Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Penang File

After reading no. 5
"What does the story suggest about information in Asia"
In Asia, even the private information can be easily disclosed to others, so you need to pay special attention if you want to disclose it.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A postcard from...New York

Dear Jim,

I've just arrived in Stony Brook, N.Y.

I've not seen the Statue of Liberty. I hope to have time to visit it.

From Atsuko K

Monday, 27 February 2012

If you were going to Paris, what 5 things would you pack? Why?

The first thing I must buy is a phrase book. It will help me communicate with French people. Of course, I will need a raincoat because I don't know when it rains and it is more compact than an umbrella. However, the weather conditions can be mixed, so tp protect my head I have to bring a hat. Insect bites can be painful, so I have to buy several tubes of bug cream. Last, but not least,, never forget to include sneakers, because I will be walking around the city a lot. Yuya

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Self-portraits on Tuesday

 I have found a cool app (multi lens) which I managed to find a use for yesterday!

 We are about to start a new book, and I figured we could personalise our inside covers as well as remember how to spell our names. I always think it is nice to showcase the children's work anyway, as regular readers will know. It is also cool to look back sometimes and reflect - that was me?! 

Looking forward to Magic Time!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Quizlet - a powerful learner's tool

 Last week I wrote about this class and the importance of taking a break/blowing off steam.

This week, the flip-side of the coin = letting them get on with some powerful self-propelled learning! We have 'learned' the long /a/ sound/spelling rule, and exhausted the text book & workbook examples.

I ("Lunateacher") recently made a large set of flashcards on Quizlet featuring the long /a/ sound, and sat the boys down in front of a PC each. I was curious to see how long they would remain interested...turned out I had to drag them away before they gave themselves a headache!

They were variously challenged with the set - to match words to pictures, true/false, dictation, against the clock. Working alone and able to 'make mistakes' (I really like the inbuilt correction functions) the boys were powerfully motivated and engaged.

Why don't you try it out yourself?

Friday, 17 February 2012

School life - Year 5 in Japan

This year, I am studying seven subjects. I have six hours of lessons every day. My best subjects are science and math. In science I am doing life. In math I am doing fractions. I`m enjoying school, and I`m enjoying my home work. I get homework every day. I do my home work desk my desk in the study. I don`t listen to music at the same time, because I can`t concentrate. Tomoro

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Blowing off steam - rewarding hard work

 I don't think it is rocket science to realise that teaching children has to include games - from time to time. Ideally, everything you do has a fun edge to it...but you do also have to put the hard work in and actually teach stuff. Likewise, children are not going to learn stuff through osmosis! You can't learn to spell without picking up a pencil (and making mistakes) can't improve your reading speed without starting can't learn new words without guessing/getting it wrong from time to time. You can't go a whole lesson without some kind of release!

I know a lot of teachers/parents view games with mistrust. Me too! They have to be relevant, and produce as much language (English!) as possible. What kind of output really depends on the game, but you can always insist on consistent game playing phrases. The teacher needs to be as involved or not as he/she sees fit to get the game working - sometimes quite a lot at first to get the ball rolling/model the interplay. Othertimes needing to step in as referee or to calm things down, manage time etc. Taking as much of a back seat as possible is my preferred modus operandi, as then I can monitor & interact non-verbally (stop cards getting put into mouths with a glare, get bottoms back on seats before an accident, mime a phrase to weaker players, encourage a potential loser and praise a generous participant). If I do take part, making mistakes or offering daft answers helps the fluency no end - if the teacher is making mistakes so can I - and I have to listen to other people or I might loose!

This A-Z game is an old favourite. Students can cover the first letter of a word from a set, which they are given by rolling a dice (and the teacher being quick to choose a suitably easy/hard topic from a deck of cards!). eg sandwich fillings or pizza toppings, football teams or girls' names. You need a timer/buzzer. The 'danger' aspect = one side of the dice (nominate a number) means you take tokens OFF the other players boards to the rubbish pile. Nice way of levelling the playing field.

And the winner is...? Everyone. Loads of vocab review, disagreements and laughs. What do you think?

Monday, 13 February 2012

Homemade Valentine's cards

 Thank you for all the Valentine's chocolate! Once again, my dentist will be happy...

In class we made homemade Valentine's cards to give to Daddy (I know, the wrong way round - but not many dads come to class). As you can see, we did a first rate job colouring, cutting, sticking :)

Lucky daddies I think!

How many Valentine's cards did you get? Do you know who they were from?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Our predictions for the future; teen voices

In class, Akiho, Miku and Mizuki interviewed each other about their thoughts for the future. As a follow up, I asked them to write down their ideas for next class. We spent that next class putting their ideas together into sensible topic groups in Prezi (a wonderfully easy bit of kit!) and dragging in some artwork & video to emphasise the pionts they wanted to make. They particularly enjoyed being able to collaborate, as they used two PCs in the classroom and worked on different parts/gave each other feedback & pointers. I think Prezi is a superb way for them to showcase their ideas - and encourages them to come up with more ideas as there is a lot of real estate that they can cover!

Please have a look, tell them what you think?

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Ayane's lego comic

This was Ayane's first story using lego comic builder. The aim was to re-use direct speech from her last graded reader (OUP Story Tree "The Red Planet") to provide the narrative.

As with Hibiki's story (below), she was sidetracked rather a lot by the giggles to be had manipulating the comic, instead of being able to throw in lots of English. Next time, I hope!

The key though, was finding a medium where we could recycle vocabulary & phrases and use them meaningfully and memorably. Nothing more enjoyable then than building your own story - so, job done.

I did not get involved with production, as her aunt Keiko is PC literate & did this as a team. They did brainstorm the story though this was in Japanese...not main aim of the lesson afterall.

"Our car" - a lego comic from Hibiki

This is Hibiki's first 'go' using the lego comic maker online. Using all the tools was a bit tricky, and frustrating when things disappeared or couldn't be edited smoothly.

She used words and phrases from her story tree reader to provide the dialogue/story.

In the process she learned keyboard layout and other editing shortcuts, and used the mouse to manage the online tools.

I think she did really well, and I am looking forward to her next story.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Is the (Japanese) education system fit for purpose?

I came across this wonderfully articulate opinion piece (by Ken Robinson) as animated by RSA Animate. I liked the animation so much I immediately got the app for my phone (RSA Vision) and subscribed to their YouTube channel. Plenty to keep me awake this evening while I wait for the rugby to start at 2am!

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
I have been thinking quite a lot lately at how poorly education here (Japan) does by the children. For example, the most respected JHS in my town is actually rather rubbish (I should know, I picked up a part-time wage there from time to time over five years) and that when asked, teachers don't really have a clue where the children are at, educationally. This stark admission is criminal, in my opinion.

I think school here is geared to do several things, such as round off square pegs so they'll fit in the salaryman round hole & produce obedient fembots...but education is not very high on the agenda. I recently saw a friend raging on Facebook about dross homework & woeful assignments being submitted at his university. I recognised his purple-faced indignation immediately, from my own experiences at a university not far away. Long story short, would that level of work be rewarded anywhere else? No, of course not - so why is it the norm here? Because that's the way the system is set up. It is a self-reinforcing banality, and I believe a busted flush.

I see no signs of innovation at the schools I teach at. Quite the opposite - ostrich phenomenon. When my daughter was smaller, she would stand hiding facing a wall - hilarious, yes, but that is what the Japanese education system is still doing. "If we don't look around, no-one can see us"...and we'll still get our nice salaries and bumper bonuses. I don't see any evidence of innovation, invention, investment at the schools I visit - and I do not see the end result - drongo high school kids/1st year uni students - being any more ready for the real world than they were in the late 90s.

A case in point , which supports one example highlighted by Ken Robinson = the production line that is school intake. I must teach nearly a dozen 'returnees' at Luna, whose English skills are off the chart (relative to their non-immersed classmates). They are obliged to sit through English classes at school regardless. My idea? Round them up and engage a unique resource before it withers. As they are, they are picked on by the teacher to provide inane answers or model reading/pronunciation, which hardly ingratiates them with their peers. That English classes still feature predominantly L1 delivery (certainly in my experience) only adds to the futility.

Anyway. I saw this presentation and was nodding throughout. The speaker is obviously English, and America is an example, but his basic tent holds true for Japan too without much tweaking. The final issue he makes wrt collaborating rings especially true for me, as it is something we are trying to achieve with our learners at Luna - witness all the marvellous work our students are producing, together, and sharing here.

Got an opinion? Would love to hear it!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Homework on Prezi - Kanro's Swiss profile

Check out this super work that Kanro did at home - and stay tuned for the insane yodelling at the end!

Using Prezi for my homework - Brazil profile

This was Takuro's homework last week...think he did a stunning job, don't you?!

Hi, I'm Ran

Hi, I'm Suzu

Hi, I'm Hana

hi I'm Miyuki

please follow the link until we can embed Miyuki !!!

Hi, I'm Yumi

Hi, I'm Tomoko

Hi, I am Aya.

Hello I'm Reiko


Hello, Sara,

I am Sergeant Ken and I worked with Alex here in Glossia. It pains me to
say it but he was killed here in Glossia while making patrol in the town. A
Glossian man shot him from a house.

He was a very good man and thought about the people in Glossia. He tried to
help everyone in Glossia. He wanted to stop Glossian people fighting each
other. He also wanted to stop the people from other countries to sell the
guns to Glossian people. He tried to show the Glossian children we were
their friend... I am sorry I could not make him only what I said to him.