Itchu is the nickname for Murakami Daiichi Chuugakkou which itself means “Murakami First Junior High School.” Itchu is how it sounds when you say ichi and chuu together as a shortened version of the whole name. So, here I am at school, at my desk. Today is my second day here, of what have been the first days that feel like real work. Yesterday I planned what my introduction lesson was going to be, and made a bunch of materials. I basically printed out about 30 photos of my doing various things in Alaska and of family and places, and then wrote sentences for each photo. I even changed the structure of the sentences to be appropriate to the level of the students. 1st graders (what we would think of as 7th graders, but they are first graders in the three grade junior high system. It’s like calling them freshmen, basically) got simple words like ‘dog,’ ‘house,’ and ‘glacier,’ although there was some serious confusion between ‘glacier’ and ‘snow’ when I had the students use the photos and sentences in a game. The second and third graders got progressively harder sentences that incorporated things like ‘to’ infinitives, and the past perfect ‘have been.’
Today I did this in four different classes. First, in class with my supervisor, who is pretty good, then two classes with another female teacher, then one with the head English teacher, a man. It went pretty well in all of them, I think. Basically I talked about Alaska and stuff and then showed them the photos. Then I passed out photos to half of the class, and matching sentences to the other half. They had to find the person with the photo or sentence that matched. Like I said, the photo of snow covered mountains and the photo of me and Sienna and James on a glacier were for some reason very difficult for the students to distinguish between “Winter in Alaska is cold” and “Glaciers are fun to climb on.” Funny, cause the photo of us on the Glacier was taken in August.
Anyway, it is nice to have the internet here at school, but I can’t really let my hair down and do whatever I want. Today and tomorrow for some reason school gets out early, so I have a lot more time in the afternoon to just sort of kill time. I can go outside and play with the kids, but I didn’t bring any outdoor clothes today, so I will probably do that tomorrow.
I will put up a few photos just to give an idea of the place. I’ll do a proper upload with captions to pbase in a week or so, but for now I just want to put some photos on this blog!
This is a view of Murakami looking toward the Northwest. The river there is the Miomote River. You can see my apartment near the bottom. It’s the only flattish bright silver roof near the bottom middle, right above the trees. The photo was taken from the top of Oshiroyama, Castle Mountain, which is about a 10 minute run to the top from my apartment.
This is a view from the back of my apartment, to the left. That’s the little road that dead ends in our ‘neighborhood’ of sorts. Dead end street means it’s pretty quiet. Actually, if you look straight out the back of the window, there is a small bamboo grove that I have another great picture of.