Saturday, November 30, 2013

Meeting with King Jeongjo: Part 4 - Yongjusa Temple stay introduction

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 30.]

Last weekend I went on a cultural trip to Suwon, put on by the Korean Culture and Information Service.  I've already written about these parts of the trip:

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Now I had never done a temple stay before, and didn't even know that a temple stay was something that one might do here in Korea.  Needless to say, but I'll say it, I didn't know what to expect.

All 50 of us took off our shoes by the door of the temple stay place, put them in cubbies, and then found and put on the "slippers" (sandals) provided.  Then after walking literally three yards from the door to the main room, I realized we had to take off the slippers we had just found and put on.  Once we were all seated on the floor, we each turned in our cell phones for the stay, closing them in a plastic zip bag and writing our names on a small sticker.  At this point I was so glad I had brought my digital camera with me for the weekend!

Then we were each given a set of clothes to put on upstairs, pants and a top.  When we got upstairs to the room we'd be sleeping in (girls on the second floor, boys up on the third floor), no one was sure how we were supposed to change into the clothes.  I thought we would change into them, but then later someone came into the room and said that a lady downstairs told her to put them on over your regular clothes.

I was wearing leggings under my jeans, so I took off the jeans before putting on the provided pants.  All of the kneeling and sitting and standing would have been impossible in jeans!  We each had a name tag, too.


Then we watched a short orientation video about temple stay dos and don'ts, and learned to bow correctly.  After the opening "ceremony" we went to see the temple.  This meant putting on the slippers we'd left just outside the main room, walking two steps to the rug by the door, finding our shoes and putting them on, and putting the slippers in the shoe cubby.

The temple was across the street from the temple stay building.


When we got to that pagoda (pictured above), we slowly circled around it three times, while stopping to do a half bow at each of the four sides (palms together in the middle of your chest, bow at the waist).  So that's 12 half bows.  Our temple stay volunteer guide and interpreter taught us a little bit about Buddhism and the temple while we walked through the grounds, though no memorable fact comes to mind as I write this a week later.

The temple itself was a lot smaller than I'd imagined.  The temple grounds reminded me of the Korean palaces I had seen - lots of space outside with a few small buildings here and there.

By the end of our temple tour it had gotten dark outside, and we were led into a building for dinner.  Dinner was an experience in itself, worth of its own post!
• • •

Friday, November 29, 2013

Meeting with King Jeongjo: Part 3 - Hwaseong Haenggung Palace

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 29. ]

Last weekend I went on a cultural trip to Suwon, put on by the Korean Culture and Information Service.  I've already written about these parts of the trip:

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We left the Hwaseong fortress and walked down the street to the Hwaseong Haenggung Palace.  On the short walk, we passed an awesome mural on a building wall.  It wasn't until we crossed the street that I could see it was so much more fantastic than I'd originally thought.


While waiting for the "bus 1" group to meet us outside of the Hwaseong Haenggung Palace, we got to see what appeared to be a dress rehearsal of a young boy walking on a high tightrope.  It was so impressive!  I can't believe he was wearing jeans.


At one point he did jump, let the rope catch him in his crotch, and he bounced back up.  He also went from "sitting" on the rope (rope between legs), back to standing on the rope.  Have I mentioned that I was impressed?

Then we went into the palace.  After having seen two palaces in Seoul back in September, they kind of all look the same to me.  Lots of space outside with small buildings here and there that you can peek into through the windows but not enter:


Then we walked across a parking lot to have lunch nearby.  I spotted another interesting mural on the way:


It reminded me that I really need to re-watch E.T.!  I haven't seen it since I was young, and memories are fuzzy (but do include M&Ms and people wearing white dust suits walking through tubes of plastic).

Back to lunch.  It was delicious!  A typical Korean meal with numerous side dishes that everyone eats from directly with their chopsticks:


And then it was back to the bus.  Next stop: Yongju Temple!
• • •

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 11/28/13

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 28.]

[Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13 - read why here.  I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!]

Would you look at that, Thanksgiving coincides with Thankful Thursday!  How fitting.  I'm just going to get right to it:
  • I'm thankful for all of the people in my life: family, friends, and coworkers - in all corners of the world!
  • I'm thankful for my job.  I feel really lucky to have been placed in this rural town in South Korea.  Sure, I seem to have a heavier workload than most of my TTG peers, but I am so happy with my co-teachers and students -- so I don't mind working hard for them!
  • I'm thankful to have the opportunity to teach abroad. Having English for a native language is a huge advantage these days, and  I'm well aware that I did nothing to deserve it.  So I am grateful for the ability and the many doors that it has opened.
  • I'm thankful that I have enough food to eat each day, a warm bed to sleep in at night, and the freedom to choose how to spend my time each day.
  • I'm thankful that my country allows its people to leave and travel to other parts of the world.  I'm also grateful that I have access to the internet and all of its information.
  • I'm thankful that I have clean, affordable bottled water that I can purchase just blocks away from my house.
Before signing off, I want to share with you this gratitude post by Kirke from Kirke in Detroit.  As a reader of his blog, I am continually inspired by Kirke's selfless attitude and giving spirit.  I urge you to take two minutes and give it a read!    

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
• • •

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Meeting with King Jeongjo: Part 2 - The Suwon Hwaseong Museum

After picking us up at a meeting point this past Saturday morning, the coach bus dropped us off at the Suwon Hwaseong Museum.

Suwon is a city here in the Gyeonggi-do Province that lies 19 miles south of Seoul.  Hwaseong is the name of the fortress that was built in Suwon in 1794-1796 during King Jeongjo's rule.  The Suwon Hwaseong Fortress was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.

--Suwon Hwaseong Museum-- 

Before we even went inside the museum, our two groups (bus 1 and bus 2) were combined for a group photo.  There was an official banner that was held in front of the first row of people, and many camera men were there to take our picture.  I found it amusing the number of camera people, so I took their picture while they took ours:


Once inside the museum, the two groups were split up again.  Our tour guide was a nice, older Korean man with passable English, but he spoke quite slowly and simply.



For example, when we got to the display below, he told us these were swords - weapons....  

Swords.


I just didn't learn as much as I wanted to from the brief museum visit.

Model of the fortress

But that was okay, because right afterwards we went outside and got to walk around the fortress wall!

--Hwaseong Fortress--

The fortress has a circumference of 5,744 meters.  While walking along the fortress, it was neat to see modern-day Suwon on both sides of the wall.


So how could you tell which side was in the fortress and which side was the outside?

The land against the inner walls had been built up so that the distance from the ground to the top of the wall was never much more than the height of a person.  The outer side of the wall, however, was at least 5 meters from the ground in all locations.


The fortress has several secret gates that are hard to see from the outside, but look like normal doors from inside the fortress.  We got to see the North Secret Gate, Bukammun:

North Secret Gate - Hwaseong Fortress
(Looking out from inside the fortress)

Right next to the North Secret Gate was a "tower" that we went in; I believe it was Dongbuk Gananu.  From the inner side of the fortress, it was only five or six steps up.  We had to take off our shoes before going up, but the views of the Yongyeon pond below were well worth it!


That Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous sunny day for late November, making the time spent walking along the fortress wall very enjoyable.

Up next on the Meeting with King Jeongjo itinerary: Lunch and travel to Yongju Temple.

IF YOU GO...

What: Suwon Hwaseong Museum
Where: 21 Changryong Boulevard Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
Buses: About a million local buses have a stop in front of the museum. They are listed here.
Metro: Suwon Station (Line 1)
Hours: 9:00 - 18:00 (Entry by 17:00 only) The museum is closed on Mondays!
Price: Adults - W2,000
• • •

First snow sighting

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 27. ]

When I left my apartment this morning, my eyes had a lovely surprise:

I still seem to always get my finger in photos when I use my iPhone! Sorry!
This is just outside my apartment building.

This is on my walk to school

Again, on my way to school

My new office at school was much warmer today with the heat on, and a space heater.  My feet were still quite cold though, now that the space heater is propped up on a table instead of on the floor.  So I need to get a pair of warm slippers and some more thick socks...

Badminton was cancelled today because the roads were quite icy this afternoon.  It had snowed some more during the afternoon, but the snow didn't accumulate -- most melted/froze on the roads, hence the bad driving conditions.

And tonight I've spent a larger portion of my evening looking at flights... and I bought one to Bangkok, Thailand in January!  Booked a hostel too!  Ah, I cannot wait for winter break.  Yes, I'll be at school every day, (with no students to teach when the 2-week camp isn't in session), but I won't have constant pressures of lesson planning!

But until then, there's more planning to be done.
• • •

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New office at school

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 26. ]

I may have mentioned a month or two ago that my co-teacher suggested we move our offices during the winter to hopefully stay warmer.  Our two desks have been in the English classroom, separated by some bookshelves.  Since the English room is so large, it would be even colder for us during the next few winter months.

My desk in the English room (black chair, second from the far wall)

She told me that there was an empty office down the hall that we might be able to use.  She was going to check with the vice principal, who in turn would ask the principal.  That was over a month ago, when it was considerably warmer out.  Since then, it has gotten colder and I hadn't heard anything about the move (which was okay -- I'm fine wherever!).

Then last week my co-teacher told me that the vice principal said it was okay to move, she just had to double check with the principal.  And then yesterday afternoon while I taught my two-period special class, my co-teacher did some hard core cleaning in this new office space.  I think it had been used as storage before, so there was lots of stuff and boxes and dust.  She moved around the furniture and really cleaned it up!  I wish I had a before picture to show.

Then this morning, she said some maintenance men would help us move our desks and computers after lunch.  Wow -- this was happening fast!  So after lunch we unplugged all of our cords (we have so many cords!) and moved our desks and books into this office down the hall.

Two of the outside walls are actually all windows, so it felt a lot colder in this room than in the English room.  I guess there's a heater/AC unit on the wall, and my co-teacher said tomorrow we'll turn it on and try it out.  I hope it works!  The third wall that faces the hallway is also all windows!  Our desks are against that window wall, which is the side with the door.

So here is my new office space:



And this is how far we are from the English classroom now (the photo on the left is taken from our new office door, looking at the English classroom):


I'm sure I'll forget to bring things from the office to class now and then, because before I only had to walk around the bookshelves to get at my stuff.  But in a few days I'll get used to the new location and set-up.

And to close, I wanted to share with you a terrible find that I came across on youtube this afternoon while I was looking for a good video of How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? to show my 4th graders on Thursday.  Warning: It may make your musical ears bleed.  I just can't see how (or why) this was ever created:

• • •

Monday, November 25, 2013

2013 Korean Christmas stamps

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 25. ]

I went to bed really early last night, a little after 8pm, and still got up around my normal 7:30am today!

At school my co-teacher showed me a picture of some Korean stamps in a document that had been sent out by someone on the school's messenger program.  She said every year around this time, special Christmas stamps are sold in Korea.  The money goes towards the prevention/treatment of tuberculosis.

She explained to me what the picture was in each stamp.  I also understood from her that since this year is the 60th anniversary of these stamps, all of the pictures were past stamps.  The original year is written on each of the stamps in this set.
Very neat, especially since I'm a snail mailer.  My co-teacher said these stamps were cheap too, only W 3,000 (less than $3 USD) for all 10.  So if I want a set, let her know and she'll get them from the nurse's office.  Oh wait, what? We have those here in school??  Ah, okay, so that's what the message must have been about.

I said sure, I would buy a set. And no sooner than one period later, I have my own set of these stamps in my hands (pictured above)!  I actually got them for myself as a Korean keepsake, not to use on letters.  It's not the right amount of postage for sending things overseas in the first place, and I'd just rather keep these colorful Korean stamps all to myself.  (Fun fact: These stamps must be glued on.  Well, I'm not sure if you can lick them too or not, but the main point is that they're not like stickers.)

I'm so thankful that my co-teacher takes the time to tell me about these small school happenings.  The messages and documents are always written in Korean (obviously), so if no one tells me the news/event, I don't know about it.  Thanks to her, I now have a very fitting memento of my Korean year!
• • •

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Too tired to write

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 24.]

I woke up at 3am today as part of the temple stay on my Meeting with King Jeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty trip, put on by Korean Culture and Information Service.

Our trip ended around 3:30pm, and I didn't get home until 6:45pm.  Hence, I'm exhausted.  My feet hurt and my legs are sore from all of the bowing.  I need to shower, eat, and go to bed.  I'll upload photos and write detailed posts this week.

But for now, good night!
• • •

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Meeting with King Jeongjo: Part 1 - Getting there

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 23.  Our phones were locked up during the temple stay this weekend, so yes I'm backdating.]

If you missed yesterday's post, I received a last-minute invitation by the Korean Culture and Information Service to attend a trip this weekend called Meeting with King Jeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty.  The itinerary includes a visit to the Suwon Hwaseong Museum, the Hwaseong Fortress, a temple stay at Yongju Temple, and a visit to Yungneung & Geolleung (tombs).

I successfully woke up to my alarm early this morning, got dressed, ate a small breakfast, finished packing my backpack and was out the door by 6:45am.  It was incredibly foggy out when I left my apartment:


It was kind of neat to be up when most others weren't, but there were still some cars and buses driving around, and others waiting at the bus stop.


I wasn't sure what my stop would look like, since I'd never taken this particular bus as far as I needed to go, but using my good instincts (and double checking by asking a nearby passenger), I got off at the right stop.  After that it was one stop on the train to our designated meeting place.

I bought a breakfast sandwich (ham and egg) from a bread shop in the metro, since I was ahead of schedule.  Second breakfast?  Why not -- it was going to be a long day.  When I got to our meeting place I saw three other foreigners (non-Koreans) waiting around.  I joined them, yes they were going on the same trip as me.

A few minutes later, I noticed a table being set up with this banner posted behind it.

Meeting with King Jeongjo of the Joseon period

There were name tags on the table and a man sitting behind it, but he hadn't said anything to us.  So a bit later I walked over to the table and found my name tag, then told the man who I was so that he could check me off of a list.

A few more minutes pass, and then a different man gave us each a Paris Baguette bag but he didn't say anything to us.  I peeked inside: there was a CapriSun orange juice, a ziplock bag of candy, and a sandwich from Paris Baguette:


We wondered aloud if this was supposed to be our lunch or breakfast.  It looked like it could have been a lunch, but they should have told us if that was the purpose.  I was leaning towards it being a breakfast.  Some of the guys correctly assumed it was breakfast and started eating their sandwiches while we waited.  I then wished I hadn't had my second breakfast, as I did not want this sandwich to go to waste! But I had just finished eating the breakfast sandwich...

More of us were there waiting in a clump.  All of a sudden some lady came over and motioned for us to follow her.  I looked ahead and saw a coach bus pulled over on the side of the street.  We got on and sat down; the bus was already half full of people who must have gotten picked up at the first designated pick-up location (in Seoul).

Looking back, it's kind of strange that there was no real introduction or trip orientation when we got on the bus.  I'm not familiar with the organization that put on this trip (Korean Culture and Information Service), nor do I know the names of any of the staff.  We just got on the bus and we were off.  They passed out two information booklets with a long detailed history about some of the places we would be visiting.  Then they put a DVD in and told us to watch this short history film while we drove to our first stop: the Suwon Hwaseong Museum.


• • •

Friday, November 22, 2013

Last minute weekend plans

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 22.]

A few weeks ago on a Wednesday or Thursday my fellow TTG friends posted in our facebook group about some cultural outing in Suwon on November 23-24, asking who had applied. I had no idea what they were talking about, and figured it must just be something from their areas and not mine. The following Monday one of my co-teachers sent me a message with information about this cultural outing. It was a free weekend-long event for native English teachers, put on by the Korean Culture and Information Service of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.  Only the first 50 applicants could go.

I sent in an application right when I received the information, even though the schedule consisted of waking up at 3am on Sunday morning of the temple stay for a bell ringing, followed by other meditation activities and a second full day of activities.  I would see and learn things that I wouldn't experience on my own during a regular weekend, and I would be able to meet other English teachers in the region.

I received an email reply soon after saying that there were no more spots on the trip (I'm assuming because everyone else got the information from their schools the week before).  I was on the waiting list though.

Fast forward three weeks to yesterday.  I'm almost to Friday, and very much looking forward to sleeping in on Saturday.  I'll have some G+ Hangouts or calls with people that morning, since I was gone in Seoul all last weekend.  Then it'll be off to Korean class, dinner with TTG friends, and home.  I'll have Sunday morning for another possible call or Hangout, then all day Sunday to finish winter camp planning, clean my apartment, read, study Korean, and all that good Sunday stuff.

So after first period yesterday I received a text in English: "About youngju temple and sightseeing Suwon Hwaseong this weekend, we sent you the email, please check and reply to me your decision. Thanks."

Checked my email -- a spot had opened up for the trip that was... wait, this weekend! In two days.  I had really been looking forward to getting caught up on lesson plans, while also having some time to relax this weekend.  But, sometimes you must say yes!  I'll finish my winter camps this weekend somehow, and I'll be glad I went on the trip.  I can relax next weekend.  So after second period I wrote a response and said I would go.

I'm finding out that it will take me over 2 hours to get to the meeting place tomorrow morning, and that's if I get off the bus at the right stop, etc.  I should leave my house by 6:45 at the latest (During the week I wake up at 7:30), so hopefully I can fall asleep earlier than normal tonight.

If I wake up to my alarm and get to where I'm supposed to be tomorrow, there should be interesting things to read about come Monday!  Have a good weekend everyone!
• • •

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 11/21/13

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 21.]

[Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13 - read why here.  I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!]

Tonight I met with my new Korean language exchange partner Woo-Seok for the second time. (I don't think I've written about this yet on the blog.  I was in the post office one day after school back in September and he said hello, obviously interested in the fact that I was a native English teacher.  We're rare in this small town.  He gave me his number, but I didn't get a phone until October.  It wasn't until two weeks ago - yes, in November - that I decided it would be good to finally start making Korean friends, so I texted.)

It was a dinner meet-up again, during which he said he had thought about the language exchange during the past week and thought it should have more structure. He thought that he should spend a half hour teaching me Korean, and I would spend a half hour teaching him English (well he already knows and speaks English. So it would be more like conversing). An hour a week I can do! I like structure. Then he said he actually had bought a book to use for teaching me Korean - a gift.

So after dinner we went to his business just down the road for the study hour. His employees (five) work until 7 p.m. every day, so they were still there getting ready to leave when we got there. He has never taught Korean before, so he doesn't exactly slow down when speaking or realize how many times I actually need to hear and repeat something (in Korean, not the English translation!) to know it.  But I'm sure we'll both learn over time how to best teach the other.  He wants me to bring a news article in English next week for his half hour.

I believe there is much good in the new exchange! I am thankful I now know a Korean other than teachers and students from school, and that this native Korean is helping me learn the language while inadvertently teaching me about Korean culture too.  I'm most thankful that Woo-Seok said hello to me in the post office my first week in the country way back in September!

We may not realize it, but Americans are fairly outgoing with strangers. We start conversations with people at bus stops or out in public, we smile at people when walking past on the sidewalks -- it's not a big deal that you've never met the person.  In Korea, this isn't the case.  Cultural/social norms are different here in the Eastern world, so that's why it's extra rare that a Korean would just start making conversation with a stranger in the middle of the afternoon.
• • •

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Open class with parents: Check

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 20.]

I am quite relieved this evening, now that my open Special Class is done with.  I will be even more relieved once I finish planning my winter camps, but for now, this is a welcome weight off my shoulders.

Yesterday my co-teacher told me that at the last open Special Class in the summer, about ten parents came to watch.  This made Reca a bit more nervous.

Fast forward to today.  Some students come into the English room every day after lunch to clean (the students in Korea clean the school).  Today they cleaned extra well for the open class.  My co-teacher helped them, and my other co-teacher came in and was dusting some shelves in the room.  When they were finished the room was in tip top shape, there were chairs set up in the back of the room for parents, and two desks pushed to make a check-in table by the door.

I saw on this check-in table photocopies of the lesson plan I had sent my co-teacher earlier last week.  Had I known it would be used for that purpose, I might have written it a little bit differently, but that's okay.

So basically the classroom is all official-looking now.  Oh! And there was heat blowing out from the ceiling!  I guess there is heat after all, it's just never turned on.  But this was a special occasion I guess.

This Special Class normally goes from 2:40 to 4:20.  Since last week my co-teacher had been saying this open class would go from 3:00-3:40, a normal 40 minute lesson.  So that's what I planned for.  The students got to the classroom around 2:40 as they usually do, and just hung out for 20 minutes while we waited for parents to arrive.

When it got closer to 3:00, my co-teacher talked with the students for a bit in Korean.  She told me that she told the kids class would be done early today, maybe around 4:00.  So I figured this meant I would teach my lesson until 3:40, and then we would do a little something until 4.

Then it was 3:00 and still no parents had come.  A fourth grade teacher who leads English club came into the room and sat at the back to watch.  I wondered why he was there, then thought maybe they invite other teachers to watch, too.  Then my co-teacher nodded at me and said you can start.  Really?  Okay, so I started the class with just my co-teacher and this fourth grade teacher there.

All of a sudden my other co-teacher (with whom I share an office in the English room) comes out and both co-teachers begin to snap photos or record video of me with their phones -- I'm not sure which.  It was distracting but I tried to ignore it; I was confused as to what was going on, and I felt like a zoo animal on display.  They were only doing that for a few minutes, but to have people walking around in back watching me was a little uncomfortable.

Over fifteen minutes into the lesson a father arrived and sat down to watch.  A bit later a mother came in.  The students behaved differently with the extra mini audience.  Yes, they behaved notably better than when they're alone with me, but some didn't participate as much as they normally do.  The last ten minutes of class was supposed to be a hot seat game.  One student sits in the "hot seat" underneath the TV so they can't see it.  You show something on the screen and the rest of the class needs to describe it to the student in the hot seat.  So it started well, except that only two students wanted to be in the hot seat.  We've played this game once before in October, and everyone wanted to be in the hot seat -- but not today.  So after the first two students went, nobody volunteered.  So I went and sat in it, and had the students describe it to me (even though I made the game... haha).  And at that point, it was a few minutes past 3:40, so I just decided to wrap it up and end the class.

Except it was awkward because the students were all surprised: really? we're done?  Umm well, the open class portion is done, yes.  So everybody put on their coats and grabbed their backpacks and left.  And then I wondered if I was supposed to have kept class going until 4, but whatever.

I didn't really get to meet the parents afterwards.  The two that came (there could possibly have been three, but I only remember two leaving after class) bowed at me when they left.  I think they might have filled out an evaluation form or something.

And then just like that it was over.

I didn't totally understand all that had just happened -- Did they bring in the fourth grade teacher last minute so that I would have some type of audience at the beginning of class?  Will I ever see evaluation remarks? -- but I was so relieved it was over with.

[Update 2/20/14: I never did receive any sort of feedback or evaluation from this open class.]
• • •

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The unpredictability of teaching daycare EFL classes

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 19.]

Happy birthday grandma!

With my two groups of after school "daycare" classes I have every Tuesday and Friday, I never know how the kids will respond to an activity, song, or game.  Will it grab their attention? Will they enjoy it and participate?  Or will they ignore me and talk to their neighbor while taking all the papers out of their desk, ripping them up, and throwing them on the floor as they so often do?

Sometimes I read about ideas online and get excited, but then it's a total disaster in class. Take for example, last week's "tower flashcards" activity that I read about on Matt's Dream English site.  I thought it would be a perfect, engaging way to review the family member names we had learned earlier in the week -- and I had big flashcards for the words and cups in class!

If you don't want to click the link, basically you just need 5-6 big flashcards and paper cups.  You hold up a flashcard and call on a student to say the word. If they say it correctly, you hand them the flashcard (saying "Here you are"), they say "thank you", and they come to the front and put the flashcard on top of a flipped over paper cup.  Then you put another paper cup on top of the card they just put down and hold up a second flash card for students to identify.  You end up with a tower of flashcards that alternate: flashcard, cup, flashcard, cup, etc.

Here's what happened with my first class of the younger ones: As soon as the first student put the flashcard on the first cup, 6 students were out of their seats and up by the tower.  One had grabbed the stack of cups that I'd absentmindedly left on the desk, and started to build the tower (They will grab anything that you leave within reach).  I may have gotten a few of the kids to sit back down, but as the tower grew, they were harder to control.

Rather than raise their hand and wait to be called on, the students would run up to the front by the tower and say "me, me!".  And then, inevitably, one boy knocked down the whole thing before we were finished, creating utter chaos.  I was trying to pick up the cups and the flashcards, but the other kids near me snatched up what they could too. Everyone was talking loudly in Korean. There was no order.  Flashcard tower fail.

Although I thought the flashcard tower would be a hit, I was proved wrong -- so I probably won't repeat it with these two classes.  But sometimes the kids' reaction to an activity even varies from the first class to the second class.  (The first class is kindergarten or first grade I think, and the second group is a year older with a couple of third graders in the mix as well).  Today was a perfect example of this.

I'm starting to teach them animals, so I thought we could do "Two little birdies" (aka two little dicky birds) to use up five minutes of time.  It would require no materials or set up, since the kids just use their hands to be the birds.  Normally I'm standing in front of the classroom, but for this activity I pulled out a chair and sat up in front, so I was at their eye level.

I was a bit worried about how the first class would respond, after last week's flashcard tower fail (and their usual behavior in general).  I was so surprised at the outcome.  It was the least talking any of them have done while I was talking!  They were looking at me and trying to copy what my hands were doing.  Even though we did it 3 - 4 times, they stayed focused during the whole activity.  If you had been here, I bet you could have seen the shock on my face - really.  A surprise success!

So I was feeling good during the 10 minute break between classes, thinking the second class would go just as well.  But the second group proved to be a night and day difference when we got to this activity.  Only two students of the twelve would even hold their hands out like I was.  One girl had her back turned to me the whole time, talking to her friend.  They just were not having it.  So I moved on to the next activity a little earlier and learned.

I only have two and a half months of experience with these two groups, so I can't say for certain, but I don't think there actually is any recipe or set lesson that will always work.  Sometimes they love a song and I've captured their attention for the next foreseeable five minutes, and other times I am no more interesting to them than the scrap of paper inside their desk.

But through trial and error, I am learning.  I test things out, take note of what works and what doesn't, and improve on it for the next class.  We'll see if the first group pays just as much attention on Friday when we review "Two little birds"... you never know!
• • •

Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekend in Hongdae: Shopping, lantern festival, and birthday celebrations

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 18.]

Korean class was cancelled this past Saturday, so I did some shopping in Seoul that afternoon instead.  I don't like shopping much and I don't like spending money, but I needed some warmer things since it's so cold in the English room at school every day.  And the weather is only going to get colder.

So I was really proud of the fact that I made several frugal purchases that afternoon: Two sets of black leggings with fuzzy insides (which I will wear under my pants every day until springtime); two long-sleeved plain shirts to wear under sweaters (one's black, one's grey); a long, thick, fuzzy scarf; another pair of thicker socks; a sweater; arm warmers (with thumb holes); and a winter coat with a hood (for $10! -- I should post a picture).  I got the coat at the Seocho flea market that I first went to a month ago, and I'm so pleased with it.  I'm saving it for colder days to come...

It's a TTG friend's birthday today, so she had a whole weekend of birthday activities.  She booked a hostel for six of us to stay in Hongdae on Saturday night.  After my shopping excursion I met up with Anne to walk around the area (I had never been) and later to find our hostel.  Hongdae is a trendy area near Hongik University that's known for its "urban arts and indie music culture, clubs and entertainments," according to Wikipedia.

I had the directions to the hostel on my phone (took a photo of my laptop screen with the directions up), so we used the hostel's terrible map to find it.  They provided an "easy" but longer route from the metro, and a more "difficult" but shorter route, cutting through an ally.  We weren't in any real rush to get to hostel (it was mid-afternoon), so we went for the shorter route.  It was difficult indeed, as our first turn was wrong from the get-go.  I didn't mind that we were getting a scenic tour of Hongdae, because again I think we'd be the first ones to arrive at the hostel and I wanted to see the area.  Then the weight of our backpacks became more noticeable, and another friend was trying to find the hostel as well, so I decided we should go back to the main road and try the "easy" route.

On the way back to the main road, we saw a landmark from the "difficult" route that we hadn't been able to find before!  So we took the turn, walked through a long, twisted ally and back road.  I was sure it was wrong, but we kept walking and surprisingly saw our hostel!  It was a glorious moment.

Anne and I walk up the stairs and ring the doorbell.  The hostel worker answers and asks if we're in Jessica's group.  Um no, no Jessica in our group.  We tell him the name of the reservation as we follow him inside and take off our bags.  He's sure that we must be in Jessica's group.  Nope. I tell him we're in a 6 person private room, and the name on the reservation.  Then I start to worry, did they not receive our reservation and the hostel's all booked up? Would we have to find a new place to sleep tonight?

I don't remember what made it click, perhaps Anne asked, "Are we at the right hostel?" and I realized: Oh no.  While figuring out who would stay in Seoul this weekend via facebook event wall posts, two different hostels were suggested, with links.  When I went to get directions on Saturday morning, I apparently clicked on the hostel that we did not book, and took those directions.  We went to the wrong hostel!

I could only laugh at this point, and laugh I did.  The guy at this hostel was super nice and let us look up directions to our actual hostel (after asking us if we didn't just want to stay there - hah).  The real hostel wasn't any easier to find, perhaps they had worse directions on their site, but the rest of the group was already there and checked in, so they helped us find the way.

We dropped off our backpacks, and then it was off to the Seoul Lantern Festival.  After this weekend I realized I really need to start using my digital camera again -- these iPhone pictures just aren't cutting it:


Then we had dinner reservations in Itaewon, the international neighborhood with many foreigners.  The restaurant had a full menu of burgers, and the menu was completely in English!  So I had my first burger in South Korea.  The servers were great -- they brought the birthday girl a huge piece of carrot cake, and the chef even came out to say hello after we had eaten.


Afterwards we went out to a few nearby bars.  It was really fun to spend the weekend with these friends!
• • •

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Elementary school festival

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 17.]

I would like to post a weekend summary, but I must get to bed now.  I do not feel ready for the week (didn't get much planning done this weekend...) and I'm still dreading Wednesday's open class in my after school "Special Class", so I think it will be a busy week with lots of camp planning in the evenings.  And regular class planning.  Running out of ideas for daycare...

So for now, a brief photo post about this past Friday:

On Friday my school had some sort of carnival.  Parents came to watch music performances and to see their child's work.  Since so many parents came to school, they parked in the field out front where kids normally play and have gym class.  It was strange to see cars parked there, so I took a picture of the sight.



There were displays set up in the hallways earlier in the week, in preparation for Friday.  Take a look:


That's all I've got for now.  Hope everyone had a good weekend -- I'll tell you about mine tomorrow!
• • •

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Elementary games and activities for English class

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 16.]

My co-teacher told me early on to feel free to use any childhood games in my English classes so the kids can have fun while learning, but also be exposed to a new game (from another culture).

Go Fish

So I had my 4th graders play "Go Fish" as one of their activities one day last month, and will use it on Monday with my 6th graders.  Their books have flashcards in the back of the book for each unit, and in these two instances the flashcards and their key expressions happened to work well with "Go Fish".  Instead of asking: "Do you have ~?", they use a key expression from the current lesson to ask for the card.
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Around the World

When I was in elementary school, we often played "Around the World" with math facts.  Everyone sits at their desks.  The game starts on one end of the classroom when two students stand up.  The teacher would hold up a math flashcard and the two students try to say the answer first.  The "loser" would sit down and the "winner" stays standing and advances to the next desk.  That student stands up and the two compete with another flashcard.  It's a fast game.  To win, you must have moved from your original seat, all the way around the classroom (world), back to your seat.  So if you've advanced halfway around the room and you lose, you sit down in the seat where you're standing, you don't walk back to your original seat.  Make sense?

I've used this once in a regular class with 5th graders by showing photos of a lesson's key words on the TV (with powerpoint), and have played the game once with my after school "Special Class".  Although there are only two students who need to say the answer at a time, most students were actually pretty engaged and attentive.
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A What?

A third grade memory I have is sitting in a circle with my class and playing "A what?" game.  The teacher started with an item and passed it to the student on her right, saying: "Adam, this is a pencil." 
Adam: A what?
Teacher: A pencil.
Adam: Oooooh a pencil!

Then Adam takes the pencil and hands it to the student on his right.
Adam: Sarah, this is a pencil.
Sarah: A what?
Adam: (Turns head to the left and asks the teacher) A what?
Teacher: (to Adam) a pencil
Adam: (to Sarah) a pencil
Sarah: Oooooh, a pencil!

It's an easy dialogue, so it turns into an almost rhythmic feel as the string of students gets longer (A what? A what? A what? A what?).  When the pencil got a certain distance around the circle, my teacher would start a second object going around the left side of the circle.  It was easy until the two criss crossed, then things got a bit interesting.  I'm not sure what the purpose of the activity was, if not just to fill time.  Regardless, I remembered it all these years later, and tried it with my Special Class when I had a day of Halloween games/activities.

I passed around "a witch" and "a mummy".  It was something new, so they stayed engaged and caught on to the dialogue.  It was good because everyone had to do some speaking.  They laughed a lot, especially when the two items criss-crossed.  They struggled at that point, but eventually both of the items got back to me.

I'm putting this one in my back pocket for now, but if I could think of other phrases to use for the dialogue, I think it could be a good activity with that group again.
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While hunting for good activities/games to use in my winter camps (any suggestions whatsoever, please leave a comment!), I jogged my memory and tried to think of any other game or activity I had done in elementary school.

Crocodile-Moray

In elementary music class we would often play Crocodile-Moray.  It's a circle game, but I won't get into the details -- you can read those here.  I think this could be a fun activity, but the thing is the words make no sense -- most aren't even in English!  This is how wikipedia says the version from Wisconsin goes:

Crocodile moray, croc croc croc 
Ey cinco cino, cinco cinco soc soc 
Ey cinco cino, malo, malo, malo malo malo! 
One, two, three, four!

This is what I remember singing:
A crocodile moray, croc croc croc
Ey sino sino, sino sino sah
Ey sino sino blow, blow, blow, blow, blow
Uno dos tres cuatro!

But regardless, would the students really gain anything by learning these silly fake words in the game?  I've been thinking about writing some new words to the tune.  Anyone want to lend me a creative hand?  I would be eternally grateful.
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Then somehow I got to a camps website with different cheers and chants.  I knew the words to most, even though I had no recollection of learning the song, and no memory of where I sang it.  For example, do you know the "I said a boom chicka boom" chant?

I said a boom chicka boom

I knew all of the words, but like I said, I'm not sure how!  I do think I could actually use this one day during camp to fill some time.  They would be speaking in English and making English sounds, and doing it in different styles would (hopefully) be fun for them.  Here's a video if you don't know the chant:

 
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Then I stumbled upon some weird chants that I knew the words to, and could not help but wonder: Who the heck wrote these chants in the first place, and how did they become so well known?  Take "Grey Squirrel" for example.  Here are the words:

Grey squirrel, grey squirrel, shake your bushy tail.
Grey squirrel, grey squirrel, shake your bushy tail.
Take a peanut from your hand AND SHOVE IT UP YOUR NOSE!

What?!!  Ah, I can't use that in class!  Why is this a thing? And why on earth do I know it?

Another one I came across was "Funky Chicken".  Again, I knew the words and I didn't really understand its purpose.



I actually might be able to use Funky Chicken one with my Daycare kids if they could learn "What's that you say?", because I think it would be fun for them to move around and act things out.  I don't know if they would understand what we were doing though, because I could see them just trying to repeat what I said instead of saying something else.  I also see them just speaking in Korean and taking all the papers out of their desks, ripping them up and throwing them on the floor as they normally do during my class.  I could use it with the older kids in a winter camp, as well.

Comments, please

And with that, now I'd really like to hear from you.  Did you play any of these games when you were younger, or know any of the chants?

Would you like to write some alternate words to "Crocodile Moray"?  (Pretty please?)

Do you have any ideas for me: games, activities, chants, songs, pointless call and response things?

What did you play in school when you were a child?  Whatever it is, I can probably tweak the rules/words so that it can be used in English class or in a camp.  (Keep in mind, I've heard English camps here are less about learning lots of English and more about having fun in English, so that's why I first started looking into these childhood chants and cheers).

UPDATE 11/18/13: My co-teacher said today that the kids love it when they make something in the camps.  So art projects and such are fair game!  I guess one day during this past summer camp they had to use straws and other materials to protect an egg, then had an egg drop.

Update 2014: Here are the two camps I ended up creating during the year:

• • •

Friday, November 15, 2013

Korean school lunches

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 15.]

As I wrote on Monday, soon after I started working here in rural South Korea I thought it would be fun to take pictures of my school lunch some week.  I didn't want to carry around my digital camera, so subconsciously I decided to wait until I had a cell phone.  This happened in October, but since it's a Korean phone, I cannot turn off or mute the shutter sound when I take a picture.  It's a loud attention-grabbing sound!  I was not looking forward to this kind of attention nor needing to explain why I was photographing my lunch five days in a row, so I didn't make it a top priority.  Plus, I had 47 more weeks -- there was no rush.

Then last week Sally, an EFL teacher here in South Korea who blogs at A Breath of Foreign Air, posted an iPhone Photoessay: A Week of School Lunches.  Some encouragement from her in the comments and on twitter had me tweeting a photo of my lunch every day this week.  Below I will share all five pictures.  I don't know the proper names of everything, so my descriptions/guesses will have to do.  Do know that it all smells and tastes amazing!

MONDAY


Top left: Radish kimchi
Top middle: Rice cakes with meat (This is a favorite side dish of mine; reminds me of goulash)
Top right: Cucumber kimchi
Rice: As pictured
Soup: Beef and seaweed -- soo good
Fruit/dessert: Pineapple


TUESDAY

Top left: Kimchi
Top middle: Seasoned, cooked leaves (of some sort).  You pick one up with your chopsticks (the leaves are thin), put it by the rice, pick up some meat, put in in the leaf and wrap it up, bring the wrap to your mouth and eat.
Top right: Delicious meat (beef?).  Warm, juicy, seasoned pile of amazing goodness.
Rice: As pictured
Soup: Tofu and... I can't remember what else was in this one!
Fruit/dessert: Clementines


WEDNESDAY

Note: This is the first day in two and a half months that there was no kimchi on our trays!  The top right is cabbage of some sort, but I don't think it was fermented, and it definitely had no seasoning.
Top left: Apple pastries -- these were warm and heavenly!
Top middle: Chili pepper paste for the bibimbap
Top right: Cabbage
Rice: Bibimbap - A common Korean dish is bibimbap.  It's a mix of vegetables, meat, and rice.  You spoon in some chili pepper paste and mix it all together.  Photo was taken pre-mix, so the white rice is covering up all the vegetables and meat.  Really yummy.
Soup: That's egg in there.  Hot and delicious!
Fruit/dessert: Fruit yogurt drink


THURSDAY

Top left: Kimchi
Top middle: I don't know what this is.  I tell myself it's eggplant when I eat it, but part of me is afraid it's some type of mushroom.  Any ideas? The picture's not the greatest, I know.  Sorry!
Top right: Kind of like a pot roast - lots of meat and a few potatoes. Yum.
Rice: As pictured
Soup: Rice noodles.  Again, hot and delicious
Fruit/dessert: Kiwi (three halves)


FRIDAY


Top left: Kimchi
Top middle: Egg with various things inside.  I've had this at least once before and I like it.  It's way easy to break up with chopsticks, it slides down easily, it's hot, and tastes good.
Top right: Spicy spaghetti noodles with various vegetables. That's not spaghetti sauce -- it has a distinct flavor and was served cold.
Rice: As pictured
Soup: Lobster and shrimp inside
Fruit/dessert: Those three balls were the dessert.  I don't know what they're called, and I don't know what the filling was made of.  I'm no Korean food expert!


Utensils

You'll see a spoon and chopsticks in each picture.  We use the spoon for the soup, and the chopsticks for everything else.  Every now and then there are a few side dishes where it's okay to use the spoon (we ate the bibimbap on Wednesday with our spoons, we eat kiwi with spoons), but usually it's chopsticks.  I'm comfortable now using them with most foods (BBQ chicken is still somewhat difficult though), and I eat with them at home too.  It's fun!

Okay, writing this post has already got me craving lunch on Monday...
• • •

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 11/14/13

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 14.]


[Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13 - read why here.  I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!]

I'm really thankful for my co-teachers.  As it was when I taught English in Spain, your experience greatly depends on who your co-teachers are.  I lucked out this year, thank goodness, and have really kind, bright, and helpful co-teachers.  I'm learning a lot from them in the classroom, and they also take the time to teach me about Korean foods, holidays, customs, etc. when such moments arise.
• • •

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How many continents are there?

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 12.]

Yesterday in my "Special English Class" we did a lesson about the continents and oceans.  These students have a textbook called "The American Textbook," which presents a variety of topics (science, social studies, arts, music) as they would be found in a U.S. textbook or class.

After the kids opened their books to the lesson's page, a girl's hand shot straight up in the air before we could even start the reading: "Um, but teacher, it says here that there are seven continents.  That's wrong."  She and her friend started arguing talking, trying to name them all and count them in Korean, and then in English.  I interrupted and said, "Yes, we'll talk about it," because this wasn't the first time I'd been told that there were not seven continents.

Depending on your background and life experiences, you may be wondering how there could be any debate whatsoever between the number of continents.

It was during my first year living in Spain that I was first accused of being wrong when I said there were seven continents on Earth.  I quickly learned that in Spain (and other Spanish-speaking countries, it turns out), they are taught that there are six continents.  They do not distinguish between North and South America; rather, the continent is "America".

That explained why South Americans would say "Soy americano" (I'm American), and why some would be bothered when U.S. Americans would call the United States "America" for short - as if we were claiming the whole continent!

Spanish world map with 6 continents
Source 

So yesterday these two Korean girls told me that they have both North and South America as continents, but not Australia.  So Australia must be lumped in with Asia then?  I'm meeting with a Korean on Thursday for a language exchange -- hopefully I remember to ask about this and can update here later in the week.

There are other ways to divide the continents, too.  Some models have "Oceania" instead of "Australia", which encompasses Australia and some surrounding island countries.  Other models just completely ignore Antarctica.  And some models use "Eurasia", combining Europe and Asia.  At least that model avoids needing to decide if Russia is a part of Europe or Asia.

What continents were you taught in school? Where are you from?
• • •

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pepero Day, teaching Spanish, and foreign English teacher budget cuts

[As a part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I'm posting here once a day during November.  Today is Day 11.]

I feel like there's so much to write about today!  I've got to make a list before I forget something:

  • Pepero Day
  • Photographing my Korean school lunches
  • Teaching Spanish to my 6th graders
  • Planning English winter camps
  • Upcoming open classes
  • Budget cuts for foreign English teachers in Gyeonggi-do

Here we go, I'm ready now.  Firstly, happy birthday Cathleen!  Also, thank you veterans!  And here in Korea, Happy Pepero Day!

Pepero Day

Pepero what?!  Remember that Korean convenience store snack I wrote about a few weeks back, essentially a cookie stick dipped in chocolate?


These are 빼빼로, which when romanized, is Pepero.  I found out today at school that November 11 is unofficially "Pepero Day" in Korea.  What could have only been a move to increase sales, the company began Pepero Day some 15-20 years ago on 11/11 because the sticks somewhat resemble the number 1.  Creative, eh?

11/11: Pepero Day in Korea
Source: seongyosa.wordpress.com

You are supposed to buy boxes of Peperos (or make homemade sticks) and give them to your friends or significant other - almost like valentines.  (Note: I found out that's why there was a cute postcard on the back of my Pepero box, so you can write the name of the recipient and a message).

My co-teacher (and many other Koreans, I'm assuming) don't like the holiday.  For poorer kids who can't afford Peperos, or kids without many friends, it's an unpleasant day to see other people receiving many boxes of Peperos.  They feel bad or un-liked, and there's no reason to bring that feeling upon young students when it can be avoided by not celebrating the day.

Regardless, I hadn't received any until my special class in the afternoon.  Before class started, a boy opened a package and was handing out single Pepero sticks to classmates and to me.  Then a girl gave me an entire box of Peperos!  And after class when students were leaving, another girl gave me a whole box of Peperos.  Here's what I took home:


Photographing my Korean school lunches

Since I moved to South Korea, the idea of taking a photo of my lunch every day during a week has been floating around in my head.  I thought it would be interesting for folks back home, and a nice memory for me to have in the future.

Sally at A Breath of Foreign Air posted yesterday a photoessay of... you guessed it - a week of Korean school lunches!  So that motivated me to make this week my school lunch photo week, and I'm tweeting them (#KoreanSchoolLunches if you want to join or follow along) thanks to Sally's suggestion.  No worries if you're not a tweeter -- I'll post all the photos on Friday, so now you have that to look forward to at the end of this week.

Teaching Spanish to my 6th graders

My sixth graders started a new unit today called "How do you say it in Korean?"  It's kind of a weird unit, but useful for them to learn that expression.  I'll learn many Korean words during the unit, as they get to teach me, which I'm excited about.  We used the last five minutes of class today for students to ask me "How do you say ~ in Spanish?", since I speak Spanish.

I have not spoken Spanish in a while, and it's very different to have a conversation with someone (which I'm very comfortable doing), versus having students ask you words and you have no idea what they'll ask.  But it was really fun!

They almost stumped me with "chalk".  I knew that I knew the word, but for a second my mind was blank.  Then it came to me another second later.  Other words that students asked: clock, desk, computer, notebook, soccer, dog, university, school, teacher, piano (we have one in the classroom)

I did not know "pencil case", so I made something up which was totally wrong... but they'll never know.  I looked it up between classes in case the next class asked me that one.  It's estuche.

One boy asked how to say "Russian roulette" in Spanish.  I just told him "I don't know".  I figured it was probably a cognate (it is, it's ruleta rusa), but I didn't want to make up any more fake words!

They think Spanish is hard because the words seemed difficult to pronounce, but I just think it's because I have the Spanish Castilian accent, and the "th" sound isn't the easiest for Koreans in the first place.  Nor "r"s.  

We ended the class with "adios"!  Oh Spanish, I miss you!

Planning English winter camps

I found out the dates of my 2-week winter camps this winter: January 6 - 17.  In our contracts, we teach 20 hours a week for two weeks during winter and summer breaks.  The other days of winter/summer breaks we sit at school for 8 hours a day without any classes.  You have 20 vacation days to use during the whole year, so I'll probably use 10 during winter and 10 during summer to go somewhere.

The winter camps will be for two groups: 3rd and 4th graders, and 5th and 6th graders.  I can decide if I want a week of 3rd + 4th grade for 4 hours a day, followed by a week of 5th and 6th grade or two hours of 3rd + 4th, followed by two hours of 5th and 6th for two weeks.  I can't decide which will be better for planning/teaching.  Any advice?

Then I need to pick a theme and start planning all those class hours!  The classes should be fun and interactive, and there's a budget for materials.  My co-teacher says the budget needs to be spent in November, so I really need to get planning now that I know a little more about these camps.

Open classes

I have an open class with 4th grade this Thursday.  It will be video taped, but I'm not sure who will be there to video tape it, or who will watch the class later.  I have this class planned, and I'll have three other fourth grade classes earlier in the day to work out timing and make adjustments with.

I found out today that next Wednesday I have an open class with the special English class that meets after school.  I think this one will be real people watching, but I don't know if it will be parents, the vice principal, other English teachers, or what.  It will only be open for 40 minutes instead of the whole 80 minute class.  I have zero ideas yet, but should plan something by the end of this week / weekend.  It's hard when it's so open ended!

Budget cuts for foreign English teachers in Gyeonggi-do

When I got home today, I read that the Gyeonggi-do Provincial Office of Education has cut its foreign English teacher budget in half for 2014.  (This is the province in which I teach).  This year they hired 1,207 foreign English teachers (native speakers), but next year they will only hire 746.  I'm not sure what this means for UW-Madison's TTG program, but I am sure that I'm glad I made it here before Gyeonggi-do drastically cut its foreign English teacher budget.  (I seem to have good timing, as the same thing happened the year after I taught in Madrid).


Bed time for Reca - - Hope you're all having a Marvelous Monday!
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