Tuesday, November 13, 2018

On Teaching ESL

Teaching, while not the highest paying job, can be an incredibly rewarding profession.

The zookeeper thanked me for bringing them back.
The idea was had while visiting Shakun Batra in India. Soon after returning to the States, I waltzed into EF Redondo and climbed a flight of stairs to the second story. The reception desk gals must have been at lunch because I was able to traipse my way past the teachers' room and right into the Academic Director's office by mistake.

"What does it take to be a teacher at this school?"

" B.A. and a T.E.F.L certificate," he replied. I asked what a TEFL is and he responded, "Teaching English as a Foreign Langauge." 

" Right I'll be back in a month," I said. And I was. That was back in 2008

One of my signature moves is Baking Soda an Vinegar Rockets.

Which eventually became the Lemon Juice and Baking Soda Rocket when the Dollar Store down the street ran out of Vinegar. Go figure. But they’re both acidic, right? Figured… … Isn’t strange how Corporations always need to be capitalized. But the word capitalize doesn’t need to be capitalized. Why isn’t the word palindrome a palindrome and is the word redundant, oughtn’t it be dundant. I intentionally used the word ought there, instead of should. Don’t like the word should; if overused and has that sh- sound, like a snake's sound.

Don't get me started on dangling modifiers!

Were was I… ah yes. Capitalization, Proper Nouns, like people. Corporations are people. Advertising and the business (busyness) culture are the number one driving force in changing the English Language. For example, with one advertising campaign, McDonald's was able to change the English language forever. Moving the Stative Verb ‘like’ (stative verb: a verb of strong emotion) into the realm of present continuous and quasi-gerund land. Think about it; you either love something or you don't, there's really no 'loving' something Advertising execs broke a grammar rule to sell hamburgers and now everyone walks around saying rubbish like this. Make mine an unhappy meal, poleaze.

A hands-on approach to learning is the future of education. Einstein was right. And the natural conversation that springs between partners in building and problem solving is priceless and harkens back to the origin of language itself. Whether it be Homemade Rockets, the Great Egg Drop, or stress tests of Spaghetti Bridges, learning can also be fun.

Stress test activity 
(activity sounds a lot better than a game.)

This competition is to see who can build the sturdiest bridge utilizing only spaghetti noodles and hot glue to strengthen the design (turning adjectives and nouns into verbs with -en suffix is the grammar point for this lesson btw). While also understanding full well that even the grandest of designs often overlook some key detail. Such was the case with Galloping Girtie, the Tacoma Washington bridge that collapsed due to 40mph winds. Yikes and yeesh.

In a nutshell, teams get one hour and as much Spaghetti and as many glue sticks as they wish. Whole thing ought to cost the unre-imbursed teacher about $25 to $30 and provides immeasurable enjoyment for the class. Teams present on their designs, the history, and similar world bridge examples. Then, much as Shiva unleashes Kali to do the dance of destruction, the other side of creation is realized, on with the the stress test.

Time to load the bridges up with books and let her rip. 


Special Thanks to my students, who tolerate my rants!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Recreating the Haymarket Square, May 4th 1886

A lot of things can go wrong on a location shoot. The 3rd day filming in Humboldt Park, which doubled as a Tuberculosis Sanitarium, was especially fraught with peril. Besides pedestrians in the background and jet engines overhead, which we were all too familiar with, an hour into rolling a new problem presented itself. Lawn mowers. Slow moving mower driven by city workers who were being paid hourly. At one point we were pretty sure they were mowing concrete. Jenny volunteered to lay down in front of one and scream for assistance to temporarily silence their drone. At one point, as the mowers rumble merged with an airplanes roar, Dave was convinced one mower had eaten another. For the most part we delayed shooting until the mower was on the far stretch of its circle. We were worried about audio, yet the sound turned out alright. 

Fast forward a couple weeks and after a back and forth with the Irish American Heritage Center, in which they tried to soak us for $500 to film in their parking lot for a few hours, we finally landed an opportunity to stage the Haymarket Square Riot scene outside the American Postal Worker’s Union Hall for free. Some films are called micro-budget, yeah, well, ours was a microscopic budget film with expenses being paid out of pocket and a handful of individual contributions; thank you August Spies Foundation, James Massarello, Katie Myerholtz, Steve Shoemaker, Bill Coleman, and Joe Vecchio!

The misty weather conditions were eerily similar to that fateful night on May 4th, 1886, except 20 degrees warmer thankfully. Matthew Stanley was spot on in his performance as Samuel Fielden. Wayne Kupferer and Dave McGrath provided incredible coverage. Kwitkowski played Chief Inspector Bonfield and dished out plenty of comic relief. After a scuffle between rally-goers and cops he quipped, “that was nice but can I have my wallet back now?”

James Scalfani did gods work building the props and set dec on the project, made mostly out of foam and cardboard!

And thanks to everyone else who showed up and helped bring these astonishing events to life!!!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Ignatius J. Reilly Strikes Again!

Coleman's first published piece 
in Redondo Union High School's the High Tide
and the Vitalich, the Campus Cop's, Response...

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Stories From Writing Class

Hotel employee Thomas Lee:
Do Hotels survive without me?
by Bolor Ider

  On 18th September, some students of Mr. Eric`s class from University of Potomac interviewed a few protesters on the street at Hilton on Michigan Ave.
 1st interviewee--- Leisure and hospitality jobs, which account for nearly 10 percent of employment in Illinois and across the Midwest, are disproportionately filled by immigrants, who not only wash dishes and clean hotel rooms but also do the most hard labor jobs, according to the report, released Thursday and the last in a series.

  We can see the positive effects of immigration in the State of Illinois. Research showed that immigrants living in Chicago help grow the hospitality industry by allowing native-born workers to specialize in communication-intensive jobs like managerial positions, while immigrants often require more manual labor. A verified anonymous immigrant says he joined the union because he needed a secure job, even if he pays an annual member fee of 20% plus. From here, he believes his co-workers need to have sufficient healthcare coverage for their lives. He also mentioned that he is protesting for his immigrant co-workers, they`ve been working in the field for their whole lives, it`s their right to fight for where they feel they have been wronged.

  2nd interviewee---Christine, a house attendant at the Hilton Hotel: “...I still need my diabetes medication when I’m laid off. Nobody should lose their health benefits just because it’s cold out, doesn`t matter where you from and how the business went slow.” They believe that they work them like dogs when it`s busy and then kick them to the curb in the winter. Companies are hiring temporary workers during the glooming business season to avoid full time employee benefits. But we suffer from it, we do more labors while those temporary workers are not trained.
Let`s just focus on the healthcare. After about a week of negotiations, a strike was called to secure health insurance for hotel staff that are laid off in winter when business is slower. Employees say they’ve had enough of management eliminating positions in the winter and piling more work on the staff that’s left
3rd interviewee---Wilson, non-union member security worker at Hilton Chicago believes workers need a right to protest even without involving Union. It`s good some of us to fight for having a good life, however, the union taking money from its members but asking workers to be on strike themselves instead of finding a way to do the negotiation in a way that benefit both parts. “They had no choice, but to protest” said by Wilson. They can`t apply to County Care, because they are at the right above the line of Medicaid requirement, but they are not wealthy enough to afford high insurance costs.

Didn`t they know their healthcare policy when signed the contract with their employers?
---Some of them are known, while some are not with their education or because their lack of attention on this section of the contract. Indeed, the contact has already ended this year August. Workers didn`t want to keep the previous contract, they want change! They believe everything has to be changed at least little if economy also changes. On this, one of the worker stated that he is getting the same salary, but expenses are getting increased.


Being the U.S. Citizen is a dream for all immigrants. I moved to the U.S. in 2012 to pursue a better life. I attended school to get my english better. Fall semester in 2015 was the first time I heard about MAVNI program. MAVNI (Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest) is a program for non-immigrants to join U.S. military with special language skill. The Defense Department promises us to expedite citizenship once we finish Basic Combat Training. So, I enlisted in U.S. Army Reserve with a hope to be a part of this amazing country. Unfortunately, this program was shut down and slowed down the process. I and the other 5,000 MAVNIs got an effect of it. Nobody has gotten a ship date for their BCT. I have been serving as a U.S. military for 2 year and a half. I have been going for pre-basic training in my future military unit every month for 2 years to learn new things. Now, I am still waiting for my ship date to become a real U.S. Army. I am very proud to join U.S. military and protect this great nation. My wish is that my dream will become true soon.

- SPC Athikkamasakul, Adirek