/dorisking/chinese-this-i-believe-2017/

Ceci Gomez-Galvez & Nathan Lill’s Podcasts
share.sis.org.cn/podcasts
http://thisibelieve.org/
http://www.npr.org/series/4538138/this-i-believe

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