Earlier this month, two Walnut Valley elementary teachers were doing what they do best – teaching – across the globe in Hangzhou, China.
Walnut Elementary School teachers Kelly Ebel, Title I and intervention, and Amy Wu, Dual Language Immersion kindergarten, were guest presenters at the 14th annual West Lake International Expo held December 6-13 held at Walnut Elementary’s sister school, the 1st Affiliated Primary School of Hangzhou Normal University.
They taught demonstration lessons and participated in a panel discussion during the conference attended by 300 teachers and principals.
Ebel and Wu taught fractions to fourth graders during a math lesson and fifth graders learned about sea otters in a science/oceanography lesson.
They taught in English using the repetitive and visual Guided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD) strategies to about 20 Chinese-speaking students while conference participants observed, Wu explained.
Ebel and Wu used chants, input charts, and showed photos on their iPod. GLAD strategies are designed to help English Learners.
Last January, the sister school visited Walnut with 20 students. And the students have continued to be pen pals with their Chinese friends, Ebel said.
Both of the Walnut teachers were first time visitors in China
“It was freezing, but it was a great trip,” Ebel said.
“Hangzhou is beautiful – it’s like a resort,” she added.
Wu said it was a learning opportunity for educators in China.
“I believe the schools over there wanted to learn about how we teach our students in the States, They want to learn more about our progressive education,” Wu said. “The teachers took turns showing us around Hangzhou and were very hospitable. We had a great time with them.”
Ebel and Wu toured the Lei Feng Pagoda, Ling Yin Temple, and West Lake with their English teachers.
“I enjoyed every moment there,” Wu said.
Ebel shared her favorite sight.
“I enjoyed the Ling Yin Temple the best,” she said.
Walnut Elementary Principal Janet Green praised the bond between the sister schools.
“It is incredibly thrilling and an honor to have a real relationship with a sister school,” she said. “It’s not just on paper. They visited us last year, and now we’ve sent teachers."
Ebel said the exchanges are lessons in sharing.
“They want to have teachers from both schools teach on the same topic and then share it,” Ebel said. “They want to keep sharing ideas.”
Ebel and Wu brought home tiny harmonica souvenirs for their students and green tea for Green. Very fitting.
--Walnut Valley Unified School District