Primary, Middle, and High School

I started teaching chemistry this week and have been feeling more at home in my teaching role.  The students learn chemistry in their native Chinese when they are in ninth grade, and their tenth grade year it is all in English.  This is a big undertaking for them.  I have not been teaching chemistry to the ninth graders (J3 students), as I feel my teaching role is to help them with more conversational English and to demonstrate different teaching strategies.  However, my J3 students have been interested in casually discussing chemistry topics.  I was able to see their chemistry book and it includes similar topics to what we teach and learn in a typical US high school chemistry class.  From our conversations, I believe many of them have acquired a very good knowledge base of chemistry in Chinese.  This is only one of the science classes they have, as I have also seen their physics books.  So yes, every ninth grade student is studying both chemistry and physics, as well as many other subjects.  The student in the picture at his desk with the stack of books thought this may be a little over half of the books they use in a given day.  It is no wonder that school starts at 7:10 am and ends at 10:30 pm for these students.  Their day includes extended time for lunch so they can socialize with their friends and rest, and 3-4 breaks in the day for exercise.  As for the high school students, they are learning chemistry at a very quick pace, and with it being in English the students tell me that the homework takes 2-3 hours per night.  Today we discussed and students took notes on valence electrons, ion formation, ionic compounds, covalent compounds, Bohr diagrams and Lewis structures…all in 40 minutes.  The high school students do not have classes as late as the ninth graders due to the larger amounts of homework they have.  So although they are not in class until 10:30, they are required to be at school in supervised study, to be sure they are completing their homework.

To introduce another “element” to my teaching, I taught a lesson to first grade students this week as well.  I was more anxious about this one than any of the others.  I am so grateful Leah is here to help!  I stayed up the night before drawing pictures and it took me longer than it does to write a typical lesson on Bohr diagrams and Lewis Structures.  The class went well from my perspective, Nathan suggested it was a little crazy, but since I don’t have anything to compare it to, I will stick with “it went well.” We were able to attend a music class with a second grade class after I taught and it was an absolute delight.  The students were so eager to perform for us and with us.  We even led them in the Hokey Pokey at the end of class.  Glad we didn’t get my singing on video…


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