Shadow Wings is a book about the friendship between a young boy and a shadow. Chinese author Tong Xixi leads the readers through many adventures in a world where shadows can fly, laugh, and cry. In the end, the boy learns that these shadows are in fact children who where killed by Japanese soldiers in the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.
This semester, children at Xiaochao Primary School help to manage the school library. They use policies developed by third- and fourth-grade students during a summer service learning project. Before the start of school, rural teachers discussed with the children ways to manage a library. One problem the children anticipated was that younger students would have a hard time reading the labels on books. Thus, they came up with ideas like labeling the books by color or numbers instead.
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 curriculum unit for third- and fourth-graders developed with support from the Rural China Education Foundation.
In November, two teachers in our program were given "Excellent Teacher" Awards by the Yuncheng Education Bureau which oversees our partner schools. Members of the Evaluation Group for Reading Campuses made a surprise visit to our program site, Xiaochao School. They observed the third and fourth grade reading classes which are taught by our program teachers Ms. Ren Xiaolei and Ms. Li Xiaochun.
This semester, our third grade students in the Dong Wu Xing Village Primary School had many opportunities to discuss books that they read. Before starting a discussion, the teacher would choose a suitable book based on students’ reading level and background. The students would then read the book using different formats. Sometimes the teacher would read aloud to the students and sometimes the students would read in small groups, pairs, or independently. The teacher prepared discussion questions and encouraged students to bring up question they wanted to discuss. This helped them to cultivate their thinking skills and empathy with characters and situations in the books.
It's been two months since we began working with the third graders at Dong Wu Xing Primary School. September was mostly spent raising students' interest in reading and giving them time and space to read independently. October was focused on improving their reading comprehension and their participation in reading activities.
This semester we will begin working with a new partner school, Dong Wu Xing Primary School. It has about 130 students who live in the surrounding village. At this school there is one period a day for reading. We will use this time to teach students some effective reading strategies and methods. In out-of-class time, we will also give students more opportunities to do meaningful reading writing and practice.