Cheaper by the dozens and dozens of students


Yesterday= only after I berated a mentally challenged student did my co teacher in form me of his condition (as well as another student in another one of our classes)

Today= only after 2 struggling classes did she tell me that this year as a grade has a low English level. Yes I noticed. However as their teacher LAST YEAR she could have told me this much earlier. Like, the first few days. We are now into the first week and the first lesson.

I will admit that I am struggling as well.  I know these kids are getting used to the new teacher, having to wake up for school and many other things.

Judging from what my students told me when I asked “What time do you go to bed?” (this was a lesson) most of them don’t go to bed until 12-1. Yes, these are fifth graders who should have bed times enforced by their parents.  But that is an entire other issue which contributes to many behavior problems in schools in Korea.

So I’ve decided for the first week or so to make allowances for tiredness and shyness, but week three the kids should be in fighting form. I had several students who struggled immensely with English last year-and while they were shy at first they did become relatively comfortable with me soon-I can only hope that will happen this year as well.

I was told that the 4th graders never spoke/used English last year-my ccurrent fifth graders. So….they didn’t do anything in their English classes? Or like in many cases including my own classes, they just wait for Korean translation. Which also…goes into another long tale about the issues with NET in Korea.

Neither of which I am going to bother covering today because…well there are only 10 hours left in the day.

I am going to try to patient and understand-the mantra I always say to myself is “they are just children” but, and this is where I differ from my  coteachers occasionally, yes they are children but they are in the 5th grade.

That’s the whole point-they are children. so yes you need understanding, but you need to give them a firm basis for their future lives. The way Koreans are currently raising is a system that is failing them.

Between the teacher who was considered “more lenient”, wanted to be liked, was indecisive and unorganized to the point where she blamed students for her own indiscretions, and the teacher who was strict as hell but helped me appreciate how to behave in public and professional areas of communities…who do you think was the most beneficial to me?


As I said I could go on and on about the issues that Korea faces as a society, I will save that for another day. Perhaps when I’m feeling more venomous.

As for today’s topic Ironically enough….lesson planning/games/activities.

For any of you who are actually interested in learning more about Korea teaching and life, then I suggest you go to my other page where I’m less neurotic and more polite. (House of Lilacs…now normally I would enter a link here but…I don’t know how to do that)

So as I bring myself back to the 6th grade but sipping on 50 cent Capri Sun I bought in the convenience store , let’s begin.

Since most teachers are tasked with coming up with games for our students, it’s always good to have a variety. Now most of the ones handed down to me involve little to no movement, and just more time staring at a screen that is slowly ruining the children’s eye sight.

So I try to make my games as active as they can be. Yes there are negatives to this and sometimes bad negative reactions. But these kids are so engrossed in their phones, and tablets (see above about my minor rants about problems with Korean children today and they way they are being raised) that they don’t really play play anymore.

yes I do have a few boy students who love soccer and activities, and even some irls. But overall, when I ask kids what games they like to play…minecraft, computer game, cell phone game….all electronic games.

While America is seeing this as an increasing issue, it’s already a pure infection here. From ages  5-90 on the subway everyone is on their phone. Unlike loud, Philly subways that are nasty and smell like urine, Korean subways are clean, and quiet….eerily quiet. So quiet to the point that if you talk you feel like you’ve broken some sort of Tibetan Vow of Silence.

My friend told me that it is because Koreans have trouble socializing. Yeah I don’t see that as the issue as much. I think it’s more that it’s a habit that is taught young. For example, I now had to make a rule in my classroom this year that if I see a cell phone, it becomes mine.

And even the 1st and 2nd graders have them-its something called a “kids” phone and it kinda looks like the apple watch….I’m not sure how it works but it makes calls and has apps on it so yeah…it’s still a phone.

Going back to the main point of this….I like to create games that can get the kids away from the boring powerpoint games and get them moving.

Drawbacks: when you have a loud and rowdy group of kids this can become a nightmare.

Solution: Typically I try to find games where there isn’t a need for me to be in control of them. Where they can be in groups on their own and work it out to find the solution.

I.E. I typically have a class of 30 mixed age and level students.  I found that a great game that they enjoy and everyone can do together is pick up sticks. It’s a game that I played as a kid. But I altered it a bit to cover class lessons. Now a pretty good benefit is that it can be accommodated to just about any lesson. Typically it’s best if you have a specific question or phrase or answers you are looking for.


-you can use any sticks but I found a ton of chopsticks in my classroom

-typically you want about 15 per each group (for me a group is 4-6 kids)

-color the chopstick or part of : you will need at least two different colors

-prepare your questions/phrases to correspond to the colors you’ve chosen.



-put students in groups of about 4-6. If you need bigger groups you will need more than 15 sticks but it’s best not to go too big otherwise it becomes a slow game

-the students need to choose who starts the game-easiest for me when settling any debate is the old fashioned rock,paper, sciossors. (its like life or death for these kids and they play is anywhere anytime. Whereas my friends and I were playing MFK at Everland waiting for the roller coaster, the middle school boys in front of us were playing RPS..turns out the loser had to try to speak to us in English…oh boy)

-the students toss the sticks into the air letting them fall into a heap/pile/mess (it’s best to play this on an unyielding surface….for example desks pushed together sucks)

-the winner of RPS goes first and chooses 1 stick-if he is able to remove the stick from any pile without moving other sticks, he has to answer the question/phrase of whatever color stick he pulled out

-if the stick moves, his turn is over and it’s the next student’s turn-if he succeeds he must say the question/phrase that is the same color as the stick-he keeps the stick

-students can use sticks they earn to help them out by flipping or picking up other sticks

-winner with the most sticks at the end gets a point (or whatever reward system you might use) its a really easy concept to grasp:

I will give you what I use for my lesson entitled “Where is it?”

This lesson focuses on asking where something is and who it belongs to. It teaches about location/prepositions and possession.

So I use green, red and blank sticks.

The red color: students have to ask “where is the _________?” and fill in the blan with one of the words we are using this chapter (book, bat, cap etc). I will write this on the board in red marker and give examples of what they can say-it’s written for them which may seem like a cheat but to some students who struggle i’d rather them look and say then not be able to answer.

The green color: students have to answer. “It’s (preposition we learned) the (objects we learned)” It’s under the chair. I also write these down and ask students prior what we can answer with.

Blank: i use this just in case there is that student who cannot even answer with help on the board because they can’t read. This allows students to feel included in the game.

I really favor this game because once you make the items all you have to change is which target language you want to use. I could easily swap out the location questions for possession questions.

It also gets the students to be functionally moving. They typically sit on the floor because the desks are too shaky.

And the best part is, once they learn the concept, and you want to use the game again, you just have to explain the target language and then let them go.

Now I did alter this for a beginner daycare one time which was more extensive. I had to color many different sticks. The kids got the concept pretty well with my non korean and their non english. If they pulled out a stick they had to say the color name in English.

So while I haven’t tried it out that much on younger students from grade 3 and down, I will say 3-6 seem to enjoy it and understand it well.

This game also doesn’t have that many issues with loud unruly kids. once they are in their groups, they are set and work well.The only real issues I’ve seen have been cheating-the kids will police themselves so if a person is cheating, or if one student says that his stick didn’t move while another student says it did, this can cause problems.

When this happens : I change group members, I will them them to restart the game and everyone loses all their sticks, but for the most part this doesn’t happen all that often.

So that wraps up today’s “suggested teaching activity”.

Tomorrow involves…movies….tv shows…and whatever the hell else I need to or simply want to drag on about. Be prepared.






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