I’m off again

I’m off again. After four days of canceled classes this past week due to the earthquake, I’m leaving for Beijing tomorrow (Sunday) for a week.
The FLTRP CUP National English Debating Competition, sponsored by the Foreign LanguageTraining and Research Press, is the event. I was invited to go along as the English language advisor to the UESTC debate team, and to observe and critique their performance. The school’s Foreign Languages Dept. is footing the bill.
It promises to be an interesting week. More news upon my return.

I was interviewed a couple of months ago for the podcast series At Home in China at http://www.athomeinchina.com/,a”an online audio program featuring candid interviews with Americans, Brits, Canadians and other Westerners living and working in China.”
You can listen to or download my interview Episode #08021 – Roger: In the Classroom at the website. Unfortunately, the site is blocked in China, unless you use a proxy server like http://anonymouse.org, but if you’re in the U.S. it should be perfectly visible.

You see, I knew last Monday was going to be a bad day. From my notes:

Today I had to illustrate for my students the concept of “winging it.” After installing PowerPoint 2007 on my computer and slaving for 5 or 6 hours over my class presentation, this morning I found that the new version of the software doesn’t work on the classroom computer system. In my first class I wrote “Major Crisis” on the board, then proceeded to write by hand – mostly from memory – my entire lesson on the blackboard. That’s twice, once for each class.

I did pretty well, considering, but my writing hand was tired. I listed the attributes of a good presentation outline, then gave a sample presentation on global warming; I even drew a presentable diagram in colored chalk of the earth’s atmosphere and the role of C02 in causing the greenhouse effect. I remained cool, calm, and collected throughout. Fortunately, the film clip from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth worked just fine, although the version I used managed to lose its Chinese subtitles.

Later, I figured out how to save my PowerPoint presentation to the older version, so it’s now usable in all circumstances.

Then, that afternoon, there was the earthquake….


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