Monday, 16 February 2009


Searching through my bookmarks for a site to help me with some inspirational lessons for Year 8 Japanese, I came across MapSkip. Although I had no recollection of actually bookmarking it, it seemed to be kind of what I was looking for.

What I was looking for was a site with maps that you could add placemarks and write content into the marker. Like google maps but more... On examination I found several reasons to like MapSkip:

  1. It's relatively easy to create student accounts - just remember to tick the box indicating you are a teacher when you sign up. Student accounts are created through your account and their email is not needed. Sounds good so far. It does look like creating the accounts may take a little time though.
  2. You can allow or block 'outsiders' from commenting on your student's stories. You can also filter the maps on the site so that you only see stories created by the teacher and students.
  3. Not only can you add pictures but also audio and video content.
So, it allows you to add placemarks to a map and write stories at that spot which can include audio, video and pictures. What's more (for me) is that it will accept the Japanese script.

The story I want my students to tell is of their assigned character. Perhaps get them to used their favourite stuffed toy as Langwitches has done with Jose the Travel Bear. Take pictures in various locations and then write the story in the target language, add narration in the target language or even video. Of course, this would be really good if you were going on an overseas trip. Take photos of the toy in famous spots (see above picture from our 2007 Japan trip), add video or even interview the locals in their language. Lots of possibilities but I think I'll try local first.

There seems to be a lot of potential here ... but I'll need to use the site a little more first.

Any ther ideas?

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Valentine's Day - Japan style

Honmei-choko, giri-choko & eko-choko.Chocolate, chocolate everywhere...
The Japanese have always been pretty good at adapting ideas from other countries to use in their own land, or re-package and even re-sell. In fact, as part of the modernisation process of the country people were sent all over the world to look at school systems, political systems, etc - but we'll leave that for another time. Valentine's Day seems to have appeared in Japan in the mid 20th Century and since then has been turned into a marketer's dream. How's it work ...
February 14th is Valentine's Day. This is the day that girls / women give chocolates to boys / men. "Honmei-choko" refers to chocolates given to boyfiends. On top of that there is also "giri-choko". The word "giri" in Japanese implies an obligation of some sort. Therefore, "giri-choko" are given to the boss or males who you wish to show "gratitude" to. This could well include people (ie a section head or boss) that you really do not like. An ideal quite typical of relationships between people in Japan. "Eko-choko" is new to me, but apparently an attempt to make the wrapping of Valentine gifts more ecologically friendly. The Japanese are renowned for using copious amounts of paper to wrap presents.
But wait there's more... March 14th is when commercialism is taken over the top. That's the day, known as "white day", when males return the favour and buy confectionery (originally marshmellows, hence the name "white day") for the females who they received chocolates from. I assume that this can get complicated.

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