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!

30 Day Challenges – Jun. 2021

Hello everyone,

Today you get a double dose of English Compass! It is June 1st, and you have just finished your mid-term tests. This year, the schedule is very tight, and the final tests are only a month away.

Yesterday in LHR time, I was talking about this with my class. Then, I showed them one of my favorite TED Talks. TED Talks are short speeches about many different topics. This one was about self-improvement by an employee at Google named Matt Cutts. He has the idea that if you have a new challenge every 30 days, you can make new memories and improve yourself. Check it out:

As you can see, in his video he has tried to both add things, and subtract things. For example, he added:

  • walking 10,000 steps everyday,
  • writing everyday,
  • take a picture everyday.

He subtracted:

  • No twitter
  • No sugar
  • No caffeine

His main point was that every month with a new challenge became a strong memory for him, because each month was different. He also said that big, crazy changes didn’t continue after one month, but he could continue small changes. He loves his sugar, but he still rides his bicycle to work.

So, now you have one month until your final tests. What are you going to challenge in the next 30 days? Please tell me. As for me, I will tell you about my challenge on July 1st.

Have a good day!

中1 Students, use your voice! – Jun. 2021

Good morning everyone,

It is a beautiful June morning today. Teachers are still busy finishing the mid-term test points and paperwork, so students are not allowed inside the teachers room until Thursday. That means Mr. Allen is doing a lot of homework delivery from the door to teachers’ desks in the morning! This morning, many M1 students needed some help.

It is no problem, and I am happy to help, but you need to use your big voice! Check out the sign by the office door. It tells you what you need to say. Sometimes new students just wait by the door and don’t say anything. I can’t help you if you don’t use your voice!

I know it is difficult the first time, but with practice you will be just fine. Don’t forget to add “Please” and “Thank you” when you get help. Do your best, and have a great week!