Thursday, March 26, 2015

He is Risen - Easter is Celebrated a Little Early with the O.S.F. Students

Some of the completed eggs
Several years ago, we started dying Easter eggs with the O.S.F. students as one of the annual activities. As with all O.S.F. kitchen events, we ask the students to sign up in advance so I know how much of the materials and ingredients to buy. Often times more students end up showing up than signing up, but not last night. Fifty six students had signed up to come and that's how many students were there. Five stations had been set up. One table for each of the four colors of dye that we had (red, yellow, blue, and green), along with a crayon station for those students who wanted to write or draw on their egg pre-dying it. After a brief set of instructions, the kids lined up and were handed an egg. Then they went to the table with the color(s) they wanted. Drying racks had been set up in the front so that once they had completed their egg they could set it there. The students are really great about helping with clean up. Then, while the dye was drying, we all (students and teachers) headed over to the religion department. First one of the teachers asked, "What is Easter?" A student in the back raised her hand, replying, "Jesus died on the cross, but then He came alive again." As a group, we read through the Easter story. Then we talked about why many Christians dye Easter eggs. That eggs remind us of new life, and how at Easter Jesus gave us all new life. Then the kids picked up their eggs and were dismissed.

Some students opted to head straight for the dye

Others wanted to draw designs or write on their eggs first


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Personal Narratives, Silly Stories, and Reading - Welcome to My E6 Class

Second semester started up a couple weeks ago, and with it being so short this year, there was no monkeying around. But that doesn't mean we're not having fun!

Paris in February
Our first week back after the Chinese New Year vacation (and also the first week of second semester) was a short week - just three days. For my E6 kiddos this meant that both E6A and E6B had one full oral and writing class, and half a reading class. Their first writing project of the semester was going to be a personal narrative about a trip that they'd taken. So oral class had us talking about places we've visited and places that we want to go. I shared about my time in Paris over the holiday, and we practiced coming up with an outline for the trip, just like the students would be doing once we'd finished oral class. This would be their first multiple paragraph writing project of the year. After they finished their outlines and we had talked about them, they started working on their first rough draft. In our half a reading class together, I handed out their copies of this semester's chapter book, Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, and we read "Sharks Alive!" from their supplemental reading book. We talked about the difference between facts and opinions. And as we read about sharks, tried to differentiate between the facts shared about sharks in the article and the opinions of the writer or people they'd talked to. (The following week we watched the trailer for "Jaws" the ultimate shark film. Have to share a little culture along the way. :))

Character journal assignment done about Amelia Bedelia
Last week was the second week back at school, and the first full week, of the semester. My E6 students handed in their first rounds of reading journals, peer edited their personal narratives, and we started reading James and the Giant Peach. Reading journals are homework that is based on books they've borrowed from the library and are reading on their own. Their first assignment had them doing a journal entry for a character from the book that they're reading. Some of the students really struggled with it, trying to make it a summary instead of a journal entry, but others excelled. I'd been looking over their personal narrative assignments as they completed different steps, but after they had been peer edited I really sat down and read them. And I have to say, I was really impressed with some of the work that my students produced! Were they perfect? No. Were they entertaining? Some of them sure were! One of my students when concluding his narrative about his trip to Penghu wrote, "We used a boat to go home. But my dad spew on the boat! That was fun!" I think he means that his time at Penghu was fun, but either way, it was an entertaining read. E6B did a particularly job writing engaging, well organized narratives. Finally, at the end of the week we read the first couple chapters of James and the Giant Peach. Since I knew that this semester was going to be a short one, we watched the Tim Burton film adaptation at the end of last semester, so the kiddos have some idea about what will be happening in the book already. They seemed to enjoy the first couple chapters, although we all agree that Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker are pretty horrible.

This week my E6 kids are completing their final drafts of their personal narratives, writing silly stories, and continuing with James in his adventures with his aunts. Along with working on their personal narratives, we've also been talking about adjectives and using descriptive language, so after they handed in their final draft of their personal narrative, I handed out lined paper with a silly picture on top. I had chosen three different pictures, so not every student would have the same picture. My students haven't had to do a lot of creative writing, so I wasn't sure how it would go, but yesterday's class impressed me. Their stories brought a smile to my face as I read through them this morning.

I was blessed with a relaxing two week holiday, and now it's great to be back with the students learning, reading, and writing. Every day is something different! :)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Winter Camp - Three Days Down; Five Days to Go

As the regular part of first semester wound down, I found myself more and more excited for winter camp. A little surprising, since mostly everyone is ready just to be on break (myself included), but the thing is, with winter camp it's a different schedule with different material, and you could tell on Wednesday. It just had that "first day" vibe. I am blessed to have a great winter camp schedule; I only teach E6, which is three hours of teaching every morning. But for me, it's perfect. The students are split into two groups, and they get to spend an hour and twenty-five minutes each morning with Whitney and an hour and twenty-five minutes with me. Whitney is teaching a lot of grammar and J1 entrance test prep stuff. My part of the class focuses on practicing and utilizing different reading skills, so every day is different.

As I prepared their lessons for the eight days of winter camp I wanted to try to find a little something for everyone and fill it with as much variety as possible. My goal was for it to be fun and educational while still giving them a chance to practice their reading skills. As a result, I ended up pulling a variety of different articles from a kids web magazine/paper and using them as the basis for each day's lesson. Not only would students have a chance to practice reading, but they'd also be forced to try to figure out new words that they hadn't seen before and didn't just know. Then we would take the topic of the article and look at it in a larger context. Lastly, if there was time, there was some sort of writing prompt or project.

Topics this week included: floating schools in Bangladesh (and sustainable resources), "Wizard Chambers" at a hotel in London (and film tourism), and Penguins in Sweaters in Australia (and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation).

The first day everything was new and as a result it took a little longer, but by yesterday we were starting to get into a groove.

I was surprised at how few of my students had read or seen Harry Potter in either Chinese or English (Apparently, that's a phenomena from my generation. I'm getting old!), but they still were engaged with the concept of film tourism. I showed clips from Universal Studios Diagon Alley, Warner Bros. Studio in London, and then, just as something different, Hobbiton from "The Hobbit." For the last ten minutes or so of class I had the students work on writing a letter to one of the places (or some other film tourism destination that they were familiar with) talking about how to improve the experience there. I'm paraphrasing, but my favorite letter that I read after class was,

To Whom It May Concern, 
My teacher says that I need to write you a letter. I don't know what I'm doing. Happy New Year! I think your hotel is awesome! 

Not exactly the assignment, but entertaining none the less. Many of the students wrote about including food from the Harry Potter books/movies, removing electricity from the rooms to make them scarier (and more authentic?), and adding some sort of tricks so it looked like there was magic happening in the rooms. Overall, I was pleased.
Today's article was about Little penguins in Australia and their sweaters which I then flushed out into wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. The kids all thought that the penguins were very cute, and they were. It was also entertaining to have to identify racoons, opossums, and skunks for the students, since those aren't common wildlife animals here in Taiwan. Today's project then was creating a poster to help animals or raise wildlife rescue/rehabilitation awareness. Here were some of the posters that I received. Again, good work!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas at Concordia: Part Two

After Christmas at Concordia part one earlier this week, here's part two. What can I say? Christmas is a big deal at this school. :)

My last post left off with the Junior and Senior high school students' trees at night and then caroling. The next morning (Wednesday) was when the classes gave their presentations and had their trees judged in the day light. Judging is based on several things, including: how well the trees tell the story, the students' presentations, and use of recycled materials. The C.M.S. students and teachers had Wednesday afternoon off, but the trees were still all decorated, so I used them for the Bible portion of both of my C.E. classes and took my students out to see the them. We stopped and talked about some of the trees that told stories we had learned in class. While we were out admiring the trees, several other classes passed us. It was beautiful day for a little outdoor excursion. :)

This Jonah tree was cool because if you walked around to the other side of the whale, you could see Jonah praying inside. :)

One of my C.E. 5 students said that this was his favorite tree we saw all day.

Because of our four day weekend next week, for New Year, we had to work this Saturday. Instead of holding regular class at C.E.L.A. and the kindergarten though, we decided to have all our Christmas activities today. So it's been another day of Christmas!

This morning we held the kindergarten Christmas. It started with a skit by the teachers and then the singing of "Go Tell It on the Mountain." The kids have been practicing for weeks, and you could tell. They did an amazing job! Then the various classes cycled through different stations: story, songs, and games. The kindergarten festivities culminated in cookie decorating in the different classes' classrooms.

Singing during song time.

Decorating cookies!

Then this afternoon were the two C.E.L.A. Christmas celebrations. I had the activity center for E5 and E6. We watched winter themed cartoons with Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Chip and Dale while doing Christmas themed word searches. With other teachers, the kids also were able to decorate and assemble cookie houses and hear the Christmas story.

It's been a crazy, good but crazy, week! And now, I'm ready for my short work week this coming week and a four day weekend. :)