Monday, February 18, 2013

Schools in Shitara

Touring the schools in Shitara, Japan was the highlight of my visit. I learned so much by communicating with the students, teachers and principals, and seeing firsthand what happens in the classrooms. It was so interesting to learn about the similarities and differences between the schools in Shitara and Arlington Heights.
All of the teachers' desks were in one large office. The principal and the assistant principal had a meeting with the teachers every morning before the start of school. 
We were warmly greeted and welcomed by the children and staff in every school.  Even though they were often shy at first, everyone was very kind and helpful in trying to communicate with us in English. 
Students stood and bowed to show respect each time a teacher entered the classroom to teach a lesson. 
The preschool had a large outdoor play area. The children were collecting nature artifacts. 
Lunch was eaten in the classroom. Students took turns serving the lunch.  All of the students and staff were required to eat the school lunch, and everyone had to eat everything that was served to them. 

These bird houses were covered in plastic for warmth and protection during the winter, but I can imagine the fun learning the children will do there in the spring!

I peeked inside and saw beautiful breeds of chickens and ducks. 

There were many areas where children learn gardening outside. 
Children wrote recommendations and displayed books outside the library. 
There were tatami mats in this library where children can sit and read. 

Every student had a similar leather backpack. It is a tradition for the grandparents to purchase the backpack. The child uses the same backpack throughout their elementary and middle school years. 
Helmets for earthquake safety are kept close by. Students who walk to school wear the bright yellow vests on their backpacks for extra safety. 

Students carefully carved blocks for printing during an art class. 

A group of third grade boys constructed this creative play house.

There were unicycles at each school for recess time!

Students had special shoes to wear in the classroom and during P.E. 

It was fun to shoot some hoops with these students. They were much better than me!

Students enjoyed experimenting in the science lab. 

Learning calligraphy was a special part of the Japanese curriculum.

People wear these white masks to prevent the spread of coughs and colds. These first grade students made paper origami gifts for us. 

The middle school students had to wear uniforms to school. 
I wonder what they will think when they meet the middle school students in Arlington Heights this spring!
Here they were studying landslide simulations on the computer. 

The teachers and principals were impressed by Dryden students' research projects and the way we use technology. Just like in Arlington Heights, the teachers from Shitara were very enthusiastic, child-centered and hard working. The classrooms had a warm, friendly feeling, yet the children were very focused and completed their work carefully and in detail.

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