Hsing Fu Junior High School (see also here) was the first school we visited on our tour through the western part of Taiwan. Hsing Fu is a relatively large school, and very new (I think it’s been open only about 5 years or so). The design of the school is very open and airy, besides the fact that there is a lot of building in not a whole lot of space. We were welcomed at the gate by the principal and several teachers and ushered into the building for an opening speech, followed by a coffee break and lots of food prepared by students in the hospitality program at one of the other local schools (as we were to find out very soon, we would be eating A LOT during the week).
The highlight of our visit to Hsing Fu were some classroom observations and a tour of the school. We were able to see three classes (two different English Language classes and an English Culture class). The first English class we saw was taught by a teacher using a laptop and projector as well as a voice amplifier, and included lots of practice and repetition. What really stood out was the fact that even though the class was large with around 30 students, not a second was wasted. There were really no discipline issues to speak of, and when several students were asked to come up to the front of the room to write down their answers to some questions, all of the other students used that time to practice their English reading skills as they read a passage from their workbook aloud to themselves.
The second English Language class we saw was taught by Ms. Wu in the language lab. Ms. Wu’s students were part of the APEC Cyber Academy’s ICT Cybercamp this year. Each student has access to his/her own workstation in the lab (with room for about 40 students or so. In addition, Ms. Wu showed me how she can follow what each student is doing from her workstation in the front of the room, and can group students using the same software. It was a nice set up. I actually recognized the room as students had used it earlier this year to video tape some of their interviews. It was nice to get to see it in person.
The last class we saw was the English Culture class, and it was very English, with tea and all. This classroom is set up somewhat like a restaurant/living room and is designed to give students a chance to practice their conversation skills. Local and visiting students participated in an activity together here, and we observed.
The tour of the school was interesting as well, including a walk through the vegetable garden and a scout skills class, which is part of the curriculum in many schools in Taiwan!
Our visit concluded with a great lunch and a group picture (the first of many, many group pictures), and we hopped back on the bus around 1 pm.
Image Credits: My camera (mostly)