At the end of the first quarter of this school yr (2008), we had parent-teacher conferences where the teacher told me all about what my kids were learning and their strengths and areas for improvement.
Now, it's time for the Student-led conferences, where the kids themselves lead us parents through what they have been learning since the last Parent-Teacher conference. They also reflect on what their strengths and weaknesses are, all by themselves. They write it down and then they suggest their own ways to improve.
I think it's really great, because it forces ds1 to really think. His teacher will add just a few lines at the end, about her own goals for him and what she thinks he is great and not so great at.
ds1 said he needs to have better handwriting, amongst others. It's so funny. His teacher said almost the same thing, that he needs to write neater.
He says his favourite subjects are PE, Art, Computer and Math. However, his strengths, he wrote Rock Climbing (PE), reading and math.
ds2 did not have to do this much writing. His was mainly in the form of completed works and showing us around his classroom to get to know his daily routine in school.
Along the way to school, a shot of the Jinnan village in Spring.
ds1's 1st station: to show what he learnt in Math so far.
Then the current UOI: Transportation. The class' combined effort. ds1 showed us what he contributed in this project.
Not sure if I remembered correctly. During one of the workshops, they talked about always guiding the kids through the inquiry cycle. So for each UOI, they will ask Qs. These are all their Qs, and then they set out to find the answers to the Qs.
And what do they know about the topic/ UOI?
Here's ds1 showing us a particular activity he enjoyed a lot, and he explained how he did it.
We were brought around the classroom and outside too, to view the different projects and stuff ds1 made. This is the hot air balloon he constructed. It has his laminated photo figurine in the basket, very cute.
Each kid also planted a plant (Earth Month). This is ds1's. He said it is an edible vegetable, but I still have no idea what it is.
Then ds1 brought us around the school to the different specialist subject classrooms. I am surprised he knows the way to every room, because the school is still a maze to me. Without his guidance, Dh and I would surely get lost. Some, like the music room, are on different levels.
I know ds1 is a big boy already and by now, naturally he would have learnt how to get around in school. Yet, I still get amazed at his growing independence all the time.
This is ds1 with his music teacher. He showed us around the music room and what he does during music. The teachers need not say anything at all.
His favourite subject and one of his fav teachers, PE!! Apparently ds1 is very good at rock climbing. His teacher says so. However, he runs very slowly. Perhaps because he is the shortest, legs too short?
At the Chinese container. The poor Chinese teachers get relegated to a container in the school field. They have Chinese lessons there.
Then it was 3.50pm and so we told ds1 to go to the school Library or field to wait for us while we attend ds2's conference. ds1 chose to go to the playground.
We found ds2 in the Library still browsing through different books. I was again amazed, because he was in there frm 2.30 till 3.50pm. Thought he might be restless or tired. He didn't take his nap that day.
(You have to forgive parents for always being amazed at what their kids can do. If you are not married nor have kids yet, you'll roll your eyes, but if you're a parent, you'll understand.)
We let him lead us to his classroom.
Ds2 began by showing us how he usually signs in.
The kids sign in at the start of each school day. They have to get their name card from a pile (recognition), then trace their name first, then write their name unassisted. ds2 could already write his name long ago, but he still enjoys doing this every morning! He was very proud and happy to show us how he carried out his normal routine.
Then he said he usually plays at the playdough area everyday, so he showed me what he does with the playdough. The teachers make their own and change them all the time, I think.
ds2 also loves puzzles, so he showed Dh how to complete one.
Exhibits and photos on the boards. This shows ds2 investigating the properties of cardboard.
Then he shows us the class' story board and sings a little of the frog song while moving the teaching aids. "5 green speckled frogs, sitting on a piece of log, eating the most delicious bugs, yum yum! 1 jumped into the pond, where it is nice and good, then there are only 4 green speckled frogs..."
(I don't know this song myself, just typed the words from what ds2 sang, not sure if it's totally correct.)
In this video clip below, ds2 is showing us how he normally paints!!! So messy.. Am glad he does all of this in school. His teacher joked that if any of the kids grow up to be great artists, remember them, the teachers, who always let them mess up all the art materials and create whatever masterpiece they want. I laughed.
After that, ds2 insisted on showing us how he plays in the playground too! So we had to follow him to the playground to watch him play. I think it was just a sly move on his part to fit in some playtime.
At close to 5pm, we finally got a cab to go home. It was tiring! I didn't expect to be tired even though I was the "audience" but I guess, because I had to be alert all the time, listening attentively and giving lots of encouragement (the teachers reminded us to give lots of praise!), all of those required energy too. haha.
Before we went home, I took the chance to borrow 2 Geronimo Stilton books from the school Library for ds1, and Dh also brought the Nursery class beetle larvae home for ds2 to investigate, since he was very interested in them.
At home, ds1 set off to read his newly borrowed books. The school library had just purchased them.
Then we all played with the larvae. I decided not to cook, it was too late, and I was so tired.
I surfed the net for more info about the rhino beetle larvae, and Dh showed the kids how the larvae moved, ate and could grasp the toothpick so well. The "jaws" of the larva are so strong they can grab the toothpick so tightly that the whole body can be lifted off the soil.
The teachers bought the larvae from a flower market here in Tianjin. Apparently the rhino beetle larvae can remain in larvae and pupal stage for almost a year. So we are not sure if the kids can get to see them metamorphosise into the beetle at all.
In any case, the kids had a lot of fun learning more about the larvae.
Dh has a lot of such mini-electronic digital scales that he uses in his line of work. (Actually, he bought them all from Phoon Huat in Singapore, haha. Phoon Huat is the store you go to for finding baking supplies! And Din Tai Fung uses something like this to weigh their dumpling skin and meat filling.
We used it to weigh our larvae!
After that, while we were settling dinner, ds1 decided to shoot his poor whale... He used satay sticks for that. Rather dangerous so I asked ds2 to keep away from that area and let ds1 indulge in his own play for a while.
Long and tiring day but the kids sure had a lot of fun and they are so proud of themselves. Does a lot for self esteem, I think. They themselves can see how much they have progressed and improved since Aug last year. And now it is clear to us parents too.
rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow ____________________________________________________________
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