Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Momotaro - The Story of the Son of a Peach, Part I

Today some students from grade 9 at my school had their first meeting with their new reading tutor from Japan, Mr Huy Tran, English teacher at Yamaga Junior High School, Yamaga City, Kyushu, Japan.

They started reading the Momotaro fairy tale, adapted by the American writer Ralph F. McCarthy, which is very famous in Japan. Teacher and students changed reading loud and clearly. And Mr Tran gave them some hints to pronounce the English words the right way.

Finally they will have to talk straight to their new teacher from the distance during small discussions about different topics.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What you should keep in mind before you do a secret skype!

Before you start a secret skype (sometimes mentioned as mystery skype), you should train your students in behaviour and let the students prepare some questions they shall ask their partners from abroad somewhere around the world. I would like to give you a link with some guidelines from a friend of mine who has already got a lot of experience in this field:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Second Reading Tutorial launched today

Do you know what a Reading Tutor is? I didn't! Until I met Joanne Kaminski from the USA who has done this wonderful job for years now. She is working with kids during the afternoon hours to teach them what they have misunderstood or even missed in the morning. She trains them in reading and understanding of literature.

Last year she did this job with students from our school her first time outside the US. And it was really amazing to see how the students lost their shyness speaking English. The only disadvantage: It was really early in the USA when the Germans did these meetings.

The second issue of this Reading Tutorial was launched today. Avoiding such early meetings our reading tutor is from Japan this time. Mr Huy Tran from Yamaga Junior High School  did his first meeting today with 10 German students to introduce himself and to get some first information by the German students. The teenagers were very nervous and shy at the beginning sometimes. But finally - after 20 minutes - the ice was melted and the meeting came to a successful finish. He will teach the Japanese Fairy Tale "Momotaro" or the "Story of the Son of a Peach" which is very famous in Japan. The students are really confident that this meetings will be interesting and will have a positive impact to their English knowledge.

The Germans will not train their English knowledge joining this 2 weeks' events only. They will get a view into Japanese culture and traditions comparing them with their own German ones. The next meeting will be on 19th December at 1.30 pm German time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Meeting with Ranger from Yellowstone National Park

Last week, on 28th November 2012, we had our first and overwhelming meeting with Elisabeth Taylor, ranger at the Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA. The education board of the Skype administration offers opportunities for schools to get into contact to their partners to support teaching at schools. After applying for such a support on the education website of Skype in June this year already we got this date a few weeks before.

(Here are some impressions we had during the meeting, gathered in two small videos:)

In September 2012 students from class 8d at Realschule Sundern, Germany, started their education in learning how to prepare PowerPoint- Presentations. They chose the topic "American National Parks" and all small students groups finally had to present this  great park in the USA. While doing this and searching for information concerning the parks they gathered a lot of questions they didn't get an answer for.

They had collected all these questions to be asked during this event which had taken place last week: What are the sights of the Yellowstone National Park?, How do you become a ranger?, Is it dangerous to visit the park? etc. They were interested in the history as well as in the goals of the park.

And they got a lot of good answers from Mrs Taylor who had got up earlier that morning to meet us right in time. The students from my school came back later in the afternoon after school had already finished a few hours before. All participants were really enthusiastic to do this meeting.

Finally, after 50 minutes of presentations and discussions, the meeting closed down and all members were deeply impressed and very happy about that meeting.

Their English teacher, Mrs Wahle, herself confirmed after she had read the written comments of the students that they had learned a lot by a maximum of listening practice and understanding.

Mrs Taylor admitted during the aftershow meeting that this had been the first meeting of Yellowstone National Park rangers with a German class and that they are really interested in repeating such events in the future.

The rangers of the Yellowstone National Park are running 4 meetings a day with classes at schools using Skype. So it usually takes some time to get a date.

Thanks to Elisabeth Taylor for this wonderful meeting and we hope to meet her again in spring 2013.

(c) Reinhard Marx

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Where do people from an island get their tap water from?


Where do people from an island get their tap water from?

This was a question my 7th graders had to answer in their chemistry lesson in March and April 2012. Having had the opportunity to use Skype in the classroom the students got the opportunity to ask this and f├║rther questions to an "islander", Mr. Huy Tran, teacher from Yamaga Middle School, from Japan. He offered a variety of information concerning how the Japanese people get their water from, where they get their water from and how they try to save it.  ...

 Mr Tran introduces himself to the German audience.

 His drinking water presentation contains some graphics about rainfalls in Japan.

and answered a lot of questions by the students about Japan, how people live in Japan, what they like and dislike, what they eat for lunch, what kind of meat they usually prefer or avoid, about the Cherry blossoms in Japan and the Hanami feast, about the impact of Fukushima on the island of Kyushu ...

... and finally about a "normal" day in the life of a Japanese middle school student.

I did it with 4 classes grade 7. It was really amazing and we learned a lot.

Mr Tran is introducing Japanese school clothing, which is very traditional at Yamaga Middle School

Thank you, Huy Tran!!!