Monday, 28 December 2009
Saturday, 19 December 2009
But it actually turns out to work quite well because this week, I discovered Mike Stimpson and his site RedBubble.com, which specializes in Lego.
Most specifically, he's combined (see how I transitioned there?? heh) Lego with some of the most famous photographs in history to produce recreations, which you can find on his Flickr page.
To give you an idea of what he's done, here's an example that I'm sure everyone will recognize.
The key to making pictures work (as Stimpson so dutifully describes in his Flickr descriptions) is the lighting, which has to be done in such away as to reproduce the lighting found in the original. Luckily, Stimpson usually provides a picture of the setup to show just how much thought goes into each shot.
In other news, congrats to all those who graded at PSWK's last grading of 2009!
Lastly, I hope everyone has a very happy holiday season and thanks for checking into the blog all this year =)
Saturday, 12 December 2009
Saturday, 5 December 2009
1- I'm finished first term and am now on holidays to January ____ (I actually don't know the date I'm supposed to go back to school heh)... Plans for the holidays?? Relaxing haha.... and spend my first Christmas home in two years.
Saturday, 28 November 2009
In my case, however, it does sort of work since I've been doing a lot of lesson planning for various assignments. Lesson planning is interesting in that detailed planning is highly encouraged and it's something all teachers do, yet the degree they do it do varies. Some get away with nothing but a scribble on a napkin while others have every minute of every class figured out.
In some ways, the analogy I was given on my first day of practicum explains it best- it's like learning to drive. It doesn't matter if everyone you see eats a donut, adjusts the radio, and talks on the phone while make a left turn. It doesn't even matter that they shouldn't be doing that. The point is that, as a new driver, you should do everything you're expected to and as thoroughly as possible. There will come a point when you've proven to yourself that you can handle the task and, from then on, you can adjust it to fit your needs.
Case in point- right now when I plan lessons, I write down approximations for how much time I think it'll take students to do things. But really, I have no idea how quickly or slowly students will do certain things and it's really easy to over or underestimate them. And so, I take it easy and err on the side of too much, just in case. But even during the two weeks, you get a feel for the classes and the students and eventually, you know right away whether one activity will take 15 minutes or 50.
Case 2- I don't really remember what this box held when I took the picture, but from what it says, it looks like bite-size pieces of mochi (gelatinous rice). Probably given to me some time around New Year's, since that's when mochi's consumed. Anyway, the point is, maybe they should've planned some time to get the English checked?? Har har =P
Saturday, 21 November 2009
Like I said last week, all I've been doing lately is homework but I'm glad to say I'm still alive and the brunt of the work is done. And whatever I have left should be, compared to what I just did, a walk in the park.
I don't have much else to add cuz I didn't do anything else all week but I will say that since I now have a bit more spare time, I'm collecting something else as we speak.
What exactly I won't say, but you'll see in a few weeks =)
Saturday, 14 November 2009
I'm not complaining though, really... there certainly is a lot but I'm actually revelling in how technology has transformed how nice I can make my assignments look. Everything from producing sample worksheets to presentations is now all done in the computer which in some ways takes the mystique out of doing things but also means the quality goes through the roof.
Gone are the days when presenting meant printing paragraphs on paper, attempting to cut them out with straight edges, and gluing them down on construction paper.
In fact, even PowerPoints are being out paced by newer, slicker, and more innovative presentation methods.
One that I learned about two weeks ago is Prezi.
Essentially a giant board, it offers a place to lay out presentations that progress in an organic fashion with views that zoom in or out, pan, and rotate as you move along. The most amazing thing, however, is that it's incredibly easy to use. It really is a triumph of design and while it isn't as powerful as PowerPoint or other types of presentation methods in terms of manipulation, it's a got style that very few, if any, other presentation methods can offer.
Check it out; I highly recommend it.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
Sunday, 1 November 2009
People who have been or are in the B. Ed program may take a moment to laugh and/or gag at the word reflection, which is tossed around all the time in the program but it's a much less trivial thing to do while on practicum.
The first week of my practicum went quite well mostly because there wasn't much to go wrong. I spent the bulk of the time going to various classes and observing teachers to see how they taught their subject, managed their students and time, and set up their classroom atmosphere.
The second week, however, was different. Although I only had to teach 4 full classes, the planning took a fair chunk of time because I don't have much experience running a 75-min class of 30 students. This means I have to consider what I'm doing for every minute as well as gauging how long it would take them to do things.
The hardest thing though was I felt one of my lessons didn't go that well. The students were great and the majority of them got the material towards the end (and the next day, in the review class, they all aced it which was great) but I wasn't very happy with how I did what I did. I thought I had rushed through the intro to an activity and that caused a lot of confusion partway through the class whereas what I should've done was eased into it more slowly, trading quantity of work done by some students for quality of work done by all students.
To be honest, I was quite frustrated with myself but the day after, after much careful consideration (note word of the week), I adjusted my approach and it went much better. And while it's easy now to say that having a bad class is a useful if not necessary part of the learning experience, it was much much harder to dig myself out of that rut while being stuck in it. And in an evening no less.
Perhaps I was too critical of myself on the day of, but ultimately, it helped me reach the next step.
In the meantime, it's back at UBC until the long practicum. Also, one of my fellow student teachers took some great pictures of some amazing costumes and artwork around the school so once I get those, I'll throw them up =)
Speaking of costumes, the Halloween Dance went without a hitch. As for all the teens bumping and grinding, we the chaperones just turned a blind eye heh....
Saturday, 24 October 2009
This week's post comes a bit late because I've been busy at a high school in Richmond doing my 2-week practicum (Oct 19-30). And while not at the extreme end of unbelievability, it really is quite eye-opening just how much work it is to be a teacher. It's not that I never knew, I just didn't think it was nearly this much. The interesting thing is that most of the teachers I work with make it seem easy.
I used to feel that classroom management would easily be the hardest thing I'd have to deal with but it turns out that lesson planning is the most critical, not in the least because a well planned lesson takes care of many of the classroom management issues that might come up. And starting out as a teacher means planning many things from scratch as well as having to consider all the possibilities (what might students ask, how might students act/react, what would I need to prepare).
But as time goes on and the same lesson comes up again, the amount of planning drops and just some tweaking might work for the day. Then there are things like being aware of time and just generally how to run a class which, once I get a feel for, I'm sure I'll be less concerned about.
This is, of course, not to say it's boring. It's great fun interacting with the students and taking part in a Pro-D Day meeting with the science department. Next week I'll be teaching 4 classes and chaperoning the Halloween Dance. =P
As for the unbelievability, how's this-
A Windows 7 Whopper from Burger King in Japan. 7 patties for 777yen. All served up on 13cm "American-sized buns".... whatever that means heh....
Sunday, 18 October 2009
And I've included the normal exposure versions of each picture so you can see the difference. Note particularly how HDR is useful in shots with both bright and dark areas, so the final product shows both.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
Case in point-
Monday, 5 October 2009
Anyway, I really wish I could write about more than just how school and karate are going but, really, nothing else much happens aside from that. So, seeing as I can't help it, I might as well keep on =P...
Right now school's about a 70/30 balance between practical, "let's examine how to properly conduct a class" lessons and more theoretical, "let's discuss some of the issues in the classroom" lectures. The former includes stuff like giving mini-lessons in front of the class (which are video taped) and the latter involves quite a lot of discussion.
One of these discussion classes is a course on social justice and focusses on the topic of discrimination and oppressiveness and how, as teachers, we could or would deal with them, both internally with our own views and externally with our students.
As one might imagine, a class that focusses solely on topics like racism, sexuality, or class often result in some rather heated discussions. But last week we had a guest speaker from Out In Schools, a registered charity and a branch of the Out In Film society (which organizes the annual Vancouver Queer Film Festival) that attempts to educate students about the issues that surround homophobia and discrimination (and the wider theme of bullying, be it due to race, sex, class, etc.) through film.
It was a really interesting look at some of the resources available for victims of bullying as well as a great chance to see some eye openingly short films made by students. Some included a short made by some grade 5's about the still-common usage of the term "That's so gay" and another was about two students in a high school in a very conservative rural town in America who were the victims of bullying due to their sexual orientation.
It's particularly eye opening because not only are many of these issues not given enough exposure (I mean, sometimes you watch it and think "Seriously?? Do people still think like that??"), but that what we might deem as "modernized" or "globalized" thinking isn't nearly as inclusive as we imagine. Coupled with the fact that while many are perfectly happy to nod their head in agreement that certain social values need changing, few are truly comfortable discussing them at length.
Aboriginal issues suffer from the same, if not worse, stigma. The topic of residential schools came up and it's something that's extremely touchy to discuss. What's worse than the actual topic itself is how, in Canada, discussing Aboriginal issues has become such a conversational faux pas that the discussion never even gets off the ground. And how are we supposed to confront the topic if it's nearly impossible to comfortable bring it up in the first place??
So despite the required reading for the class, it's incredibly interesting to have that class foster a space where there is less fear of tackling the truly difficult issues. Of course, the trap is that many end up trying to think of ways to change the world when, in reality, we should be trying to think about these issues and how we interact with them. And, be it as teachers or citizens, move towards changing our daily spaces (work, home, etc.) to be conscious of how we're treating the people around us.
私の友達がブログに日本語の場合がほしかったと言ったけど、全部を翻訳できないかも。。。 =P 少なくとも日本語入ったね haha
Sunday, 27 September 2009
Saturday, 19 September 2009
The biggest thing that struck me is that this really is a launching point for what I'll be doing for the next few years. More so than any other "transition point" I've ever had in my life. I feel I've got more direction now than ever and that's always a good thing...
Now it's just about putting all this theory to practice... =P
Friday, 11 September 2009
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
One of the most impressive things that was shown to me was how to conjugate verbs.
Let's take, for example, "ugoku" 動く which is the verb "to move" .
Taking the last syllable ("ku"), you make a chart with all the characters in the "ku" family.
ka | nai - negative
ki | masu - present/future
ugo ku | - - perfect tense
ke | ru - possibility (ability to)
ko | u - "Let's"
While this wasn't technically "new" information, it was amazing to see it laid out in such a simple and easy to understand manner. In actuality, my friend told me she learned it from a Japanese teacher and that this isn't normally the way it's taught. There are, of course, variations of this chart depending on how a verb needs to be conjugated ("taberu" 食べる or "to eat") but this brings a bit of order to what I thought was just a jumble of grammar rules...
The other thing that's impressed me lately is my friend's new car........ he's also a car nut and we look for similar things in cars, so he ended up buying a pristine 2000 BMW M5. Not only it is fast, it's quite a rare car as well, which means it'll hold its value for longer. Of course, having not yet found my own sporty car to drive, I offered to take some pictures of his and my other friend's car (1974 Datsun 270Z) to celebrate the occasion. Enjoy! The last one is my favourite from the night.
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
As such, I suppose that means this past weekend I went to Lost Lake-ko.... uhh...... yeah.... wait, that would be Lost-ko?? And since lost is mayotte 迷って, that means this lake is mayoko 迷湖?? But then that just says lost lake............ and sounds like "lost child".... nevermind heh......
Thursday, 20 August 2009
The thing I've been looking for lately is a language exchange mainly because it's not easy to keep up a language in a city that doesn't speak it on a regular basis. So I put up an ad looking for a language exchange and while I expected 2 or 3 emails, I ended up with surprising 10 (thus far...). I haven't met any of them yet and nor did I really do any formal "language exchanges" in Japan, but we'll see how it works out heh....
In other news, I'm mostly just cruising through the last few weeks before school starts. I'm still doing the whole MWF karate thing and it's really helping me refine how to teach karate. At times, it's easy to get caught up in the details (for me, anyway) and turn it into a science. But what I've found is that I've brought back a lot of timing or "feel" knowledge that can help others build the same foundation by narrowing the range of how each move "feels".
As I've said before, a lot of it is intangible and often times, it takes countless hours of self-aware practice to stumble upon the once or twice when the move just "feels" right. But having done that and then move towards doing it more consistently, it's also important to consider how to explain the feel. From there, the students can watch and try with a much more focussed target on how things should be. It's like being asked to guess a number from 1 to 10, and then being told that the number falls between 2 and 6. It's just that bit easier.....
Other than that, I haven't really been doing anything substantial aside from just hanging out with friends. However, it looks like I'll be headed up to Whistler for a day this weekend, so I'll be sure to bring my camera and grab some pics......
Cuz, y'know, reading pages and pages probably isn't as interesting heh..........
Friday, 14 August 2009
"I'm trying to completely transfer what I learned in Japan to the people in my dojo"
Indeed I am. I've started practicing MWF mornings with the other two instructors of my dojo, Pacific Spirit Wado Kai, and it's been great. It obviously won't be an overnight transformation (as it wasn't for me in Japan either) but they're eager and motivated. The best thing, however, is that they've been telling that training again and being able to learn new things has re-ignited their interest in karate.
And that, to me, is the most important step in helping everyone improve.
We also have lots of plans for PSWK come September and there's lots to look forward to in the near future!
"Tokyo's completely different from Vancouver"
Really it is. It's something I've always known but never really felt. Not even last year as a lot of Shiramizu competitors were here, so I was immersed in a quasi-Japanese culture bubble during the time I spent with them.
But without said bubble, it's quite clear just how different things are. From how people interact to the physical presence of the city, it's the total opposite. Interestingly, however, I find I appreciate Vancouver's attributes more now that I've been away. Things like walking along the SeaWall or just enjoy the multitude of parks and greenery were things I never did or noticed til I stayed in a city where such things were at a premium.
Then again, there are things found in Tokyo not found in Vancouver. But I do concede that a lot of the Tokyo things would be hard to transplant into Vancouver. The transit system, for instance, would never work in Vancouver.
Or this, a life-size Gundam robot built in Odaiba to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Gundam series. I don't think that would happen in Vancouver here either heh....... I'm not sure if I posted this earlier but I wanted to go see this before I left. Unfortunately, I didn't have the chance but enjoy the pics I found on the internet instead heh.....
Thursday, 6 August 2009
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
We started with a night's stay in Honolulu just up from Waikiki beach. The next morning I tried my hand at surfing and, I must say, it's not really my thing. I dunno if it's just me, but it seems like it's a lot of paddle in exchange for a short ride back. I'll stick to my motorized ski lifts thanks =P... Anyway, later that day, we boarded our boat, the conveniently named "Pride Of America".
NCL is Norwegian Cruise Lines although, since the cruise only goes to American ports, the boat itself is registered as an American vessel. As cruise ships go, it wasn't the best nor was it the worst. The ship was a decent size though a bit lacking in things to do... luckily there were ports of call everyday so that kept the trip interesting.
The first port of call was Maui. We had a rental car book so we headed off to a beach for the morning (Sunday the 18th). I really don't remember the name of the beach but I suppose they all look like this haha......For the afternoon we headed up the Haleakela, a dormant volcano on the eastern side of Maui. Maui's actually made of up to overlapping volcanos and Haleakela is the taller of the two at 10,000ft. While the upper panoramic shot is a bit small, the second shot does a better job of showing off the iron-rich redness of the crater on Haleakela. It truly is a magnificent place mostly because it looks like nothing else. In fact, it's special enough that NASA uses it to test Mars probes and such.... They also recommend walking slowly at 10,000ft because the air is thin, but I really found no problems up there.....
One of the ship's big "events" is the watching of the lava flows at night. As the ship circles around the island to its next port, it slows down near some known lava flows so everyone can admire the burning hot lava pouring into the ocean. Unfortunately, despite how the picture look, there isn't that much to see. I expected rivers of lava like strings of red Christmas lights draped over the mountain side and giant pools of cooling lava in the ocean. Instead, the not-so-active night only showed a couple of lava dribbles. Consistent as they were, I think I built myself up a bit too much haha.......