Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Still don't get it - Hallowe'en

Regular readers (or ones with long memories at least) will know that I don't do Hallowe'en, trick or treating, or pumpkins (but I do make a good pumpkin curry...) I do enjoy the pagan aspects that became All Hallow's Eve; I went to Pendle College and know a bit about witches (due to the hill it was named after, not the students!) and this video will give you some more information + a cure for flu. There's a bit more considered history here, with a good dollop of religious, political & familial background for you (aromatherapy if you like as well!). What irks me, is the Americanisation of the night (Hallowe'en); could say exactly the same thing about Christmas, and the way Japan has managed to mess up Valentine's... Alright! A chance for the kids to make masks, dress up and bully older people for sweets!

And as a teacher, sure, it is a great excuse to do something arts & crafts based. We have a spare room full of boxes (and I read a blog about a month ago reminding me that an old cardboard box is going to be a rocket, a tunnel, a doll's house etc - totally right!) which needed using up (we recently received a load of exam promo material from ESOL). We have two arty classes on Thursdays who love making things...

Papier machee. Secrets to success: Google the best recipe, but start saving newspapers early! Use aprons if you can, & make sure you cover up furniture etc. Making stuff on a table makes sense - BUT if you are making masks you want them curved, don't you! I taped ours to the legs of upturned stools AND stupidly laid them flat to dry. Durr! They dried nicely. Flat!

Younger papier machuers will put the paper on in dollops not layers - brilliant for texture & relief - but will dry brittle & be hard to paint! Will also take an age to dry. Think oven or hairdryer.

Painting - aprons again and experiment with consistency first - how quickly do you want the paint to go on - and how thick/thin do you need it to be? Again, drying might be an issue, but if too thin you'll need to apply a second coat (and any second colour will 'run' more easily too).

 Word from the wise - finish A WEEK EARLY! You want to display the students' work before it goes home! Finished, in bag and gone = dreadful missed chance. Unless, of course, you hold an event and photograph the thing to death (like your Christmas party etc).

Pet hate? Hallowe'en Parties with expensive 'bought' junk, begging for sweets (as a parent I object a lot), mums aiming cameras at kids without getting into costume themselves. Whinge over - Happy Hallowe'en!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Kids in the classroom 2012

With chalk & cheese!Sad to say goodbyeBreaking classSaying goodbyeSakura & MummyMessy room!
Painting fishMy work (Rukiya)My work (Airi)My work (Ayumi)Everybody Up vocabTeacher time - Everybody Up
We did thisEverybody Up - Tuesdays!DictaboardChecking English CentralAre we winning vs mumsInterested?!
Show mumsspelling race - magnetic!Magnetto-spellerbooks we like?brainstormingSplit conversation
Kids in the classroom 2012, a set on Flickr.
My apologies for not sharing September's album with you sooner!

As you can see, we have had a lot of fun lately, and doing a lot of different activities! We really think variety helps our learners develop mulitple intelligences & skills; it's not all about bookwork & learning words!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Proudly sitting Cambridge YLE

We were very proud to hold our annual Cambridge ESOL Young Learners (YLE) exams today, at Luna.

We have been doing this since 2000, and consider this the day when our students can comprehensively demonstrate what they are capable of...of course, nerves can have an adverse impact, but basically our children are in a familiar environment and 'business as usual' doing stuff in English...just sitting in different seats!

Obviously I have a vested interest in my own students, as well as my own school's students, and am nervous for them to do well; that we had students from two other schools made this session feel 'bigger'. Thank you Magnus and Rico, for your help on the day as well.

Extra nerves for me personally today though, as my own daughter was one of the candidates...just what will this show of our efforts running the pre-school at Luna (her little friend Hinata also sat - not very still - the Starters level. She had to ask mummy what a test was yesterday! In my honest opinion, YLE Starters is about as a gentle a test as you can hope for. Should we test children? Argue yourselves in circles on that one. Let children show off what they can do and reward them with an internationally recognised certificate? Absolutely!!!

Reactions afterwards were 95% positive - one little lad had a melt down, but such is life! Well done children - proud of you all for trying; can't ask any more than that! Looking forward to handing out certificates :)

We would also like to say 'well done' to all the children in Sapporo who took their YLE exams today at EFL Club. Thank you Laura for your hard work organising the seeion & preparing your students, and to Peter & Mary for examining.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Short change

It is with regret that I have to announce Tim Lister is no longer employed by the school. It is not my policy to discuss the reasons for teachers leaving the school, especially when they do so at short notice. I trust our students will join us in thanking him for his work at Luna; we all appreciate the difficulties of being separated from a young family. Luna has a robust code of conduct for teachers, which is enforced in order to protect the privacy our students and their families, amongst other things. I would like to thank Yukari at this difficult time for being very calm & sensible.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The Right Stuff - not in Japan's classrooms this week, thank you.

Chuck Yeager with Bell X-1.
Chuck Yeager with Bell X-1. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I think this is one of the coolest and most significant things I have witnessed for ages. And I CANNOT believe kids in schools in Japan were not pushed in front of a TV screen & shown history/science in the making. This story is a classic opportunity to teach and inspire a generation about pushing the limits, marvellous tech and sheer damn bravery! Not one of my students knew anything about this - so I have unashamedly sat them down in front of Youtube and pressed play. I have delighted in watching their faces light up in sheer amazement at the scale of Felix's achievement. Kids get it. They ask questions, and who gives a shit if it is not in the national curriculum this week?

Man breaks speed of sound with his head? Come on! 65th anniversary of Chuck Yeager breaking Mach 1 for the first time? Beating Kittinger's records that have stood since 1960 (and how brave must he have been, in the pre-computer, pre-synthetic fibres, pre-GPS, pre-weather satellite era)? His team doctor's personal mission to do something after his wife's death in the space shuttle Columbia tragedy (in the same skies over Texas)?  So much could have been taught this failure Japan. Knackers to precious entrance tests. - learn some real stuff. The Right Stuff.

See the drama here

            Red Bull Stratos / Felix Baumgartner

                by dky718. Browse more data visualization.

Relatively speaking!

Manato, Taiki & Akihiro are three boys. Akihiro is the tallest of the three. Taiki is the shorter than Manato.Taiki's hair is longer than Manato's, but it's shorter than Akihiro's. Manato has got the biggest eyes. They are brown. Taiki's eyes are smaller than Akihiro's. Their eyes are brown too.Taiki's ears are bigger than Manato's.

Akihiro is wearing a white shirt, black trousers and black shoes. Taiki's wearing a brown & white t-shirt, blue jeans and grey socks. Manato's wearing a black hoodie, blue jeans and red & black shoes.

By Manato! (11)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Meet the relative superlatives

Who is who?
Takuro, Haruna and Naoka are brother and sisters.
Haruna is the tallest of the three.
Naoka is shorter than Takuro.
Naoka's hair is longer than Takuro's but it's shorter than Haruna's
Takuro has got the biggest eyes. They are brown.
Naoka's eyes are bigger than Haruna's. Their eyes are brown.
Takuro is wearing a black T-shirt, blue shorts and black shoes.
 Haruna's got a purple tracksuit and black shoes.
 Naoka's wearing an orange T-shirt, beige shorts and black trainers.

My favourite day - Yuichi writes

English: Photograph of Nagano Children's Hospi...

My favorite day is the day before I work nights, because it is my day off.

I usually wake up at 6:00 am, then I go to work. I finish work at about 9:30 am the next day. After work I go to home and have a shower.

I often have lunch with my family. After lunch I usually fall a sleep with my daughter until 3:00 in the afternoon.

In the evening, I usually have dinner with my family, then I have a shower with my  daughter. I go to bed at about 9:00, because I am very sleepy.
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Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Postcard from...Malta

We were delighted to find this postcard from our former student Sari in our postbox this morning! Sari was very brave and inspiring, quitting her job after passing FCE to go and study in London instead. Way to go, girl!

"Dear Jim,

Hi, how have you been?

I finished Master Course and am having a perfect holiday in Malta!

Hope we will meet up soon...

Best, Sari."

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Message in a bubble

This is one of my favourite photos, from class a few weeks ago. The boys were being really rubbish and not joining in very well; Airi & Katsumi got stuck in and sang their own verse to a chant we'd been playing with. I found this cool photo app through twitter - it is so easy to use and a lot of fun. Anyone else want to share theirs here?

Monday, 8 October 2012

Dangerous DINING

I thought that Fugu is a dangerous fish but I think it tastes very nice! I have never eaten Fugu so I want to eat it very much! 

Fugu is a poisonous puffer fish. The poisonous parts of the fugu are the heart and gills. Chef can not serve a fugu if he or she doesn't have a license.

After world war 2 , there were many very hungry Japanese people and some looked for food in restaurant trash that was outside on the street. When they cooked and ate the pieces of  fugu, they got sick or died.     

At the Tokyo University of fisheries are trying to make an anti-toxin, which is a medicine that will stop people from dying because of fugu poisoning. 

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"Colourful monster"

This monster is big and cute.

His arms and legs are covered with long red curly fur.

He has short black claws on his fingers and toes, and blue hands and feet.

He has spots on his stomach, a small snout, two small round eyes and two long pink antennae.

 I made this! Haruka (14)

Yusuke`s designer monster: "Star"

This monster is very big with lots of different colours on his body.

His arms are covered with short short spikes and purple fur, but his hands are covered with blue scales. He has long claws on the ends of his fingers and toes.

His stomach is black. He has long green legs with spots.

He has two big round eyes, a small nose, and a big mouth with pointed teeth. He has pointed ears, long yellow and black antennae.

I made this! Yusuke (10)

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Shinshu JALT presents - Mayuka Habbick on Chants & Picture Books

Last Saturday I had a very busy day catching up with my old friends Mayuka & Rob Habbick. Rob presented for us a couple of months ago, but this occassion was all about Mayuka and her really interesting ideas for using chants, and making your own (which I have never seriously thought about - actually not so hard!)

Unfortunately, overnight, something mysterious had happened; her iPhone had been 'wiped' clean - i.e. there was nothing in it...and that included her presentation material. PANIC!

We spent most of the afternoon at the Apple Store in Minami Matsumoto, but no joy, so we had to come up with some clever Rob workarounds. Lots of wires, coffee and trying to remember passwords = solutions delivered & a seamless pair of workshops! As you can see, well worth all the effort. Everyone is welcome at Shinshu JALT events - you don't have to be a member or even a teacher.

Why not come along next time, Oct 27th and tag along to the Hallowe'en Parade after?

Friday, 5 October 2012

Sherlock Homes and the sport of kings

After reading:#3: What did Sherlock Holmes say to Silas Brown?

Sherlock Holmes: Now, Mr. Silas Brown, I want to see Silver Blaze.
Silas Brown :He's not in my stables! And who are you?
Sherlock Holmes : My name is Sherlock Holmes, and I know that the horse is here.
Silas Brown : And how do you know that?
Sherlock Holmes : Because I found the tracks of your shoes on the moor, next to the tracks of Silver Blaze, and the tracks came here.
Silas Brown : The tracks...Oh. Oh dear.
Sherlock Holmes : Yes, Mr. Brown, oh dear! Now, have you got the horse here?
Silas Brown : Yes, I have. He's round the back. He's ... er... well, he's a different color now.
Sherlock Holmes : A different color? The police are going to find that very interesting, Mr. Brown.
Silas Brown : Don't tell the police, sir. Please! I can change the color back very quickly.
Sherlock Holmes : Then you must do it today. Is the horse well?
Silas Brown : Yes, very well. He's a wonderful horse, sir. He can still win the Wessex Cup, you know.
Sherlock Holmes : Yes. And he must win it! With your help, Mr Brown. Now, listen carefully, ...

Thursday, 4 October 2012


Cover of "My Blueberry Nights (The Miriam...
Cover via Amazon
The PR poster of this film was the most talked about topic at first. In short, this film is one of the most romantic dramas I've ever seen.  There were some excellent performances from the leading actors , Jude Law, and actresses Norah Jones & Natalie Portman in this film.

This film is set in New York. Jude Law is a coffee shop owner and Norah Jones is a young woman he met there. She can't get over the shock of being dumped. He gives her a blueberry pie. This pie makes her warm. In this shop, there are so many keys in a bottle. She handed a room key to him. It is her exboyfriend's. One day, she takes a soul-searching journey across America to solve her questions about LOVE. While on this journey, she sends many messages to him via mail. She met many people and she was getting better.

The cinematography is very beautiful. In addition, Norah Jones's sweet singing matches the mood of this film. Jude Law performs very quietly and looks like a lonely man at beginning of this story. He lives in New York and she lives in Las Vegas and other countries, but.  they perform thoughtfully and believably.

I've seen a lot of good films performed by very famous actors and singers,but this one stands out from the rest.
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After Reading: The Phantom of the Opera

The characters in the picture (p.20) is Monsieur Armand and Firmin.
The phantom voice came behind them and everywhere, and he says that La Carlotta’s singing tonight is going to bring down the chandelier.
La Carlotta sang like toad, and all audience was laughing at her.
After the voice of the phantom, the famous chandelier fell down on the audience and one woman was killed.

The caption is:
“What happened to La Carlotta.”
“What was the voice.”

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