This quarter had gone by so quickly that we just finished our last official class at the Concord International Elementary School. Li taught the last lesson to Grade 4th and 5th graders about air pollution. In the beginning, the class was a little out of control because the kids were too excited. There were always some boys in the class that would not stop talking and disrupt the progress of the lesson. I really learned that it is important for an instructor to take questions at the right time in order for the lesson to go well for both parties. Li started the lesson with her well- prepared slide show and explained what air pollution is. She included pictures of the same place with polluted air background and clean air background, like my first reaction to those pictures, the students were all visually shocked. Next, she introduced the air quality index and I could tell that the students were all engaged during the process of “naming cities”. I remember we had a discussion on the fluctuation of the air quality in Seattle and talked about how it could vary in different seasons. Air pollution can also lead to acid rain so Li added in a new slide for this class. The picture showed how acid rain could influence plant growth, which then leads to another discussion on acidity and pH levels even though it wasn’t being planned initially.
The first game was introduced after knowing the colors that represent different air qualities. They had to correctly answer multiple-choice questions in order to move on to the next “colored” air quality index level. I personally liked this game a lot, but because of time Li had to move on and we were not able to finish all the questions. However, I think the questions did let them think more about the issue because it literally had multiple answers. The students were confused by some questions because they were not directly mentioned in the lesson, for example, what illnesses are caused by air pollution? The answers were asthma and lung cancer, but Li only had introduced asthma in detail. I think those non-factual questions were better because they pushed the kids to think deeper or critically. This could train them to have a more dynamic way of solving problems.
I was really glad that we were able to do the last activity this time. It was drawing a polluted world vs. a clean environment that is being cared for. I can tell everyone liked it and the class’s artistic talent impressed me. Overall, the difficulty of the lesson was just right for 4th and 5th graders and the majority of them participated. It was great to see that they were able to take away some knowledge that Li prepared for this class. The service at the school is going to end soon, I had learned a lot from the kids and the way we all think so differently just amazed me. I was once at their age, but now I have to put effort into thinking like them. I still have a lot to learn, and I hope I can have more opportunities to share what I have learned in the future. It was really great to know Li and Jasmine through this class. I will miss the days we brainstormed and prepared for the lessons together! ☺
Thank you all!
Julia Chao, May 2018