Keelung Shen-Mei Elementary School special education teacher Wu Li-shing and Taoyuan Shang Tian Elementary School special education teacher Chiu Ya-tzu have designed an inter-school pen-pal teaching program that includes letter-writing combined with social networking apps. Their program has won them an award for excellence plus a cash prize of NT$50,000 in a special education teaching materials and implements design competition funded by the Ministry of Education.
Wu’s students have learning difficulties. She says she has found that, as well as needing help with their learning strategies and interpersonal communication, they often have difficulty identifying with their local culture and are not very good at negotiating social network communication, so they sometimes misuse Internet jargon, and this can lead to misunderstandings. These problems gave Wu the idea of cooperating with a special education teacher in Taoyuan to design an inter-school pen-pal teaching plan.
Wu says her pen-pal course has been running for two years, with a total of 16 special education students taking part. She says that students from the two schools use written letters, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to tell each other about the culture and tasty food of their local areas.
Photo: Yu Chao-fu, Liberty Times 照片：自由時報記者俞肇福
The Shen-Mei Elementary School students describe how they feel when they eat taro balls at Keelung’s Miaokou Night Market, while the Shang Tian Elementary School students write about how to eat Hakka-style mochi. They also share videos, post comments and reply to each other’s posts. All these activities help the students improve their communication and personal interaction skills.
Wu says that the students find writing intimidating, but it is possible for them to overcome their psychological barriers by writing letters. They study hard how to type using phonetic input, and they practice their spoken expression skills by using audio input. After completing one semester’s teaching in written composition, they are able to finish writing the sentence composition questions in their end-of-semester exams, and their parents say that their children do all their Chinese-language homework as soon as they get home. The parents say they are very pleased with the improvements they see in their children.
(Translated by Julian Clegg, Taipei Times)
Photo courtesy of Hsinchu City Government 照片：新竹市政府提供
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