[Update!] Gala Concert & Piggy Bank Fundraising Initiative
As it’s only four weeks from the Seeds of Hope Charity Gala Concert on April 21st, we’re excited to announce that over 175 tickets and 8 corporate sponsorship packages have been sold. With tickets and sponsorships still available, however, be sure to claim yours today while they last!
Leading up to the Charity Gala, students across Yew Chung and Yew Wah schools have also been participating in this year’s Piggy Bank Fundraising Initiative through which each student is given a piggy bank and QR code to accept donations for the Seeds of Hope Common Project in the Philippines. Though students at Yew Chung International School of Beijing may have only one piggy bank themselves, it is one of 9,000 piggy banks throughout the Yew Chung foundation of schools, showing that together we can accomplish what we can’t do by ourselves.
To date, there has been a total of 6,283RMB in electronic donations, while all coins and cash received will be counted in the coming weeks. The piggy banks will be collected from March 26-29, at which time it will be announced which school raised the most funds!
Through the Piggy Bank Fundraising Initiative, as well as the Seeds of Hope Charity Gala Concert, students will see the value in helping those less fortunate than themselves. Please support our students and the Seeds of Hope Common Project today!
For more information, or to RSVP for the Seeds of Hope Charity Gala Concert, please visit our Yoopay page.
The Seven Wonders of China: Fun Facts about the Middle Kingdom
This week, Yew Chung International School of Beijing Primary Years 2-5 students took part in another Chinese Learning Celebration event. Held at the completion of each topic unit, Learning Celebrations offer both Chinese as an Additional Language (CAL) and Chinese as a First Language (CFL) tracks a chance to join together and showcase what they’ve learned during the preceding weeks. As the recent topic of study has been on “Chinese Traditions and Culture”, students have focused on the many aspects and elements of China that makes the country so unique.
But what are some of those elements? As the oldest continuous civilization in the world, there are countless cultural gems that could be explored. But to highlight a few, we speak with Year 4 Co-Teacher Franny Guo.
#1 Pandas Only Fly FedEx
Native only to a small region in southern China, pandas have been shared with other countries in order to promote diplomacy and good will between nations. Yet, whenever a panda is born in captivity abroad, it is flown back to China – always by FedEx – where is it protected and cared for because, sadly, these beautiful bears are endangered with only an estimated 1,800 still left in the wild.
#2 Paper Money First, WeChat Wallet Second
Though modern-day China is an increasingly cashless society, with the use of digital payments on WeChat and Alipay more and more common, it was actually the Chinese who invented paper money during the Tang Dynasty. Stemming from other Chinese inventions (paper and printing), paper money was first created because merchants found that carrying coins was too heavy in their pockets.
#3 What? Only One Time Zone?
China and the continental United States are roughly the same size, yet while this section of the US has four time zones, China has only one. This means that while the sun may rise on a given day in Beijing at 6:30am, the first crack of dawn won’t be until 9am in the westernmost province of Xinjiang.
#4 Display of Diversity
Today, 92% of Chinese citizens are classified as ethnic Han Chinese, though the entire population is made up of 56 ethnicities, each of which has their own customs, dress, and languages. Some of the minorities include Mongolians, Tus, Yugur, Yi and Dai, making China one of the most diverse countries in the world.
#5 A Population of Ping Pong Players
As the country’s most popular amateur recreational sport, there are more than 300 million ping pong players in China – roughly the same number as the total US population. Yet despite its popularity, (and Chinese domination in the Olympic games), ping pong wasn’t invented in China – it first came from Britain.
#6 Playing for Emperors
As China’s most popular sport was invented in Britain, Britain’s most popular sport was actually invented in China. Created over 2000 years ago, football first dates back to the Han Dynasty where it was included in military training exercises. The sport was later refined during the Tang and Song Dynasties, when professional football players would entertain the imperial court.
#7 Terrific Train Travel
At over 121,000 km in length, the China railway network could loop around the earth twice! And in one year alone, it carries more than 2.3 billion passengers. China is also home to the largest high-speed railway network in the world, spanning 22,000 km and accommodating speeds of up to 350 km/h.
Training the Body, Growing the Mind
The swimming season is back! Beginning on March 23, Yew Chung International School of Beijing students from Years 3-12 will have the opportunity to receive instruction from high-level club swimming coaches and to represent the YCIS Beijing Scorpions at school swim meets.
The YCIS Beijing swim team – along with the many other sports on offer, including basketball, volleyball and football – allows students to improve their physical fitness while engaging in the fun and competitiveness of athletics. Yet in what other ways do sports impart lessons that can be extended to multiple aspects of life? From learning perseverance and endurance, to lessons in victory and defeat, to the need for discipline, teamwork, and utilizing individuals’ strengths – there are many ways that athletics helps us to grow emotionally and socially towards positively impacting all facets of life.
Matt McEwan, Athletics Director and Head of Physical Education at YCIS Beijing, explains more.
Managing Many Commitments
One of the macro skills that’s necessary to develop in any category of sports is to learn to be self-disciplined. As an athlete, it’s important to be disciplined enough to follow the direction of your coach and to follow through with your commitments to practice and prepare for competitions. This means pushing yourself beyond what you thought were your physical and mental limits and seeking quality and consistency in all that you do.
Cultivating discipline isn’t easy, but, like anything, it starts with doing the little things well. You don’t get anywhere if you don’t do the basics right. Therefore, it’s important to focus first on what you can control, rather than trying to do everything all at once.
In terms of habit building and developing life skills, as we get older and move into the real world, there are many things to balance, and a lot of different aspects to life that we have to monitor, work on and improve. Developing self-discipline at an early age, and learning to manage all of your many commitments, is hugely beneficial later on.
Work Hard, Work Smart, Work Together
At a young age, it’s often possible for individual students to be quite dominant in a certain area. A talented young basketball player, for example, doesn’t necessarily need to rely on the rest of their team because they’re skillful enough to score on their own.
But with the progression through life, and in athletics for older ages, at some point students realize that they’re now playing at a level where the competition has caught up and where it’s essential to utilize the team around them. This is an important lesson to learn.
In the context of a school, an emphasis on teamwork translates into students realizing that the whole school is their team. Their classmates, teachers, administrators, and admin staff are all a part of one big team, among whom there are many individual specialties and skills and knowledge. And being aware of who is on your team, and being able and willing to collaborate and work together, is a skill that will benefit students far into the future.
Finding Balance: A Marathon Effort
As a part of the Character Education Programme at Yew Chung International School of Beijing, students are introduced each month to character traits that will aid them in their academic, social and personal development. As a key component of the Yew Chung curriculum, good character is essential towards becoming well-rounded and socially responsible citizens in the 21st century global marketplace.
During this week’s Character Education Assembly, Community Development Division Coordinator Casey Fanning introduced students to the new Character Trait of the Month: Balance. To an auditorium full of students and teachers, Mr. Fanning helped show why it’s important to find balance in life while being able to manage our many feelings, desires, commitments and obligations in a healthy and productive way.
To explain more – including ways that Balance and other Character Traits are worked into the daily curriculum, how running provides a perfect example of the need for balance, and tips for parents to help their children find balance in their own lives – we speak with Year 2 Co-Teacher (and professional marathon runner) Eurika Foster.
Once the Character Trait of the Month is introduced during a school assembly, teachers go back to their classrooms and immediately begin to reinforce the trait during daily lessons and activities. Examples of good character are then able to be infused into any topic, from math to science to humanities.
During the past month, Year 2 students were learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a part of their unit on Significant Figures in the World. During the unit, students talked about courage and respect (previous Character Traits of the Month), and the things that Dr. King stood for. In this way, positive character traits are made relevant to whatever subject we’re working on at the time.
A Healthy Lifestyle
As a runner, it’s easy to recognise the importance of balance. If you push your body too hard, it will give out. Yet if you don’t push your body hard enough, it won’t be sufficiently prepared for the demands of a race.
For athletes, it’s easier to understand the physical need for balance. But balance should also extend into one’s personal and social lives. For example, it’s important to find the right balance of studying vs rest, of eating foods you enjoy vs foods that are healthy, of time spent with technology vs time spent reading books. Balance is essential to all aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
Tips for Parents
At YCIS Beijing, it’s remarkable that so many of the students, even at such a young age, are already self-motivated to learn. There’s also a tremendous amount of parental involvement in students’ academic and social lives, and when asking students what they did on the weekend, many will say that they both went to extra tutoring classes and went to the park with their family.
This is a healthy balance. For all of the extra classes students take to help prepare them for their academic futures, it’s equally important for them to spend quality time with their family in order to build the close bonds that will aid them emotionally as they grow older.
One other tip for parents is to find a healthy balance between motivating their children and not comparing them with others. Of course, parents hope that their children will be able to do well in life, which often means that they’ll be successful when competing with others for positions in university, in the workforce, etc. Yet if students feel that they’re always being compared to their peers, it can actually demotivate them and cause them to lose confidence. Therefore, parents should help their children to be inwardly self-motivated, while finding a balance between pushing themselves and appreciating the many blessings they already enjoy in their lives.
James Sweeney: Teaching Innovation
In this week's Teacher Profile, we highlight the work and ideas of James Sweeney, Year 3 Learning Community Team Leader at Yew Chung International School of Beijing. Originally from Birmingham, England, James first joined YCIS Beijing in 2015 where he's come to play a key role in the development of the school's Primary Learning Communities.
In speaking with James, he shares more information about the new educational trends in the 21st century and how YCIS Beijing incorporates these innovative practices - including the evolution of the idea that learning happens everywhere, and the need for creative new uses of physical space. Now a veteran expat, James also discusses his favourite spots for exploring in China.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is James Sweeney, and I am from Birmingham, England. This will be my third year here at YCIS Beijing.
What innovations have you seen (and expect to continue) in education in the 21st century?
Physical Space: The evolution of the idea that learning happens everywhere, and how that translates into our schools, is at the forefront of the idea of 21st century learning. Schools are becoming even more aware of how the physical space impacts on learning and student output. In particular, flexible and varied learning spaces and furniture is sought out for how it especially encourages collaboration and peer learning alongside of individual work and reflection.
Teaching Methodologies: Teachers are now not simply a source of knowledge. They are rather a guide for the students to learn actively through exploration and discovery, giving them key support at critical times to achieve their learning goals and ultimately seeing them develop into knowledge producers. The old analogy attributed to Plutarch rings even more true for 21st century educators: "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." If we were then to flip this phrase and look at it through the lens of a student rather than a teacher, we could see that the aim is to have 21st century learners that are active participants in their own learning, rather than passive receptacles of knowledge.
Other Areas: An emphasis on developing transferable skills and lasting character, alongside of content knowledge, is an essential aspect of 21st century education.
How do you feel that YCIS Beijing is keeping up-to-date with these new innovations?
The first, and most obvious, can be seen as you tour our redesigned buildings. There are spaces that invite collaboration and communication and more closely model real-life work scenarios than closed, traditional classrooms could ever do. The variety of different available spaces to which the students have access more easily match individual learning preferences as well as the varied learning opportunities.
Students becoming digitally literate remains a 21st century learning goal that YCIS Beijing aligns with. We are seeing students expanding on their learning through the creation of digital presentations and digital learning portfolios. The infusion of technology into our learning, from iPads to Apple TVs to green screening, all enhances our students' ability to become digitally literate and to showcase their learning in new and inventive ways.
In addition, YCIS Beijing has adopted learner dispositions that are at the heart of our vision for students to experience true transformation during their time at our school. Every learning scenario presented to the students has been carefully and mindfully permeated by our teaching team with opportunities to develop in these learner dispositions. For all the great accomplishments our students are going to achieve as they grow and eventually go into the real world, we are to ensure that they not only are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed for it, but also the appropriate attitudes and character.
Now a veteran expat, what can you say about your experience living in Beijing?
Beijing is a dynamic place to be: there is always something exceptional happening, and the city itself is constantly changing! Beijing has brought me great friends, a new language to learn and life experiences that I'll never forget.
As a history enthusiast, what have been your favorite parts of Beijing (and/or China) to explore? Have you had any favourite trips?
Within Beijing, my favourite spot is the Temple of Heaven. I have gone there several times and each time there is a new aspect of it that intrigues me. Joining in with the Beijingers practicing their tai-chi or playing jianzi, hearing traditional instruments being played, seeing the careful calligraphy done in water, and feeling the buzz of excitement the throngs of Chinese visitors bring as they eagerly look to see a majestic relic of times gone by: these are the things that I love and which keep me coming back to it.
Outside of Beijing, I'm always up for trips to different cities. Some of my favourites have been to Harbin, Xi'An and Shanghai. A place I haven't yet gone to is Guilin. I'd love to explore the famous mountains and soak in the unique scenery that Guilin has to offer.
Talents Galore: IGCSE Music & Drama Celebration
On February 28, Years 9-11 students took part in this year’s IGCSE Music & Drama Celebration. Featuring a collection of performances as varied as scenes from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, to a violin concerto by Vivaldi, to renditions of modern rock songs by Skillet and Borns, the wider school community joined together to celebrate the talents and hard work of their classmates.
Taking the Stage
One of the unique approaches taken in this year’s showcase was that instead of using a conventional performance space – with the audience sitting in rows of chairs facing the stage – different performances were set up in various areas around the auditorium, effectively bringing the spectators into the performance.
Utilizing the space in this way, we were able to provide students with an understanding that theatre and music can be staged anywhere; it doesn’t have to be in a conventional theatre. Additionally, this structure introduced new elements of arts learning to the students, as they were faced with, and had to solve, the challenges of setting up lights and sound in new ways.
One of the key benefits for students who study performance art is that it enables them to express themselves in the world. Both through music and drama, it’s necessary for students to work through and manage their self-consciousness in order to perform in front of an audience – the result of which is also highly beneficial to other aspects of their lives. Developing the confidence to express themselves on stage will then translate into expressing their ideas and opinions in other social and business contexts in the future.
Throughout this process, teachers should remember that shy students have to be encouraged. Foremost, they must feel safe, and forcing students never works. In the beginning, it’s enough that students only take on as much as they feel comfortable with, because over time, eventually the skills will come.
Of course, at an international school, there are some students who are not native English speakers. In these cases, it can be difficult for them to focus on the nuances of their performance if they’re simply searching for the correct words to use or are have concerns about pronunciation. So, allowing students to speak and practice in their mother tongue can help to build their confidence and allow them to focus on their physicality.
Using this method, one of the Years 9-10 extracts during this year’s IGCSE Music & Drama Celebration began in English, and then switched into Chinese. The students were able to focus more on using non-verbal means of communication through body language and gesture, as well as their use of voice to develop and portray their characters.
*Photographs by Secondary Mathematics Teacher Richard Payne.
Laughter and Latte: A Night at the Theatre
On February 6, Yew Chung International School of Beijing Secondary students wowed their friends and family with an exciting and comical evening at the theatre. “Laughter and Latte – A Night of Two One-Act Plays” brought together students from Years 6-13 to showcase their artistic talents, as well as to support the Help a Child Smile (HACS) charity in Beijing.
Daniel Pearton, Head of the Arts at YCIS Beijing, explains more, including the valuable lessons in teamwork that students learned during the months of preparation leading up to the performance.
The Years 6-8 Production, “The Next Generation”, was a comedic performance about the myriad ways that phones have changed our lives. Amongst an ensemble of terrific performances, it was wonderful to see Year 7 student Aliya Drisner shine in such a large role.
Meanwhile, the Years 9-13 production “We Open Tomorrow Night” was based on the premise of a group of students woefully unprepared for a school talent show that is meant to take place the following evening. All of the students did a wonderful job, and with many references to teachers and situations from their real-life experiences at YCIS Beijing, the audience was thoroughly entertained.
As a part of the co-curriculum programme, preparations for the drama production began well before Christmas. Students devoted Monday afternoons and even a couple of Saturdays to rehearsals – a commitment that paid off in full on the night of the performance.
Yet, though the audience will long remember the sights and sounds of the evening, for the students themselves, it’s the teamwork and relationships that they built during their experience that will stay with them for years to come.
Save the Elephants: Students Lead a Voice for Change
During a unit this month on “living things”, Year 4 teachers at Yew Chung International School of Beijing decided to bring real-world issues into the classroom. Inspired by a recent ban in China on the ivory trade – and by a lack of awareness of the ban by many members of the local community – teachers prompted students to study the issue of endangered elephants and to be a voice for change.
Sian Edwards, Year 4 co-teacher at YCIS Beijing, goes into greater detail about the recent Save the Elephants project, including the ways in which the Chinese language programme was incorporated to enhance student learning and ways that parents can support their children’s passion to make a change in the world.
Though our study of living things and endangered species was foremost a lesson in science, at YCIS Beijing, the Chinese programme is intertwined throughout classroom lessons to reinforce our bilingual and bicultural curriculum. This is also important because issues such as endangered animals aren’t isolated to a single region of the world – and the extinction of a species would be mourned equally in both the Eastern and Western worlds.
During the week, students were arranged in groups, working with different teachers on media projects such as creating infographic posters, video news bulletins, and movie trailers. Each group was led by both a Western and a Chinese co-teacher, and the students were selected specifically in order to have strong English speakers and strong Chinese speakers in each group. All of the materials that students created were required to have both English and Chinese languages, so the entire project maintained a bilingual focus as a part of its success criteria.
When first learning of the ban on ivory, many students were surprised. They’re very caring children, so they became passionate about this issue and started to think about all the ways that they could spread awareness of the threat to elephants. Many students went home and did additional research on their own; they spoke to their parents and even put up posters around the compounds where they live.
During classroom activities, students also showed a great deal of enthusiasm and were delighted to engage in an issue that has real-life implications. In utilizing the Learning Community space, students had many chances to collaborate with each other – and in doing so, their motivation and sense of shared purpose were strengthened.
A Helping Hand
If parents would like to continue to encourage their children’s spirit of activism, the first step can be to help them put into words something that they’re passionate about. If children are able to vocalize a change that they’d like to see made, then parents can begin to talk to them about this issue and encourage them at every stage.
Children are often more aware of world issues than we think they are, so parents can simply talk to them about these issues at a level that’s age-appropriate, and then discuss and encourage them throughout the process of making a difference – through actions as varied as starting a petition or putting up posters, just encouraging them along the journey towards change is most important.
Celebrating CNY: Bringing Chinese Culture to Life
Last Tuesday, Yew Chung International School of Beijing held its annual Temple Fair and Chinese New Year Celebrations to welcome the upcoming Year of the Dog. Joined by hundreds of parents, family members and guests from the greater Beijing expat community, visitors were treated to a series of colourful and inspired Chinese performances, and as well as being able to stroll through YCIS Beijing’s own traditional Temple Fair!
After weeks of rehearsal, students took the stage on Tuesday morning and dazzled the audience with their renditions of Peking Opera, a Mulan musical, poetry readings, hand fan dances, and more. Additionally, one of the highlights of the day was a Dragon Dance by Secondary students who had spent many long hours working with a professional troupe to learn the intricacies of movement required to bring the dragon to life. The performances gave students the chance to learn more about Chinese culture, while also impressing the audience (and themselves!) with the fruits of their hard work.
The Temple Fair, meanwhile, was held throughout the day. The walls of the gymnasium were lined with stalls replete with seasonal treats, handicrafts, and traditional games, while bright red banners and lanterns hung from the ceiling. Organized with the help of the Student Leadership Team, the Temple Fair also offered opportunities for students to build their leadership skills and contribute to the CAS requirements in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) coursework.
With another year’s Temple Fair successfully in the books, it’s time to wish everyone a safe and happy Year of the Dog! 狗年快乐！
To view the full photo gallery from last Tuesday’s Temple Fair, please click here to visit our Flickr album.