Monday, September 24, 2007

Taisha JH Class picture day - a short movie

Hey Gang,

All my 9th graders gathered in front of the school recently to have their group picture taken for the endpapers in the graduation yearbook.

The official photographer went up to the 2nd floor of the school and shot his pics looking down on the group of about 150 kids and teachers. So I went with him and snapped away.

I then took those pics, and some I shot that same day in the stairwell by the 9th grade classrooms, and assembled them into the little film you're watching now. Kinda rough with not many transitions, but iMovie allows me to zoom into the large group shots, something you can't really do just looking at the pics on my FLICKR page.

I'll post the original pics I used to make the movie on my Flickr page soon.

Enjoy the film, and the music is by OreSkaBand in case you're interested.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

The 41st Annual Lafcadio Hearn Speech Contest

Yuta, Sumie & Nagami sensei
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Lafcadio Hearn was an Irish writer who lived in Shimane about 100 years ago and he became famous for his writings on Japan and his translations of traditional Japanese folk tales.

Every year in Matsue, the capital of Shimane, they hold a English recitation contest in his honor, where Japanese high school and Jr High school students have to memorize a short selection (about two pages) written by Hearn and recite it in front a small panel of judges.

This year 49 Jr High students took part, and as always, Taisha Jr High was represented well by two 3nen sei students.

This year, Yuta (on the left) and Sumie (in the middle) agreed to memorize the at-times very-dated English and add gestures and with the help of me, Nagami sensei (on the right) and Nariai sensei (see my other pics on Flickr), shape their recitations in cohesive presentations.

I've had very good luck over the years at the Hearn contest.

My first year, 2004, I took two 2nen sei students, and one, Hitoshi Yamane, won a top prize. Hitoshi had lived in America for a few years when he was a young boy, and his English is very good. His recitation of "A Living God" was excellent.

My next year, 2005, I took two 3nen sei girls to the contest, and again came away with one of the top prizes. Asuka Tezen won for her recitation of "Sayonara!"

Last year, 2006, I again took two 3nen sei girls, and again won one top prize. Mami Sato won for her rendition of "Butterflies" which at least one of my kids has chosen to recite every year I've been involved.

This year I knew would be a challenge, as Yuta and Sumie were both novice speech givers, whereas in years past I've taken kids that had already done one of the less difficult speech contests the year before they attempted Hearn.

Both gave excellent speeches yesterday, remembering all their lines and incorporating their gestures fluidly. But unfortunately neither walked away with a prize.

But this year I think I truly felt satisfaction at a job well done.
Yuta and Sumie are both great kids. They started rehearsing about 4 weeks ago and went from 0 to 100 in a very short time. I couldn't be more proud of their achievement and their hard work.

And I think they also felt good about their performances, despite not winning a prize. I know in the future they will face any English assignment with full confidence that they can do it. They know they were better than many of the kids at the contest, and even though they weren't judged to be among the best, they also know how much they've improved over the past month. So I think they are happy and satisfied that they did their best.

And we had such a fun day Saturday. With 49 5-minute speeches to get through, it was gonna be a long day.

But we got lucky in that both Sumie and Yuta were scheduled to present in the morning session, so from about 12:30 until the awards ceremony at 4pm, we were free to do what we wanted.

So we had lunch at McDonald's - only the 2nd time in her whole life that Sumie has eaten at McDonald's, which is a worthy topic for a whole 'nother post. Then we went to a local shopping complex called Saty and I got to buy some Dr. Pepper at an import shop. (I really LOVE Dr. Pepper!)
They have purikura (print club) photo booths, so the three of us took pics while the "adult" teachers (I'm older than both of them) drank coffee at a local cafe.
Then we still had time to kill, so I convinced the kids and teachers to go to karaoke for an hour before heading back to the contest.

So we had a great afternoon before the letdown of no prize.

The girl who won the top prize in the Jr High division gave the same speech as Yuta, but her English was flawless and had a hint of a British accent. So I asked the ALT (Bill) at her school if she had lived abroad in Hong Kong or England and sure enough, she had lived in London for two years. You could totally tell.
Unlike the big, prestige speech contest that takes place in Tokyo every year and is named in honor of a member of the Japanese royal family, there is no rule prohibiting students who have lived abroad from competing at this local contest.
As a coach, I can help my students be confident speakers who use a loud voice and effective gestures, but it's difficult for me to overcome long-inbedded pronunciation issues in just one month of practice.

Anyway - I took video of each kid giving their speech so I'll try to get that posted to my You Tube site soon.

Enjoy the pics!

And congrats to Yuta and Sumie for a job well done and how happy they made me watching them do their best.

Monday, September 17, 2007

HJH & TJH Track n Field in Hirata

HJH & TJH Track n Field in Hirata - 17.jpg
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Last week I started working at my new Jr High - Hamayama Chu.

It's about 10 minutes from my house by car, and is about the same size as Taisha Chu, with about 450 students.

My first week at HJH was all preparations for their Sports Day, which took place last Friday, the 14th. It was a fun and casual week, and I had a good time meeting all my new students.

I took hundreds of pictures at both Sports Days - Taisha's on the 7th and Hamayama's on the 14th.

I hope to label and organize them and post them soon.

I'll probably post the pics from HJH first, since I don't know any of the kids' names yet, so that will save me time in labeling and I want to tell the kids there about my blog, so it'll be good to have some pictures for them to look at when they visit.

Basically I now do one week at Taisha, and then one week at Hamayama and then repeat.

This week coming up is a TJH week and I'll be busy after school everyday preparing Sumie and Yuta for the Lafcadio Hearn speech contest, which takes place this Saturday, the 22nd.

I've also started rehearsing with my 9th grade choir members - I'm teaching them a song from the play/film "Rent" called "Seasons of Love" to sing at the school cultural festival in late October.

So I'm busy, but doing well. Next time I'm at HJH will be lots of my self-introduction lessons, and I hope to be able to use my laptop and show pictures of America and pictures of their Sports Day.

The pictures I just posted are from a small Track n Field tournament in nearby Hirata that I went to yesterday. Kids from both TJH and HJH were competing, so I got to hang out with kids from both schools. Now of course I have to cheer for both schools when members of each are in the same race.

So click on this pic to see a few more from the T&F meet.

I'm busy watching the sumo everyday, but I hope to post more pics soon.


Japanese High School kids do STOMP

Here is another video from the Taisha High School festival, the day before their Sports Day. Each homeroom class of 3nen sei (12th graders) puts on a 7-minute routine. This class chose to do a "Stomp" performance. You get to hear some Avril and see some baton twirling.

You can go to my You Tube page for part ONE of this perfomance. I also posted 2 other vids from THS.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

chatting with Chugakusei - let's meet Miyuki

Here is a short video with Miyuki, one of my 9th graders who used to play kendo. (All the 9th graders are now "retired" from their after-school clubs and sports teams so they can start to concentrate on studying for their high school exams)

You can see Miyuki, Yuki and Ayumi in this clip, all members of 3-1 class and on the green team for Sports Day, which is tomorrow. I have been assigned to the Green Team this year, so when I was in America I bought green braclets for all 36 kids in the class and a green t-shirt for the homeroom teacher and had all the kids sign it in permanent pen on the back.

Lots more video and pictures from Sports Day as I have time to post them.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Japanese High School kids sing Avril

You can read the description of this video at my YouTube site by clicking on the words "You Tube" in the lower right corner of this video - it'll take you to the vids page on You Tube and I typed a couple of paragraphs explaining this vid.

Of course, you can also just watch and enjoy. :)

Shot at Taisha High School, the school of choice for the majority of my Jr High school students.

The sound is variable since it was really windy last Saturday.

I went to Izumo High School's sports day today, but missed the dances and cheering. Got to see a few of my former students, so that was fun, but I made the classic mistake...

I was introducing one of my former kids to Tyler, the new ALT at Izumo HS, and I said "This is Kasumi." Of course, her name is actually "Narumi." I'm so bad with names, and I hate it when I can't remember a former student's name.

Anyway - more pics and vids soon. My school's sports day is supposed to be this Friday, the 7th, but it might rain, so we'll see.


Monday, September 03, 2007

1nen sei Sports Day in July

shoes and tea
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Catching up with some already posted pics - these two were taken in July during the Ichi Nen Sei (7th grade) only Sports Day.

The 1nen sei girls played dodgeball and the boys played basketball in the gym.

The pic above is the entrance way to the gym - the kids have to remove their "indoor" slippers before going into the gym, where they can then put on special-soled gym-only sneakers. The girls, well-prepared as always, have flasks of cold tea and sweat towels - the boys just sweat into their shirts and go thirsty.

The pic below is of three of my most genki 7th grade girls who I think will provide me with plenty of good poses over the next few years.

Enjoy the pics and I'll try to post more soon.


Love this pic!