Kyobo - STEAM

Dear Reader: 

Week 4, done and gone. (–of teaching, 6 weeks of being here.)

For my own memories: 

  • 2 week quarantine 
  • Week 3 - Orientation
  • Week 4 first week of teaching (3 days)
  • Week 5 second week of teaching (2 days, short, cancellations)
  • Week 6 first week of Steam Up!

Last week we had a few days of heavy rain, the coasts had typhoon warnings. It’s still too warm here that you only use an umbrella and your warm in a t-shirt. 

First - adventures over the weekend of week 5 - we travelled with Megan, who graciously took us under her wing, and toodled us around Daegu for finding an English book store and arts & craft meccas. We took the SK bus off of our Daegu campus at 10 am, it drops you off in front of, you guessed it, the SK building in Daegu, about an hour and a half ride. One of our fellow teachers, Nicholas, was on the bus for a ride into to town for a scheduled dentist appointment, a second appointment for fixing a root canal apparently. Nicholas tells us Koreans don’t use much novocaine or other numbing medicines - suspicions are either worry of abuse or that Koreans don’t need/use as much, have a higher pain tolerance? Not sure about either. We’ve also heard that Koreans don’t use deodorant as they don’t sweat as much, with a possible DNA difference. Both theories need to be researched or vetted. Hearing Nicholas made me a bit nervous to go to the dentist here, only because I’ve had a root canal and 5 crowns on my teeth, I’ve got lots of dental work under my belt and low doses of numbing does not sound like something I’d sign up for. 

We’re at the SK stop and meet up with Megan. We wander around streets, she knows where we’re going, most look like an open walking mall but then motorcyclists and cars all of a sudden show up out of nowhere. There was a “cell phone alley”, lots of skincare stores, clothing stores, and stores I had no idea what they were. We wandered into our first store Art Box - I would describe it as an elevated Walgreens or Bartell’s - having all kinds of electronic gear, hand-held fans for the heat here, slippers, school supplies, stickers many, many stickers, toys, and games. Eric found an SD card reader for our digital camera. Next was Kyobo, a nice book store, similar to a Barnes and Noble. The English section was upstairs and was a decent selection, nothing overwhelming as I’d suspect, but was very happy to be able to find at least some English books in Daegu. Lots of classics, a “current/popular” table and science, political, self-care, and history sections. I found Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens and bought Talk to me in Korean - Level 1  with an accompanying workbook. I almost bought the Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, but told myself I could not buy too much we’re trying to save money and budget, and as you’ll see below I already have about 12 books I found in the teacher’s lounge at DGEV that have made it onto my shelves along with the 7 books I packed into my luggage coming over here. 

Next, we wandered down to Hot Tracks which is another arts & crafts mecca. Do you love stationery? Do you love colorful pens, pencils, paper, notebooks? Anything craft? - you’d go nuts in Korea and in Hot Tracks or SDot. Korean’s appear to looove stickers and it’s great for us as this is what we are doling out to our students when they win games or finish and complete tasks, and they only cost 1,000-3,000 ₩ ($1-4.) We walk through a Norweigian company’s pop-up in Hot Tracks towards the exit of the store, Eric walks away with a 5,000 ₩ surprise bag. 


We were trained for Steam Up! last week by our friend, teacher Sheryl.

Steam Up! is a program Daegu Gyeongbuk English Village started last year in the fall, I introduced it in last week’s blog. DGEV started offering this program to schools within the region, the program sends our teachers to their school to teach a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) program in English to supplement students not being able to come to the campus or if the school did not feel comfortable sending students here. This program has been running for a year and seems to do well when covid is high along with concerns. 

This week we were sent out on STEAM Up! from Monday-Wednesday to Yeungyang Elementary in Yeongyang-gun, it was a two-hour drive one way, which made for a very long 3 day week. On the plus side for me, I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks, so I got in a good 10-12 hours of reading. 

Eric taught a 6th grade class and I taught a 4th grade class. For Steam DGEV has pre-built PowerPoint presentations all ready for the suggested classes you’ll be teaching, but the program does allow you to create your own and be very flexible in what you are offering/teaching, which is really cool. To give you an idea of some of the classes they mostly consist of the “world culture” classes or “holiday” classes which as you can imagine are: USA, Australia, Mexico, India, Japan, etc and then Christmas, Halloween, Lunar New Year, Birthdays, etc. The one added difference for Steam is that DGEV provides ROBOTS these are robots that the students will build themselves as an activity/task - apparently most Korean students are very familiar with these and have made them often (in different forms.) Robots will take at least 2-3 periods for the students to complete and build and then play with, so it is a bonus for the students and teachers at the end of a three-day stay. 

My class ended up being pretty exhausting for a few reasons: my teacher stayed in the room the whole time, my class had a wide range of understanding and comprehension (I believe I had at least 4 students that were on the spectrum of having learning disabilities), and my class had a lot of energy. 

My teacher staying in the room the whole time had positives and negatives - it helped with translation, but that was a negative in that they relied on him. Or worse they just started talking to him during my PowerPoint presentation and were distracted. Looking back on it I think it really hindered me from becoming connected with the students, there wasn’t full attention on me, I was just a temporary. Even at DGEV when I only had 40 minutes with a class they would all be paying attention to me, there are no other alternatives. It was a good experience, not sure what I would do differently, maybe try more interactive games - get the kids up moving, have me involved in the movement, or have them come up to the desk when completed to look things over, and talk a little?

The wide range of comprehension - I had 4 students who were wonderful and each a very unique creature of personality, but all 4 I had a hard time getting to write anything in their books and some didn’t even participate in our coloring activities. One student, who I couldn’t get to pick an English name, I called him “money” as he would come up to me and constantly say “Teacher money!” and I would say “No! Teacher have no money!” and he would laugh and giggle away. But he lit up when we finally got to robots and did fairly well with constructing it, he did not finish, but it was the first thing that he was actively engaged in. One female student, Pomi, spoke to me constantly in Korean and never realized (or didn’t care) that I couldn’t in fact speak Korean even though I would constantly try to tell her this. She was sweet as can be and best friends with Money, but she never completed a task the whole three days I was with her. Those two were my favorites.

What made Steam exhausting was that the material they provided wasn’t enough to sustain us for the full 3 days. We had to come up with other games, handouts, activities, etc to fill the time after or before using the PowerPoint presentations. The PowerPoint presentations maybe take up to 20 minutes and are the same structure over and over again. So Eric and I spent all day Sunday preparing for Monday, then came home Monday night and prepared for Tuesday - waking up at 5 am to shower and then go print things off in the office by 6:30 am to leave by 7:10, then Tuesday night was the same thing, with our final day being Wednesday. The robots were a welcome addition because I only had to plan for 2-3 classes in the morning and then go straight into robots in the afternoon and let them go!

But we did it! And we’ll have to do it again next week, and probably the week after that, but we’re much better than we were and now get to build off of all the lessons we created last week. Wheeeeee!

Highlights of Steam Up!

  • Driving through the country and going to Yeongyang
  • “Pit stop” = cafe, bathroom, and batting cages!
  • Seeing Korean schools and engaging with kids in their comfortable spaces
  • Korean lunches! Photo below, adorable, wonderful, and efficient
  • Listening to my audiobook in the car (Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken)
  • Getting to know our fellow teachers John and Shewa better
  • Money & Pomi
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