Seeing Scientists at Work in Jee Young’s Classroom

For those of you who follow us, you know that Two Apples A Day consists of two elementary teachers, collaborating on one blog. We started this adventure in the same country, at the same school, with the same vision (haha, okay reeling it back). Since then, Jee Young has left Korea and moved to Singapore. Melody (me!) has stayed in Korea, but worked for several international schools. Jee Young was able to come back to South Korea and visit my classroom a couple of years ago and shared her experience here.

This past fall, I was able to visit Jee  Young’s fifth grade classroom in Singapore during one of my holidays. I observed one of her science lessons and took mental notes of things that I thought were so on point.

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Here are the top 3 ideas I took away from Jee Young’s lesson:

1. Wear a Lab coat. Jee Young instantly turned scientist when she slipped on her white lab coat. Such a simple thing to do that made a big difference. As an additional bonus to this look could be protective goggles, yes?

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2. Call your students “Scientists”. Every time she spoke to them as a whole, or to an individual, Jee Young used the term “scientist(s)” and you could tell it made the students take themselves more seriously… they felt like scientists, they were scientists.

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3. Use lesson/learning time wisely by setting up routines.  In the course of 45 minutes, Jee Young gave the students their task, had the students observe their experiments and discuss their observations with their small groups, create a post on their blog using their iPads (pictures included!), and then had a couple of students share a few posts with the class as a whole. While this was happening she moved around to answer questions, mentally made notes of students’ work, and gave instant feedback. It was amazing. Yes, it takes time to set these routines up at the beginning of the year or at the beginning of a unit. But the effort is well worth it.

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Observing colleagues is a great way to share ideas and grow as a teacher. I know we all get busy, but take the time to do it and you will not regret it.

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Thank you for welcoming me into your classroom Jee Young, I hope I can come back soon.

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Top *Other Websites I used in 2014

We all know about Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest… and we usually have those grade level appropriate blogs bookmarked, blessing the names of those individuals who are insanely good at writing and sharing their ideas—on a consistent basis. (Pointing finger at myself and shaking head.)

I decided to reflect back on 2014 and look at the websites I used that strayed from the go-to ones on my list.

1. Kahoot– This website allows you to create an online quiz, survey , or discussion on anything. I have used it weekly or bi-weekly to create a comprehension quiz on read aloud books. Once the quiz is created students log into kahoot.it (another kahoot website, but different address than the first link) on an iPad/laptop/desktop. My school has a one-to-one iPad program which makes this activity really convenient. It’s free to sign up. Make your own Kahoot today! You can also search kahoots other people have made for public use.

2. Google Images and Pixabay– I know, the first one listed here sounds weird, or like “duh”. But what I have recently discovered on Google images is that you can refine your searches to use pictures and images that are labeled for reuse, and I didn’t know that until a few months ago (oops). Once you search for an image you can click search tools, usage rights, and then labeled for reuse. There is also a site called Pixabay that has a lot of really beautiful and interesting photos, all available for use.

3. Handwriting Worksheets– I am not a huge fan of all the advertisements on this website… but it’s free! I believe that handwriting will never die, but man— do my students need a lot of help in this department. This website allows you to make several different kinds of handwriting worksheets. You can choose Print, D-Nealian, or Cursive for your students to practice. You can create letter, word, or paragraph form worksheets and you can include characters from languages other than English.

4. Sparklebox.co.uk– I am pretty sure I have talked about this website before, but I still think it is a hidden gem for some. I haven’t used this one as much this year as I have in the past, but it has a LOT of resources available.

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If you have some hidden, or not so hidden, websites you use for resources, please share in the comments. 

Back-To-School Door Decorating Ideas!

Most international schools have already started school within the past couple of weeks, or if you’re school is like mine, you are almost a month into the new school year!

I am really excited to work in a Christian school environment again (mainly because I love praying with my students, there is nothing wrong with non-Christian schools, I like them too) and so when I saw this idea for a door on Pinterest, I asked my TA to recreate it. She did an amazing job, right?

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Here are other ways I have decorated my door:

IMG_2621IMG_2770And as I was walking around my school I saw other doors I admired. (Picture below!)

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Then a friend posted a link on my wall to these 29 Awesome Classroom Doors for Back to School. It’s not too late my teaching friends. Decorating your door is too much fun to pass up!

If you have any more links to door decorating ideas, please share.

Up next, Jee Young and I are going to share how we set up our classrooms for the school year. I love seeing all the different ways people can transform a square or rectangular room. Until then, have a great first (second, eighth, fifteenth) day of school!

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Don’t have it? Make it!

This school year Jee Young and I found ourselves going in completely different directions.  I am extremely excited and happy for her every time she talks about the resources she is enjoying at her new school in Singapore (and I am sure we will receive amazing blog posts about how to use these resources in our own classrooms!).

Whereas, this year I get to foster my creativity in a different way. My school is small, with a mission’s mindset. Almost everything the school makes they give away in scholarships to allow students the chance to an education they otherwise would not be able to afford (I know, so awesome!).

I was actually pleasantly surprised at the size of my classroom, it is a lot bigger than I imagined. The wall space is pretty great, but I was sad to discover that I didn’t have any large bulletin boards… so I made one! And by made one, I mean I taped up borders onto my walls and separated a space for my students’ work. Another way to display their work is to hang strings from the ceiling. When the strings are full the room looks so cosy and bright.

I also ran out of shelves for the books I brought with me, so I used baskets. I still need to organize them, but for now… it works!

I don’t have any rugs on my floors (yet, I am totally saving up or continuing to petition for them) so we are using nap time mats. They work out pretty well. I love how they are easy to move, but at the same time I wish they would stay put. Can’t have everything I guess.

What kind of international school are you at? If you have any ways to make something out of nothing you should TOTALLY share. Or what is something common for a school to have that you can use in a new way? Let us know!

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!