Dong Wu Xing Primary School is one of our partner schools. Located in Shanxi Province about 10 kilometers from the nearest city, it has about 130 students who come from three surrounding villages. The school buildings are among the most dilapidated in the county. There is no playing field. Originally, this school was slated for closure. However, partly because it is located in a village that played a critical role in the anti-Japanese war in the 1940s, the efforts of its well-respected village head and principal were successful in keeping it open. We began to collaborate with this school in July and are currently developing curriculum there for our flagship subjects: Reading and Integrated Practice Class.This semester the topic of our Integrated Practice Class is to study the history of this old revolutionary village and help the children to better understand the place where they live. We found that many children don't know about what happened in this area during the war and only have a few guesses or assumptions about this period that shaped their hometowns. Our hope is that through interviews, readings, a visit to a museum, and other activities, they will increase their understanding of this very important part of the history of their community.Listening to Stories from the EldersAfter watching a movie about the Japanese invasion of China and the war that had such an impact on their own village, students engaged in vigorous discussion about the incidents and characters in the movie. They said they wanted to know more information. Some children said their grandpa or grandma had told them that Japanese soldiers used to occupy their village. Everyone was very curious about what life was like then. After a few classes of preparation, the students interviewed a 86-year-old man from the village where Dong Wu Xing School is located.Only fifteen years old when the Japanese invaded their village, the elderly grandfather sat in our classroom and answered the children's questions with bits and pieces of his memory. He talked about how his family fled, about the destruction of the village, the pain, the suffering. After the interview was over, he spontaneously recited an old rhyme which encompassed wartime history from 1937-1945.Putting it into their own wordsAfter the interview, with the guidance of the teachers, the students organized and summarized their notes. They used their own words to tell their friends and family what they had heard and practiced writing an interview report.Making a Personal PlanThe next step will be to discuss with students what they already know about their village's revolutionary history and what they still want to find out. How will they gather information? Where can they get help? We will help them to make their own plan for the next activity.To read more examples of our curriculum, please visit our website at www.ruralchina.org.
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