I have done almost no writing the past two weeks, which is rather unusual for me and I don’t really know why. It has not been because I've been too busy to write but rather I have not found myself with much write about. The last couple of weeks have been rather slow and mundane. Even on the weekends I have not been going out as much as I had been the previous months. In a way my social life, the last two weeks, has been kind of like it was my first month here virtually non-existent. But four months of living here makes doing nothing different then when I had only been here two or three weeks. Being alone is just not as scary as it used to be. And probably more than just the fact that I have not being doing much I haven’t been writing because I have lacked any desire to write, which is odd for me.
The semester is winding down. This is the last week of school for the kids before summer vacation. Then they’re off for a month. Summer vacation here is shorter than winter vacation. It’s basically the reverse of what we do in the U.S.
I teach two advanced level classes on my own without my co-teacher. One is on Tuesday afternoons with a group of 5th and 6th graders and one is Friday afternoon with a group of 4th graders. Last week both of the classes were made open classes. What that means is that the classes were opened up to allow other people to observe them. Who comes to the open classes varies but in this case the classes were opened up for the children’s parents. Needless to say I put a lot of time and effort into my lesson planning and lost some sleep waiting to teach, maybe more accurately I should say perform, in front of my students’ parents. Now I guessed that only mothers would be attending due to the timing of the classes and that guess was confirmed in both sessions.
When Tuesday finally rolled around and I cleaned myself up a little more than normal and wore a more formal outfit for the day. Sadly it was very hot that day and my long sleeved collared shirt was killing me. I quickly figured out that I should have simply brought the nice clothes with me and changed before the advanced class but as I could do nothing about it I simply appreciated the fact that white shirts make pit stains much more difficult to see. I did learn from this mistake and brought a change of clothes on Friday. Tuesday was the first go round and as the day moved along I become more sidetracked from my normal classes and nervously focused on the impending doom that was my afternoon class.
In my lesson plan I read an article and showed some YouTube clips to the kids about a new robot called the Wakamaru robot designed by a Japanese company. The robot can be programmed to do different things. But what is really new is that it is able to interact with people and have spontaneous conversations. It has a 10,000 word vocabulary and vocal recognition software so it can “know” certain people and remember past conversations with that person. The main point of all of this was to get them to practice using gerunds and infinitives in descriptive ways. The kids then got to design their own robot and decide what they would want it to do and then we all shared with each other. Here are some of the robots the kids created (the child’s name is followed by the robot’s name, which is followed by its abilities or functions. Also I just copied the students sentences from their worksheets so there are grammar errors but you get more of a feel for the each kid’s voice);
Grace: ToTo Bunny-It is very familiar like a real friend and you can love and take care of it. It can clean the house in 10-15 minutes. It’s fast just like a real bunny. So it can run, jump and play ball. It can talk a few sentences.
Julie: Ms. Maily-It can teach the children and can speak any language. Sometimes she cooks…like mother’s.
Eddy: I-Robot-cooks, reads a book and fights.
Sunny: Metoo Robot-cooking and reading
Christine: Sericadoca II-cooking and teaching. The students like it, she is world start! P.S. she is very smart and pretty.
Anna: Roo-cleans house, cooks food, plays with baby.
Brian: BJ2-Has vocabulary of 100,000 words. It can speak 100 different languages. It can speak like a girl, boy, man or woman. It can play and show feelings. It can take tests and show score. It can walk like a human.
Sally: Smile -w- It is small and very cute. Has a vocabulary of 100,000 words and can sing a song. It can speak 5 different languages. It has voice recognition for up to 50 people. Plays with me and reads books. It can move 1 km an hour.
Alice: Wharoo- It is small, cute and beautiful and has big eyes. It has full vocabulary of 120,000 words. It is able to store and read electronic books. It can move 2 km in an hour.
Chris: Bumble Bee-looks like a person colored yellow, black, blue and gray. It can speak English, Chinese and Korean. It can show feelings. It has two eyes and can feel. It have radio, DMB and P.C. can think and can show feeling. It can transform into a camera and it can run.
Sophie: Rilakkuma-It looks like a bear and is medium size. It speaks Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian. It cooks, does laundry, makes beds and plays baseball.
You can see once one kid comes up with an idea (moves 1 km and hour, has vocabulary of 100,000 words, etc) that it does not take long for other kids to copy it or try and one up them (moves 2 km and hour, has vocabulary of 120,000). This would be even more apparent if I shared all of the kids’ robots but I just wanted to give a sampling of some of the ideas the kids came up with.
Some other robot functions kids had included playing soccer or other sports; dancing with people; playing the piano; and doing homework. All the robots could talk and recognize people just like the Wakamaru robot. I was surprised to see that a lot of the kids included cooking with their robots, which I thought was a great idea and it made me want to add that to my robot. Of course some of the boys created fighting robots.
After all my worrying about the class on Tuesday only one mother showed up. I discovered that most of the kids had not told their parents about the open class. I could not say I was upset with them even though I had to kind of pretend like I was. On Friday there were four mothers and I definitely could feel their eyes on me the whole time. The good thing is my Friday classes are always better than my Tuesday classes because it is my second time doing the lessons and I am able to see what worked and what didn't in the first class.
So that was my week of open classes. This week is setting up to be pretty laid back. We are just doing some review with the kids and then having a small party (30 minutes) for each of the classes. More writing is to come but at least that is something for July.