Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Visit to Ishibashi Elementary School

Today I spent at a local elementary school, Ishibashi, in Shimotsuke City, Toghigi prefecture. A prefecture is like a state. We were welcomed with an elaborate assembly where the children in grades 1-6 sang songs for us in English, showed us some Kendo moves, and taught us a game. Later we met with teachers and parents, attended three classes, and ate lunch in the classrooms with students. Here are some facts you might find interesting I learned while eating lunch in a fourth grade classroom:

1. Students eat in their classrooms. Food is prepared in a kitchen at school and brought to the classrooms. Students serve wearing masks and aprons. I've attached a photo of my lunch, which included: egg, rice, seaweed wrap (what sushi is wrapped in), tuna fish in mayonnaise, milk, and miso soup. It was quite good and I ate every bit.

2. No one eats until everyone is not only served but sitting down.

3.. Students clean up everything. They even open up and flatten out their milk cartons to be recycled.

4. Everyone eats hot lunch. No one brings cold lunch.

5. School starts at 8:00 (or 7:50, I'm not exactly sure), lunch is served at 12:20, and students get no snack in between. I asked them what they would do if they got hungry. They told me they would have to be patient. Snack is never an option.

6. Teachers eat the same lunch with their students.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tokyo, Land of the Five Cs

There are 160 teachers in my June Cohort group, and today we all traveled in, I believe, five or six buses touring just a few Tokyo attractions. Our tour guide told us Tokyo is known as the "City of Four Cs." Here is what the Cs stand for: Congestion, Confusion, Construction, Contradiction, and Coca Cola. From my very brief time here I definitely disagree with the congestion. Even during rush hour there are far fewer cars and trucks on the streets than even Spokane. But I discovered their secret--the subway. Below street level are layers and layers of shops and subways. Imagine a sky scraper going underground rather than stories into the sky, and this is what Tokyo is built upon.

I've included a few photos today, including some of Hachiko's statue, which I traveled to via the Ginza Line all the way to Shibuya (a part of Tokyo).

quick quiz: what kind of dog is Hachiko? There is a prize for the first student to correctly answer this question, with the correct spelling, but the winner will have to wait until school starts to receive it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Great Book to Read Over the Summer and A Prize for Those Who Do

I highly recommend the book Hachiko Waits by Leslea Newman and Machiyo Kodaira. If you love dogs, you'll enjoy this book. It's only 96 pages and available in softcover. Any SGS student who reads this book and answers these three questions will receive a special present from me purchased in Japan. Here are the questions. Remember when you post to not click on the envelope icon but rather the "post your comments" link instead, and once you've done this to click Anonymous selection so that you do not have to put in your email address or register.

1. In 20 words tell what the story Hachiko Waits is about. Use exactly 20 words, no more, no less! Do not copy anyone else's 20 word summary.

2. If I were to have my fourth graders read this story next year, what should the focus be? In other words, what should the theme, the point of me having my students read it be? This might be to learn a lesson, to learn about Japan or Japanese culture, or something else. Explain your answer.

3. Research and tell me about a similar animal in our U.S. history. If you're not sure where to start looking ask your parents.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Japan Question of the Week

When you think of Japan, what comes to mind? Don't worry about spelling for this post. Just tell me what you think of--as many different things that come to mind.


Another Prize Opportunity

A prize goes out to the first student who can correctly answer the following question. Japan is about the same size as the state of __________________.

Please spell correctly!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How far will I travel? A prize for the correct answer

I leave Spokane on June 8th for San Francisco. The next day I leave from San Francisco to Tokyo. Approximately how many miles will I fly one way, from Spokane to Tokyo? The first student to post an answer within 100 miles wins a prize! I suggest you use the internet to calculate mileage. There are a number of places to try including or

Also, you might need to know the airport codes. Here they are: Spokane (GEG)
Tokyo/Narita--(NRT); San Francisco: (SFO) Note: are airport codes.

I'll need to receive the correct answer by Tuesday, June 3rd. There's a candy bar waiting for the winner. Please post your answers here and be sure to include your first name or initials. Miles, please!

Travel Tips

Many of you have traveled more often and to more places than I have. Do you have any travel tips for me? I have a long flight from San Francisco to Tokyo. What should I bring to keep me comfortable and entertained? Should I expect delicious food or bring my own? How about while I'm in Japan--any tips on great things to bring with me? Share please!