Friday, February 26, 2010

"You sunk my battleship!"

While elementary school lessons are pretty much all fun and games, junior high school English lessons only sometimes include games.

At Okawame and Misaki Jr. High Schools, I spend the majority of time in my 50-minute class periods teaching from the textbook, having students repeat vocab words and sentences after me.

Often at Misaki, I'm given some time at the end of class to do a fun game or activity. Last week, I tried something new with my "san nensei" (9th grade) class...

Battleship. And I must say, it was a real hit. :)

Using the blackboard, Mr. Nakano helped me explain how to play the game.

I used Battleship as a way to review dates. For example, instead of calling out "A 5," the students would say, "January fifth." If their partner had drawn a boat on that square, it was a "hit," and if not, then he or she would say, "miss."

I love the tissue box defense wall that this duo had!

A close-up of the game sheet

Like Mr. Nakano, I walked around the classroom, helping students if they needed it, and making sure that they were speaking English. (To my delight, they were!)

I also taught them what to say when one of their ships had been completely hit, which I sometimes heard pronounced as "You sunku my battleshipu!"

All the students really did their best to speak English the entire time, and it seemed like everyone really enjoyed the game! Score!

On a not-so-happy note, this class graduates soon, and I'll really miss them!

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

English made fun again

For elementary school students, learning English really is all fun and games. (as you've probably deduced from my blog posts)

This isn't the case for junior and senior high students, who have to do homework and study for quizzes and tests.

But over the weekend, twenty-five senior high students voluntarily went to "English Camp 2010 in Kunohe" (as the posters advertising the event called it), where they got to let loose, enjoy games and activities, and get some extra English practice.

Although I wasn't involved in any of the planning--like a few of my fellow English teacher friends were--I helped by being scorekeeper for the activities and helping oversee the event.

Right before lunch time, (a wonderful, Western-style lunch served with silverware!) I helped by being in a skit where I demonstrated bad table manners. As I was awkwardly holding my fork and knife, a newspaper photographer snapped this picture...

...and put it in the newspaper with a caption that doesn't mention that I'm demonstrating bad manners. Haha, oh well.

One of the most popular activities of the day was acting out famous movie scenes in English.

One of the 12 teams, acting out a scene from Back to the Future. The audience had to grade each performance.

Other activities included: an intense game of ultimate Frisbee, a fashion presentation, and several different games.

In this game, the students listened to the song "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and had to fill in the blanks of the missing lyrics.

On Saturday evening, at the end of "camp," the first, second and third place winners were announced at a closing ceremony. And then a big group shot was taken...

I'm glad that I could be involved in all the fun. I enjoyed working with senior high school students for once, and I had a really great time.

Judging from the all the smiles I saw and the text messages I got from the girls I exchanged contact info with, the students had a lot of fun, too.

In fact, one girl wrote that she had "a flaming good time!" Haha :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

"Under the sea..."

I'd heard a lot about the nice aquarium in Kuji, but surprisingly had never visited in the past year and a half that Kuji has been my home.

So I fixed this on Sunday afternoon and had a lovely little Valentine's Day date with Jarlath (and a bunch of fish).

The fish tank in the lobby was decorated for the holiday. And as soon as we walked in, we were given little bags of chocolates as a present. Cute! Plus, there weren't many other people at the aquarium, so it was definitely a good day to visit.

We started by watching a charming little video in Japanese. I didn't understand most of it. Then we took our time meandering the halls, looking at the variety of sea creatures. I couldn't do much more than look at them since all of the descriptions were written only in Japanese.

So I took several pictures of the interesting fish...

...and managed to capture my reflection in this one. :)

...and my hand in this one. This was a special tank where you could reach in and touch the fish. But they steered clear from my phalanges. :( (Tomoki, you should be proud. I used "phalanges" in a sentence.)

This picture cracks me up. "Swim to the light, turtle, swim to the light!" But the light is just the flash from my camera. Tricky.

Peculiar Polka Dot fish in front of Big Bubba fish.
(Please note: These are not their scientific names, haha.)

A walk through the tank tunnel...

The "upside-down jellyfish" looked more like sideways jellyfish to me.

Near the upside-down jellyfish were fish going every which way...swimming together in one big knot!

In addition to several tanks and exhibits, there was what looked like a giant Nemo (as in the clown fish from the Disney movie Finding Nemo) that you could walk through...

I have several photos of fish, but where's Jarlath??

Inside the giant clown fish, clownin' around. :)

And on the way out of the aquarium, he placed his face in the mouth of an octopus...

Overall, it was a light-hearted Valentine's Day afternoon at the aquarium and lots of fin...err, fun!

* * *
Click here to read my most recent post in "Keep Shining."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"I think to myself, what a wonderful world..."

I love all of the fun, cutsie things I find in Japan.

Last time, I shared some quirky stationery. This time, I have a few cute/funny English notebooks (and a diary) to show you...

"I am a pig doctor. I can cure all your problems with this bandage." Haha, nice. :)

"Hey kids! It's yummy cookies."

A very convenient notebook. :)

Very true. (especially the part about the diary memorizing precious days, haha.)

I have to admit that I do have a lot of happiness in my daily life here. I had a sweet weekend, (I'll write next time about visiting an aquarium), and after the Valentine's concert on Saturday, I got to take home some beautiful flowers...

Harriet and me with the bouquet of flowers that was divided among all of the performers.

I put my bouquet behind my Japanese doll, and I just had to take a picture of what it looked like in candlelight...

"Ooohh. Yeah." (in Louis Armstrong voice) :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"But I can't help falling in love with you..."

In the spirit of Valentine's Day tomorrow, I thought I'd post pictures of a few lovely things...

Beginning with one of the most adorable babies I've ever seen....

This little guy is the son of one of the teachers at Misaki Jr. High. I love it when his mommy brings him to school with her. He always giggles when he sees me, and I light up when I see him, too. :)

Aw, look at that little grin! And that little squid toy, haha.

Last weekend, after attending the snow festival, I went to a mall in Morioka where I saw some lovely stationery. Instead of buying the whole stationery section, I opted to take pictures of some of it instead...

Precious poodle: The puppy that likes dressing up. And beside that is stationery with a bunch of cute, smiley food. :)

The English is kinda cute, but not exactly correct.

Strawberry Garden: There are such a lot of strawberries. Shall I make a strawberry jam whether shall mix a cake...whether the muffin shall be made? And, let's hold a wonderful party.

More strawberries...and more funny/cute English...

Fruit Train: Welcome to the country of the fruit. What do you see in this fruit? It is a train that carries your dream.

This statement made me chuckle when I saw it on the top of a notebook:
Love makes the world go around. No wonder I'm kinda dizzy!

Today I was part of a Valentine's Day concert at Amber Hall in Kuji, where I sang a couple of love songs. (Well, the first was a love song, anyway.) I did two duets with my friend Hideto.

#1: "Can't Help Falling in Love"

#2 "What a Wonderful World"

Have a wonderful and lovely Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Yuki matsuri {Snow festival}

Although I'm not a big fan of cold weather (at all), I really enjoyed the snow festival that I went to with my host family.

I saw lots of families & adorable children in super cute snow suits :) and lots of really cool (err, cold) snow sculptures, including a stage made of snow...

Here are a couple of the snow sculptures...

Some of the snow sculptures became playgrounds...

There were also some pretty awesome ice sculptures...

Something I've never seen before:

A shrine made out of snow. Only in Japan.

There was also a row of little snow buildings (um, igloos?) with tables inside...

I looked inside to see people eating lunch.

My Japanese family.

They remembered my love for ice cream...

This picture proves that it's never too cold for (pear -- yum) ice cream!! :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

A wintery weekend

Last fall, I had a fantastic time participating in a cultural exchange and doing a home stay in Shizukuishi, a town about three hours away. (I wrote about the experience in this blog post.)

So when I found out there'd be another, similar weekend there this winter, I was excited to go back! And sure enough, it was another great time.

It started with some cross country skiing -- something I'd never tried before and really enjoyed.

Looking the part with British friends Anne and Louise.

Anne's little penguin friend definitely looked good on skis...

HAHA! :) Mr. Penguin is actually a backpack -- how cute!

After the workout on snow, we ate lunch and relaxed at an onsen (public bath).

And then after that, we did even more relaxing. (pictured with Alana and Emily)

We met up with our host families later in the afternoon, and I was really happy to learn that I'd be staying with the same wonderful family as last time!

My lovely Japanese mother. :)

Together, we watched a dance performance (that I took a video of, but it refuses to load for some reason.)
And then we were invited to wear the traditional Shizukuishi outfit that the dancers wore and learn one of the dances!

I spent the rest of the evening and night with my awesome Japanese family trying my very best to speak Japanese. We talked about lots of different things, such as what we've each been doing since September when we last saw each other, the differences between schools in Japan and America, and why I love Peyton Manning & the Colts. :)

Sidenote: It really about killed me that I had to be in school teaching this morning during the Super bowl!! Aaah! But the vice principal at Osanai Elementary gave me the update on the score between each class. I think all of the teachers felt my pain when I learned the final outcome. :(

Anyway, back to a happier topic...

My Japanese family took me to a super nice restaurant in Morioka (the big city) for a traditional dinner that had about 27 courses.

Ok, really there were only 7 courses. (Only, haha.) But it felt like the food just kept coming and coming. I think they were impressed that I ate every single thing with no problem. :)
A close-up of the first course:

Meat and vegetables were simmering in the individual green pans.

After so much food, I was stuffed and sleepy! I had a great night of sleep, and was ready to go to a snow festival the next day. More about that next time...