Category Archives: Teacher Post

A Trip to Newark

From Michael Hunter:

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Opera Friday

Lynne Hayden-Findlay, who teachers our weekend classes (W1 & W4), works with the Chelsea Opera Group. This week they are putting on two shows, The Winners and La Pizza,

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More information about the operas can be found “here“.

I am the stage director and costume designer for the production, in addition to being co-producer.

University Settlement Adult Literacy students are invited to attend the Friday, Oct 11, 7:30pm performance free of charge at St. Peter’s Church  in Chelsea, 346 West 20th Street between 8th & 9th Avenues.

If students wish to attend, they must arrive at the theater between 7pm and 7:15, go to the box office table and say “Lynne sent me!”  They can then go in for free.

Winners (1999) is based on the play Lovers by Irish playwright Brian Friel.  In Richard Wargo’s opera, Mag and Joe, two young lovers, celebrate their final days of high school, pending marriage and dreams of their life together.  But as foretold by two ballad singers, they will die later that day in a boating accident.  The lovers will leave the world with their love intact and their youthful aspirations unscathed, never to know heartbreak and disillusionment. In that sense, they are “winners”.
La Pizza con Funghi (1988) is a parody on 19th century Italian opera: the soprano, in love with the tenor, plots to poison her older baritone husband.  Her mezzo maid spills the beans and as in many operas, no one is left alive at the final curtain!  The casting mirrors that of Winners (soprano, mezzo, tenor, baritone) and singers will appear in both operas.
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The Jazz Man Testifies

This post is from Weekend teacher, David Moss. David is also a Jazz musician, he plays bass. Here is a photo of him at one of our class parties (David is on the left).

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Check out David’s new website. You can listen to some music and read his biography. Check back for updates!

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Below David tells us about Jazz music and one of his favorite musicians, Miles Davis. You can see some pictures and listen to some music Miles made throughout the years.

Jazz is the only art form invented in the United States.  Many other countries can claim to have invented more than just one form of art, but for the U.S., they can only claim Jazz as their unique invention and contribution to the art world.  There are several noteworthy musicians who were innovators of Jazz, with Charlie Parker being the main innovator who kicked it off and ignited the flame for the rest of the 20th century.  However, another musician who came from St. Louis, Missouri, and “hunted down” Charlie Parker in New York City to join his band when he was only 17 years old, was the trumpet player Miles Davis.  Miles continues to be recognized in history as the most influential and famous (most recognized) Jazz musician ever.

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Every decade, from the 1940’s up until the time of his death in 1991, Miles tried something new, and “changed with the times” along with how the state of consciousness and culture was changing.  He adapted and created music that was relevant to any present time.  In the 1940s, he would contribute to Be-Bop, in the 50s it would innovate “cool” music, which was vastly different than any other trumpet player during that time.  In the 1960s, he would go on to pioneer the way for hard hitting Hard Bop. The 1970s also saw a radical change with Miles using a lot of electronic instruments, synthesizers and pedals for trumpet.  In the 1980s, Miles led the way in the genre of Fusion, continuing to use a lot of Pop electric sounds.  The fascinating part of it all was that Miles Davis always sounded like Miles, no matter what configuration or experimentation he would embark in, one always knew that Distinct, personalized tone and sound that Miles had.
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Miles Davis also helped many other musicians launch their own careers, because basically if you played with Miles Davis, then you had to always be good enough.  Miles was renown for choosing the right musicians at the right time for his bands.  He thought like an artist, knowing how to use each musician to achieve the effects he desired.
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Miles Davis and Charlie Parker in the 1940s
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Miles Davis in the 1980s
video of 1950’s quintet:
1960’s quintet, sorcerer  
1960’s live
1970’s “bitches brew”
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miles in the 80’s (good one!)
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My Life as a Military Brat

This post is brought to you by Class 2A & 2B teacher Regina. After you read, take the quiz to test your comprehension:

Life as a Military Brat

When people ask me, “Where are you from?” I don’t know how to answer the question. This is because I come from a military family. My father worked for the US military. People who work for the military have to move often. As a result, their families also move with them. I was a military brat. A military brat is a phrase used in the US to describe children of parents who are in the military.

I have lived in many different places around the US and the world with my family. Many people ask me if I liked moving around so much. I always say, “yes!” It is fun to travel, to meet new people, and to try new things.

Here’s a map of the states I lived in:

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Regions of the USA:

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Here’s a map of the countries I lived in.

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Continents of the world:

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In addition to moving a lot as a child, I was also raised by parents from two different backgrounds. My mother was born and raised in a big city in South Korea, and my father was born and raised on a farm in South Dakota. They met in South Korea when my father was working there. Here’s a picture from their wedding day in traditional Korean clothes. (They look so young!)

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Overall, I think it was fun to be a military brat. When I was young, I did not understand why we had to move. It was difficult to say goodbye to people I grew to love. However, there were always new people and places to learn about. It was also fun growing up in a multi-cultural home. My brother and I grew up with two very different cultures that were mixed together. Our family made our own culture as a military family and as Korean-Americans.

I think it would be difficult to be a military brat now since the US is involved in war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many military members are gone for 6-12 months at a time, and must return to war many times after. I know it must be very difficult for them and their families. I was lucky that my father did not go to war while we were growing up.

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My Year with 1A & 1B

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This blog post is brought to you by 1A & 1B teacher Elsie Choi. She uses some great English expressions which are in bold letters.

My Year with 1A & 1B

By Elsie Choi

August 29, 2012 was Orientation Day already after a long summer of relaxation.  It was time to meet a whole new group of students and get the show ready for the road. I was a little nervous. First impressions are very important. What should I wear for the day? I am sure that my students feel the same way. They were there to check me out, and at the same time, wondering what is in store for them for the coming year.

A few students come in way before class time but the majority can barely make it. There is a tendency that people come in later and later as the year goes on. Of course they have tons of excuses… my children, my dog, my watch….”See, my watch says 9…”

Students gradually become friends and chat. Think that they do not know enough English to do so? No problem. Their native language kicks in naturally. Or, a mixture of languages will do. “I did my homework la. (Chinese)”, “Is this good ma? (Chinese)”,“Michael is outside ah! (Chinese)”.  ALL ENGLISH! …..ALL ENGLISH!

Oh! No! Test again?! Eyes are wandering around. Some just want to get that 100 percent in the test. Believe it or not, a few people know they are right but still glance at their neighbor’s paper to see if the other person is doing it correctly. What a busybody!

Homework is usually done by most students but it is like pulling teeth for some. To enforce this requirement, it causes more work for the teacher to follow up and make sure that make-up homework is done the next day. A threat using Michael’s name is useful, sometimes.

Well, the year is going by swiftly despite the heartache and headache we have had. We have shared tears and laughter with personal happenings and have grown together. Let’s celebrate. Food is the number one choice. Students feed the teacher, me, all year long. I thank you all by showing you my forever growing “muffin top.”

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This Land Is Your Land

Below is a video of 0A and 0B teacher, Bob Malenky. We visited Bob in his classroom at 189 Houston Street and he told us about one of his favorite musicians, Woody Guthrie. Bob also sang one of Woody’s songs, “This Land Is Your Land”. Read about Woody, listen to the song and take the quiz below. Let us know in the comments what you think about the song, Woody Guthrie and if you enjoy folk music.

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Woody Guthrie was born on July 12th, 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma. After a turbulent childhood, he moved to Texas and from there traveled to California. Woody played the guitar and harmonica and wrote songs based on his travels and observations, many using melodies from older folk and country songs.
 This Land is Your Land was written after Guthrie had traveled to New York from Texas in 1940. 
 Woody Guthrie’s lyrics sung  in his true rural American style gave rise to a generation of followers including Bob Dylan, and Woody’s son, Arlo.
 Guthrie died in October of 1967 from a hereditary disease of the nervous system, but his songs such as “This Land is Your Land”, “Pastures of Plenty”, “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You”, and many others continue to be sung around the world.
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Click here to hear Woody Guthrie sing “This Land Is Your Land”
Read the words to “This Land Is Your Land” here.

Language Learning Strategies

This post is from our E4 teacher, Mary Staub. Mary shares some language learning strategies she’s used. We also get to watch a video of her students sharing their favorite tips to improve their English. Read and watch below, then share some of your favorite ways to practice English in the comments section:

Foreign languages have always been part of my life.

I grew up bilingually, speaking Swiss German swissand English since childhood, and started learning French and Spanish during high school. More recently, I’ve tried to start englishlearning Arabic.  Over the years, I’ve used a lot of different language learning strategies to help me improve more quickly.

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For example, when I was living in Seville, Spain, for eight months during college, I looked for opportunities to meetferiaSpanish people and took part in all the town festivals. I also joined a Capoeira (Brazilian martial art) group capoeirawhile I was there, where all of the members spoke only Spanish. This forced me to use Spanish all the time and helped me become more fluent. Another thing I did was take dance classes from a teacher who spoke only Spanish. All her instructions were in Spanish so I had to learn to understand.dance

Another thing I did and continue to do is to read as much as possible in Spanish or French. I read books, newspapers, or ???????????????????????????????anything else that I am interested in. I look up the words that  I don’t understand and seem important. newspapersThen I write the ones I want to remember in a journal  so I can review them. I also sometimes make flashcards, especially at the beginning when I’m learning a new language. That’s what I did when I started learning Arabic.

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I also practice using new words and phrases by imagining little conversations where I can use them or I’ll try to start ‘thinking’ in the language. I often do this when I’m taking the subway or riding my bike and have time to let my mind wander.

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Watch the video to hear about the language learning strategies that some of my E4 students use. Then add a comment to share some of your own strategies.

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