An Early Morning Visitor – Aug. 2021

Hello everyone,

Summer vacation has started! I hope that you can relax and refresh during this time. Of course, some of you are still coming to school to study, do homework, take extra lessons, or meet with your club. Do your best!

I am here a few times this month as well to open the online English room afterschool. I also have a long “to-do” list of jobs I couldn’t finish during the first term. Also, the gym is free in the morning and I enjoy shooting some baskets and listening to music to start the day.

The other morning I arrived at work early and found that someone else was even earlier than I was…

This little guy was inside the school checking things out! I got him on a piece of newspaper and put him outside where he belongs, but later that morning I found another crab inside. Was it the same one? Was it a brother? Why are all these crabs so far from the ocean? Can we give him a name?

Anyway, enjoy your summer and see you in a few weeks.

The Olympics have started! – July 2021

Hello everyone,

This week we have parent-teacher meetings for three days, and then closing ceremony on Thursday. Hopefully you can use these three days to start your summer homework. The earlier you finish, the more time you have to relax!

The other thing you can do on these hot summer days is watch the Olympics on television. These Olympics have been controversial because of the corona virus, but now that they are happening I think we should support the athletes who have worked so hard.

Last night I enjoyed watching the judo competition. I don’t know much about judo, but the announcers were so excited because Japan’s althetes were doing so well. At the end of the day, I was amazed to see that a brother and sister, Uta Abe and her brother Hifumi, both win gold medals on the same night. Can you imagine how happy that family is today?

Hopefully there will be more positive stories to come from these games. Of course, there are negative points that need to be talked about too, but balancing both of these things should be our goal. Have a good week,


Hifumi with the pin.
Uta, after winning gold.
Brother and sister together at the end.

Long and Short vowels – July 2021

Hello everyone,

The term is almost finished, and we only have two more days of classes left. This week in my M1 class, we talked about long and short vowel sounds.

Unlike Japanese, which only has five vowel sounds, English has 20! So we took some time to practice some of the long vowel sounds that you see on the left, and the short vowel sounds you see on the right. How did we practice? By playing karuta of course.

After I said the card color, I said the vowel sound. Students had to be the fastest to get the card, and then hold it up for me to check. After we finished our karuta game we had 5 minutes left. So, what did we do?

We made card towers of course!

The next two days are holidays, Ocean Day and Sports Day. You can watch the start of the Olympics if you like. See you on Saturday!

CNN News Training – July 2021

Hello everyone,

Your tests are finished and summer vacation is coming soon. You only have a couple weeks left. During this time we try and have some different events and speakers. For example, in my M3 class today, we will listen to Mr. Yuasa talk about Nagasaki because of our trip there in November.

For my H3A class, they will soon start their news training in their online lessons. Before the lesson they will read a news item. For example, this week is about protests in Thailand:

Then, they will think about the topic, and also how it relates to themselves in Japan:

I think that by studying many different topics from around the world, my students can reach a better understanding of what is happening outside Japan, and how it relates to their lives in Japan.

Have a good week!

New beginnings… – July 2021

Hello everyone,

Today is the first day of the term one final exams. I hope you have done your best and are ready to show your teachers what you have learned. Good luck!

Two days ago I was walking to the store to buy lunch, and I heard a lot of noise from Yakatamachi Church. After finishing my purchase I walked over and took a look. Here is a picture of what I saw:

I knew that there were plans to build a new church, and that on Sundays the church was using our school chapel for their services, but I didn’t realize it was going to start so soon!

There are a lot of memories in that building for both the congregation and our students. We have held many services there, and it was a hub for the Shin-ai community. Of course, it will be exciting when the new church is completed a year from now. However, there is still nostalgia for the old one.

Hopefully the construction goes well, and we can celebrate together in the new church in 2022. Have a good week,


Record Heat in Canada… in June?! – June 2021

June 30th update… here was the weather today. Scary stuff…

Hello everyone,

We are close to the end of June, and so far the weather in Japan has not been too hot! I know that it will be hot soon, but I’ve been happy to enjoy a cool month. Unfortunately, not everywhere has had the same luck.

Every Sunday I call my mother and grandmother in Canada. We talk about small things, like the our jobs and what happened in our families during the week. But, last Sunday when I called, we only talked about the weather.

Right now in Western Canada there is a “heat dome”. This is when hot weather is trapped in one place and pushes down, making very hot weather. Yesterday, Canada recorded the hottest temperature – ever – … 46.1! See that pink dot? That is where my mother and father live.

The hot weather will continue for another few days. Communities are setting up “cooling stations” in libraries and community centers because most houses in this area do not have air conditioning. In fact, I never lived in a house with air conditioning until I moved to Japan at 25 years old!

I am worried about my grandmother, who turns 93 years old this week. I am also worried about many animals, such as my parents’ horses, which are not used to this weather. Hopefully everything turns out ok. There is still July and August to come…


Cell Phones at School – Jun. 2021

Hello everyone,

Today is Monday, and after morning classes we now have homeroom time in the afternoon. The high school students are talking about their new student council, and the junior high school students have study time. There are only 4 days until final exams, so this is a good chance for my class to finish any homework and start their review.

When I came up to the classroom at the end of lunch time, I saw many different groups talking together. I thought it looked like a happy place, because everyone was talking together face to face.

I know some other school allow students to use cell phones during lunch time and afterschool. I feel a little bad for those students, however, because every moment more that they spend on their phone is a moment less they are making connections with their classmates.

Not such an interesting school life…

Of course, students use their phones after they go home, and on weekends, and on holidays, and… and… and. But, it is nice to have a time and place away from the screens, a place to laugh and shout and be silly and be a kid. That is as important as what we learn between the covers of our books.

30 Day Challenge Update – Jun. 2021

Hello everyone,

Well, final exams are only one week away. Are you getting ready? A few weeks ago I wrote about the idea of “30-day challenges” as a way to try something new. Today I want to give you an update on my class.

For M3C, their challenge was to write about the “key point” of each of their lessons everyday. I made a special book with the schedule on the front, and then space for each lesson. The idea was that writing down the important point for each lesson will make it easier to study for exams, because all the important ideas would be in the same place.

At the end of each day, Higashi-sensei and I collect the books and give them a check and a stamp. It is tough work for students, but they are doing really well. Let’s take a look!

Here is the front page with the schedule.
Here is the social studies page.
Here is another girl’s Math 1 page. Looks difficult!
M3 students started studying Japanese classics this year.
Here is a page about Mr. Kitano’s biology lessons.

There are only 7 more days to go in this 30 day challenge. I hope my students can make it to the finish line, and I also hope that taking these notes will help them study for their exams. Good luck everyone!

M3 Recreation Day – Jun. 2021

Hello everyone,

It is a rainy Saturday today, and I am getting ready for the grade 3 parent/teacher meeting afterschool. Yesterday we had a day off, because on Thursday each grade had an activity event. H1 went to Adventure World in Shirahama, M2 went to Minabe, and H3… well they studied at school. Fight!

M3 students were also at school, but there were no classes. Instead, we had a movie day with snacks. Before that we held a quiz show for all students in the hall. Each of the M3 teachers came up with questions, and students had to answer on their ipads. It was noisy, and it was fun, so here are some pictures!

Getting the team names ready on the projector.
Getting ready to answer on their ipad.
What is my full name? Shocking answers…
Mr. Kitano giving his questions.

Now, finals tests are coming soon. Time to get ready for the last study push!

Student Teachers – June 2021

Hello everyone,

Starting last week we have some guests at our school. Ten young women are here as student teachers to do three weeks of “on-the-job” training. For these three weeks they will watch lessons, and then practice teaching their own. They will also learn about what teachers do outside the classroom, such as preparation and taking care of the class paperwork.

For students, this is a good chance to talk to Shin-ai graduates. Four years ago they were studying hard as high school seniors. They have a lot of important experience and memories of our school that they can share with you. Take some time to talk to them and you can get some good advice.

For student teachers, these three weeks will be a very different rhythm than you are used to as university students. Maybe your feet will be tired the first week. Do your best, ask lots of questions, and enjoy being back at Shin-ai for this short time.

For teachers, it is a chance to see how some of our former students have grown up into adults. From Sports Day relay champion…

To a P.E. teacher in the making!

Good luck!