About the Host School
RDFZ XISHAN SCHOOL is a public school funded by the Education Commission of Haidian District, Beijing, China. Established in 2009, it is a satellite school of the high school affiliated to Renmin University (referred to as Renda Fuzhong or RDFZ for short). RDFZ XISHAN is also the first public school in China to be certified as an Apple Distinguished Program School.
The School has traditional Chinese-themed classrooms specially designed for calligraphy, tea-drinking, and guqin instruments. Modern technology rooms are equipped with MakerSpace 3D Printers and Robotics, and wireless high-tech hardware. Refurbished Science Laboratories contain new equipment like fully-equipped and automated benches in chemistry lab, Vernier sensors and probes in physics lab, and e-microscopes in biology lab.
About the AP Centre
The High School Advanced Placement Program started in 2013 and strives to develop students under the motto “Global Citizens with a Chinese Heart”. The program accommodates 180 students, has about 10 foreign teachers, and has 20 full-time Chinese faculties. The RDFZ XISHAN AP Program collaborates with Tabor Academy, an established private school based in the US, to develop its curriculum for students aged 15 to 18 who are aiming to study at university level overseas.
In terms of Center facilities, the entire high school is dedicated to the AP Center (in other words, we are not a center within a larger high school), which has its distinct advantages.
All of the facilities for the high school are brand new, and currently include a faculty office, faculty lounge, 16 teaching rooms (each subject has its own dedicated classroom with audio-visual capabilities and wireless Internet), a computer lab, and a well-equipped physics lab, Chemistry lab and Biology lab.
The AP Program is a three-year course.
• In year one, students take most courses in Chinese: Chinese Literature, History, Chemistry, Geography, Music, Technology & Design, and PE. Other courses are taught in English: English, Mathematics, Economics, Computer Science and Physics.
• In year two, students take fewer required Chinese-taught courses: Political Science, Chinese Literature, Biology and PE. The remaining courses are taught in English: AP Calculus AB, English, and up to three electives (AP Microeconomics, AP Chemistry, Pre-AP Biology, AP Physics 1 & 2, Pre-AP Psychology, and AP Computer Science A.)
• In year three, students focus on higher-level courses: AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, AP Macroeconomics, Computer Science, and AP Psychology. Chinese Literature and PE are the required courses.
To foster each student into “Global Citizens with a Chinese Heart”, students must attend mandatory Chinese Heart classes like Kung Fu, Tea Culture, Go, Peking Opera, Guqin (or zither), Calligraphy. Teachers are welcomed to attend.
Students and staff alike engage in a multitude of extracurricular activities and clubs like ping pong, weightlifting, guitar, club, international chess, and cycling.
RDFZ XISHAN is located in Beijing’s Haidian District. It is near Tsinghua University, Peking University and China Agricultural University. Also nearby are the Medicinal Garden, Baiwang Mountain, Fragrance Hill, and the Summer Palace. A five-minute walking distance to the west is Baiwang Shopping Mall. A fifteen-minute biking distance to the east or west are two more shopping malls. Subway lines 4 and 13 are located four bus stops away. Subway line 16 is within walking distance is expected to start running by the end of 2016.
Cultural experiences are plentiful, with Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, The Summer Palace and The Great Wall (to name a few) in close proximity. Other points of interest include Shijingshan District Beijing International Sculpture Park, Shijingshan Amusement Park, Military Museum and Beijing Badachu Park.
In an ancient city with a population far in excess of London, and a large and growing middle-class, there is no shortage of things to do, see, buy and experience - the main problem is choosing!
Teacher Case Study
Kevin Kelly (English)
Prior to moving to China, I taught high school English for several years in the Philadelphia public school system. Teaching in Beijing, as I do now, is a much different experience, and for the most part more enjoyable. The main difference is the students, and the energy with which they approach their studies every day. I had plenty of dedicated students in America, but they were not so much the majority as they are here.
Working at RDFZ Xishan has been a positive experience for me thus far. The atmosphere is a healthy mixture of serious scholarship and casual camaraderie.
There is a good support system in place to help foreign teachers settle in and attend to their daily needs. This makes life here rather pleasant. For such a crowded city, Beijing is surprisingly spacious. It is also safe, clean, and easy to navigate by subway. Though I am definitely aware the poor air quality, I am not highly sensitive to it, and on most days the air seems perfectly fine.
Teaching Chinese kids has been a unique challenge for me, but also a rewarding one. It has required me to adjust my teaching approach, expand my curriculum, and explore areas of instruction that generally do not apply to native English speakers. There is a certain degree of trial and error involved, and sometimes my expectations exceed their present capabilities, especially where writing skills are concerned. But my students know that they can count on my assistance, so they do not lose heart, and for the most part, they honestly try their best.
Student Case Study
David Cai (Senior 3)
I am a Senior 3 student, and I really appreciate the faculties of RDFZ XISHAN School who helped me to prepare for my college life. In XISHAN, I can find numerous opportunities to discover my personality and keep pushing myself to the limit. If you asked me what I’ve learned the most in past three years in XISHAN, my answer is: to strive, to trust, and to respect. In college, I will be studying an interdisciplinary major, and I think my unique experience in XISHAN helped me to make this decision. The academic environment in XISHAN is well balanced, relaxed and serious; we can focus on whatever we like in any area. Experienced teachers will not only teach, but also guided us to innovate, and inspire us to learn more than the knowledge on textbooks. I joined Film Production Club in my freshman year and soon became its leader. My leadership was well trained in there and made me more confident and think critically.
Another feature which makes XISHAN so different with traditional Chinese schools is that while teachers are using very advanced teaching styles such as "1 to 1 iPad Class" and "Flipped Classrooms", they still tell students to appreciate Chinese traditional culture. By integrating western teaching styles with old Chinese wisdom, we learned about Nietzsche & Confucius, Socrates & Lao-Tzu, and all the students benefited from this innovative classroom environment. For instance, all the Senior 2 students participate in Project Based Learning in Quarter 4.They combine many subjects’ knowledge and work on a real project for over two months. Every milestone and communication with teachers will be recorded, and they will present at the end of the quarter to earn a grade.
I love XISHAN because XISHAN &its teachers’invaluable teachings have helped me grow and mature.