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Calendar >  CHINESE STUDENTS EXCITED BY THEIR TIME IN A VISTA MIDDLE SCHOOL

CHINESE STUDENTS EXCITED BY THEIR TIME IN A VISTA MIDDLE SCHOOL

By   /  January 30, 2017  /  No Comments

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Ray Huard

Ray Huard…. Shanghai sixth-grader Youan Xi said she was surprised to see every student at Vista Magnet Middle school working on computer tablets.

“In the class, they use computers. We never use computers,” said Xi, one of 14 Chinese middle school students who spent a week going to classes at Visa Magnet.

Zhao Jing, an English teacher in Shanghai and one of two chaperones accompanying the students, said she, too, was surprised to see Vista Magnet students using computer tablets in class.

At her school, “Teachers may use laptops or tablets in the class, but not the students,” Zhao said.

She said students at her school have computer labs as part of their curriculum, but she was struck at how the Vista middle-schoolers did much of their work independently, with teachers guiding them, but not lecturing them.

“In China, maybe the teacher talks too much,” Zhao said.

Zhao and her students were getting a taste of the personal learning approach Vista Unified School District has adopted as championed by Superintendent Devin Vodicka.

Rather than all students learning the same thing at the same time, lessons are tailored to play to the strengths of each student individually. They use the computer tablets to research and solve problems.

“This way is better, because the kids enjoy the class,” Zhao said.

She also was impressed that time is set aside during the school day for reading.

“Our emphasis is always have a book ready,” said Vista Magnet Assistant Principal Steve Post, who organized the Chinese students’ visit.

Post said it was particularly fitting that the Chinese students spent a week at Vista Magnet because it is an International Baccalaureate (IB) School, offering a curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking and global involvement.

“As an IB school, here we are, being international, building bridges globally,” Post said. “We’ve been learning from them about some of their culture and they’ve been learning about American culture.”

Several Vista Magnet students who spent the week as guides for their Chinese counterparts said it was a learning experience.

“Everybody was wanting to meet them and ask them questions,” said eighth-grader Kayla Megerdichian, 13.

“They’re from another country, another world to me,” Kayla said. “In their own way, they’re just like us. They’ve got their phones that they play on.”

Carrie Haynes, a Vista Magnet language arts and history teacher, said that the Chinese students fit right in with her other students.

“Students are students around the world,” Haynes said. “They have the same mannerisms, the same questions.”

One difference she did notice was that, “Our students in America, I think, are more casual.”

For instance, she said one of her students went to hug one of the Chinese visitors, who was a bit surprised by the gesture. The proper greeting was a more formal bow, Haynes said.

The Chinese students were fairly fluent in English, although Haynes said, “Google translator was a lifesaver for me” when her class was going over Medieval Europe and the Chinese students could go online to get a translation to what she was saying and take notes.

Vista Magnet art teacher Roger Royster said, “It’s been really fun to watch our kids interact with them.”

Shanghai fifth-grader Zhang Ziyuan, 10, said that he was fascinated by the classes at Vista Magnet, and liked the food in the school cafeteria.

Asked what the biggest difference was between the Vista classes and his back home, Ziyuan said, “My school is more boring.”

 

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  • Published: 7 years ago on January 30, 2017
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  • Last Modified: January 30, 2017 @ 11:22 pm
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