Saturday, September 10, 2011

Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters, Okinawa World, and a Brand New School Year!

I have lots to update y'all on! First, we'll start with getting back from Tokyo to find that Turf was sponsoring two "old guys" who were here for an exercise. Great- I thought- I get to hang out with these dudes all week?! They turned out to be a lot of fun and really nice guys! We showed them around the island, and in the process saw some things we haven't seen yet. I took them to Nakagusuku and the Naritasan Temple that Turf and I visited when we first arrived, and we also made a creepy journey to the "haunted hotel" that lies just above the Nakagusuku ruines. This place was incredible (although off-limits to SOFA personnel...shhhh!) and was decorated with all kinds of intricate graffiti. Click on the link to the haunted hotel to read the story about it and see some of the creepy photos this guy snapped. We didn't experience anything strange, aside from the dozens of large, disgusting Banana Spiders we saw, but the hotel definitely did feel a bit ominous.
I also took the "old guys" farther north to the Zanpa Lighthouse and we saw some of the infamous suicide cliffs. My plan is to take Turf back here another weekend, so I didn't take photos of this yet! :)
The weekend rolled around and Turf and I decided to venture South to visit the Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters. This place is full of history, mostly sad. As we were walking around among donzens of Okinawan and Japanese people, I wondered if they thought it strange that we were there. Afterall, it the Japanese Navy's headquarters during the war. Its kind of like Japanese people visiting Pearl Harbor...which I'm sure happens....I just wonder if it ever strikes a chord.
Anyway, here are some photos!

 A tomb outside the headquarters

Once the war seemed hopeless, many Japanese soldiers committed suicide in the tunnels of the headquarters. This tunnel is covered in shrapnel from a handgrade that was used in a suicide.

 Okay, so its a bit strange taking a smiling picture in a place like this, but we weren't sure what else to do.
 The walls of the tunnels were chiseled by hand with pickaxe.

We then decided to move on to something happier: Okinawa World. Here you can see traditional dance shows, a snake show, underground caves with stalactites and stalagmites, the Habu Sake factory, and tons of food, artwork and crafts.
 I just love this caption on the bottle of a Habu Sake. I didn't realize the Habu's had such style!
 Yum? Actually, I did take a shot of Habu Sake once, and it wasn't all that bad!
 Apparently the "old guys" thought it was terrible!
 In the underground caves. Very cool. The last time we were here we saw bat eggs in the water!
 Inside the cave

And finally, I have started my first official year teaching on my own! I love my first graders, although I do have a few challenging little sweetie pies. These kids are SO well behaved in comparison to the kids I had met in Pensacola. I'm having lots of fun getting to know them, but the beginning of the year is starting really slowly. Teaching procedures. Modeling Procedures. Practicing procedures. Re-teaching procedures. Modeling again. Practicing more. We won't be able to start reading centers until about October because we are spending a lot of time learning how to work in each center (rather, I am training them...but that makes it sound a bit like they are animals!). I am modeling my reading program after Daily 5 and will be doing a guided reading group each day while the kiddos are in Read to Self, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, Work on Writing, or Word Work.
Some new things I discovered that I absolutely am in LOVE with: Focus Walls. These are ah-mazing. My reading focus wall is basically my lesson plan for the week. It shows all the skills, strategies, and concepts we are working on, the spelling words and phonics, and even writing topics. Its a great tool for administrators to see when they walk into the room. I am also developing a Math focus wall with the standards listed, concepts, and skills.
 Here is my focus wall for the 2nd week of school. Pretty snazzy if I do say so myself!
 Our class rules. We brainstormed together and I had the kids sign. We reference the list daily...part of the whole practicing thing :)
 Star Manners. We did this the first week of school and the kids had a lot of fun. They also look super cute hanging around the room.
 Writing Center. LOVE this. Its new for me this year so it is still a work in progress. My goals for the year are to really develop my math and writing programs! This will house differentiated journal choices in the little black trays. Next week we will also be brainstorming things we can write about and that anchor chart will go here as well. I "borrowed" the Writer's Eye posters from one of the sweet 1st grade blogs I follow, and they basically remind the honeys to use punctuation, finger spacing, capital letters at the beginning, and lower case letters throughout.
 My bucket board. The kids LOVE this! We read the book Have You Filled A Bucket Today and talked about using kind words and actions to fill each other's buckets. I have little sheets they can fill out with nice things to say (although I can't really READ what they are trying to say yet...handwriting and sentences are still in development!). The thought is what counts, and they love filling each other's buckets at snack time. On Fridays we empty our buckets and read all the nice things our friends have to say to us!
 My Bravo window. I ran out of bulletin board space, so a windo will suffice. These are construction papers attached to the windows with clips on the top so I can easily change out student work. Right now they hold our Chika Chika Boom Boom activity we did the first week. Precious!
 And a little preview of the room. I changed a few things, but it does look pretty similar to last year. What can I say, Mrs. Casey had a great set up!
Alright, friends, I hope everyone has a great week, weekend! I will be back soon with more Okinawan adventures, with maybe a sprinkle of teaching fun!

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