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How a teacher in China kept students engaged during lockdown

Schools in some of China’s largest cities are beginning to reopen months after the coronavirus outbreak forced them to shut down and move their classes online. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Karla Murthy spoke to one teacher at an international school in Beijing about how she's kept students engaged at home and with the world outside.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    In February, schools in China were the first to move classes online in the wake of COVID-19.

    This past week, some schools in China's largest cities began to reopen.

    NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Karla Murthy spoke to a teacher in China about how she has managed to keep her students engaged at home while helping them process the world outside.

  • Karla Murthy:

    Loredana Giovenelli has been an educator for 25 years. She's an academic consultant, a teacher trainer, and works at an international school in Beijing, where she's been teaching middle school kids remotely for nearly 3 months.

  • Karla Murthy:

    Since you have been in this situation for a while now, what advice do you have for teachers here in the States,?

  • Loredana Giovnelli:

    Do not assign too many tasks. Assign projects, but a long term project they can develop across you know a certain amount of time, days, weeks, that is meaningful.

  • Karla Murthy:

    One of the first projects she assigned was an art project – to create cards and videos to support the people of Wuhan – where the Coronavirus outbreak began.

  • Loredana Giovnelli:

    From there, it just snowballed.

  • Karla Murthy:

    The idea spread to a dozen other schools around China.

  • Loredana Giovnelli:

    So many cards, so many posters, so many videos. It was just overwhelming. This project just moved from Project Wuhan, into Project the World. Because now basically they're all infected. We're saying we are safe here in China, but now Italy, Spain and many other countries are suffering.

  • Karla Murthy:

    How did it affect your own students making this work?

  • Loredana Giovnelli:

    Their empathy is coming out so beautifully. Kids go to school, they learn. The stress of being tested all the time. The assignments, the homework. But we forget that we need to build empathy in our students in our kids. Because nowadays, what's missing its empathy.

  • Karla Murthy:

    She says, but while her students were creating their artwork, they were also dealing with news of racist attacks and discrimination against Chinese people abroad, who are being blamed for the disease.

  • Loredana Giovnelli:

    They are so affected by that. And these are kids that will eventually study abroad. So can you imagine how they feel right now.

  • Isabella Li:

    Like my first reaction was afraid. Then I got a bit angry.

  • Karla Murthy:

    Fourteen year old Isabella Li is one of Giovanelli students.

  • Isabella Li:

    I think those acts are not fair to Asian people and they are not reasonable.

  • Student Video:

    We used to be together…

  • Karla Murthy:

    So for her art project, she made a video with her classmates – a message to the world.

  • Student Video Excerpt:

    This is a situation we all do not want to see. Since most Chinese do not carry the virus.Humans are not equal to the virus. We are not a virus. No need to hide away from Asians. The virus doesn't separate us. But panic does

  • Isabella Li:

    People were getting a lack of information. And people were panicking too much I think. So I basically want to help and to raise people's awareness.

  • Student Video:

    No discrimination. Just me and you. We can solve the problem together! We are together!

  • Isabella Li:

    I think at this hard period, we should work together in helping each other fight the virus but not blaming each other.

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