On August 4, 2021, from 7:30-9:30 pm, the middle school group of SSI Learning Project held an online seminar via Tencent Meeting, with a theme that the three partner schools reporting on their SSI-L case writing. Hosted by Zhang Tao, Head of the Middle School Section and Director of the Middle School Teaching and Research Office of the Education Teaching and Research Center of Weihai, Shandong Province. This seminar attracted more than 30 people from each section of the partner schools, including backbone teachers and subject experts.
Wang Yufeng and An Tongjuan from Wanghaiyuan Middle School in Weihai, Shandong Province, reported on the writing of two proposals respectively. Ms. Wang Yufeng shared the completed case, “Developing the Core Competency of Healthy Living through Social Issues”. The case consisted of four parts: background analysis, topic introduction, implementation process, and results & reflection. It covered the whole idea of the topic development, the process, and the core competencies of students. Ms. Wang pointed out that a good case needed to meet four criteria: clear top-level design, sound logic, rich material, and distinctive value.
Ms. An Tongjuan reported the idea of writing the new case, “Socio-scientific Issues for Students to Fly into the Future”. This case took “future education” as the direction and the topic “which is better: natural or artificial lawn?” as the major content. It pointed to the improvement of students’ core competencies, such as the ability to learn cooperatively and to analyze problems critically. The case first introduced the basic concept of SSI, then the implementation process, and finally the teachers’ reflection and summary of the SSI-L activities.
Mr. Zhang Tao pointed out that the completed case of Wanghaiyuan Middle School was very mature, while the new case needed to be restructured, suggesting to remove the basic introduction part of SSI and merge the two parts of summary and reflection. In addition, he added that both titles appeared to be less directional, and the subsequent writing could consider adding sub-titles to relate to the actual case in a more specific way.
Cui Wenhao from Shichang Campus of No.1 Middle School of High-tech District, Weihai, Shandong Province, reported on the case writing experience of his school. The school used the case of “Reclamation of Little Rock Island” as an example to discuss the role of SSI-L in improving students’ core competencies. The case consisted of four parts: in background analysis, it cited materials from the teaching process, explaining the reasons for choosing the topic, and setting the stage for the introduction of the topic; in topic design, it introduced in detail the core competencies of the topic, the five-star diagram, etc., setting the tone of values for the article; in unit specific design, it used the section, “the principle and modeling of land reclamation in Little Rock Island”, as an example to explain the specific SSI-L teaching format and student learning model; in conclusion part, it affirmed the role of SSI-L in enhancing students’ core competencies and discusses the problems in the implementation process. For the follow-up work, the school team expected to write a new case study on the theme of “Tidal Power”. Finally, Mr. Cui pointed out that it was important to define the main idea in the case writing process and to present it in a rigorous and logical way.
Mr. Zhang Tao commented that the title of the case of Shichang Campus of No.1 Middle School of High-tech District, Weihai, Shandong Province, was clear and directional, and the thinking that Mr. Cui derived from the case writing was very valuable. Teachers needed to further think about the specific meaning of student core competencies, seek truth from facts, avoid exaggeration, and ensure that the statement “SSI-L promotes the improvement of student core competencies” to be logical and consistent. In addition, the language of the case study should be more rigorous and avoid literary expressions.
Mu Shaofan from Rui’an Middle School Affiliated to Beijing Foreign Studies University reported on the school’s case writing ideas. The school used a VR glasses-related topic as an example, aiming to explore the effect of SSI-L on students’ social decision-making skills. The case introduces the topic of VR glasses in the context of “The Matrix”, followed by a detailed analysis of the topic and a definition of its value, with a five-star chart and a basic overview of the student population. In the teaching process, the lesson “Modeling VR Glasses” is used as an example, and the six parts of the class are introduced in detail in the form of graphics and text. At the end, the reflection of the teachers on the social issue itself and the teaching process is proposed. Mu added that there was a debate activity outside the course content in the case that still needed to be explored.
Mr. Peng Menghua pointed out that VR technology was a high-end technology that was difficult to be produced by students, and that the teachers should focus on professionalism in the process of writing the case and ensure that they understand the principles and implementation of VR technology. Mr. Peng also reviewed the cases of Wanghaiyuan Middle School and Shichang Campus of No.1 Middle School of High-tech District, Weihai, Shandong Province. He said that in the case of Wanghaiyuan Middle School, teachers needed to consider the rationality of the application of artificial lawn in the school, and in the case of Shichang Campus of No.1 Middle School of High-tech District, Weihai, Shandong Province, teachers needed to pay attention to the scientific nature of the topic of tidal power generation in the writing process.
Mr. Zhang Tao thought that the case of Rui’an Middle School Affiliated to Beijing Foreign Studies University was rather mature with a clear theme and a reasonable logical structure, while the current subtitle was not explicit enough and overlapped with the main title, which needed to be considered for replacement.
Dr. Lin Jing, SSI-L Project Leader, Director of the Science Education Quality Development Department of China Collaborative Innovation Center of Assessment for Basic Education Quality of Beijing Normal University, made a summary of tonight’s workshop. At the beginning, Dr. Lin said that schools needed to clarify that the purpose of SSI-L was to use socio-scientific issues as a carrier to enhance teachers’ professionalism and develop students’ core competencies, which also served as the thematic idea of case writing. She then pointed out that there were three major tasks at present: first, to write a case based on teaching activities that have been done, and to introduce the real teaching activities and the resulting reflections and insights, not just staying at the level of theoretical discussions; second, to form an article based on the case, the structure of which can refer to existing templates and avoid informal expressions; third, to conceive and design a case for the next semester. Lastly, Dr. Lin gave specific suggestions on the new topics of each school. She expressed that teachers from Wanghaiyuan Middle School needed to further explore what aspect of the lawn topic was targeted for discussion and clarify the value of the topic; teachers from Shichang Campus of No.1 Middle School of High-tech District, Weihai, Shandong Province, needed to avoid deliberately pursuing big topics in the process of topic development , but to start the discussion from the actual daily life of students; teachers from Rui’an Middle School Affiliated to Beijing Foreign Studies University needed to be alert to the problem of students’ poor learning results due to the high difficulty of the curriculum knowledge.
This seminar was the first summer case writing workshop for the middle school group, which not only provided a detailed discussion and exchange on case writing among the three partner schools, but also clarified the direction for the advancement of SSI-L work throughout the summer. It was believed that after this seminar, all the schools would be able to write their own cases in a good manner and produce fruitful academic results.