On 8th December 2021, from 19:00-21:30, the SSI-L Project held an online seminar in the Tencent Conference Room for senior high schools to discuss the progress of topic selection and curriculum implementation in each school. Tan Yongping, the leader of national senior high school section, and the Director of Biology Office of People’s Education Publishing House hosted this seminar. The seminar also invited subject experts, partner schools’ contacts and key teachers.
Cai Xin from Yuxin School affiliated Capital Normal University, presented the topic “Evidence-based Problem Solving – case study of garbage disposal”. Garbage disposal is very close to our everyday life. It is a social hot issue that needs to be solved comprehensively by multi-disciplines. The controversial question was “Do you think other waste should be landfilled or incinerated?” The school designed a five-star diagram including aspects of science, moral, culture, economics, and politics. Teacher Cai explained the design of the 10 activities in combination with problem solving ideas, corresponding disciplines and core concepts. She also presented two concrete examples of the activities which were 1) Simulating the impact of landfill on soil microorganisms; 2) Making cultural and creative products from other waste. Cai pointed out the importance of using integrated and multi-dimensional evaluation in SSI-L, and introduced evaluation criteria for experiments, debates, and creation.
Tan Yongping pointed out that project activities were well-designed, the topic was controversial and closed to students’ lives. However during the implementation, the project team needed to consider whether that’s feasible to visit a landfill, and clear about the plan on weekly lessons. Cai Xin responded that she planned to conduct the activity in two consecutive lessons each week. Tang Feng from the same school added that because they had organized visiting to landfills and incinerators before, so those activities were integrated into the project.
Liu Hongwei from Beijing No. 57 Middle School shared their SSI-L project “Eliminating White Pollution in Schools: a case study of yoghurt box.” The project was based on topics of biodiversity, waste separation and recycling, overproduction and consumption, and over-emission of greenhouse gas. There were four driven questions including “Why do we use plastic bag for yoghurt?” and “Do we need to eat yoghurt everyday?” etc. Taking ‘waste sorting’ as an opportunity, the school had already conducted a ‘language + science’ programme. Teacher Liu at the end raised questions on determine forms, knowledge and expected outcomes during the preparation.
Bing Guanglu from Changping No.1 High school, Beijing pointed out that, the topic is close to students’ life, includes multi subjects and can see big things from small ones. This topic is scientific and open. The idea of replacing plastic boxes with biodegradable cardboard boxes is linked to the ecological benefits of forests, which requires dialectical thinking and can lead students to comment on the material of yoghurt boxes from a multidisciplinary perspective. Only by improving the design of SSI-L, can they be more practical and encounter fewer difficulties in the implementation. Tan Yongping asked how scientificity is reflected in the design? Liu Hongwei responded that students would need to apply their science knowledge to judge why plastic boxes were used. Students need to consider aspects like fermentation, pollution during transportation, and the cost. Teachers will use driven questions to guide students in their thinking and investigation.
Cao Yaqin from the No.3 Affiliated Middle School of Beijing Normal University shared her topic on ‘Research on classroom shading time under the context of energy saving and emission reduction.’ Because of the climate change and the goal of energy saving and emission reduction, sloppy management of electricity is commonly happening on campus. This reflects on energy-saving shading in classrooms and have great influence on students. Driven questions are “What are students’ attitudes towards energy-efficient shading and ventilation?” “When is the best time for the curtain shading?” The core concept of the relationship between climate change and campus energy saving were also determined. Five-star dimensions includes aspect of economy, science, moral, ethics, social awareness, and culture. Cao Yaqin introduced 6 sections and the timeline of the project specifically and mentioned that students’ outcomes will be shown through reports like “Determining the blackout time system for campus curtains” and exhibitions such as “Low carbon living and sustainable development”.
Qi Xuedan from the Affiliated High School of Beijing Jiaotong University noted that the project was well-structured and clear on students’ guidance. Tan Yongping commented that the topic was close to students’ lives and could see big things through small one. The topic covered a wide range of subjects such as light intensity, angle of incidence and time of sunlight, and government requirements for classroom light hours. Teacher Tan also made three suggestions: firstly, the project team needs to discuss the issue of classroom lighting rationally based on evidence and guide students to make arguments scientifically; secondly, the project team needs to reconcile different ideas, guide students to think about the issue from the perspective of others, and make decisions through negotiations; and thirdly, the project team needs to improve the material of the curtain so as to adapt light transmission with different angles.
Zhang Ya from the Affiliated High School of Beijing Normal University shared their SSI-L project of “Prevention and Control of the Coronavirus.” Five activities and a field trip were designed for this semester. The school planned to implement the course on senior 1 students from the International Department in the next semester. This semester’s course focused on the transmission of the virus. The team invited experts from the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences to took students to a cave in Mentougou to learn about the habits of wild animals and their distribution in Beijing. The course discussed the prevention and control of pandemics based on the perspective of immunisation, while also designed activities such as model making and role play. In the future, the school plans to use the developed curriculum in teaching practice; summarizing student activities, case studies, and teacher’s guidance to a set of curriculum resource; conducting teacher and student training, and participating in major science and technology competitions to promote the curriculum.
Chen Chunxiang from Beijing Bayi School commented that this topic was of interest to the whole society, the school had made great preparation with various kind of student activities. Such project could motivate students’ interest on learning and research. Teacher Chen also raised two questions: 1) What is the difference between students from two classes who participated in? 2) How to carry out in-depth study when the freshmen are still lacking in basic biological knowledge? Zhang Ya replied that last year because of the time limitation, it was conducted in a hurry. However, this semester they had made better arrangements on class hours. Teachers will teach students basic knowledge in advance and will involve animations and performances for better understanding.
Yang Ying from Experimental Middle School of Shanxi Normal University presented on the topic of “Air Pollution and Economic Development – the discussion of the future development of Linfen.” Considering regional characteristics, student’s cognition, scientific knowledge, outstanding practices, and humanistic spirit, teachers design and prepare the curriculum weekly in groups. The course will start with the current situation of Linfen, Shanxi Province, followed by the future development and ended with a blueprint idea. The course will cover topics like air pollution, living situation, economic development, policy implementation, and suggested measures. Yang Ying introduced the five-star diagram and the multidisciplinary course design. She further presented specific cases from the perspective of the geography discipline. At the end of the presentation, she proposed several improvements based on last year implementation, including focusing on the data and background of Linfen, integrating core literacy in the curriculum, cohering student’s knowledge and including different subjects in one lesson.
Ms. Qi Xuedan from the Affiliated Middle School of Beijing Jiaotong University found the topic geographically distinctive and interdisciplinary. Mr. Ren Rong from the Experimental School, Haidian Teachers’ Training School in Beijing commented that it was great to have role plays since students could experience interests conflict. Mr. Ren also raised three questions: 1) Teachers did a lot of preparation during information gathering, can we shift more responsibility to students? 2) When he was in Linfen for University study, he found the government had already stepped up to governance. 3) The topic should reflect more on the characteristic of multidisciplinary. Ms. Yang Ying replied that, since students already had a heavy study burden, it’s hard for them to take more time gathering background information. As for the government, although the governance was already strong, due to the complicated terrain and considering economic development, the result was not good. The design of the curriculum is already interdisciplinary, since I’m a geography teacher so I shared geography related cases.
Peng Menghua, the project’s subject guidance expert, a special grade teacher in physics, and a teacher at the Affiliated No.2 Middle School of the Beijing Normal University said that all topics were social, scientific, and controversial. They all started from small points which could attract students’ attention. A yoghurt box is small but that will become a big issue when the number is large. In terms of the project related to shading, paying attention to the use of curtain shading at classrooms can cultivates good habits of students. Besides, the research should also see big things from small and expand to more activities such as designing new curtains, focusing on ways to recycle waste other than landfills and incineration.
Song Shiyun, the director of the Curriculum Office of Haidian Institute of Education Science said that the SSI-L project was similar to sculpting exercise that need to be polished time by time. Thanks to that, a group of teachers with good ability on teaching, resource development, multidisciplinary collaboration were cultivated and they were new stars on research. Learning from curriculum was the best way for teachers’ development, and we all hoped that teachers could progress through SSI-L projects. Liu Xiaoyu from Haidian Institute of Education Science summarized key points: 1) pay attention to the overall idea of the subject, and don’t piece subjects together; 2) be multi-faceted, and take different stands on social science topics.
Dr. Lin Jing, the project leader and the Director of the Science Improvement Department of China Collaborative Innovation Center of Assessment for Basic Education made the summary speech. First of all, it is delighted to see that all schools had made some progress based on discussions and exchanging ideas. Each school has chosen the right topic that can cultivate students. Topics of waste separation and the prevention and control of the COVID-19 are common topics that all countries are facing with. Topics like yoghurt box and classroom curtains are very creative and can see big through small. Topics like the air pollution in Linfen is region-specific. Dr. Lin at the same raised three suggestions: 1) firstly, we need to consider the feasibility of activities; 2) secondly, we need to pay more attention to cultivate students’ creative thinking, the sense of innovation and encourage them to come up with creative solutions. Taking waste sorting as an example, for senior high school students, degrading waste can be talked at the molecular level which matches the main concept of the subject. 3) thirdly, it is important to step out of the comfort zone of lecture-based teaching, teachers should design and use driving questions, present the controversial question through story telling or creating an actual scenario. Students are encouraged to explore and carry out SSI-L step by step based on driven questions.
The seminar highlighted the initial success of the senior high school team in issue selection and activity design. We are looking forward to more in-depth discussions for more fruitful outcomes.