Sweet Spring Benefit Concert

If you like good music, a good cause, and you live in Seoul, you should come out to the Sweet Spring Benefit Concert. It’s happneing on Saturday, April 14th, at 7pm at Jang Cheon Art Hall in Apkujeong. Each ticket costs 50,000KRW and all proceeds go to create a scholarship fund for orphans who want to go to college. This is all part of Jerusalem Ministry’s fundraising for their non-profit organization that focuses on helping the orphans in Korea.

There are many orphans here in Korea that live in the orphanages up until they graduate high school. Once they graduate, they are on their own. They do get minimal financial support from the government, but they need to pay for housing,  university and living costs. The money that they receive is not enough to cover their costs, so many of them have to find jobs. It is not easy working jobs, attending school and supporting themselves right out of high school.  As you can imagine, some of these orphans have difficulty and some of them don’t finish college. The money raised from this concert will create funds to support the orphans’ college education cost. Also, those students will be getting a mentor to support them through their college years, which is crucial.

Both Melody and I have been volunteering through this organization, called Jerusalem Ministry. They help set up English speaking volunteers with different orphanages in Seoul. We hope that you can help support this organization by coming out on April 14th! If not, you can still support Jerusalem Ministry through your prayers and financially.

Here is more information: Sweet Spring Concert Info.

Also, you can purchase tickets online:

Korean site

English site

Or, Melody or I can help you get tickets as well, just leave a comment! 🙂


Reflection on EARCOS 2011

Greetings from sunny Thailand! (Well technically it is dark, being that it is nighttime, but I know it will be sunny in the morning^^). Tomorrow is the beginning of EARCOS 2012, and I am pretty excited to get my professional development on. I even brought a pen.

But in all seriousness, having the chance to attend the EARCOS conference for the second year in a row is absolutely thrilling. As I prepare myself, I find I am reflecting on everything I took away from last year’s conference. I went to many amazing workshops (where I was educated on why it is important for children to get a full night sleep, better writing workshop practices, and how I could be the author of a book just by going online and selling it through Amazon for Kindle! I have yet to do that…), but the most exciting parts of the conference for me, were the keynote speakers: Geoff Green (I had no idea how badly I wanted to go to Antartica-or that I wanted to go at all- until last year!), Fred Mednick, and Michael Thompson blew me away!

I was especially interested in what Michael Thompson (co-author of Raising Cain) had to say. You see, last year I had a particular difficult class, especially when it came to my boy students. From what Michael Thompson talked about, I learned so much about the difference in teaching boys and girls, after a bit more research I was able to give a presentation to the elementary faculty department at my school when I came back (when I come back from this trip I am going to insert the ppt. I used into this post, but sadly it is on my work computer, and praise God, I am not at work right now!).

I know there is still so much I need to learn about this topic, if you have any resources please share. Now, who is joining me tomorrow at EARCOS?!

Our Korean Chocolate Response

So last week, I wrote about a tweet that I received that in return allowed this package to arrive in Korea for my kids. The students from Mrs. Krebs’ class in Iowa sent us some of their favorite American candy. In return, that asked us to send us some of our favorite Korean chocolates.  Here is our response of some of our favorite Korean chocolates and also some of the well known Korean snacks. I had the students write a little description about the chocolate or snack.

We mailed the package on Monday. Hopefully they will get it in a few weeks!

Guest Blog Post: Competing to Learn

Carolyn has taught all over the world, including Hong Kong and Switzerland.  Currently, she is teaching at a large international school here in Seoul. In addition to teaching high school classes in publications, newspapers and communications, she is the head of their school newspaper. I’m so thankful to have met her at my church here where we both serve on the Hub, our church’s newsletter.

Korean kids love competition. This can be a bad thing when it leads to pressure and cheating, but it can be a good thing if you, say, have two classes with the same learning objectives and want them to compete to demonstrate an understanding of those objectives and win a contest.

I tried this a few weeks ago when I had my two Introduction to Publications classes compete to attend the events and “cover” our annual High School English Week. They interviewed teachers, students and administrators about their participation in the English week activities, such as Poetry with the Principal and performances by the Drama 1 & 2 classes. At the same time, by attending and writing the story or taking photos, they participated in English Week themselves! At the end of the week, the editors, copy editors and layout artists met and planned their two-page newsletter, and the following Monday, they stayed after school to finalize, print and submit their papers, with a little help from their advanced peers on the school newspaper, Tiger Times. The “A+ Report” ended up “beating” the “EW Herald.” While the EW (English Week) Herald was judged by the English Department Chair, the principal and me to have had better quality stories and photos, the A+ Report (Period A Intro to Pub.—they named their own publications too!) had better overall coverage with an optional info-graphic, two cartoons and an article that “covered” the whole week.

The prize was not an A+, something that most kids aspire to, but a pizza party. Since this was a first period class, I brought doughnuts and pastries instead, but they mostly just enjoyed the prestige of winning. Everyone deserved a congratulations, though, as they all participated, worked hard and finalized their own original publication, which is what I personally enjoyed the most. The croissants were pretty good, though, too.

Editor-in-chief helps to finish the layout of the A+ Herald with their copy editors and layout artist.

The editor-in-chief & copy writer work to finalize the EW Report.

Writing Across the School

Every year, our school has a tradition, where we write across the different elementary classrooms around common photos/drawings/paintings. It started off a few years ago, where during the first time, we used the famous illustrations from Chris Van Allsburg‘s, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Each of his drawing has a line that goes with it. The students from all of the elementary classes, each chose one of the photos to write about. They each wrote their own story, starting with the line from the photo. Then, we hung up all the stories for each photo on the walls of our school. It was so interesting to see the different stories that students came up with from Kindergarten to 5th grade.

Last year, we used photos from different Allen Say books. He has great photos in his picture books with Asian characters. This year, our theme is Norman Rockwell. We are using different paintings of his that the students are writing stories about. Our awesome literacy coach made color copies of the photos and laminated 2 sets so the elementary teachers can borrow them. Here are a few of the paintings the students can choose from.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m excited to see what kind of stories the students will come up with this year!

P.S. Melody is going to the EARCOS 2012 conference next week in Bangkok, Thailand! Anyone else going to be there?!

Bulletin Boards!

In a previous post I shared how I created a blog to incorporate technology into my science lesson. In another post I showed a simple way to make a booklet. Now I am going to show you what I did with the pictures we printed from that blog, and the booklets we made from those pictures.

I created a bulletin to show the parents our hard work!

The thought of bulletin boards can be overwhelming. I know of teachers who choose to simply add pictures as the weeks go by on to their bulletin board, and of teachers who change it ALL THE TIME (I admire you). I like to pick certain points throughout the year and stick with the designs that are simple, but parents like. That way I have done the bulletin before  (in the previous years), so I know what I works, and what I need!

You can also take the same idea, and create a totally different design. My bulletin board was focused on the students looking at clouds, and my teaching partner made her board into the water cycle:

What are some bulletin board designs that you love?

More Tips for Beginner Bloggers!

We had a chance to share some of our expertise on blogging a few weeks ago at KORCOS. We have some of the tips we shared here on our blog.  Since then, there is one really helpful tip that I wanted to add. This is actually not hard to do, but I finally found out how to add a gallery to your WordPress blog. It’s too bad that it took me so long to realize that we have this function on WordPress. It would have been so helpful if I had known earlier. Well, instead of making you scroll down a million pictures, I can just embed this simple gallery or slide show into my post!


1) Click on the ADD MEDIA button. Choose and upload all the photos that you want in your gallery.

2) After they have all uploaded, click on save all changes.

3) If you want them as a gallery, decide how many columns you want and the order. Then,  click on INSERT GALLERY.

4) If you want them as a slide show, just click on INSERT SLIDE SHOW.

Here are how the two options work! The first is the gallery option. If you click on the thumbnail version, it opens up. The second is the slideshow option. I hoe you enjoy some of my photos. The musical one is taken by Melody and the rest are from a recent field trip we took to Seoul Tower.

Which one do you prefer? Do you have any other tips for beginner bloggers out there?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Said is Dead.

If you kind folks haven’t caught on by now, let me tell you, I LOVE POSTERS. I came across the design for this poster I made in my classroom on pinterest, which was linked to scholastic.com. It is brilliant:


(Sorry for the shine on these posters, I just had them laminated so they can last me for YEARS!)

After discussing all of these words with my students, we started coming up with other ways to say a few other words. Here are a couple more posters I made:



I love it when my students get up during writing workshop and walk over to these posters, searching for a different word to use.

What are some of your favorite posters?


Guest Blog Post: Tips for a First Year Teacher

We are so thankful for this newbie teacher Janice. Not only is she young, enthusiastic and talented, but she is willing to run races and watch movies with us! Many would be surprised to find out that she originally wanted to teach in the elementary classroom. Currently she teaches high school chemistry, AP chemistry and creative writing at our school. 

Tips for a First Year Teacher

1. Take Deep Breaths

Let’s face it: there are days when all teachers think to themselves, “am I cut out for this?” The answer: YES!

The teaching profession comes with many challenges, all of which I am convinced happen in your first year. Whatever your frustration may be, do yourself (and your students) a favor and take a deep breath (or two).

Then, ask yourself this question:Why do I want to be a teacher? I always think back to a quote my grandfather once wrote me on a restaurant napkin. I’m sure you have one too; if you don’t, you can borrow mine:

“Teachers work in the most noble profession, as they are the engineers of the human spirit.”

2. Set Small Goals

Develop small, achievable goals for yourself on a weekly or monthly basis. My goals usually focus on improving classroom management, establishing classroom routines, and incorporating differentiation strategies.

Here are some of my goals from this year:

  • Having students ready when the class bell rings
  • Taking time to focus on literacy
  • Using the 2 Buddy Rule (encourage students to ask 2 classmates for help before asking you)
  • Using tiered problems – I structure my practice problems in 4 categories (knowledge, comprehension, analysis and application). I encourage students to start at the tier that is most suitable to their understanding level. This gives your lower-level students more time to focus on the basics, while still challenging your higher-level students.

3. It’s About Equity, Not Equality

We think that each student must complete the same assignment and take the same test. Not true.

Think about how each student is going to use the concepts you are teaching them in the future. Create different options for assignments and projects – have some that focus on the more advanced abstract theory and others that center on the everyday applications of that concept.

For example, my Chemistry class just did a project on Chemical Reactions. Option 1: Should high-school athletes be allowed to drink energy drinks during games?

These students researched the chemical compounds in energy drinks, communicated their side effects, and shared their arguments in a creative presentation.

Option 2: Research and design an experiment that tests the effectiveness of different substances at neutralizing acid.

These students researched the process of neutralization reactions. After completing their research, they designed a lab to test the effectiveness of different substances. They carried out the lab, analyzed their results, and shared their conclusion with the rest of the class.

4. How Can I Make This Fun?

Sometimes, students just need to practice. One of the things I often struggle with is trying to keep students engaged and interested while still having them focused on the content and curriculum.

Here are some things I’ve tried:

  • Silly examples – believe it or not, using students names (or my own) in silly situations actually makes Practice Problems a hundred times more enjoyable
  • Cooperative learning games –Pair students; have Partner 1 complete the first part of the question and Partner 2 complete the second.
  • Demo-of-the-day / Activity-of-the-day –Even if your demonstration or activity is only 15 minutes long, students will appreciate your effort to do something hands-on and fun

5. The Only Way to Grow is to Reflect

Take some time at the end of each day (or each week) to think about your lessons. I leave a section in my lesson plans for my reflections – I note everything from an activity that took too long, to a mistake on my handout. These notes will help you tremendously in the years to come!

A hop, skip and tweet away!

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the office once I sent my students home and looked at my mailbox. To my surprise I found some snail mail in my teacher mailbox. There was a manila envelope with stamps and a green customs forms taped to it. I opened it quickly and found this letter inside with 4 pieces of candy, which originated all the way from a small hop, skip and tweet in the twitterverse.

Last week or so, I received a tweet (awesome networking tool) from another teacher in the states, asking if her students could send my class a letter! I said sure and gave her our school address. I wasn’t sure exactly what she was mailing us, but I was excited. I LOVE receiving snail mail. It’s something they are doing for their “genius hour” project. Her 7th & 8th grade students sent us a letter and some chocolate (tootsie rolls & snickers) and asked us what were our favorite chocolates.

Now, I get to share the letter with my students today and have them think about what chocolate from Korea we want to share with them. I’m excited to see what type of chocolate they will want to send. I love how technology can keep us so connected that one simple tweet can bring two classrooms across the world together!