Friday, October 30, 2009

"They did the mash, It caught on in a flash..."

Vampires, mummies, witches....

Tropical monkey princess???

It's not a monster costume, but that was my outfit for my friend Janine's Halloween conversation class. She had a box of dress-up materials we could choose, and I ended with a monkey head covering, a tiara and a lei. Haha.

In addition to dressing up while listening to Halloween songs like "The Monster Mash," we had fun playing several Halloween games in teams...

such as "See which team can put together the paper skeleton the quickest" game...

...and the classic "Wrap two of your teammates up in toilet paper to make mummies" game.

For Halloween lessons at my junior high schools last year, I took the jack-o-lantern that I'd made into the schools and talked about Halloween traditions. But this year, I was't about to show my embarassing Mr. Fish Fin Face jack-o-lantern to my students!

So instead, I was inspired by Janine's class and planned a bunch of Halloween-themed English games. First though, I taught them some Halloween vocab words (ie: ghost, haunted house, skeleton) using some illustrations I printed off the from the internet...

"Class, repeat after me. "Costume. Costume."

Then we played a game in which I called out one of the words, and the students raced each other to see who could get the picture first.

Another game I played with my students at Yamane Jr. High was "Memory," using smaller versions of the Halloween pictures. Every time they turned a card over, they had to say the word in English.

We also played a scavenger hunt game; they had to find suckers that looked like ghosts. (I made the ghosts by putting tissue paper over each sucker with a rubber band, and drawing on a face.) Each "ghost" had an English word on it, and all the suckers put together in the right order made a sentence.

I ended each class by giving them a Halloween word search. Overall, the activities at Yamane on Wednesday went very well! I was going to modify the activities for larger classes and do them yesterday at Misaki Jr. High yesterday, but the school was actually CLOSED due to so many students having the flu!!

There's a big flu outbreak in Kuji, which gives me yet another reason to be excited about leaving for Thailand...tomorrow!! I'll be gone for a week, so it will be a while until my next blog update. I promise to return with lots of photos (and probably videos, too.)

And now I leave you with a few pictures of some scary things in Kuji (besides the influenza virus.) These things are out and about year-round...

On top of a random building:

Inside the Dofukan, behind my apartment:

Outside of the Yamane onsen (public bath):

This guy doesn't look very happy, huh? Creepy is more like it.

I wish for you a healthy, safe and happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A video post

With two school culture festivals and a dance performance, Sunday was a busy day in the life of "Dana Sensei." (as a reminder "sensei" = teacher)

I'm going to share about the day in the form of videos this time. So first up is a little video I took of all the students at Okawame Jr. High singing...

* For all the videos, you might have to pause them and let load for a few minutes.

I have no idea what they're singing about, but isn't it beautiful!? :)

Sidenote: The chairs in front of me were empty because that's where the students had been sitting. There was quite a large audience, but they were sitting behind me.

At culture festivals, students not only perform songs, but also plays and dances. Here's the closing of a play by my adorable kids from Yamane Elementary School...

After the play, it was time for the junior high students to dance...

At noon, it was my turn to dance at a small community festival! My dance team and I did four dances. (They had me be front and center!) I have videos of three of the dances, and I've just figured out how to put YouTube videos on my blog instead of just the link (which takes you away from my blog.) Yay!

As I write this, it's Tuesday night, and I've spent the last two days at a team teaching seminar three hours away from Kuji. I don't have any videos or pictures from that, but I came away with some new ideas for activities to do in the classroom. Tonight I've been planning some Halloween party games to do at Yamane Jr. High tomorrow, which I'll blog about next time.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I like your style.

Two words: Yellow hats. :)

I adore the cute first grade students and the yellow hats they wear when they go outside. Here are a couple of pictures I took last month...

Rainy day style. :)

The students at my junior high schools wear school uniforms, but elementary students wear street clothes at school. For the most part, the clothes look like what students in America wear -- t-shirt and jeans. (Granted, the t-shirts often have goofy English on them.) But I'll sometimes see students who make me think, "I like your style." Like this girl and her lacey outfit...

Leggings are pretty popular.

Lovin' the striped pants and the glasses. :)

Now that it's flu season here, surgical masks are "in style." (as are hand sanitizer bottles at the entrance of every building. Folks are quite concerned about staying healthy.) At Kuji Elementary School yesterday, all of the students in my fifth grade and sixth grade classes wore a mask to prevent getting the flu....

And they gave me a mask to wear, too...

...which I was so thrilled to wear, as you can probably tell. Haha.

This boy's mask had little illustrations of bullet trains ("shinkansen" in Japanese) on it! Niiice.

Besides the mask, something else that's real popular for people of all ages to wear this time of year is flannel. I see a lot of flannel shirts being sold in stores, as well as flannel on my students...

Well, that's all for now. Peace out!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yesterday was one of those fantastically fall days when you can hardly stand to be inside.

My 25-minute drive to Yamane Jr. High School is always scenic, but this time of year it is especially so. I couldn't help but take some pictures of the loveliness...

Ok, so this is what it looks like without my sunglasses on. But if I wear my brown shades, it looks like this...

Which do you like better? Shades on or off?

I drive by several gardens, and I decided to stop at this one and try to frame the beautiful trees in the background...

I was in a real artsy photography mood yesterday, so I actually took several pictures. (You can click here to see them.) Here's one that I took on the drive...

I ♥ mirrors.

And another...

Watch out for falling rocks! {Eeps!}

Through one of many tunnels...

I just feel like my artist photographer friends would be so proud. :)


The perfect fall day ended with the autumn activity of carving pumpkins...

Nate getting rid of the goop as little Haruki watches. :)

Haruki's mom, Megumi, did an excellent job carving a face and stitches onto one of the pumpkins...

I, on the other hand, did not do an excellent job of carving the other pumpkin. I'm hesitant to even show you a picture of the finished product, and I'm rrreal tempted to tell you that Tomoki did it. (Which wouldn't exactly be a lie because Tomoki did carve one of the eyes.)

Ok, ok. I'll show you. But let me just preface this picture even more by saying that my pumpkin (the one on the left side -- as if I even need to tell you that) was a stubborn fella, extremely hard to carve, and he tested my patience to the point that it probably wasn't a good idea to be holding a knife....

No, those are not fish fins on the side, haha. They're supposed to be hands. He's screaming. (Which is only appropriate since he made me want to scream.) You see, I was going to trace my hands on the pumpkin and carve around, but I was too fed up with it by that point. So he got fin hands instead. Yeah. My artist friends would definitely NOT be proud of this!!

It looks better in the dark. (when you can't see it as well, haha) :)

If you do any Jack-o-lantern-making this year, I hope you have a wonderful, stress-free time and I sincerely hope that your pumpkin turns out as you envisioned it in your mind. Good luck!

* * *
To read my latest entry in "Keep Shining" click here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A southern hoedown in northern Japan

Howdy, y'all!

You're prolly thinkin' that a hoedown in Japan is about as scarce as hen's teeth. And I reckon you'd be right!

But we done made it happen over yonder at Greg's house in Fudai. About twenty or so English-speakin' friends of mine from this neck of the woods went hog wild -- dancin', eatin', hootin' and a hollerin'.

We kicked off the shindig after dusk on Saturday.

We had all kinds of tasty vittles: taters, BBQ chicken, corn bread, and other fixin's. Thanks to my ma, we even had southern style tablewear. Don't that just beat all!?

Of course it ain't a hoedown without the dancin'...

Yeehaw! Julian and his pals, visitin' all the way from Californ-I-A!

Hatsumi and Megumi are like two peas in a pod.

Carryin' on...

"Where did you come from, where did you go? Where did you come from Cotton-Eye Joe!?"

Dixie chicks. :)

So we were all havin' a mighty fine time, and then things got a 'lil out of hand. You see, Greg got his feathers ruffled because Jarlath kept leavin' the front door ajar. "Were you born in a barn!?!?" yelled Greg (who's a 'lil too big for his britches, if ya ask me.) "I'm gonna tan your hide!!" And then...

Greg just flew off the handle! He's meaner than a snake!

But Sheriff Jarlath ain't no bump on a log. He went after Greg whole hog and put him back in his place. You don't mess with the sheriff.

With justice done, it was back to fun! How 'bout a game of Twister. Just for..err..kicks.

Later that night, we moseyed out to the beach and sat 'round the fire.

Oliver grinnin' like a possum eating persimmons. :)

Cowboy Ebun tendin' to the fire.

(Part of) the gang.

With the exception of the brawl* between Greg and Sheriff Jarlath, I reckon everything went fine and dandy! Yeeeehaw!

* = totally made up :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

What day is it today?

That's not supposed to be a trick question.

It's just a question that I always ask my students (all five of them) at Yamane Jr. High School.

Yuya writing the date on the blackboard.

At the beginning of both classes I teach at Yamane every Wednesday, I start by asking the students the day, date, time and weather.

After that, they have a few minutes to take an English word quiz. Several words are written in Japanese, and they must write what the word is in English.
Kana taking the san-nensei (3rd grade = 9th grade in the American system) English quiz.

Then after the quiz, we spend time having English conversation since the two classes at Yamane are so small. I ask them questions like, "What did you do last weekend?" The remainder of the time is spent reading and teaching from the textbook.

At Okawame Jr. High school, we spend a majority of the class time using the textbook. Mr. Otsuki often makes worksheets to go along with the lessons in the book.

Mr. Otsuki writing the paragraph from the textbook on the blackboard.

He explains the meaning in Japanese by writing it in a different color above the English.

I assist Mr. Otsuki by saying the new vocab words aloud and having the students repeat after me. Sometimes, each student has to come up to me and read a passage from the book, and I sign off on it.

In addition to teaching 7th, 8th and 9th grades at Okawame, I also teach one special needs student, Junichi. With Junichi, Mr. Takahashi and I look for ways to make studying English exciting and fun. This past Tuesday, we started out class by having ice cream! (Doesn't get much more fun than that!)

Miniature banana splits. :) Yum.

I don't have any pictures from Misaki Jr. High, but that's the school I go to every Thursday. Unlike at Yamane and Okawame, where I don't have much say in the lesson, Mr. Nakano at Misaki has me plan the lessons with him before class. We do a combination of teaching from the textbook and playing games. I like to come up with games that go along with what we teach from the book.

So teaching at each junior high school is a different experience. But at all three, I really like the teachers I work with and the students I teach.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ABC's and 123's

It's about time that I give a classroom report. :)

So today I'll write about what I'm doing in my elementary schools, and next time I'll fill you in on what I've been teaching at my three junior high schools.

As a reminder, I go to a different elementary school every Monday and Friday. It's a great way to start and end each week. The word I use to best describe my elementary students is genki, げんき, which is Japanese for energetic! They love English class, but what's not to love about singing songs and playing games!?

San-nensei (third grade) class at Taiyama Elementary School.

The main classroom teacher plans the English lesson, so I don't really have a say in what I help teach. I'm sent a lesson plan ahead of time for me to review before I go to the school. But half the time, the plan is in Japanese, so I just wing it when I'm in the classroom. Whatever works. :)

At the bigger schools -- like Osanai E.S. and Kuji E.S. -- I teach all of the 5th and 6th grade classes only. But at smaller schools -- such as Ube E.S. and Taiyama E.S. -- I teach all the grades, first through sixth.

For the older elementary grades, we follow a book, and I usually teach them how to do a basic self introduction. Animal names, food, sports, body parts and clothes are also common topics for elementary school students. For the younger students, I often teach the alphabet and numbers in English.

Last week we taught numbers and body parts in a fun way. I would say, "I'm a monster with six eyes." Then the kids would draw six eyes on their monster....

Like this. :)

Here are a couple of pictures of students making monster creations...

Nice work. Eye like it!

The third grade students displaying their works of art...

I loved how each monster looked different!

In the first and second grade classes at Taiyama Elementary School last week, I also did a lesson on numbers. We played "number basket," a variation of "fruit basket," in which the kids each had a number and had to run to a different seat when their number was called.

Cute. :)

Group picture at the end of class.

When I go to an elementary school, it's usually for the entire day (8:30 - 3:30), and I have five or six classes! I'm sometimes worn out by the end of school, but it's fun.

So that's my elementary report. In other news, I'm happy to report that my back is back to feeling fine. Hooray!