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Halloween Over, next Thanksgiving? 
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Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 11:04 am
Posts: 66
Location: Chatan, Okinawa, JA
Post Halloween Over, next Thanksgiving?
So, I would like to reiterate that this is my first year (of hopefully many) teaching English. I have no degree or experience prior to this year. That being said, Im really in a loss of what to do next. I teach K-6, and have had a lot of fun, and creative ideas... however, all those ingenious ideas I had before (or the ones from this site) keep repeating themselves.

Now that Halloween is over (had our party today), do most move on to thanksgiving? Do you do it for the whole month? I have no real plans from the last years teacher, and the Year Overview is really vague.

This school is somewhat spoiled because (as ALT), Im not responsible for writing my own plans or anything, but I do. The old ALT basically did everything, so now, the teachers are either translators, or sit there and do nothing while I teach. Is this the way it is with most of you?

Sorry to throw like 3 topics into one post... but Im getting slightly frustrated.

Tue Oct 30, 2007 3:19 pm
Profile YIM

Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:59 pm
Posts: 38
Location: Gunma Prefecture
Hey there, and sorry to hear you're feeling frustrated. Maybe I'm confused, but are you saying that you've only been doing holiday related lessons? If so, that could be part of your frustration. I think having a holiday related group of vocabulary is fun every once in a while when the timing is right, but not really something I'll review during recurring lessons. I'm thinking of doing a Halloween related lesson for my elementary classes tomorrow, but I won't really expect the kids to remember it very long after the lesson day is over because its only useful around that time of year. I guess I'll consider it a bit of one-off thing that we can have fun with that particular day. Anyways, if you have full control over the curriculum, I think you'll feel a lot better teaching basics that the kids can use anytime, anywhere.

And if the teachers are sitting around watching you, force them to come up and demo things with you. Use them, and they will have more fun and they'll start to want to be involved. I personally feel really odd if a teacher doesn't feel like my partner during the lesson, so I'll kind of stage situations where they kind of have to participate and soon enough I find that I don't have to try anymore, they're helping because they want to do it.

So sorry if I misunderstood your meaning above. If I didn't and you want more specifics about curriculum, let me know and I'd be happy to post a quick outline of what I've taught my elementary students so far this year.

Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:40 pm

Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 11:04 am
Posts: 66
Location: Chatan, Okinawa, JA
Well, I think you understood some of it. The rest I just didnt explain clearly. Not every month, I teach a holiday related class. Halloween being a big one though, I decided to basically find something every week for the students (halloween related). Next month, I think that Thanksgiving is a pretty big holiday as well, so I plan on doing lessons around it. I really havent had to do this before, because all the previous months were pretty small holidays that Japanese dont really know about.

About the teachers:
They arent necessarily not doing anything. Usually they stand around and translate, and I do use them as a partner or whatever. However, with my limited Japanese, some of the Teachers dont understand what Im trying to explain as well. Also, as ALT (Assistant Language Teacher), Im understanding that it is up to the HRT to make the plans. However, I make the plans every week. Basically I was interested in more ways to get the teachers involved in planning what I will teach. Its only the 6th grade teachers that will help me when Im lost :(

I hope I didnt confuse you, and thank you for your replies.

Wed Oct 31, 2007 9:39 am
Profile YIM
Site Admin

Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
I only do Thanksgiving with older students who have been studying with me for a while. It's a big holiday but the language surrounding it isn't as common as say Halloween (spider, bat, spider web, vampire, ghost, witch, skeleton ...) or Christmas (angel, Christmas tree, Santa, present, snow, snowman, snow flake ...)

Thanksgiving is really good for some cooking terminology, though. And there's also a lot of 'food' language you can teach (turkey, mashed potatoes, pie, cranberry sauce, stuffing ...)

Anyway, not to discourage you ... I think you can do Thanksgiving if you want. But maybe have some other meat and potatoes portion in the lesson as well, with Thanksgiving just taking up 1/2 - 1/3 of the time.

As far as lesson planning, if you keep doing it, they'll keep letting you. You're right, it's their job to plan the lesson, bring the materials, and execute the lesson. You are the assistant. You need to corner them a couple days ahead of time or call on the phone and ask what they have planned for the next lesson. That will be a very Japanese way of indirectly saying they have to do it. You may need to ask every day up to the lesson until they actually make the plan.

Some people (myself included) would just rather do it themselves, but you have every right to expect them to do it. It's their job.

Good luck and you can always bounce lesson ideas off the forum members here if you do just decide to plan everything yourself.

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Wed Oct 31, 2007 10:35 am
Profile WWW

Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:59 pm
Posts: 38
Location: Gunma Prefecture
Well thanks for clarifying, and now that you have I see where you're coming from for sure. I can totally understand why you want help or input from the homeroom teachers about lesson planning because it's a big responsibility to have to do it all yourself. But, from what I've heard, the Assitant Teachers who have lesson plans handed to them often feel aggravated by the pace or the order of the lesson plans they're being forced to teach and wind up wishing they could just decide for themselves.

Also, speaking from personal experience, if each homeroom teacher was telling me what they wanted me to teach, I'd be super stressed because inevitably a few of them would want different things and I'd have to prepare different sets of materials and game ideas for different classes in the same day. I find it hard enough to prepare one set of materials/games in a day (I usually teach the same thing to all my classes, because I only have 1st-3rd grades so the difficulty level isn't very spread). I couldn't imagine having to cater to individual requests. But ideally, to save yourself extra prep work, you can sit down with a representative or two from the classes you're teaching the coming week and get their input with the other teacher's blessing and make a full day plan based around one language point or something like that. But if you have limited Japanese, that'll be a challenging part.

And about the teachers in class, I also have limited Japanese, but maybe I've gotten good at using really simple language and gestures to communicate my meaning. Though I do reiterare in Japanese when I am able. I noticed the simple concept games always worked best when I started out, and I think they still do, even though my Japanese is better now. So, just keep trying to use them whenever you can, and they'll get better about jumping in with you, I think.

Wed Oct 31, 2007 4:11 pm

Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:35 pm
Posts: 119
Location: Yamaguchi, Japan
Post A few thoughts
I am really happy to plan the lessons myself as I don`t get to meet the teachers beforehand. I get to see the classes once or twice a month. A day at elementary school for me involves teaching a range of levels so the lessons are different. 3 out of 20 teachers plan the lessons and run them, 2 try to sit and do other things. Most I have managed to get up and have fun, the 2 don`t want to and make the job harder when they are forced to, sometimes I can`t be bothered trying to get them involved. I am flexible enough to manage either way.
The schools all now email me the topics they would like to teach, some have got textbooks and we dip in and out of them. I have been trying to move the curriculum (where it exists) from theme based activities that seem to be more about playing to one that gives the students a good grasp of basic English language.

I have sets of resources that I spent some time making when I started last year (thanks Mark). I don`t have a huge range of vocab because I like to use known vocab with the new language we are learning and once or twice a month means it takes some time to pick the vocab up. I use lots of fruit, vegetables, animals, sports, playground games and activities. More language, less vocab is my elementary school model.

I make sure every lesson has some phonics in it. Even the teachers who run the lesson now slot in a time for this as they know that I will jump in anyway to do some. They have also seen over the course of the year the benefit of it and perhaps now have an understanding of where it is taking the kids.

I have a few small schools (4 students, 16 students and 30 students) and when I started I made a point of going into classes in my non-scheduled times and observed how the teachers teach. It gives me a good idea about the teacher and their comfort zones and I used this think to think of ways to encourage them to participate and not feel uncomfortable. Now I can go into many of the classes and join in a lesson, as either teacher or extra student. The kids love my attempts at Japanese classes.

Thu Nov 01, 2007 12:11 pm

Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 3:16 am
Posts: 25
Hi, Mark and everyone
I've been away for a long time, things here are getting hard for teachers. Lots and lots of papers just to make sure teachers are working; in the end, we simply don't work, because we spent our time preparing papers to show that we do work :(
I read your reply about Thanksgiving and I thought , right away, about my healthy kitchen. It was something I was not thinking about, I was not making any kind of linking to cooking; for me ( and for everyone, here in Portugal )thanksgiving is a strange thing, and I just tell the students about the pilgrims, Mayflower and that sort of things and I usually ask them to write a small text giving thanks. It's very difficult for them, they usually don't know what they have to thank for. I think it is very grateful, when, in the end, we discover that they did discover the amount of things they have to be grateful for. Anyway, back to my healthy kitchen, I suppose I need some help. I know about the miserable turkeys running away from the oven , but what else do you, American people, eat for thanksgiving?How do you prepare the turkey? Some years ago I read in a magazine, that In America, the turkeys were sold with a thermometer, which would jump out when the turkey was ready. What do you have to say about that? Just a joke about American people, or do you really don't know when the turkey is ready? Here, before killing the poor guy, we offer "him" a glass or two of what is our very special wine, famous abroad , Porto wine, and "he" is fed in a different way, so that the meat turns into a very special "gourmet" food.
What about table decoration ... is it true that thanksgiving is more popular than Cx?
If you could lend me a hand with your traditional food for this time of the year, I'd have something to give thanks in my private Thanksgiving.
( By the way, I didn't carve my pumpkin, there are no pumpkins here, because Fall hasn't arrived yet, we are more or less in Summer. It's our tradition, in November ( 11th) to have chestnuts, but the planet seems to have gone crazy and everything is upside down. There are no chestnuts, so we can't celebrate S. Martinho.
My children are starting an ABC with fruits and vegetables. I'll let you know when I have something ready.
Happy thanksgiving
Olinda :smt043


Fri Nov 02, 2007 8:59 am
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