Teacher Training

Using Great Books Shared Inquiry Discussions to integrate global literacy

What is great books?

  • Great Books is a language literacy methodology that develops student critical thinking through advanced speaking, reading, thinking, and writing skills.
  • The use of authentic texts and Shared Inquiry Discussion practices accelerate the English language learning process while supporting broader 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity across disciplines.
  • Texts are differentiated by grade level and reading ability to scaffold student learning and appealing to the multiple intelligence of each student. Furthermore, all materials are aligned to rigorous US Common Core curriculum standards for English Language Arts.

History of great books in Shenzhen - nanshan

In 2010, Shenzhen Yucai Education Group in Shekou started the American Scene English Summer camps for grades 1-12, a three-week program designed for Chinese English teachers to work in cohort teams with native English-speaking teachers.  All teachers were trained in Great Books T100 essentials course and certified prior to coming to China. 

The summer camps were theme based and used integrated curriculum designed in five subjects: Stories, Arts, Music, Games, and Performance. Grade level teams created weekly performances. Weekly themes included World Biomes, Careers, and World Cultures- Dance and Sports (TM-InterLangua LLC) These summer camps piloted several themes for introducing into the Chinese public schools (notably Great Books critical thinking and Shared Inquiry, STEAM programs and Careers Education) and also spawned the Great Books Academy at Shenzhen Yucai High School International Department (YCID) from 2012 – 2017.

In 2012, the Yucai Education Group opened a model high school department called the Yucai High School International Department (YCID) to prepare students for study abroad through the dialogue method of Great Books. YCID placed 100% of its graduates in undergraduate and graduate colleges or universities abroad over the last four years.

Since 2013, the Nanshan Education Bureau (NSEB) has partnered with the Great Books Foundation to deliver annual Level 100-103 Shared Inquiry Essential training in order to create student-centered English classrooms and to develop higher levels of class interaction beyond texts to include media, art, theater, web-based programs and games.

Curricula Integration For English expertise in the Chinese National System

By 2014, NSEB and the Great Books Foundation entered into a memorandum of understanding to achieve several aims including:

  • To develop a strong cadre of Great Books  trained English teachers in every school across the Nanshan District
  • To provide ongoing support for Great Books Shared Inquiry instruction through monthly Great Books Teachers’ Salons
  • To establish a Teacher Training and Learning Center at SUSTECH Experimental Primary School No.1

In 2016, the Great Books Foundation completed Level T- 200 training to intermediate practitioners of Great Books Shared Inquiry in order to develop a network of teacher mentors to lead programs throughout the district.

Future Goals to Implement a Great Books Literacy ProgramS

Each school with a Foreign Vice Principal will have a minimum of one English teacher per grade regularly practicing the art of Great Books Shared Inquiry with fidelity.

These classrooms will be fully equipped with Great Books materials for teachers and students in order to create a student-centered learning environment.

The Great Books Shared Inquiry program will align with Chinese national curriculum theme, vocabulary, reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.

Regular practitioners of Great Books Shared Inquiry will participate in a three-year research program to measure increased English-language learning.

Schools will partner with sister schools in the United States to have Shared Inquiry Discussions to increase international dialogue and understandings.

Great Books Foundation Supports

The Great Books Foundation has developed leveled and differentiated resources and classrooms tools for implementation, including:

        1. Teacher’s Editions with unit and lesson plans
        2. Student reading books
        3. Student writing journals and workbooks
        4. Audio CDs

Schools have access to custom designed unit plans in Humanities aligned to Chinese national standards with 8-10 reading selections per grade.

Teachers have access to monthly Great Books Salons and online webinars for continued professional development.

Schools can request live demonstration lessons to model instructional strategies.

Schools and teachers have access to online resources to support teaching and student learning.

Administrative Training

School Expectations

In order to participate in the accelerated English-language learning program through Great Books Shared Inquiry Discussions, schools must purchase classroom sets of Great Books Starting Off Strong materials for training the teachers.

Leadership and administrative school teams are provided with Great books/Shared inquiry half-day seminars to give the basic overview of the program and expectations.

School teams support and hold teachers accountable to deliver a Great Books unit once every four weeks. (This typically consists of four instructional periods.)

Teachers will be granted leave for two-day basic training for beginners and one-day refresher/intermediate courses.

Schools will assign a person responsible for conducting research of student writing improvement over a three year period through the use of benchmark assessments. Key areas of measurement will include – but are not limited to – supporting ideas through evidence in the text, elaborating on ideas, constructed responses, and Lexile (vocabulary) levels.

Teacher seminars in english

  • Each participating Great Books Leader will conduct a minimum of 4 units per semester and lead at least 10 shared inquiry discussions (i.e., conducting the same discussion with a different class of students.
  • Leaders  will use only selections from the Great Books Foundation, following the unit and lesson plans found in the  SOS or the Teacher’s Editions.
  • Leaders will turn in Shared Inquiry Discussion Seating Charts, focus questions, cluster questions, and student work to education and teacher researchers.
  • Leaders  will attend at least two Great Books Teachers’ Salons each semester.
  • Exemplary Leaders and students will display their Shared Inquiry Discussion skills at the Dragon & Eagle Dialogue held annually at Yucai #4 Primary School in April/May.

Participating Schools

  • Zhexing Zhong School – Guangzhou, Guangdong Province (With Win-Win Corporation 2012)
  • Vanke Bilingual School – Longhua District, Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province (2018)