Archive for the 'Teaching' Category

Presentation and party time

Last Friday, both Micah and I (along with our respective co-teachers) gave a two- hour presentation on co-teaching effectiveness.  It was for a workshop that the Daegu Dept. of Education provides for the new EPIK teachers placed in Daegu schools.  We had to attend the same workshop last November – it was actually quite a borefest. 

The Dept. was searching for presenters about a month ago (for the spring workshop) and both Micah and I had agreed to do it.  Micah representing middle schools and I was representing elementary.  The presentation consisted of 1 hour of doing a mock lesson with your Korean co-teacher and discussing co-teaching principles.  And the second hour was a group discussion about co-teaching issues. 

My co-teacher, Minju, was a nervous wreck.  She was literally having nightmares about this presentation for the weeks leading up to it.  I tried to reassure her as much as possible by creating a visually appealing presentation and selecting a lesson that was really fun and active for us to demonstrate.  We even practiced using some 6th grade students earlier in the week.  She’s a good co-teacher, so I kept telling her she had nothing to worry about.


Had to give our presentation in this HUGE conference room.  Not ideal, but it worked out.

In the end…both Micah and his co-teacher, and me and my co-teacher did a great job.  I think the teachers were entertained for the most part and we were able to give several tips on creating a fun, effective, co-teaching lesson plan.  I was most happy for my co-teacher.  This presentation gave her a boost of much-needed confidence.  In fact, we are presenting the same lesson again in two weeks in a city 2-hours away from us.  Talk about confidence!

After the presentation, Micah and I headed over to Minju’s new apartment.  She was throwing a housewarming party/surprise baby shower.  Remember my baby shower plans being thrown off?  While Minju prepared the food, Micah and I decorated her apartment with balloons and old “Happy Birthday” streamers.  Hey – it’s not like you’re gonna find baby shower decorations in Korea. 

baby shower

The night before, I had baked some chocolate chip blondies and some banana bread for the party.  And I had created four fun baby shower games – that all the teachers could play.  They loved it.

baby shower game

One of the games was a baby item memory game.  They had to remember the English names.  Apparently a “onesie” in Korean, translates to “astronaut suit.”  Cute.

There were five of us ladies and then Micah (the other male teacher had to work late at school).  But Micah was a great sport and had fun too.  Plus, my teachers really like Micah.  Hanna (the expectant mother) was really surprised and happy.  It was overall a great, productive, BUSY and successful day.

SAM_1293 From left to right: Hyunjoo – my 4th grade co-teacher.  Minju – my 3rd and 6th grade co-teacher.  Hanna – was my 5th grade co-teacher before she left on maternity leave. And Seunghui – my 4th and 5th grade co-teacher LAST semester.

TTMMGH – Korea edition #7

The students at my school (well, at all the schools) have plain-lined notebooks where they do their writing homework.  Whatever company makes the notebooks for English…should really consider hiring a Native English proofreader.  Here’s a collection of some of the funny and TTMMGH (Things that make me go hmm) English notebooks my students own.


“Let us not become veary…”  Veary??


“The time for trying for bright future!”  “Good my friend robot.”  “OOPS!”


A English means belonging or relating to England…”


“You make my days wam with your laughter.  I belive forever with you.”


“They beguiled their long journey with talk.”  Beguiled?  Yes, it’s a real word…but who talks like that?  No wonder my students think English is so “difficourt” (difficult)!

Click to read TTMMGH #6

Field trip day!!

Last week I was invited to join the 6th graders on an all day field trip to Andong (about an hour and a half north of Daegu).  We loaded up on the bus at 8:30am and off we went.

The students were surprised/happy/couldn’t care less that I was coming along.  But it was fun for me to see them out of their normal classroom element and try to have somewhat of a conversation small fragmented talk with some of them.


1st stop:  Rest stop.  The rest stops in Korea are massive – and always filled with lots of other tour buses and people.  As soon as the buses parked, WHOOSH! – the kids were racing to the convenient store to fill up on ice cream, candy, and Korean snacks. 

2nd stop: In the city of Andong – to a Korean paper factory.  There is a special type of Korean paper called hanji.  It’s very versatile.  Not only is there beautiful hanji paper, but also hanji lamps, hanji fans, even hanji clothes! 

The students quickly learned about the process of making hanji.  However, since everything was spoken in Korean – I basically observed – but got the gist of it.

hanji making

Making hanji paper:

  1. Collect the wood (bark, perhaps) from these special trees and soak them in really hot water.  It stunk in this room.
  2. Dry them out.  They sort of look like noodles.   Yum, noodles. 
  3. (I think I missed a step) – these men then took wooden frames and basically collected the small broken down pieces of this wood (like pulp) and pressed it into big sheets.
  4. The big sheets of almost paper
  5. Then these women would take each individual sheet and attach them to what was essentially one huge, hot iron.  This dried the paper super fast.

Students then got a chance to make their own hanji paper.  Basically a very scaled down version of step 3 only.  So, of course I got in on the action as well.


Shake it back and forth and you’ve got some hanji my friend.  Perfect technique!

3rd stop: Hahoe Folk Village – it’s actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It’s a village that has preserved the architecture and original structures from back when it was constructed in the Joseon Dynasty.  Think old…very very old.


Students from many schools around Korea were visiting the village this same day.  And it was an unusually HOT day.  All of the students were complaining (even in English) that they were hot/bored/hungry/tired. 

We walked around to many of the different buildings and learned a bit about the history of the rulers at the time and the way of life.  It was a little difficult for me to understand and keep all the names/dates straight.  Honestly, the students were SUPER bored and could care less about the history.

Finally (even for me, I was getting hot and hungry too) – it was time for lunch!  Each student brought their own lunch.  I was told I didn’t need to bring a lunch.  Apparently, for such a school outing like this, the students’ parents make food for the teachers to eat.  Nice! 


Yummy lunch.  But limited variety.  Five different rice-foods, fruit, kimchi, and waffles?

The best part of this leg of the trip were the cherry blossoms!  You might recall that I recently went on an all-day trip to check out a cherry blossom festival…and there were no cherry blossoms.  But at Hahoe, check this out!



Last stop: Back to Jincheon Elementary School.

The funniest moment of the trip:  The large buses we took were equipped with a flat screen TV and satellite cable.  The teacher on my bus decided to flip around and find something the kids would want to watch.  She accidentally flipped to the Korean “erotic” channel.  It was hilarious!  The kids were screaming and giggling.  Fortunately, it was pretty tame (a man and woman under the covers laying next to each other).  But, as she was trying to change the channel…she had to flip through about 10 more “erotic” channels before getting to something 6th grade appropriate.  

Bubble gum art

I just had another English Club meeting with my students.  The day’s lesson was about hobbies.  So after going over a variety of different hobbies and playing some games to review the new vocabulary – I then busted out the gum. 

Materials: Gum, index card, toothpick

Objective: Using only the toothpick, sculpt the chewed gum into something that represents a hobby

Challenge: Look at each student’s art and correctly guess the hobby

Reward: The student with the most correct guesses wins raffle tickets for a candy prize

Results: The activity was hilarious!!  First of all, the students kept saying “teacher, dirty.”  Apparently they’ve never played with gum before.  My response, “Too bad – it’s not like you are going to eat it again.”  Students response, [insert students shaking heads like “what did she say?”]. 🙂

The “art”


Can you guess what hobby each “gum art” represents?  (Sorry, didn’t get a picture of all of them)


What the…?

SAM_1215Teacher – I don’t know.”



1, 5, 6, and 3 – those are pretty good.
I have no idea about 7 and 8.  (You should see the ones I didn’t get a picture of.)

To shower or not to shower?

One of my Korean co-teachers (I have three at my school) is leaving :-(  I am sad and dreading next Friday.  She is a major reason why my Korean experience has been so great. 


Hanna is SUPER helpful and basically the glue that brings the five of us teachers (who share an office) together.  Love her!

But, Hanna is having a baby and needs to “rest.”  She’s actually not due until July (the time off might be a general Korean way of doing things or maybe just specific to her situation – not sure).  Regardless, I’m sad.  Next Friday, she leaves and come Monday, some new teacher will just show up.  Just. Like. That. 

Since she’s having a baby and she’s leaving for about a year, I want to do something for her (we’ll be gone before she returns to school).  So what comes to mind?  Of course – a baby shower!  However, there are a few concerns/issues that need to be addressed before I can pursue.  Hence, my ‘to shower or not to shower’ list:

  • Are baby showers acceptable here?  (E.g. Maybe it’s considered bad luck or something)
  • If it’s okay – who should I invite? (I’d prefer to just stick to about 5 or 6 of us teachers who I know well – but what if the principal gets word of this?)
  • Will Hanna be okay/comfortable with this? 
  • Gift giving in Korea is quite different than in the States.  (For example, you give money in an envelope as a wedding present.  Giving Christmas gifts is more what couples do, not so much colleagues).  So I can’t say I’m all that comfortable with telling the other teachers they have to to bring a baby present.  I’d like to think “Sure, they will be happy to do it” – but I don’t really know.   
  • Time!  She leaves next Friday.  All the teachers are insanely busy at this particular part of the month.  I don’t want to plan a party and they all show up at random times or can’t make it. 
  • What to make?  Part of me throwing the baby shower is to also give the teachers a feel for what this very popular tradition is like.  So in lieu of just having a potluck (where the Koreans bring Korean food) – I am opting to bring the traditional shower-type foods myself.  Fortunately, since I’m only planning for an hour in the late afternoon – I’m doing just a few small snacks.  Currently thinking:
    • Mini sandwiches
    • Deviled eggs (most Koreans probably haven’t eaten these)
    • Dip and crackers/veggies
    • Some type of home-baked dessert
    • Drinks
  • Baby shower games.  The English ability of the teachers varies a lot – so I need to think of games that are fun, but also easy to play and explain. 
  • Secrecy.  I want this to be a surprise party (partly because if she finds out – she might tell me ‘no’ out of her fear of the unknown).  But we all share the same office.  I will undoubtedly need to explain what the party is about in person – and to hype it up a little!  I’m just not sure how good they are at keeping mum.  Plus, if they talk about it in Korean – I won’t even know if they’ve spilled the beans! 🙂
    • Also, I’ve got to figure out a way to bring in my gift, the food, and supplies for the party to school without her seeing – and – keep it hidden from her.  Not an easy task.  We share a small refrigerator.  I hardly have my own workspace, let alone spaces for “hiding” things.

Lastly, I hope this is an issue that resolves itself SOON – but I’m sick!  I’ve been sick since that damn 10k on Sunday.  It’s some nasty bug that at least half the foreigner population has at this very moment.  I have little energy (except to blog) and am drained everyday after school.  Can I get healthy, plan, cook, shop for, and host this baby shower in one week’s time? 

Here are the invites I plan to email to the invited teachers.  A little clip art here and there – and voila’!


I will update you soon – which may very well be…not to shower.

“Umm…Can we eat now?”

This past Friday was the first English Club meeting of the new school year.  I, along with my Korean co-teacher, are in charge of it (but basically it’s just me doing all the planning and instructing and she helps translate when needed).  As I said in this earlier post, I was going to color Easter eggs with my students. 

A bit of online research gave me the confidence that you can indeed color brown eggs (as white eggs are not available in Korea).  They simply need more time sitting in the dye.  Cool.  I also made each bowl of water a really intense level of color. 


The kids first decorated their eggs with crayon before sitting them in the colored water.  And then we proceeded to have an “Easter egg hunt.”  They loved it!  I hid paper eggs all around the classroom and each egg equaled one piece of candy.  I had three golden eggs – and they equaled an even better treat. 

Egg hunt

After the egg hunt and some other English activities, we finally lifted the eggs from the water to view the results.  Hmm…only some of them took on much color.  It seems that even 30 min. was not enough time.  😦

The students – seeing that their Easter eggs looked nothing like the vibrant colored egg pictures I had shown them – were just “eh” about it.  In my mind, I definitely envisioned a lot more excitement – even possibly students wanting to show their eggs to their parents.  Instead, as I hand them back their eggs, they look at it and ask me “Umm…can we eat now?”

Happy Easter everyone!

Easter eggs

Lower left picture – the only boy in English Club.  He’s looking glum b/c his 2nd egg fell on the ground.  “Teacher, my egg die.”

Ready for some Korean adventure? Apply now.

Applications to teach English in Korea’s public schools are out now!

EPIK (English Program in Korea) is the Korean-govt sponsored teaching program.  EPIK is the primary body responsible for hiring Native English Teachers (NET) and placing them in public schools (elementary, middle, and high) throughout Korea.  Micah and I are EPIK teachers.

EPIK hires NETs to start in either March or late August.

RIGHT NOW, applications for EPIK Fall 2010 are available.   I believe you can apply directly through them or do as we did…

Micah and I used a recruiting company that specializes in finding applicable NETs to work in Korea (as well as other countries).  We used Footprints Recruiting and felt they did a very good job in communicating information to us and helping us with the often times arduous application process.  But there are numerous recruiting companies out there from which to choose.

Micah and I are really happy with our experience so far.  I feel working for the public schools (rather than private academies) was an excellent decision.  Sure, there are MANY things that are very frustrating about being here and the way things are done…but it’s all part of the experience.  We’ve made some really great friends along the way and have been able to finance some pretty awesome vacations.

August 20, 2009 – just landed in Korea and off to EPIK orientation!

And of course, everyone’s experience will be different.  Where you live, what your school is like, what your co-teachers are like, how open/flexible you are, etc. – these will all play fairly big roles in your success and happiness living and teaching in Korea.

So…who’s up for a little adventure? 🙂

Where in the world…

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