How to go on a Field Trip!

It’s the day that every student waits for: field trip day.

Little do they know, however, that teachers also await such days with great anticipation. Nothing could be more pleasing than being outside, learning something that isn’t your standard faire.

This explains my excitement when my coteacher, Ellen, told me a few weeks ago that we would be going on a field trip to the Yilan Green Expo with the first graders the next week. Anxiously anticipating this date, I really had no idea what to expect. Would we be charged with chaperoning certain groups? Would I be able to see the whole expo? Would it be big or small? What would the weather be like? None of these thoughts were unfounded, it turns out, because up until we got there, I really had no idea of any of the answers.

Tuesday came, and I packed myself up a lunch in my little green bento and tied it into a plastic bag. I have bad luck when it comes to..well…a lot of things, so I wanted to make sure the balsamic vinegar didn’t get everywhere. I took my normal 40 minute bus ride to school, nodding off as usual, and nothing seemed different until 9:00 rolled around and the  tour busses rolled into the driveway of the school.

First graders getting ready to board the bus

Ellen hastily handed me a hand made identification card (sadly, we don’t wear them at our school) and we raced out to join the first graders.

Don’t laugh, I know it’s a wretched picture that looks nothing like me.

It turns out that the sixth graders were also taking their trip this day, and as we boarded our pink bus, they boarded another. 

Did you ever see such a bus?

Inside, the bus reminded me of my first trip to Taiwan and our trip up the mountain in a tour bus much like this one with its plush seats and frilly curtains that made it look more like a gypsy caravan than a big bus.

Note the curtains

Riding a bus with first graders brings to mind what sort of environment? I bet you’d expect screaming and scampering about but these were surprisingly well behaved.

Helllloooo

I sat with this Cutie

We said ‘bye-bye’ to the school and we were off to Su’Ao.

Bye-bye Kai Xuan!

Passing countrysides so green I almost wanted to put on my sunglasses, the teacher passed out fish flavored snack crackers to everyone riding the bus. I tucked mine into my bag, mentally noting to give them to our Soldier boy, Tony. 

Graveyard, Taiwan style

Green and growing gardens

The entrance to the Expo was through a huge gardening basket complete with tools. How’s that for interesting!

Excuse Tony’s face, he got in the way.

I was surprised to find that there were no discipline, safety or precautionary procedures or rules in place. Or rather, none that I could pick out from what I could understand. Already wearing their purple and gold school uniforms, our students did not need matching hats or tshirts, but other than there, there was no supervision that I could see. I was surprised not to be assigned to a group of kids and given the whistle and a clip board I had grown used to during my time as a summer camp counselor a few summers ago. Grasping at these loose ends, we entered the park. 

Presentation hall and surrounding garden

First off we all headed to the presentation hall for a show before exploring. I usually skip out on shows like this, finding it much more relaxing to explore exhibitions and parks on my own time, but as I was still unsure of what my role for the day was, I tagged along.

What it ended up begin was considerably frightening; sincerely the stuff of nightmares.

giant costumes with large lips.

I did my best to look away, but eventually had to get up and leave. I dragged Tony with me, although I suspect he was also glad to quit the scene. 

Tiny cuties!

We walked around a bunch, up to the top of the sprawling Expo and back down again, ending at some picnic tables for lunch. I’ll give you some pictures first, then explain the unfortunate happenstance of leaking balsamic vinegar.

the exterior of some building

recycled autos

The green space around the Expo was phenomenal. I was jealous of all the gardens. When I get to New York City, I’m going to see how I can get involved with a CSA- you never who who you’ll meet while on your hands and knees weeding onions 🙂

We ran into some 6th graders and I made them pose for a photo.

I pretended not to know them, and made them laugh by saying, ‘Oh hello, I am the English teacher from Kai Xuan. How are you?’ 

Giant nature book and camera

Scattered with students from any number of schools, the Expo was brightly colored and vibrant.

children playing under Yilan’s famous green onions!

If I had this in my back yard, I’d sit beneath it in a nice chair and read for hours.

This little stream ran the length of the Expo

Aways up the path, we passed some expo tents and checked out some of the local fare inside. Each section of the park was modeled after a section of the Aboriginal tribes, although I couldn’t read the map or brochure so can’t tell you any more.

Wooden bugs in the trees!

One tend had a machine that made extruded brown rice sticks. Into a slot at the top you put the brown rice, and turned a crank, and ba-boom- rice sticks!

Tony with our rice sticks

I bought a bag for NT 50 (which is about USD 1.50) and happily crunched my way through last week….eventually getting to the bottom of the bag all too soon.

Beautiful gardens abound

Here I’ll leave you, and tomorrow I’ll post about the rest of the Expo.

Don’t you just love Field trips? Comment and let me know which field trip sticks out most in your mind? What kind of security for the kiddies do you think is essential?

Love, Hannah

English Club

Hi there,

I’ve been lacking in photos lately, I know. There are a few reasons for that.

1. There isn’t much to take pictures of that I haven’t already photographed, and my computer is already quite full of photos.

2. I really like to write sometimes too, and hope that you all will read the words and enjoy them just as much as the pictures, although I do know that sometimes photos do a better job of showing you just what’s going on.

3. This is just recent: Someone dropped my camera and it dented the lens and it won’t open well. I’m a bit nervous about trying it again and am actually avoiding the situation which I’ll have to eventually confront. I take perfect care of my belongings and to think that someone carelessly knocked it off of what it was sitting irks me. Probably because I hadn’t thought to secure the bag it was in. But I digress….

Here are some pictures I DO have from the first week of English Camp. After last semester’s constant asking whether I could do an English club of some sort, the school has finally asked me to do one on Friday afternoons, a time that I had previously had nothing. Of course I agreed, and it is turning out to be a great outlet for me to implement lessons and things I’ve wanted to try in the classroom but couldn’t because of curriculum restraints. Such is the teaching life, eh?

Without further ado, here is our English Club, session one!

Our English Classroom is being used. Still hate those chairs.

Oh dear. The stretched picture thing is going to happen again. I almost don’t want to add pictures.

This says ‘please put your school bags in the back of the classroom’

On Fridays I go to English Village from 8-12, then I take the 12:03 bus to school, which takes about 45 minutes, then our English Club goes from 1:45-3:45, then I take the same bus back home. So Fridays are essentially a regular day.

Checking in.

The kids arrive and put their bags at the back of the classroom. Then I check them in. This is the first class where I’ve really (almost) gotten the names down, because I teach 300 kids so that’s a lot of names to memorize. No excuses though I guess.

Cuties (L-R) Jenny, Jane, Wayne, Kerri

I have, by this point, made them little notebooks with pockets for worksheets and a pocket for their name cards.

Teacher Hannah reads an ‘If You Give A….’ book.

I usually read a story at some point during the class. This week it was ‘If You Give a Pig a Pancake’ because I was also going to read it the next day at the local Library where I do storytelling every month.

Teaching in a jacket. So classic Taiwan winter.

Oh the attractive faces you end up making in candid photos….

I love reading aloud. It is probably one of my favorite things to do and I cannot wait to have my own classroom where I can read chapter books, knowing that the students will understand what I am saying. One of the keys to helping EFL kids have fun with books they might not understand is using a lot of vocal intonation and movements. I half act out the book, just so they know what’s going on.

Preteaching the vocab

Preteaching vocab is also key. I like to pick about 8 to 10 salient words that I will teach and have them look for in the story as I’m telling it. I usually also tell the story twice, so they really understand what’s going on.

Check out my amazing drawing skills.

Although I’m no artist, I find that illustrating what I am explaining really helps.

Brian draws his blue pig

After the story this week, I had the kids draw their own pigs. They could basically do whatever they wanted and boy, did they come up with some cute pictures!

Kerri-2nd grade

Yuni-1st grade

Brian-1st grade

Diamond-4th grade (I laughed for about an hour when I saw his drawing- isn’t it great?!)

I couldn’t get enough of Diamond’s. He drew a whole turkey!

Barry -3rd grade

Kilie-4th grade

Explaining what the English words on the stickers mean

The kids get stickers when they do drawing or worksheet or just because I like to give stickers. Since they are some awesome American stickers my Mother sent from the US, I like to explain the words on them like, ‘Great!’ and ‘Wow!’ The kids take ages to choose a sticker, even though some of the sheets are the same just different background colors. I might have to start choosing for them….

Waiting for stickers

Reacting to cuteness

One of my favorite times of the class is giving the kids stickers is getting to look at the work they’ve done. It’s always so different!

 

Vanni- 1st grade (she reminds me of me when I was young somehow)

Me with my LET’s daughter, Abigale-1st grade

Another thing I love about English club is that it’s a class that I teach by myself, so I get to plan the lessons and really get to know these kids a lot better than only seeing them once or twice a week.

Which animals make which sounds in the US vs. Taiwan

Mid-‘squeak’

Close your mouth Brian, we are not a codfish. Brownie points if you can guess that reference!

One of the negative sides, however, is that I have a big gap in ages and grades and abilities. I have a whole bunch of 1st graders, and a few 3rd and 4th graders, so tailoring activities and content is a bit of a challenge.

Being a dork…I mean parrot

When the older students are finished in a flash, the younger students frequently cannot even conceptualize the task. What younger students find engaging, older students may find stupid or dull. I’m still working this out. Suggestions?

 

Disco break down

 

The kids were in on it too.

But mostly they all have fun.

 

I made the most ugly pancakes of your life.

And so do I!

 

Vanni and Yuni

Leo- 3rd grade. Why so angry?

‘Would you like jam?’ ‘Yes, Please/No, Thank you’

Another great thing is that I get to make them snacks every week. I never anticipate how much they’ll enjoy them. The first week I made pancakes to go with the story. An interesting experience, making pancakes on our Taiwan stove- it is obviously not made for cooking anything but stir fries on high heat. I ended up with more than a few slightly charred ones, but the kids scarfed them down all the same and clamored for seconds and thirds. I should have bought two boxes of pancake mix!

Obviously I got jam all over me.

Last week I did PB&J which they loved. Again, I only bought one loaf of bread so I could only give each kid 1/4 of a sandwich (I have 18 students) and had to turn them away when they asked for more. Still, it’s only a snack and a ‘taste’ of American culture.

Any thoughts or ideas what I could or should do? I have another lesson coming up this friday- so quickly!

Love, Hannah

ps: I’ll be home in 88 days! June 20th is my flight and I can hardly wait. It’s going to pass like a flash, I just know it. I’ve got a running list of things to accomplish before I leave, which I will perhaps share.