The QiRanger Adventures

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

When you get it right…

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How mornings start...

I love teaching… I really do. As we start off the new term, I had a great moment last night. Long-time readers will remember that during the Summer Intensive session, I taught a custom speaking class. It was designed to assist elementary students gain confidence in their public speaking abilities. Two of those students were in my class last night as we began the first lesson in their new level.

Since the material is rather light for Lesson 1, I incorporated a brief lesson on public speaking. I did this for two reasons: 1) Students at this level are asked to prepare longer presentations in class (and I expect more out of them); 2) Twice a year we hold speaking competitions for children at this level and above.

The two students that were in my class were very happy to see that Topic #1 from summer class was the same as the topic I assigned for homework. They not only took time to convince the rest of the class that giving a 2-minute speech was easy, but also asked if they could use the speech they prepared from summer.

I was already proud of them for doing such a great job this summer… but this made me even more so.

Tonight, I teach my first science class. I hope these students are as open to giving presentations as these younger ones. I love science and can’t wait to immerse myself once more into its world.

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Written by Steve Miller

September 7, 2010 at 7:03 am

Typing in Korean

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So you’ve made it to Korea. You’re here, enjoying the sights and sounds of the country you’ll be living and working in, and have even taken the next step and taken up learning Korean. But you keep running into problems when trying to type on your western-style keyboard.

If you have a Mac, you actually have a few options that will make it easier for you to type in Korean (not only for vocabulary practice, but when searching).

To activate the Korean language inputs on your computer, head up to the menu bar on your Mac. You’ll see the current language set. As you can see in this picture, my current language is set to English (US). I’ve also a few other languages.






If you don’t have anything, but English selected (or your native language), hit the Open International option to bring up the menu.






This brings up a preference menu that allows you to toggle which languages you’d like to be able to type in on the computer. As you can see, there are several options for different kinds of input for Korean. I recommend selecting two: 2-Set Korean and HNC Romanja.








Simply close this window and go back the menu bar, and you’ll find your two new additions. The 2-Set Korean transforms your keyboard into the standard Korean input (that you see on every computer in Korea). This is great for learning touch-typing, but for Western computers with Latin characters, it doesn’t do us any good, since we don’t have the characters on our keyboard. Thankfully, there’s a virtual keyboard available. Just click on the Show Keyboard Viewer and it will pop up on your screen.





There it is!






However, since this can be quite slow, I usually opt for the HNC Romanja. This allows you to input Latin letters and the computer changes them into Hanguel. Check it out:

  • ng = ㅇ
  • ss = ㅆ
  • ai = ㅐ
  • ngue = 워
  • gamsamhabnida = 감사합니다
  • ngannyenghaseingyo = 안녕하세요

It does take a little time getting used to (especially when writing the more complicated sequences), but when trying to translate something or enter data, it is quite handy!

Written by Steve Miller

September 2, 2010 at 8:36 am

One down…

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It’s hard to believe, but another term at school is coming to a close. Three months of education have passed and my students are all taking their mid-terms and finals this week. It’s really been interesting to see the changes that occurred in all my classes this term.

One of the more frustrated things I deal with falls within the realm of reading and comprehension. This mainly is due to the young nature of my students who don’t equate looking at a page and while the CD is playing as actually reading and listening to the material. The former results in students completing homework, but being unable to actually read the stories or answer questions about something they’ve supposedly read five times in the course of a week.

For the past three months, I did something a little different. Each class started off with an open-book quiz. I’d pick five questions related to the homework reading and give students five minutes to complete the quiz. Students that successfully answered all the questions correctly would earn an additional 20 points for their team.

By the end of the term, students in the higher level classes were consistently earning 100% on these quizzes. In cases where students scored less, it was because they didn’t do the homework at all. I’m quite pleased with the efficacy of my students and am looking forward to those that are advancing to the next level starting September 1st.

With the new term also brings some added responsibility on my part. For the past 15 months, I’ve been teaching reading comprehension and speaking (both of which I really enjoy), but I’ll be getting two, new middle school classes: World History and Science. It will mark the first time I’ve taught a subject based course in Korea, but I’m really looking forward to this new challenge.

Having a science background, I’m eagerly looking forward to discussing science and its application to the natural world. I fondly recall my time back in the 1990s when I had my own lab and taught Human A&P and Invertebrate Zoology. They were so much fun. Now I get to tackle a wider range of science topics, ranging from ecology to physics.

Then there’s the world history class. Oh, how I love history and bringing in relationships to present day situations to see how they’ve unfolded over the years. Furthermore, I love digging deeper into details to uncover the hidden stories to make events clearer. History is such a great format for story telling, I can’t wait to have a class where I can read, discuss, and present the wonder that is our world.

So as I leave you on this fine day, what was your favorite class in school and why?

Written by Steve Miller

August 26, 2010 at 8:06 am

It’s on…

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Bam!

For the past twelve working days, I’ve been teaching Summer Intensives (like Summer School). While I enjoy teaching, and in fact, got to write my own curriculum this time, what I really didn’t like was how it impacted my days.

Normally, I don’t start work until around 4pm (sure I go in a bit early, but that’s my choice). Having morning classes and then going back in the afternoon, really took its toll on me, since I’m used to taking it easy in the morning and also having time to go into Seoul if needed. Plus, after putting in a few hours in the morning, grabbing a quick bite to eat, and then looking at returning to the office an hour later, really inhibited my language learning time.

Granted, I have not been all that motivated at learning either Korean or Hangeul since Jo’s been here. But that’s changing. I am really motivated to take some extra time out of my day and learn both languages. An emphasis will be placed on Tagalog, since we’ll be returning to the Philippines for Christmas/New Year’s and I really want to be semi-fluent by then. Granted almost everyone in the Philippines speaks English, but I really enjoy learning languages and want to be able to converse with those that might not be comfortable speaking in English. I’m also looking forward to resuming my Rosetta Stone and TTMIK series (I erased my previous account with Rosetta Stone and started from scratch).

As of today, I’ve completed one lesson in both languages. That sounds more impressive that it really is, since they’re both review for me (I’ve done them many times). What I really appreciated was having Jo by my side correcting every little pronunciation as I was trying my hat at Tagalog. I hope with her expert instruction, I can really wow her mother and sisters.

Question: If you could learn any new language, what would it be?

English Lesson: Reductions

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Recently, our school participated in an event where each class had to create a UCC (user created content). While my Summer intensive class was exempt, my students wanted to participate and decided on the topic of reductions.

Written by Steve Miller

August 14, 2010 at 4:00 am

Travel Videos: Music

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Tunes!

There are several things that go into making a good travel video, and one of them is music. I’m not a musician and have very little talent in this area, but I do know that adding a layer of music to the finished project enhances the experience to the viewer. But using music in videos is quite tricky.

If you’re making something for home use, you can pretty much do what you’d like, since no one will see the final project. However, if you’re like me, and want to put the video up on YouTube (or in public), there are several things to consider.

First, you need to pick music that fits the subject matter. Second, you must have the rights to use the music. It’s the latter where many get into trouble. As a content provider on YouTube, one can pretty much use any music you find, since YouTube has made agreements with the major record labels. But as was seen with BMG, these deals can cause some headaches down the road. You see, for a while, BMG allowed songs to be used on YouTube. Then they stopped. So if your video used one of their songs, then all of a sudden, it was pulled. It created a huge headache for content providers.

A better road to travel down is using Creative Commons licensed music. But here, there is also a problem. Many artists will allow you to use their music for free, provided it’s not for commercial purposes. This is great most of the time, but I make some money on my videos by using AdSense, which is a commercial endeavor. As such, I can’t use Creative Commons licensed tracks without extra permission.

What I end up doing is using Royalty Free music. iMovie comes loaded with a ton of tracks and I can create my own in Garage Band. Don’t have a Mac? Don’t worry! Most of the time I use music from Kevin MacLeod or Jason Shaw. Both have hundreds of songs you can use and they only ask that you credit them. There are also other options, like using Sonic Fire from SmartSound, too.

In short, use your music to accent the final piece. Make sure it fits and complements the project. Overall, you’ll end up with a great product.

Next week: Research

Written by Steve Miller

July 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Travel Videos: The Camera

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The Canon HFS11

Back in the US, there’s a little thing taking place this weekend called VidCon. It’s a conference, unlike any other YouTube gathering in the past, because it isn’t a gathering. It’s a professional development conference designed to help YouTubers make it big online. While I’m not big by any means, I do get a lot of questions regarding how I make my travel videos. So I thought I’d begin a new weekly series explaining the process.

The first in the series, as you can no doubt tell by the title, is about cameras.

I think of of the pitfalls people get into when they decide to make travel blogs or travel videos, is that they go out and spend a lot of money on a camera. I cannot more strongly disagree with that line of thinking. Sure, the better the camera, the more features and better the images will be. However, that doesn’t translate to having better content.

Really spend the time getting to know your camera. Changing the white balance, shooting settings, and other features may take time to learn, but in the long run, can make a huge difference in the product you produce. I’ve shot videos with my Canon HFS11 and my point-and-shoot camera. Both produce great videos. Only invest in a high-end camera when you want to take your production “to the next level.” That means, you want to be semi-pro. If you’re shooting videos to chronicle your trip, there’s no need for a $1500 camera. A regular camera will do.

Probably one of the most important thing to keep in mind when selecting a camera to shoot with is the filming rate. HD is all the rage these days, but isn’t a necessity. Choose a resolution that’s at least 640×480 and at least 30 frames per second (fps). This is key, since less than 30fps makes things a little hard to see when you’re moving the camera around. (Note: PAL is 25fps and Cinema is 24fps.)

If you do buy a regular camcorder, you may want to invest in a wide angle lens down the road. While these new HD cameras are great, sometimes shooting up close is quite difficult. for example, even with my long arms, it’s tough getting my face in-frame without a wide angle lens adapter.

If you have any questions, drop them in the comment section below and I’ll be happy to address them. I will not comment on brand recommendations, however. Most cameras will do the trick for everyday travel videos, and if you have specific questions about a model you’re interested in, I’m sure you this has the answer you’re looking for! That being said, if you have specific questions about the Canon HFS11, I’d be happy to discuss my experiences with it.

Next Week: Music

Written by Steve Miller

July 10, 2010 at 7:33 am