Sunday, July 17, 2016

Civil Rights in China

It's hard to believe tomorrow is the last day with the students.  I am already feeling sentimental about the end of our time together.  The students are just wonderful.  Their personalities have really come out through our creative activities, something that doesn't usually happen for them in a school setting.

One of our 3 classes of students

I actually had a hard time deciding what I wanted to teach the students this year because I felt like my team teacher and I set the bar high last year.  My new partner, Rachel, and I settled on the topic of the Civil Rights Movement in America.  I honestly hesitated a bit, and even sought permission to teach this as it was an anti-government movement, which is a bit of a taboo topic here.  The teachers in the school were thrilled with the idea, though, and as it turns out, there is even a biography of Rosa Parks in the Gaokao practice books this year.

I really feel that Rachel and I did as much justice to the Civil Rights Movement as we could in the week we had.  We spent the first few days on Martin Luther King Jr., even having the students build a monument to him in a STEAM activity, and then had the students research other activists from the movement through readings and short video clips.  It was fascinating to see their reactions to a movement of this type.  Their background knowledge on such topics was minimal and a lot had to be taught, even down to the core principles of human rights.  I really feel this topic allowed them to open their minds in ways they hadn't been able to before.

Last year, if you followed my blog, you may remember that we had the students create claymation videos as a final project.  This year I tried my best to come up with something to beat that project, but failed, so claymation it was again this year!  It was, of course, still different from last year as the topic is civil rights.  Rachel and I assigned each student either Ruby Bridges, Rosa Parks, Booker T. Washington, or Malcolm X.  All Americans known for their contributions to civil rights.  MLK was left out because we went over him so much as a group.  Anyway, after their research was complete, they created a claymation video explaining the importance of that person to the Civil Rights Movement.  The results were just stunning.

It's not often Chinese students are given an opportunity to be creative in the context of their learning, so when given the chance, the work they produce is just phenomenal.  Seeing the project results makes me really appreciate my experience here.  They remind me of the impact I am having on these kids as they prepare for their studies in the US and Europe.

I am hoping the videos work this time.  Sunday helped big time by uploading them to his Google Drive and sending me links to post.  These are just a few samples of the amazing work they produced.  They are short, only about 30 seconds or so each, so enjoy!

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