Friday, July 31, 2015

Beach Day!

As we're sitting here in our little home on this very hot and humid Friday we can't help but get a little sentimental. It turns out this will be our last Friday here in Hwasun as next week we will take a 7 day trip to Thailand for our summer vacation and a week later we will be flying out of Korea for the last time. Exciting things are coming up here in this next month and we are so grateful for the opportunities that we've had and the ones that lie ahead, but right now, we are enjoying our last moments in our first little home!   
The Wando Bridge
We recently visited the islands of Wando in South Korea. It is a very beautiful coastal area at the bottom of Korea. A few weeks ago, I mentioned to my co-teacher that Val and I were interested in visiting Wando and she got really excited. My co-teacher grew up on an island in Wando and her main house that she travels to on weekends, is currently located on the mainland area of Wando. So about a week later, my co-teacher offered to drive us to Wando and take us on a tour, which we graciously accepted.

My co-teacher picked us up in the morning and we set off to Wando along with my co-teacher’s sister and niece. Our first stop was at my co-teacher’s house. Her house is very unique to say the least. Her whole house is shaped like a ship and perched on top of a hill. Her husband helped design the house, which he was inspired by Noah’s arc from the bible. The view was really beautiful. The house is also a working Pension, or motel like business that guests come to stay at.

The Ship House!

Our next stop was the Wando Botanical Gardens. We spent some time walking around this beautiful area with many different sections with lots of flowers and plants. One interesting area was the cactus room!

The Wando mascots 

Playing a traditional Korean game

Mrs. Kim-Tyler's co-teacher

Fuzzy cactus!

Then on the way to our next spot, we stopped at a viewpoint of the ocean before arriving at the pebble beach. The beach is made up entirely of smooth stones. The sound from the waves crashing and receding from the beach was really cool and relaxing.

We thought the sounds of the waves coming in and out were interesting!

After that we went to Wando Tower. The tower was not as tall as Seoul Tower or Busan Tower, but it offered a full view of the islands and the ocean in the area.

Next, we headed to lunch at a Korean BBQ place my co-teacher had been to in the past. It was nice to enjoy a meal in a private air-conditioned room and enjoy some Korean BBQ.

After lunch and stopping to figure out bus schedules, we visited a small island that used to have many watchtowers for pirates or possible invasions. The island is now dedicated to a famous Korean General that protected the area.

The bridge to the tiny island!

Once our tour was concluded with my co-teacher, they drove us to another island with one of the most beautiful beaches in Korea, Sinji Beach. At this beach we met up with our friends Brad and Maranda and their baby Silas, who arrived a couple hours earlier. We joined them at the spot they set up camp and relaxed. It was a great place to take in the views and people watch. The beach culture in Korea is so different than in the U.S. There are many Korean restaurants set up that are only there during the official beach season. Also, many Koreans just wear their normal clothes at the beach and into the water. Many people had sun hats, full-length clothes, and some sort of shoes. We enjoyed the water, which was fairly warm, took walks down the beach, and enjoyed hanging out.

Hanging with Silas 

Beautiful beach!

There were many tubes to rent, a fun idea for the beach!

The Bogues and Mansours! Such a fun day!
 We were really happy to get to spend the day in Wando, especially with such good company, as it was on our list of places to visit before we leave!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Beginning of the End

We have less than 2 months left in Korea, but it’s almost time to say goodbye to our students as summer break is approaching. Things are wrapping up quickly both in our school and home lives. The packing of boxes has begun! We will be shipping some of our stuff in boxes on the “slow boat” home and will wait for them to arrive sometime in October or so (it’s called the slow boat for a reason!). It’s crazy to think how fast time has gone. But we are enjoying our last bit of time in Korea! Here is an update!

From Tyler:

Korea is on a semester schedule that goes until about the end of July, followed by summer break. Finals, however, begin much earlier. I am writing you today while my students that I would normally be teaching are busily studying for finals that start tomorrow. The weird thing about finals here is that they happen so early and then there is a period of almost nothing until summer break begins. For my middle school classes, it is business as usual after finals and I teach extra lessons that I create. My high school classes are quite different. Once finals are complete, they are burnt out and have no incentive to study, so teachers just let them have free time in their classrooms. During this time, I still go hangout with some students and play games with any that are interested.

What this means is that I am basically done formally teaching my high school students. My high school classes have always been a struggle, but I’m not overjoyed to be finished teaching them. After getting to know these students I am really going to miss them. Getting to know someone has taken on a different meaning here. Truth is, I don’t know most of my students’ names, or much about their lives outside of school. What I do know is their personalities and spirits. When I first arrived, I had a difficult time distinguishing many students. They all had dark hair, with similar hairstyles, and they wore the same school uniforms. Now I look at my students and I think some of them couldn’t be more different. I may not know their names, but I’ll never forget them.

From Val:

Lot's going on in the world of Elementary school! In early June almost all my classes finished with our sections of the textbooks for the term. That meant that for about 6 weeks complete lesson planning responsibility was on me! This was great in many ways, I could finally focus on things I wanted to focus on and be creative! I created a “Skype Project” for my 6th grade classes. They got to interview and be interviewed by my family and friends (Thanks Mom, Holly, Matt, Rachel, and Tim!) It was fun and my students really enjoyed it! They couldn’t believe they were talking to an American in America!

My mom! 


I had them think of questions on their own and from their textbook. 



Our webcam set up.

The next project I did with my students was an informational pamphlet with my 6th graders. They chose a topic or 2 and created an informational pamphlet about it. The goal was to inform my friends and family in America about Korean culture! So they all got really into writing about Korean food, Korean soccer, and Korean music so that I can my American family and friends can know everything about Korea!

In-Il and Sung Min using a dictionary to try to write about their topics! They were the only group who used this resource! It was great to see! 

The boys hard at work! 

Young A and Chae Rin showing off their K-Pop pamphlet! 

Can't wait to show these to everyone! :)
While 6th graders were busy making posters, pamphlets and Skpying, the younger grades got to participate in many English phonics games and activities to help boost their reading, speaking, and writing skills in English. Doesn’t sound as much fun, but the students actually enjoyed it and it all worked out! I was highly impressed with my 2nd grade students who I teach without a co-teacher to help me translate things.  In one class, I set up 3 activities in stations that students would rotate to every 10 minutes. Each station had something to do with the letters we had been focusing on. I couldn't believe it, but they all were engaged and working the entire class. Not only that, they followed directions, cleaned up the stations when asked, and rotated without any problem. This is a HUGE accomplishment as when I first met them last October they were running around the classroom, yelling, fighting, and not listening at all! Big improvement! ;)

"Popcorn" letters. Pick a letter, write the letter (both big and small) in the popcorn! 

Match the ice cream letters. We're really working on identifying and writing the English alphabet in both big and small letters. :) 

Beginning sounds station. Match the picture to the correct letter. "A is for Apple, B is for Ball..." They have a phonics song that helps them learn beginning sounds. It was fun to hear them sing this to themselves as they worked! 

Every conflict is solved using Rock Paper Scissors or "Gawi Bawi Bo"
A teachers dream...I had to take a photo! 3 groups of 2nd grade students completely engaged and working quietly. Amazing! 
Today my 6th grade students created mini speeches that they will present at the “Fun Fun English Show” next week. The prompt was “What is your dream?” and students wrote first in Korean about their dream. My co-teacher and I worked with them today to translate it into English and create simple sentences as they would need to memorize this speech. Their answers were adorable and so true to this group. They all have very big hearts and want to help others. So many of their answers included things like “If my dream comes true I will donate my fortune to the poor “ or “I will have a free concert for the country (poor) children.” I’m sure in their Korean text their dreams were more eloquently stated, but I think they their personalities shined and it was a fun project to work with them on.

After a week of intensive review of all 6 units students studied over the past few months, they took their final test yesterday and now have 2.5 more weeks until summer vacation!  During this time we will have Market Day for each class! Each student earned stickers for using English and participating in our English activities throughout the term and now will get to trade in their stickers for money and purchase many prizes and snacks on Market Day! It’s definitely their favorite time of the year!

As our time is growing shorter and shorter I’m getting more and more sad thinking about  leaving my students. I have seriously been blessed with the best students in Korea! I have seen them grow so much in the past year and I wish I could be here to continue helping them grow, but I know a new adventure and new students are in our future!