The BigDayta Project: Worldwide Collaboration, Instant Student Data, a Powerful Classroom Tool

If you are a teacher of any grade level and any subject, I have two questions for you:

  1. Are you looking for ways to incorporate technology into your classroom?
  2. Do you want to ask meaningful real-life questions that involve students from around the world?

If you answered ‘yes’ to both those questions, then the BigDayta Project is for you. BigDayta is our attempt to connect classrooms around the world by asking a simple question to every student: what do you do, every hour, on a normal school day?

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 12.14.54 PM

Turns out you can learn some really interesting things with that one simple question. If you know the country students are in, you can compare sleep times in different nations. You can see when students begin to do homework, or what is the most common thing they do outside school. If you know the town students live in, you can compare big city students to those that live in small towns. How different is their day?

Three students, two very different days. What valuable information can we learn from their day-to-day schedule?

Our project is simple. Students record what they do on one day, and then they fill out a simple Google form. The results are accessible to everyone and are constantly updated. As a teacher, if you want to download the results and do the rest on your own, you can! But the website allows you to do much more:

  1. Collaborate—Did your students find the data about kids in Taiwan interesting? Do you want your classes to interact, share stories or go deeper with the information? There is a forum section on the website where you can reach out to others.
  2. Find lesson plans—There are already lesson plans created by the BigDayta crew, but teachers can add theirs as well.
  3. Post Blogs—Do your students want to write more about their day? Maybe they want to share their experience with this project. Email us at and we will post your students’ blog on our blog page.

How can you use this in your classroom?

The questions you can ask with this data are diverse. Here are some sample ideas for different subjects:

  • Math:
    • What fraction of students are asleep at 9pm?
    • What is the average start time of homework?
    • Create a graph that shows the average wake up time for students in three countries.
  • Social Studies:
    • Why are after school activities so different between American and Asian students?
    • How does living in a city larger than 1 million people change the way a student’s day looks compared to a student in a city smaller than 1 million?
    • Do you think ‘nap time’ in Taiwan increases student achievement?
  • Computer Science—Practice manipulating spreadsheet data
  • Statistics:
    • Mean, median and mode
    • Create frequency tables
  • English
    • Find pen pals for your students
    • Write persuasive essays on why your day’s schedule is better than another
    • Use the timeline from students in another state/country to create a short story

…And many, many more!

This is the Google form that students complete. It is quick and easy!

This is the Google form that students complete. It is quick and easy!

As classrooms around the world add their data, this project will become more and more powerful. We already have data from students in Taiwan, so you can start exploring immediately. Let’s make this thing go global. Tell your students to write down what they do. Take five minutes to fill out the the form. Be part of something big.

And lastly, share it with your fellow teachers! Even the data within a single school can reveal some surprising results.

#BigDayta is here!

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:


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


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!


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.


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:










Merry Christmas, everyone!


Allowing Mother Tongues in ELL Classrooms: One Teacher’s Perspective

As a teacher, how does having learned a second language affect your teaching of ELL’s? Similarly, how does it influence your perspective on the use of mother tongues in an ELL classroom? BGL’s Teacher Christal offers this personal account:

In 1958 my mother emigrated from Quito, Ecuador to Los Angeles, California. She told me that her teachers did not let her speak Spanish and she was forced to learn English by the sink-or-swim method. She remembered that in second grade she went to the bathroom in the classroom because she was scared to ask for permission in her native language. When I was born, my mother decided not to teach me Spanish because she thought it would confuse me hinder my English speaking skills.

Teacher Christal & her mom in Ecuador.

Teacher Christal & her mom in Ecuador.

In 1996 at the age of sixteen I went back to Ecuador for about a year. I enrolled in a Spanish-speaking school. At the time I understood many Spanish words but was not able to speak it conversationally. I was not allowed to speak English in my classes. I remember being teased by other students and being embarrassed when I made mistakes learning the language. Although I did learn Spanish, it was a very stressful time in my academic career. This experience helped me to conclude that the learning of languages should be taught as authentically as possible with numerous opportunities for engagement with both academic and non-academic subject matter.

While I attended the University of California at Santa Barbara I decided to become an educator. I tutored English Language Learners from the Santa Barbara community. I then received my Master’s Degree in Education from the University of California at Los Angeles. UCLA’s teacher education program focused on helping students in lower income areas of Los Angeles. Many of the lower income schools with which UCLA worked had predominately English Language Learners. UCSB and UCLA gave me tools to create a classroom that allowed students to learn the English language in a meaningful way. I began teaching in Pico Union in 2003 and I have helped teach over 500 English Language Learners.

Celebrating Christmas in LAUSD.

Celebrating Christmas in LAUSD.

In 2009 I started teaching English Language Learners from Tsia Hsing School, in Taipei, Taiwan. I learned that I could help English Language Learners learn English even if I was not physically in the room with them. The technology we use allows all participants to feel that we are sharing the same space even though we are 6,000 miles apart. I am still able to foster authentic experiences for English Language Learners using an original curriculum and inventive experiences like international student collaborations and 4G Field Trips. I went to Taipei in 2010 and I loved being able to meet the students in person, but I continue to feel that personal connection with them even from a distance.

Visiting Tsai Hsing in 2010.

Visiting Tsai Hsing in 2010.

It is clear to me that learning a new language broadens your mind and enhances the possibilities of your future. Through all my experiences I have learned that English Language Learners learn the best when you embrace their native tongue and they feel comfortable making mistakes in the classroom. I hope that any student that walks into my classroom – virtual or otherwise – knows that their native language is respected and embraced in my class.


Taking the Distance Out of Distance Learning: The Value of Face-to-Face Contact

As teachers, one of the best things about our jobs is the connection we make with our students. That connection is the inevitable marriage of good intentions and spending eight hours a day in a shared space. However, distance learning – whereby students and teachers do not share the same physical space but rather communicate online – is a real and momentous educational trend. But many still wonder: Is it possible for teachers to connect with students when they are miles apart? Can teachers feel the energy in the classroom or identify students who need help? Here at BGL, it’s not only possible… it’s happening.

The following is an account from BGL’s Teacher, Travis:

Being a teacher with BGL is an experience unlike any other I’ve had as an educator. From our offices in downtown Los Angeles, I’m able to teach a class of 42 Taiwanese sixth graders at Tsai Hsing School in Taipei. And technology allows us to shrink the distance between us. From California, I’m able to control multiple video screens in the students’ classroom; I can call students’ individual iPads for one-on-one instruction; and online platforms allow Tsai Hsing and BGL to work seamlessly from different continents.


From the students perspective: working while a distance learning teacher is on the screen.

Before I began teaching for BGL, I spent five years in both high school and K-5 classrooms. I wasn’t sure if my traditional classrooms skills would translate to this online teaching world. But after about six weeks, I realized, “Wow, this feels like regular teaching! It’s like I’m in the room with them.” The individual iPad conferencing allowed me to connect with my students despite the distance. Just last week, I learned Thalia loves Taylor Swift (she sang a few lines for me during one of our conferences) and I argued with Yoli whose favorite NBA team is the Lakers (I am a Bulls fan for life).


Students collaboratively working on an iMovie video

Recently, BGL sent me to Taipei for one week to visit the school and meet my students (as they do with all their distance teachers). My students freaked out when they learned I was coming to visit. I anxiously stood outside their classroom door, waiting for them to come out and see me for the first time. And the looks on their faces? I will have that mental picture for the rest of my life. At first, they looked confused. Then, when they realized it was me, they all screamed and ran up hugging me and giving high fives.


My students rehearsing a video diary of Paris and Helen of Troy.

By sending me to Taipei to teach my students in person, BGL made the learning experience – for both student and teacher – even stronger. Inside the classroom, students were more deeply engaged and the lessons felt more dynamic. Outside the classroom, I was able to connect with the students even further: I would play with them during breaks, sit with them during assemblies, and help them after school to prepare for English language competitions in Taipei. (Many of them actually took home first place!) Being face-to-face, the students were able to really feel that I cared about them. And the feeling was clearly mutual.

National Teacher Day happened to fall during my week in Taiwan. Now, if you ask American students, teachers or administrators when Teacher Appreciation Day is, they probably won’t know. I admit that I didn’t know. But in Taipei, National Teacher Day is known by everyone. It is celebrated on Confucius’ birthday, as he is considered their greatest teacher. Tsai Hsing had an assembly to celebrate. For each class, a student wrote something special about their teacher, read it to the school and presented each teacher with a flower. After each teacher came up, students would yell out, “我們愛你的老師” (“We love you teacher”). Eason, a student of mine, shared how our class felt about me. It was sweet and from the heart.


A final photograph.

Since returning from Taiwan and stepping back in front of the camera, every lesson has been filled with the same energy I felt when I was in Taipei. My students and I look at each other differently. I see how much they look up to teachers, respect what they do and crave to learn from them. And they see how much I care about them, and how goofy I can really be!

Any reservations I had about the effectiveness of distance learning have vanished. My students are deeply engaged with what they are learning. They have fun, work wonderfully together, are responsive to my expectations and treat my class just like their traditional classes. I had felt this connection to them before I visited Taipei, but seeing my students in person solidified that feeling. Now, I truly do feel like I am in the classroom with them despite the 6,700 miles between us.


Teaching Halloween to Taiwanese Students: Frankenstein and a 4G Field Trip

The jack-o-lanterns are shining, the air is cooling, and little costumed monsters roam the streets – it’s time for Halloween! A treasured holiday to many Americans, Halloween of course is foreign to our students in Taiwan. Holidays and festivals can provide a unique window into a culture, so here at BGL we try to bring American holidays to life the best way we know how: through engaging content that includes adapted classic texts and virtual field trips. In this case, our seventh-grade students read an adapted version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and virtually visited a Halloween store 6,700 miles away from their Taipei classroom in Glendale, CA.


There are two spirit-inspired holidays in Taiwan, the Hungry Ghost Festival and Tomb Sweeping Day. However, these holidays are more somber and serious when compared with the candy-filled, month-long costume spook-tacular known as Halloween. Upon visiting the spectacle that is the American Halloween store, students were amazed at the huge variety of costumes, make-up, decorations and other Halloween tricks and treats.

And, after recently reading Frankenstein, students were able to easily make connections to the costumes they saw in the store. For their coursework the students had designed “Wanted Posters” for Dr. Frankenstein:

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 11.52.52 PM

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 11.53.32 PM

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 11.53.44 PM


So, they had a good idea of what the characters in the story looked like, including Frankenstein’s monster. After the field trip, students were prompted to describe their own monster Halloween costume and compare them with Frankenstein’s Monster. Here’s what they had to say: 

Audrey – My monster is going to look like a deer with feathers and scales. And its appearance will not be as same as the monster. It would be loved by Chinese people. And I will take good care of it.

Bibby – My monster will be very different because the monster may get shot, and everyplace would be bitten, and it will have white eyes. Just like the monster that we saw in the store and cost $5970 NT. I think my monster will make many children cry, and the monster was made for children. So it might have been popular if it didn’t hurt people.

Tina – I would like to use the fake scar, mask and the costume. I will buy fake blood, too, it will make me look really scary. I will make my monster look tall and scary, but he is not kind, like Frankenstein’s monster. If they don’t give me candy, I will give them chocolate egg candy.

Victoria – I would use the thing which can make my eyes look black and without eyeballs, and the special scar-sticker.  The scar would show the experience when he was hit by the villagers, and the black eyeballs show he was cursed by a witch who was in the village.

Matthew – If I were going to make a monster like Frankenstein, I would make it look like Iron Man. I chose Iron Man, because it is cool. My monster’s experience won’t be the same as Frankenstein. It won’t be the same, because my monster can fight the bad guys and help other people, so it will be very popular instead of a terrible monster.

Celine – I think if I make a monster, it will look just like Frankenstein’s monster. He will have green skin around his body. He would like to eat humans, because he is a scary monster. So I think it is just like Frankenstein’s monster.

Mike – I will make a monster by using the white eyes, one leg will be gone, and he will have lots of wounds on his body. My monster will scare everyone. The people who are scared by the monster will give me some candy. Because I won the game, that’s whose monster was the scariest.

Yvonne – I think I’ll create a monster that has long hair, red eyes, and sharp teeth. I’ll let her live in my bedroom. But I think I need to clean my bedroom everyday. If I let her just walk on the street, I think it will be similar with Frankenstein’s monster. My creature looks like a…… crazy woman. So I think she really need to stay in my bedroom.

How do you teach Halloween or other American holidays to your students abroad? Share your stories in the comments section.


English Literature Immersion: Poe and Carroll for EFL Students

Here at BGL, we develop our own curriculum for our content-based English program which we deliver via distance learning and in person to students in Taipei, Taiwan. Like with most EFL or ESL programs, it is a welcome and constant challenge to develop curriculum that is both conceptually challenging and on an accessible language level. In the past we have developed adapted versions of classic texts to accomplish this feat. This year, we added a new component: classic poetry.IMG_1353

For our junior high classes we developed two books, one for the seventh graders (whose content was based on Lewis Carroll) and one for the eighth graders (whose content was based on Edgar Allen Poe, just in time for Halloween!). The poetry of Carroll and Poe can be challenging even for native English speakers, but we thought we could follow our model of adapting classic texts by simplifying the poetry’s language for our students.  To our delight, the students loved the unit and produced great work in response.


Our students worked to engage with content and pushed themselves to pronounce and understand some of the complicated words used.  Silken, solitary, deem & obeisance are not exactly easy words for an EFL student to use freely. We reviewed our new vocabulary strategies – breaking the word into its parts, reading around the word to figure out the meaning from the context, determining word charge and part of speech, and referencing online tools – and taught the students how to read the poem closely and analyze it. The students also created some poetry of their own. Here are a few examples of the finished works:


When viewing these works and watching this video, keep in mind that the level of these students English – many for whom English is their third language – is two to three grade levels behind where native speakers would be at that age. This being said, these results are impressive!


We also included a presentation element to the unit to challenge students to speak these words aloud. Here is some footage of one of the student presentations.



The students giggled a bit and struggled with some of the words but pushed themselves to succeed. Many Taiwanese students have a shy nature which makes speaking English aloud sometimes a challenge. However, we’ve found that working in groups and presenting in a more casual style works well as the students become less intimidated and accept that it is ok if their presentations are less than perfect as long as they tried their best. 


This unit proved that teachers can use content-based English instruction not just for straightforward academic subjects but also for complex literature. It pushed them to explore creative boundaries and teach themselves along the way how to learn and explore.  What unit have you created this year that pushes and challenges to teach your students in a new and creative way?  Reply here and let us know!


For curriculum development consultation or more information on Banyan Global Learning and our services, please see our website or email



Teaching in Taiwan: Some Differences between Mandarin and English for Teachers Abroad

Teaching English as a Foreign Language, like any teaching experience, is part art and part science. While there are best practices that can transcend the experience, getting to know which approaches are best for your students requires an intimate knowledge not just of your students themselves but of your host country’s culture and customs. There may be behavior management techniques that work better in different parts of the world, and knowing the specific differences between English and your students’ language can help teachers anticipate difficulties, empathize with challenges and devise successful strategies.

It is toward that end that we offer a curated a list of differences between Mandarin and English for teachers abroad. Thanks to BGL’s Teacher Jill and Teacher Nate for the assistance in writing this post.

Learn Chinese!

Learn Chinese!

Grammar & Syntax (for more info see here)

– there are no tenses in Chinese (instead time is told mostly from context but also through modifying words added to the ends of sentences), so verb conjugation can be tricky. With lower level students, in the beginning you may want to try to speak to them using as few tenses as possible and as many infinitives as possible.

– Along these same lines, many words function simultaneously as all parts of speech for that word (for example, the noun, adjective, and verb versions) whereas in English we would have different suffixes that denote the form of the word.

– Chinese uses the same word for he/she/him/her (ta, first tone) so students may often confuse these terms often.

– Also, if more than one person is mentioned they are most often mentioned together (for example, “He and I went to the store” versus “I went to the store with him” –> the first one is more familiar for Chinese speakers).

– In Chinese sentence structure, time comes toward the beginning of the sentence either directly before or after the subject. After time and subject comes location (if applicable), the verb, and then the noun. For example:

Sentence: 我昨天去電影院看電影. In English, we would say “Yesterday, I went to the cinema to see a movie.” In Chinese, it’s similar but a little different: “I yesterday go cinema see movie.”

我 = I (subject)

昨天 = yesterday (time)

去 = go (verb)

電影院 = cinema (location)

看 = see (verb)

電影 = movie (object)


– There are tones in Chinese (four or five of them, depending how you count), which means that words that sound the same to English speakers are actually different words because of what we would call the inflection of the word (or, to put it another way, the way in which you pronounce the vowel within the word). This has a lot of effects for how Chinese speakers learn English:

  • Firstly, it’s critical especially in younger grades to stress the vowel sounds of given words and teach students how to make the sounds correctly.
  • Also, when you introduce a new word to students they will often repeat the exact inflection with which you pronounced the word because, in Chinese, they need to repeat the tones exactly to get the word right.
  • And, the second and third tones go up at the end the same way that we, in English, might go up at the end of a sentence to denote a question, which is another difference to be aware of and/or teach to your students.

– Almost all phonemes in Chinese end in a vowel, so students might have a hard time pronouncing the ends of words that end in a consonant. They also may add an extra “uh” sound at the end of a word that ends in a consonant so as to make it sound more like a Chinese word.

– R’s and L’s may be difficult because the Chinese R sound is a combination of an R and an L in English. To make the Chinese R sound, you place your tongue where you would if you were making an L sound but then attempt to make the English R sound (try it!). So, to make the L sound students will need to open the mouth, place the tongue where they would for the Chinese R sound but then push air out and move the tongue down without moving the lower jaw. To make the English R sound, they will need to make the Chinese R sound but move their tongue from the roof of their mouth to the empty space between the upper and lower jaw.

– Students may also have a difficult time differentiating between short e’s and long a’s, between long e’s and short i’s, and between soft TH and F’s/S’s. As native English speakers, we can show students how to shape their mouth/tongue in order to make the sounds correctly.


– Chinese uses a different set of punctuation marks than we do in English, so this element may be challenging especially to young students.

– Common errors include:

  • confusion between comma & period to end a sentence
  • lack of capital letters to start a sentence (there is no equivalent in Chinese)
  • starting new sentences of the same paragraph on a new line

– Taiwan uses traditional Chinese print as opposed to the simplified print that is used in China (and was introduced to increase literacy rates in the 1950s and 60s). It is actually illegal to teach simplified print in Taiwan, so if you are providing written translations to your students be careful to make sure it is traditional print.

– As an interesting note, Chinese language dictionaries are organized by stroke count, or the number of strokes it takes to create a given character (there also is a prescribed order in which each stroke should be made to create any given character). Within a given stroke count, words are then organized by radicals, or what we might think of as a “root word” (although the root exists usually only in print, not in the sound that is made for the word). There are about 200 Chinese radicals that are among the first pieces of writing that students learn. Speaking of learning to write, Taiwanese students generally do not learn how to write Chinese until they are in about second grade.

– There is a separate written language in Taiwan referred to as “bopomofo” that is used to teach the phonetics of each Chinese character or word. It is not used in normal writing, just to break down the phonetics of Chinese words, mostly in elementary school but also as a digital input tool. There are 37 characters, each with their corresponding sounds.



If you are interested in teaching abroad, please see our current job listings here.



Bilingual Pen Pals – An International Student Collaboration

Is it still a pen pal program if you don’t use pens? Despite the use of keyboards rather than quills and Edmodo instead of the mail, our students were never so excited about writing. This spring, our 8th grade students became international bilingual pen pals with some Chinese-language students at the excellent Carlmont High School in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The resulting pen pal project was a truly inspiring language and cultural exchange and a symbol of the future.

Tina showed her language skills while reading her letter to her pen pal.

Tina showed her language skills while reading her letter to her pen pal.

We first made contact with Carlmont through a mutual acquaintance at Menlo School (with whom we’ve done a number of international student collaborations), but plenty of teachers solicit pen pal partnerships through sites like  Once you have teachers signed on, making the project a success relies on three things: 1) setting a realistic calendar, 2) creating viable student partnerships, and 3) figuring out which technology and media are most effective.

Setting a realistic calendar – consider holidays, curriculum, and testing schedule that might conflict with the project; give ample time for receiving and writing letters (depending on your student population).

Viable student partnerships – teachers can receive introductory letters from the other school and read them before making partnerships.  Consider the language level of the student but also their respective interests.

Effective technology – Dropbox is great for transferring large files; Edmodo can be used for more informal exchanges; Googledocs is great for collaborative documents.  Deciding what’s best for you may have more to do with what you are already familiar with.

For our project, students made time outside of class to create polished letters to send to one another.  They wrote in both English and Chinese to give both groups practice with their non-native language.  For round two of the project they created videos, not only to show a glimpse into their respective cultures, but also to practice oral language skills.  Students were encouraged to give each other feedback in subsequent exchanges.

Students shared about their school culture.

Students shared about their school culture.

The response from students about the pen pal project was incredibly positive, and many wanted to continue to stay in contact with their pen pals next year.  Here is some of their feedback:

Gillian: “I like to make friends with foreign people.  I think writing letters with them is interesting.  My pen pal is funny and she is very nice.”

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 1.56.05 AM

Gillian’s bilingual letter to her pen pal.

Peggie: “I think when I made the video with my friends in the mountain of our school it was the coolest part.  All of us made the videos to our pen pals by using a funny way.  We told them about our school’s pond, and there are many large and colorful fish in it.”

Candy: “The pen pal project is a new activity for me.  I can meet different friends and understand things we don’t’ know about foreign places.  The coolest part is that my pen pal sent the video to me.  It was the first time I heard the sound of a teenager from another country.”

Alice: “I think this project is really amazing.  It let us keep in touch with a foreigner, and we also learn about American special customs.  I really want to go study in America!”

Alan: “It’s interesting to learn things from each other.  I learned many things about America and practiced using English to write the letter.”

Andrew: “I can know some differences from them, and I can share some special things in Taiwan with him.   Writing a letter to him helps me learn English, and it helps him learn Chinese too. I think having a pen pal in the USA is very cool!”

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 1.32.30 AM

Overall, this project was a great success for all students involved.  Not only did they have the chance to practice their second language skills, but they also connected on a very real level with students in another country, giving purpose to the language they have been working so hard to learn.

California Parks Department: Best Virtual Field Trip Ever! A BGL Review

California Parks Department’s PORTS delivered the best virtual field trip we’ve ever taken here at Banyan Global Learning.  PORTS is made up of awesome rangers in awesome ranger hats who provide free virtual fields trips utilizing green screen studios and a roving EduGator.  What’s not to love?

A PORTS EduGator enables Park Rangers to do virtual field trips from any parks location.  Photo courtesy of the California Parks Department.

A PORTS EduGator enables Park Rangers to do virtual field trips from any parks location. Photo courtesy of the California Parks Department.

The following review is from Teacher Seth:

Our 4G Field Trips are revolutionizing the way we do distance learning.  As we plan these trips int he future, we look to emulate the rangers at PORTS (Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students). Our virtual field trip to Anza Borrego Desert State Park was perfectly paced and had an engaging balance of teacher-student interaction, historical realia and digital media. And this is just one of their many programs – they have an EduGator that can perform virtual field trips via satellite from each of the 268 CA State Parks. And did we mention it’s free?!

Anza Borrego is big enough to fit all other 267 CA State Parks inside of it, so Ranger Luann did the program from inside her green screen studio so we could cover more area and content.

Ranger Luann in her green screen studio at Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

Ranger Luann in her green screen studio at Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

She amazed our students by highlighting the behavioral and physical adaptations of plants and animals.

She showed us fossils and skeletons that dated back to prehistoric times.

Ranger Luann with the skull of a sabertooth tiger.

Ranger Luann with the skull of a sabertooth tiger.

She had fun with the green screen and made parts of her body disappear.

The Invisible Ranger

The Invisible Ranger

And then she took us on a tour of her studio, teaching about the magic behind her techy trickery.  She zoomed in on Google Maps and found the school in Taipei!  She loved meeting our students – they were the first international students PORTS had ever worked with.

Ranger Luann zooms in to find our school on Google Maps.

Ranger Luann zooms in to find our school on Google Maps.

All in all, it was amazing!  Perhaps this student thank you letter says it best:

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 2.58.01 PM