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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Surat’s Firefly Boat Tour

I found out through some Thai acquaintances about a boat tour to see fireflies.  They invited me along, and for only 50 baht you get to cruise along the river at night for about an hour and see fireflies, which are attracted to a certain kind of tree.  It’s a unique, beautiful experience, and definitely worth 50 baht!  Tickets can be purchased at a small table near one of the two main docks at the Sunday Night Market (the pier closest to the road that doesn’t have food stalls on it), and boats leave at 7:00 PM and 8:15 PM.  It can get a bit chilly so a jacket might be a good idea, depending on the time of year you go.  Just wanted to recommend this interesting experience!

Another Great SE Dinner Thrown by Peter!

It’s kind of scary how fast the weeks have gone by this year!  The weeks are really flying by in Surat.  Last night, Peter threw the Super English team another great dinner.  We went to Tam Karat, a great (and seems like undiscovered by foreigners) restaurant in our backyard.  It’s off the intersection of Karunrat and Wat Pho and the food is delicious!

The food kept on coming and the laughs kept on going!  Plates of salad, chicken, a som tom dish and other great plates definitely gave me a food coma later in the evening!!  We had a lot to celebrate this month–we welcomed back our International School teachers, who kicked off year #2 at STIS!  Also, we welcomed Alli (#2 555) to our team at Thida.  Not sure how she did it after arriving Friday morning from the East Coast of the States, but definitely brought the energy.  She’ll be a great addition to our MEP team as our P5 teacher.  Welcome, Alli!

Most importantly, it was a chance for everybody to get together to celebrate one another’s accomplishments in the classroom! Often times we’re so busy with our schoolwork and personal lives we don’t take a chance to take a moment and realize without all of our efforts, Thida, STIS, Noonoy, and Super English wouldn’t be what it is!  I’d like to personally say a big “Thank you!” to everybody for putting in the time, energy, and going above and beyond to make sure our operation keeps running smoothly!  Great job, everybody!!  Keep it up!

It’s hard to believe, but as I glance at the calendar reading August 16th, our finals are due in about a month!  That means end of the first term!!  It’s a bit scary to think about where the time’s gone.  Feels just like yesterday we were kicking off the year with a welcome back assembly at Thida!  Luckily, we’ll have one last opportunity to foster new friendships and celebrate one another’s success with a September event!

Below are a few pictures of last night’s great event.  Thanks again, Peter!

PS–take a look at Jenna’s face in the fourth photo…priceless!!

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Biome Book Projects

My Prathom 6 class has been working hard on their “Biome books.”  Students were divided into groups, and each group received two or three biomes to research and present, depending on the size of group.

Students were given articles as well as online resources to do research independently.

Some of the sites were:

The following was the criteria for the project:

  • Four pages for each biome (students were given cardstock and to do four pages front and back).
  • A title page with your biomes and at least one picture to represent the biome.
  • A map of locations where each biome is found.
  • A description of the non-living things in each biome.
  • A description of the living things found in each biome.
  • The climate of each biome.

Students were allowed flexibility to be creative and design it how they wanted.  Some designed the book pages using a computer program, and some hand drew pictures and hand-wrote the information.  They turned out beautifully!  I was just so incredibly impressed with their artwork, creativity, and independence!

Student then presented the project and information fitting the criteria.  Students graded each other using rubrics, on a scale of 1-3 based on how the project looks and was put together, if they learned something new, if the group was loud and clear when speaking, and if they met the criteria of talking about living and non-living things in each biome, the climates, and the locations of each biome.

New in MEP4-6 This Year

To the credit of everybody at Thida, the MEP program has grown up rapidly since its inception 2 years ago.  Our MEP wing, housing 9 classrooms, is already too small for us!  It’s a tribute to the hard work of everybody who’s been a part of it that we are where we are.  The challenge is always to keep raising the bar each year, of course!

With our growth has brought upon new changes.  The P4-6 sections (2 P4, 1 P5, 1 P6) are now housed on the top floor of the New Thida building.  I don’t think I ever went there until the end of last year when we got word of the ever expanding enrollment.

Last year, it was easy to tell when to head up for the morning’s 2 hour block.  We’d see our students walk past the office to their classrooms.  This year, the P4-6 teachers have to be even more mindful to get over to New Thida and up to the 5th floor for classes.

The new classrooms are definitely bigger!  Sometimes, the way I enjoyed arranging the students’ desk created spacing issues with activities, games, etc.  This year there is a lot more space and I’m able to tinker desk formations to my liking.

On the flip side, I do miss the whiteboards in the MEP wing (well, maybe not the black and blue marker stains on my old work pants).  It was convenient in the MEP wing to pull down the projector and work together as a class solving math problems or filling in a homework workbook page to review.  The board arrangement can get a bit tight, as the new projectors pull down over the regular chalkboards….how I wished I still had that extra space to work.  When I use the projector, I’m constantly rotating to the left and back to the right to further clarify teaching points.  The challenge is that the kids on the opposite side of my chalkboard writing have a tougher time seeing due to the angle.  Also, my points system takes up a good bit of room, so vital to plan potential problems ahead of time!

One interesting thing has been that P4-6 students take the elevator up to the classrooms after morning assembly and lunch.  Not hard to imagine it takes many trips up and back to get all the kids up to their rooms.  Sometimes I want to tell them to run up the stairs to the 5th floor to take some of their energy–they have a lot!

Lunchtime is now served in their classrooms, much like P1-2.  Hard to keep them focused during 3rd period when the lunch tray is rolled outside the classroom!  On the flip side, I get a sneak preview of what’s being served!

My class schedule is also much different than last year.  I was used to having English and math back to back each morning.  I liked this, as usually a bit more time was needed for English, while the amount of supplementary math time the students get by Thai teachers helped alleviate the need.  Now, I have science 1st period three days a week, 2nd period off, then back for some sort of math/English time and period combination.  P4-6 have designated subject teachers who rotate classrooms, so we need to stick to our schedules.  I enjoyed the flexibility of last year’s double block a bit more, as longer projects/crafts/experiments could be used during the two hours block.

All in all, the changes have been good–even better once we factor in the ultimate reason….MEP keeps growing!

 

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School temple visit

It was a bit of a jumbled week last week at Thida. With two days off timetable due to the students taking their Thai midterms, on Wednesday we expected a normal day of lessons. Of course, being Thailand, that didn’t happen. At 8.30 everyone in MEP from Prathom 1 to Prathom 6 walked in unison with a bouquet of small flowers and candles over to the temple opposite school.

When we arrived everyone took off their shoes and continued into a building where a Buddhist monk warmly greeted us. The students sat on the floor and we were guided towards the nicely carved wooden benches near the front. I guess that has something to do with being a ‘farang?’ Can’t really say we understood the Thai ceremony that took place but there seemed to be a light-hearted sense of humor between everyone who did.

After the ceremony took place we walked over to another temple where we placed and handed over our gifts of flowers and candles. Overall, the day was another colourful, unique Thai experience that made a nice change to every day routine. The students had a good time and we were thankful to be included and welcomed on the trip.

SE Party at Anothai

This past Saturday, the Super English team gathered at a great restaurant called Anothai.  I think it’s probably the first time any of us have been there.  It’s a bit of a trip out there–all the way down to the highway near Big C, near the outskirts of town, but worth every second of the drive!  It’s safe to say we dined on some of the best dishes I’ve had since living in Surat.  My particular favorite was the green chicken curry with roti!  Delicious!  Of course, I was running on Thai time and had the directions.  Naturally, it’s the appropriate time for my phone to not work, either!!  Luckily, the caravan of teachers on motorbikes weren’t too late to enjoy the festivities!

We also welcomed two new team members, Cati and Aleya, to our staff!  They’ll be starting at the International School next week.  It was nice to have a comfortable, relaxed environment to hang out and enjoy one another’s company outside of school.  I know we all get busy with our day to day schedules and individual activities outside of the workplace, but it’s nice how we all come together and support one another.  It’s important we show support for one another while being so far from home.  Next time the rest of the teachers from the International School will be able to join us, as they were traveling back from visits home.

The night concluded with plenty of laughs, wine/whisky flowing, and a good time.  Some of the teachers went to a local pub that’s become popular, Feel Good.  Not sure how long the evening lasted, as I think people were well full and feeling merry!

We’re all looking forward to our next get together–the much anticipated pool party in August!

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