Introduction to China
In the classroom Chinese teachers sat at round tables and threw a transparent "earth" from one table to another. People who caught the "earth" announced whether ocean or land was covered by their right thumb. Lauren McFall, an environmental teacher from California, recorded the instances of "ocean" and "land" on a white board. Ocean came up 75% of the time. This corresponds to the fact that 75% of the earth's surface is covered by water. This was one way to illustrate the concepts in the "Water Conservation" textbook.
Web of Life
Teachers at each table were given a single card representing an aspect of nature: sun, plants, birds, butterflies, rodents, etc. The teacher holding the sun card would hand a ball of string to another teacher and describe how the sun interacts with that person's card while still holding the end of the string. The second teacher now holds an end of the string and passed the ball on to another teacher describing how their two cards would interact. Soon a web is formed between all the people at the table.
At this point, one teacher pulled on the string. When someone felt a tug, they were instructed to tug back. And so on until everyone felt the pull. This demonstrated that all things in nature are connected. A change to one part of the ecosystem will affect the other elements.
The teachers talked together excitedly after the class. "Our classrooms need these badly." "This is a real challenge to the traditional mechanical instruction." "Today's class has enlarged our vision of education." Shan Pingzhi from Xiaoyou Elementary School said that the textbook and the new teaching method trains the students to use not only their minds but also their hands.
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