Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The joys of desk-warming

You might be thinking.... What is desk-warming?

In Korea, English teachers often have to desk-warm on student holidays.  The regular teachers don't usually have to be at school, but the GETs (Guest English Teacher) do.

The janitor and a couple of the office staff might be there.  And you.

I have had desk-warming 3 days this week.  On Monday, it wasn't fun because I didn't have any electricity.  I had heat, which was great.  I didn't mind the lights because I have a lot of windows in my office.  But I sure did mind the electricity because I couldn't use the computer or anything.

It finally got fixed in the afternoon after I complained.

So what do I do during desk-warming?

On my school computer, I watch Netflix.  I have already watched (again) every season of Toddlers and Tiaras.  Am I the only person who liked that show?  It's such a train wreck, and it made me want to smack some of the moms, but I still loved it.

I have also watched several movies, including all those great tear-jerker family ABC family Christmas movies during Christmas.

Now, I am on a Bones kick. I love that show and have seen every single episode.  So starting at the beginning again has been a real treat, back when Bones and Seeley weren't together.  Love it.

While I'm watching TV on my school computer, I am working on items for my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  These are some of the goodies I have been working on lately.

Match-Up Puzzles - mental math division
Match-Up Puzzles - fractions and decimals
Match-Up Puzzles - place value whole numbers expanded form
Mix & Match Math Choice Boards

I sure wish I knew what grade level and subject I will be teaching next year, so I could get a jumpstart and start creating games and activities.  So instead I am just creating things I would have used in the classroom in my previous years of teaching.  It keeps me busy during all those desk-warming hours.

Just curious...what would you do if you had desk-warming hours?

Highlights of Thailand - part 1

Here are a couple of highlights from my trip to Thailand...

Here is Wat Pho and the big reclining Buddha.

The Grand Palace.  So....much....gold....

Getting a fish foot spa "massage".  The fish nibble the dry skin off your feet.  Yes, it really tickles.  And these fish were HUNGRY!

Hanging out with all the protestors

The huge monitor lizard in the park

This is just part one...

Monday, January 20, 2014

One Night in Bangkok

I am currently on winter vacation in Thailand.  I know.  It's a hard life.  Teachers back in the states got their two weeks during Christmas, but I had to work.  I brought my laptop with me so I wouldn't have thousands of pictures to upload when I got home.  I'm a little bit obsessed with taking pictures.  I will be the first to admit it.  However, I am happy to be that way.

Case in point....

I have never in my life been a part of history before.  Until now.

We arrived in Bangkok on Monday, January 13th.  If you didn't know, Thailand is going through some rough spots with the government.  The people say that the government is corrupt and have been protesting against it for several months.  They decided to do a big resurgence on Monday, January 13th where thousands and thousands of people protested in 7 different parts of the city.  They call it the "Bangkok Shutdown 13 January 2014".

So when my friend and I booked our hostel, we did not know that the hostel was right smack dab in the middle of one of the major protests.  Literally.  You walk out the door of the hostel, and there it is.

This is our view as we got off the subway for our hostel.  Our mouths literally dropped open.

I love to teach history.  I taught two years of 6th grade world cultures, and I loved it.  But I've never witnessed or been a part of a historical event.  To be able to be a part of history is amazing.  I will definitely be bringing this to my classroom.

I've also learned this and will be bringing it to my classroom.  Don't believe everything the media tells you.  Throughout the news and media, we kept hearing about the protests in Bangkok.  "Stay away."  "Protestors have died."  "It is dangerous.  Don't go there."

I have traveled to 45 countries.  I know about traveling.  I have been scared in a foreign country before.  I was in Russia the day that 9 suicide bombers died, and they closed the Red Square.  And I got lost.  I will never forget that day.

However, in Bangkok, I was not scared.  Not one bit.  The so-called dangerous protestors were the nicest, most welcoming people.  Way more welcoming and nice than the Korean people....where I live mind you.  They were there to show their support, like one big sit-in.  There were people sitting and talking with each other, wearing whistles to show their pride and support, selling red, white, and blue goodies, and cooking and selling food.  People brought their tents to sleep in or they just slept on the street.  It was an amazing sight to see.  Several people wanted us to take their picture.  People even wanted their pictures taken with us.

I am SO glad it worked out this way that we were able to be there on the big day.  I wouldn't have traded this for the world.

As I mentioned before, I'm a bit obsessed with taking pictures.  I took A LOT more pictures from our first night in Bangkok.  If you want to check them out, please hop on over to my personal blog, The Elephant Hat.

There will be more posts coming from my adventures in Thailand!  By the way....I love this place SO much that you might have to drag me back to Korea.  The food, the people, the everything here is amazing.  And to think....I can go back home to Korea and have baby octopus, fish heads, and kimchi.  Oh joy.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The rainbow connection

Several of my students are learning their ABCs.  We do all kinds of activities to practice them.

We put together ABC puzzles (which I got from the dollar store here).

We sing songs (of course we sing songs), and we act out our ABCs.  I have never taught kindergarten or students with moderate to severe learning disabilities, so this has been a stretch for me.  A good stretch, but still a stretch.

A couple of months ago a friend of mine sent me an email with some ideas.  She used to teach dyslexic students before she retired.  She told me about the Rainbow Mat.  I made a simple one from some construction paper I found in the classroom and introduced it to my students.  They loved it.

Mina loves matching the magnetic letters to the letters on the mat.

I thought possibly other teachers might benefit from it as well.  It would be great for students with learning disabilities, preschool students, RTI small group instruction, etc.  So I have been working for a while on The ABC Rainbow Connection (yes, I love the Muppets...therefore the Rainbow Connection).  "And someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me."
The ABC Rainbow Connection
I love to use the rainbow mats with my ABC Mix and Match Word Wall Cards.
ABC Mix and Match Word Wall Cards
 Here are some examples of the pictures:

I show a picture, and students choose the letter of the alphabet that the picture starts with.

Teaching here has not been easy, but I have really learned a lot.  I am always thinking of new ideas and new activities to teach my students.  I am being stretched, that's for sure.  Just call me Stretch Armstrong!  Do you remember him?

By the way, I will be out of pocket for a bit, since I will be in Thailand for 2 weeks for my winter vacation.  I am SO excited!  I am taking my laptop, so I will try to upload a couple of pictures if I can.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Five for Friday time!

TGIF!!  It's Friday, so it's time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the weekly Five for Friday.

Can I get a big woo-hoo?  WOO-HOO!!!!

Here are my five random things from this week:

So who knows what song this is?
If you guessed "As Long As You Love Me" by the Backstreet Boys, you are the winner!

My co-teacher for my 5th and 6th grade winter camp class wanted to teach the students this song.  She asked me if I knew it.  Hah!  I started singing it to her and then whipped out my iPod and started playing the song.  Gotta love the Backstreet Boys.  We had fun singing and teaching the kids this song.  I don't think they liked it near as much as we did.

One day this week my co-teacher surprised me and asked me to go with her and her winter camp class to a little coffee shop.  It was actually a coffee shop that is run by intellectually disabled students from the school next to ours.  Pretty cool, huh?  The kids loved it.

One of our goals in English class is to get our students to practice speaking.  On the whole, Koreans don't think they speak English well, even if they do.  So they are not likely to answer a question if you ask the whole class.  So I brought in a game.  I had been using Hot Potato with my elementary classes and thought I would use the same game with my older class.  (The boy in orange is the son of one of the teachers at my school, and he sent him to school this week to practice his English.  He was wonderful!)

So what I did is this...I brought my iPod and little speaker from home and put on my "Workout" playlist.  I played the music, and we passed the "hot potato" from person to person.  When the music stopped (by me pressing the pause button), the person holding the "hot potato" would have to pick a tongue twister from the box and read it.  We had learned tongue twisters the day before.  They.  Loved.  It.  And it totally surprised my co-teacher.  We all laughed and had such a good time.  Playing Hot Potato has been been one of the best experiences at my school.  Who would have known?

On Wednesday morning, we took the elementary kiddos on a field trip to O World to go sledding.  Down an artificial snow hill.  Actually, it was tubing....aka putting your booty into a tiny inner tube.  And what do you know?  It started snowing before we left.  Cool!

This place was so cool.  It's an amusement park and zoo.  I would love to come back in the spring.

We had to walk through the park to get to the snow hill.  We each had a student buddy who is blind.
 These "stairs" were somewhat difficult for the blind students.  They weren't even at all.  And you had to step over this awkward rubber.  Then you got your inner tube and drug it up the hill.
 It was SO MUCH FUN!  I went up and down the hill 9 times.  I felt like a little kid.

The last random thing of the week is a doozy.  The principals took all the winter camp teachers out to dinner today after school.

This was our appetizer.  Silk worm larvae.  Yes.  You read that right.  And it smells JUST as bad as you think it does.  It's awful.  Simply awful.
Sorry for the pic.  I just had my phone.

Then for the main dish...we had a spicy array of sea creatures: octopus, shrimp, crab, mussels, squid...all mixed with bean sprouts.

And here is a little baby octopus.  He says "hi".

Makes you want to move to Korea, right?

Seriously though...as I was sitting on the floor in the restaurant, I thought about what an incredible experience I'm having over here.  Crazy and sometimes strange but incredible.