It’s been a very rough day. Maybe because I’m leaving tomorrow and I’m just not in the mood for anything but I found it harder to roll with the punches than it normally is. Being an ALT, I’ve learned more about myself and one of my strengths is that I’m good at communicating and talking to people. I like joking around and my Japanese makes it possible to kid around with my younger students, making classes more enjoyable and casual. Today, not so much. It didn’t help that I was with a class that was rough last year and is just as loud this year. With no TV or CD to work with (half of my lesson) I decided to wing it and play a mystery game using basic greetings. I should have forseen this but I didn’t. What started out as English practice collapsed into a lot of screaming, running, shaking, and laughing. I want the kids to have a good time in English so if they get a little excited, I gently reel it in and they usually calm down. That didn’t work today so when the game ended and the kids wanted me to play again, the teacher shot me a tentative look that basically read ‘for the love of God don’t you dare say yes’. The kids couldn’t have cared less about the next part of the lesson and instead were too busy making weird sounds with their mouths and moaning about how they didn’t get the rules of the game even though we’ve played it multiple times before. 

During lunch they told me they want me to be their teacher for the whole day. As much as I appreciate the sentiment, no doubt in their 10 year old minds me teaching them for the day is the equivalent of a half day of school or a really long fire drill i.e. maybe you learn something but mostly nothing gets done. I’m both flattered and discouraged at the same time.

Games and strategies I’ve tried at other schools that work just don’t seem to engage these kids. When I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of teaching at other schools, going to this school reverses all of that and makes me feel incompetent and like I’m wasting everyone’s time with my feeble attempts to make English fun. This class will be my challenge for the rest of the time I’m on JET as they move up together at elementary school. I’m going to find something that clicks for them

And if you don’t know, now you know

And if you don’t know, now you know

I look like a crazy bag lady with my pockets full of bottle caps. My tote bag was overflowing with them as well. It’s a good thing I love Japanese bottled teas or collecting these would have been more of a hassle but thankfully Japan believes in vending machines even in the middle of rice fields it seems so it wasn’t hard to collect a couple hundred caps. I really want to focus on phonics during classes with 5th graders and especially 6th graders before they go off to junior high so I used bottle caps with alphabet labels to play word games. The vowels are on the blue caps and by having the students in groups practice spelling out words and learning how to pronounce them while they race other groups, I figure it might make pronunciation practice more enjoyable than just have them watching me make exaggerated faces demonstrating the difference between b and v. 

Here is one version I’ve used these caps for:
line up P and T with a space in the middle for a vowel. I’ll say PET and the first group to correctly choose E, line up the letters, and raise their hands get 1 point. We then sound out P - E - T and say PET together before I move on to the next word. 

I found this idea online on a homeschooling blog and thought it’d be fun. The way I visualize it is kids get to think about the construction of a word and how sounds combine to form vocabulary. It’s something new that I’ve been working on and while everything I do is a test, if anyone has any phonics advice or tips, feel free to send me a message. 

I look like a crazy bag lady with my pockets full of bottle caps. My tote bag was overflowing with them as well. It’s a good thing I love Japanese bottled teas or collecting these would have been more of a hassle but thankfully Japan believes in vending machines even in the middle of rice fields it seems so it wasn’t hard to collect a couple hundred caps. I really want to focus on phonics during classes with 5th graders and especially 6th graders before they go off to junior high so I used bottle caps with alphabet labels to play word games. The vowels are on the blue caps and by having the students in groups practice spelling out words and learning how to pronounce them while they race other groups, I figure it might make pronunciation practice more enjoyable than just have them watching me make exaggerated faces demonstrating the difference between b and v. 

Here is one version I’ve used these caps for:

line up P and T with a space in the middle for a vowel. I’ll say PET and the first group to correctly choose E, line up the letters, and raise their hands get 1 point. We then sound out P - E - T and say PET together before I move on to the next word. 

I found this idea online on a homeschooling blog and thought it’d be fun. The way I visualize it is kids get to think about the construction of a word and how sounds combine to form vocabulary. It’s something new that I’ve been working on and while everything I do is a test, if anyone has any phonics advice or tips, feel free to send me a message. 

種まき

I know next to nothing about farming. Whenever I walk around town, I’m surrounded by rice fields and gardens and I have no idea what’s growing most of the time. I’ve been to farmers’ markets but I only see the produce after it’s grown and harvested so everything before that is a mystery. Now that I live in the Japanese countryside, I’ve been curious about farming. One of the benefits of knowing a lot of the older people around town is they have their own rice fields outside their homes and have been really kind about not only giving me fresh produce but inviting me to help out on their farm. 

On Sunday morning, I went with a lady that I volunteer with to her friend’s home in the more rural part of town where the friend’s children and their spouses had traveled up from Tokyo to help get the rice fields ready for planting. We did tanemaki, mixing the rice seeds with dirt and laying them out in groups based on the kind. The family were totally ok with me trying out different jobs so I got the full experience. The eldest son acted as the photographer to make sure I had enough photos to mail to my parents. 

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The trays are fed through the machine where the rice seeds and dirt will be mixed together and patted down before being assembled into groups based on what kind of rice. The goal of the day was to get 400 of those trays filled and after we got our aprons, gloves, and hats on we got started around 8:30. My first job was making sure the trays went in one after the other. 

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Koshi-hikari rice grows later and is harvested last than Hitomebore. The farmers plant different variations in case of poor weather or disease that affects crops. If one batch is damaged, there is still a different kind of rice to fall back on for the family to both eat and sell. 

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When I saw how much space we had to fill and the piles of empty trays outside, I knew it was going to be a long morning. Sometimes we’d work in total silence, sometimes something would happen (like the machine breaking down halfway) to make people start talking all at once and joking. The eldest son would explain the whys and hows of different parts of rice farming every now and then to me (I never knew that brown rice is dead rice). My body ached from heavy lifting but it was so interesting.

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I never knew that snap peas grow from these kinds of flowers. I almost feel backwards for not knowing these kinds of things that are probably common knowledge to other people but this is a totally new kind of study for men.

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They told me if I can balance 8 trays of rice on this wheel barrow and push it around the room, I would pass as a farmer. I walked as steady as if my life depended on it because while they were kind enough to let me try even the heavy lifting, they may not be so forgiving of me dropping their rice. Thankfully, I managed to move it back and forth, lay out the trays, and wheel it back for a while without toppling over. 

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Mimi the cat kept coming over the be in the middle of everything. She let me hold her for a while when I took my break. She’s apparently 17 years old but she still catches mice around the farm. I told them that if she leaves dead mice for them at the doorstep it’s supposed to be a gift for them. It was the first time they ever heard that apparently. 

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We eventually finished up around noon and then sat down to lunch 

It was a long, great day where I learned a lot about rice farming and left with fresh vegetables and the plan to come back and help them plant the rice and later harvest it in the fall. I plan on WWOOFing this summer as well with other ALTs so hopefully I’ll get to meet more farmers in Fukushima. 

I finally had my first real hanami in Japan with friends. We made the drive over to Tsuruga Castle in Aizu-Wakamatsu, set out a blue tarp and relaxed for the rest of the day, eating and talking. 

I had a great time but we didn’t get home until 1 am. I kind of regretted that considering I had to get up in 5 hours to start farming..

Storms - Wolf Alice

a-type:

Ahahaha oh man, today at school, aw jeeze. So this teacher I’ve never worked with before (but has been teaching younger gradesl) comes in and is like,

"so for class today, I thought I’d pretend to be a foreigner, the kids love it lol…." and he whips out this fake plastic nose and wig and I’m…

"He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves."

— ~ Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera (via lonequixote)

(farfromthepacificから)

In the middle of class with 2nd graders while I was doing an animals lesson, one little girl stopped me to ask if I could read and write hiragana. I told her that I can but writing kanji is a little tricky. One boy suggested I draw 口 since it’s easy. It’s not 4 strokes, but 3 apparently. I basically had a class of 22 7 year olds yelling at the top of their lungs, waving their fingers around trying to teach me the right way. I tried to tie it into I’m teaching them English, they teach me Japanese but I was loudly corrected by 2nd graders. Embarrassing but we laugh about it. 

Still…

krokoart:

Ken RokoSeaside 02: Giclee Fine Art Print 13X19Please Check out more images from Etsy.com:https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/krokoart?section_id=12480058


One more week

krokoart:

Ken Roko
Seaside 02: Giclee Fine Art Print 13X19

Please Check out more images from Etsy.com:
https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/krokoart?section_id=12480058

One more week

I had another first day back at my last elementary school and I think it went alright. New teachers means getting used to one another and while it was awkward at first, we worked it out in the end. At this school, there is a Japanese assistant who speaks English to help me when there are issues with understanding the rules or to demonstrate the lesson. I did a lot of competition games and thankfully no one cried so all in all, a smooth day. I’ve had kids cry a few times in my classes, except for 6th grade. They’re still learning about dealing with losing and I get that but when I see a little kid’s face scrunch up, turn red and cry, it’s the worst. Having an assistant means there is someone to console the student while I carry on the lesson. The times where I’ve been on my own, having to continue and then try and cheer the student up at the same time never works out. In the beginning I’d slip them a sticker because I didn’t know what else to do. I’ve had homeroom teachers step in and let the kids cry it out, and they do and eventually join back in the game. I’ve since learned to just let them alone and keep going but I still get thrown off guard. I haven’t been in a class of elementary school kids since I was their age so understanding how to deal with them when they act up or cry feels so new to me. I don’t want to baby them but I also don’t want them to hate English or hate me. I can’t make every kid like me or enjoy my lessons but when they get upset in class, I feel awful. The worst time was when I tried to be playful with a class of 4th graders during a board slap game. I called the name of a vocab word that wasn’t on the board so they started to run and realized it wasn’t there. They laughed and it was a funny moment. Trying it with another class of 4th graders, one little boy burst into hysterics and screamed at me not to lie to him. According to the teachers that was unusual and not to worry about him. Still, when you try different games or use different jokes or word play to keep things fun and moving and then a child makes a mistake or gets tripped up causing them to start crying, it’s the worst. I try to avoid this by explaining the rules a few times to make sure everyone knows how things work and keep things light by laughing and giving kids multiple tries. 

Today though no tears so I’m relieved. The only downside I guess was when I was invited to play dodgeball with the 5th graders in the gym during recess. I haven’t played dodgeball in a while and I was terrible at it when I was their age (I used to grab a book and hide when we had gym outside. I gave myself chances but I’m really just awful). Today though, I caught the ball, threw it at the other team and took out a boy with a shot to the neck. He was alright thankfully since it’s a soft ball and while the other kids on my team cheered, I ran across the court to apologize. He stood up, our eyes locked, and I knew it was on. For the rest of the time, he aimed for me any chance he got. I know when I make kids cry when they get my questions wrong, they eventually get over it. I hope this boy forgives me. 

I guess no one wanted this batch of hakusai cabbage. I see that a lot walking near farms. Not sure why no one takes them and if they’re just left there to rot/birds peck away at them. 
The cherry blossoms around town though looks great. They’re in full bloom practically everywhere

I guess no one wanted this batch of hakusai cabbage. I see that a lot walking near farms. Not sure why no one takes them and if they’re just left there to rot/birds peck away at them. 

The cherry blossoms around town though looks great. They’re in full bloom practically everywhere

Don’t Stop Talking to Me (St. Lucia Remix) - Foster the People

ookawauoten:

今朝の四倉海岸です。
見た目よりも良い波でした。

The coast of Iwaki

ookawauoten:

今朝の四倉海岸です。
見た目よりも良い波でした。

The coast of Iwaki

koriniko:

"I just have a burning desire for English!" That’s not what it says, but this poster is a little dramatic for an English test… #eiken

koriniko:

"I just have a burning desire for English!"
That’s not what it says, but this poster is a little dramatic for an English test… #eiken