Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer Camp (And some stuff on MERS)

I am so behind on updates it's ridiculous.

So. MERS. I'm sure most of you back home haven't heard much about it. Google it, freak out on my behalf and then PLEASE take a deep breath. I'm alive. My school has stopped checking everyone's temperatures in the morning, while class representatives line up with signs and face masks (creepy, imho).

All's well. Sort of. Well, it could be better, but the situation has been improving. So, think positive!

We're about a month away from summer break in Korean schools, which means one big thing for me -- English Camp!

I was nervous my first time planning, but after finding my mojo during winter camp I'm pretty excited. I've heard of other English teachers stressing out over it, and I do admit that planning will come with some level of stress, but I look at it like planning any other children's activity group -- just with English language and Western culture thrown into the mix.

Another note, my co-teacher pretty much took the lead in planning our first camp together. I was still new to it, and whenever I made a suggestion it didn't go over very well. But, the next camp I wrote out this detailed plan of activities and a theme, and sent it to her in advance. It was my way of showing what I was capable of, and I was successful because this year when I mentioned I was planning the summer camp she trusted me to work on the details alone.

So, let's say you're planning an English Camp in Korea for the first time and have no idea where to start. Here are some of my thoughts on the whole planning thing:

Movies: Some say yes, others say "you're lazy". I say, it depends. I've used them in a way that compliments the English/Culture learning. English camp is not just about learning words, but also familiarizing your students with the world they come from. Lazy? Only if you don't have any reason to show a movie other than "to fill up some time". If your school is fine with it, why not?

Themes: You can apply things to a theme that might not always appear to connect at first. Do a little creative thinking. Just like a good story has multiple layers to it, your camp can too. I don't mean make it complicated, but just look at your theme from a different angle. Take Christmas as a theme, for example. You can stick with Santa OR you can talk about Santa Claus and Claus figures around the world. Then, you can jump off from there and do even more. Also, sometimes there are things about your culture that are very new to your students even if they're old news to you. Use that to your advantage.  

Prep-Work: If it's something the students could do themselves, in most cases you should just let them do it. You don't have to cut everything out and assemble it for them. This is camp, not a birthday party. You have time and the kids are happy to do it. Turn on some music, and let them go at it.  

Materials: Sometimes things that are cheap back home are pricey and hard to find in Korea. This means looking for alternatives or simplifying your activity. We made dream catchers last year, which we made with small plates, yarn and paper. It doesn't have to be the aesthetically best of the best. It just has to keep the kids entertained and busy.

Efficiency: Your students don't have to be doing something "planned" every minute of camp. At least mine don't. I've always enjoyed schedules that had some elbow room. Plus, there's always the chance that something you planned ends up being a flop. It's easier to let go of the failures and move on to something else if you're open to the idea of failure and hiccups.

Ok. Thoughts, done. Thanks for reading. It's probably not a very fun post to read, but hope you found it useful.

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