The 4th GEC Conference was held in Beijing from 15th to 16th of June 2016. The Finnish team arrived in Beijing on 9th of June. They had one day for sightseeing and from 10th to 16th of June they worked with their Chinese partners. Minna’s partner was English teacher Kathy from Shenzhen, Raini’s partner English teacher Sienna from Beijing and Jaana’s partner English teacher Yiwen from Beijing. They all worked in pairs with the group of Chinese 5th Graders. Tiina took part in the conference as keynote speaker, interviewer and commentator.
Global Education Community (GEC) organised the international conference in the new school campus of Zhongguancun No. 3 Primary School. The new campus was opened only 100 days before, so we were invited to visit a brand new school. We liked the architecture of the school much as well as we were happy to see how much group working spaces they had, how well they had paid attention on co-working by having the openable walls between two classrooms and also how they had moved teachers’ desk next to each other so teachers were able to work together in the common lobby.
The view from classrooms was also beautiful and through the wide windows the sunlight came inside. Outside they had also a nice garden where the students could learn to take care of plants, flowers, vegetables and trees. On the second floor they had also a big sports arena where the students played football.
To improve the air inside they had also thousands of plants. On the second day we got to know that every student has his or her own plant and it was their job to take care of the plants. We also got to know that all plants were risen by students. That’s why we saw many cuttings all over the school.
Raini, Jaana, Minna and Tiina also visited other schools nearby. Those schools were older, but for us they offered a lot to see and it was also nice to meet other students and talk with them. Almost all spoke very good English and they also translated well, if someone didn’t understand. In one of the schools 6th Graders’ had also a show, where they song, danced, had a talk show in Chinese and played traditional musical instruments. For us it was nice to notice that old traditions were very important also in Chinese schools.
In the schools students used iPads, but BYOD method was totally new thing for students, because they were not allowed to bring their own mobile phones or other devices into school. However, for us the most interesting device was found in the library: students were able to load e-books on their own devices by using a QR code. Great idea! This could be suitable for Finnish schools, too.