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Pathway Schools

The Flat Earth – Opening the Eyes of Students in Two Different Parts of the World

We recently posted an article which describes the distance education program between Sa Nguan Ying School in Suphanburi, Thailand, and Lodi High School in Lodi, Wisconsin, USA.

One of the great things about that program is the distance teaching of two teachers from each of the schools and also the contact between students in both schools. It is a way of making US history much more real for Thai students as it is taught by an American teacher,  and for their American counterparts, being taught by a Thai teacher from Sa Nguan Ying brings deeper understanding of South East Asian history and culture.

This distance program grew out of the student and teacher exchange program between Lodi and Sa Nguan Ying Schools.

Holly Jean Hargis’ journal posted below is further evidence of the great learning that can come out of an effective student exchange program.

Holly’s journal affirms how this exchange program opened her eyes to the broader world.

Thank you for allowing us to reproduce it here Holly .

Greg Cairnduff

Acting Editor 


Letters From Thailand

Holly Jean Hargis

 

When I first came to Thailand I never would have guessed I would be back a mere 14 months later. I first came as an exchange student from a small town in Wisconsin, and it was my very first time leaving United States. I was 18 years old and a senior in High School, and this would be the longest amount of time that I would spend away from my family.

The Exchange

Travel had always interested me ever since I was young, but I came from a large family who didn’t have the opportunity to do much of this. When my school in Lodi, Wisconsin offered the chance to spend 3 weeks in Thailand , half way across the world, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be part of this experience. I started saving money with a summer job and was able to fund my trip, which was with 9 other students and 3 teachers from my school.

I remember the exact moment I stepped out of the airport into Thailand that first time, I remember feeling the hot and humid air at 3 in the morning and feeling so excited about having the chance to experience another culture. What I didn’t know was that this exact trip would alter the entire course of the following year for me. It would give me courage and opportunity to experience a different life after high school than I ever would have considered before.

My 3 weeks in Thailand went so fast that afterward everything felt like a dream. The exchange program was with Sa-nguan-Ying School in Suphanburi, where I lived with a host family in Thailand and had two sisters with whom I was able to become close with very quickly. My host parents couldn’t speak more than a few words of English but their smiles and laughter everyday made me feel so happy and welcome in this country. I felt a part of the school that I attended every day and also was able to see and learn more about Thailand, so I felt part of Thailand too.

My Decision

It was on the train to Kanchanaburi where I sat with my two best friends agreeing that the 3 amazing weeks in the country could only be the beginning. In this small amount of time we had been introduced to a complete different culture than our own and had made so many new friends. We wondered how much we could learn by travelling more, since we had learned so much about travel, culture, and ourselves in just 3 weeks in Thailand. It was that point when we all talked about taking a year off before college to travel more, and it was at that point I had made the decision I would be travelling abroad very soon again, and maybe even back to Thailand.

Now

Now, 15 months later I sit at a desk in Thailand, at the very same school I visited before. Instead of being a student this time, I was offered the opportunity to be on the other side of the spectrum and work as an assistant teacher, teaching English. I will be here for 8 weeks, and I believe this opportunity to be the best one I have had in my entire life.

In the United States, taking a year off before college is not widely accepted. When I shared with my friends and family that I would be travelling abroad for 8 months prior to enrolling in college, I was welcomed with concern and fear. Now, many months later, these same people are praising me for the opportunities I have been able to experience. Both my parents who have never traveled abroad before visited me on my journey, my Dad visiting me right here in Suphanburi, Thailand. I feel that these opportunities have not only benefited me personally, but those around me as well.

I started my year with the confidence I had gained from the exchange experience in Thailand previously. Starting in October I lived in Paris, France for some time while also travelling to Morocco, London, and Germany. Next, I made my way back to the Land Of Smiles to reunite with many friends and also meet some of the most amazing people I have ever had the chance of calling friends. It would also be the very first time I would live on my own, a huge step for a 19 year old travelling abroad.

Not only did I begin to live on my own, but also began a job, and a job that I loved. I have always wanted to be a teacher and my experience as an assistant teacher here has helped me realize that this is something that I am good at and that I can imagine doing for the rest of my life. I worked with Ms. Tuke, a Thai teacher here who I learned so much from and who I can call a friend. I taught children in grades 7-9 and helped them improve their pronunciation and understanding of the English language. I helped them with their grammar on papers and presentations as well. It feels so good to know that I can help these students learn, and I really feel like they always appreciated my help. The relationships I have made with my students are ones that I value so highly, I absolutely love the students here and I love the tutoring and teaching I have been doing.

This Opportunity

This teaching opportunity has also given me the wonderful chance of seen more of Thailand. Almost every weekend I was able to travel somewhere new and experience a new part of Thailand. Whether it was seen Wat Poh in Bangkok or spending a weekend with friends at Koh Samet, each experience will be one that I will never forget. Other experiences such as eating Thai dinner every night with friends or learning Thai songs and the Thai language are priceless. All of the friends and teachers I have met here, Thai, American, Chinese, and Tasmanian, have helped me feel so happy in this country and I know the connections I made here will never be lost.

I am so thankful that Chaht and the English Program at Sa-nguan-Ying presented me with the opportunity of returning to Thailand. I cannot even express how important the connection is between my school in Lodi and Sa-nguan-Ying. I truly believe and know that I would be a completely different person leading a very different life if I hadn’t been on that trip in November 2010.

The End

It’s now almost 2 months after my second arrival in Thailand and my time is almost up. I cannot believe that I am leaving this wonderful place where I have been given the chance to learn and take away so much. I have learned how to live on my own, I have met wonderful people from over the world, I have built relationships with my students, I have started to learn how to teach, I have learned so much about the Thai culture, I have learned more about myself and I have gained confidence and courage. I feel so lucky to be part of the EP family and I know that I would be welcomed back anytime. As I have learned, most people don’t stay away from Thailand for too long, and I know I’ll be back again in no time.

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Pathway Schools

Distance Learning between a Thai High School and an American High School.

Distance Learning between a Thai High School and an American High School.

From the Lodi Enterprise e News [Wisconsin, USA]

Tale of two schools
Learning goes global in Lodi pilot program

 

Lodi students greet Thai teacher Karnteera “Tuke” Ingkhaninan via Skype before she shows them how to make beef curry as part of an international distance learning class.
Photo Jennifer Fetterly

 

Students at Sa-nguan Ying School in Supan Buri, Thailand get ready for the distance learning class taught by Lodi teacher Mark Kohl via Skype.
Contributed photo

By Jennifer Fetterly
Managing Editor

Beef and green curry sizzle in hot woks as Lodi High School students prepare lunch on a cold December morning.

As the strong aromas rise to the students’ noses, it’s clear it’s not just another typical school day.

Teens, some who have never had Thai food before, are bridging a cultural gap tens of thousands of miles away as teacher Karnteera “Tuke” Ingkhaninan, warns them of their first time experience.

“Maybe you should just start with one tablespoon of curry paste, and go from there,” she cautions the Lodi students about her homeland’s fiery spice via Skype.

But far from being timid, the students jump right in, not only to the food but to the distance learning program, which started this year, with sister school Sa-nguan Ying in Supan Buri, Thailand.

As part of the arrangement, Lodi High School teacher Mark Kohl instructs Thai students in U.S. History and Tuke reciprocates by teaching Lodi students the Cultural Geography of Southeast Asia.

Senior Breanna Smith enrolled in the class after visiting Thailand on a school trip last year, eager to learn more.

“It is really cool being taught by a teacher that is actually in that country, who can clarify things, compared with learning from a textbook. In a normal class, if you have questions you have to look on the Internet, but Tuke just knows, so it is more true to me,” Smith says as she cuts vegetables for the beef curry recipe.

Other students who are part of the class have never been to Thailand but their curiosity for learning enticed them to enroll.

Besides teaching Thai cuisine, Tuke has brought the students a harsher reality of Southeast Asian history like the genocide of the “Killing Fields” in Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge killed millions. The students also learn about how the harvesting of palm oil, found in peanut butter and chewing gum, is destroying the jungles, along with the orangutans that live there.

Janel Anderson, who is the Lodi resource teacher for the Southeast Asia class, says the students’ intent interest is enough reason to continue the two-year pilot program.

“Students start to understand that they are participants in this whole global community, that we are all connected, that is what I want them to understand,” Anderson says. “In some ways it is easier for Tuke to get them to see it, she is part of the world and she has more credibility, not like an American teacher telling them how bad things were there.”

While distance learning in Wisconsin’s public and secondary schools isn’t new, Lodi’s international spin is setting precedence. According to Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) the Lodi initiative is the only one in the state where students are taking a credit class taught by a foreign teacher.

And it’s all done on a shoestring budget of $2,000, money that was used to purchase a laptop computer where teachers can interact with students via Skype, a videoconference Internet system. The Lodi School Board approved the program on the condition, other than the one-time technology budget, that there wouldn’t be any additional staff costs.

Kohl, who teaches in the evening, for Thai students who must be in their seats by 7 a.m. because of the 13-hour time difference, says he thought the biggest challenge would be technology but there have been only a few instances of blurry video and dropped connections.

While the Thai school has excellent equipment, the distance learning concept, with less equipped schools may hinder its expansion.

“I think in some ways international distance learning is part of the future but I think that we are far off from this being the norm because there are lot of infrastructure issues. I have tried to do this with teachers in other countries and one of the problems on their end is having the technology and expertise. We are wealthy and technology rich as a nation but the people of some other countries don’t have that,” Anderson says.

But aside from the challenges, supporters of the learning concept, says it teaches so much more than a curriculum.

This January, Kohl taught 22 Thai students in seventh-12th grade about the civil rights movement. The last class before test time, fell on Martin Luther King’s birthday, so pictures of the African-American leader giving his “I have a dream speech” in Washington D.C. finished the class.

Some of his Thai students respectfully call Kohl “the smartest history teacher” ever.

“It is great to learn more about U.S. history’s real stories, truths and gain more knowledge thoroughly from the expert like Kru (Mr.) Mark,” says Piyaorn Kamwhan.

Other Thai students have learned more far-reaching concepts in the sought-after class.

“As you had seen in our class we don’t have enough self confidence to ask questions because when we was young if we have some stupid question our friend will laugh at us,” says Non Bunsrisuwan. “In Thailand the student must respect the teacher and it like our culture and it makes us far away from teacher. But in distance learning we get so close with Kru Mark. He is like one of our family what we had to see every morning.”

Kohl, says the relationship is so strong, that when some Thai students were left homeless from a Chinese New Year’s fireworks explosion in January, he rallied school staff to raise money to help those affected.

As the program gets ready to enter its second year, supporters are hopeful it will continue.

“After talking with staff here and in Thailand we all agreed that this has exceeded our expectations in every facet, the technology, how we relate, the quality of instruction and it was a good investment. It has been very successful at both ends,” Kohl says.

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Pathway Schools

Bank Street College in New York City

AN OUTSTANDING PATHWAY SCHOOL: THE BANKSTREET SCHOOL FOR CHILDREN, PART OF THE BANK STREET COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

By Peter J. Foley, Ed.D. ( reporting from New York City, February 2012)

If you are fortunate enough to study at the Bank Street College Graduate School of Education or even to   visit the Bankstreet School for Children, you don’t have to ask how the children are doing. You can access the students’ achievements and learning by simply looking all around you. Their work, their learning is everywhere: on the walls, the ceiling, the tables and the floors. The students’ work  reflect their interests, their world.

Below is a picture of an early elementary class’s paper Mache representation of the Hudson River and its   present day surroundings. The study of the Hudson River is a three month study of the river that starts with where the second grade students are   developmentally, beginning with the here and now that surrounds them. The representation in the photo is what the student knows about the river through observation and research from a range of sources.

Part of the second grade student exploration of the Hudson River included a visit to the 79th Street Boat Basin. Below is one student’s representation of that visit.

Gradually, the students will go back in time to the Linape Native Americans who lived along the Hudson River   before the explorers from Europe came to North America. Later in fourth grade   students study the Egyptians along the Nile River, a place they have never been before. This is what we mean by Bank Street’s development interaction   approach, as described by Stan Chu, senior faculty member in the Bank Street Graduate School of Education.

This approach to learning enables children   to integrate their world that has meaning and importance to them and eventually moving    back in time and into far- away places. I noted that differentiated learning was going on all around me. So, each child was presented with learning   activities that were within her or his reach, a reflection of Vygotsky’s Proximal Zone. I also saw that teachers   integrated learning so that , for example, when in history the children studied explorers , in art they made puppets representing the explorers. The   teacher, no doubt, continued this integration in English geography and even in science and math  classes( e.g. mapping, navigation and surveying). An art teacher explained to me that they   used art at the beginning of the year when students set about making rules of   etiquette and classroom management. He explained that the teachers asked their students to recall a time when someone had helped them or been very kind to them and then to illustrate that time and event in a picture.

This continually making the child   the center of gravity in the school was impressive. Below, for example, are   student renditions of what they feel about the snow .

I was shown large outdoor space fenced off with many pieces of sanded and varnished pieces of wood and also   what looked like blocks of wood, known as hollow blocks, which were   originally designed by Caroline Pratt, founder of the City and Country   School. Children, ages 5 to 7 play and learn here once a day for an hour and   build all kinds of structures. I watched a couple of four year old boys   building what looked like a miniature house. They had divided up the labor, one boy carrying lumber back to the project for the floors another working on   the side of the miniature house. Another characteristic of the school is teaching collaborative learning. Students here are learning the value and   effectiveness of cooperative efforts that lead to surprising achievements that a single individual could not hope to accomplish, while recreating parts   of their physical world.

I came away from the visit to the school euphoric. When I asked myself why , I realized that it was being in   the company of so many teachers that were interested and happy in their work   was infectious. They loved what they were doing and could see daily that they   were enabling children to understand deeply the world around them and guiding   these children on a journey that included a joy for learning. I met a dozen or so teachers and all were smiling, happy, enthusiastic and bursting with energy. I noted that at the end of the school day the smiles and enthusiasm were still there.

Yes, I can hear a traditional educator asking as they read this, “but do these students at Banksstreet   Children’s School really master the necessary skills to go on to college?”   The proof is that tracking of their students both in high school and college shows the students perform well beyond the norm.

But I wanted to see for myself. I read the essays posted on the bulletin board about Steinbeck’s Of Mice and   Men.

All the essays were masterfully written. Most were of a quality of writing far, far beyond the seventh grade   level.

Nevertheless, the highlight of my observations was the art work of the three year olds.

These are stabiles created out of pipe cleaners and assorted materials. One piece in particular already showed   symmetric and color combination genius. Miro , the celebrated Majorcan   artist, I know ,would have been pleased with this work of art.

This school is an inspiration and   those who are touched by this school will have received the certain knowledge that real education is all about nurturing and meeting children in the world that is meaningful and makes sense to children.  Also realized is that effective teaching is more like  coaching children to expand their worlds and   become a creator of their world in a meaningful way that will bring personal   contentment and confidence. Children education in this way are enabled to  contribute also to the well being of those around them.

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Pathway Schools

Prasarnmit Demonstration Secondary School

 

 

Main Secondary School Building

According  to a report issued by the  Asian Development Bank in 2008 , Thailand has 16 demonstration schools.   Universities offering degrees in education established these schools to act as models of best practices for schools throughout the Kingdom of Thailand.  Demonstration schools are intended to foster creativity and self confidence in its students.

And this is what I discovered upon visiting the Prasarnmit Secondary Demonstration School:creativity and  self –confidence being fostered  in the students .  I spent most of the afternoon of   August 8, 2011 at the school,  located  in Bangkok at the end of  Sukhumvit  Road ,Soi 23.  The school  is in the campus of Srinakharinwirot  University.  The student body I was told numbers 2,000  students.  It was established in 1952. Students must take a  competitive school entrance exam .  The result is a school full of gifted students.   Can this school that also attracts gifted teachers be a model for other Thai schools?


Cafeteria at Lunch Time

I was able to visit the school thanks to the kind offices of Ajaan Rossana .  Active learning is alive and well in Thailand, at least at the Prasarnmit Secondary School .  I wandered for about an hour and a half  in the music section of the school peering into practice rooms and classrooms.  What I saw everywhere were  students practicing together and sharing insights in how to become better.  The students in the practice rooms were clearly self –directed.  I talked with a half a dozen students and all had a good command of English and showed self confidence and maturity beyond their ages.


Active Self Directed Learning

 

I also observed classes where the music teacher acted as a coach , encouraging and helping students in their musical performances.    The confidence being built in each youngster as they performed was clear.

And an authentic assessment of the students’ work was easy .  The students in the singing class had progressed to the point where the three students I saw performing were already stage ready.

Singing Class

I was also able to observe an English language class.  Again, there  were many signs of a student centered learning environment.   Ajaan Rossana and I observed the class for the 50 minute period. There were thirty –three  students in this class of 15 year olds.   Ajaan Kob was the instructor.  The lesson she had prepared  was the use of the present and past perfect tenses: not an easy lesson to teach.

Nonetheless,  Ajaan Kob engaged the interest of the students for the whole period.  She  displayed best practices throughout the lesson.  She used different techniques and approaches to teach the lesson every 10 to 15 minutes to avoid losing the attention of her teenage students and to appeal to the different learning styles of her students, particularly aural and visual learners.   She spent the first ten minutes explaining  how to use  the present and past perfect tenses and making  sure to give the students examples that they could see clearly  on the blackboard.

Ajaan Kob’s English Class

She then switched to large visual cue  cards where she had prepared written examples of both tenses and asked students to identify the example she held up  on her cards.

Once she was confident that the class understood how the tenses were used ,  Ajaan Kob introduced the game Bingo modified to use the past perfect  tense verbs she had presented.  The game was fun and it was clear the whole class was intent  in putting the correct verbs and  verb tenses  in the Bingo spaces in order  to be the first to call out “Bingo”.

Throughout the class , Ajaan Kob  engaged the students by asking them to answer questions and to explain their understanding of the concept of the tenses.  She never raised her voice and she smiled often.   She posed questions and waited patiently for student responses.  An interesting aspect of Ajaan Kob’s  class was that after each 10 or 15 minute segment of her lesson delivery she would say to the students:”  O.K.  everyone sit up straight and get your back against the chair.”  The class would assume a good seating posture.  It was like preparing the students to  refocus as she switched to a new segment in her carefully played out lesson plan.

As I was leaving the school  ,  I told Ajaan Rossana that I was impressed with the encouragement Ajaan Kob gave to her students and the fact that she never raised her voice and was constantly friendly throughout the class.  I asked Ajaan Rossana if this was just Ajaan Kob’s way of conducting the class or was it wide-spread throughout the school.   Ajaan Rossana said that a demonstration school tries to promote teachers being friendly and encouraging to the students. ” This is a culture we actively try to promote at Satit Prasarnmit”, she told me.  “You will see this friendliness to students throughout Prasarnmit.”

Ajaan Rossana

“ Do you think this culture of engaging the students in a friendly and encouraging way is spreading to other public schools in Thailand?” , I asked.  “ Not as much as we would like”, was her rely.

I suspect that Thai public school administrators in the rural areas of Thailand find little in common with the Prasarnmit School which has facilities and teachers that are rarely found  in a regular schools.   Rural teachers certainly could learn best practices by observing the teachers at Prasarnmit.  But can this be done on a large scale?

 

 

 

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Pathway Schools

School for Life



Pathway School #1 THE SCHOOL FOR LIFE   Location:  Chiangmai
This school was chosen because of its joining of Thai Ministry of Education required curriculum with a vocational curriculum the co-founder , Professor Dr. Jurgen Zimmer, calls the seven excellences. These seven excellences are practical vocational learning opportunities that teachers at the school for life integrate in the morning academic learning and then help student actualize the learning in a specific project the produces real goods and services that sellable. One of the hallmarks of student centered learning is to make learning directly apply to the students daily life and to making a living. Students who attend the school for life are very poor children who come from subsistence hill tribe communities where growing food is a matter of survival.

One of the major projects included in the seven excellences is the art of growing organic food and marketing that food. Observing teachers from other school can learn how the teachers integrate the learning in academic learning in the morning with the actual learning by doing the organic farming in the afternoon. Thus students in the math classes by learn how to produce a perfect rectangle of certain dimensions in order to design plots for different crops. They may also learn to perform the math for a planned drip irrigation system for a few rai of land growing certain cash crops. In biology they may study soil analysis. In the afternoon they may actually take soil samples and decide how suitable the soil is for various crops proposed for sowing.

For more information we urge you to visit their web site at :
http://www.school-for-life.org

 

This not for profit organization helps children at risk from  marginalized groups of people in
Thailand. Most of the children are hill tribe children. Many have been abused, some have been trafficked, all are poorest of the poor.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO HELP THESE CHILDREN?
PLEASE SEE HOW BY LOOKING AT THE WEB SITE ABOVE