Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tree House Project Updates

Monday Night:  Dinner Party
Students have designed a project to learn about Western table manners and are currently managing it.  They have discussed Chinese versus American table manners.  They have planned a menu for the main event, an actual dinner party.  They came up with a great idea that in order to participate in the dinner party, students have to come to the Tree House on Monday night to learn about western manners before the event.  Each participating student will be given an invitation ticket to the "by invitation only dinner party".  This is a great idea on so many levels. 
1.  We will know how many people will attend the party so we can buy enough food. 
2.  We can organize the students into different time groups so that we don't get 20 students showing up to the Tree House where the table only fits 12. 
3.  We accomplish our main goal of trying to motivate more students to visit the Tree House.
Tuesday Night:  Nature Festival
Students have designed a project to have an outdoor nature festival.  They have made pinatas and will soon paint them.  They  have invited a foreign teacher to come and teach them some Western dances.  The have made a list of games like watermelon eating competition and water balloon toss.  They have decided that their initial idea of planting a tree or flowers is not feasible because it is summer and not spring.
One interesting aspect that occurred during the planning of this festival was how we were reading the same words on the list of things to do but understanding the words differently.
1.  Invite a teacher to teach us how to dance.
2.  Invite a teacher to teach us about makeup.
When I read these words I assumed, we would be learning how to dance in order to teach participants at the nature festival how to dance so we can have a nature festival dance.  I also assumed we would be using the makeup skills to do face painting at the festival.  The students thought we were going to learn how to dance in order to prepare a performance for the festival and would have to put on a lot of makeup in order to be in the performance.  That was an interesting culture moment.
Creative Writing Club
Currently we are trying to write compositions and poems to put into the book, but I have suddenly lost a lot of participants.  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog about how my writing esteem has taken a hit through writing club because I have to pick something to publish.  Well guess what.  It has happened to my students too.  They feel a lack of confidence.  They don't want to submit their writing to be published.  All the free writing we did this semester, all the little gems written did not give their writing self-esteems a boost.  I am not a critical teacher, but an encouraging one.  We did no editing during writing club. 
The problem is the idea of having other people read your work is just scary!
Buying of books with RELO grant
Our Amazon China shopping cart is full with about 1600 RMB worth of books and about 200 RMB worth of shipping; however, we have not ordered the books yet because if we ordered them today the books would arrive in August when the school is totally shut down and closed.  No one would be here to receive the books.  We are waiting a month to push the shipment date towards September.  Good thing I am doing a third year with Peace Corps at this site.

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