End of the Semester

It’s hard to believe the end of the term is already here!  I can still think back to the start of the school year…excitement in the air, fresh faces running around, and all the time in the world.   It’s scary how fast the weeks come and go these days!

I’ve never really done many big party things with my students until today.  I spoke with one of my students’ moms over the course of the week and she helped me arrange to have pizza delivered!  I think she let the cat out of the bag, as a couple of the kids were yelling for pizza as soon as I walked in the classroom.

It wasn’t easy to arrange for me…so was super happy with my students mom delivered the pizza herself!   Unfortunately, I missed her, as I was in the office wondering when the pizza might be come.  I was deathly afraid something might go wrong and I’d have to see looks of disappointment on those little faces!  Luckily everything went through without and hiccups.

Today was a nice, casual day to celebrate all the kids’ hard work.  I’ve seen some major improvement in some students–Nan and Good come to mind.  I can see their hard work is paying off and less and less shy and timid behavior.  Rather, there seems to be a new confidence that’s awesome to see!

Of course, I’m happy as well to have a bit of a break.  As much as I love the students and Thida, I’ve been feeling a little bit worn down.  I am excited to have some time to get away and enjoy some rest and relaxation.  I plan to go to Cambodia next week alone to explore and think about how I might improve my class next term.  After 1.5 years together, ideas and games can become stale…and I’ve always prided myself on having fun in the room!  My view is that if the kids are having fun, they’ll not realize how much they’re learning.  I do push them to become better, but can’t lose sight of the overall big picture!

There are still many things I want to improve upon next term.  Following through with homework worksheets is probably the biggest.  Finding a way to get through to a few of the weaker students so they don’t feel sad or discouraged.  I have such a wide range of levels in the room, sitting stronger students with weaker ones not as effective as I would hope.

I’ll definitely use some time in Cambodia to do some reading (poolside of course!) and researching to see how I can improve my class moving forward.  It’s a challenge, but one I am excited for!

A Birthday at Thida!!

Last week at school I turned 25 and the students and teachers sure did do a good job of making it a memorable one for me! The amount of love and happiness you receive at school on your birthday soon makes up for being those extra miles away from home. It started with the morning assembly; I always find it kind of awkward when a huge number of people are simultaneously singing and clapping happy birthday to you, I find the best solution is to smile and join in! Walking into my MEP class I was greeted with many gifts including a watch, cookies, biscuits, stationary, more cookies, not forgetting a huge Barbie cake! Towards the end of english we decided to relax a little and got creative with party hat crafts. On Monday 28th September we have a class party so I thought today would be a perfect day to begin preparations for that! My Thai-teacher, teacher Ben then surprised me with a Barbie cake filled with candles and the ‘Happy Birthday’ singing began again! After a break time party of singing, dancing, snacks and photos, I was already 5 minutes late over to my IEP class; fortunately I didn’t turn up empty handed! IEP was a lot of fun. We choose team names; team ‘I love teacher Emma’ and team ‘Happy Birthday teacher Emma’. I continued to teach for about 20 minutes until a small group of the IEP teachers walked in with a fruit basket lighted with candles. The students began to swarm me with folded letters, cards, key-chains, snacks, and roses whilst the singing and praises continued. A birthday at school in Thailand is certainly one to remember.

MEP Spelling Bee!

Last month at Thida we had our 3rd annual MEP spelling bee competition. The students worked hard both in class and at home to prepare for the competition. Most classes performed so well that we had to distribute a second list of words, even a third list in some groups. We had a mini classroom spelling bee prior to the big day to determine the top 5 spellers in each class that went through to the MEP spelling bee final. The kids took the spelling bee very seriously indeed; I certainly had a few tears in my class and some very close to tears when narrowing the options down. The top 5 however were ecstatic, they were so excited to represent their class and go up against students from other classes. The day itself was a lot of fun and the students loved supporting their classmates. The event included everyone in MEP, from the little monkeys in Anuban 3 all the way up to cool kids in Prathom 6. The competition was split into 3 different groups depending on the level and age of the students. Each group was awarded a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place certificate where 1st place took home a popular Swensen’s ice-cream gift card voucher. All the students did an excellent job and their hard work certainly paid off on the day. It was great to see such determination from the students and they certainly surprised us all.

Science Projects: The Conculsion

Well, we made it!  The first attempt at extended group work was a success!  After the kids found their favorite vertebrate animal, cut and colored, and wrote some brief facts, we had a day of presentations in class.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the kids as they presented their posters, but they did a great job!  Speaking is one area I’ve been working on in all three of my classes–science by far being the hardest.  I had the kids write some brief notes in their notebook about their animals–traits, habitat, eating habits, things it can do.  After I checked their work, I gave them mini slips of paper to transfer their notes to the paper.  They then had a period and a half to glue their materials to the posterboard I purchased (note to self, buy it ahead of time, not the morning of…save some stress!).

I was really proud to have the kids come up in front of the class and present their boards to everybody.  I know it’s not easy for them, and keeping the rest of the class under control was half the battle.  Many of the words are troublesome to pronounce, but they were very determined.

Of course, during the free poster decorating period, I noticed things started getting off track.  Perhaps its just a common theme everything must involve Hello Kitty or Doremon, but I started seeing non-material related going up on the board.  I guess kids will be kids!

The exciting part about all of this is I now know we can do semi-supervised work without the wheels falling off.  As we’ve moved on to extinct and endangered animals, my plan is to do a similar activity to help them learn about endangered animals and why/how they might become extinct.  It should be much more enjoyable for everybody as they love coloring!

Hats off to all the kids–I probably liked seeing their creative side just as much as they did making the boards!

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First Attempt at Science Projects

Teaching science has always been an ongoing challenge (and often times a struggle) for me.  I admire the kids’ attempt to grasp the information and their focus when taking notes….it’s just sometimes a bit dry for them.  While the P4 textbook is full of great information, it can be it’s own worst enemy, as it’s too complex for my students.  Finding the key points of the material and delivering them in a simple, organized fashion while trying to make it fun is the overall goal.  That’s sometimes easier said than done.

I will say the themes of this year’s book has been more conducive to more interactive approaches, which has been awesome.  So far we’ve studied a good bit about plants and flowers.  I took the opportunity to take the kids outside after learning some basic plant and flower parts to show them first hand.  I set them free in the courtyard area and encouraged them to look at different plants and determine questions like:

Simple or compound leaf?

Can you identify the parts of the leaf/flower?

What helps the leaf/flower to grow?

What might cause the leaf/flower to not grow?

Afterwards, we had some classroom discussion about these questions, and it seemed to work well.  It can feel like beating the same drum over and over to simple try to will the information into them via PowerPoint and repetition.  I know if I get bored with it…well no way the children can be excited about it, either.

We’ve been studying a good bit about animal, their classification, and their traits recently.  We just started a project like Teacher Brady’s been doing, where the kids will make a group poster with a presentation to come.  I had them choose if they wanted to display vertebrates or invertebrates and had them choose an animal.  Today, we colored and cut out our animals for next week.  I’ve prepared some simple strips of paper where they will classify their animals (i.e. mammal, reptile, etc.) and underneath on a block of paper write some traits/facts about the animal.  I’m hoping to have them produce things like, “What’s its habitat?”  “What does it eat?”  “What traits help the animal?”  “Is it cold blooded or warm blooded?”  “What would happen if it were in a different habitat?”  “What makes it special?”

I’m hoping for some really fun posters and also hoping they enjoy this different approach.  We’ve talked at length about everything animals, and they have a good database of notes in their notebooks I want them to resource while writing their write-ups.  I’ll use these posters for a science grade before we take the actual unit quiz soon.


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MEP English Camp to Hua Hin!

Last weekend, myself along with four other English teachers travelled north up to Hua Hin where we carried out this years MEP English camp, ‘Around the World!’ Hua Hin isn’t the closest spot on the map but with vast amounts of candy and painful karaoke, time soon passed for the students. Not so much for the teachers. Following the long weekend away, students and teachers returned back to school on the Sunday evening more educated, experienced and friendlier. It’s great having opportunities like this to meet and work alongside some of the other students in MEP.

Buses left Thidamaepra early Friday morning making many stops along the way including to an aquarium, decorated markets and temples. Across the remainder of the weekend we also visited a water park, sheep farm and of course, the food court.

The English camp was a huge success and the students had a really great time! We had various different stations including Teacher Williams ‘World Bingo Buffet’, Teacher Keith’s ‘Population of the Prathoms’, and teacher Brady’s ‘Animal Kingdom’. The variety of activities was really great and the students brought a lot of enthusiasm to the day, which was excellent! The assemblies and songs went down a treat, particularly teacher Joel’s ‘English Camp song’, definitely one I’m going to steal for the classroom. It was certainly a long and jam-packed weekend, but a fun, memorable one for everyone!

MEP Sports Club

Each Monday at Thida, the MEP kids participate in a club activity.  Clubs range from debate to music to sports.  This term, Teacher Calum and myself have been teaching a sports club.  Calum is in charge of the P1-3 club, while I have the P4-6 club.

Calum’s club has been rather productive–he has an extensive background in soccer (football) and has applied his knowledge to give the younger ones some basics and fundamentals of the game.  It’s funny to see kids kicking a soccer ball around cones that seems half their body size, but they’re into it and very energetic.  Perhaps start scouting for the Thai National Team now?

On the other hand, I’d take a fraction of that energy for my club.  The ‘sign up’ process for clubs at the beginning of the semester is rather interesting.  It’s basically where all the club teachers go to an open area of the assembly area and the kids go running to the club of their choice.  Not surprisingly, almost 80 kids chose Sports Club.  After the filtering process (it was all in Thai, not really sure how it was decided who would and wouldn’t be in it), I was left with roughly 30 kids.  About half of that are my P4 students, which is great.

Not having a football background, I’ve tried to let them enjoy some team games–chairball, relay races, etc.  Talk about a difficult time getting everybody on the same page.  I think half the students signed up so they could be outside and not ‘have to do anything.’  Either that or they love being with Teacher Keith so much!

At first, I tried the voting system for games….and of course, 10 kids would pick one thing, another 10 another thing, and another 10 kids didn’t vote.  Makes it tough to get a good game going!  I usually have to walk over to my P4 girls and tell them hair braiding isn’t quite what Sports Club is all about.  Thankfully, today we had an energetic game of chairball.  I wish I had a Go Pro attached to the heads of a few of my students, as they look like little Tasmanian devils running around!

At the end of the day, I’m happy if the kids enjoyed themselves, learned some teamwork, and got some exercise.  I learned a great deal of life lessons through team sports, and even if it’s just one period a week, learning how to cooperate and support one another are two valuable things they can carry with them throughout life!

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