Promoting Critical Thinking in Secondary
Last week, we shared some of the fun activities from our Primary Summer Programme, designed to encourage students to have fun while exploring new interests and mingling with students in other year levels. Alongside their Primary counterparts, both our Lower and Upper Secondary students were also engaged in more academically focused Summer Programme activities. These activities were designed to foster lifelong learning, as stated in our school’s Mission, Principles and Practices, through literacy skills, teamwork, communication, research skills and most importantly, critical thinking, among other competencies.
“The summer programme was designed taking into consideration our school’s Project Based Learning (PBL) approach to teaching,” according to Anna Zikou, our Secondary EAL teacher who helped design the programme with the support of her colleagues. “Students are presented with different concepts and principles in a variety of subjects. They then apply their knowledge and understanding of the topic at hand to complete several tasks/projects of their choice.”
One of the tasks students were required to complete was an analysis of a popular Ted Talk, entitled “My 12 Pairs of Legs” by Aimee Mullins. Here, students shared their takeaways from the talk and views on the topic of disability but also created artworks, digital picture dictionaries and e-books. Additional topics that were covered were “Inner Beauty”, “Teenagers Trying to Figure Out Who They Are” and “How to Speak so that Others Want to Listen”. These topics were selected because of their resonance with Secondary aged students which are in line with the school’s ethos of raising critical thinkers. By exposing them to such thought-provoking talks, teachers were able to achieve this goal.
One example of how students have been able to express their views on the abovementioned topics is of a Year 10 student who, in reference to “My 12 Pairs of Legs”remarked, “Nowadays, there is no limit in movement, senses, or activities when you are “disabled”. On the contrary, these people can live a regular life and can be active members of society leading humanity by their example.”
Like in Primary, students have a diverse list of sessions to choose from which include more traditional subjects like Art, Science and Academic Skills as well as educational topics such as Global Citizenship also providing an option for interested students. “No two classes are the same. No two sessions on the same subject are the same. Each lesson covers a different theme and topic with enriching classroom experiences,” Ms Zikou added.
Additional classes students have signed up for according to Ms Zikou are:
Academic Skills: A useful class for any student that wants to master necessary skills to succeed in an academic setting, be it strategies for reading textbooks, reading across disciplines, effective note-taking or essay writing.
The Short Stories Course: This course contains a wealth of international literary works from African folktales and traditional Japanese myths to Chinese fairy tales and American horror stories.
The Art Course: This programme not only explores different art styles and movements but also biographies of famous artists who made an impact on the world with their lives and works.
The Science Course: This is a combination of nature, life and science in its more traditional form where students become acquainted with different natural phenomena.
Global Citizenship: This is a course closely knit to our school’s principles. An essential course for students who want to be active members of the world today. It teaches students how to get involved in their local, national and global communities and how to develop an argument and voice their opinions.
All classes are conducted by YCIS Beijing teachers, with some opting for the regular subjects they teach, which “enriched the content and delivery of the class even further,” remarked Ms Zikou.
At the end of the programme, students’ work will be presented at the “YCIS Beijing Summer Programme Wall(k) of Fame Exhibition”, which is an extension of the “Think, Apply, Share” session at the end of each class. We are looking forward to seeing the final projects and artworks then.