This month Prathom 2 have been learning all about measurements. We’ve had a great time estimating the length, height, and widths of all sorts of things around us. Estimation is a very new concept to them, so the results are often very funny. The students love getting competitive to see who can make the most accurate guess.
Today we measured the circumference of their heads and waists, and looked to see who had made the closest estimate. A handful of students did particularly well, guessing within a few centimetres of the actual result. Others were way, way off!
I’ve been gradually encouraging the students to take over certain responsibilities during lessons. They love being the ‘teacher.’ Today Nundee assisted with measuring the students, whilst Pin helped record the results of on the board. It’s wonderful to see how much these kids have grown from the raucous little rabble I met way back on their first day of Prathom 1, to the kind and diligent little jokers that I see before me now. What a difference a year makes!
Some of the teachers recently took up the offer of free Thai classes from Super English, with two of the Thai teachers from STIS: Kru Boom and Kru Jeab. Both were extremely patient and made the lessons a lot of fun. We learnt a variety of things including basic conversations and lots of useful vocabulary words. I honestly thought I’d never get to grips with the Thai language, my battle with Spanish had been painful enough! But over time, with a lot of practice, it all started to make sense. I began recognising words and phrases when I was out and about in town, as well as at school. One day I may even progress to starting a conversation with some of the food stall owners I see every week!
With our new found Thai skills we are now able to give and receive directions, order a variety of different local dishes to our specific tastes, tell people a bit about ourselves, and ask questions relating to all sorts of areas of life. With these basic structures we now have the tools to begin constructing our own sentences in order to develop more meaningful relationships with our Thai friends and colleagues. A little effort on our part really goes a long way in strengthening these bonds. My Thai teachers love it when I try out my new Thai phrases or vocab on them. More often than not, my pronunciation results in fits of giggles, but it’s all good fun.
Just knowing a few basic words or phrases can really enrich your experience of living in another country. It demonstrates your respect and interest in their culture and can give you new insights in things that would otherwise pass you by.
As fast as the midterm exam period has arrived also means a bit more idle time in the office. Thursday and Friday were office days for MEP/IEP teachers, while the students had their IEP and Thai exams. Of course, there’s still plenty to do…marking notebooks, preparing for post exam review next week, tidying up grades sheets, etc. Probably one thing that should’ve been done a long time ago was a big office cleanup.
Naturally, with ten to twelve teachers coming in and out of the office, things tend to build up. Teachers leave each year and items get left behind. While things were by no means awful, it was high time to eliminate some of the clutter.
On Thursday morning, before each teacher set about his/her business, we did a solid 30 minutes of cleaning. Not just personal workspaces and drawers, but the large shelves by the windows. It was surprising what was found–Anuban blankets, coin banks, stuffed animals. No idea how they got there! The team did a great job tidying things up and creating a more functional workspace. The shelves by the windows now consist of the current Super English worksheet books and the Let’s Go! series flashcards. Old resource books have a new home underneath in shelves, alongside the fly swatters, balls, straws, and everything else we might need for games/activities/camps.
Our clean out was a nice time, too. Usually, each teacher enjoys the comfort of their own headphones for office time. Bringing everybody together was great for team building. Lots of laughs and high spirits!
Overall, my hope is that if we do a clean out at the midterm and final exam point of the semester the clutter won’t be too bad. I think this will make the Thai staff happy (and maybe a pleasant surprise for them, too!).
Here are a few pics of the things we found while cleaning:
After being with my class for over two years, I sometimes feel the need to shake things up and re-invent the wheel. Thankfully the children have enjoyed most of the activities in class, but I know if I’m not excited about them, they won’t be.
One new game idea I came across out of the blue is quite simple. I drew a grid on the board for each team (in this case, three grids). Working with the comparative and superlative form can be confusing for the students, so we started of with creating six comparatives and placing them randomly in one of the six boxes on the grid. After an intense rock, scissors, paper game to see who goes first, student one in the winning group came up and spun the dice. Whatever number they spun would be the numbered box they’d have to say. For example, if they rolled a four and box four was ‘heaviest,’ the student would need to pronounce the word correctly in order to cross off the box. Proceed like that for the other two groups as well.
The games get really intense and of course the first few rounds the boxes are crossed off rapidly. Even if a student lands their dice roll on an already crossed off box, they still must pronounce it for additional practice.
Luckily, the kids really enjoy this activity! I let them produce what will go in the boxes so it’s a class effort and not just teacher assigning words. After working with the one word comparative form, we moved on to comparative sentences as pictured.
In P3 math class this month, we have been learning all about money! We can add money, we can subtract money, we can identify different amounts of Baht and Satang, we can solve word problems with money… we’re basically money experts at this point. After days of hard work counting Baht and solving problems in our workbooks, we celebrated the end of the unit by designing our own menus! I knew my students would think this was fun, but I did not expect how much they would love this simple project. Each student folded a piece of paper and named their restaurant on the front. We had everything from “Prae’s Restaurant” to “Call of Duty Cafe.” After naming their restaurant, they came up with the various foods and their costs. Some of my students cracked me up with their creative choices such as “Dragon steak” or “People’s Eyeball Soup”… delicious! After they were done designing their menus, they went around the room asking each other what they wanted to order from their restaurants and taking their fake money. This allowed my students to practice adding and subtracting money in a real world situation. Who knew math could be so fun?!
This month in P3 we have been learning all about habitats and ecosystems. These have definitely been my favorite topics to teach so far. My students have also been quite happy because they get to learn about many different animals and where they live. As usual, I am amazed by my students’ ability to grasp advanced information in a language that is not native to them. I think it’s pretty impressive that they could tell you that an ecosystem “is a group of living and non-living things interacting with each other in an area” along with different examples of ecosystems and the animals that live within them. In order to help them better understand the new material, we played a few games and the students also drew their own ecosystems. They had to list 3 living things and 3 non-living things within their ecosystems and also describe how some of the living/non-living things interact with each other. This activity definitely helped them become ecosystem experts!
In Tun Tun’s pond, the duck interacts with the water by drinking it.
In Pong’s ocean, the shark interacts with the fish by eating it.
In Tatar’s ecosystem, the tree interacts with the sunlight because it needs it to grow.
July’s Vegetarian Meal of the Month is my guilty pleasure – fried vegetables from Gun Et Te. In case you don’t know where Gun Et Te is, it’s on the left along the pier when you’re heading towards the Sunday Night Market. This restaurant has a variety of both Western and Thai dishes, but these fried veggies have to be my favorite on the menu. Just like onion rings, they fry up carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and baby corn in a delicious batter. Although it’s unhealthy, at least you’re still getting your daily dose of veg. They’re served with a sweet sauce on the side, making it the perfect lunch or dinner for 70 baht. I highly recommend this meal!