York, PA’s Weary Arts Group – A 4G Field Trip for Students of Shakespeare

There is perhaps no better way for students to dive into the art of theatrical performance than by studying the greatest playwright of all time, William Shakespeare. While reading an adaptation of the comedy Much Ado about Nothing, BGL‘s 8th grade distance learning students explored the themes of the story while learning how to add expressiveness to their acting of the play’s scenes. This 4G Field Trip with the Weary Arts Group in York, PA brought the concept home for these students in a fun and informative way. Our gracious and dynamic hosts, Calvin and Dante, mesmerized the class with their performances, and the students were grateful to learn from some experts.
Thanks to Teacher Jackie for facilitating the trip and for creating short and long versions of the field trip video. See them below!
SHORT VERSION:
LONG VERSION:

That’s Crafty! Our 4G Field Trip to Tom Colicchio’s LA Restaurant

Wow! BGL’s 501 Class was very lucky to take a virtual field trip to Tom Colicchio‘s Craft LA, one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. The charming and well-spoken manager, Todd Thurman, led the tour and gave the 5th graders a unique insight into the process behind creating some of the world’s finest dishes.

Manager Todd Thurman introduces Taiwanese 5th graders to Craft LA.

Manager Todd Thurman introduces Taiwanese 5th graders to Craft LA.

“Teacher Todd” first showed us around the patron area, discussing the nature of the owner’s fame and the concept behind the design of the dining space.

Students are introduced to Craft's formal dining space.

Students are introduced to Craft’s formal dining space.

The real fun started as we headed into the kitchen. As we visited each of the stations, Teacher Todd told us some of the work that goes into creating such unique food. All of the fruits and vegetables are sourced from Farmer’s Markets up and down the state of California. Some markets will come by the restaurant with a huge selection of food with only the most superb ingredients chosen by special Craft staff.

Chef de Cuisine Ray England addresses the students.

Chef de Cuisine Ray England addresses the students.

We had the pleasure of meeting the head chef (or, “Chef de Cuisine”), Ray England, who talked to the students about Craft’s use of the entire animal after butchering. This made sense to the Taiwanese students, whose culture celebrates the eating of many foods that we might consider “exotic” in an effort to waste no part of butchered animals.

Dessert!

Dessert!

Of course, the students were most excited when they saw the gourmet chocolate chip cookies and, especially, the homemade sorbet and ice cream. One student wished that there was a machine that would allow people to “throw stuff through the television screen” so that they could eat some of the ice cream. The Craft staff got a kick out of the enthusiasm the students showed for their favorite sweets.

Afterwards, Teacher Seth was so hungry he had to sit down and sample the octopus and summer squash puttanesca and orecchiette with lamb and fava beans.

The best octopus I've ever tasted.

The best octopus I’ve ever tasted.

Orecchiette with lamb and fava beans.

Orecchiette with lamb and fava beans.

All in all, a fantastic experience for students and tour guides alike. This was a great way to wrap up our food unit, which also had us taking a virtual field trip to a farmer’s market and conducting a recipe collaboration with the Environmental Charter School in Pittsburgh.

Many thanks Teacher Seth’s good buddy Jim Wisniewski for setting up the trip! Here are some of the best thank you notes from the students:

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Virtual Entrepreneurs – Our 4G Field Trip to Lumosity

To understand more about designing their own companies, our advanced 8th grade Distance Learning class took a virtual field trip to the San Francisco offices of Lumos Labs, the builder of the world-famous brain-training service, Lumosity. Prior to the trip, the students read about other Silicon Valley companies and discussed the importance of innovation when starting a new technology company. They also discussed the competitive hiring processes in the Bay Area and the perks that some companies – like Lumosity – use to attract the most talented employees.
In the video above, we see students being led by their fantastically engaging tour guide, Amanda, as well as their distance learning teacher in Los Angeles, BGL’s Teacher Jackie. This 4-minute highlight reel of the 45-minute trip shows Amanda leading the students through the open working areas, fun spaces, and the many kitchens of Lumosity.
While students were most amazed by the food options in the kitchens (and by the gaming areas), they also found inspiration for their assignment to design their own companies. For that assignment, students created advertisements that captured why their company should be an industry leader, just like Lumosity.
Here is some of their best work:
An 8th grader's idea for a new company - ear rings: combination earrings and headphones.

An 8th grader’s idea for a new company – ear rings: combination earrings and headphones.

An example of ear rings, Minions-style.

An example of ear rings, Minions-style.

Another 8th grader's business idea: wifi cards.

Another 8th grader’s business idea: wifi cards.

Another 8th grader's business idea: an app that allows you to rent products before you buy them.

Another 8th grader’s business idea: an app that allows you to rent products before you buy them.

Which companies would your class like to visit? Leave your ideas in the comments section.

Dinosaurs! Another Great 4G Field Trip to NHM

Our 6th grade class at Tsai Hsing School recently read an adapted version of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. They discussed and analyzed the myriad cultural and historical issues raised by the story, which has a time traveler go hundreds of thousands of years into the future to find that the human race has evolved into two separate species.

Students listen to NHM's Teacher Jessie introduce specific dinosaur bones.

Students listen to NHM’s Teacher Jessie introduce specific dinosaur bones.

 

Admittedly, it was a loose connection that brought us back for yet another virtual field trip to the outstanding Natural History Museum during this unit. In a way, we became the time travelers as we learned about these amazing creatures, but really we just wanted to see NHM’s awesome specimen collection.

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As usual, the excellent Jessie Daniel led the trip and engaged the students through his combination of knowledge and enthusiasm. Students were rapt as he took them through the halls showing full-scale models and skeletons of these ancient creatures.

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Some of the braver students stood up to participate in a compelling Q & A that the students would never had had access to without modern technology.

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In the end, it was another great time had by all. We look forward to our next visit!

 

 

5 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Taiwan

At BGL we find that celebrating holidays is a great, authentic way to teach culture. Here are five ways we’ve been able to communicate our love for the holiday season with our students in Taiwan.

1. Talk to Holiday Shoppers on a 4G Field Trip to an American Mall

Our Field Trips Live are one of the most popular elements of our program. It’s always fun to see two cultures merge, especially so during the holidays. Here are some images from this year’s trip to Glendale, CA’s Americana:

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Students watch a holiday-themed trolly drive by at the Americana mall in Glendale, CA.

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A friendly family answers questions from our students, and asks some of their own. The mom is a high school art teacher and thought our field trip was super cool!

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A man with a Santa hat pauses from his holiday shopping to ask our students how many of them celebrate Christmas with their families at home.

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Teacher Seth shows the students their reflection in his iPhone.

2. Read our Adaptation of A Christmas Carol

We adapt many classic novels so that we can challenge our Taiwanese students with sophisticated concepts while making sure that the texts are at an accessible language level. Our sixth grade classes read the classic Dickens tale each year, and this year we added a song and music video to reinforce the story’s main concepts of reflection and redemption:

3. Have a Teacher Holiday Party

Teaching abroad can be tough during the holidays. Getting together with other expats – and locals – to celebrate can make it all seem just a little closer to home. Teachers Audrey and Sarah did just that: image (6)

4. Listen to BGL’s Family Christmas Song

And, of course, our original Christmas song is a perennial favorite:

5. Celebrate on Campus

Tsai Hsing School’s birthday is 12/25, so in December the campus is filled with Christmas decorations, costumes and pageants. Here are some charming shots of our 4th grade bilingual class and some of our American teachers feeling the Christmas spirit:

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Merry Christmas, everyone!

 

Spidey Sense: 4G Field Trip to NHM’s Spider Pavilion

On Oct. 28, 2014, Banyan Global Learning partnered once again with the Natural History Museum, Los Angeles for another 4G Field Trip. Last time we took the students on a tour of the Silk Road, but this time, with Halloween fast approaching, we took them to the creepy-cool open-air Spider Pavilion, home to the world’s largest orb spider species among other crawly little friends.

Spider Pavilion

Welcome to the Spider Pavilion!

Class 701 had recently completed the Dig Project – a third-annual collaboration with the Menlo School in Northern California in which students each dig up a cubic foot of earth before analyzing the types of animals they found and sharing that data with their collaborative partners. Spiders featured prominently in some of the data, which was a natural connection to NHM’s Spider Pavilion. Plus, spiders are just awesome.

Spider Pavilion Entrance

The start of the exhibit.

The enthusiastic Jesse Daniel (Supervisor of Floor Interpretation, Education & Exhibits) led our Silk Road 4G Field Trip and made a return appearance for this one, too. He showed us the Wolf Spider (who does not use a web to catch prey but rather hunts, like a wolf), the Giant Wood Spider (the largest orb spider in the world and a familiar friend to some of the teachers in Taiwan), the Golden Silk Spider (whose silk is some of the strongest in the world and is thus an important subject of scientific research), and many others. Here is an image of a Wolf Spider and a video with Jesse telling the students a little bit about it.

Wolf Spider display

Wolf Spider Display

Wolf Spider hanging upside down.

Here is a Wolf Spider hanging upside down under a table. They have little claws they use to do this!

Prior to the field trip, the students were given a survey asking what they would want to learn.  Some top responses were, “What kind of food do they eat?”, “Where do they live?” and “How can you tell the difference between a male and female spider?” Jesse tackles the latter question in this video clip:

“Did you know that?”

Bringing the Taiwan students so close to many species of spiders, mostly from North America, from thousands of miles away was another testament to the power of technology and our series of 4G Field Trips (although our field trips with NHM have taken advantage of their new building-wide TWC wifi). Here at Banyan Global Learning we continue to find ways to create a dynamic distance learning curriculum. We find compelling connections to our classroom content and use video teleconferencing technology to leverage opportunities such as this.

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Students looking at a Golden Silk spider.

Special thanks goes to the Natural History Museum and to Jesse Daniel for once again providing our students in Taiwan with the opportunity to visit this amazing facility and learn about these wonderful creatures.  As Jesse explains here (which was probably the most important take-away for the students), spiders are critical to the balance of our ecosystem.  So please, next time think twice before you smash one of these furry friends – instead, scoop him up and put him somewhere where he can to continue to benefit the environment.