Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Day 3: Badger Blogging Blitz

[Badger Blogging Blitz (BBB) 2014: Ashley ...meanwhile in Korea...Vicky Outside the PyxisMaggie The Traveling FlamingoDrew The Hungry PartierRebecca Rebe with a Clause]

Today is Wednesday, March 26th. The weather today is cloudy with a chance of rain (high 72, low 41 degrees Fahrenheit). Woke up ten minutes before my alarm clock. Drat. 

Daily Recap
Teaching the younger grades is always a huge reminder about how kids are kids. They are so "pure of heart" as my co-teachers say. High energy classes and a productive afternoon today. 

6:00AM: Alarm clock goes off. I hop into the shower, get dressed, and listen to NPR's hourly newscast as I reheat the eggs from yesterday (now double microwave eggs). I take my calcium supplement and end up packing some toast and dried fruit I got from the Gwanghwamun market last Saturday into my bag to eat once I get to school. Boil some for water for coffee and into my travel mug it goes.
7:05AM: Walk to school. "How Did This Get Made #78 Crossroads (w/ Jeff Rubin)" plays on my iPhone. One of my go-to podcasts, How Did This Get Made? always makes me laugh. My favorite comedic actors discuss insanely bad and occasionally insanely good movies.

8:00AM: Arrive at Doam Elementary. Indoor shoes, power on computers, and update the links to "Day 2: BBB." The American gum fifth grade boy comes in and is content watching me link things up. I tell him that this is my blog -- my family and friends read it. He starts asking me about my home, so I show him some pictures stored on the cloud of my house and yard back in Wisconsin. He hangs out for a good half an hour before saying goodbye, just as SK arrives.
8:30AM: The usual groan as she strides over to her desk, SK has made my school life so much more manageable. I munch on my toast and dried fruit as I look over the day's lessons. I spoke with SK yesterday about the activities so we work independently until first period.

9:00-9:40AM: 5-1 Class (Lesson 2-2: Key Expression/Phrase Practice). "What's your favorite class? My favorite class is Korean. I like reading. I like reading, too. How about going to the library? That's a good idea! Sounds great!" In the middle of the "Listen and Repeat" section, the students start asking about "mass." Something about the word "math" triggered that thought, I think, because the Korean pronunciation of "math" sounds similar to "mass" which I guess made them think of "mess." I understand what they are acting out -- a doctor splicing open a patient and blood spurting everywhere, but they keep saying, "mass, mass" and it's too off topic for me to understand what word they want. My co SK looks it up: scalpel or surgeon's knife. I repeat the Scrabble spelling activity from the 6th Grade lesson on Monday. It goes well enough, though for 5-2, I make sure they all have their spelling lists out before I hand out the letter tiles. 
9:50-10:30AM: 5-2 Class (Lesson 2-2: Key Expression/Phrase Practice). During one of the "Look and Speak" sections, we were working on how to make suggestions: "How about --ing?" One of my students YN asks me, "How about cleaning my room? Abby Teacher, go to my home." She gets jokingly mad when I went off script and said, "Your room! You should clean your own room." "Abby Teacherrrr, no you, "That's a good idea!!"" The password to leave for the classroom for fifth grade is a mix of answering and translating the key expressions mentioned above. 

10:40-11:20AM: 4-1 Class (Lesson 2-1: Intro). "Don't touch, please. Okay. Don't push, please. I'm sorry. It's okay." The Intro PPT takes no time at all because the kids really know their verbs. SK and I talk about this in between classes. Maybe they know verbs because verbs are logically easy to act out (which makes it easier to remember) or simply that because they're kids and they hear a lot of commands, even English ones. The Doctor-Robot book game is a take on Simon Says. In partners, one friend is the Doctor and the other friend is the Robot. The Doctor gives commands. If he/she says, "Run, please," the Robot should run. If he/she just says, "Run," the Robot should say, "I'm sorry," and the Doctor, "It's okay." Teaching manners with commands. There are little doctor-robot masks to punch out of the back of their books, and I had not anticipated how important it would be for them to attach the masks to themselves somehow. Tape is a hassle because we don't have a tape dispenser in the English room, just big rolls. But SK and I get out our scissors, because there is a fair amount of licking going on in an attempt to stick the masks on their foreheads. I knew things would get wild, but they adhere to the game in creative ways. Two of the groups are a combined effort of one Doctor telling his Robot, "Push her, please! Push her, please!" and the other Doctor telling her Robot, "Push him, please! Push him, please!" Battle of the robots haha. 
11:30AM-12:10PM: 4-2 Class (Lesson 2-1: Intro). The Doctor-Robot game is again very fun. One Doctor is telling her robot, "Die, please," and there are quite a few Iron Man robots roaming the classroom. SK did this with both classes: as a whole class, she is the Doctor and everyone else a Robot, including me ("Abby Teacher, yes?). They really loved this game. The password for third grade is to translate one of the commands we had learned (Don't touch, don't eat, don't push, etc.). As I'm saying goodbye and good job to the kids waiting in line, one boy approaches me and looks at me with big round eyes and then points to his head. He's gotten some tape stuck in his hair and needs help. So pure of heart, elementary school kids. 

12:10-12:30PM: Lunch. The kimchi-serving lunch lady has started asking me something in Korean to which I say, "Nay (or "Yes" in English)." So far so good, she gives me an extra scoop of kimchi. I'm hoping this idea will spread to the other three lunch ladies, particularly the one in charge of the soup. Today, there are big bowls -- I get somewhat apprehensive when I see the big bowls. It means something good is coming (sometimes bibimbap!!) but usually at the expense of soup. Nevertheless, an eventful lunch of cleaning my tray.

12:30-1:00PM: There are fifth graders in the English classroom working on homework SK assigned. One of the boys asks me how to spell "American" and his friend shouts across the room the spelling. I quickly run to the bank to pay another bill and update my bankbook entries. The sun has peaked out again over the lunch hour, a nice temporary break from the overcast gray.

1:00-5:30PM: A busy afternoon of lesson plans and running to the teacher's room to twice make copies and while I'm at it coffee for me and tea for SK. I take a break to brush my teeth and soon two of the fifth grade girls join me in the bathroom. They let me know my hair is sticking out to the side kind of funny; I sigh and we talk about bad hair days. 
5:30-6:00PM: Bus ride home. I'm reluctant to leave Doam for the week and the school seems to know that, as I notice the new sign by the back entrance, where the bank is and where I catch the bus.  My student friend from the bus ride on Monday's brother hops on the bus today. He says hi and gives me the Korean response of, "I'm fine, thank you, and you?" when I ask how he is. It was good to see him -- he graduated from Doam last year (aka in February).

Daily Questions:

1. What teaching methods have you found to be the most effective with your students (What do they respond to?)?

My students respond the best to achievable challenges. I had an idea about this last year when my classes went ballistic for hidden picture, memory, and scrambled sentence games, all of which practice phrases from the lessons with an added element. Crossword puzzles and word searches work along similar lines of sneaking in spelling and letter practice into a greater joy of crossing things off a list. My students get especially excited if the puzzles happen to be enclosed in the bicep of a buff Santa Claus. Having individual, choice opportunities to speak in English is hugely effective. For example, my Doam co-teacher has encouraged students to pop up out of their seats with their answer to the daily question, "How  are you today?" They don't have to wait for one of us to call on them; if they feel like answering, they can, and more of them do than ever before. 

Physical movement is a huge learning tool. From having the students clap every time they hear a certain word in a story (the "Bingo Was His Name-O" song is another simple example), to the Evolution Game that has them moving around the classroom acting as a different animals while practicing a dialogue, to the Touch and Go game that has two teams racing to say each vocab word from opposite ends of a line, physical movement motivates them to use English because it becomes the key to being able to move on to win. They love moving and they love winning.

*Please let me know if you any questions about the mentioned games -- I know I was brief!

2. Do you think you're making an impact on your student's English ability? 

Yes, I do think I'm making an impact on my students' English ability. At lunch last week, my Doji co-teacher mentioned something about feeling depressed about his English because he couldn't express his thoughts to me. I was surprised and asked him what he meant. He told me that English was always his best subject in school but that he didn't know why he had bothered spending money on English academies because when he had traveled to America with his friends, he couldn't even buy food at a convenience store. I immediately told him I thought he was being too hard on himself -- a second language is more than books and role plays, and he told our students in the first week that language isn't about perfect grammar. It's about being able to communicate and connect with other people. So I know that his goals for language aren't perfection, but real world experience can have a nasty taste at first failure.  

That's how I feel I'm helping my students. They have to speak English with me and are going to have to be creative when the words aren't there. Sometimes, we're successful at getting across the message we want to convey, other times not so much. But it's okay, and that's what is most important to me --  that I'm available and approachable for my students so that they may feel the success and frustrations of second language communication in a safe environment. 

Fabrics of My Day

Badger Blogging Blitz (BBB) 2014:
Ashley Wendorf: ...meanwhile in Korea...
Vicky Lee: Outside the Pyxis
Maggie Flamingo: The Traveling Flamingo
Drew Binsky: The Hungry Partier

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