Great End of Semester Event!

As we put the bows on yet another semester at Thida, our teammates from Thida, Noonoy, and the International School had a wonderful dinner provided by Peter!  A big shout out to him (and I’ll assume Jeab as well, 5555) for creating a very different but delicious menu.  We scarfed down on ribs, salad, coleslaw, and bread.  While Mother Nature did her part by bringing the rain, our group wouldn’t be stopped to eat, drink, and discuss upcoming holiday plans (for Thida and STIS).

Although we all maintain very different social and professional schedules, our events are always a fun way to reconnect with others who may only see a little of during the school year.  It’s pretty cool to see the camaraderie and genuine friendships among the group.  I can tell a lot of our new teachers have grown by leaps and bounds over the course of the year and it’s great for them to have an opportunity to celebrate their successes and pass along information to others.  That’s what it’s really all about, frankly.  I’ve been proud of our team this year and how smoothly things have gone on the Thida side.  That’s a testament to their hard work and understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish and why we do things the way we do.

To top off a great meal, many of us ventured out into the rain-filled night to a local spot to enjoy some drinks.  A lot of full bellies, a lot of laughs, and surely quite the hangovers for some!  It was an awesome evening–again, a very thoughtful and nice gesture to put on such a spread!  I think we were at 100% attendance, which was great to see!

Currently, Thida just broke for the October holiday.  We’re back to school on the 29th, so a lot of time to explore and wander.  I’m slated to go to Cambodia and check out a few places there.  It’s pretty cheap to fly around, so I only booked my ticket there, but not back yet!  It should be a good time!

P6 English Camp

Recently I had the chance to work at the P6 English camp.  Our theme was based around Sahathai shopping mall, so each of our themes modeled an element found there.  Stations such as the cinema, food court, stationary store, department store, and grocery store were represented.  In the morning, the kids rotated stations.  Each station consisted of 30 minutes each.  My station was ‘at the food court,’ which was an idea that needed some explaining.  Unlike a lot of food courts I’ve seen, I needed to explain to the kids about how they prepay their card before selecting their food (and are reimbursed if they have extra).  Pre-teaching words like prepay, cashier, beverage, and certainly was necessary, but I was impressed with how quickly the kids picked up the material.

After walking them through the dialogue, the kids practiced in pairs–luckily I had some volunteers present at the front of the group.  After our lunch break, we headed over to Sahathai and the students practiced their sentences.  I thought it was going to be a very long afternoon (about 360 kids!), but it was a very smooth running show.  I was lucky enough to have a Thai teacher assistant to help mark the students’ performance.  Each student was marked on a 1-10 scale.  I was impressed with how many kids were able to repeat the dialogue without looking at their sheets!  That definitely received 10 points.

I did see some of my old MEP students–Jan, Hugo, Ice, and Pok.  It was cool to see how much they’ve grown and how they’re developing not only as students but as kids in general.  In my mind they’re still P3 or P4, but hard to believe this group is advancing to the next part of their life.

I thought the afternoon idea was a good one and I’d like to see it implemented at other camps.  It added some practical use to what the kids learned in the morning and hopefully reinforced their knowledge or helped them understand the process of ordering at the food court in English.

That was the last camp for the semester before we break for the October holiday.  The next camp on the books is the Thai Teacher camp in mid January.  Also, there will be a P1, P2, and P5 camp at some point!

Recently in P6

I’ll say teaching P6 has definitely sharpened my overall knowledge, especially in science and math.  I’m sure I did things like finding the area of a quadrant, but that information was long lost from my memory.  August has come and gone and we’re now in the home stretch until our October holiday, so here’s a recap of what’s happening in P6.

In math, we worked with percentages and applying them to word problems.  This was definitely a challenging unit for the kids based upon the technical language.  We had a lot of time to work with these items and I found drawing a model for the kids helped them the most.  We just finished a unit on finding area/perimeter of circles, semicircles, and quadrants.  A lot of formulas, which I found I needed to have the kids practice in their notebooks and write on the board for their quiz.  They definitely improved in this area, so that was great to see!

In science, we’ve moved on from our body systems to talking about growing and how medicine and drugs can affect our bodies.  We were able to watch some cool videos and learn how cigarettes and alcohol can be harmful for our bodies.  I wanted to do a poster making activity, but due to time constraints, we moved on to ecosystems.  This has been a quick study, as we did a lot of these things in P5.  I think it was most effective taking the kids outside so they could see first hand what producers, consumers, and decomposers are around school.

Finally, in English we’ve done a few group projects.  The language in the book is a bit simple for them and it’s boring for everybody to have me lecture, so a group directions project was our latest venture.  The kids picked a place, told directions, and discussed what they do at different places around Surat.  They really love these projects and it’s a good way for me to gauge their learning and teamwork skills.  I’ve taken their previously learned language about shopping and directions to introduce synonyms and antonyms.  Their vocabulary book is a bit simple for them, so we typically make these spelling lists via online resources.  It’s been a nice way to add something new this year.

Overall, it’s been a good year and hard to believe it’s almost at the semester break time.  I’ve seen a lot of growth and personality develop from my kids during this time as well!  Here are some recent pics from class:

May in P6

We’ve hit the ground running pretty well in P6 so far.  Our math study has consisted of a lot of fractions–a concept that’s been covered at length in P5.  Luckily, the students were sharp with these ideas and we’ve been able to move through things rapidly.  So far, we’ve worked with multiplying and dividing fractions, fractions and whole numbers, and finding ‘how many’ fraction pieces are in a particular number.  Of course, word problems are a bit challenging, but it gives some much needed English to the class math session.  Our next chapter covers decimals, which the students should have sufficient background to build upon.  My goal is to get through these early chapters so we have enough time for the more complicated ones and can spent the necessary (or more) time.

In science we reviewed the scientific method.  My goal is to do more projects and experiments with them, so I thought it was important to take a few days and examine some basic steps.  They enjoyed watching some YouTube videos about classroom safety and how experiments can go wrong, which definitely helped to reinforce the safety aspect!  We got our first grade of the term with a spelling quiz grade and it got the kids out of the gate nicely.  Currently, we’re working on different body systems–we’re wrapping up the skeletal system in the next few days and moving to the muscular system in June.  Having an easy, built in example of human joints and things makes the learning a lot easier for the kids.  We’ve been able to have a lot of quick, easy games to further their understanding.

Finally, in English, we’ve been working a lot on possessive forms and progressive tenses.  The start to the chapter was pretty simple for the kids, but as we progressive and mix in past and present tenses, it can challenge the children.  We’re coming close to the end of the first chapter, but I like to make sure I get at least one score for listening, reading, writing, speaking, and spelling.  The more grades the better in my opinion.  Chapter two deals with ‘Weekend Fun,’ so I’m assuming they’ll be well versed in different fun weekend activities!

The first few weeks have flown by with not too many breaks, but as we get into June and July, there is Sports Day, various holidays, and other events, so best to keep the foot on the gas now and get as much accomplished while we can!

Back to School!

Well, it’s finally here–the new school year!  It was a long, fun break that saw many beloved teachers leave their Thida posts and a great group of new teachers come in.  They’ve all hit the ground running and are doing a great job so far!  Teaching our MEP 1 section is Matt, P2 is Shea, while Scott and Hannah take the P4 classrooms.  Finally, Ben and Megan round out the P5 and P6 classrooms, respectively.

Of course, getting the new school year going involves a lot–simply getting to school and the classroom, of course!  The new teachers have done a great job absorbing all the material, working to make their classes fun and engaging, and being friendly to the students.

For myself, I’m on my last turn with my current class.  I’ve seen them grow from little ones in P3 all the way to P6!  It’s been fun to see their development, personality, and unique style grow over the past few years.  The P6 material is definitely material that needs review before entering the classroom, but it’s sharpened my knowledge and anticipation of questions, problems, and areas of trouble.

The P6 students are off to a great start.  We had our first math quiz on multiplying fractions followed up with a scientific method spelling quiz.  While the school year is still brand new, the goal is always to get through as much material as possible during the first semester.  Sports Day, various holidays, and other events always pop up, so it’s important to grind it out now while there is still time!

I’m looking forward to a great year and think it’s going to be a fun and memorable one!

Water Cycle Science Projects!

Over the course of my time with my students, I’ve found science class can get a bit bland.  The text is a bit advanced, which means a lot of big words that are hard to pronounce.  Luckily, this year’s material has lent itself to some outside the box ideas the students have really enjoyed.

I started making posters with my kids last year and they took it and ran!  I think we were both happy to not hear me talk!  The overall idea has been the same.  I randomly (making sure the groups are evenly spit with ability) select groups and they decide who is going to do what.  Each student must speak, each student must contribute, and each student must show myself they’re making an attempt to learn more independently.

For our Water Cycle projects, I had three groups–two groups of six and one group of seven.  In hindsight, I probably should’ve made the groups smaller to avoid the horseplay, but part of the idea is to have them enjoy with their friends while working at the same time.

I was really impressed with what the kids produced!  Students brought in pictures of cloud types, stages of the water cycle, ‘air’ pictures, wave pictures, etc.  They did an excellent job of labeling things and producing a clean, enjoyable poster.  Of course, there were the finishing touches with some glitter and flowers!

Our final stage was to present in front of the class.  Of course, the kids were a bit nervous, but they spoke very well.  Part of their responsibility when presenting was to make sure they had proper body language–pointing to what they were talking about and facing the class.  They’re a bit old to put their nose to the poster with their bottoms facing the class.

One of the best parts of these projects is it gives me a better understanding of the kids’ personalities.  I see who’s a bit more reserved, who needs pushing, who needs monitoring, etc.  They’re at the age where they’re developing and changing rapidly, so it’s not longer the same class I had in P3 or p4.  Of course, I’m sure they’ll be quite different in P6!

Here are a few pictures from our posters:


A Great End of Year Celebration!

Sadly, another year has come and gone at Thida!  This has been the second (or third) year for many of our teachers, so a well earned celebration was in order!  We gathered at the Issan restaurant at the corner of Wat Pho and Karunrat for a great meal and a wonderful time!

Much as life tends to do, this year went by way too fast.  While we’ll miss our outgoing teachers, it was proper to gather everybody and have a feast to appreciate one another’s accomplishments!  Also, we welcomed the STIS crew and staff to make it one big, awesome affair!

The food kept coming and coming–plates of chicken, short ribs, som tam, soups, fish dishes, pork dishes, etc.  It was a massive feast!  I don’t think I’ve seen that much food ever on a table!  There was plenty to drink as well–bottles of vodka, Sangsom, and scotch helped everybody wash down the spread with.  Of course, there was some extra left over to take out with us for a fun evening out!

I’ve been at Thida three years now and I’m very proud with our staff!  They’ve worked very hard and developed their skills while also being team players and contributing to a great office environment!  It reminds me of my first year at Thida back in 2014!  With that said, we wish everybody safe journeys moving on to their new adventures–some people are going home, some people are traveling, and some people are staying at Thida (myself, Tom, William).  Friday’s dinner was a great way to say thank you and we appreciate Peter opening his wallet and providing us with one last opportunity to hang out together outside the office!  I’ll personally miss everybody’s efforts as manager, as I think we have a great staff, which will be hard to replace.  They’ve set the bar pretty hard so we’ll have our work cut out for us next year!

Here are a few snaps from the event:

Final Month of P5/12

With all the breaks in January, including two unexpected days off for flooding, it’s been a constant challenge to alter, change, and get the key points from the material and into the students’ brains with only a few weeks on the horizon.

Recently, in English class, we just finished Unit 7, which dealt with the five senses.  It was a simpler chapter to study because the kids were able to use their senses to understand the material.  I found the key sentences to be easier than other units, so we were able to make some solid progress.  We’ve started our last unit, which is ‘New Experiences.’  We started talking about different types of foods and their origins–ravioli, sushi, burritos/tacos, etc.  It’s been fun for me, as I get some insight of their background knowledge from different countries and their other classes.  I’ve shown a lot of YouTube videos and Google images–it helped a lot to explain how burritos are formed and how kimchi is made!

Also, I’ve been utilizing the ‘Let’s Read’ section better than in years past.  It’s a simple reading grade for the kids and we typically spend a couple of days discussing, reading together, using our workbook, and finally taking a listening grade.  I’ve been trying this year to make sure to incorporate as many quizzes for the four main skills and this helps a lot!

In math (not maths), we finished our chapter on “Lines, Angles, and Shapes.”  Thankfully, most of the children were already familiar with the bulk of the material, so it was more or less applying the English terminology to their base.  I’m glad to have math first period, as typically assemblies run a bit long and by the time we set up our points system for the day, we don’t have extra filler time.  The kids have been using such math materials as protractors, setsquares, compasses, and a lot of formulas!

Lastly, in science, we just finished our unit on sound.  This was a challenging one for the kids–typically in science I like to take them outside and make the learning interactive.  With the sound unit, I had to repeat and repeat things over and over again until it sunk in.  I wasn’t the most exciting unit for them, but I did find a diagram of the ear, which they enjoyed coloring and labeling.  Our last unit is Clouds, Water, and Wind, which we started this past week.  With only about 3ish weeks left in the term before review, I’ve had to scrap some of the extra activities I’d like to do and instead plow through the textbook, workbook, and notebooks so they’re prepared for their exam!

It’s been a great year in P5/12 and it’s hard to believe it’s coming to an end.  19 students in the classroom has been ideal for me, as I can walk the room and facilitate extra assistance with some of my students without complete chaos breaking out!  I didn’t have that luxury last year, so I’m very thankful!

Bring on P6!

What’s Happening in P5

Hard to believe we’re only a month and a half until final exams finish.  We recently had a minor bump in the road due to  some severe weather which caused us to miss two days of school.  Heavy rainfall flooded Surat Thani and its outskirts, causing traffic jams and dangerous driving situations.  Thankfully we’re out of the woods for now.  It’s nice to see the sun shine again and have some clean weather!

As we head towards the end of the year, my P5 kids are learning about senses and adjectives associated with each sense.  We’ve learned how to describe a noun with each particular sense as well as an adjective to express our emotions.  We’ve also leaned some opposite nouns, which has led to some fun speaking games.  The kids really enjoy warming up to me saying an adjective like”wonderful.”  Their goal is to then be the first one to say its opposite (awful).  They’ve picked up pretty quick in this unit, so we’re aiming to start the last unit by the end of January, giving us ample review time for finals.

In science, we’re studying sound and its properties.  We talked at length about vibrations, sound waves, and how sound travels.  One of the funner lessons was labeling and coloring the parts of the ear.  I saw some interesting ear colors, but the point was to label and spend time associating the part and its name with the extra time coloring.  Next, we’ll move into how sound travels, how we measure it, and ways to protect our ears from damage.  This leaves us with one unit about the sky and movements in space.  I think sound has been more challenging for them to grasp than other units and I think we’ll move faster through the last unit.

Finally, in math, we’re studying angles, lines, and shapes.  So far, we’ve used our protractors to measure acute, right, and obtuse angles.  We just studied how to find an angle greater than 180 degrees (subtract from 360 degrees, of course!).  I expect to move quickly through parallel lines, which leaves us with a few shapes to study properties.  Our last two units are about volume (solids, cubes) and statistics/probability.  Both these units are short and the students generally grasp math faster than other subjects, so I’m expecting to finish the textbook right on schedule.

I’m happy where my class is now vs. the calendar/end of school.  We’ve had a lot of unexpected days off, assemblies, etc., but I’m proud of how hard they’ve worked to get through things.  A tip of the hat to class for a job well done!

Christmas Break Comes and Goes

It was great having a bit of a break for some R & R over the holidays!  I definitely needed to recharge my batteries and get away for a bit.  Of course, I happened to come down with a bit of a sinus bug at the start of the holiday, but I still managed to get out and have a good time.

Seeing how on most holidays I always head north (BKK) or west (Samui, Phangan), I decided to try out a new area–Koh Lanta.  It didn’t take too long to get there–perhaps 4 hours from Taled Kaset to my area on the island.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I found Koh Lanta to be very scenic, peaceful, and less of the hustle and bustle found on other islands.

I was able to meet with a friend from my teaching days in Korea who was on holiday from China, which made things more enjoyable.  She’d already been there a few days and was able to scout a few cool beaches and restaurants to hang out and enjoy.  I’m not one for too many tours and all, so it was exactly what I was looking for.  From what I was told, the northern part of the island is very touristy, while the middle and southern parts are more relaxed.  I got in some good beach time and eating and plan to make a return visit after the end of the school year.

My second leg of holiday was in Krabi (Ao Nang).  It was pretty simple to get over via a boat, but a bit expensive (around 600 baht).  The boat only took two hours and was very closely located to Ao Nang town.  I met up with some friends and we enjoyed some nightlife taking in the New Year, some good food, and plenty of time to recover.  🙂

One thing I recommend coming back from Krabi town is to get a private mini van/bus.  We did in a group of 5 and it was about 520 Baht a piece.  It might seem expensive on the surface, but in reality it’s 100 Baht to get to the bus terminal, then an additional 200ish Baht back to Surat town.  Every time I’ve gone home from Krabi it’s taken several hours longer than the 2.5 hours indicated, so it’s well worth its value!

All in all it was a nice holiday filled with laughs and entertainment!  I’m happy to be back at school to finish the last several weeks with my P5 kids!