Wednesday, October 20, 2004


(Yet Another Pre-Dated Post)

Woo! Day off! It didn't come without a price, though: I had to use one day's nenkyu (personal holiday) to wait out the swiftly approaching typhoon in my apartment, rather than in the teacher's room at Nita JHS. The students get the day off, but the teachers still have to report for work, since, I guess, the typhoon won't be hitting Shimane until late this afternoon. It would have been boring, boring, boring with nothing constructive to do, precious little with which to amuse myself, and no nearby JTE to pester (Tane-sensei is attending a conference in Matsue all this week). At home at least I can do some laundry, maybe start cleaning my apartment, and play Civ III. And write this entry.

Yesterday my kids had exams all morning, and then went home after noon. We teachers were able to leave after 3:30pm. I spent at least an hour on The Flying Pig, and ordered a bunch of stuff (Mom, forget about the graham crackers, if it's not too late). I also graded some poems the students had written. Poems are difficult to grade, because some of the broken English is really quite poetic. The rules for the poems were that they should be five lines long, and the number of words in each line was to be 1/2/3/4/1 respectively, with the third line containing three descriptive words on the topic, and the fourth line being a short sentence.

Take this one, for example:
Wide sea
How far continue
See top sky blue

While not all of the students stuck to the 1/2/3/4/1 pattern, this one clearly intended to, and I didn't know 1) what the student intended to communicate in the fourth line, and 2) how to constrain a proper translation to four words. So I left it as it was, and gave the student an A. All of the students got A's, because all of the poems were complete; sometimes I receive partially completed assignments, and really those are the only ones that get less than an A from me. I correct mistakes, but as long as the students clearly make an effort, and didn't just slack off, they get full credit.

Most of the poems were about the sea, the sky, the night. Some were about sports, a few were about friends. A good quarter of them ended with "Wonderful." But a handful stuck out.

This poem cracked me up:
small beans.
beans. beans. beans.
beans is very delicious

I almost gave this one a lower grade for using the same word six times (more than half the poem), but I figured maybe this student was trying for the humor angle. And it made me laugh out loud. So an A it received.

The only war-themed poem:
Sad face
Crying sad injure
Bring the war to an end

Again, with this one, I didn't mind that the fourth line had two extra words. It's an excellent sentence (I'm guessing this student copied it out of something, but it's used correctly, which doesn't always happen), and, except to follow the rules which clearly weren't important to Tane nor myself, there was no reason to shorten it.

The last one amused me as much as the beans poem:
Hell life
dead or alive
But I love kendo

This one also almost received a low grade from me, because two students had submitted identical poems (with the same cursive handwriting--one of them had literally traced over the poem written by the other). But when I showed them to Tane-sensei, she said, "Ah, yes, they wrote it together." Well, if she was okay with it, how could I not be? She told me it's a "secret" because they don't want their kendo coach (who sits across from Tane) to find out that they described the sport as "hell life." I can't blame them—he's a pretty tough-looking guy. So mum's the word, okay?

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