On October 13, 2021, from 10:30-21:30 pm, the high school group of the SSI-L project held an online meeting via the Tencent conference room to discuss the key points of SSI-L issue selection and curriculum implementation. The meeting was hosted by Mr. Tan Yongping, leader of the high school section and director of the Biology Department of People’s Education Press, with the participation of subject guidance experts, partner school liaisons and backbone teachers.
Mr. Tan Yongping expressed his welcome to the nine schools in Haidian District that newly joined the high school section. With the further strengthening of the team, he was looking forward to the development of the schools in the project.
Zhang Shuangfeng from Beijing Changping No.1 High School explained the curriculum design and progress of the implementation of the “Carbon Neutrality” project in her school. From the background study of emission peak and carbon neutrality, Ms. Zhang pointed out that the excessive emission of greenhouse gases had led to abnormal global climate change, and that China attached great importance to the issue of climate change and actively participated in international cooperation on carbon reduction. Then she started an analysis on the connotation of the topic from the five-star chart of science, culture, politics, economy, and morality, and argued that the topic of carbon neutrality was conducive to the learning of the big concept of science. In terms of curriculum preparation, firstly, it was necessary for interdisciplinary teachers to collaborate in lesson preparation, to open up the internal logic among different subjects, and to seek multi-path solutions for poor structure; secondly, it was suggested to organize the school curriculum well, from the principal, teaching director, curriculum format, teacher team to student selection; thirdly, it was advised to coordinate comprehensively in terms of hardware, teaching staff and mechanism, and to integrate teachers and students for deep participation. Finally, Ms. Zhang introduced the implementation process and follow-up design of the course, including the simulation of the “greenhouse effect”, pathways of CO2 reduction, the relationship between economic development and CO2 emissions, and the construction of a “carbon neutrality” model.
Han Lixin from the Second High School Affiliated to Beijing Normal University thought that the curriculum of Beijing Changping No.1 High School was rich in content and well organized. On the one hand, the topic chosen was close to the students’ lives and concerned everyone’s personal interests; on the other hand, with the efficient school management, the teachers formed an interdisciplinary team, and the students were interested in the project and capable of exploring, which made the implementation of the curriculum possible.
Zhao Yan from Beijing 101 Middle School shared her experience on the project of “Exploring the SSI Curriculum Model”. First, she chose the right topic, starting from students’ daily lives and combining with school characteristics, so as to provide a rich, effective and real context for students’ science learning; second, she chose the right students, not too many of them, and they should be interested in the topic and willing to actively participate in the project; third, she chose the right time and learning place, in which way she could take students out of the classroom to conduct field investigation; fourth, she focused on operational landing points based on the status quo, for example, chose suitable topics from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and then slowly established connections with student life, from climate action to low-carbon life and then shifted to campus life and students’ travel process; fifth, she linked the project with the subject closely, such as the climate action and the content of geography; sixth, she designed a variety of assessment assignments for students, like designing a questionnaire to investigate the current status of garbage sorting in Beijing; seventh, the SSI-L elements were continuously summarized and deepened, as only when students were interested and spontaneously engaged in it could the project be promoted more deeply in the long run. Ms. Zhao then shared the school’s plan for this academic year, integrating the three topics of previous year into one: environmental protection, and planning activities such as publicity, research, forum, technology, humanities, sharing, exploration, practice, and service. Finally, she shared the SSI Learning Methods Thinking Map, emphasizing the importance of teaching learning methods and developing students’ lifelong learning skills.
Li Yongping from Zhuzhou Gofront Middle School of Hunan Province praised Ms. Zhao’s sharing as valuable and worth learning, no matter it was the topic selection, student selection or the exploration of process evaluation. He added that the work of timely summary needed to be done in the process of project implementation.
Kong Yi from Fujian Normal University raised two questions for discussion. First, the school was a two-way selection process in determining the students who choose the course, and the students should be both interested and capable; thus, was SSI-L designed for all students or just for the cultivation of top talents? Second, how do schools evaluate the degree of integration among subject teachers based on the organization of the formation of interdisciplinary teacher collaboration models, and do they need third-party intervention?
In response to the first question, Mr. Zhou Youxiang, the project’s subject guidance expert, and the special-grade teacher of biology at Beijing Changping No. 1 High School, said that issue-based learning was challenging and difficult for students to persist without interest. After-school learning tasks were flexible and required students to be autonomous and self-motivated. Therefore, the two-way selection of students in the project did not advocate elitist education, but hoped that the value of the teacher and the ability of the students could be reflected in appropriate topics, so as to achieve the goal of comprehensive human development. Zhao Yan from Beijing 101 Middle School added that whether students were really interested in the topic and willing to follow the project consistently was the most important thing, and their school’s Academy of Excellence was to focus on training students so that each student could find a unique project that he or she was interested in.
As for the second question, Zhou Youxiang from Beijing Changping No. 1 High School responded that the evaluation of the teacher collaboration model was still on the way of exploration, and that the team evaluation was being conducted by watching playback of classroom videos, so as to further improve the curriculum design. No standards have been formed yet, and the degree of integration would be different when choosing different topics and facing different students, and it would be better to have experts to follow up the evaluation.
Liu Xiaoyu from Haidian Institute of Education Sciences pointed out that schools in Haidian District were still in the stage of topic selection and could learn from the experiences of other project schools. The issue of carbon neutrality was a big one, but in the practical process, the landing point was in line with the student life, and the contradiction between emission reduction and economic development helped to create a controversial focus. It was expected to present the curriculum in a different format with the follow-up discussion meetings.
Peng Menghua, the project’s subject guidance expert, and the special-grade teacher of physics at the Second High School Affiliated to Beijing Normal University, commented that the topic chosen by Beijing Changping No.1 High School was realistic and the project was carried out very quickly. The time schedule of the existing curriculum was rather tight, and the topics needed to be further connected with students’ real life so that they could feel the necessity of carbon neutrality. Beijing Changping No. 1 High School and Beijing 101 Middle School could share their curriculum schedules in order to promote exchange and cooperation among schools.
Tan Yongping concluded that the most important thing for the implementation of the project curriculum was to stick to the existing planning, to sort out the big science concepts in the context of multidisciplinary integration, to highlight the uniqueness of SSI in the development of students’ thinking skills, and to consider in depth the students’ entry into society and their solutions to social problems (legal, economic, market, etc.).