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Teacher Prep

Diary from Japan — Day 17

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teacher Kierstin Laisne, and received no editing from the college.

Today was such an exciting day!

We started it off as per usual with going to school and teaching/observing classes. Some of us continued teaching past tense verbs through charades while others were used to help one of the most energetic teachers demonstrate the differences between “this is” and “that is”. The classes that we got to teach were actually split into half the normal size so interacting with the students went smoother than usual.

After our school day ended, we all hustled back to the hostel, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and out we** went! Today’s destination: Nara. We’ve all been fairly excited about this trip because it meant we got to see and pet deer! …Okay there were other reasons to be excited about Nara but c’mon– there was the opportunity to pet cute little deer! Lots of selfies were taken and we even saw certain people teaching the deer to bow and other random citizens combing and taking care of the deer.

Next up, we walked to the Isuien Gardens, which were by far one of the prettiest things I’ve seen in Japan. This country never ceases to amaze me and just seems to get more beautiful the longer we stay! The picture taking opportunities went on and on so don’t be so surprised when you look at how many photos are included today!

The next place we went to was Todaiji Temple: home of the Great Buddha of Nara, which was built in the early 8th century! It’s safe to say that everyone was shocked by just how huge the statue is! The Great Buddha is about 50 feet tall while also being on a platform so you can only imagine our faces when our eyes adjusted to the dark temple to find a giant in the center! While in the temple, we also learned that this temple was one of the “Seven Great Temples” of Japan! Shrines, dozens of deer, and interesting cement lanterns also surrounded the temple, which seemed to stretch on for a while.

To top off the night though was the most refreshing summer storm that could’ve possibly happened. It was the whole nine yards with thunder, lightning, and completely soaked hair! Although we typically complain whenever it pours back home, rain was a sight for sore eyes, especially after experiencing the humidity here! We all want to make the most of the rest of our trip, so hopefully the weekend will be just as fun as today!

**The “we” in this case would be our group minus one member. Sadly Jeremiah couldn’t be with us today… He’s completely fine but just stayed behind to finish the grant he’s been working super hard on! Congrats Jeremiah! We felt that he should still get to experience Nara though, which led to some interesting pictures and videos… Enjoy!

Diary from Japan — Day 16

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teacher Maria Garcia, and received no editing from the college.

Today at Imazu Junior High school we got the chance to interact with the students more by participating in class activities as well as leading our own activities that we came up with as a group.We started off the day in the second year English class. The students were divided into smaller groups so that each group had the chance to interview one of the English teachers (us!). The students were so excited to practice their English with us! They then presented each of us to th

We started off the day in the second year English class. The students were divided into smaller groups so that each group had the chance to interview one of the English teachers (us!). The students were so excited to practice their English with us! They then presented each of us to the class. The students that interviewed our professor, Tom, took some time to draw great pictures of him. It was really cute! After we were done with the interviews Kim and Gracie taught the kids how to play charades, also known as the gesture game. The kids played in their lunch groups with the help of the teachers. It was great to see the kids having a good time and enjoying themselves!

After that class was over we broke up into smaller groups and went to separate English classes. My group had the opportunity to work with the third year English students. We created a Jeopardy activity to help students practice spelling and listening, as well as to learn a bit more about American culture. It was my turn to lead todays activity, so I was pretty excited to practice my teaching skills. The students understood the rules and all the hints that we provided, and they also did a great job guessing all the trivia questions. I think it is safe to say that all the students and teachers included, had a great time teaching and learning English together!

To wrap up our day we hit it hard at the Coco Curry and afterwards hit up the Karaoke bar! It was a great way to unwind from a successful and busy day! Lets see what tomorrow brings, rest well my fellow Cougs!

Diary from Japan — Day 14

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teachers Sandra Larios, and received no editing from the college.

It’s sad to know that our time in Japan is dwindling down. I’m sure many of us are growing to really love and appreciate this beautiful culture.

Today we had the opportunity to travel to Kobe city, if Kobe sounds familiar it may be because of Kobe Beef, which I’ve heard is both delicious and pricey!

We started out our day taking a ferry through the Osaka Bay. The sound of the ferry clashing through the water was soothing and I personally found it to be quite therapeutic. I found myself reflecting on this experience thus far and really thought how blessed and lucky I am to be here at this moment and in this place. It’s not often that first generation students from migrant farmworking homes get the chance to study abroad. The sounds and the views were beautiful and the weather was only complimenting this experience.

After our ferry ride, we headed to the Kobe Port Tower, which stands at a height of 108 meters, 80 meters shy of the Seattle Space Needle. The view was breathtakingly beautiful (please refer to images below and see for yourself).

Once lunch time approached we headed out to China Town where we ate lunch and had the chance to eat street food and explore the various shops. It was both a delicious and unique experience!

Overall today was a fun-filled day, full of over 20,000 steps, delicious food, and beautiful views. I really wish I could extend my time here in Japan, but I promise to visit again!

Diary from Japan — Day 13

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teachers Kim Moon, and received no editing from the college.

It’s Friday! It has been another great week at the junior high school, but today we spent our time at the Nishinomiya Higashi High School. I was super excited to work with the high school students today to see how much English they knew. Most of the students were able to answer basic conversational questions, which was super fun! We first met the principal and received a tour of the school. The students became distracted as we walked by their classrooms. The students at this school were equivalent to 10th-12th graders in the United States. We interacted with each grade for half a period. The 3rd year students (12th grade) were working on listening comprehension. While the teacher played the passage, we would help the students pick out the main points in the story. The 3rd year students were a joy to work with, since their English skills are a little more advanced. However, they were a little shy in the beginning. The 2nd year (11th grade) students were all preparing for their midterms and working on grammar and pronunciation. During our time with them, the teachers asked us to read their passages with them so they could hear a native speaker instead of their CD. We all felt very privileged by this offer and the students enjoyed working with us a lot. We spent the last half period with the first year (10th grade) students, who were working on reading fluency and pronunciation. We participated in an echo read, during which we really focused on pronunciation. It was sad to leave since we only got to spend one day with them. However, it has been a great opportunity to see a wide range of students from elementary school to high school to understand the English language education here in Japan.

After saying our “Good-byes” to the principal, teachers, and students at the high school, we all headed to LaLaPort mall for lunch. Finally, we found a McDonalds and a Mister Donut! Most of us got some food that tasted a little less fishy! During lunch a nice Japanese man came up to us and attempted to speak English. He was so sweet and really tried hard, but was unable to use enough English so that we knew what he was saying. He disappeared for a few minutes and came back with an orange for us, which was one of the best oranges that I have had since we have been here. He was kind enough to take a selfie with us and departed saying something in Japanese. We all enjoyed our free time this afternoon wandering around the mall, exploring the city more, and taking a little nap! A few of us found some great souvenirs for family and ran into another Japanese man with a USA hat, who acknowledged us.

This evening we were fortunate to spend some time with a few of the local teachers here. First we went to have dinner at a ramen restaurant. This was by far some of the best ramen I have ever had! It is definitely better than the top ramen all of us college students know so well. We enjoyed talking and getting to know the teachers here better. I was super excited to learn about the ALT (assistant language teacher) positions as I might come back to teach English for a year. Then we all went to participate in some Japanese karaoke! We all got to sing some classic karaoke songs and enjoy each other’s company. All in all week 2 here has been wonderful and we cannot wait to enjoy more of Japanese culture in our final week!

 

Diary from Japan — Day 12

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teacher Gracie Lee, and received no editing from the college.

And we are off to another adventure in Japan! Today’s journey would begin a little later as we all decided that some much needed sleep would be necessary.

After waking up, showering, and eating breakfast, we were off to see the Himeji Castle. Boy was it a sight to see. It was so beautiful and well designed. Steep stairs and low doorway entries accompanied the castle. After taking lots of pictures and enjoying the view, it was time for lunch. We decided to eat together for another group meal. It was delicious! I had curry for the third day in a row and it was magnificent! After eating lunch, the group decided to split up. Some of us went to the zoo, while others went on adventures of their own. To wrap up the day at the castle, a couple of us decided to take a walk through the Nishi-Oyashiki-Ato Garden. The garden was huge! There were at least 12 different types of gardens at the Nishi-Oyashiki-Ato Garden. Lots of fish, flowers, and trees made for a wonderful afternoon. After the garden, it was time to catch the train and head back to the Hostel.

It sure was a great Saturday in Japan! The weather was perfect, not too hot and not too cold. It’s sad to think that our adventure is coming to an end, but we all have made the best of our journey in Japan.

 

Diary from Japan — Day 11

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by Dr. Salsbury and received no editing from the college.

Today was our second day at Imazu Junior High School

We started the day by observing the boys’ and girls’ PE classes. The girls played volleyball and invited some of us (those with proper gym shoes) to play along. Meanwhile, in another gym, the boys practiced the high jump. I was struck (a) by the lack of competition among the kids, and (b) by the organization of the groups. With just a single word or phrase from the teacher, the kids formed their groups, moved to their places, and participated in the activities. Everybody participated, and the happiness in the gymnasiums was palpable.

Next, we moved to a history class. We were greeted (in English) by the history teacher whose hook for the lesson on leadership was to show on the projector (in English) the question “Who is this?” He showed a picture of Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and Jimmy Carter, turning to us (standing in the back of the room) and asking politely if we could identify them. Next, he showed several funny pictures of the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe (eating a donut, making a funny face, and smiling). The kids loved it! After this hook, he shifted register (and language) and began his lecture on 19th Century Japanese leaders.

The other classes we observed were Industrial Arts (a class on communications technology – from cups with strings to iPhones), biology (plant roots), and music (the kids practiced a choral piece). We took notes on classroom structure (activities, groupings and student/teacher roles). In our afternoon seminar, we heard presentations from classmates on (a) the changing roles of women in Japanese society and (b) the different levels of formality in Japanese. The discussions were rich, personal, and relevant to what we’re experiencing in our relatively short time here.

We finished the afternoon with class preparation for next week. The school lent us copies of their English course texts for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students. They’re hoping we can prepare 2-3 activities at each grade level to supplement the lessons in the texts. It’s great to be collaborating with each other and with the Nishinomiya teachers as we prepare these lessons.

Diary from Japan — Day 10

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by graduate student Jerimiah Sataraka, and has received no editing from the college.

“The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically… We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr wrote these words in the Maroon Tiger, an Atlanta, Georgia college campus newspaper back in 1947. And they have never been more relevant and true than today.

While flipping through the 9th grader’s English language textbooks, I came across an English language lesson they’ll soon have around Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” Rosa Parks, and racism during the Civil Rights Movement. Granted they didn’t include the word racism in their textbook, but they had images of segregated water drinking fountains and highlighted some stories of racism. Say what?! I wondered how the students at Izamu Junior High School would react to this part of USA history. This is a textbook that is used across the school district, so 9th graders across the district would be talking about this. What questions would the students have and how would teachers answer them?

Hands down my favorite part of this experience has been interacting with the students. From the ones who seem to be disengaged or shy to those who are very excited to see us and want to ask a million questions a minute; every interaction has been memorable. We usually do introductions with a new group of students in class and students seem to have some difficulty saying “Jeremiah,” but after a few tries, they get it. We practiced interviewing each other and helped the students practice their verbal English speaking skills.

This got me thinking about their future lesson on Dr. King. How much of their lesson would be focused on the facts regarding the Civil Rights Movement, how much would be focused on enunciating specific English words, and how much would be on developing empathy and understanding racism?

This led me down a path to asking a question about racism in Japan. Did it exist? If so, how did it function? And how did it impact schools? These questions were the central focus of my presentation during our seminar today, which happens after we spend time in the Japanese classrooms. From presentations on gender norms in schools, to learning how the Japanese number system works, and to my presentation on racism in Japan and schools (i.e. especially focused on the experiences of multiracial Japanese called “hafu”), we spent some time having critical discussions on what we’ve observed in classrooms and researching other topics related to Japan and schools.

Going back to Dr. King’s words, I hope that not only will the Japanese students learn the “hard facts” about the Civil Rights Movement and develop empathy and understanding regarding human rights, but that students in the USA will also be learning about this.

Race and racism are prevalent parts of our society. Whether we as educators choose to acknowledge the ugly parts of history and help future students develop empathy and “good moral character” so that history is not repeated will depend largely on our schools and educational systems. Schools are sites of socialization- this is a huge observation I’ve made in Japan during the week and a half we’ve been here. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be sites of liberation. There is hope for the future, and I caught a glimpse of that in a Japanese 9th grade English language textbook.

Diary from Japan — Day 9

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teacher Maria Garcia, and has received no editing from the college.

Today was our last day at Nauro Junior High school. We arrived at school early so that we could say goodbye to all of the staff before class. We then went to teach two classes and observe another.

We taught the kids a simple dialogue that had to do with introducing themselves to people. We then taught them questions they could ask people to get to know them better. Some questions we taught them were “What is your name?”, “What sport do you like?”, “Where are you from?”, and “What color do you like?”. That’s just to name a few questions.

Next, we had them break off into “lunch groups” and had them ask us questions about ourselves. Once they got to know us better, we had them introduce us to the class. We then ended class with a little geography lesson on the United States to give them an idea of where each of us is from.

After teaching and observing, we went to say our final goodbyes to some teachers and the principal of Nauro Junior High. Mr.Sasaki, the principal, gave us a little gift bag that came with a pen and a super cool pin that has a symbol of Nauro Junior High School on it. Lastly, some of us posed for a selfie with Mr. Sasaki. What a cool guy!

Diary from Japan — Day 8

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teacher Kierstin Laisne, and has received no editing from the college.

Today was a super relaxed day! We spent the morning at Naruo Junior High again, where the students we taught gave us messages and drew us pictures on the lessons from last week. Some pictures were super pretty but all of the comments were adorable and made our day! Then we made our way to the conveyor belt sushi restaurant which was surprisingly cheap for all of us and was really good. We made our walk back to the hostel after spending 2 or so hours in the “hot room” and had some time to chill out. For dinner, some of us made our way to Freshness Burger, a restaurant one of our Japanese coworkers recommended. Finally, we ended the night doing laundry, going for a run, and finding out that Hulu doesn’t work in japan! Hopefully tomorrow will have a better ending!

Diary from Japan — Day 7

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teacher Angela Ferrier, and has received no editing from the college.

More adventures today in Kyoto! We started the day off early and navigated the train system all on our own. We first ended up in downtown Kyoto where we walked to a gorgeous temple, then wandered down hanami-kogi street. During our wanderings, we stumbled upon a festival in a park and caught sight of an end to a traditional Japanese wedding. We strolled through nature and then we went on the trains again to find the bamboo forest. First, a few of us walked into a stunning temple and garden then found our way to a bamboo grove. It was another successful day in Japan!

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