October 2011 No. 44
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RCEF Sows Seeds for Service Learning Teaching Methodology
New Video: Snail Investigation
New Video: Village Changes
Recognition of Donors
RCEF Published in Solutions Journal
Rural China is home to about one in every ten people on earth and to more than 150 million school-aged children—a staggering number, comparable to half the entire U.S. population. RCEF recently published the article Reimagining Education in Rural China in Solutions Journal, a publication that showcases "bold and innovative ideas for solving the world's integrated ecological, social, and economic problems." Click here to read it.
RCEF teachers work with small groups of students in this hands-on demonstration of service learning methodology.
Over the past several months, RCEF has been busy promoting service learning teaching methodology amongst teachers and NGOs that work with rural children. Service learning is an educational approach that cultivates civic responsibility by integrating academic learning and personal growth with meaningful service to the community. In a typical service-learning project, students identify problems that they are concerned about in their community, research the problems and potential solutions, create and implement a plan for addressing the problem, and reflect on their learning and action throughout the process.
A new RCEF handbook on service learning presents this teaching methodology in detail along with practical examples of how RCEF teachers have applied it in rural China. This summer, RCEF invited teachers from rural Shanxi, Sichuan, Anhui, Yunnan, and Gansu Provinces to a teacher exchange meeting. The guest teachers observed RCEF teachers guide local village children in a project to investigate and educate their community about the prevalence and health effects of cigarette smoking.
Students and parents at the culminating event of the project, in which students shared what they learned from their investigation.
The teachers observing this demonstration said that it successfully combined theory with practice, bringing a new educational philosphy to life. "I've never been to a training like this before," said Ms. Ma Zhongyi, a second grade teacher from the mountains of Sichuan Province. "This training allowed us to participate in every step of the teaching. I moved from being confused and skeptical in the beginning to developing my own understanding and opinions about service learning. I want to attend more trainings like this where I can exchange experiences with people who are passionate about teaching."
If you would like to receive a free copy of RCEF's Service Learning Handbook, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many children in rural China board at school. One morning after the children got up, RCEF teacher Ms. Sun Huimiao realized that some boys were missing. "Other children told me that they had gone to the school garden to catch snails," she recalled. "At first I was angry. But then I thought, this is something they are interested in. If they can learn from it, that would be very meaningful." And thus began the story of how an observant teacher turned children’s natural curiosity into an original learning project. See video above.
Rural China is undergoing huge changes. RCEF grantee partner, the Starfish Rural Youth Cultural Research Center, develops content for primary school reading classes that relates to students' lives and communities. This video describes a Starfish curriculum unit in which students examine the changes in their villages over the last two decades.
Migration from rural to urban areas is a common phenomenon in China. However, when rural adults migrate to cities to work, they often leave behind young children and elderly parents. China Daily estimates there are 20 million “left-behind children” and 20 million “left-behind elderly” in China’s rural areas. Their lives and needs were the focus of a Starfish curriculum unit for third- and fourth-graders.
First, teachers selected age-appropriate books and a short film to get students thinking about this topic from various perspectives. Then the students interviewed left-behind children and elderly people in their communities about problems that they face. Around 40% of the students are left-behind children themselves. They discussed which problems they could personally work on alleviating, settling on these 3 issues: academic difficulties faced by left-behind children whose parents aren’t home to help with homework, poor personal hygiene, and the heavy workload of the elderly who must farm the land and do household chores.
Students thought about the reason for these problems and found that there is much they can do to help. They decided to form small groups in each village matching up older students with younger students to address the problems. Each group made plans, including when and where to meet, and elected a group leader to handle coordination. Based on home visits, program teachers found that students’ guardians strongly approve of this initiative.[Back to Table of Contents]
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The RCEF Newsletter is a publication about the educational initiatives supported by RCEF in rural China.
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From Our Website
Childhood Reading for Pleasure Promoted in China
Children Improve School Library
This semester, children at Xiaochao Primary School help to manage the school library using a system developed by students during a summer service learning project.
The Starfish Center continues to develop curriculum for reading classes in rural China. Shadow’s Wings is a book fourth graders are reading this semester.
See videos of RCEF's activities on our Youtube and Youku Channels!
Sweet Potato Investigation
All the steps of this yearlong project on a local crops can be seen in this video.
Click to view with Youku.
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.
Students carried out a campaign to educate their neighbors in three villages about the harms of smoking
RCEF posts all our newsletters on our website.Click here to read past issues
(C) Rural China Education Foundation 2011