Friday, October 26, 2012

Breaking Barriers and Building Relationships

Opportunities with China

Our students are trapped in a kind of educational isolationism, which may have suited the Industrial Age but leaves students desperately underprepared for the demands of the 21st-century global economy. Every student will need a solid grounding of knowledge about the history of the U.S. and our vital democratic institutions. But we must also integrate knowledge of world history, geography, science and technology, world languages, literature, and international affairs into the school day.
    Former North Carolina Gov. James B. Hunt, Jr.

What many know intuitively, but may not be ready to admit, is that the escalating importance of a knowledge of other countries, cultures and languages has not been matched by the education American students are receiving. While educators in our country understand the growing importance of global competency, many are unprepared to equip students with the skills and understanding necessary to thrive in our increasingly interconnected world.

The School District of Janesville strives to provide an excellent education for all students. Earlier this year, we were able to celebrate one of our successes, as the School District of Janesville was selected as one of 100 schools and districts in the nation to be members of the Confucius Classrooms Network in recognition of our commitment to a globally focused education for all students and our potential to serve as a national model of excellence in the field of Chinese language teaching and learning. This award along with our commitment to developing globally competent graduates has spurred the exploration of opportunities that "make global real" to our students and staff.

Initially, plans of growth included a trip to China to create a sister-school partnership that would enable our students to interact with Chinese students via Internet video chats, online classroom exposure and pen pals. While the SDJ was open to integrating technology into the classroom, initial plans have blossomed through an opportunity presented by professional connections that are being made with Beijing Normal University 北京师范大学 and East China Normal University 华东师范大学. 

This opportunity proposes to build a student teacher/intern exchange with a school (or schools) in China.  The School District of Janesville would host six student teachers/interns from China during the spring and summer of 2013, beginning near the end of February and extending into mid-July.  Of the six student teachers/interns, two would be assigned to Craig, two to Parker, and two to the Janesville Academy of International Studies.
The student teachers/interns visiting Janesville would be identified through a screening process as high performers in the areas of math and science.  Other requirements would include English proficiency, prior classroom experience, and an age of 21 or older.  Preference would be given to individuals possessing additional skills in the arts.

The School District of Janesville would support the visiting student teachers in a variety of ways including host families, meals, local transportation, cooperating teachers, a professional learning community group focused on cultural norms in American classrooms, and technology connections to home and university of origin. It is the intent of this proposal that opportunities would then be available for School District of Janesville teachers to participate in similar experiences in China.

Having student teachers/interns from China will provide Janesvillle students with real experience interacting and communicating with student teachers coming from a country known for their rigor in math and science. This takes our efforts in the area of global competency from the level of study to the level of experience. Through opening these relationships, the School District of Janesville will be able to better meet the needs of our students, building a strong experiential foundation of global competency and achieve our mission to provide an excellent education to each student.

Please read the following link for a look at Chinese Mathematics Pedagogy and Practices: What Can We Learn?

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