In front of the John Lennon Wall in Prague.

Monday, March 21, 2016

SOL 2016 Day 21: Kendama

Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge 2016
This March, more than 300 teachers have committed to daily writing. If you’d like to read more “slices” (from other teachers and even students), visit:

Today I had back-to-back classroom observations. Traveling through the halls of a middle school during passing period is always challenging. Since I became an instructional coach last year, I've lost my chops. I'm surprised at how much the noise and craziness bothers me now.

Then after making my way through the mass of adolescent wildness, I walked into a language arts class in the midst of their mid-block break. Kids chattering and playing their middle school games, finally set free from adult talk for a few minutes. And as always this year, the kendamas were out.

I work in Daly City, California, a suburb just south of San Francisco.  About 30% of Daly City's population is Filipino, so it is affectionately known by some as "Manila by the Bay".  This means that Filipino culture figures very large in our classrooms. No school event is complete without lumpia and a few years ago students performed tinikling, a Filipino folk dance with sticks. (What I find humorous  is that when I was a student way way back in the old-time days in Illinois, that dance was part of our gym class, even though I had no idea where it came from.)

The latest student craze is Kendama. Although Wikipedia says that this game comes from Japan, in Daly City it's the Filipino students who have brought it to our schools. Every free moment students have, they start playing.

Today I saw the best incarnation yet: a kendama made from a highlighter, string and a roll of cellophane tape! Unfortunately by the time I could get my phone out to take a photo of the creative contraption, the bell had rung and it was time for writing workshop to start. Maybe I'll catch the same young man in action next time I visit.


  1. I love the observation of losing your passing time 'chops'. And I learned something - didn't know about kendamas before. Thanks.

  2. I love how the kids can influence the school culture. I was surprised hearing the kids at the school sing "Happy Birthday" with a whole new ending (Pizza Hut, noodles, and some other things feature in it). Kendama looks fun.