Saturday, 28 November 2009

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"keikaku suru" 計画する which means "to plan".  If memory serves me right, this is more about planning projects and "things", as opposed to planning a schedule.  So using this to ask if someone has any "plans" isn't really correct.

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

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"atsumaru" 集まる which means to gather/collect.  And it can apply to anything- people, coins, stamps...  assignments hah....

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

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"shukudai" 宿題 which means homework.  Having taken two weeks off for the practicum and now being in the home stretch before school ends, the homework load is piling up.  Particularly for this week, with 3 presentations and 3 other assignments due.

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

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"erabu" 選ぶ which means "to choose".  This week I won't talk much about school or whatnot mostly because school is just a mass of school work.  Instead, I'll talk about my other love...  cars.

Last weekend I was chatting with some friends and we were trying to decide what our perfect 5 car garage would be.  We could pick any car but they'd have to be able to do anything and everything we do in a year, from summer time jaunts to ski trips.

Naturally lists like these change all the time but this is what I've decided.....  for this week.

Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder

This, being a convertible, would be the perfect summer cruiser.  While not as pure of a driver's car as a Ferrari in its hardtop form, the convertible lends itself more to cruising.  It's also unbelievably pretty and sounds amazing.

I'd have one in graphite grey.  Although, this might have to go to make room for the F458 Spyder that's sure to come in a few years...

McLaren MP4-12C

Despite the rather uninteresting name, this is an incredibly significant car not in the least because of its rarity.  McLaren is one of the longest running Formula 1 constructors and, from 1992-1998, produced the McLaren F1 which was one of the most technologically advanced road cars of its time and is still heralded as one of the greatest.

Mercedes and McLaren teamed up to build the SLR a few years ago but that was more Mercedes than McLaren.

With the MP4-12C, McLaren are back with a car designed entirely in-house.  Lightweight carbon fibre, a 600bhp twin turbo V8, and a twin-clutch 7-spd gearbox.

And while Ferrari had just released its brilliant new F458, the McLaren just feels that tad bit more special.

I'd take mine in black.

Range Rover Sport

This one's simple- it goes off road.  It'd be perfect for ski trips or when it snows.  And the Sport has a supercharged V8, so it hustles as well.

Silver, since it's the easiest to clean.

Brabus E V12

This one's a bit neat.  Brabus is a tuning company that specializes in Mercedes' and, more often than not, can be found cramming ridiculously large engines into smaller, lighter models.

This one comes with Mercedes' twin turbo V12 found normally in their bigger sedans.  Then Brabus bump it up to 800bhp.

Being a big comfy sedan this would be perfect for driving friends around and with so much power it would be ideal cross-country road trips.  I'm not ashamed to admit I picked this purely because of the engine.

And since these cars are built to order, I'd be tempted to make it a station wagon just to haul that extra bit of stuff.

Black for the stealth look.

Porsche 911 GT3

The daily driver.  It's all about purity with this one and when the car drives like an extension of your body, it makes even the shortest trips exhilarating.

In white.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"yoku kangaeru" よく考える .  Yoku is actually an adjective in the sense that placing it in front of the verb represents "thoroughly" or "well done".  Kangaeru is the verb "to think" so putting them together sort of means to "really think about" or, in my case, "reflection".

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....