Author: Gracie Meng-Pitkänen, worked as a Chinese teacher in Finland and China

I have practiced distance teaching for several months with my small group of students since the Covid-19 pandemic started in Finland this spring. Overall, the outcome is very positive. Thanks to LessonApp which provides distance teaching methods on time at critical turning point of moving from classroom teaching to remote teaching.  The lesson below is built with help of distance teaching methods included in LessonApp.

1. Warm-up (5 mins): 3 things (distance teaching)

The teacher asks one of the students to begin the warm-up by saying “Three things…” and ending the sentence with a question such as “Three things you like about the summer?”. The student who posed the question points to another student who then answers the question with three things, e.g. “Ice cream, the sun, spending time with my friends”. The student who answered the question makes up a new question of three things and points to another student who will answer it. You can play as long as everyone gets their turn to ask and answer.

Ask the students to say 3 things related to rivers. The words they maybe come up include the words they know, e.g. ‘long’, ‘big’, ‘clean’. If not, then give them hints by showing pictures.

2. Orientation/Pre-existing knowledge (5 minutes): Admit slips (distance teaching)

Begin with telling the students the lesson’s theme. Ask them to write down a question on the piece of paper that they would like to have the answer to during the lesson. Students should be given a few minutes time to write down the question on their slips. After they have finished writing, tell them to put the slips aside for the remaining lesson: the slips will be revisited at the end of the lesson. Use the end of the lesson to review the slips. Tell the students to look at their slips to see whether their questions have been answered. If not, now is the opportunity to ask the teacher directly. If there is not enough time to answer all the questions, the students can send the questions to the teacher by email. The teacher can respond to the email or answer during the next lesson.

Tell the students that the theme of this lesson is about two famous rivers in China. Each student writes down one question on a paper related to the rivers. This is to activate shortly how to make sentences with the words they know regarding rivers, e.g. ‘ is the river long?’

3. New knowledge acquisition (15 minutes): Search information (distance teaching)

The teacher guides the students on where and how to find essential information.

Guide the students to search for the information on Internet about the most famous rivers in China and find the key information:

  • What are their names?
  • What are their nick names?
  • What are their characteristics?
  • Which location in China are they?

4. Practicing (20 minutes): Activating writing assignments (distance teaching)

During the exercise, students are asked to individually write down their own thoughts and knowledge about the topic at hand.

Activation/practicing: After studying the topic for a while or listening to the teacher’s presentation, for example, ask your students to write down what they have learned so far, what was new information to them, what they do not yet understand thoroughly, what they would like to learn next etc.

Reflection: Ask your students to write down what they have learned about the topic, what was new to them, was something left unclear, how did their views or knowledge of the topic change during the lesson and so on. It is extremely useful to do this exercise both before and after studying the topic so that the students can see how their thoughts have changed.

Write down the names of the rivers and 3-5 key words based on what is found on Internet. Open the textbook and read about the rivers. Compare the words in the book and found by themselves. At the end, each student checks if his or her question written down in the beginning of the lesson has got an answer or not. New words/phrases they are supposed to learn from the book: name, mother, love, ancient, middle of.


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