Saturday, October 30, 2010

GRE Studying

Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?
Can't I use my wit as a pitchfork
And drive the brute off?

-"Toads," Philip Larkin

Friday, October 29, 2010

Two weeks before I'm registered to take the GRE Subject test in English Literature, I finally took a timed practice test.

And y'know what? I did pretty okay. I haven't really been studying so much as I've been watching "Supernatural" while making approximately 2 flashcards per hour, so I gotta say, it feels pretty good.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

So it turns out that there's a big entrance exam for POSTECH today and tomorrow, and lots of other Big Important Tests in the coming week. So I decided to let my kids choose whether they want to self-study or watch a movie in the second half of class. So far, one class chose movie and one class chose self-study.

I've just finished making the rounds ("do you have any English questions?") in the self-study class. I left the room for a minute to go get the worksheets I graded (or more accurately, "corrected") from last week. Upon my return, I find that the numbers are as follows:

11 students are asleep
(3 are at least making an effort to hide it -- holding a book upright, or shielding their closed eyes behind a hand. The rest are just plain passed out at their desks. One seriously even has a pillow).
4 students are legit studying
1 student is reading a book that is clearly unrelated to her work.
1 student is assembling and disassembling a mechanical pencil over and over

And, okay, so here's the thing. They're clearly exhausted. I don't have a real lesson for them. And honestly, whether or not they learn about American Halloween traditions is probably not going to have much effect on their lives. it cool if I just let them stay passed out until the lunch bell rings in 15 minutes?

Halloween Lessons, 2nd grade

Dear Second Grade,

Back when you were very sweet first graders, we watched "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" for Halloween. Most of you really liked it, told me you'd like to watch more, and participated fully in discussions, written responses, and games that went with it.
Now that you're sullen second-semester second graders, now that you seem to hate every English lesson from grammar to music videos because you're just flat-out done with high school, I'm giving up for the Halloween lesson. We're watching "Addams Family Values" with English subtitles.

You would have loved this a year ago. But you'll probably hate it. You'll say it's too old, too boring, too something.

Guess what? Too bad. It's not me, it's you. And I, for one, would like to see "Addams Family Values." Because today is Wednesday, and there is nothing that can make me as happy as a fat baby with a mustache.

The Management

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Lessons

We interrupt your regularly scheduled lessons to bring you a lesson that involves "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

Oh, no need to applaud. You're welcome.

-The Management

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Eggplant Parmesperiment

Can you make eggplant parmesan with neither packaged breadcrumbs, nor a food processor to crush crusty Italian bread, nor the patience or immensely strong hands and patience of an Italian grandmother? Can you do it in Korea?


1. Slice, salt, and let weep the eggplant ("Let Weep the Eggplant"...sounds like it'd be a great Southern gothic short story).
2. Crush into fine crumbs a container of Korean Ritz cracker knockoffs and a couple pieces of the fresh garlic bread your boyfriend just made. (If you lack a mortar and pestle or other classy way to do this, feel free to use the "smoosh ziplocked crackers with heavy jam jar" method. It's a fave).
3. Rinse off eggplant slices. Dip each slice into beaten egg, then into breadcrumbs. Coat well and fry until golden.
4. Bake at 170C with a small dollop of sauce and a bit of mozzarella on each slice. Take it out when the cheese is nice and melty. Serve with pasta and salad.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

Yield: 2 small pies


-1 box coconut butter cookies, crushed
- ~2/3 chocolate digets (or all that remain after boyfriend has snack), crushed
- 1/2 stick butter, melted

- 1 호박 (pumpkin/indeterminate squash), yielding ~2-3 cups flesh
- 1/2c sugar + honey (I held the bottle and squeezed hard for about 5 seconds) or 3/4 cup sugar
- 10oz milk + 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream (I didn't have regular milk on hand, but I did have chocolate milk leftover from making custard. Whatever, it was fine)
-2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp each pie spices (whatever combo you have of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, fresh or powdered ginger, 2 tsp vanilla)
-4 eggs
- 1 tsp salt

photo credits to JJ, obvi

0. Make a graham cracker crust. Don't pre-bake it.
1. Quarter the 호박/pumpkin. Put the pieces in a big bowl with a couple inches of water and nuke it for 5 minutes
2. Switch the position of the pieces around in the bowl. Nuke for another 5 minutes.
3. Soft yet? If so, scoop out the insides (careful: hot!) and roughly mash 'em with a fork. Then add in the sugar and set the hand mixer on that sonofagun.
4. In a big bowl, combine the rest of the filling ingredients. When the pumpkin has cooled enough that it won't scramble the eggs, add that in too. Hand mixer again, until it's smooth.
5. Pour the filling into the crust. Bake at 375F/175C for, like 50ish minutes.
6. Let cool, and serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or lightly broiled meringue.

Ugh. Wednesday

Lesson: song + interview prep
Song/Video of the Day: Bruno Mars' "Just the Way You Are"
Lunch: Omurice (with beef crumbles in the rice. no thanks)

Ugh. Wednesday.

I was really looking forward to lunch with the third graders today, for two reasons:
1. I had a shitty couple of lessons in the morning. A table mutinied in the second class of the day, and basically issued a collective statement that they shouldn't have to do anything in my class because they don't have English interviews for their university applications. When I kept the rudest of the lot for 2 minutes after class to chat about why she was floating around the room distracting other students instead of working, she just yelled I WANT TO GO TO LUNCH at me. I asked her to write me a short letter apologizing for her rudeness during class and assuring me that it wouldn't happen. Her response to this was to yell I HAVE NO TIME, sigh dramatically, and wince as she marker-and-scrap papered a note saying "Teacher, Sorry. I will study next class. -Emily." But not before telling me that she would have preferred to "do self-study" during class time, because she has an important class. My questions about why she didn't tell me about this and ask for some self-study time went unanswered.

Now, I realize that they're stressed. But I wasn't asking much of them -- for the first hour, we watched and discussed a music video. In the second hour, they made a timeline of their accomplishments during high school and mapped out how those things connected to their university and dream job.

2. I baked pumpkin pie last night for them. Like, from scratch. And okay, graham cracker crust, but -- I started with a pumpkin! So now what am I supposed to do with this freakin' pie?

HOWEVER. I was informed that my former coteacher has taken them out to lunch today. Bully for them, superlame for me. None of the English teachers were there, so I just sat at lunch at the teacher's table (btw beefy rice? lunchfail) as the group of aforementioned mutinous second grader's friends glared daggers at me, The Mean and Horrible Teacher. What happens to these creatures? How do they go from being sweet and enthusiastic and fun first graders to being such a pain in my ass?

Ugh. Wednesday.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chocolate Meringue Tartlets

Individually baked chocolate meringue tartlets.

My apologies for the lame pictures. I'm good at baking, but I suck at taking pictures -- so the super-appetizing "I WANT THAT" pictures will have to wait until my favorite food photographer comes over around dinnertime.

Recipe, review, nutrition info, and more photos after the jump...

Chocolate Cream Pie & Flashcards

On the docket for today:

1. Running across the street for bread
2. Breakfast - egg white omelette and toast slathered in jam
3. Making GRE lit flashcards about a whole bunch of female authors (and maybe reading another chapter of Gilbert & Gubar)
4. Making chocolate cream pie.

I bought the closest thing Korea has to graham crackers, so I don't have to worry about crafting a flaky crust without shortening/lard.
But here's my question: chocolate cream pie topped with meringue is significantly healthier for you than topped with whipped cream. But how long will that meringue layer stay yummy and not devolve back into egg white mess?

Pictures to follow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Welcome to Yalevard

In today's lesson, my kids role-played that they were in one of 5 companies working to help high school students get admitted to the top 2 (fictional) universities in Korea: Yalevard, in Seoul, and the Daejeon Institute of Science and Technology (D.I.S.T.). I gave them a paragraph-long thing to read, purporting to be an excerpt of the university's website, and a short resume for Student A and Student B. They had to advise the student on strategies for choosing which university to apply to (and why) and for how to get into their top choice.

My favorite answer so far today was
Question #1: "What other information do you want from these universities?"

Answer: I want to know sexual rate about these university.

Now, it turned out that he was interested in the ratio of men: women at DIST, as technical universities' student bodies often suffer from an extreme imbalance in favor of men. But still. High five.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Comparisons & Compliments Day 4: Kid Tested, Deputy Assistant Secretary Approved

Here is a sampling of some students' work, created and presented last Friday during my (very) observed class.

Naju Pears:

Naju pears' size is like the full moon--
They are very big.
Naju pears taste like lemonade
Naju pears are as hard as Charlie's head.


Obama's power is like a volcano--
They are strong and wide.
Obama smiles like a diamond
Obama is as important as the air.

Starcraft II

Starcraft II is like an Orchestra.
They are super massive, harmonic
It's units fights like fire
The battle scene of it is as real as a reality.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Things I Did Today (in no particular order)

1. Bought a big Tupperware box, tape, and paper so I could mail cookies to the KAEC staff
2. Mailed those bad boys
3. Brought extra cookies to the super-nice real estate agent downstairs who helped me get this apartment
4. Updated English class blog,
5. Typed up LP for Friday observed class, as well as LPs for the rest of the unit.
6. Bought bread at Paris Baguette and had toast and eggs
7. Bought grapes, a string cheese, and a Pepsi Nex (along with popcorn and a bunch of leftover cookie fractions, it is the lunch of champions)
8. Looked at a very few flashcards
9. Did lots and lots (and lots) of laundry

...I feel super underaccomplished and inefficient. It's 7:40, and those 9 things should definitely not have taken an entire day!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fall 2010 Midterms

My kids have midterms this week. My poor second graders have to worry about their university applications at the same time as they worry about their grades -- if they don't make it into college this year, their midterm and finals scores will matter, so they're in a bit of a stressful logical puzzle.
On the other hand, since I don't teach when they have midterms, things are looking up for me.

My plan is to study, try to see some Daejeonites, get my foreigner ID taken care of (now that we can FINALLY get one! It's been really tough without it, you need one for everything from opening a bank account to buying concert tickets online), and relax. With the second graders being ...the second graders, this is gonna be a long semester. It's really, really nice to have so much time off right in the middle!