Friday, July 19, 2013

Reflecting the first semester

Last Wednesday was the last teaching day in the first semester at elementary schools as ALT. In the last classes at 4 schools, I introduced a game that is similar to the horse racing board game.
  1.  Divide the class into 6 or 7 teams of 4 or 5 students, depending on the number of the students.
  2. Put 20 to 30 quiz cards with questions that you wish to review on the blackboard for students to choose from. 
  3. The first players from each team decide their team name from 6 to 7 animals ( it can be anything like fruits ) via Janken. 
  4. The second player come up to the front and pick a card or a lot. (I made a lot of french fries shaped lots and put them in a gigantic red container and wrote MEGA potato on the box.)
  5. They go back to their seats and answer the question according to the number they draw. (the members of the team can help the player to answer the question if necessary.)
  6. The team can go forward when the player can answer the question. In case the player draw a lucky lot with a heart on it, the team get to go forward one more.
  7. When the team got to the goal, they are assigned to say,"Goal!" in chorus.
It was great to see kids help each other as a team and enjoy the review game. They like the idea of MEGA potato as well. 

I was told by one of the school masters that I don't have to teach anything but have fun with kids as I use English. Well, it is not that simple and easy when I need to have all the kids understand the rules of games in English. But by the second week of teaching, I figured that some of students can make brilliant assistant teachers for me and ask them to help me to explain the rules to kids who look completely lost. I also found out which students can make brilliant leaders and make classes more enjoyable and informative. Those key students are much better facilitators than any teachers. 

Thanks to those amazing facilitators / leaders, my classes got more fun co-contrractive learning space. 
I had a bit bumpy beginning because of the extreme lack of support and information about how to conduct classes with what materials. In fact, nobody can tell me when, what, how I should teach at the beginning. All I know was I was supposed to teach 5th and 6th graders and student books I am supposed to use. Later on, while I was searching some information on line about the assigned textbooks, I found accidentally the syllabus and lesson plan for each unit at the MEXT site. While I was  reorganizing the bookshelf to find available materials for the classes, I found DVD for the textbooks. This mess turned out to be kind of like a daily treasure hunting game for me and by the third week I started enjoying digging and discovering unexpected materials. By the 4th week, I started making my own materials using their PC and password I also found at the back of the PC desk on my own. The user name and the passwords were written on the post-it and stuck on the back of the desk of the shared computer. 

Now I got most of mysteries figured out and the most challenging task is to get to know the teachers I work with. They have very very little time to communicate so that I have to find the best time to start talking to them. I sometimes feel like I have become CIA agent, trying to figure all the unknown codes at work. It would have been easier and better if I had more support from the board of education and schools. But easier doesn't mean more fun. I think I am getting much better and unexpectedly fun stories to tell :-) 

To be continued

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