Saturday, August 30, 2014

Old, and new, and confusion

August 31, 2014

               Every school year starts with some confusion and this one was no exception, with schedule changes, assemblies, missing students, and added students.  Despite all of this everything went down quite well actually, and the changes never truly impacted the classroom time.  Perhaps the biggest adjustment was moving from 42 min periods I was used to in the states, to an 85 min block schedule.  85 minutes is a long time and if you’re not prepared then it can be a real bear for the students and teacher alike.  If you make the mistake of treating it like two 42 minute periods back to back then you are in trouble.  42 minute periods allow for short activities, so you will end up lecturing for far too long and losing the students attention.  I am trying to mix things up every 25-30 minutes, with lecture, seat work, discussion, videos, and activities.  I have also been trying to question the students much more than I have in the past, and I can use Do Nows again, since I am no longer pressed for time.  Even so there is only so many ways to spice up, what is science, where did science come from, and how do we study science (especially the last part).  My little midgets seemed to really enjoy the myths and legends segment I did with the Kraken, aka the giant squid.  The youngsters really got into the What’s in the box activity, and my older guys slogged through the chemistry review.  I thought the bit on alien life would have gotten more attention, but I’ll find something to snag their attention soon.  All in all it’s a bit different, but not as draining as I expected it to be.

                                               Zaisan Monument

         After looking out my window at the darn thing for two weeks I finally made it all the way to the top.  It wasn't as bad getting to the top as I expected, if only because the stairs were blocked off, so I had to walk up the road that wound around to the top.

                                                         The final push to the top

          Now the monument itself is an interesting one, near as I can tell from reading the sign posts on the way to the top.  The monument was built in 1956 to commemorate the Soviet soldiers that died helping in Mongolia’s bid for independence, and I think WWII as well.  However the story goes back further than that apparently.  The hill itself has been an important site in Mongolia for a long time being a religious site of some sort, and a pilgrimage site since a famous Mongolia used to live there in the past.  The internet is spotty on the details so I can only go by what I read.

The river Tul

View from the top

The School

Looking away from the city

Inside the monument

               There was one more surprise at the monument that Pat would have loved.  A pair of Golden Eagle hunting birds.  Those birds were huge easily 3-5 times the size of the falcons and hawks I am used to seeing back in PA.

               These Eagles are used to hunt small game like rabbits, and squirrels, but they can take down larger prey like wolves or foxes.  I can easily believe it to, if they weren't roped down, I bet a few small children could have gone missing.  The use of the Eagle in hunting is more prominent in Western Mongolia, which makes sense as this region shares more with the Kazakhs, where the use of the bird is very important culturally.  The Golden Eagle is not endangered worldwide but it is in significant decline in parts of Europe and Asia.  I could not find any data about Mongolia or other central Asian areas.

               Anyway, the weather has stayed nice and cool in the 70’s or below with another bit of rain again Friday morning.  Now I've been told that it starts getting cold in October so Colleen and Michael you are running out of time if you want to see UB before it becomes negative freeze your but off.  In other news I've managed to find a nice running path that isn't too crazy most of the time, but I’ll still be ready for any tough mudders that come my way.

               The food situation is slowly working itself out, but it’s still a hit or miss for dinner.  My saving grace is that one of the former teachers left behind garlic powder and cayenne pepper, which makes anything taste good if you use enough of it.  I’ve also found enough vegetables to settle my gastrointestinal explosions.

            I lost my hat, I could use a longer HDMI cable and cookies, lots of cookies, I haven’t had one since I left PA.

       I am going hiking in the hills behind the school tomorrow, so expect that report next week.