Tuesday, 31 May 2011

My typical (JHS) day - 2

Yesterday I got up at 7.40 in the morning. I had break first and I went to the school. After school, I did my homework at 2oclock, and I watched TV at 7oclock. I went to bed at 10.30.
Last Sunday I get up at 7.40 in the morning. I went to school because I played in the brass band. I went home at 1oclock. I talked with my sister. I went shopping with my mother and my sister. I bought my favorite books. I watched TV at 9 o clock.   

Posted for Mizuki

My typical (junior high school) day

Yesterday I got up at 6 o’clock in the morning. I had breakfast and I went to school. I didn’t play volleyball before school, but I played volleyball after school and I went to piano school. I went to home at 9o’clock. I did my homework at 9:30, and I went to bed at 11o’clock. I listened to music by Yuzu, but I didn’t watch TV. I was sleepy yesterday. I talked to my friend a lot.


Friday, 27 May 2011


The Great Wall of China at MutianyuImage via Wikipedia
“The only man made structure which you can see from space.”

I think that the Great Wall of China is an amazing structure .This structure is more than two thousand seven hundred kilometers in length. It was made to protect the Chinese people from the nomadic people. It is made with huge rocks. There are over five thousand seven hundred platforms for lighting signal fires. In 1987 the Great Wall of China was registered as a world heritage. 

I have been to this place about three times and I think it is stunning, you can see the structure all the way to the
next mountain, you can’t see the end of it and the sight is amazingly beautiful. There are lots of tourists.

The only frustrating thing is that the inhabitants are taking the pieces of the wall to make their houses or to sell it to the tourists so the Great Wall is starting to disappear. 

I think that you should go and visit this place.

Posted for Toshiya

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Book review - T School Basketball Club

Bastketball Vicksburg, MSImage via Wikipedia
I found this book deeply inspiring as well as very thought-provoking. And it is truly original.

This story is set in Tokyo. It is about a weak school basketball club which changes by experiencing many hardships. The main character whose name is Youichi used to be in a different school and was in the basketball club, but he got bullied by his team mates because he was a very good player. He was extremely hurt and he stopped playing basketball and went to a different. He meets some people from the basketball club and gets invited to join them. At first, he didn’t want to, but in the end he said “okay”, and they cultivate their friendship in this story.

I have no reservations about this book.

In the story it tells you how fabulous it is to have lots of friends and how important it is to have them. I really recommend this story.

Posted for Toshiya

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

PANSIG people 2011

Plural plenariesColin squeezes one offAMs moving inOUP Michiko setting upPublishers setting upSched checking
PANSIG 2011 this wayHow long will it take?Tim Murphey arrives PANSIGGuess who saw the cameraAMs ready for PANSIGersCo-ordinating the video guys
SIG centralSIGs hereYou are in the right placeOUP Colin & MichikoMust be a good signQueue here pls
Thank youOn the busesSteve Brown is hereStarting ordersI declare this PANSIG openPansig audience on hold

PANSIG people 2011, a set on Flickr.

About 250 teachers from all over the country (and some from further afield) made a pilgrimmage to Matsumoto last weekend (May 21-2) to attend the annual PANSIG Conference, hosted this year by Shinshu JALT. That is a remarkable turn out, made even more remarkable by the fact that the number of Japanese JHS & HS teachers attending could be counted on one hand.

It is obvious that everyone had a very positive experience in Matsumoto as well as at the conference. Of course! It's such a super setting!

The quality of the presentations was uniformly high (apart from mine, perhaps) and big audiences attended the Plenary sessions.

I was delighted to meet a lot of familiar faces, and to make some new friends & acquaintances. I did not get to see as many presentations as I wanted to, concentrating instead on some photography. I realised I need to improve my low light/flash skills.

For everyone involved in organising the event, it was a massive weekend and a great relief that everything seemed to go smoothly. Certainly everyone left looking as cheerful as they had arrived.

In all, a thoroughly rewarding and professional weekend.

Managing a want-out child

 I was worried about this class all week. One of the boys had complete conniption (had to spell check that!) last week and blew my game plan out of the water. Trying to maintain a class and at the same time have an in-building truant to worry about is not easy. Flat refusal to come back to the class (I'd asked him to move because he was disturbing his neighbour, fled the room in gales of tears) but also to go anywhere else, like downstairs to mummy (and therefore get 'busted').

I gave him time to calm down (and me too) and maybe figure he was missing out on a fun activity (he did miss out, and was peeping around the door to see what we were doing). His friends decided to go and get him, but that didn't work either (they were very nice about it, but they gave up in the end and got back to the game).

Eventually it was obvious he wasn't coming back, and I didn't want him to get pointed at when other students came upstairs - nor did I want to set a precedent i.e. bailing out of class is OK. His mum also needed to know what had happened without a big song & dance/in front of his peers, give them a chance to go home a bit early & minimise the crushing embarrassment etc. Loads of wailing...

I made sure mum got the message that I did not need bowing at profusely this week before class. An apology was in order, and I got a quiet one as we trailed the others into class. No big deal - please behave?

Any prizes for guessing who was the star student this week? Funny how it goes like that. Tested the limits, found the breaking strain and didn't enjoy the result. So, maybe now we can stay in bounds and lead the class rather than trip it up.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A peep inside Japanese fridges

Whose fridge is this?
Toru says: In my fridge there are some tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, oranges. There is some milk, yoghurt, pudding.

There isn't any beer, pizza. There aren't any french fries, hamburger(s).

Takuro says: There is a left-over curry. There are some eggs, tomatoes. There is some Pepsi, aquarius, mayonnaise, beer, balsamico, ginger, wasabi.

There aren't any hamburgers, cereals, noodles, bananas. There isn't any cola.

My house - description 3

My house is in Matsumoto. It's a detached house. On the first floor are seven rooms. Upstairs are four bedrooms and a toilet. There isn't a garage. There is a quiet street. There is a flower garden and a lawn. I love my room and living room.

Posted for A.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Twinkle Twinkle little Space Shuttle

The second last flight of the Space Shuttle is now in orbit. Where is it? Can I see it? Yes, and almost your last to chance to ever see one in orbit. Wake your kids up and show them!

You bet you can see it, best chance on May 25th at about 3.45am. Check out this link for better info

You can also see the International Space Station regularly - I use this app from NASA to find it & tell me where to look. Night time is obviously best!Wednesday (May 18th) in my part of Japan, look 10 degrees above south at 03:46. You will see ISS cross the sky to 17 degrees above east (it will take three minutes, and get to 22 degrees above the horizon).

My house - a description 2

My house is in Matsumoto. It a detached house. On the first floor are six rooms. Upstairs are two bedrooms and a toilet. There isn't a garage. There is a small garden. There is a quiet street outside. I love my room and the tatami rooms.

Posted for M. (another one!)

My house - a description

My house is in Matsumoto. It's a detached house. On the first floor are four rooms. Upstairs are three bedrooms and a toilet.

There is a garage, a lawn, and a small garden. There is a quiet street.

There is a biggish kitchen, and I have my own room.

Posted for M.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Cuisenaire Rods in action with graded readers - an example in 'How to'.

"My" boys did me proud today, re-telling their homework book from Golden Week (OUP Story Tree, Green series #8, "The Castle Adventure")

They had been asked to read the book, listen to the accompanying CD, and colour code s or es endings on words eg frogs, witches). Why? To notice that one of them gets an extra syllable...So you can teach syllable awareness to elementary school kids in Japan and kill of katakana? You bet! (Just don't tell them!)

I do use a bit of Japanese in this video - I had my hands full with book/video. I try to minimise my teacher talk time (TTT) as much as possible with my body language/facial expression/hand gestures...so not a great example of my teaching as I am asking them for nouns/verbs in L1. I hope you get the idea though . It also helped me suddenly realise (yet again - bell ringing moment) that my left-handed student had a glaring problem with word order. I'd never noticed, but we all did as we went along...and he got plenty of opportunity to correct himself. (I do have a few pet theories about south paws as language learners, non-scientific, but very related to my experiences with dylexia/or not, hearing impaired, and a considerable number of lefties I have taught and one I married).

Personally loved this Cuisenaire Rod exercise, as it was so competitive and really milked the workbook/homework aspect to death. How many times are they repeating the story (and getting more accurate because they want to)? How much are they listening to each other (a lot, and much more critically than in a usual Japanese EFL classroom I'd suggest)? How monotonous is their production? How much meaning are they putting into context/how much context are they interpreting in meaning?

I would love to get some feedback on this as an exercise. I would love to share feedback with the lads on their performances as well.

English food porn - St. Pancras

 If you think English food is crap - a common misconception - and only the Frogs can do this kind of thing with flair...cop an eyeful of this. The restaurant is in the St. Pancras Hotel in central London. Not flashy, just oozing quiet, confident, culinary competence! Put it on your "must visit" list!


Postcard from…Bali, Indonesia

Dear Jim,

I am travelling in Ubud, Bali. I’ve been here 10 years ago, but I’ve almost forgotten, though it must’ve changed a lot. I’m enjoying Balinese food, Balinese dance, and Jalan Jalan (taking a walk)

Best wishes,


Postcard from…Basel, Switzerland

Basler Munster St. Georgsturm
Hello, Jim!

I have been enjoying Basel. It is warmer than Shinshu. Here is very international city, but people speak German. I hope that you enjoy GW and my talk will be a success.

Atsuko K 4/5/11 in Basel

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Questionaire - where would you like your exam?

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Story re-telling with Cuisenaire rods & OUP Story Tree

I am posting this

from my iPhone today as Blogger is not working on any of our school PCs. Odd? Yes, but at least 140 other users are complaining about the same issue today...excuse the rough formatting.

OUP Story Tree (Green series) "Grandma" presented itself as an ideal Cuisenaire Rod moment, especially as I was having to deal with 75% absentee rate in a class of 4 - curse of the ubiquitous (and superfluous) "school club activity" killing off my super reading class.

Can I whinge for a moment? This class has done especially well in reading & spelling (yes, I am biased but I am pretty good at assessment) so to loose out to volleyball or anything else on a Monday evening is galling. I am busy six days a week, and if they can't have Jim at 7pm they quit...

Prepositions everywhere in "Grandma" as she takes the children to the Fun Park, jumps on a Bouncy Castle & goes in Chip's room etc. Buy the pack if you really can't live without the rest of the plot!

This was homework checking and comprehension, analogue review, time-filling, listening practice (T > ss and ss > < ss), reading practice & peer support. All in one go?!

As I repeatedly bleat about these packs, the workbook is the (magic!) key, specifically designed to mine the most out of each title. Usually, a simple vocab set or thread of course, but just as often a key grammar target such as singular vs plural nouns, putting an 's' on verbs for he/she/it subjects (present simple tense) etc.

The light green rid represents the bouncy castle from the story; Grandma's (old but good) car is blue; there are 5 children; Grandma is blonde (yellow); her 'things' are red; home is purple and the fun park brown; other characters are generic green! I asked my readers to build the scene & refer to it as they "check" "homework" - pointing at speakers & actuating movement.

I didn't decide - Yuu & Mayu did. I did insist they were consistent though, using the same rods etc. Also the first time we have really come across direct speech (requiring the new skill of flicking ahead to the end of the parentheses), and the need to follow direction as well eg so and so "shouted/whispered/said" etc also performed!

It worked a treat; we re-read & re-told the story variously, recycled the language and made things move appropriately eg through doors not over, play football with others, not alone.

And then Mayu, who turned up late, announced this was her last class. Staggered; she has been with me/this class since she was half her age, worked tremendously well and picked up so much (especially confidence). I couldn't say goodbye properly or manage a "stop, don't do it!" because I was legging it to my next class....great lesson, dire outcome :(

Saturday, 7 May 2011

ijiwaru jimbo's photostream

pole vaultersMaybe not his first festivalAnchor rope teamJapanese golden archesDo yoo like our new pole?Curious onlooker
Festival girlsMost bizarrely dressed man of the dayA word in your earGuidelinesHappi black teamPole raising - job done
Getting the angle rightPitch invasionOmbashira Yamabe (188)Right a bitNearly upOmbashira Yamabe (182)
Resting rabbitOmbashira memberPlaying to the galleryLast act - pole raisingKat's brotherKat's brother 2

Some of my photos from a local shrine celebrating ombashira this year (Yamabe)