Lingoloop Jr. Launches at Tsai Hsing School

Here at BGL we’ve always been proud to subscribe to the tenet that there is no one-size-fits-all model for education. Students have different abilities, different needs and different learning styles and education needs to adapt to accommodate all students.

It is in this vein that BGL is proud to announce the launching of Lingoloop Jr. at Tsai Hsing School.

 

Unlike other online small group conversation classes like VIP Kid and Tutor ABC, Lingoloop Jr.’s expert tutors customize each lesson based on the abilities and interests of the students. This immersive technique ensures that the learning experience is on-level, fun, and memorable.

Check back here for updates on our students’ progress!

 

Building a Remote Culture: Using VC for an All-Staff Meeting

A challenge facing an increasingly dispersed, literally global, workforce is how to create a workplace culture when the work “place” is virtual. How does one foster water cooler talk when there’s no water cooler?

One way is to use video conferencing, an ever-improving alternative to meeting in person. Here at BGL we don’t put air quotes around the word “meet” when we say it was nice to meet you over VC. We’re firm believers that as video conferencing services improve, they approach real life interaction.

Into this culture stepped Marty Perlmutter, a new hire for BGL, who arrived just in time to attend our all-staff meeting over VC. Below is his reflection on the experience.

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“Normal”

From Marty:

If there’s one technology (besides VR) that resolutely remains disappointing surely it’s video conferencing. Harnessed to education, video conferences are often frustrating, customarily begin with dead air as hosts struggle to make the kludge work, almost never convey a sense of intimacy among participants, choke when more than a dozen folks are involved… The causes of dismay are as numerous as there are vendors – Skype, GoToMeeting, WebEx. Their names legion, their costs impressive, nearly all raise the question of their own existence, to quote one wag.

So it was with surprise and not a little delight that I shared a video conference with 28 distant participants on three continents in the annual all-team meeting of Banyan Global Learning. The system didn’t sputter. The breakout rooms worked. The darn thing operated without a single oops for an hour. Most importantly, I came away feeling I’d actually met these strangers, had begun to have a feel for them, laughed and spoke with them, and felt intrigued by the mission we shared. The presiding person paired us swiftly for breakouts. All sessions worked as planned. There was real conversation and sharing. Wonder of wonders!

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“Goofy”

Zoom was the platform. Unlike large Skype calls, we didn’t have to default to audio-only as the works choked. Videos of speakers were spotlighted. Thumbnail video of all participants persisted, and these were useful. We didn’t do tricks with graphic roll-ins but had video clips that were relevant for discussion. 

I came away convinced this system would be useful in a teaching application, as is the practice of BGL. For classroom purposes, BGL provides links to text, video, podcasts, graphics. After just 55 years of patient (and frustrated) waiting – since the premiere of “video telephone” service at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 – we may be ready to roll.

Now, the challenge becomes the instructor’s: Can you keep this experience engaging and informative? Can you catalyze interaction among participants? Can you track the progress of participants? Perhaps most important, can you forge learning circles, subgroups of students, who’ll be motivated to work together to investigate topics and collaboratively construct their understanding? 

Recent evidence is encouraging.

ISTE 2019: A Wonderland for Education Innovators

By Jacquelin Fink, M.Ed., BGL‘s Vice President of Curriculum & Professional Development

As a long-time online educator and first-time ISTE Conference attender, I was blown away by the wonderland known as ISTE 2019. Like an amusement park for innovators in education, ISTE offered dazzling attractions as far as the eye could see. All around child-like joy sparked on the faces of 20,000 attendees, educators from around the world abuzz with the theme “Bold Educators Activate Change.”

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I had the great fortune to be a part of the Leadership Exchange, which was a small group of about 300 education experts, set apart from the crowd by our orange colored lanyards. Dedicated leaders from around the world gathered to engage in courageous conversations about equity, and to explore the landscape of a future in education that we can barely imagine – a future brimming with the possibilities of a tech-integrated system of education that prepares learners beyond the workforce. The kind of future in which global relations and interpersonal skills rise to the top of the value in human contributions to the world.Screen Shot 2019-08-13 at 10.26.53 PM.png

My luck began as I sat at a table with the ISTE author of  Innovation Age Learning: Empowering Students by Empowering Teachers, Sam Sakai-Miller. She has invaluable insight after 20+ years in the world of technology in education. Together, Sam and I worked through the Innovator’s Compass, a thoughtful model for answering big questions and solving problems. Throughout the conference, I was excited to see the orange lanyards of these fellow leaders, proud to part of a cohort of some of the most brilliant minds in education.

Screen Shot 2019-08-13 at 11.14.46 PM.pngLater I wandered through the wonderland of the Expo, falling down rabbit holes of the kind of technology I dreamed of as a child. Robots were everywhere at the ISTE Expo! From simple coding using color blocks to advanced AI capable of machine learning, there was a technology to meet any need or dream. The samurai block robots from ArTec caught my eye, and I was excited to learn that they offer a full curriculum as well as live student competitions. Swivl turned my head too, with its tracking capabilities that allow teachers to move more freely while teaching on camera – perfect for the animated, engaging style of BGL’s Learning Live program. There were also the familiar logos of some of our favorite Edtech providers, like Flipgrid, Edmodo and Peardeck amongst the giants Microsoft, Apple and Google.

Alas, I emerged from the magnificent Expo to a labyrinth of concurrent poster sessions, workshops, pop-up seminars, lectures, discussions and tech playgrounds. A favorite of mine was a session from the co-founder of  the interactive white board tool Explain Everything, Reshan Richards. His session, “10 Research-Driven Teaching Strategies, Augmented with Technology, That Leaders Should Use,” explored some of the fundamentals of teaching as they apply to the world of training and professional development. Most poignant in his animated, sincerely personable delivery of succinct, practical content was an idea echoed throughout ISTE: the most valuable asset to our future workforce, and future society, is our humanity.

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Many thanks to Rehshan for gifting me his book Make Yourself Clear. Just a few chapters in, I am reminded of the adage, “just because you can do a thing, doesn’t mean you should.” Technology should be integrated thoughtfully in consideration of the value that human interactions can bring. In other words, just because many jobs can be taken over by robots doesn’t mean that all jobs, or even all parts of jobs, are beneficial for robots to complete.

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Some of the best moments of ISTE came from the connections made with genuinely passionate, like-minded educators. I found just such a person in Todd Lash, research associate at the CSforAll Consortium, and presenter of “Making Computer Science Accessible to ALL Learners,” who is clearly committed to equity in access to technology. His work with students with special needs was particularly touching as the proud aunt and advocate of a nephew who is bravely fighting a kidney disease while navigating the complexities of his teenage years as a teen with autism. Through Todd’s encouraging work and words, I was empowered to continue as an advocate knowing that I’m not alone.

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I met Kasper Hua while signing up for PAECT, a nonprofit organization that supports educational technology in Pennsylvania, and we immediately connected after a brief language exchange and laugh as I practiced my less-than-fluent Mandarin. Over lunch at the Reading Terminal Market, I learned that Kasper and I share many views on inclusion, technology and equity in education. I now have a friend and ally in Kasper who echoes my hopes for a brighter, more inclusive future in education.

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While there was so much to learn from these sessions, the poster sessions were really a blast for me. Given BGL’s focus on delivering high-quality education over video conferencing technology, I was so excited to discover an entire row of other educators specializing in this same pursuit. When you’re on the cutting edge of technology, it’s a challenge to find others who are on the same level. TWICE impressed me with their global, philanthropic endeavors to encourage student collaborations, and eMINTS with their extensive library of teacher training videos.

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At BGL, we’re teachers as well as students, so I was happy to talk with Kiersten Greene, Professor of Literacy in the Elementary Education Department at SUNY New Palz and BGL collective contributor. She was presenting research findings on the preparedness of teachers for the real-world of teaching. Although the current state of affairs in teacher training programs is a bit bleak, it was inspiring to talk with others who are as committed to raising the bar as we are.

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We hear all the time about this exponential rate of change in technology that makes the future uncertain – an idea that can be as intimidating to teachers as it is to students. At ISTE 2019, we learned what an exciting time this is for us as educators as we get to be a part of changing the very fabric of what we call education. When we work together, share our knowledge, and become the leaders we want to follow, our students – and their students, someday are sure to be prepared for our changing world.

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As a Pennsylvania native, I would be remiss if I didn’t include some of the beautiful sights the City of Brotherly Love had to offer.

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Music Videos for the New School Year

Hey everyone!  While y’all have been enjoying your summer (we hope), we here at BGL have been working tirelessly to make sure the 2019-2020 school year starts off with a bang by creating fresh videos to brighten up your new classroom.  

Songs for Routines

A great way to greet new students and build routines is with classroom songs, like our newly released Hi There! Hello! Good Morning! and See You Tomorrow. The catchy tunes bring such a smile to the kids’ faces as they sing along, simple words make for quick and easy sing-alongs, and fun dances make saying “hello” and “goodbye” a happy part of the day for young learners.  For the silliest song to teach manners while getting out some giggles, check out May I Please!

Songs for Phonics: Sophie Sounds

We all know that phonics is an important part of a balanced kindergarten diet, but it can be less like a boring vitamin and more like a rainbow sprinkle ice cream cone with Sophie Sounds. Young learners can explore the magic world of sounds, letters and words with Sophie and friends. Aligned with the BRIDGES curriculum, students can see words from their book come to life in the short, sweet animated adventures of Sophie Sounds.

 

Want more?

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see the latest phonics adventures of Sophie Sounds and browse our library of free quality educational content for young learners. If you love what you see on BGL’s blog and want to become part of our collective of educators and innovators, see our job postings.

Thanks, Team!

A special thanks to our BGL media production team that brings the magic to life!

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Happy teaching, everyone!

Next Vista Project: Winners and Reflections

BGL‘s 8th grade students from Tsai Hsing School recently participated in the international Next Vista Competition. Next Vista inspires students to become teachers by creating informational how-to videos. Below, students reflect on the process and the media-development skills they refined through their Classroom Live experience. 

But first, let’s take a look at the video by Andria and Justin which won the competition! (And, you can see why.)

 

Here is Andria’s reflection on the process:

A few months ago, our teacher announced that all of us THSH DL students were going to participate in a global competition. The context, simply put, was to compete to see who could make the best “How to” video.

I remember when the teacher was explaining the rules to us. I could feel the cogs in my mind running, searching for what type of interesting thing I could do this time, searching for what idea could leave my classmates in awe. Such events always excited me; I liked to do my very best to see if I could surpass even more people than before when it comes to using my artistic talent. Seeing amazed, smiling, even shocked expressions always brought me unexplainable joy.

However, the grouping bothered me. I thought about being in a group alone, since I”d already decided on what I was going to do— an art tutorial— and it wasn’t easy to do it with others. In other words, I’d end up doing all the work if I was grouped.

By the end of the period, I was grouped with Justin, a boy with quite fluent English. He asked me if he could join me since he was sick of doing all the work during past projects, since he’s also the type to carry his teammates’ burdens on his shoulders. Not giving much thought, I accepted, letting him do part of the speaking in our video. Perhaps his voice could help our video, I thought.

This project contained three important steps, all of which I was confident of: drawing artwork, speaking English, and digital editing.

-Filming-

It took some pondering to find out where I could set my camera, or rather, my phone. Professional setup didn’t exist in our small home. My solution? Tape! Tape fixes everything and is the solution to everything. Yep, that’s right; I taped my phone onto my lamp, setting the camera to time lapse. My phone was on fire by the time I finished filming all my 40 minute art progress.

-Script-

While I did that at home, I wrote the script for the video at school. The teacher had opened a “Next Vista Storyboard.” I made sure that it was simple and easy to understand, so that people of all ages could understand, even the students in my class that hadn’t been learning English for long. I assigned Justin some lines to read, while I read the others, and the both of us spoke together during the opening and closing. We recorded in the Voice Memos app in the hallway to make sure there were to disturbances. Of course, earphones were required, and there was still a bit of background noises, but it got covered once I added the background music.

-Editing-

Next was the editing. I’ve edited videos for computer class, other competitions, PowerPoint homework that actually didn’t require so much work but I did so anyways, and just for plain fun, such as my sister’s birthday, so I was also confident in these abilities. I used Corel Video Studio, a software my sister downloaded in her computer long ago.

This software was professional but not too complicated, easy to understand and not hard to use. I’ve learned to use most of the abilities by clicking around myself and asking my sister for help in the past. After this event, I’ve gotten even more familiar with this software!

My account has multiple failed uploads I didn’t get to delete after submitting. One has misspelled captions. One has a missing credit. One has cut audio. It took a while to get a version I was content with, and it’s still imperfect. But of course, there’s no such thing as perfection, so I’m not worried! If perfection existed, we wouldn’t be able to improve after reaching the highest point. What fun would there be in that?

Thanks to all my free time, my strong determination, Google Drive, and the plug that was placed conveniently next to my computer (my phone kept running low in battery), it didn’t take long for my video to be finished.

I think a very crucial part of my success is how I loved what I was doing. I literally sat in front of my computer for a whole day with no rest, only editing the video, not being able to move, since I didn’t want to end my progress.

Of course, along the way, most of my classmates gave me funny looks when they noticed how hard I was working. They saw this assignment as “another one of those things” while I saw this as “an important opportunity.” Just this fact made me surpass all others. People just don’t understand the pride of gaining a new achievement. Until now, as I type this article nonstop, my classmates are playfully judging me as they take their break time.

I do not regret doing so though. Winning this contest made me very happy, and even until this day I think it’s one of my biggest achievements. I’m happy that one day, I’ll look back to this day, and I’ll think to myself, “Oh, I’m so glad I worked so hard on the contest during eighth grade.”

To the people who are working hard or going through a hard time, don’t stop just yet. I’m sure your hard work will pay off soon! What other people think isn’t important, your ambitions are far more important!

I will never forget this moment of my life.

 

And, here are some more reflections from the class:

Ring:

This time is our second time to participate this contest. This contest is about making a teaching video. We make a video of cheesecake. It is really happy that we can make a food video. Although it takes a long time to make it. But we learn that make dessert needs more patient. Making a cheesecake also spent a lot of money of ingredients and models. It is also needs focus of measuring the ingredients. But when you eat it in the very end you will get a sense of accomplishment. It’s really fun to make, but you should think about your budget is high or low.

 

Ryan:

What is the Next Vista competition? This contest is mainly about showing people videos that can teach you things. People could choose the article whatever they want. Example like, teaching people how to shoot a basketball. I have done a video about how to do push-ups. My teammate did many push-ups and I just recorded him. I thought it was a really easy job, but in fact it wasn’t. We had to make a credit and add words in the videos. The audio and volume need to make sure it’s clear and perfect. Although we didn’t get any reward, I am still happy with our video because we finally did it!

 

Sophia:

Next Vista competition is a competition of teaching videos. We can post any video that teach the watchers how to do something. My partners and I decided to make a video that is about how to make a bow.

First, we decided on what we will say, and what are our scenes about. I think this was the most difficult part, because it was hard for me to create something like a play. After we finished the script for the video, we started filming. Luckily, everything went well. My partner and I filmed quickly. Next, We added some subtitles, music and credits to make the movie more clear. Then we finished. During the filming, I think the challenge was that I deleted one section of the video! I decided to use the screenshot to film it again.

I am happy about my video, because I think it was clear. This video made me learn that being a teacher isn’t easy.

What’s it like to live and teach in Kunshan, China?

Kunshan is a sleepy little city of 2 million people (!) about 45 miles to the west of the Shanghai, China. It offers a good balance between living in a relatively peaceful smaller-city experience and having easy access to the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s premier cities. Plus, it’s a great travel hub.

In this video, BGL‘s Teacher Joanna guides teach-abroad candidates through what it’s like to live in Kunshan, China.

Click here to see teaching opportunities in Kunshan!

Field Trips Live: Apple Campus in Cupertino, California

Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area was a place of quiet fruit orchards until sometime in the 1970s when the semiconductor industry took off. At the time silicon was a major component of semiconductors which were used in machines like calculators, computers and most electronics, hence the new name for the area to the west of the SF Bay. 

BGL’s Learning Live seventh graders at Tsai Hsing School read our original iBook, Joyce Visits America, in which a girl from Taipei visits the San Francisco Bay area to learn more about where the technology which informs her life is created. Most of the students in 701 and 702 have been to an Apple store, and most use at least one Apple product. Before the FTL, students explored the Bay Area virtually and decided to focus their explorations on Apple since in addition to being one of the largest corporations in the world it is such a part of global daily life. Students learned about the history of Apple from its early days in a garage in Los Altos to its Cupertino headquarters.

Former CEO Steve Jobs was obsessed with Apple products exhibiting good design, and Apple’s Cupertino headquarters reflects what happens when design is considered in its entirety. Jobs believed that even the best software needed its hardware to be elegant and environmentally and people friendly. During the FTL, students learned about the many ways Apple tries to be environmentally friendly and/or sustainable. They learned that Jobs insisted that only 20% of the land at the new headquarters be built. This left 80% for greenspace. There are over 9,000 fruit trees – cherry, apple, apricot and plum. This last is of historical value, too. The land on which the campus was built was once a plum farm where the Glendenning family dried the fruit until it became prunes; these were shipped all over the world. Today, the drying barn is a feature of the campus. Clearly, the campus requires a lot of water. All of the water used to take care of the grounds is reclaimed wastewater. The balance of the landscaping consists of drought-resistant and indigenous plants.

This pursuit of perfection in design extended to the invention (by others) of a new type of glass for the front windows of Apple stores and another new kind of glass for its donut-shaped headquarters in Cupertino in which all the windows are curved. Why is the building circular anyway? Our students researched and conjectured: perhaps because circles have no end. Or, because there’s no “best” most important place around a circle? Or it may have had to do with Steve Jobs’ engagement with Buddhism and the enso, or circle, drawn with one stroke. The enso symbolizes creation, strength, elegance and one-mindedness, all things which factored into Jobs’ design thinking.

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By Daniel L. Lu (user:dllu) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69553418

 

Looks a bit like a mothership from a science fiction movie from the future, doesn’t it? In fact, it is the largest office building in the world at 2.8 million square feet and sits on 175 acres. Four stories are above ground and three are underground. Yet all of its power comes from renewable energy. Even though 12,000 people work there with parking for 14,200 cars, more than eighty percent of the land is green space. You get a sense of how large the campus is in a short video set to the Mission Impossible theme.

During the Field Trip Live in the visitor center, the classes saw a scale model of the entire Apple campus. When Teacher Courtney hovered her hand over a part of it, that part was revealed in more detail through Augmented Reality (AR). Students were in awe of this relatively new technology that will soon become mainstream and were eager to learn more. 

After the FTL, students had a few questions about the experience. Chief among them was wanting to know what happens to all the old Apple products when people replace them. Google searched led them to learn  that Apple not only reclaims water on its campus, but reclaims and repurposes parts of the iPhone and other hardware it makes.

To apply what they learned, students reflected on the most interesting aspects of the FTL and came to the conclusion that the AR experience was of greatest interest. After their visual and virtual experience, students experimented with AR on their own iPads using the iMeasure app. This app enables the user to measure objects and spaces using AR. For many, this was the first of many times they will use their iPad to learn from augmented reality.