Summer Learning Opportunities!

I’ve actually been waiting for quite a while for February 13th. That was the day registration started for the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project summer institute! I feel really dorky admitting this, but it’s true.

I’ve been going for the past 3 summers and it has been one of the best professional development opportunities I’ve had as a teacher. Each time, I come back fired up and excited to teach reading and writing workshop. This year, I’m not sure which one to sign up for. At first, I thought that I would go to the writing institute, but after reading through the brochure at the course offerings, I decided to sign up for the reading institute institute advanced session. I submitted my application yesterday and now I’m just waiting and hoping I get in!  I have absolutely loved going to the writing ones in the past as well. If you are interested, you should definitely apply this week. The spots get filled up really quickly.

For the July reading institute, here are the speakers! Soo excited….

Lucy Calkins

Kathy Collins

Christopher Paul Curtis

Mary Ehrenworth

Lois Lowry (Number the Stars & The Giver author!!!!!)

Jennifer Serravallo

Is anyone else planning on going to either the writing or reading institute this summer?

I was in a class led by author James Howe, two summers ago at the writing institute!

Loved meeting an actual author and getting feedback from him on my writing!

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Connecting Classrooms through Skype

It all started with a simple comment on a blog. Recently, I started reading a blog of another international school teacher’s blog in Saudi Arabia through the two writing teachers slice of life challenge on Tuesdays. I found out that she was also a fifth grade teacher. I left her a comment, asking if she would be interested in collaborating with our class. After a few e-mails, we decided to create a google document where we would write questions for each other. So we had our first Skype session this afternoon (morning for them).

It was great as my students learned about their life, culture and school in Saudi Arabia. We also shared about our lives in Korea and our school. I think one of the funniest parts was when we taught them some words in Korean (hello, teacher & student) and when they repeated it, my students did the Korean “oooooooh” in unison. They were so impressed by their good pronunciation! Towards the end of our Skype session, one of my students asked me if we could ask them what book they are doing for their read aloud. We didn’t have a chance to ask them, but it seems like it could be a good topic to discuss the next time we Skype with them!

Here are some more resources for finding global collaboration opportunities!

Skype in the classroom

Epals global community

ilearn

The Global Read Aloud

Global Collaboration Project

Earth, as Seen by Astronauts Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans and Harrison Schmitt from Apollo 17

Connecting to the world through Skype!

chartchums

Visuals are extremely important, don’t you think? At the beginning of this year I was introduced to the site: chartchums (their most recent post is actually about an international school in Taiwan!). I love them. I don’t know who Kristi and Marjorie are, besides literacy consultants… but I wouldn’t mind being their friend.

They gave me the idea to visually keep track of my students quiet reading time. At the beginning of the year I saw this chart on their site and I immediately implemented it into my classroom:

My students couldn’t even make it two minutes! But when they saw this chart, they realized they wanted to make it to the star. Now my students can read independently for 21 minutes.

Let your students see their progress, and they will progress that much more. Thanks for the chart idea, chartchums!

Simple Valentine’s Day Cards

It’s February, which means Valentine’s day is around the corner. I always like to make something for my students. However, living in Korea, you can’t find the cute Valentine’s day card sets that I could easily pick up at Duane Reade or CVS back home. Therefore, it can become a time consuming DIY project for the already busy teacher! So, in an effort to keep things cheap and time efficient, I found a few great Valentine’s day card downloadable templates, and they are free!

All you need to do is download the template onto your computer. Then, you can print them out on white card stock or the thicker printer paper. You can find that type of paper easily in Homeplus, E-Mart, Alpha or other stationary stores here in Korea.

Here are the links to a few of the different blogs that you can download the free printable.

Blogs with free Valentine’s day card templates

Valentine’s Day Card Templates from Bunny Cakes – LOVE these templates!

Boy Valentines from One Charming Party – Valentine’s your boys would be happy to receive.

Other Valentine’s day craft ideas for the classroom:

Martha Stewart always has a lot of creative craft and card ideas.

101 Handmade Valentine’s Day Ideas. A lot of different fun DIY ideas if you are feeling ambitious!

My  Pinterest Valentine’s day page. Just a bunch of random cute valentine’s day ideas. Some of them could be used in the classroom.

I’m still trying to decide which card template I will use for my students.  I’ve also been watching Cupcake Wars on TV, and I’m considering making cupcakes as well. However,  we’ll see how much energy I have on Monday night!

I hope you have a happy Valentine’s day!

Papercutter, envelope sets & cardstock paper

Printed card templates on cardstock.

Valentine's day cards are done!

Valentine’s Day: For the Younger Elementary Class

Valentine’s Day is one of my absolute FAVORITE holidays, and I didn’t even have this revelation until last year. I was thinking about what my class could do to celebrate the holiday, and in doing so began to re-live my childhood. I discovered that I have the best memories of Valentine’s Day. I was home-schooled (yes, hard to believe if you actually know me) and every year my mom would take me and my siblings to Chuck-E-Cheeses (a.k.a. The Greatest Pizza Place on Earth), where we would meet up with a bunch of other home-schooled kids and exchange valentines, eat pizza, and get a goody bag (this is probably where my addiction to candy first began).

Before we went to The Greatest Pizza Place on Earth we had to decorate some type of container/bag to hold all of our valentines from our friends. My mom would save tissue boxes for us to paint/cover in paper/make beautiful.

This is exactly what I have my students do! I have saved all of our tissue boxes since the beginning of the year and will have them decorate them tomorrow (Friday). Over the weekend their homework will be to make a valentine for each of their classmates (in Korea, they don’t sell the cute and easy valentine’s they have in the states) . I will give them paper and materials if they need them.

It’s simple, it’s easy, and the kiddies love it! Though… I probably love it more.

Happy *almost* Valentine’s Day!

Here is a picture of the box I decorated last year (it’s falling apart a bit, I just had to tape it), I used a small tissue box because I didn’t have enough big ones, but I would recommend a big box for younger students. My grade teaching partner uses shoe boxes, which is another great option. I like the tissue box because it already has a hole on the top for the valentines to go in.

*Stay tuned for a post from Jee Young tomorrow about how to find free printables for Valentine’s cards on the web!*

Part 2: Common Teacher Interview Questions

The job fair in Bangkok was my second job fair experience. The first one I attended for international schools was in Cambridge, Massachusetts four years ago. After going through many rounds of interviews over Skype and in person, I’ve compiled a list of some of the good ones. I think the best way to prepare for an interview for a teaching job is to spend some time reflecting on what you are truly passionate about as an educator. Make sure to have a few examples in your head of lessons and projects that were successful.

 Interview Questions:

What are 3 words that your students would use to describe you? (I got asked this question over and over again!)

What are 3 words your administrators would use to describe you?

What are 3 words your parents (of students) would use to describe you?

What are 3 words your close friends would use to describe you?

How do you use technology in your classroom?

Describe a typical lesson in your classroom. (Going through the step by step overview)

Describe a successful lesson and how you knew it went well.

Why did you want to be a teacher?

What are you strengths/weaknesses as a teacher?

What would your colleagues/administrators say about you?

How do you differentiate your lessons for all the learners in your classroom?

How do you communicate with parents?

What is a difficult situation you faced and how did you deal with it?

If you met your students 20 years from now, what would you want them to remember about you?

Why do you want to teach at __________ (school)?

What do you want to teach__________(grade level) students? What do you like about them?

Why do you want to live in __________ (country)?

What kinds of things do you like to do outside of school?

What kind of extracurriculars would you be interested in being part of?

Describe a difficult student you had and how you handled it.

What are the talents/expertise you can bring to your team?

How do you use assessment in your classroom? Describe how you used the information you gained from an assessment in your instruction.

Why are you leaving your current school?

What did you like the most about your current school?

What was the most difficult thing about your current school?

How do you address the needs of English language learners?

How do you integrate other subjects into your units?

How would you implement the school’s core values into your classroom?

How do you approach classroom discipline?

What are your thoughts on collaboration with other staff?

What is your favorite essential question (UBD model)?

Is there anything else you feel that you want me to know about you, that we haven’t had a chance to talk about. (I think this is a really good question. Sometimes at the end of the interview, you feel like there are things about yourself you haven’t been able to share yet.)

Here are some other good sources for sample teacher interview questions.

100 Teacher Interview Questions

K6 Elementary Interview Questions

Teacher Vision Frequently Asked Interview Questions

Some of the major themes that many schools touched upon were: classroom management, communication with parents, assessment, differentiation, technology, and daily lesson execution. Also, I did prepare a portfolio with sample unit plans, letters of reference, and professional development certificates for the job fair. However, I didn’t end up using it or showing it at any of the interviews! Even though it can be costly to go to one of these job fairs, I would highly recommend it if you are open to going to other countries! 🙂

I’m curious to hear how you got your current teaching job! Fill out the simple survey below.

Science: An Easy Way to Integrate Technology

As I was teaching my science unit on the water cycle and clouds last year, I had the urge to integrate technology (I may have been slacking in that department in the fall…and my new year’s resolutions were kicking into high gear). I started looking for a website that I could send my students to in the computer lab. I had this vision of them looking at the different kinds of clouds we were learning about, picking a picture to print, and then creating a booklet with their printed pictures.

I searched and searched, and found nothing. nada. zilch. I began to deflate, when suddenly… it hit me. I could just make my own! I gathered pictures I liked and created a blog:

cloudsforscience.blogspot.com

I had the site bookmarked on the computers in the lab and gave my students simple instructions. They had to read about each cloud and pick one picture (out of three choices) to print. Before we went to the lab we had already learned about these different types of clouds, so this was a good review for them.

This experience made me realize that if you can’t find something you like (I have become very accustomed to borrowing everyone’s great ideas, I guess it’s time for me to share^^), you can create it!

Feel free to use the site (it is designed for second grade), and if have made your own sites, please share them. It’s only polite 🙂

Here are some examples of the booklets my students made last year (sorry for the quality, I took them just now with my phone!):

Part 1: Reflections from the Bangkok Job Fair

This has been a post I’ve been wanting to do for a while, since attending the Search Associates Job Fair in Bangkok, this past January. There were a few important things I learned from this intense, stressful, but rewarding experience.

Tips for a Job Fair

1. Network- I didn’t realize how much a good place to network it is at a job fair. You are there meeting many different head of schools, directors, principals, and other administrators. Be friendly, make conversations with people in the elevator, and be professional! I realized that the administrators network in the international school scene is not as big as I thought. Many administrators move around schools and countries. You never know, but the administrator you interviewed with might be at the next school you want to work at years down. Definitely attend the social at the end of the conference. I don’t like going to these things, but it’s a good time to mingle and meet a lot of people.

2. Be open- Interview with schools that are not necessarily your top choices. You never know! I never wanted to come to Korea, but now I am here and in my fourth year.

3. Research- Really research the school you are interviewing for. Even if you are not that interested, it makes a difference. Have questions you want to ask about the school. It’s always better to make a good impression and get an offer to turn down.

4. Be confident- During the interview, of course you will be nervous, but do the best to seem confident of yourself. Even if you make a mistake or you don’t answer a question well, don’t linger. Just move on! I know many times, I wished I hadn’t said something, but I kept going.

5. Attend presentations- For the schools that you are really interested in, make an effort to go to their presentation. I remember for one school, my friend and I went and sat in the first row. During my interview with them, the administrator mentioned how she liked that we came and sat in the front row during the presentation.

6. Show Gratitude- Make sure to bring a whole bunch of thank you cards. Make an effort to write thank you cards and respond to all the schools that get in contact with you.

 Stay tuned for Part 2 on the different type of interview questions asked at the job fair!

Here are some photos from beautiful Bangkok, Thailand!

Getting your Masters in Korea!

This weekend I have the joy of traveling two and a half hours away from my lovely neighborhood in the northeastern part of Seoul, down to Suwon… which is at the complete opposite side of the city. This trip, even after a long week of teaching, sure beats taking multiple flights and traveling for over 24 hours to get to Redding, California.

At this point, you may be curious as to what this post is about. Now that I have your attention (BAM! just in case I didn’t have it before, capital letters always grab my eyes, then again the title of this post probably gave away any form of suspense you may have had…shoot) I would like to introduce you to my graduate program. As teachers, we are also lifelong learners, am I right? In order to keep my teaching license valid (I have a teaching license from the State of Michigan), I discovered a way to get my masters in Korea without taking online courses (I am a 100% in-person, visual learner). A program that flies professors over from the USA, so that students can take their classes in person. Now THAT, is commitment!

This program is through Simpson University. I am getting my Master in Education, Curriculum and Instruction for English Language Learners, with an emphasis on Leadership. Yes, it is a mouthful. The classes in this particular program have given me a lot of amazing insight, as the majority of my students (if not all) are English Language Learners (ELL).

Next year, Simpson University is also planning on offering a program to certify teachers in Korea. Which is great if you are here in Korea without your teaching license, and you want to break into the international school community.

The program is two years in length, and classes will most likely be offered at a university in Seoul next year (not Suwon, of course this is after I graduate…). The program begins in January and August of each year. For more information contact Dr. Richard Harris at rharris@simpsonu.edu.

Here are a series of pictures of me and two friends working on a class project in the dorms at GSIS (where classes are held in Suwon). Why? Because pictures are fun!

Fifth Grade Musical: Geology Rocks!

“Musical plays for the musically timid teacher…” Yes, that is the tag line for Bad Wolf Press that Melody discovered last year. Her class performed,  “The Turkeys Go On Strike”, which was a huge success. They have a wide arrange of musicals for the different grade levels and subject areas.  You do have to pay to order the musical, but it was definitely worth it.  It comes with a  copy of the script and a CD with all the songs and instrumentals versions as well. I can definitely say I am a musically timid teacher, but Bad Wolf Press makes it easy to do and fun for the kids.

This year, both fifth grade classes will putting on the musical, Geology Rocks! It is a mystery where Sherlock Holmes and Watson are trying to figure out what happened to Professor Rock. It goes along nicely with our science unit on landforms that we are currently studying. In the book, they give great tips on how to practice, rehearse and perform the musical. They give you a four week plan. So this week, we are on week 2, where students have been listening and singing the songs. There are 10 songs that are in the musical. The students don’t necessarily sing all of the songs. I have to admit, last night as I was trying to fall asleep, the chorus to the main song in the musical was stuck in my head…He loves, he loves, volcanoes…

Next week, the students will be reading the script and choosing parts. I hope to post more on the process and final production of our first ever fifth grade musical!

P.S. We ❤ comments! Let us know that you were here.

Geology ROCKS!

The Cast