Do you know most Koreans live in apartment buildings? Did you also know Korean farms can be tucked among high rise apartment buildings?
Alissa Van Dril’s fourth graders at Minooka’s have learned this and are learning more. This school year, Van Dril has incorporated lessons about South Korea by corresponding via the Internet and Skyping with an American teacher working in Korea. The teacher happens to be her sister, Lia, who has spent the last six months teaching English in a Korean Elementary School near Seoul.
Alissa said it’s an eye-opening experience for her nine and ten year old students.
“I think they’re more aware of their own culture by being aware of another culture,” she said.
By comparing their lifestyle to that of other countries, they see and understand better what their own lives are like.
Fourth grader Emily Reedy was surprised there was a small farm in among the large apartment buildings.
“I think it’s kind of weird that you shower in the bathroom, (without a tub enclosure.)," Riley Almy said.
Like other students, he was surprised that a floor drain in the middle of the bathroom collects all the water from showering.
These observations were made by Van Dril’s class after they got to tour an apartment and surrounding Cheona city via a videotaped tour provided by Lia.
Another Jones student, Zach Grasley, was surprised that motorists parked on the sidewalk.
Other students were surprized by culinary differences.
“They don’t have any corn on the farm, only cabbage,"Cara D’Angelo said. "They might not have the right weather."
Alissa told her students that Korean students have small homes, maybe only three rooms, and many of the rooms do double duty.
The sister teachers had the students write letters; Lia’s class wrote to Alyssa’s class in English and Alissa’s class wrote back, in English, not in Korean. The American students are sending pictures of their houses to their far-away friends.
As a class activity to follow up on the tour, the students were making layouts of rooms from their houses to post to the South Korean students to show what rooms in their houses looked like. Students communicate via a private blog site.
The geography lesson also contributes to the students’ understanding that the earth is huge, Alissa said. For example, they had to Skype her sister at the opposite time of day, because, afternoon here is evening there.
Her sister Lia has also blogged about life teaching and living in Korea at