Thursday, September 08, 2005

a "typical" school day

and none have been this week, 'cause the students are getting ready for the "Undokai," which, if i'm undersstanding this correctly, is a sports show. All over the northern area the schools will be showing off their sports ability. This, however, only includes track and field as the sport, but students will also be performing an Eisa drum dance, some sort of a karate show, and a folk dance. The preparations started in earnest on Monday and will continue until next week Friday, when there will be a major rehearsal all day and the Undokai is on that Sunday (the 18th). Preparation means that there are no classes after lunch. Starting at 2pm, students and teachers take off for the gym or the outside or both and start getting ready. On Monday, we watched a group of students show the rest of the school the Eisa dance they prepared and which the rest of the students will learn. On TUesday, students were outside practicing the karate show with long sticks; yesterday, they were outside again working on the Eisa and today we started on the folk dancing and Eisa again. Today, was the first day I joined in the activities. To me, the practice times mean that i have to stay in school until 6pm every day, because the two students i'm prepping for the English speech contest can't practice that until they're done with the Undokai stuff, so i see them after 4:30.
Today was special for two reasons. I got to try a game activity in the 1st grade classroom and i joined in with the Undokai prep outside.
My JTE told me in the morning that he wanted to take the 1st graders to the computer lab to play on the GenkiEnglish.com site. "Genki" btw is a very very popular word and it basically means "excited" or "pumped up" or "in a good mood"..well..you get it.. if elementary school kids run their heads off all day for no reason, that just means they're very "genki"....and being "genki" is important.
So this website is put together by some former JETs and it's very resourceful and they've basically turned it into a business, supplying English teachers in japan with loads of activities, CD-Roms, games, worksheets, etc. Of course, most of it has to be ordered, but the website does offer some neat games for the kids to try. Most are geared towards the younger students, so perfect for the 1st graders who are still having trouble with the alphabet.
But that fell through, and i'm almost glad it did, 'cause he didn't have anything prepared for it; i actually went on the website and made a quick worksheet for an activity i thought we'd have them do, in case we did get in.
He apparently, didn't clear us using the comp. lab with the vice principal, so we were back to square one and he had nothing planned for the classroom either.
So i jumped at the opportunity to push for a game. I changed up the "scattegories" game we were introduced to at the Naha conference and it worked beautifully. The kids were very "genki" about it and i gave out prizes to the winners and my JTE said, "they liked it, ne?"...and i was pleased, 'cause that means that maybe next time i suggest a game for a class, it might go through.. yeah!! one little victory on behalf of the little people.

The folk dancing was hillarious. I was asked to join 'cause the 3rd grader boys didn't have enough partners in their own grade. So four of us, my JTE, the head teacher (she's the math teacher), the student teacher and I, stepped in as the partners. Now, don't go thinking that the folk dancing was Japanese.. nothing of the sort. It was some sort of simplified version of a very generic European dance. I don' tknow where they got it, or what is the origin of the music, but it reminded me of all the folk dancing i've done when i was a part of a dance group back home. THe boys were shy having to dance with their teachers, but most of them knew the steps and it went swimmingly. Of course, i was sweating buckets, 'cause i wasn't prepared to spend two hours in the sun and did not have a hat, or appropriate footwear (sorry, mom). But it was fun and hopefully they'll ask me to dance during the Undokai, 'cause at least i'll be somehow involved and won't just spend hours watching from the sidelines.
After the "folk" dancing we had a short break and it was onto the Eisa practice. I joined that as well and am happy to say that i'm doing well with all of the three parts of the dance. Unfortunately, it's difficult to explain what that means.
Basically, a typical Eisa drum dance will have several repeating dances. The music changes and so do the steps. Each musical number will go on for 3-5 minutes and then it will shift and we do another dance repeatedly for 3-5 minutes and so on. The adult groups do 5 or 6 different dances, which can be very streneous, so the kids are only doing 3, but they're complex enough, so it'll take me a few practices to get it right.
after that, there was speech contest prep and that's going well; very proud of the two girls, i think they'll do well ... (i'm mentally spitting behind my left shoulder right now) :)

and as a lesson for the day:
do not leave a box of Mentos in an "empty" box, if you're not planning on finding it for over a month, because the ants will.
yep. that's the lesson.

cheers

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