Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Archive for the ‘teaching’ Category

Forensics and English

Posted by quirksalight on February 9, 2009

Last week was the second to last week I’ll be in the classroom. It’s also a great group of students to work with, as this was the “English Camp” and the students are self-selecting… I don’t have to push them, they all WANT to be in school. 🙂 Just awesome…

So I tried to keep things interesting… hence, the last two days, we learned about some simple forensics. What it was, fingerprints and fingerprinting, invisible ink, and ink analysis by paper chromatography.

Paper chromatography:

Black ink on strips of paper

Black ink on strips of paper

Using alcohol to separate

Using alcohol to separate



Invisible ink:
Paper with ink

Paper with ink

Heating the inked strip

Heating the inked strip

After heating

After heating


Posted in amusing, ancedotes, Buheung MS, education, english, EPIK, fun, Incheon, Korea, school, Science, teaching, teaching english | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by quirksalight on January 5, 2009

Right on Christmas Eve, 10 of my 2nd year (8th grade) students got caught cheating on their final exams. Not 1 exam, but apparently it was a coordinated effort that had gone for two days before the students were caught.

Needless to say, the parents and the school were extremely upset, and the school was trying to think of a just punishment for the students.
At the school-parents meeting on the 26th, the school decided that the punishment should be getting zeros on all exams for the students. (which is pretty lenient in my opinion) Apparently the parents (!) thought this was too harsh and would mess up their chances to get into good high schools, and that it was the teachers (!!) fault for not observing them closely enough!! WTF?!?! Where’s the logic in that? The students planned and executed this – sheesh….

Posted in ancedotes, annoyance, Bizarre, Buheung MS, Bupyeong, commentary, education, Incheon, Korea, Social commentary, teaching, teaching english | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Apparently kids DO read the newspaper

Posted by quirksalight on November 10, 2008

“Teacher, teacher! In school last…umm…”
(whispers to classmate in Korean “What’s the word for Wednesday?”)
“..ah! Last Wednesday! You, in school last Wednesday?”

I replied, “Nope. I was in Seoul all day.”

Upon hearing this, the two girls get excited and I overhear them saying to one another in Korean,
“See? I told you that was her!”

Then they turn to me and tell me, “Teacher! We see you in the paper. Itaewon, right? Obama party?”

I replied, smiling, “Yes, I was at the Obama party.”

They run off, giggling, and the last thing I hear in Korean is, “Hee, hee… teacher was toasting with alcohol!”

Posted in 2008 Election, amusing, ancedotes, Buheung MS, Bupyeong, Humor, Incheon, Korea, Politics, teaching, teaching english | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by quirksalight on November 4, 2008

One of my favorite times of the year is Halloween. It’s a bit strange this year, that I’m not celebrating it to the hilt like last year. Why? Well, a bit of fatigue and studying left me a bit less than in my normal Halloween excitement levels.
But my students did help me celebrate by decorating the English Activities room in my school, and carving pumpkins on Halloween day to take home. Here they are with their handiwork:(yes, middle-schoolers utilizing sharp knives at school and not cutting themselves or others! )

The last one is mine, grinning out my apt window.

Posted in Buheung MS, Bupyeong, holidays, Humor, Incheon, Korea, teaching, teaching english | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Minus 9 in 10 minutes

Posted by quirksalight on October 12, 2008

This semester, I instituted a third rule to the “No throwing” and “No hitting” rules in my class. The third one is “No bad words”.

Now, you must be wondering why I put this rule in place when I’m not supposed to be understanding Korean in school. However, it’s apparently rather trendy for the middle school students to swear in English. The most popular being “sh&t”, followed by “f@#k”, and “b#&ch”. Yeah, yeah… I know, I do swear myself, but I know that the students swear b/c they watch movies where the characters say various profane words in a multitude of situations, and think it’s OK. But… it’s not really… and I don’t want to encourage it.

So a violation of one of the rules would lead to that group being docked one point for each infraction. One of my 7th grade students from the “New Zealand” team (I have the team names as English speaking countries), gotten a question wrong, and blurted out, “Oh, sh&t!”

To which I replied, “Excuse me? What did you just say?”
Upon his look of horror, I said, “Right. I thought so. Minus 1 point.” And walked over to the scoreboard and took off a point.
He was so annoyed that his outburst lost a point, he exclaimed, “Oh, sh&t!” once again. So I shrugged, walked over to the scoreboard, and took off another point.

At this point, the entire class, including my co-teacher was laughing at the boy’s exclamations. Especially because, once again, he swore when the second point was removed. This happened several more times, with his teammates getting angrier, the class laughing harder, and I, continuing to take off points as he apparently could not stop repeating the phrase, “Oh, sh&t!” again and again. Finally, after 8 points had been removed, he literally clapped his hands over his mouth to stop himself from saying anything.

Oh, the ninth point? After he had managed to stop swearing, one of girls on his team had gotten so angry with him, she punched him. Minus 9.

Posted in amusing, ancedotes, Bizarre, Buheung MS, Bupyeong, english, EPIK, Humor, Incheon, kids, Korea, language, school, slang, Social commentary, teaching, teaching english | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The crappiest teaching day ever….

Posted by quirksalight on July 28, 2008

Today was the start of my second English camp for this summer. This one is at my school, for the earlier part of the day. 90 mins for 1st grade middle school and 90 mins of second grade middle school. I had my lessons outlined, had my powerpoint, handout, etc, then it went kaput.
First of all, I get to the school, and there’s massive construction going on. I knew they were going to renovate the bathrooms, but there is literally a HUGE hole where all the bathrooms in the main building were. You would be able to be in the 4th floor bathroom and then fall all the way down to the first floor without hitting anything. Yeah. Major.

Then I open up my files, and the printer wasn’t working. I try the next printer, and that wasn’t working either. (Yes, I did turn on the main power strip, checked to see if it was plugged in, etc) So I head to the class without any handouts, thinking that I would be able to show them to the kids on the computer/TV and they would be able to read it. I get to the class, and the computer is broken. kaput. Alright. I’m a flexible teacher, so I get out my chalk pen and start to write. No chalk was coming out. Try a couple other pens, no dice. I go back to the first pen, fiddle with it, and it explodes. Liquid chalk everywhere. After cleaning, I managed to coax out a dribble of chalk, enough to write with.

After my break, I managed to print out some handouts, and I was told that the second classroom had a working computer. Which was great, but I printed out the handouts anyway. It was good that I did, as yes, the computer worked, but the main screen showed everything UPSIDE DOWN. I mean, come on!!! Back to the chalk pens.

Plus, the first class was a LOT weaker then I was told…which did not help. Going from teaching at an English immersion class the day before, it was a weird adjustment.

Posted in amusing, ancedotes, Buheung MS, Bupyeong, computers, english, EPIK, Humor, Incheon, Korea, teaching, teaching english, Tech | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

First semester wrap up.

Posted by quirksalight on July 18, 2008

The first semester of teaching wraps up today. I must admit, it was an insane crash course in human behavioral dynamics, rather than teaching itself. Each week, I taught 27-28 45 minute classes, with 750-800 students & 5-10 parents in the classes. Juggling languages and diplomacy with the parents, and juggling fun and discipline with the students… it’s been a nutty acrobatics act. Plus the differences in culture, educational systems, and bureaucracy… I think my education on the “Real World” was jump started here, in Korea.
Teaching middle school is pretty interesting, especially here. It’s the same as the US in the way the kids are in the bizarre hormonal flux that happens in your early teens. The difference is that the society is changing here at a very rapid place, and the way schools are set up … observations of a society in flux with a group of people in flux…. hahah… do two fluxes make a right??

Posted in amusing, ancedotes, Buheung MS, Bupyeong, Humor, Incheon, kids, Korea, Nerdity, Social commentary, teaching, teaching english | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Newspaper censorship

Posted by quirksalight on July 9, 2008

To quote a friend: “Welcome to the real world. Things change last minute and are edited for controversy.” The real world making my effin’ head spin.

Specifically, censoring school newspapers.
After teaching a three-week lesson on newspapers, the advanced students in the 9th grade English club began their project; a school newspaper. Assigned reporters, photographers, cartoonists, etc, and had students design a basic layout of the paper.
(Yes, having students write a school newspaper in their second language was a HUGE amount of work – had to spend the three exam days to do to the layout and final edits!!!)

As the biggest news thread in Korea has been the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US and the resumption of US beef imports, it’s not surprising that several of the students chose it to be topic of their editorial cartoons and news article. The problem is, after the newspaper was written, layout completed and the final edit done, it was suggested that the article and one of the editorial cartoons be pulled. The reason was potential controversy. As the article was an accounting for the biggest protest rally on May 31st, I disagreed, saying that the student stated what happened without taking a position. I suggested that we remove an inflammatory quote, but to keep the article itself. It was “suggested” that the article was still potentially controversial, and that *I* rewrite to show the conservative sides.

If I do that – doesn’t that negate the student’s work? I mean, it’s not easy to write a news article, much less do it in your second language. The students worked pretty hard on these and I don’t want to discount that or make them believe that they did crap work. (b.c they didn’t) Also, why do *I* have to rewrite this!??! Argh. Finally, doing this changes the entire article. It’s not a reporting of the events at the protest. It’s an article on the Korea-US beef import and FTA issues.

And this is ENTIRELY separate from finding out that I had to redo the layout and paper size of the paper from B4 paper size and 8 pages to A4 paper size and 4 pages, after it was finished.

So I have to decide to rewrite it sometime during school tomorrow. (Thurs) Will update.

Posted in ancedotes, annoyance, Buheung MS, kids, Korea, news, school, teaching, teaching english, US, world news, writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Delaying the Exam

Posted by quirksalight on July 4, 2008

I decided to delay the Foreign Service exam until the late fall… I thought I would have more time to finish the applications and study during the summer. Not so much… I am teaching two week long summer English camps, plus the prep and the rush at the end of the semester doesn’t leave that much time.
Ironically, it’s not the exam itself that’s the issue, but the application. The 6 personal statements are definitely a major stumbling block.

Posted in application, applications, Buheung MS, Bupyeong, essays, Incheon, Korea, Nerdity, teaching, teaching english | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

English Camp

Posted by quirksalight on June 1, 2008

This past week (Tues – Thurs) I taught at an English camp at the Incheon Foreign language Training Center on Yeongjeong island (where Incheon airport is located). The REACH camp, as it was called, was geared towards students in isolated communities, who’s access to English education is spottier than on the mainland. It’s a sleep-away camp, with students from several islands southwest of mainland Incheon (like 3-4 hour ferry ride). There were students who were from islands further off, but they couldn’t make it due to fog.
Ah yes, fog. Every morning, there was thick, soupy, fog covering the western part of Incheon, and the waters around it. Which prevented half the students from coming, and the other half were late, as the ferry had to wait for the fog to dissipate.
That started off a very odd camp. Not just in my view, but the teachers at the training center (International and Korean) said the same thing. The schedule was thrown off due to fog and the students arrival times (or not arriving); random injuries, and constant rescheduling of classes and events. Not to mention an unexpected “discussion” on pay.
On the upside, the kids were pretty fun to teach, and their English level wasn’t as low as I had been told to expect. They were a mix of fluency, but I was able to teach in English more than 50% of the time. Plus, like any other camp, there were fun activities and games interspersed making the long day more enjoyable. I got to teach “egg drop” as my club activity. One kid make a nest that survived a two story drop.
And the other teachers were cool to hang out with and talk to. A random surprise was that one of the International teachers had taken the Foreign Service exam and passed it. It was nice to be able to talk to someone about it.

Posted in ancedotes, annoyance, Bizarre, Incheon, Korea, teaching, teaching english | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »