Monday, 30 November 2015

My first International JALT Conference

English Central with Charles Browne
I had the great privilege of attending the International JALT Conference in Shizuoka from November 20-23. Nothing could have prepared me for a hectic weekend filled to the brim with presentations, workshops, talking to publishers, networking, hands on learning, sharing ideas, socializing and this list goes on. It was such an amazing opportunity to be surrounded by fellow peers, soaking in the wealth of knowledge and experience available. The weekend changed my outlook on the kind of educator I aspire to be, and armed me with the tools in order to succeed.

I have never attended a conference of this scale before, over 1800 attendants over the course of 4 days, from all sorts of teaching backgrounds. There is so much to see and do, people to meet that there doesn’t seem to be enough time for everything. There were many presentations and workshops I missed out on due to clashes or being preoccupied with something else.  My mind didn’t even have to chance to wander as there was always something that required my full attention.

A huge crowd gathers for Paul Nation
The theme of the conference was: Focus on the Learner, perhaps something that can be, but never should, be overlooked. A lot of the presentations I attended had an emphasis on the importance of needs analysis; who are the stakeholders and what do they want? Are we truly fulfilling our role as a teacher if we fail to meet this single requirement?

With needs analysis also comes the task of identifying problems and solving them: what is not working, why not and how to go about fixing it. Not every problem has a simple solution and you have to be equipped with the suitable knowledge and tools. A major point to keep in mind when it comes to self evaluation and expanding your teaching skills, something I will be keeping at the forefront when it comes to lesson planning.

Publicity Officers' meeting
Another thing that often cropped up, which is something I find myself guilty of at times, is the
teacher taking a step back and doing nothing. Let students do the work and let them figure out for themselves. The less time the teacher spends talking the better. I’m sure all my students would agree! I have a tendency to offer assistance prematurely and it is something that I need to work and improve on.

It was fascinating to get a glimpse of educators from across the globe sharing their insights, ideas and experiences. There was so much to take in that I was furiously scribbling in my notebook the entire time. I came away from the whole experience with a better understanding of how to cater to my student’s needs, my own pitfalls and weaknesses plus a host of ideas and techniques to implement in my classroom.

Research  results on show at a Poster Session
But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, I had to share a hotel room with Jim after all! One of the main grumps was that Shizuoka did not lend itself to a good “after-event”. There was a lack of venues to continue the conference into the evening in a much more social manner, gathering ideas together over a couple of beverages and exchanging personal experiences. I guess you cannot have your cake and eat it too.

But in no way did that take anything away from my first International JALT conference. I feel as though I have come a long way since my first day on the job, but this conference has made me realize I still have a long way to go. I am looking forward to every single step of that journey. A massive thank you to all the organizers of the event, the staff involved and everyone who contributed to such a fantastic event.

A special mention to Jim for driving me all the way to and from Shizuoka, (even though I was a lousy navigator!), and introducing me to so many brilliant people. I cannot wait for the next one!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

After reading - Anne of Green Gables

Write a letter to Marilla, from Anne, when she first arrives in Charlottetown.

Dear Marilla,

How have you been, Marilla? Is Matthew going well?
arrived in Charlottetown yesterday afternoon. The college dorm is very nice and clean. The college campus is very large and beautiful but the trees and field of grasses of Green Gables are more beautiful than anything.
Ive been to the center of Charlottetown with my roommate today. There were a lot of stores for clothes, foods and everything! I want to take you and Matthew to show all of them.
I heard that we can go to see another seaside of Prince Edward Island from Charlottetown after taking a bus for 10 minutes. I want to go to the seaside and read books with my classmate. Of course I donforget to study hard in the collage. I will be a teacher in the future and live with you and Matthew happily.
I miss you so much and hope to see you soon in Green Gables.

With best regards,

My favourite dish - nikujaga

Nikujaga (meat and potato stew)
Nikujaga (meat and potato stew) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of my favourite dishes is 'nikujaga'. I alsways made it for my children when they were home. I use a lot of ginger.

First, cut the potatoes, carrot & onions, then slice ginger.

Fry the pork and everything in oil in a pot, add cold water, boil everything and simmer, adding soy sauce, sugar, mirin and sake.

Posted for Kaoru

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

After reading - Amelia Earhart

Inspiring woman

I write about Malala Yousafzai as a woman who is the one I was inspired.  She was ranked second as woman who was respected in the world following Angelina Jolie.

She was born in Pakistan in 1997.  Her father ran a women’s school and she studied there to become a doctor.  In the meantime, Taliban started conducting a region of terror in 2007.  They deprived women of their right to take education and sought the life of women who tried to take education or pushed ahead with the action.  Malala criticized those activities by Taliban and continued to emphasize the need of women’s education and the peace.  When she was a junior high school student, she was attacked by Taliban and seriously injured.  She miraculously recovered and was released from a hospital after two and a half months.

Six months later, she made a speech at the United Nations headquarters and insisted on the importance of education.  In 2014, she got Nobel Peace Prize.  At that time, she was seventeen and the youngest person who got the prize.  She said that it was start, not end.

I am very inspired by her extraordinary bravery and hope the chance of taking education is given to everyone in the world.

Film review - World War Z

If you are a big fan of horror-action film, this might be the one for you. The film is called World War Z, and it definitely surprises you.

The plot was sophisticated. It starts with joy and a happy family life, but suddenly it collapses. Then the husband cooperates with the Navy and WHO to produce the vaccine to cure the zombie infection, since he used to be a member of WHO.

In my opinion, the acting was first-rate and unbelievable stunts were included which you definitely can't miss. My favourite part was where the Israeli Wall collapses by noise. It was hilarious to me and couldn't stop laughing, and my least favourite was where the wife phones her husband. It was stupid, but as a film I think it needs something that is unexpected.

Finally, World War Z is highly gripping and thrilling. It doesn't really end with "End", it makes us think and what will happen if the story became true. I can recommend it from teens to anyone.


Friday, 13 November 2015

Luna's monster scrapbook

Cute and cuddly or stuff of nightmares?
Eeek! It's Friday the 13th and there's something horribly frighting I have to show you all! My students have been busy making a monster scrapbook, terrifying enough to give even the most composed of souls the creeps!
We began with a body as a starting point, and used a trusty die to determine how many of each body part we would add to our crazy creations. 6 heads with 1 eye, 4 feet with 4 toes, you name it, we had it! 
For the more advanced students, there was an additional twist where the activity was a dictation exercise, pairing an adjective (short, big, thin etc) with each body part.
Leave us a comment with which monster you think has the most resemblance to either Damian or Jim!

Postcard from the Bourgoyne, France

Hello Jim,

I'm in Beaune now.

It's a beautiful town which is the centre of Bourgoyne wine's distribution.

I'll move to Lyon today.

A bientot!


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Amelia Earhart - missing, presumed dead

Amelia R.I.P.

Beginning approximately one hour after Earhart's last recorded message, the USCGC Itasca took a search north and west of Howland Island. The United States Navy soon joined the search and over a period of about three days sent available resources to the search area in the vicinity of Howland Island.

The official search efforts lasted until July 19, 1937. At $4 million, the air and sea search by the Navy and Coast Guard was the most costly and intensive in U.S. history. But search and rescue techniques during the era were introductory and some of the search was based on erroneous assumptions.
Despite an unprecedented search by the United States Navy and Coast Guard no physical evidence of Earhart, Noonan or the Electra 10E was found.

In late July 1937, Putnam chartered two small boats and while he remained in the United States, directed a search of the Phoenix Islands, Christmas Island, Fanning Island, the Gilbert Islands and the Marshall Islands, but no trace of the Electra or its occupants was found.

Back in the United States, Putnam acted to become the trustee of Earhart's estate so that he could pay for the searches and related bills. In a court in Los Angeles, Putnam requested to have the "declared death in absentia" seven-year waiting period waived so that he could manage Earhart's finances. As a result, Earhart was declared legally dead on January 5, 1939.

Love among the Haystacks - stargazing

Under the stars

I love seeing stars.  When I was a high school student, I was a member of astronomy club. The most interesting activity of our club was to see a star shower.  There are two big chances to see the star shower in a year.  One is Aquarius meteor in May and the other is Perseid meteor in August.  There is a good camping site for our activity in Ikeda-machi.  We went up to the hill and had a camp.  When sun goes down, we started the preparation of observation.  Ten members went into each sleeping bag and lie on the ground in a circle.  In the center of circle, one member sat down on ground and took note how much shooting stars we could count in each direction.  We took turns watching all the night.  All of us tried hard not to sleep, but some members went to sleep during the observation.  The member in the center of circle called over the name every ten minute, but some member didn’t reply.  The midnight was the hardest time for us, but it was the best time for seeing stars.  More and more shooting stars can be seen in the midnight toward morning.  It was silent night and stars were very beautiful in the dark.  We felt the sky was nearer to us. 

Posted by Reko on behalf of Tomoko

Amelia Earhart and her airplanes

One of Amelia’s air planes was Lockheed 5B Vega.
It was called little red bus. It was vivid red, and had a single seat.
In 1932, she used it for her famous flight and made a record.
She flew alone over the Atlantic Ocean back and forth without any recess. It was the first record for woman.

The Lockheed 5B Vega was sold into the market in 1927. The designer was Jack Northrop and Allan Loughead. It was first product made by them for Lockheed Aircraft Company. Lockheed 5B Vega was sharp shape and fast. It soon became popular among pilots.

She repaired the little red bus because of an accident. The fuselage was replaced and strengthened in order to carry extra fuel tanks.
It mounted three types of compasses, a drift indicator and a more powerful engine. She accomplished the Atlantic Ocean flight with the modified little red bus.

She sold it to Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute. It’s presently displayed in Smithsonian museum.

Another air plane was the Model 10-E Electra. It’s also made by Lockheed Company. It was the best known aircraft, but disappeared in the Pacific in July, 1937 with Amelia Earhart and her flight assistant, Fred Noonan on the half way to achieve world record flight.

Posted by Reiko on behalf of Yumi

Friday, 6 November 2015

After reading - Did Edward do the right thing?

Yes, he did. I thought Wallis was a very attractive woman. So even she already married Edward loved her. I thought they were wonderful lovers. If they met in London of course Edward would be a King and Wallis would be a Queen. But before World War Second, she wasn't a suitable person for him to marry. Wallis was from the USA. She divorced her husbands twice. Her husbands were alive. The British people wanted the Royal family to be an ideal family. So they couldn't accept Wallis as a Queen. It was sad for them not to live in London. But they got a free lifestyle. I think no one gets everything. For Edward it is a wonderful life to live with the true lover. I hear there is an interesting thing. British people don't like American lineage But Princess Diana's grandmother is American. So now there is an American lineage in Royal family. The time is changing.

Posted for Hiroko

Thursday, 5 November 2015

After reading - A review of "The King's Speech"

I've seen the film "The King's Speech". I liked it, because I like the actor (Coin Firth).
The story was about King George 6th, a younger brother of Edward. (We read a book of him "The love of a King") When King George 6th was a child, he was troubled with speaking (stammering), so he was a shy boy. But his father was very strict. And his older brother Edward was a free man, he choose Love instead of to be a King. So, unexpectedly he became a King of England. He still had trouble of stammering, but as a King he had to make speeches many times.

His wife Elizabeth was worried about him and took him to Lionel, a specialist of stammering. But Lionel was not a medical doctor yet and didn't have much experience. King George 6th was a difficult person and Lionel was a obstinate person, so at first it didn't work well. But it was a last chance for both of them to get over their life. They tried very hard, and gradually his speaking became better. At that time England was involved a war. He had to declare it on the radio to the people of England. Finally he could make a very good speech without any trouble as a King. People could be proud of their King. At the end of the movie, the war began with his speech, so this is not a happy ending story.

Posted for Yasumi