Monday, February 26, 2007


Hello All -

Random happenings with me...

** With the help of my friend, Kazuki, I was able to get box seat tickets for the next Sumo tournament in Osaka in March. Slowly, but surely, I've turned into the biggest fan of Sumo. I really love it and my world gets put on hold practically for two weeks every other month while I watch the new tourney.
I'm excited to be seeing it live again for the first time since late 2005 - my goal is visit all 4 Sumo arenas before I leave Japan - so after March, it'll be two down and two to go (Tokyo and Nagoya).
I'll be joined by 5 other Shimane ALTs - so it should be a fun trip! Pictures and a report for sure in April. :)

** Been busy lately teaching myself how to use iMovie on my Apple laptop. I'm trying to make a mini-movie for my 9th graders for their farewell ceremony the week before graduation. I have so, so many pictures of them from the past 2 years, but they only alloted me 6 minutes, so I've had to whittle my selection down to about 100 pictures or so. But with iMovie, I'm able to add cool transitions, effects, title cards and music. Kinda like a Power Point presentation, but a level up - and you save it as a Quick Time movie - it's been really fun, but a lot more work than I thought it would be - of course, I want it to be great - and I think it will be - gonna work more on it tonight. And I'll eventually upload it to my YouTube site.

** Random observation - I'm fat. Yeah - no surprise there, but I think I've gained back any weight I lost after I first arrived in Japan. I gotta get out and start to exercise again - start going to kendo practice again and try to lose a few of these pounds.

** In case I haven't told you personally, I decided to sign up for one more year on the JET Programme. So that means I'll be here in Taisha, doing the same job, until July of 2008. Which means that the kids that graduate next March, in 2008, will have been my students since they were in Elementary school! Wow! My kids truly are wonderful human beings and they make my job so much fun.

** Two goals for 2007 - I'd like to improve my Japanese, which basically stalled in its progress about a year ago, and work more at trying to find a companion to share some of my time with - pretty lonely out here in the inaka after 2 1/2 years. Maybe that whole "lose some weight" thing will help, as well as being better able to sling the Nihongo. :P

** New Spider-Man movie at theatres in two months!!!!

** I am so hooked on American TV right now. After first moving here, and having access to NO American shows, I now regularly watch 7 shows and watch even others on DVD. My niece lent me the Season One box set for The OC, and now I'm hooked on that show too. My favorite show of the moment has got to be "Heroes." So GOOD!!

Hope all is well with you!


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Chatting with two former students

chatting with two former students

Here are two of my favorite students from last year who graduated and are now ichi nen sei at a local high school. Despite the bad sound sync - I think you'll enjoy this fun interview with Ruriko & Sayako.

Yuki & Saki's impromptu routine

Yuki & Saki's impromptu routine

I just posted a few new videos with some of my wacky and cool 9th graders. Check em all out at my YouTube site by clicking on the words "YouTube" in this video.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Ang jumping rope with shogakusei

Here is my friend, Angharad, jumping rope with some of my shogakusei last week at Taisha Sho.

Ang teaches at my local high school - Taisha HS - but she came over and joined me for a day of classes at Taisha Sho. We had fun!

The sound sync is a little off, but you'll still enjoy some of my cute 4th graders mugging for the camera at the end.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Be careful what you wish for...

I've been busy...

You hear that phrase so often from friends and co-workers that it almost doesn't mean that much anymore.

But I really have been busy... :)

Just a week ago I was a little upset that I wasn't being asked to many "regular" classes at my Jr High. I was mostly being used in the optional (sentaku) English class and for the two classes with our special needs kids.

And then just yesterday, I was asked to teach 6 classes - every period of the day. And it was a unique situation in that I taught at every strata of my responsibilities. I started off the day at my closest elementary school - Taisha Sho - teaching two classes, 1st and 2nd period, of 2nd graders. It was an easy lesson reviewing the numbers from 1-10 and playing games. At elementary school here, they give the kids an extended break between 2nd and 3rd period - recess - and that allowed me to get back to my Jr High in time to teach 3rd period.

3rd period I had Optional-A class, or sentaku eigo, for my 9th graders. It's actually two classes happening at the same time, since about 45 kids signed up - so they split it into two. So I often get asked to divide my time and spend half of the class with one group and the other with the 2nd group. So 3rd period I did a weather game in one class and a boggle game in another.

Then 4th period I had 8th graders, where I'm helping to teach them the concept of "most" and "best." As in "Baseball is the MOST popular sport in Japan" and "I like vanilla ice cream the best." So we did some review and I came up with an interview game that the kids seemed to enjoy.

Then it was lunch, which was fish, which meant that I ate only rice and drank some milk. There was a "milk scare" recently and for about 10 days we got other things to drink, like yogurt, and apple juice, but now they're back to milk.

After lunch I hung out with some of my cool 9th graders and then it was cleaning time. After that it was 2pm and time for 5th period.

5th period was a class of 7th graders, who are learning to use "can" in sentences. So again I came up with an interview game where they went around the room and asked their classmates - "Can you ride a bike?" "Yes, I can." "No, I can't." and so on.

After that it was time for my Winter Vacation quiz. I showed slides of my trip home to San Diego and talked about where I went and what I did, and then tested how well the kids listened by giving them a short T/F quiz. I've done this quiz a bunch of times by now, and I think this is probably the last class where I'll do it.

And finally it was 6th period and time for my "San San" class. "San San" is the name at my school for a small class with kids who are developmentally disabled & therefore, behind the other kids in learning. We did a little easy phonics work followed by a review of the names for drinks, and then some easy math (in English) and then with the help of the JTE, I attempted to teach them how to play the card game "Gin." There are 4 kids in the class, but this period was only the two 7th graders, so it worked out ok.

Then I had to hang around after school to discuss lesson plans for Friday and to talk to the teacher in charge of the farewell ceremony for the soon-to-graduate 9th graders. I want to show a slideshow of some of my many pictures of the 9th grade class and we decided I could have about 6 minutes during the ceremony to show pictures. I'm going to try and use my trusty Apple iBook to put the pics and titles cards into a movie that will include transitions and music - it'll be my little project for the nest two weekends.

I headed home about 5pm, still way before most teachers leave, but satisfied that I'd put in a good day of work.

So after feeling like I wasn't being utilized as much as I'd like, I had a day where I taught elementary kids, 7th graders, 8th graders, 9th graders and special needs kids. When it rains it pours. (But, literally, not here recently - we've been having great weather, even though it did snow once last week - the first time it's snowed this winter since I returned from America)

Today, there was no school at my Jr High since we'll be having classes on Saturday this week instead. On Saturday, the local 6th graders will visit Taisha Chu and see what life in Jr High is like. But I went to school today anyway - I decided to observe classes at my elementary school and I spent 1-4 periods with my 6th graders at Taisha Sho. It was interesting to join them for "Peer Support" class and Japanese lessons.

Today was a good day since I got my hair cut with my free time after lunch. I needed a hair cut badly. I pay about 3400yen, or about $30 for my haircut and shampoo - a little more than I would pay in the States. But it's worth it - you get a little head massage and the women at my local salon are super friendly. And as is standard in all parts of Japan, you don't have to tip. But I brought the woman that cuts my hair - Fumiko - some Jelly Beans from America as a gift (omiyage) and she seemed happy.

I also made a trip to the post office and picked up a package my parents sent full of great stuff I couldn't bring in my over-stuffed suitcases when I came back from America. Thanks for the Mac n Cheese!!!!

I should mention that my parents are now reading this blog - I helped them buy a new computer - a new iMac of course - at Christmas - and I made sure to bookmark my blog so they would start reading it. They always claimed to have trouble accessing it before when they lived in England, but now they have no excuses. :)

OK - this post has rambled on too long... But I will try and not be so busy soon and add more pics and videos soon.

Hope all is well with you.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Jr High Boys kendo in Yasugi

I just posted 4 short clips of my kendo teams (boys and girls) from their competition in Yasugi this past weekend. My boys did well at the start of the day, but lost in the 2nd round. My girls did better, making it to the final round and coming in 2nd overall.

I've been busy the past few weekends getting out and seeing my kids compete - I watched Volleyball in Matsue three weeks ago, then tennis in Matsue two weeks ago, then kendo this past Sunday in Yasugi, which is about an hour away by car. This Sunday I'm off again to watch my Chorus club compete, again in Matsue, which is the captital of Shimane.