Archive for the ‘2nd grade boys’ Category

Coffee and Good Cheer

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Ugh 2.9. 2.9. It’s so frustrating teaching them because anything that works well with any other class flops. They’ve been getting better but even their “better” in my class isn’t great. I lectured the class as a whole, talked to some kids individually, and left class feeling really discouraged when I ran into one of my favorite second graders.

I asked how his day was and he responded “FANTASTIC” with a giant grin on his face, then asked me how I was. Something must have shown in my face, because when I answered “oh I’m fine” he could tell something was up.

“What’s wrong, teacher?”
“Oh nothing. I just want to sleep. Mornings are very difficult. I must go drink coffee.”
“Oh no! You don’t have to buy me coffee.”
“Yes Teacher! I will buy you coffee! Wait a moment please!”

The student thrust his hand into his pockets and then realized that he was wearing his gym uniform, and then hurriedly explained that he could not buy me coffee because he didn’t have any money on him, but that he would buy me machine milk coffee during cleaning period. I assured him that he didn’t have to, but he insisted.

I realize that I haven’t been blogging very much recently. Recently I’ve been slammed with work (both professional and personal), but that doesn’t mean that my life has ceased to be interesting. I’m still having good days and bad days, and more commonly just days with good and bad moments, and though I won’t be here much longer I’ll make renew my effort to write all those moments down, so I don’t forget them when I go.

Pink, Sparkly Lip Gloss

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Makeup is against the dress code, but that doesn’t stop students from wearing it. Everyone’s heard my rants about students putting on foundation, concealer, eyelid tape (yes that is a thing), etc. Even though I’m at a high-level academic now, where way less students wear makeup than at SGHS, I’ve stopped batting an eye when students with their faces caked in makeup come up to me.

Today I did my create a country lesson for the first time in two years, for the first time since SGHS, actually. We talk about different things needed to create our own country (a political system, industry, education system, military, etc) and students make up their own country name, create a flag, and answer these questions.

One team made the “175 cm Country,” where all residents must be under 175 centimeters. They decorated their flag with short people, and then left what looks to be a pink, sparkly kiss. This is all well and good, until you realize that this was an all-boys class. As much as I hate to play into gender roles – considering makeup isn’t allowed and boys and girls aren’t allowed to talk to each other, where did this boy get the lip gloss from?!

Wish vs. Hope

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

As I don’t have to do a full-blown intro lesson with second grade, I taught my returning students the differences between “wish” and “hope.” We practiced constructing future hopes and wishes, and then wrote our self-introductions on index cards. Students would then come up to the front of the classroom, read other students’ index cards, and the class as a whole would have to try to guess which student wrote which card based on their wishes/hopes/hobbies/hometowns, etc. It was fun.

The way I tried to simply break it down was you use “hope” when something is possible or probable, and “wish” when something is impossible or improbable. For that reason, you can say “I hope I will go to sleep early” to signify that that (going to sleep early) is something that may actually happen, and you can say “I wish I could go to sleep early” when you have important work that you must do, and thus most likely will not be going to sleep early.

We brainstormed verbs in pairs, then I threw my classroom ball and whoever caught it had to volunteer a verb. The class as a whole created a phrase with the verb, then decided if that phrase was impossible/improbable/probable/possible and created a sentence together by plugging it into one of the two grammar structures I had left on the board [I wish I would/could; I hope I will].

Addict -> Break an addiction -> Break my addiction to computer games -> I wish I could break my addiction to computer games.

Here are some funny/sweet/weird ones (and ones I’m a little scared to leave up on the board) my students have come up with.

I hope I can talk to female students [this semester].
I wish I could invade Russia.
I wish I could burn down the school.
I wish I could walk to the sky.
I hope I can cure cancer.
I hope I can confess my secret.
I wish I could sleep in Emily’s class.

Inflating Hopes and Happiness

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Here’s a reminder to myself to think things through. Would it be cute to have pictures of all of my students holding tiny balloons with the things that make them happy written on them? OF COURSE IT WOULD BE. Is it practical, feasible, hygienic, or quiet? Not at all.

For my first second grade lesson of this semester, we talked about happiness and Bhutan, and whether Gross National Happiness was a better or worse scale than Gross Domestic Profit. This was all in conjunction with the things I usually do during my first week of lessons, like take individual pictures of the students and have them write self-introductions on flashcards.

This week I decided to pretend that I had kept with the theme of happiness all semester and made my final lesson also about happiness. We used the amazing Balloons of Bhutan project (which we briefly referenced during the first lesson as a way to introduce the idea of GNH) and watched the last half of this Ted video, where Jonathan Harris, the artist, explains the project and shows pictures of the people he interviewed.

Then, I had all of the students answer five questions that were similar to the questions that Harris had asked his interviewees, and then gave them all a balloon to blow up and told them to write down their own “recipe for happiness” (i.e., what makes them happy) on the balloon.

Mass chaos ensued, pictures of which I’ll post in a gigantic balloon-filled blogpost on Friday or Saturday.

Within the whirlwind of activity that has been giving students balloons meant to be filled with water (and thus are much thicker and harder to blow up. whoops), there have been some very sweet moments, one of which I want to take a moment to detail.

I was walking around 2.4′s classroom, second grade boys, feeling rather motherly as I helped twist balloons around my finger, both tying them and cutting off my circulation in one go, when  I saw a student named HS who had finished writing out his recipe for happiness and was waving around his balloon, showing it to anyone who cared to look. I walked over and asked to see what he had written. A smile lit up his face, and he shoved the balloon at me. On it, he had written “my crush on KD.” I asked if she knew, and he looked shocked and replied that of course she didn’t know. Fair enough, I countered, and told him that he had made a good choice. He laughed.

Soon after this conversation, students finished up writing on their balloons and I told them to gather for a class photo. As they were all lining up (and by lining up, I mean scrambling over each other to either hide in the back, or sprawl out in the front for the picture) HS shyly asked me if he could have another balloon. I told him not to worry, that he didn’t have to show his message, and that he could hide it with his hands, or tilt the words away from the camera.

The photo I eventually took is incredibly silly. The students wouldn’t stand still, so I took it while they were still in motion, jumping over chairs and hanging off of each other. Some of them are hitting others in the face with their balloons, some of them are jumping up and down in the back, and I have a few students hugging each other. If you look carefully you can see HS to the right, one hand making a peace sign, the other hand carefully cupping the words so that it looks like blank balloon, with a half-smile on his face.

Soon after that the bell rang, and the students went wild. Whereas my female students had tried to keep the balloons inflated, by taping them to their desks or giving them to friends, my male students actively tried to destroy them. They decided to see who could pop the balloons the loudest, by kicking the balloons, punching them, or by smacking them into each other’s faces. HS was one of the few who decided not to pop his, and as I left class he was still cradling his balloon protectively in his hands.

Em in Asia! 2012-05-15 01:32:36

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

I think the students are enjoying Teacher’s Day more than the teachers are! I just saw some of my favorite second grade male students get into a cake fight in the hallway. That’s right. A cake fight. Messy and delicious however you slice it.

Grandmother Teacher

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Class 2.5 is nuts. They always are to some degree, but it was raining today which means they can’t go running around outside which just sort of adds to the insanity. Today in class we practiced speaking and recognizing large numbers. After finishing up the lesson I gave a lecture on why knowing your numbers in English is important.

“Okay class, understand?”
“What?! I’m not a SIR. Do I look like a man?”
“No, sorry. Sorry. Um… what do we say for woman?”
“You can just say ‘yes teacher.’ We sometimes say ‘ma’am’, but we really only use that for 아줌마.”
“You are an 아줌마.”
“WHAT? No I’m not!”
“No. You are an 아저씨.”
“No I’m not! Do I look like an 아저씨?”
“Okay fine, 할머니.”
“chhhh, guys, really?”

Then after class I chatted with some students as I was packing up my things, and upon turning around I saw that a student had snuck up behind me and had written on the chalkboard “grandmother” with an arrow pointing to me.

“I AM NOT A GRANDMA! Seriously, how old do you all think I am?”
“Eighty. No wait. Nine-hundred-and-ninety-million-nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine-thousand-nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine years old.”

Well. They learned their numbers at least.


Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

My boys, my boys.

Imagine, if you will, that every time I say “my boys” in this blog I do it with a slight shake of my head and a smirk, and you’ll get a good idea of our relationship.

This week I’m working with the second graders on numbers. Two second grade boys classes have discovered that the word “Million” is similar to “Emily” (… it really isn’t). The Million Photos of Sky jokes are going to start rolling in any day now. Today I also taught some second grade boys how to say “well played” after they kept yelling “GOOD PLAYING! WAHOO! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” at each other after every single math race game.

Today I also saw one of my favorite students run down the hall arms frantically revolving like a windmill. “HI EMILY TEACHER!” he said, then quickly grabbed his mouth. “I have to be quiet because my best friend is… how do you say… violent?” At that moment, his friend BURST out from the neighboring homeroom and proceeded to BEAT HIM OVER THE HEAD WITH A PLASTIC BROOM.

What is my life.

Today I met my girls for after-lunch conversation club. Imagine that when I say “my girls” I make a little heart with my hands and beam. These girls have asked me to help them choose English names, and have told me that they’d pick out Korean names for me. I tried to pick out names for them that either had similar meanings, or sounded like the first letter/syllable  of their Korean names (The students names are 승리: seungri, which means victory, and 조경: jo kyeong, which means… well, something about authority towards elders, it was a bit difficult for her to explain). I offered a number of choices, and they chose Serena and Jamie. They then presented me with my name, 인애. 인애 is not a very common name, and it was a bit difficult for them to explain. There are many different Chinese characters that become 인 when brought into Korean, but the one they chose here means 참다: to bear or tolerate, and 애 means love.

As a general rule, I don’t like the idea of giving students English names. Obviously this is different, as it’s on a one-on-one basis with students I regularly see during lunch time, but I’ve done it before as a class-wide exercise – during my first semester at Sapgyo I had students pick names from a sheet of paper and write them on their name tag. With the exception of a few students who DESPERATELY wanted to be named something other than what was on the sheet (I had a few Lady Gagas and an entire class filled with Brazillian soccer players), no one chose anything too extreme. However, not only did that prevent me from learning their real names, but also other teachers had no idea who I was talking about, when I would mention Messi from class 1.1.

Names are important, and names are powerful. During the Japanese occupation period not only did Koreans have to learn Japanese at the expense their native tongue, but they had to give up their names and adopt Japanese ones. While my class is obviously nothing like the Japanese occupation, I can’t help but cringe when I think of stepping in as a foreigner and asking my students to chose fake names from my language. Because that’s what they are – fake names that they use once a week during English class. There’s no real connection to the names, and even if they know the name’s meaning, it’s still just an assumed, temporary identity.

The Return of Photosky

Friday, March 16th, 2012

I think I’m sick AGAIN. Eurgh. Right now all the students seem to either be coughing, or have eye patches due to some contagious eye disease… I hate winter. Even though two of my favorite second grade boys classes are on Fridays, I did not want to go into school today. I scrapped my original lesson plan (a kind of intense one about similes and metaphors) and decided to just play scattergories to try to recover my voice. I forgot how into scattegories the students get and how much I have to yell to get their attention so that backfired but it definitely propped up my spirits.

When I entered 2.5 I immediately started teaching, but students told me to go look at the board. I turned around and saw this


I thought that they had forgotten my Latin roots lesson, and it just about made my day.


Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

After 2.4′s class today I got stopped by two of my competition kids who thanked me for helping them during the competition and wanted to tell me that they along with one other second grade girl placed! Considering there are only 4 high school winners, that is not bad at all. Yayyyy Changpyeong!

Their prize is that they get to go to Australia on a paid vacation February 2nd – 10th. I told them to buy me a kangaroo, and they responded that they’d get me a koala also. I responded that I hate koalas (vicious little creatures) but thanks for the offer. Then there were high-fives all around.

I really like class 2.4… I just wish they liked me as much as I like them. Recently I had a conversation about different types of classes with the ever-awesome Sam Morrow – first grade girls are the most receptive and willing to listen and easiest to discipline, second grade girls you have to earn their respect but once you do they’re super thoughtful and will listen, and first grade boys are crazy and have lots of energy. They’re all relatively easy to cow, though, and for the most part there’s a reciprocal amount of affection there. The girls’ classes are the easiest to work with, and that makes them really really nice, but second grade boys are honestly my favorites. However, I think generally I like them way more than they like me. Thus is life.

Today I taught 2.6 (girls, science track), 2.4 (boys, society), and 1.1A (girls, advanced, not tracked yet) and it was the first day of my Scrabble week. It’s been fun walking around in the halls carrying my six sets of Scrabble boards and hearing students from other classes whisper 오! 좋겠다!

Scrabble is really really hard for EFL students, even advanced ones, so to break it up a bit we actually played two different games – Ultimate Scrabble and regular board Scrabble. Ultimate Scrabble is a class-wide version of scrabble, where you split the students into groups of five (so, in my class of thirty I had six teams) and every round it is a team’s turn and the teacher draws a letter and puts it in the letter bank on the board. Every turn a team has a chance to make a word. If they make the word they get the corresponding number of points scrabble style (E is 1 point, Q is 10). However, they are not just limited to using the word bank, they can also “steal” points by rearranging other team’s words, which then not only gives them points, but subtracts points from other teams. For example, if the letter bank has the letters ARSTMTILE Team 4 can say “STAR” and receive however many points. Then it’s team 5′s turn, and they draw the letter P, so the letters remaining in the bank are MTILEP. Team 5 can either “steal” Team 4′s points by rearranging STAR and adding a P to make it PARTS, or they can create a new word, like TIME. Theoretically, they can even do both if they think of it. The girls thought this was fun, but difficult. The boys went ballistic.

When I say ballistic I mean like, screaming, standing on chairs in order to see the board, and students actually coming up to the board and using color-coded chalk to show how they were rearranging four words and taking letters from the word bank to create three new words. And yes, that actually happened, multiple times in fact - one student in one turn got his team twenty-five points and caused three other teams to each lose five points. Other students were coming up with words like TOXIN and ANNOY. It was ridiculous. I’m so excited to keep doing scrabble this week, even if I am going to end up throwing out my back.