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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Maxine's School

This is Maxine's class at her kindergarten.  Her class name is "Happy Beavers".  Before making any remarks, please keep in mind that these are children.
 The school sent us these pictures.  I'm thinking that they could not resist Maxine's charms.  Who could?
 They took their first field trip to a potato farm.  Maxine told me that she planted seven potatoes.  That's pretty good.  I have not even planted one.
As you can tell, the whole class is seriously into posing for pictures.  Maxine's teacher told Horyon that Maxine doesn't really speak much Korean (she has individual tutoring in the afternoons to catch up), but that she still ends up leading the free play games, like playing house.  I can tell that her Korean is quickly gaining speed.  I think that she heard enough before she turned two that her brain is programmed to receive Korean, she just needs to learn the structures and vocabulary.

I would still like to see her get more attention in this regard.  I know that American schools (KS schools, anyway) are required to have ESL programs for kids who don't speak English.  It's kind of disappointing to hear that Korean schools have little or no plan for kids who don't speak Korean.  My coworker's daughter spent 5th and 6th grade in a Korean public school before transferring to an English school, and she is now working hard to catch up with her peers, because the Korean school administration and teachers let her sit in class not understanding anything, making no concerted effort to get her the language skills she needed to succeed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Maxine's Art

Here is some of Maxine's art.  Click on the picture for a bigger version.  Below each picture is what Maxine told me about the pictures.  I attempted to preserve her words as she told them to me, explaining why the Roblog today sounds a bit more like a five-year-old wrote it than usual.  All were drawn in March 2011.
 Everyone thinked of a fiesta for the trees, so they decorated it!  With paint and with Christmas decorations, Christmas holders for the Christmas trees.

And they put a ladder on top.  (Daddy:  "Is there a ladder in there?"  Maxine: "They put the ladder away.")

And when they put up the ladder, they put three hearts: one medium, one small, one big, on each size tree.  They put the little one on the little tree, they put the medium one on the medium tree, and the big one on the big tree.

And they put paint the trees with sand to cover the holes chipmunks made in the trees.

The sun was too bright that it put on sunglasses!

(D: "What are the pink things?")  It was so bright that pink flowers comed out of the sky.

They put on strings behind the branches on each tree to another.  D: "What's it for?"  They put a ribbon through the other in the middle.  They put strange things around the trees.  D: "Who?"  The Christmas guy that loved Christmas.  It wasn't Santa Claus.  Nobody seen Santa Claus, because they were so sleepy.

"Is the sky special?  Why?"  The sky was so lightful that it wanted to be a little dark.  The people loved each other, and they lived happily ever after.  The End.
 A fairy was so happy of a smell she came and came of a lost flower falling down from the sky.  And the fairy thought it as a very sweet thingy.  And she really loved it so much that she gave up with going with the other fairies and just followed the smell.
 There was a lost thingy that was a jewelry thing.  All lost things come from the mainland.  When fairies see lost things they get it.  When fairies saw it they took that junk to the mainland.

There were five little mermaids that lived in the sea.  They really loved the sea until Ariel said, "I love a prince."  And he lived on land and she just gave up with the other princesses.  Her mother died, but she didn't care.  She just gave up with other princesses and went up to the top of the reef where fishes live and crabs.  And she got on a rock to sit.  She loves the prince.  The wind was blowing her hair.  She didn't care.  She was the only one different from the other sisters, so she went back under the sea.  But she forgot something.  She still loves the prince!  The end.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

... and found.

Yesterday (March 3rd) we met at a bookstore to hear a presentation on some of our English materials ("Journeys" textbooks from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) in the afternoon.  It was very nice, a good refresher for someone like me who hasn't taught ESL for a few years.  We heard more news about the school, and were told to meet there the next day (March 4th) at 10 a.m.

When we got there, it was a bit of a shock.  I had seen the pictures I showed you in my last post, but they didn't do it justice.

The third floor, where my classroom is, wasn't so bad.  Fire had passed through the hall, melting or burning everything on the walls, including the bulletin boards which had sucked up a day of work for me.  The glass panes of the sliding doors to my room were cracked, broken or smoked over.  Inside the room everything was covered with soot, just like the last fire I had to clean up after.

I salvaged a few laminated things from my classroom, but not much.  I hadn't really done much, unlike the teachers who had been there for years.  My puzzle book and a couple of novels survived, as well as my Korean grammatical structure book.  I was happy to clean up the new mouse and take it out of the room, though I will probably have to take it apart and clean it before I use it again.  All of the textbooks were fine, though I had to wipe soot off of the ones on the top of the stacks.

Restoring my room to a usable condition will not be difficult, just time consuming, and I will not have to do it.  The hallway, however, will take more work.  The ceiling is sagging, and will need to be replaced.  The bulletin boards are all gone, as is the wood paneling.  They had just paneled the stairwells a few days before, which was probably a factor in how quickly the fire spread.  Freshly varnished well-dried wood in a big chimney, funneled the fire right up from the 1st floor where it started due to an electrical problem.

The second floor hallway was worse.  "It looks like a war zone," was a comment I heard many times.  The ceiling panels had all fallen in, making a mushy, ashy carpet on the floor.  In some places the metal framework for the ceiling was sagging or laying on the floor, and there was a lot more debris scattered around.  I passed a framed picture from which the glass had sagged and dripped without falling off completely.  The classrooms were still mostly okay, but they took water damage from the fire fighters, where the third floor really didn't.

The first floor was gutted in many places.  Desks burned down to their metal frames, books lost, total mess.  We were fortunate that there was no severe structural damage, though I am sure that they still need to do a complete assessment.

Amazingly enough, my slippers were still in their cubby.  They are no longer usable, as some glass or plastic had dripped into them and hardened into an unpleasant sort of insole.  Horyon took hers, though.  They need to be cleaned, but she can use them.  I need to order a new pair.

We spent the day carrying books and our stuff to the gym, then cleaning the piles of books.  I still smell smoke on myself, and need a shower before bed.

And finally, while cleaning my zipper notebook, I opened the pockets and found my USB drives!  Hurray!

Our classes will be distributed through other buildings and schools in the neighborhood, as well as in "container classrooms" in the school yard.  In the States schools often use portables (like a mobile home with a classroom inside instead of a home), here they use cargo containers.  I have never seen one, so that should be an interesting revelation.  We will be doubling up, so 30-40 students in one class shared by two teachers.  I am trying to think of it as a unique opportunity to do some team teaching, share some prep, and do activities involving more third graders than I care to imagine in one place.

Wish us luck!  Right now all of our materials are sooty, aromatic, and piled up in the gym, and they expect us to start teaching on Monday!  No problemo!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Slight problem at school...

So today was supposed to be the first day of classes.  We had planned to wake up at 6:30 to get ready to go.  I, of course, was putting together handouts for the first day at 1:00 in the morning.  At around 5:20 a.m., I got a text message:  "was a fire @ school so no classes today...we are on standby so if they call me later we may have to go in.. I'll let you know."

Surprise.  To say the least.  So I went back to sleep.

At 6:30 I got a message that we were to go in at 1:00 to help clean, so I figured no big deal, right?  I've been through this before, at Kosin University; small fire in one office, everything in my office covered with a thin layer of soot.  I expected I would spend the next couple of days cleaning.

I found some pictures here and here.  At this site there are three pictures of the aftermath and a video if you scroll down.  I have run it through Google translate for you.  Not sure how long this link will be live.  And some of the translations are pretty fishy.  For example, the headline:

"National Gay Elementary gaehakil four days a temporary suspension of fire ..."

Here are the first couple of paragraphs:

"Gaehakil early morning at an elementary school in Busan, a large fire in the classroom and being burned or shot to a new semester, while students in class were put to great inconvenience. 

The school temporarily closed four days of action down the fire damaged building repair and maintenance naseotjiman, meals room, some classrooms and the two burn victims and the size is bigger than you think to the future of the academic calendar seems to have gained a considerable setback. "

No wonder it is so hard to learn Korean if they all speak like this.

In the second picture, looking up the stairs, the little lockers at the bottom left are shoe lockers.  When anyone enters the building, they take off their shoes, put them in their locker, and put on the slippers which they had stored in their locker.  There are extra slippers for guests, as well.  Right behind the person taking the photo were Horyon and my lockers.  Horyon had just put in a cute pair of shoes which she had bought back in Kansas just to wear in the classroom.  She was very happy with the shoes, but now they are ash.  My slippers were bought here in Korea, so they will be more easily replaced.

If you continue up those stairs to the third floor, my classroom is (was?) the first one, and Horyon's is the second.  The articles say that the second and third floor halls are in bad shape, and quite a few classrooms as well.  Our classrooms have sliding doors that are all little windows.  It is going to be a serious mess to clean up, assuming the doors survived.

And right inside both of our doors, still in the boxes, are new printers for our computers.  Well, they used to be new anyway.

I had put a few of my books in the classroom, and a new computer mouse, but not much else is mine.  The one thing I may really miss (assuming it is unusable) is a book of Kakuro puzzles.  Each one now takes me about 20 minutes to complete, maybe more.  The book had more than 600 puzzles, and I figured it would not only fill some down time for me but keep my math and puzzle skills somewhat sharpened.

I guess we will see in the morning.

A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.