Phonics Shmup: Rebuilding in Unity

phonics shmup unityI was thinking about the fact that my students are young and Japanese, and more easily impressed by flashy things than non-flashy ones. I am not a graphic artist, really, so I decided to rebuild my phonics shmup in Unity — the ease of grabbing things from the asset store makes it much easier to create something visually appealing.

I’ve spent the last several days learning Unity, and imagine my luck at finding that one of their introductory tutorials is a space shmup. The assets they provide with it are free to use, too.

If I were planning to sell this game, I would care about using assets from one of Unity’s tutorials; who wants to release a commercial game using assets that most Unity developers will recognize? But I’m not. This is going to be free, intended for educational purposes, and what I really care about is the likelihood that my kids (and the students of anyone else who wants to use it) will want to play it. For that purpose, these graphics are fine.

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Phonics shmup progress, 3/8 and 3/14

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 11.31.17 AM

I am trying to get in the habit of changing how I talk about this project, since apparently shmups don’t count as shooters to some people. The way I see it, you’re shooting things, ergo it is a shooter, but I prefer to use terms in standard ways, so here we are. Anyway, I’ve had two days in the past week where I put in a decent amount of work on my shmup for teaching phonics… in spite of being down one hand for a new repetitive motion injury. Enemies are now a thing, though nothing hurts anything else.

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Graduations and appreciations

Graduation season has rolled around again here in Japan. I don’t remember how much I’ve talked about graduations on here offhand, but today was the graduation at my elementary school. Back home, the idea of graduation from elementary school seems silly, but here in Japan it’s a big rite of passage. As part of the ceremony at my elementary school, the students make a short speech after they get their diplomas, thanking their parents for raising them up that point. After that, they go to meet their parents in the audience and hand off the diploma, a gift from the PTA (which has been a Japanese-English dictionary every year that I’ve been here), and a small bouquet of flowers they receive so that they can go back to their seats and do their part in the rest of the ceremony unencumbered. Continue reading

School Festival, Part 2: We are SINGER!!

paper cutout by Mr. Genki

Okay, the students didn’t say that. I’m making titles up now. But I see no reason not to continue the grammatically incorrect titling. Besides, I’m about to talk about the students’ singing. With a bit about their music education in general.

This is the second post I’ve written about this year’s school festival. If you want to read the first, it’s over here.

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School Festival: We are HERO!!

Stained-glass style banner the students hung just inside the school's main entrance.

The kids insisted on being grammatically incorrect.

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. I’ve been busy — I’m now writing articles for IndieGames.com regularly, I went to Tokyo Game Show (the first event of its kind I’ve ever been to), I came back from Tokyo Game Show with a cold which caused minimal discomfort but a fever that kept me out of work for 3 days, and this past Sunday my junior high school had its annual school festival. This is the first time I’ve been to one of my school’s festivals without having been around for most of the weeks of practice since right after I first got here, which made it an event of mixed feelings. A big part of the reason I missed so much of the prep time was Tokyo Game Show and the cold it gave me, but I’m also not at all sorry for going to Tokyo Game Show.

>_>

Anyway, read on if you want to find out about all the neat stuff my students did for their festival. Here’s a list of the general flow of the day, with details starting after the break. This will be the first of multiple posts.

  • Free performances by grade
  • Choir performances by grade
  • PTA Choir performance
  • Random performances (optional)
  • Lunch
  • Dance performances (all grades)
  • Play performance (all grades)

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ALT Resources I Made

I make a lot of stuff for my classes. Some of it is great, some of it sucks, some can be reused, and others are just one-time things. The ones that can be reused aren’t always things I feel others would want, but I have come up with a few things I’d like to share in case my fellow ALTs — JET or otherwise — can make use of them.

I was going to upload three things today, but LibreOffice hates me, so there are only two.

Hi, Friends! Lesson Goals Translation

Any ALT working in elementary schools should be familiar with the Hi, Friends! textbooks by now. Not all of us have to use them, I suspect, since they are designed for use by native Japanese people who speak no English. Even if an ALT doesn’t have to use the Hi, Friends! textbooks, I think he or she can benefit from knowing what the goals are for each chapter — and for those of us who do have to use the textbooks, understanding the lesson goals is kinda necessary.

Unfortunately for any ALT who doesn’t speak/read Japanese, these books aren’t listed in English anywhere. So I translated the lesson goals. I haven’t translated the instructions for every activity in the books (and I may not ever get to that), but knowing what the lesson is aiming for is still pretty big.

Download: HF Lesson Goal Translations (PDF)

Two JTEs and one ALT in a small school ~ cooperation ~

I was going through my desk one day and found a thick packet written by a JTE who lived and worked in Nakagawa at least three ALTs before my time. It was made for a workshop about ALTs and JTEs working together. Although some of the things are unlikely to apply to most ALTs and some of it is just outdated, there is still a lot of good information in there. I modified all the names in retyping it, but it’s otherwise a pretty direct copy of the original.

Download: Two JTEs and one ALT in a small school (PDF)

 

My Students are Awesome

I don’t know the third person in this conversation — I assume it’s one of my student’s new friends at his high school. Still, I’m pretty damn proud of him right now. His English really is clunky at best, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t try. I can’t take all the credit for this; my JET predecessor was better at encouraging the students to try than I am, I think. But still. <3 This made me very, very happy.

awsome student on Facebook

Letter to My Graduating Students

Spring is here, and with it the end of the Japanese school year. I have been asked to write a letter to my students, which will appear in what is, as far as I can tell from the explanation I was given, their yearbook.

Spring 2013

Dear graduating students,

What are your dreams? How will you make them come true? These are questions which only you can answer. You’ll still see the friends you are leaving now, and they’ll still support you as much as the can. You’ll make new friends and they’ll support you, too. But if you want your dreams to come true, you must make use of all the tools at your disposal.

Think of Link, from the Legend of Zelda games. In every Zelda game, he has two main goals. One is to save Princess Zelda and the other is to keep the Triforce out of Ganondorf’s hands. How does he accomplish those goals? He uses various equipment. Continue reading