From 7:00pm to 9:30 pm on March 17, 2021, the SSI-L project middle school group held the first online meeting via Tencent meeting for the new semester. Teachers from four partner schools presented the preliminary plan of their SSI-L projects. This meeting was hosted by Zhang Tao, who is the leader of SSI-L project middle school group and director of the middle school teaching and research office of Weihai Teaching and Research Center. Nearly 50 people attended this meeting, including program leading teachers from 10 partner schools and subject guidance experts of the SSI-L project.
Weihai Wanghaiyuan Middle School in Shandong Province
Teacher Qiao Ranjie from Weihai Wanghaiyuan Middle School firstly made reflection on the implementation of the issue “Whether plant dyeing should be vigorously promoted” in the last semester. Teacher Qiao mentioned that the last semester’s issue had enough information and multiple activities, which developed the students’ practice ability. However, the issue needs deepening in scientific and social aspects in future. According to the current social hot spots “the widespread use of the new COVID 19 vaccine”, they proposed a new issue “Can Flu vaccine really prevent influenza” in this semester. This new issue is more scientific and has boarder social effect. It will reinforce students’ knowledge learned from discipline curriculum and connect with their everyday life. This SSI-L activity has not yet started. Teachers is planning to engage students in investigation and research on vaccines first, and then let students to exchange the ideas and present their study results. Teacher Qiao raised up her two concerns about proceeding with the new issue. One is what if the issue causes the students’ question about vaccines, and the other one is how to plan a good selecting procedure for students who want to participate in SSI-L project.
Teacher Peng Menghua complimented the topic chosen by Wanghaiyuan Middle School SSI-L project team last semester. He thought it’s necessary for the team to discuss and exchange ideas about the implementation of the project. The content of the new issue was relatively reasonable, however, the current project design was rather simple. He recommended the leading teachers of the team to develop a more detailed curriculum plan as soon as possible. Yu Lianhua, the deputy principal of Wanghaiyuan Middle School, shared more about the experience they have gained from last semester’s research and practices of SSI-L. She believed the project should not only scratch the surface, but provide in-depth study on SSI, so as to truly enhance the students’ science literacy.
Teacher Zhang Tao declared that the project team needs to think more about whether the issue can be “discussed”. Because the vaccine’s effectiveness is fully demonstrated before going the market, all vaccines that students can access should all be effective. Hence, this issue may not be controversial. In addition, Teacher Zhang also praised the progress of SSI-L projects in Wanghaiyuan Middle School from last semester, and suggested them to dig deeper into this issue and discuss it from different angles. Finally, Mr. Zhang Tao said the students’ willingness to participate in SSI-L is the first principle in selecting students, and one of the goals of SSI-L project is to develop students’ relatively weak ability.
Rui’an Middle School Affiliated to Beijing Foreign Studies University
Teacher Xie Juan from Rui’an Middle School Affiliated to Beijing Foreign Studies University brought up a new issue “The selection of cooling methods”. This issue is to compare the advantages and disadvantages of various cooling methods from multiple aspects, and to discuss many problems caused by the use of air-conditioning for large areas. Teacher Xie introduced the star map designed for this issue. The diagram shows that this topic is to develop the students’ following three core literacy, which are cultural awareness, independent growth and social commitment. The knowledge used in this issue mainly refers to the physics curriculum standards, e.g., circuits and three-state change of substance. Students need to choose an appropriate cooling method based on their analysis and the application of their knowledge, of course, going along with the relevant environmental protection policies. In the latter stage of the project, students will participate in hands-on activities such as designing “air conditioning fans”.
Teacher Peng Menghua affirmed that the issue has scientificity. The project team needs to thoroughly understand the principles of various cooling methods involved in order to deal with the problems encountered by students during their SSI learning. There are many options for cooling methods. Mr. Peng suggested the project team should not limit to air conditioning or fans in this SSI-L activity. They should include other contents related to cooling. In addition, Mr. Peng added the specific curriculum design of this issue needs to be persistently refined and refer back to the project guideline.
Dr. Yang Jun from Guizhou Normal University commented on this issue from the perspective of biology. Ms. Yang said the concept of absolute temperature and body temperature need to be discussed in this issue to further fulfill the internal knowledge structure. Regarding the project development, Yang believed that designing the questionnaire is the most important and difficult part, which determines the depth and the professional level of the SSI-L course.
Teacher Zhang Tao highly praised the school’s comprehensive and meticulous work. He hoped that the team could digest the professional opinions from the experts and further improve the issue’s design.
Guiyang No.1 Experimental Middle School in Guizhou Province
Teacher Wang Yingxin from Guiyang No.1 Experimental Middle School in Guizhou presented their project issue “Preliminary practical study and research on caves in Behind The Twelve area”. Mr. Wang firstly introduced the mountainous landform features in Guizhou, and the conflicts between ecological destruction induced by social development and ecological importance of environmental protection. They conducted a case study on the “Shuanghe Cave” in the local Behind The Twelve Scenic Area to learn about the causes of karst landforms and discovery the valid protection methods. The project team will combine the theoretical knowledge with practical activities in terms of course design. Students set up a club to study about the theory once a week. During holidays, they go to the local karst geomorphology area for on-site investigation and write an investigation report after. While carrying on the course, the school will take all possible measures to make sure all adventure expeditions run under secure condition. The poetry culture is going to be integrate in the issue as well. As a result, the students will obtain self-protection skills and improve their cultural literacy.
Teacher Peng Menghua gave suggestions on the development direction of school’s SSI-L project. First of all, he suggested geography teachers should become part of the school’s project team. In addition, the current activities involve too much of the humanities and social science contents but not enough in science content. Peng recommended to diversify and include more scientific activities, such as hands-on examinations and experiments by the students. Finally, Mr. Peng mentioned that the rigor of language expression needs to be strengthened in their future plans and reports. And the project details should be further refined.
Teacher Zhang Tao said this issue contains both scientific and social issues, which is worth to be discussed. Incorporating the regional characteristics of Guizhou also makes the issue a very good choice. However, the course’s vaule needs to be modified. If it is only designed as a practical study and research activity, it is likely that the discussion on related social issues will be overlooked. Teacher Zhang recommended that the title can be changed to “Protection and Development of Karst Caves in Behind the Twelve area” to highlight the contradiction between the social benefits of environmental protection and economic development. Poetry appreciation and expeditions also need to be tailored to better integrate into the issue.
Taiyuan Jiancaoping Experimental Middle School in Shanxi Province
Teacher Liu Yan from Taiyuan Jiancaoping Experimental Middle School in Shanxi shared the issue “How to create a healthy balanced diet plan to support teenagers’ growth”. Teacher Liu introduced the star map designed for this issue and proposed that the team will conduct research from an interdisciplinary perspective, combining methods and theories from chemistry, biology, sports, physics, and geography. In terms of scientific concepts, this issue focuses on the nutrients needed by the human body, as well as their digestion, absorption and energy production in the body; in terms of sociocultural study, this issue covers local food culture and the relationship between food culture and the natural environment. Several experimental activities have been designed as well, such as “Healthy Eating Promoter” and “Creating Healthy and Nutritional Meal Plan”. Teacher Peng Menghua declared that this issue has strong regional characteristics, but it is still relatively too general. It is necessary to think further about how this issue can help students, and what activities the students can actually participate in. In addition, diet is a big issue, the research on which can be carried out from a full range of perspectives such as hygiene and raw material pollution. The project team needs to further refine the course plan and form a complete course with details soon.
Dr. Yang Jun reminded the team to double confirm that whether the concepts of healthy diet involved in this issue overlap with the one in the middle school biology textbook. Teacher Liu Yan responded that the team will expand the knowledge based on what the students learned from the biology textbook and work on developing many forms of meaningful activities.
Teacher Zhang Tao proposed that food issue can be developed into a series to make it a long-term project plan. Meanwhile, Mr. Zhang pointed out this issue is hardly arguable and difficult to related with social issues. He suggested that the team can start from the research on local dietary customs and discuss the possible contradictions between nutrition and traditional food to develop more suitable issues.
Dr. Lin Jing, the head of the SSI-L project, summarized the meeting tonight. Lin Jing recognized the partner schools’ leaders and teachers’ effort on project development and practices. Lin Jing also made two suggestions. First, it is important to carry out the SSI-L’s unique value on students. SSI-L is a feasible way for Lideshuren, and also an integrated way for students’ core literacy development in the context of interdisciplinary integration. Therefore, Ms. Lin suggested that schools should design and organize a series of activities over one major issue, and continues to dig deeper and explore further its functions in improving students’ core literacy. Second, the star map is an effective tool to organize the interdisciplinary content and educational goals for SSI-L. Schools should be clear about the role of star map in their issue development process, and gradually refine it in a more practical and assessable manner. In the other words, schools should take the star map as their guideline and continuously refine the project activities to develop students’ critical thinking skills and core literacy for their lifelong benefit. Third, Mr. Lin proposed that SSI-L project needs to be closely connected with local characteristics. She also suggested all regions actively conduct internal discussions and exchange ideas, and then update the SSI-L national project team with feedbacks from the relevant meetings as well as their project plans for this semester.
This seminar provided practical recommendations for the further revision of the schools’ reported project. The meeting participants received valuable suggestions, which would help with the implementation of the research and practice on SSI-L project in this semester.