Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What's Happening Now?

No, not the old TV show from Television City in Hollywood with Roger (Raj), Rerun and Roz, but a brief update on the state of things in this little patch of Seoul.

1) It's freaking cold. How cold is it? It's so cold ... I saw a fire hydrant chasing after a dog. (Old Johnny Carson line.) The temperature here hasn't broken the freezing point since about the first week in December. There has been snow on the ground for one and a half weeks now, and while the sun has been out the last two days, the snow is still in piles everywhere you look.

2) I had my third day of winter camp today, and attendance has been particularly abysmal so far--perhaps due to the weather. My three classes have 52 students amongst them, which is 156 "student attendance units" to date. Attendance on Monday was 13 (including zero during 2nd period), yesterday I had 12, and today an uptick to 18. With 43 SAU, that's 28% overall attendance.

3) Today, I tried out a lesson I'm planning to use next semester based on Harry Potter. I'm not a big HP fan, but the kids here love it, and I find it mildly interesting if enormously derivative. After we watch the Sorting Hat scene from the first movie, we discuss what it is that makes the hat decide which Hogwarts house a young wizard goes into. The answer is something like "talents" or "character", maybe.

I hand out a worksheet to each group with a list of these character traits or talents, and a table with the four houses. Next, I show a video I found and downloaded with Jim Dale doing the first year Sorting Hat song. I added the lyrics using MovieMaker, which I am gradually doing to many of my videos. From this, they can begin to place the adjectives in the correct column for each house.

With copies of the fifth year sorting hat song posted in the far reaches of the classroom, we play a game called "Running Dictation". This is a good activity if you can keep it from becoming a cheat-fest or a spelling bee. Each team has a recorder who sits at their table. The other team members go to the posted document one at a time to memorize a part of the text, then return and dictate it to the recorder. They take turns memorizing and dictating until the entire piece is "downloaded".

Once they have the whole Sorting Hat poem in front of them, they can complete the chart-filling activity. This all went really well, as I expected. If time permitted, we watched some deleted scenes from the movies. To finish off the class, I showed them this video, after reviewing "parody", a term we learned during the Movies unit last semester:

4) My school announced plans on Monday to build a gymnasium, as part of its Innovation 2010 theme. Now, ground area is a bit limited so, as I understand it, the gym will be built above the school gate--that is to say, cars and pedestrians will actually pass under the new building, which will be on stilts to conserve space. Even though PE classes are already a bit cramped (the soccer field is about 50 yds X 70 yds), I would think the PE folks will jump at getting a dedicated indoor space instead of shoving chairs out of the way in the assembly hall when the weather is bad.

5) Like it is now (the forecast predicts a ten-day high of 30 and a high low of 13 F). Which explains why I am sipping a kalhua and coffee with a touch--or two--of Chivas Regal and getting ready to bundle up in bed. Ondol, do your thing!


조안나 said...

my problem with harry potter discussions is that it gets 50% of the class really excited and excludes the other half (or with older students, maybe only 15-25%) of the class who has never read the books or seen the movies. In fact we had a huge harry potter Halloween party because the majority of our staff was harry potter obsessive, but most of the kids were to young to have read the books... they were clueless about the whole matter and were wondering why we all looked so foolish carrying around little sticks and wearing pointy hats..

Tuttle said...

I think you're probably right. However, if I can do an activity that leave out only 15% of my students, I'll jump at that!

Besides, maybe it'll spark the interest of a few poor English speakers that know the story through translation.