Fuck. To be so incredibly exhausted, yet unable to get to sleep...It's camps. During camp time I can't stop running over activities and possibilities and schedules in my head. Also, today I got some really disappointing news. Some of my boys at the center, including my favorite set of twins, beat the living shit out of another kid last Friday. This was all explained to me in Korean today, when I got to the center after work with not a student in sight, and as best as I could understood, the kid talked down to them, they got pissed off and jumped him. As a result -- and the why on this one is something I didn't fully catch -- they're not allowed in the center for two weeks.
The thing is like... I know these boys are rough. And I can forgive them a lot of things. But I have a hard time not being seriously disappointed when any of my students do something like this. To fuck up in a million other different ways is one thing, but to physically harm another person... and I'm almost ashamed to type this next part, but the topper is that the kid was a fourth grader in elementary school. A fucking fourth grader. These boys are middle school third graders -- the equivalent of a freshman in high school in the US. It's just hard to believe that Chanhee, who is always so fucking polite and mannered, and Geonhee who just grins like a loon when I come in and lays his head on my shoulder during lessons when he's bored and frustrated could turn around and do something like this. I know they're kids and they make mistakes. But fuck sake. I can't even picture them angry, let alone being physically violent. It's really disappointed me.
The head teacher put me on the phone to them today to express my disappointment, but I wasn't having a real on day with the Korean, and it was hard to say what I wanted to say.
And in contrast to that depressing news, I thought I'd throw a few things out there for public school folks who may be facing similar problems a la lack of equipment and proper settings for camps, like I am at the moment. Things to do to keep the kids busy and entertained when down and out in the technology department....
1. Make pancakes. If your students are anything like mine, they're wicked good with those gas camping stoves, even indoors, and can be completely trusted to man them responsibly. Which isn't to say you should go leaving them alone in the room with or anything, but I've seen the Korean teachers do it all the time, so don't be afraid to try it out. Just watch them when it gets to be time to add the salt, or you'll end up with some fucking disgusting pancakes, like we did last year. Not that it wasn't hilarious to have them do their write ups afterward:
By the way, you get away with this one by teaching them all the words for different tastes beforehand. You can see them applying all the vocabularly we had learned in pretty amazing ways in their write ups there. Even though they came out crappy, as you can see, and as the students themselves put it, "but we are good time".
2. Marshmallow tongue twisters. This one was actually inspired by Willie having his students stuff as many marshmallows as possible into their mouths during his camps for his own amusement. And I have to say, it is actually one of the most amusing things I've ever seen. You get your hands on a few good English tongue twisters, and have them practice first, sans marshmallows. Grabbing some that have the key sounds that are difficult for them are the best. You know the ones --- F, V, R, L, TH, etc. Then, to up the fun factor, you have them say them again with one marshmallow in their mouths. Two. Three. Four. As many as they can fit. The last part obviously doesn't help much with their pronunciation, but you get to sneak that in as you're "practicing" for the "game" beforehand. And they stay way more focused when they know what's coming.
3. Paper mache solar system. You can teach loads of vocabularly with the planets, including comparitives and all kinds of science stuff. Colors. Gas, liquid, soild. Atmosphere. Orbit. Blah blah blah. All kinds of work you can do leading up to this, but the important part is, you can do all of the worksheet/English based stuff and reward them with an actual activity afterwards. And while they're doing activities, they are actively engaging with the language, having to listen to your instructions in English, ask you questions, so on and so forth. Like I said before, when the students feel like they're working up to something more fun, they pay more attention, rather than just being taught vocabulary for vocabulary's sake. Also, when you activate those other parts of the brain, the language just sticks better. Everyone knows that. Get the motor skills going, get them engaged with colors and shape and movement -- the more areas of the brain you activate with them using English, the more they naturally absorb. Plus, it's just not as boring.
This is all messy as fuck though, and takes loads of materials prep. But it's worth it. By the third day of camp, even I'm starting to die of boredom with the games and vocabulary and worksheets. There are a million other things -- have them make time capsules to open in ten years, or go on scavenger hunts. You've all seen most of this out there I'm sure. But those are my top three for this camp. Hope it's useful to some of you.