Category Archives: TGS Japan

Journalism in Japan

For the journalism component of the 9th grader’s English curriculum, we were presented with the opportunity to write and publish articles for, a local English publication for people living and visiting Hiroshima. Along the way Joy Walsh, the founder and editor of Get Hiroshima was kind enough to come in and give a presentation to the students on how to write great reviews. 

Joy, who also teaches at a local Hiroshima college, was able to hook our students up with local guides who wanted to practice English for a day of exploration and investigation. Students took the entire day to follow leads with the help of their new guides.

14115755158_940936be98_nA strange part of the entire experience was that the Hiroshima branch of NHK, Japan’s national news service, was interested in doing a piece on our students as they wrote pieces on Hiroshima. As a finale, students were invited to tour the NHK studios and spend some time on the air talking about their time in Japan.

 Grant – Hiroshima Loves Fresh Food

GrantGalek – Serene Daisho-InGalekKiera – Gorge-ous Sandankyo



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Snappped: Eight Stories Inspired by Murakami


Presented in this collection of short stories is the culminating creative work of the 10th Grade class of Think Global School.  As their English teacher, I have had the honor of teaching the majority of these young writers for the past two years, and I have seen them grow beyond what I ever thought possible. Click here to download the Kindle book for only 99 cents!


imageIn using the countries and cultures we travel through as our place-based educational model, we have read, studied, imitated, been inspired by, and even met writers from around the world. For some, writing and reading have always been a part of their lives, while for others, writing creatively has been a way to step outside their comfort zones and challenge themselves. Additionally, for half the class, English is not their first language. What is presented here is not only work that they can be proud of, but stories that shows a mastery of skills and invaluable insight gained from two years of travel.

imageWhile living and studying in Japan, we decided to do a “writer’s workshop” unit using Lucy Calkins’s A Guide to the Writing Workshop as inspiration for the writing process and selections from Jay Rubin’s translations of Murakami’s two collections of short stories, The Elephant Vanishes, and After the Quake as inspiration for the writing itself.  Additionally, we were honored to have a chance to speak with Jay Rubin himself who answered student’s questions about the translation process and Murakami’s writing.  Also, we had a chance to spend a studyhall brainstorming in the Satin Doll Jazz club, a club similar to the one that Murakami owned and wrote in. A quick clip of Fatima sharing her ideas at the club can be seen here.  Finally, these stories were paired with selected articles dealing with social issues affecting modern Japan including, the Guardian article “Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?” and AA Gill’s controversial article, “Mad in Japan.” image

What I am most proud of is the work that these students have done throughout the writing-workshop process. It has been an absolute pleasure to see these stories grow and change as students bravely shared with classmates, accepted compliments, and implemented suggestions. What you are about to read show a depth of understanding from their time in Japan, a mastery of mood, and an attention to detail.

In addition to our 10th grade stories we are honored to have one guest writer’s addition to our collection. Jon Prentice is a TGS Reslife advisor, he runs the student book club, and is our onsite technology guru. Jon recently published Equinox, book one of his teen fiction series, ‘Chronicles of Solas.” Jon has provided us with a short story from his collection of short stories, A Vignette of Names, and is featured as the first story in our collection.  More information on Jon’s writing and how to purchase his book can be found at

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Graphic Novels for Change – Published


These final published copies of our “Graphic Novels for Change” were produced for dual a school collaborative interdisciplinary unit between THINK Global School and Hiroshima International School called “Graphic Novels For Change.” The purpose of the project was to combine narrative techniques, visual literacy skills, and research to raise awareness about a human rights violation in the form of a graphic novel. The final versions can be read on our ISSUU site here. 

Screenshot 2014-06-12 15.35.04These graphic novels are amazing. Students form both schools in both grades took what they had learned from Scott McCloud’s Understanding ComicsKenji Nakazawa’s autobiographical graphic novel about the bombing of Hiroshima Barefoot Gena dual school trip to the Hiroshima Manga Library where students from both schools could learn from each other, a dual school trip to the Hiroshima Peace Museum to contextualize Nakazawa’s novel, and an exclusive interview session with Kenji Nakazawa’s wife who was able to provide us details dealing with Nakazawa’s writing process. More details about my English class’ unit along with class videos can be found on my previous posting. 

As the TGS English teacher, what I am most proud of is the way in which every student implemented creative and purposeful visual literacy techniques to emotionally connect with an audience. While reading, look for creative ways that students use lines and shading to express mood, different panel layouts to express time, different types of borders to focus reader attention, and different uses of closure (the connections our mind makes between panels) to engage readers emotionally. Additionally each student has worked hard to structure their plot and develop their characters in a way that guides readers towards specific emotional responses. These graphic novels are amazing.

imageThere were many teachers involved in this project. The covers for these graphic novels were done in Lee ann Thomas‘ art classes; her personal artwork can be seen at The research and links to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were done by Nick Martino; an overview of his unit can be seen on his blog. Rachel Kirby headed up the Hiroshima International School’s side of the project, implimented the visual literacy lessons in her English classes and worked with them in her art class to design their covers. Jason Underwood also worked with students in his English classes at HIS to understand and implement visual literacy techniques, and Ciprian Baciu worked with his HIS students on their research component. Lee Carlton put together the ISSUU page.

More information on my English curriculum can be found on my blog, 

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Graphic Novels for Change: Barefoot Gen and Ms. Nakazawa’s Visit to HIS

en11The English, global studies, and art classes have teamed up with the English, global studies, and art classes from HIS in an interdisciplinary unit using Barefoot Gen as a source text before showcasing their skills and crafting their own graphic novels advocating for peace in another part of the world.

Barefoot Gen is an autobiographical graphic novel detailing Keiji Nakazawi’s survivor story from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The medium of a graphic novel is especially powerful when detailing such a tragic event. Many of the techniques and conventions of graphic novels can be studied in isolation and fully examined since we have so many other accounts of the story to compare it with.

Throughout our study of Barefoot Gen, we have been using Scott McCloud’s graphic textbook, Understanding Comics to guide our investigation into why they conventions of graphic novels can be so powerful. A sample of the type of lesson that we have been doing can be found here along with an accompanying video. 

IMG_2044We are especially fortunate to have the opportunity to live in Hiroshima while studying the events that took place throughout this book because it provides wonderful opportunities for extension.  Earlier this week students visited the Hiroshima Manga Library. Tomorrow we will be visiting the Hiroshima Peace Museum and Peace Park and comparing their retelling of the story to Nakazawa’s, and today we were lucky enough to have the wife of the late Mr. Nakazawa come and speak with our students here at HIS about her husband’s experience with writing Barefoot Gen. The interview room was a small office, but we all crowded into the next-door room to watch a live stream of the interview. A short video of our dual school reflection on this interview can be seen below.

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