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Pre course Paper Magda EDUC 925

12 04 2015

Finished my pre-course assignment for my upcoming class, I don’t really have any idea if this was what the professor wanted.. but I’m hoping it is.  Regardless, I’m done, nay DONE with it.. it’s handed in and bleh.  So there.  All grow-ed up about the topic.

The two books are “How Children Learn” and “Drive”.

Reaction Paper:                                                                                                           Magda Vince

April 13, 2015

I feel as though much of what these two authors, Pink and Tough, had to say were not actually on the same topic and neither implicitly discussed how their concepts applied to how children learn in the assigned chapters.  Pink primarily discussed motivation and what drives us to succeed, improve, and do more in business.  Where Tough discussed how environment, and life experiences can affect one’s health, well being, and ability to learn.  With that in mind I can still see how one could make them relate, because in the end, how well one learns is greatly based on their own motivation and the cards that they have been dealt in life, so to speak.

The two women in Tough’s book, the teacher  Elizabeth Dozier and the doctor Nadine Burke Harris,  are both shining examples of ‘Type I’ personalities (Drive, p64).  They are both women who are driven by their own personal goals to be altruistic and make the world a better place.  And while they came from very different backgrounds and had a much different experience in their youth, they both learned to be Type I motivated individuals, an idea that is supported by Pink (Drive, p64).

I found it to be very interesting how so many, experienced, and even later applauded individuals were unable to turn Fenger high school in Chicago around.  They had done it before, or went on to be very successful in makes changes in other schools (How Children Succeed, p21), they had funding support, and nothing changed.  Some would look at that and see a lost cause, or perhaps even a cursed situation.  Dozier’s approach, to install afterschool programs, trauma counseling, and mentoring programs (How Children Succeed, p25) as well as to attempt to involve and engage the community was really quite clever.  I have seen examples in other situations, where if one invests in the community, and is able to get the community to invest in itself there is a much greater chance of change.  Community gardens, or breathing life into a community with small businesses run and partially owned by locals, brings a sense of pride and ownership, a desire to make the place better.  I believe that she is on the right track and the documentary ‘Chicagoland’ seems to agree, according to the Huffington Post article that I read.  (  They reported that Dozier has made great progress where all those before her have failed.  The Fenger graduation rate has gone from 47% to 73%, while still below the national average, it is significant progress and quite impressive.   Ultimately, I do not find her success to be that surprising given the approach that she took.

I had not heard of the theory, presented by Tough in How Children Succeed, that our physical well being can be so strongly affected by experiences, especially traumas from our youth.  I found the idea that having a higher ACE score can have profound effects on adult health even when negative behaviors such as drinking, drugs, or overeating  are not present (How Children Succeed, p31) to be fascinating and eye opening.  The numbers were astounding to me, that someone with an ACE score of 4 is far more likely to smoke, drink, and be promiscuous at a young age. An ACE score of 5 is much more likely to be a drug addict, and a score of 6 greatly increases the chances of suicide (How children Succeed, p 30).   I would genuinely like to look into this further, take the ACE, and find my own score as well as that of some colleagues to get a better understanding of the whole process. I intend to look into this more in my free time because it is a very interesting concept and I can see far reaching implications, not only personally, but in how I interact with others and perhaps even how I approach new students.

Conversely, much of what Pink had to say in Drive, are concepts I have personally believed to be true.  I have not actually seen any research, read his books, or heard any of his talks on the matter before so it was extremely validating to read this book.  For many years I have refused to give out rewards, goodies, prizes or any ‘carrots’ with any kind of predictability. With the exception of verbal praise, of course, which I tend to be rather lavish with.   I have always feared, and thusly avoided, that if you ‘pay’ students with points (or whatever your system is) consistently for any positive action that you  are setting yourself up for disaster.  Ultimately, the payment, or prize will become expected and therefore is no longer an “Oh goodie” reaction but a “excuse me where is my xyz, and if I don’t get it I’m doing nothing.”  Which is beautifully illustrated time and time again in Drive, for example when they rewarded the children for drawing and the children who expected the reward lost interest in an activity that had been such a treat before the ‘payment’ (Drive, p35).   I frequently reward students to engage interest, but I try to mix up how and when.  I have been asked, “Why did he get a point and I did not?” and I explain that the reward is being engaged and participating or learning, not the ‘prize’.  You should answer the question because you want to take part, not for the ‘prize’ you may or may not get one, but you will always have the satisfaction of a job well done.  I have had great results with this, and my students are generally very active and happy in class.  They are usually engaged, and always volunteer to join in, speak up and even help out in class, with no expectation of any rewards.

I believe it is an important life lesson, that can have far reaching effects, but to frank I had no idea how far reaching.  In my own experience, I can attest to the ineffectiveness of the carrot and stick in the workplace, yet it is the first thing that we all seem to go to when we are discussing how to motivate people.  Some could say that mentalities have changed a lot on this subject, but have they really?  Pink’s example of Encarta vs Wikipedia is a perfect example of this, no sane sober economist would have predicted the result of that battle ten years ago(Drive, p19).  But forget economists, forget the encyclopedias, couch it in different terms to present it to most people today, and I think the majority of people would fall on the side of paid for work, carrot stick ,Type X behavior even though it has been proven to not be effective.  To use Pink’s metaphor, our operating systems are slow to upgrade, even though motivation 2.0 is no longer particularly effective in motivating people, most of us have not gotten the memo, in our conscious minds, yet.  Even myself, when I think about how to modify behavior, I may have intrinsically somehow known that the carrot is not effective when used as payment.  Yet to modify negative behavior the first thought I have is ‘stick’, a fine or something to make said behavior an unpleasant prospect.  For example, I have been considering running a private class from my home, but I would not appreciate the parents being late to pick up their children.  When brainstorming solutions I immediately thought, I will just have them pay a fine if they are late that way I will be compensated at least a little.   Then I read the example in the book that proved this is a terrible idea, where the fines actually brought about an increase in the negative behavior the parents showing up later and more often late because they felt it was now ok as they were compensating someone (Drive, p46).

A lot of what was presented in Pink’s book is about the workplace and adults, but I see many applications for children, youth and school.  For example, the sawyer effect, which as adults we see in children all the time.  I certainly remember a time when I longed to be able to use the lawn mower to cut the grass, or was dying to be allowed to help vacuum the floor.  But the moment I grew up, and HAD to do these tasks, I loathed them.  I believe we all know that when a task is voluntary it can be and often is fun, but when it become mandatory it is work and therefore is undesirable (Drive, p34).

I was also very intrigued by Pink’s concept of goals, and how they can be beneficial and detrimental.  He said that goals that people set for themselves are healthy and lead to mastery, whereas goals set by others can not only lead to unproductively, but can even be dangerous and lead to unethical behavior (Drive, p44-45).  Negatives such as, risk taking, theft, cheating and dissatisfaction are all serious problems to be considered.  He even sites a survey where they asked MBA students about regular cheating and 56% admitted to it (Drive, p109).  Cheating is a big problem, and I teach my students that the one they are really cheating is themselves, but it’s difficult when society, schools and parents put so much pressure on students, and athletes to perform and excel.  The idea that setting your own goals is far more effective is supported by an interesting book that I highly recommend if you have time, Influence Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini.  Cialdini talk about POWs in Korea, and how they used commitment and consistency pressures to gain compliance from their captives(Influence, p61). You might think, hang on how do communist POW camps relate to goals and even more alarmingly to children?  But actually the core concept behind what they did is really interesting and works amazingly well on all people.  Once someone has made a commitment to something they are intrinsically driven to follow through, and to be consistent.   Also giving people choices, once they have made a choice even if both are less than desirably, they have a much stronger commitment to it than if you had just demanded they do what you ask.  This ties in perfectly with setting your own goals, you will be far more invested in them if you have been involved, or even just feel as though you have been involved, in the creation of the goals.

Something I had not considered before were the different kind of goals, such as performance goals versus learning goals.  I must get an A on this assignment versus I will be able to use this information effectively in my work.  It is simple yet profound, that performance goals may lead to results but they rarely if ever lead to mastery.  Whereas a learning goal, like I am able to speak French may be difficult but has a much higher chance of leading to mastery (Drive, p97).

I look forward to exploring how I can use what have I learned from this assignment in my own life, to improve myself as a teacher and to improve the educational experience of my students.

TESL 928 Reflection Paper

18 03 2015

Here is my reflection paper from my first class ….  Not sure how I feel about it.  But I got an A in the class, so musn’t have been that bad 😉

Self Reflection Paper:                                                                                                 Magda Vince

February 23 – March 14, 2015

For me The Element and Ken Robinson’s ideas about finding that magically something, was a touchy and slightly difficult topic.  While the studies and cases that Robinson talks about are interesting, and I agree that finding passions and following happiness are the way to go.  I personally have always struggled with my own “element” and as such I find it to be a difficult thing to foster in others.  I find a lot of people who I discuss this sort of topic with are just as lost as I am on the subject when it comes to how it relates to them and their lives.  What do you like? Lots of things.  Ok, what do you have a passion for?  Nothing really, well not for any extended time.  What are you good, or talented at?  Many things, and at the same time, none. Nothing stands out.  In the end you end up feeling even more lost and inadequate because you can’t even identify a passion, that can be disheartening.

On the other hand, I really feel that there is something there.  I agree whole heartedly with Robinson when he says ” For most of us the problem isn’t that we aim to high and fail – it’s just the opposite – we aim too low and succeed.”  I have always believed in setting the bar for my students and their progress high, foolishly high some might say.  But, and here is what I consider to be key, I communicate with the students.  I tell them, depending on their age, motivation and lot in life, that other people think it’s too hard  and it may well be but I think they can do it.  I also lay it out, using lines on the board or my hands saying, if we aim for here most of us will make it, a few people will ‘excel’ and a few of us might miss the mark.  But if we aim up here, this lofty goal, and just try to reach it something special will happen.  There will be no ‘good enough’, everyone will exceed “the other expectation” the one other people think we should do, some by a little some by a lot.. and heck we may even surprise ourselves by reaching that lofty goal!  It’s worth a shot, let’s show “them”, them being the common enemy that doesn’t believe in us.  This has always brought out the “HEY, who do they think they are, holding us down.  We can so do this” in my students in Taiwan.  I suspect that a lot of this has to do with cultural attitudes and expectations here, but at the same time I think there is something universal about it.  I always say I think they can do it, I believe in them, and they usually rise to the challenge.

I try to foster an environment where it is ok to make mistakes and it’s ok to be wrong.  I teach my students that the most important thing is that we are learning from the mistakes.  That it is perfectly reasonable to get something wrong, but pay attention, learn from it, get better, stronger, more confident.  Which can be a challenging concept for anyone, but especially in Taiwan where it is more of a say nothing unless you are certain that you are correct environment.  As a result, I find that kids will berate themselves, tear themselves down and give up.  I have had this exact conversation with many kids over the years. “Are you smart?” And they say “No.”  I ask, why they would say that? Who told them that they aren’t smart?  Because I am their teacher and I know they are smart, I ask them to repeat ” I am smart” and tell them if I know it, they should too.  Invariably, I see an improvement in that student’s performance and attitude in class, it is such a small thing but seems to make such a difference in how they see themselves and then how they project themselves to the world.

I found it quite interesting that when you used the word pedagogy in your email to me, the first thing I thought was “Hang on, what the heck is pedagogy?”  I have a pretty expansive vocabulary, though I will admit that living in a non English speaking country has stolen a plethora of my words, and I was pretty surprised to find a word that I had to look up.  It is interesting that I have never run into the word before, but then again perhaps it is because I did not seek out teaching as a path for myself.  This is a career that I fell into, I happened to be pretty good at it, and I find it satisfying and rewarding.  Would I call it my element? No, but I am somewhat convinced that some of us may not have one, or perhaps we do not have just ONE.

You asked if I have made connections between pedagogy and culture, and to be entirely honest, I do not know.  I have only worked and taught in this culture, but I come from a western culture.  I have tutored at home, I taught my friend Becky grade nine math because her teachers wrote her off when I was in grade twelve.  But have I been a formal teacher with my own classroom in Canada?  No.  As a result I am not entirely certain that I really know or understand teaching culture back home.  I do have my own beliefs about the role of education and the teacher’s role, but I honestly don’t feel that my philosophy is a reflection of the education that I received in the past as much as what I have learned and come to believe over the years via trial, error, and my own experiences.

I believe that my role as a teacher is to guide and direct the students into learning on their own, to be independent in their education and to ultimately make myself somewhat redundant.  I want my students to be confident that they can achieve what they want, or that they are attempting to learn, on their own and come to me to discuss, confirm, and help them when they get stuck.  That is not to say I abandon them, but that I spend a lot of time and effort trying to give them the tools to learn with minimal interference on my part.  I believe that my role should be more of that of a guide than a leader.  This is certainly not the educational culture here in Taiwan, here is it more I am your teacher, nay your god.  I have all the wisdom and knowledge and you will soak it up, you will study what I say and memorize everything.  I often buck the system, trying to convince and show my bosses or parents that while I may be doing something different that they do not fully understand, it is effective.  Something that I hope I give my students, are the skills to compensate for a teacher that is less interested or dedicated to their future.  Because that is a reality that most kids will have to face, that I had to face, teachers that are just going through the motions and do not really care what you learn.

Ultimately though, does this come from my culture as Canadian, or my own personal culture?  I have been an expat for most of my adult life, and I know that it has coloured my experiences and views on life, the universe, and everything.

While reading this text on the SIOP model, I was frequently struck by the thought “Of course, who doesn’t do this?”  Then I realized this book, and the whole method, is written and aimed at teachers in the states who are expecting to be teaching “American” kids.  Who may not be trained, or in any way prepared to deal with language and cultural barriers.  How to cope with a student that doesn’t understand what you are saying and how to reach those kids, to give them the language to be functional and even succeed in English.  I come the from the unique, or perhaps not so unique in our class in Taipei, perspective of teaching primarily ESL students.  And on top of that, they are homogenous ESL, they all come from the same or at least similar cultural and language backgrounds.  I even speak their mother tongue well enough to assist them in L1, and have lived in their country and culture long enough that most of it is very familiar to me.

Not to suggest that there was nothing new or interesting to glean from the book or the model.  I for one, almost never clearly state the objectives, language or otherwise, before a lesson.  Stating and posting my objectives in class has even been suggested to me in the past, and I have completely failed to see any point in it.  “It’s too hard, it’s above the students, it would just confuse them, they don’t need to know that”, are among the reasons I had for resisting.  But after reading about the SIOP model, I found a lot of clarity as to how and why having clearly stated objectives can be helpful to students and the teacher.  For myself it reminds me to stay on task and for the students it can help them focus and to have a better understanding of where the lesson and the class will be going.

I believe I may have less formal teacher training than some of the other students in our class at Framingham, so one thing that I found interesting and positive for myself from studying the SIOP model was validation.  There are many techniques and suggested activities and methods that I frequently use in my own classes, and to see that they have been studied by others and have been proven to not only be effective, but also practices to be modeled by others is very gratifying.  Methods such as activities with getting the students to discuss background knowledge, group activities, getting creative in the activities, scaffolding and strategic starter sentences are all things that I personal have found very useful in my own classrooms in the past.

On one hand, I found the idea of using the whole protocol in a single lesson to be daunting and to be frank, somewhat impossible.  So when Richard and I attempted to include all thirty features in our presentation, I was concerned and felt quite overwhelmed.  Once I got into the groove though, I discovered that most of it is what I believe most teachers do, or at least try to do in most lessons.  And for me, what I got from trying to use the protocol to build our lesson on the Review and Assessment feature, was that while it may not be possible or even practical to include all the elements or features in a single lesson a lot more can be achieved by keeping it all in mind.  That we can enrich our lessons and the classroom experience by having the list handy when planning lessons.  And while the focus on this is to be teaching content and language at the same time, I think that it really can and does apply to all teachers all the time regardless of the students that you’re teaching.  They may all have the same social, economic, cultural and language backgrounds or not but elements and parts of the SIOP model can be used to round out your lessons and make sure that you are reaching more students and using your time in class effectively.

For myself, one of the most appealing aspects of this program is the human factor.  There is a real, live, in person professor, a classroom and students.  I’m fully aware that there are many ways to study and learn, and that while many may find studying online courses and on their own to be effective,  it is just not the way for me.  And I would like to think that it is a good thing that I have learned and accepted that about myself, I think it is important to try to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses.  Personally I like, and have always responded well to,  collaboration, discussion, debate, and the human experience as it were.

I had a job a while back, they called it ‘editing’ but essentially we were marking stacks written papers.  There was zero interaction with students, the ‘teacher’ lectured to a hall of anywhere from two hundred to six hundred high school students.   They wrote essays, that were then brought to us in a small office or back room, we were not supposed to speak to each other or really interact in anyway, just mark and grade the fifty to seventy papers we had been given as quickly as possible.  I hated it.  It took away everything that I enjoyed about teaching, the connections I make with students, the laughs, the excitement of seeing understanding, or engagement, the humanity of it all.  The students could not come to me and ask, why I had marked this as incorrect, or why I had changed this or that.  I could not ask them what they meant in order to help them clarify and correct.  I hated it.   I learned something about myself as a teacher at that job, that what draws me to education is the human connection.  Naturally, that sort of learning also appeals to me for myself, I stand firmly behind the idea that it is far more effective than “here read this, memorize, write a test” for anyone in any circumstance.

I feel that this class has been a wonderful experience for me, for several reasons.  As I had mentioned at Mary Jane’s Pizza that Friday evening, I’ve had some negative experiences in the past couple of years that have clearly affected and scarred me.  I was terrified of the first presentation, not that I would have issues standing up and speaking in front of others, but that I would do it “wrong” and that would have long reaching adverse effects.  The discussions we had in class, and after, watching others present and then finally presenting myself with Richard was a wonderfully cathartic experience.  And even though I was not particularly happy about the topic and was concerned about the second presentation, I was able to find myself, my voice and (even though we had a little tug of war going) managed to produce a decent product that I was pretty happy with.  If only there had been more time!

I found the discussions in class to be interesting, many of the teachers (classmates) come from the same background as I and then at the same time completely different.  I didn’t always agree with what some of my classmates postulated , however it was very engaging.  I thought a lot about myself, and what I have learned and how I teach, and in sharing that found a lot of support and validation that I didn’t even realize I wanted or perhaps even needed until it was there.

In conclusion, I feel that the course was over all an extremely positive experience for me.  The material and content were good, but ultimately I have been an ESL teacher for 13 years, living and working in cultures outside of my own, Taiwan, Brazil, France, and traveling all over Europe and South East Asia, so the majority of the content was not particularly new to me.  However, the lively discussion, presentations and building my own presentations as well as the experience of taking a class with a group of adults, who all wanted to be there and are dedicated to something, was the meat and potatoes of the experience for me.  I am more energized and excited about teaching and future possibilities.  Which is something I feel that I really needed; a push, a boost in a more positive and productive direction.

TEDx Magda.. tee hee

9 04 2011

For some odd reason they didn’t want to change the name of the event… odd…  Just kidding :D..

I will write later, but I thought I would post my ‘speech’ for those who were interested but unable to make it 🙂  The truth is I didn’t really follow my script and I can’t really tell you how far off of the ‘reservation’ I went until I see the video.  But here’s hoping it was good.  There was a lot of really good positive feed back, and I had a great time.  I’m heading out to see some people, but here is what I wrote.

A few months back I lost my voice, not for a day or two, it lasted almost a full week.  And as anyone who knows me could tell you, this was a personal disaster.   It was also a potentially professional one as well.    As a teacher this was an especially difficult and challenging situation to face.  Imagine if you will, that your livelihood depended on your being able, to not only express ideas, but to also expand on them, to interact and communicate in a deep way with others.  Suddenly conventional methods are no longer available.  What do you do?

I could have done what most people suggested and just stayed home, but that didn’t seem quite right to me.  I genuinely believe in innovation and creativity in Education.

And that is why I am here today. In spite of how exciting a story of a mute teacher might be, I want to tell you about what we can accomplish with a little creativity, even in a seemingly rigid environment.

Asia has a very strict and busy education system. It’s extremely competitive over here, and to be successful many feel you must be the best.  To be the best you must work harder and longer than the other millions of people that you are competing with.  It’s a tall order and as a result students are loaded up with hour upon hour of assignments, homework, and extra classes.  It can start in kindergarten and the pressure, classes, and extra homework continues to increase over the years.

Kids here don’t often have much of a chance to be kids, at least in the minds of many who are observing and coming from a different background.  Speaking for myself, I never had to do 6 hours of homework after class, not even in senior high school when prepping for university.  I remember many a happy afternoon spent pouring over books, playing games and just generally relaxing and having fun.

So with all of this pressure and competition, is there any wiggle room for fun and new ideas?  In the past I have frequently been told by many an educator, and administrator there isn’t.   And I have always felt that that is pure and unadulterated garbage.  There is always another way.  So a few years ago I took matters into my own hands, I ignored the negative Nancy’s who told me that Taiwanese parents would never let their kids play games and just have fun;  That there must be tests and homework, writing assignments etc to prove the value and worth of any form of education. I started talking to kids and parents about something new, something different.  A way to study and learn that wasn’t about writing the same thing 1000 times, doing drills, or any other boring form of study.

So where did this all come from?  Honestly, I regularly play board games with my friends and on some level I wanted to find a way to bring my play to work. While playing, I learn and practice things about history, science, new vocabulary, math skills, and the psychology of others, critical thinking and problem solving.  And I do this all on my own time, for fun.   Sounds like work, doesn’t it?  Well it is, and it’s not.

Games have built in reward systems; there are points, achievements, constant progression and movement toward goals throughout the games.  They are riddled with puzzles and problems to solve both big and small, every success is marked and noted.   This all got me thinking, what if there was a way to use this great device to help bring a little fun and excitement into the educational lives of my students.  So I decided to just start using board games, as a learning tool.

You might not believe me here, but I swear to you it’s the truth.  It was fun.  I know, pure blasphemy, no fun should ever be had, in the sanctity of the learning sphere.

When using unconventional tools for learning, such as board games, we provide students with opportunities to communicate in a different way.   Different parts of the mind are engaged and activated, it encourages a more well rounded and active learning experience. Have you ever tried to learn a new subject, language or task simply by reading about it?  How about only being told?  Now think of a time where you were able to immerse yourself in the learning.  Where you actively took part in what you were trying to learn, you had to complete tasks, collaborate and communicate with others who were also involved.

Inhibitions are left behind in the excitement of the possibility of tromping your opponents.  You stop worrying so much about your personal short comings, and focus on the task at hand.  Sometimes it’s a cooperative effort, sometimes it’s competitive, and other times it’s a combination of the two.  Regardless it helps build relationships, not only with what you’re studying but also between the participants; there is a certain comrade-ry that arises.  Additionally, vocabulary and phrases are used over and over again, math skills are needed to calculate and manage your money or scores.  All of this results in becoming more interested and engaged in the topic allowing for a more rounded learning experience.

Studying, words, sentences and grammar from a book in a classroom is effective but it’s also very one dimensional.  Being actively involved in a game is an exciting and fun way to not only practice what you already know and understand, but to also to learn new things in a dynamic fashion.  Allowing you to not only remember more easily but understand on a deeper level.

I was told this would be difficult if not impossible to do in Asia; that local children would never be allowed to waste precious time on such an unstructured activity.  That adults and parents wouldn’t be interested or buy into something so unregulated.  Yet, I have been running a very successful program at a school doing just this for a couple of years now.  I use these games as learning tools in my Adult classes, and am constantly being asked for more game time.

I have also been doing guest lectures for student teachers, and tutors from schools that are interested in this new way of engaging the students.  More and more people are looking for something new, something different and more importantly something interesting.  I have even done a seminar with Junior high and high school teachers from all over the country; telling them of the benefits, and helping them brain storm ideas and ways that they can adapt these kinds of games and activities into the current school system that they have to work within.

Being invited to speak to other teachers, and seeing them embrace these ideas and principals of learning, has been a really gratifying experience.  In recent years there have been more and more people interested in board gaming as a social tool, which can easily be seen by the massive growth of the BoardGameGeek site.  And I believe we can clearly see that utilizing these games as an educational tool not only has the potential to take off but has already gotten many excited about the idea.

There is so much we can learn from a little play.

Here is a little video to give you a small taste of what I’m talking about.

Protected: Here’s the Story,

17 12 2010

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Kohl’s Cares

27 08 2010

This company in the states that my friend (who just had a baby and her husband and also my friend went a little wild making a website for the baby, if you’re into baby pictures you can check it out here .  He’s actually quite a good photographer, so while I don’t give a hoot about baby pictures, his pics are really good.  Here are some more of his photos if you’re into that sort of thing on Flicr. Fuck ramble ramble.. sorry back to the point) MJ works at, Kohl’s .. which I always thought was spelled Coles, is giving away 10 million dollars to 20 schools which is a pretty nice thing to be doing.    Now of course their probably not doing it just out of the goodness of their hearts, but hey when you give away 10 million dollars I think you deserve a little attention and good press.

So the way they’ve decided to do it is to hold a contest online through facebook, handy as everyone is there most of the day anyway.   You go to their facebook ‘busines’s and then you can vote 20 times (max of 5 times per school).  I love things that let me be philanthropic with other people’ money.

So even cooler my friend Casey lives in Milwaukee and apparently Kohls is a Milwaukee based company.  There are three schools in the runn Read the rest of this entry »

Showing off your tremendous dick is inappropriate in class!

20 12 2008

tardo parkingThe other night, I went to see Twilight. Wasn’t a bad movie, wasn’t great but it was entertaining. It still had nothing on the classic, The Lost Boys, man that movie rocked! We all had dinner together at Bongo’s and then went to the film. After the movie I gave Amanda ride home, and when I dropped her off we had a great giggle at this tool who pulled up on the cross walk no where near the curb… and just hopped out of the car leaving it hanging out into the intersection.

Is that a dick in your pants?So last night I was at editing and this kid wrote and awesome, yet wildly inappropriate essay. The picture that they were meant to use to write the story from is right here. The ‘splash’ marks, or at least that’s what I think they are supposed to be, look a bit wrong to me too .. but I wouldn’t have been ballsy enough to write something like this in my English class .. lol.

Here is a chunk of the essay for your entertainment! Read the rest of this entry »

Getting my 中文 (Chinese) study back on!

14 12 2008

So I’ve mentioned before that I wanted to start studying Chinese again, it’s really been bothering me that I’ve lived here so long and my language skills are still sub par. Plus it’s something that is a far more marketable skill in the world wide work force, than my teaching skills. Not to dis my own skills, but being wicked in Chinese is 100% more cool, and marketable. Study Chnese

So I ordered a Palm Pilot in the states (can’t seem to get one here) and my friend in the states is going to help me install all the software for studying Chinese characters. After everything is ready it will get sent to me! woo woo… I’m getting the Pleco dictionary, which seems to be the agreed best one available plus the new version includes it’s own flashcard system. Originally, I was going to have Supermemo installed too, which is a really great flashcard system, and now that I think about it I still might. I’m pretty excited about getting that to play with, hopefully soon. YAY

Also, a few months back I was teaching a class at this office, and one of my students Read the rest of this entry »

American Thanks Giving

27 11 2008

trouble makers… I like the dates of the Canadian holiday better, but now that I’m thinking about it.. in the future maybe I’ll just celebrate BOTH… heh.
My sister poised some questions for me 🙂  To answer her:  Life back in Taipei is generally good, work is .. well work.   My morning school.. is fine, and my afternoon school is still awesome but I am really not liking my grade two class.. it’s a small class and they are spoiled little whiners.   As for Tracey, it’s probably best if you message her for updates ;).  She’s back in Taipei, she lives with me so lol .. yes I see her all the time.
I do really miss turkey.. And as we all work at schools that follow the American holidays, I am seeing turkeys all over the dang place.  And I bloody well want some!  It looks like we’ll be making some turkey for Christmas this year so I should get my fix sometime soon… I wish I had a deep freeze.. then I would I keep another one in there for a few months from now I could have another hit off the turkey bong.
I was rather excited that one of my friends (Hi Honi!!) told me she likes reading my blog 🙂 That was happy fun time for me !! la la la la

Love letters

14 09 2008

I have received many a little note from my students over the years…. but this one takes the cake. I got it about a year ago and have been meaning to post it online for ages.. perhaps I hesitated because I promised an 8 year old that I wouldn’t show it to anyone. Although to be honest, I feel pretty confidant she meant at school 🙂 which I haven’t done.

Actually I’m a little excited about this! I haven’t read it in ages just about to bust it out in order to type it. Goody 🙂

Dear Teacher Magda,

I love you very much! Do you love me? ( _________) We are friends and hold hands together. I want to marry with you, but we are both girls! You are my best friend and teacher! I like to watch yo-yo TV, Dora, and learn reading and writing in school with you! And I like to play with your fingers everytimes when you come to our English classroom. Because we are friends and hold hands together! Summer is here and summer warmer right now! Write your own sentence! From: XXXXXX To: Magda

Lol, as you can see we had recently learned about exclamation points and in typical enthusiastic kid fashion it’s in almost every sentence. The holding hand business was, her desk was st the front of the class and I would often stand near her desk and she would grab my hand, or if I had my hand on her book pointing at soemthing she would always grab my hand and fiddle with my fingers. Kids are sweet if you let them be.

Her class is now in Grade three and they are the only huggy grade three-er I have ever seen in this country, I mean the whole class not one or two kids. Basically I let them know that hugging people and expressing that you think well of them was ok with me and that I appreciated it, and let them know I liked them and thought they were cool kids, and nice and they EMBRACED the concept. I can’t go in or out of the school with out being borderline mauled by the kids, especially as they are now in Grade 3 and no longer in my class. They have already begged me to make sure I stay at the school long enough for them to get to grade four (and back into my class, I teach grade two and four)