In this vigorous and flower-filled May, SUIS Qingpu’s Primary School English-subject team gladly invited Ms. Zhou Genmei, a Qingpu District researcher, to visit the campus and provide some guidance. Over two weeks, three forms of teaching and research activities (lectures, team classes and lesson evaluations) were organically combined to enrich teachers’ practical and theoretical understandings. The teaching and research activities were mainly divided into three parts: First, on May 4th, Ms. Zhou gave a very instructive lecture on the theme of “Introducing Unit Context and Optimizing Discursive Teaching Design”. Subsequently, the school’s Qinghe English Teaching & Research Workshop conducted a two-week intensive training class according to the core content of the lecture. On May 18th, we once again invited Ms. Zhou to carry out a group teaching & research activity on English lessons provided by Ms. Jessica and Ms. Amy. Ms. Helen, our Assistant Principal, and Ms. Michelle, the Executive Deputy Head of Primary School, also participated in this teaching and research activity.
Ms. Jessica’s lesson, for Grade 4, was the third lesson of the fifth chapter of “We can be better”, and the whole lesson revolved around “Problem-Resolution-Action”, allowing students to understand three problems Ms. Jessica has encountered in her life and to learn about her solutions to the problems and the actions she took, all while watching her diary and video. At the same time, the students connected with reality to activate their own life experiences and discussed and exchanged the difficulties and solutions they encountered in their own lives. At the end of the lesson, the children talked about their own problems as well as resolutions and goals, wrote them down on Resolution Cards, and pasted them on the board in the classroom. The students then loudly chanted, “I can be better!” – this was most encouraging and inspiring!
Ms. Amy’s Grade 2 lesson involved the first lesson of the fifth chapter, “Happy Days”, a story reading lesson based on two letters between Little Red Riding Hood and The Big Bad Wolf. Unlike Little Red Riding Hood’s well-known stories, this story was novel and interesting. With the help of Ms. Amy, the students sorted out the information about the two letters. Using their wonderful imaginations, the students also had a heated discussion on whether Little Red Riding Hood should attend the “Forest Fun Week”. They not only perceived the changes in Little Red Riding Hood’s thinking and emotions in the story, but also constantly thought about and expressed themselves in connection with their own life experiences. Throughout the class, the children spent the class happily and rewardingly under the very friendly guidance of Ms. Amy.
Ms. Zhou provided strong affirmation and comments on the two teachers’ classes following the class. First and foremost, Ms. Zhou loved the calm and pleasant atmosphere in the classroom. At the same time, our pupils’ English literacy made an indelible impression on her. Teachers not only taught children linguistic knowledge in class, but also helped students to gain strategies to acquire language through differentiated use of textbooks, which greatly aided learner-centered learning. Second, the two teachers’ instructional design properly reflected their comprehension of the overall structure of the unit. It corresponded to the new course standard’s “theme guidance, discourse support” teaching philosophy. This was not only a show of the teacher’s overall competence, but also of the team’s wisdom. Ms. Zhou also reaffirmed the cohesiveness of our school’s English teaching and research team in the course evaluation, which fostered the effective and speedy advancement of our teachers’ professional capacity while also giving a platform for teachers to demonstrate their growth. Meanwhile, Ms. Zhou shared her comments on the two teachers’ lessons. For example, she commented on how to better design teaching in a layered manner based on our students’ learning circumstances; how to use situations to help children find accurate information faster and develop reading strategies; and how to set more open-ended questions to activate children’s life experiences and promote language communication. These suggestions were practical, motivating, subtle, and relevant, giving the English team teachers clearer aims and more confidence in the direction of future teaching practice!
I am very grateful to Ms. Zhou for her professional explanations and sharing on the theme design for our English units. She intuitively solved several challenges in the curriculum design and teaching processes of our front-line teachers through practical cases. In my future teaching, I will pay more attention to the rational design of the lesson discussions and the introduction of context so that children can more deeply perceive and experience the theme and context, and internalize the skills and competencies developed through those discussions.
– Ms Neva
Thank you to Ms. Zhou for the rich case study on unit theme design. The most impressive thing was that these teaching cases not only had consistent characteristics but also had a strong connection with the actual life of the students. This design allowed students to learn English in real situations and use English, which greatly improved their learning habits.
– Ms Smiley
After listening to Ms Zhou’s guidance, I gained a deeper understanding of how to set up contexts that fit the text when teaching reading. Especially for the younger students who are currently being taught, it is crucial to be able to guide students to have true feelings and experiences in the context of reading, and to turn language knowledge into a bridge between expression and communication. Ms Zhou’s advice provided guidance for our future teaching practice. We will continue to stimulate students’ existing knowledge through class discussions, activate students’ thinking, and promote the simultaneous improvement of students’ language literacy and comprehensive literacy from multiple angles.
– Ms Isabel
Ms. Zhou’s sharing on the creation of unit context under the new curriculum standards and how to optimize the teaching design of class discussions benefited me a lot. Studying textbooks, digging deep into texts, and creating appropriate contexts discussions are important for English language teaching and are key to promoting students’ communicative language development. Different text genres require teachers to use wisdom to design the most suitable context to present, so as to help and inspire students to improve their language ability, learning strategies, thinking and emotions.
– Ms Hazel