Category Archives: instruction

Not Hemingway’s, but Japan’s Own Iceberg Theory


Hemingway might have coined the term but, today I’m writing about the complexity in dealing with an omission of character or speech that I will call The Japanese Iceberg Theory. What am rambling about? It mainly concerns teaching students that don’t give you back a lot of personality or conversation. I’m talking about Japan, so this entry will help you if you teach English in Japan. If you plan to work in Japan, teaching English you’ll benefit too.

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The Secret to a Great Lesson is a Math Formula?!?!

climbing up to the top

I mentioned in an earlier post that I changed regions recently. I am having a blast meeting new people and working with new coworkers. I have gotten very comfortable as of recent. I, however, was not so comfortable in the beginning.

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何でやねん! What the hell was that!?

The Little Joke Book

(Photo credit: Peacock Modern)

His palms were sweaty as he looked up from the textbook. It was just before class. He was beyond nervous. One teacher, with a plastic smile on top of unsuccessfully veiled nervousness, starts a strained conversation. He starts to feel his uneasiness growing. It’s too the point where he has to stand up and break away. Not understanding half of what this teacher is saying is making things worse; He stands without any idea of how to get out of the situation and decides to quickly make it for the bathroom without a word. The teacher with a big daft grin shouts out, “Are you a ninja?” The smile remains but the others in the room look puzzled and unsure about any kind of response. Continue reading

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Filed under comedy, instruction, Japan, language, learning, pedagogy

Prison Break out of the system.

Michael Scofield

Michael Scofield (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I’m breaking you out of here.”

A system affords a certain security. Depending on the type of system we are referring, that security comes in many different forms. If we talk about a prison then that security is an assurance each prisoner stays there for the remainder of their sentence. As a society, we want to ensure this system doesn’t fail.

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July 22, 2013 · 3:49 am

What is a journey of endurance?

Another pot of coffee brewing at 6 in the morning to make up for the night before, studying, planning, and researching until 1 in the morning. Black jolting liquid is my savior. The shower slightly wakes me up, but the drive to the local high school yields much more. I am in the midst of a project for a class that demonstrates I can help a student with reading.

So I revisit my first topic of this blog (slightly ironic now, isn’t it.) What is a journey of endurance? As I look at the progress of where I’ve come with my undergraduate degree, I see the answer to this question much more clearly. This is the second time I’ve done a project on reading: the first was an assessment of my personal reading strategies; the second, in progress, is an application of these skills and stratagems for a student. Reading is dense; reading is complex; reading is… fascinating.

What do we do when we read? As an English major, sometimes it is hard to describe the process of reading; When one is good at it, the more subconscious the act becomes, and therefore hard to explain. Well to explain these processes, here is a list of traits from a “dependent reader” (a reader who has not deduced the acts required for reading, relying on the teacher to help with comprehension.) This list has been adapted from Kylene Beers’ research in her book titled When Kids Can’t Read: What Teachers Can Do. 1

Dependent readers

  • Struggle recognizing both single-syllable words, and multisyllable words (decoding text)
  • has little to no strategies of what to do when words are unknown
  • does not use context in the text to figure out an unknown word
  • does not use knowledge of word parts to figure out unknown words (i.e. vivacious; viva, long live + cious, adjectival modifier = being lively in manner; animated)
  • reads slowly, and loses the meaning of the text
  • focuses on the act of decoding without emphasis on comprehending the passages
  • reads too fast or slow, ignoring punctuation
  • does not predict what will happen or ask questions about the text
  • reads to finish, not to understand
  • cannot develop questions about the text
  • does not understand how literary terms are used in the text
  • Think good readers are born that way and reading is unteachable. 

This is but a few of the traits of a “dependent reader.” Did I know I was doing this when I read? Not a chance! When I was younger, I merely read things and either understood or gave up. I had no stratagems to attack the material I was reading. Well this is what I mean by a journey of endurance. Taking a path that is hard and difficult in order to become better at something. As I conduct this second project in reading, I see a lot of traits from my childhood in the student I am working with. Now is his journey, I can only show him the path.

1 Beers, G. Kylene. When Kids Can’t Read, What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003.

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Filed under endurance, instruction, pedagogy, reading