February 2011 No. 42
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New Curriculum Combines Reading and Service Learning
RCEF Awarded Grants from Family Foundations
From Rural School to Big City and Back: Ms. Wang Yanzhen
Recognition of Recent Donors
New Curriculum Combines Reading and Service Learning
Above: Students will read and discuss books around themes.
The new spring semester began on February 18 and with it a set of innovative lesson plans that combine reading and service to guide students in learning about issues in their own community. Lesson themes include “Changes in Our Village over the Past 30 Years,” “Conflict Resolution at School”, and “The Needs of Left-Behind Children.” The latter refers to children whose parents have migrated away to cities to work, leaving them in the countryside to board at school or live with relatives. Around 100 students in two primary schools will read stories and other material that help them to think about social issues in preparation for doing their own research and action project in the community.
RCEF has received generous support from the TAG Philanthropic Foundation and the Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation in 2011. We are grateful for the support of these education-minded family foundations which have extended their resources to support RCEF's work for multiple years!
From Rural School to the Big City and Back: Ms. Wang Yanzhen
Above: Ms. Wang reads a story to her third grade students.
Ms. Wang Yanzhen is a full-time program teacher in Yongji, Shanxi Province. She was born in a village in Yongji and grew up as the daughter of the local primary school principal.
“One summer visit home left a deep impression on me,” Ms. Wang recalled. “I saw my son trying to read an elementary school reading primer. There was a story in it but he couldn’t misread some simple words.” In addition to his academic struggles, she felt that Ke’s behavior had taken a turn for the worse, becoming more “wild”. The grandparents were busy with farming and didn’t have much energy to raise a child. Ms. Wang realized that nothing was more important than her son. She decided to find work locally so that she could stay home and take care of Ke. By coincidence, this was also the year that a nearby rural school—Guan Ai Primary School—opened its doors. Ms. Wang joined Guan Ai’s teaching staff.
At Guan Ai, Ms. Wang taught first and second grade. She also participated in one of Guan Ai’s school-wide programs—developing students’ habits and love of reading. Ms. Wang was also responsible for managing the school library which had many extracurricular books that students could choose from. “During that time, I knew that reading was good for the children but I didn’t know much theory behind it. I read stories to the children and gave them books to read on their own. I saw some obvious improvements in them. If I thought of a new idea, I tried it. "
After Guan Ai in June 2010 due to village school consolidation, Ms. Wang joined the Starfish Rural Youth Cultural Research Center, a new organization made up of teachers and staff who previously worked at Guan Ai. This year, she teaches reading class at Dong Wu Xing Primary School.
This semester, Ms. Wang’s wish is to organize guardian-child reading activities. She discovered that her students often go home after reading class and tell the stories they read to their grandparents. Many of these children are so-called “left-behind children” whose parents are working in the cities so they live in the village with their grandparents. After hearing their grandchildren’s stories, these elderly villages are very happy and even came to the school to thank Ms. Wang. She hopes to increase these family reading activities this semester.
We are grateful to all the supporters who donated to RCEF in January and February 2011! (A complete list of donors through the years is available here.)
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Bronze Sponsors ($100-$999)
Supporting Sponsors (under $99)
The RCEF Newsletter is a publication about the educational initiatives supported by RCEF in rural China. The activities described in this edition are from the program of the Starfish Rural Youth Cultural Research Center, RCEF’s main field partner, located in Yongji, Shanxi Province.
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From Our Website
Reading Original Works by Chinese Authors
Read an example of the book discussion model that rural teachers are developing in Shanxi.
Diary Entry: Weekend Excursion with Village Children
An informal outing sheds light on rural children’s relationship to the environment around them.
Our Village's Revolutionary Roots
Students investigate what life was like in their villages during a critical period in history.
See videos of RCEF's activities on our Youtube Channel!
Sweet Potato Investigation
All the steps of this yearlong project on a local crops can be seen in this video.
Helping Schools in Gansu
Project teacher Ms. Zhang Li worked with fourth graders to plan a fundraising campaign for impoverished schools in Gansu Province.
Green Campus Project
Project teacher Ws. Wang Min describes the process of helping students carry out a campus landscaping project.
Water Investigation Project
This video shows how students went into the community to research water issues.
Part 1: Egg Selling Experience
Students brought their eggs to market for the first time. See their salesmanship in action!
Students carried out a campaign to educate their neighbors in three villages about the harms of smoking
RCEF posts monthly and quarterly newsletters on our website.Click here to read past issues
(C) Rural China Education Foundation 2011