When Being a Hot-Blooded Teacher Is Actually a Good Thing

Teacher Nate has taught with BGL at Tsai Hsing School for the past 7 years. He describes one of the secrets to his longevity below:

I should start with the caveat that “hot-blooded” in Chinese, rèxuè (熱血) is actually a very positive trait. In Taiwan, being a hot-blooded person means you are enthusiastic and full of passion. So when somebody refers to you as being hot-blooded here in Taiwan, they aren’t calling you a “hot-head” like in my native U.S. Rather, it’s a compliment!

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This linguistic difference is just one of the myriad cultural nuances to navigate when teaching abroad. This, in turn, is just one of the many challenges you face while daring to pack up your life to live and work in another country. Two more challenges are finding a community outside of work and staying engaged in your professional life. It was these two birds that I killed with one stone: Spartan Races.

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Having always been into fitness I was excited when in 2016 these events made their way to Taiwan. Spartan Races are essentially an obstacle course race completed either competitively or as a team-building event. I enjoy both aspects and soon they became a real passion of mine. Through Spartan Races, I have made good friends and recruited others into the sport. This has helped to make Taiwan my home away from home. After enthusiastically helping with some Spartan promotional activities, Taiwan’s Spartan organizers now refer to me as “the hot-blooded teacher” within the Spartan community.

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Keeping my life exciting out of the classroom has made me more driven within my classroom as well. Students can be greatly moved by the things that matter to their teachers, and my students know I’m passionate about Spartan Races because I often use the races to make real-world connections and extend content across our curriculum. And so eventually some of Tsai Hsing’s students signed up for the kids’ version of the race. I made sure to run next to them through the course and encouraged them on each obstacle. They might have gotten involved on their own, but I think at least some were inspired to try the Spartan Races because of my “hot-blood.”

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This all reminds me that though a person can keep work life and private life separate, they are interconnected. The adage “work hard to play hard” goes both ways, so one could also say “play harder to work harder.” My advice: be sure to find what makes you “hot-blooded” and pursue it, especially if you teach abroad.IMG_7040.jpeg

Want to teach abroad? Go here to see BGL’s teach abroad opportunities in Taiwan and China!

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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.

Teaching Abroad in Taiwan: A Home for the Restless Wanderer

The following is Teacher Joanna’s reflection on her teach abroad experience.

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The last place I ever thought I would call a home is Taipei, Taiwan.  I am originally from the midwestern hub of Chicago, Illinois but have spent a significant portion of my academic and professional career living outside the United States.  I have lived in Spain and South Korea and traveled to more than 25 countries, yet, there I found something different in Taiwan. Taiwan is special; it is an overlooked gem in the heart of Asia.   

Prior to my stay in Taiwan, I was working as an English Teacher in Daegu, South Korea.  I had taken a brief three-day trip to Taipei on a spontaneous travel whim.  It was pleasant, but I was not blown away.  Throughout my travels, I had experienced a grab-bag of emotional, heart-stirring encounters upon first contact with a new place. I had gazed upon the splendor of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and wistfully dined with a baguette and cheese picnic in front of a lit-up Eiffel Tower.  I had stood above the world in the icy mountain tops of the Swiss Alps in Zermatt and stayed in a bungalow on the Gili Islands in Bali, a bike ride and ten coconut trees away from a stunning ocean view.

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Joanna’s pic of the Himalayas, to which she traveled from Taiwan.

So what convinced me that Taiwan was worth a long term chance, you might ask?

At first, the attractive job offer at BGL‘s Tsai Hsing School.  The allure of adventure and accessible travel to other places was hard to pass up, with an all-inclusive offer of excellent pay, adorable children, and perks like free accommodation and roundtrip flight bonuses.

Accepting that offer led me to one of the happiest, most fulfilling experiences I’ve encountered in my life’s journey thus far – and yes, even amidst that large grab-bag of “Instagram-post-worthy” emotional travel whims.

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Golden Waterfalls in Taiwan.

After a first impression, the true joy in Taiwan is the journey of its discovery: the people and the hidden gems that reveal themselves when you really know and understand a place.  I didn’t fall in love with Taiwan because of a short-fleeting, lustful “one night stand;” I fell in love because I put in the work to have a long term relationship with it, work that is required to reach true understanding.

Taiwan is more than a short-term study abroad destination or a brief stopover on the way to another city.  The friendly people, luscious greenery, unending hiking trails, mountainous beach towns, diverse food tastes, vibrant art scene, bustling night markets, and local festivals make this country a place you can actually stay.  Taiwan perpetuates a value for life, one that simultaneously upholds its unique traditions while openly embracing all the innovation and progress that define the “new.”  It is an evolving city that accepts all that it is a part of it: the good, bad, ugly and beautiful.

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Taiwan is genuine and authentic; a place that will undoubtedly offer you another home.

If you’re interested in teaching in Taiwan, check out the current offerings here.

Otherwise, here’s a collection of some of my best photographs of the experience.

Life in Taiwan

Teaching in Taiwan

Travel Hub

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Field Trips Live: Petersen Automotive Museum

It is no surprise that with 4.12 million miles of highway, 88% of the people in the United States own cars. What better place for a car museum than Los Angeles which is notorious for its amazing cars and terrible traffic? Recently, after completing their own car design project, BGL’s Grade 8 Classroom Live students Tsai Hsing School took a Field Trip Live to the Petersen Automotive Museum which as building is on its own, depending on who you talk to, either a marvel of engineering or an eyesore. We’re going with the former, but see for yourself:

 

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Credit: Shutterstock.com

This FTL brought students to a location that is unlike any experience in their home country. The Petersen owns nearly 400 cars. 150 are on display. You can visit the rest in the vault unless they are out on loan or being repaired. Everywhere in the museum there are docents; these are people ready to answer your questions about the cars. Docents always carry sheepskin mitts so that when they are not helping visitors they can keep the cars buffed to a high shine.

 

 

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A young visitor to the Petersen knows he is the right size to drive this concept car, but is unsure about how to get in. Credit: Travis Moyer

The Model T Ford is known the world over so the United States is often mis-credited with inventing the automobile. Karl Benz invented the first motor car in Germany in 1885. People were so uncertain of the safety or utility of the vehicle that he had his wife drive it 66 kilometers on her own to show that “even a woman could do it!” The first Model T came off the production line in October 1908.

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Credit: Shutterstock.com

 

In addition to cars which made history, there are always exhibits of particular types of cars – and cars of the future. Did you know that the first electric car was made (by Ford) in 1914? There were also steam cars. Some of the cars of the future on display include solar and wind powered cars.

A favorite with the students was the movie cars exhibit. Among others, they saw James Bond’s Aston Martin, the Bat Mobile and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. One of the few touchable cars was this one from the movie, well… Cars.

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Credit: independent.ie

In addition to our virtual student visitors from Taiwan, there were several students from the Art Center College of Design, drawing cars and designing cars in a special computer assisted design lab. Cars are  imagined, drawn by hand, drawn on a computer, mocked up with a variety of materials, and if the process goes further, sculpted in clay. Students go on to not only design cars, but design film sets, video games and more. Teacher Travis interviewed one soon-to-be-freshman while students observed via Travis’s iPhone and asked questions of their own:

Afterwards, students used the valuable information field trip as inspiration to design their own cars as part of a larger unit on the physics of modern car design. Yet another example of how BGL is changing education for a changing world.

Field Trips Live: Holiday Round Robin

Flashing back to the holiday season, the following is a highlight reel of reflections from BGL’s junior high superstars at Tsai Hsing School. This special event was a multi-point Holiday Field Trip Live that connected the students live to teachers in North Carolina, Portland, OR, Los Angeles and Taipei simultaneously. In a brand new round-robin format, students moved digitally from room to room to hear personal reflections on December holiday traditions. 

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A critical component of BGL’s FTL model is to facilitate thoughtful activities after the trip so that students can synthesize and apply whatever they learn during the trip. The students chosen to share their work here showed great attention to detail, thoughtful word choice and a true showcase of their refined English skills!

Chadwick:

Christmas is an especially important holiday for Christians. There are lots of different kinds of ways to celebrate Christmas. Some people wear a Christmas hat and dress up. On the other hand, some people prefer to decorate a Christmas tree or even have a great big meal. Americans have some fascinating ways to celebrate Christmas.

First of all, some people in America get together and do special things. Some make cookies and others make a gingerbread. Some people even make a very big cake for their relatives. Others go out and have a big meal. Same as always, they have a long break and people go out.

Second, Americans help others. Sometimes if they have cookies or some small snacks that they cannot finish eating it, they give poor people their cookies. Some people even invite poor people to their house and celebrate with them.

Last, people decorate lots of things. People usually decorate their house to make their house bright and shiny. Most famous landmarks, such as Venice Canals, put some fantastic decorations to make people feel warm and delighted.

Christmas is a really big day you can spend time with your relatives or friends. You just finished my article. Why not go home and spend time with your favorite people from anywhere in the world and say “Merry Christmas” to them!

Vanessa:

On Christmas, Americans spend time having fun with their family. They have a Christmas tree, stockings, and lots of fun things to do together. They put lots of gifts under the tree for their children. The children think the gifts are from Santa and are excited about the gifts. Children put their stockings on their bedroom door for Santa to put gifts in. People sing Christmas songs with family to spread Christmas cheer. Some people bake cookies and make gingerbread houses with friends and family. Christmas sounds like it is so much fun, I would like to celebrate Christmas, too!

Henry:

Christmas is a well-known holiday in many countries. Today, there are many different ways to celebrate Christmas, not only sending presents. The Christmas tree is always a must on Christmas. Now, people buy artificial trees to replace real trees that were cut down. It is more eco-friendly and more convenient. You don’t need to go to the forest to cut down trees every year just use the same tree is appropriate. If you got the tree, the next step is to decorate it. Ornaments now are more choices not only balls and strings. You can put up your photos from young to old around the tree or write some wishes on a paper hang it up.

Some gingerbread on a cold day is a great enjoyment. Roll the dough and cut the shape you want with cutters. Caroling is also important on Christmas Day. Singing the traditional songs for Christmas is making the day better and more fun. Now, more people don’t send gifts to family members but homeless shelters. They don’t have a home or a family so it kind of you to send them some blankets or hot tea and cookies.

All in all, Christmas is a day of joy and love. Presents or gifts aren’t as important as you think if you do something more than you do normally. Try to celebrate your Christmas a different and fun way.

Amber:

Americans celebrate Christmas in different ways. Many Americans celebrate Christmas with their families or friends. They exchange gifts and eat dinner together. They put their gifts under Christmas trees or in socks on Christmas Eve. And on Christmas, they will happily open their presents. Some Americans will buy Christmas trees and decorate it. The decorations are warm and often have a big star on the top of it.

Some Americans make Christmas snacks, like gingerbread houses and candy canes. Christmas is a warm holiday to celebrate. Every American’s celebration is unique and can’t be replaced. All Americans have their own traditions, we should respect all of them.

A Year in Pictures: Teacher Joanna’s Kindergarten Class in Taipei

Upon finishing up her tenure at Tsai Hsing School in Taipei, Taiwan, BGL’s Teacher Joanna created a photo essay that paints a pretty accurate picture of the teach abroad classroom experience. Her comment: ApparentlyI wore a lot of headbands this year.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, we’ve got 39k words from Joanna below. The details you will find describe our campus, curriculum, kids, coteachers, celebrations and stories.  We hope you enjoy. Thanks, Joanna!

If you’re interested in teaching abroad, check out our hiring page!

 

 

Investigating themselves: Students are data detectives in crowd-sourced Big Dayta Project

Over 800 participants worldwide and growing every day

Big Dayta is an international collaboration of students sharing what they do every hour for one typical weekday. That data is collected into a single spreadsheet that classrooms can then analyze. Over 800 students worldwide have shared their data to date.

What does a student do with 24 hours on a typical day? Do they sleep for 8 hours and go to school for 6 hours? How does this compare to their best friend, their entire class, or even more than 800 students around the world? With Big Dayta, students are able to make these comparisons and analyze data whether they are in first grade or about to graduate from high school. Developmentally appropriate (and Common Core aligned) ideas are provided for grades 1-12.

Students can be guided by whatever they find most interesting to investigate. Guiding research questions may include:

  • How much homework do kids in my grade do?
  • How does amount of homework differ between countries?
  • Does the amount students sleep change as they get older?
  • Where do kids spend the most time with their families?
  • What are most kids in my grade doing at 4pm? Is this different from kids in other grades?
  • And much, much more, based on whatever the kids want to find out!

All suggestions provided in the Idea Guide are Common Core aligned, so teachers can know that they are giving students a chance to satisfy their curiosity about other kids, while meeting the standards. “Humans are naturally curious about each other,” according to educational consultant Stephanie Ramsey, Ph.D., “So they do these calculations to get at the information, without thinking of it as a math problem. Math, reading, and writing all become tools to solve real-life questions.”

While the basic idea is simple, students keep track of what the do every hour on a typical weekday, the opportunities for application are enormous. Students can practice academic skills (analyzing data, stating claims and evidence, adding, subtracting, and more), and they can also connect with each other online to share their findings and debate what conclusions we can draw. The Big Dayta Facebook page gives students the chance to connect over their shared analysis.

The idea for Big Dayta came from inquisitive students. According to Seth Fleischauer, president of Banyan Global Learning, “Big Dayta started out of a fifth grade classroom in Taipei, Taiwan. Our students there were collaborating with another class in America and they wanted to know more about them. As a group, they came up with the idea with this survey. That was four years ago, and we’ve been slowly building it ever since. This year, BGL teachers pooled their resources and time to in an effort see if we could make a larger impact.”

Teachers can access a number of resources to support them in using Big Dayta in the classroom:

  • A slideshow introducing Big Dayta to their students (ElementaryJunior High/High School are currently available and one with a heavier-statistics component for just high school coming later this summer) and a slideshow with screenshots of how to work with the data using Google Sheets for iPad.
  • Idea guide for choosing activities
  • A longer explanation of each idea suggestion along with which Common Core standards that idea is aligned with (click here for ELA ideas and here for Math ideas)
  • Big Dayta Facebook page so students and teachers can connect with each other to discuss and debate their findings.

Classrooms can use Big Dayta for one-off lessons as the school year winds down, or for longer units where students can investigate and report on the data across multiple subjects including math, writing, social studies, and more. However teachers choose to use it, Big Dayta is a chance for students to practice academic skills, critical thinking, and learn more about themselves and each other as they do it.

 

Junior High Distance Learning Students Use the Latest Technology to Express Their Original Ideas

The students in Tsai Hsing’s distance learning think that learning with the iPads is the best. Most everyone in modern society loves using smartphones and tablets, but students in our DL class take utilization of that technology to the next level. By working independently and applying the amazing breadth of information available to them online, DL students show that iPads are about much more than just fun and games when used in the classroom.

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The iPad is truly a multifunctional device. It’s a notebook, a library, a movie theater, a music studio – an all-around creation station. Swipe, tap, hold and drag – students know all the moves to efficiently make the most of their iPads. In just a few short weeks of distance learning class, even beginners soon are on the path to becoming tech experts.

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The assignments that students complete in distance learning class showcase their ability to use English to combine subject areas with technology. The results are as impressive as the students who created them.

For years, students in DL have used tech tools such as Pages, Keynote, Zoom, KidBlog, Class Dojo, Newsela, Edmodo, and Google products like Classroom, Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides. This year, students have expanded upon their tech-spertise to include the following tools as well.

Classcraft

Perhaps you’ve heard of ClassDojo, a classroom management tool that allows students to earn points for good behavior and has cute little monster avatars. Classcraft is similar, but it is a much deeper system of points and rewards that turns good behavior in class into an adventure. First, students create profiles complete with video-game style avatars and roles including mage, warrior and healer. Students are grouped into teams, and together the team must survive by answering questions correctly and behaving appropriately in class (because it’s so customizable, really, the team survives by doing whatever it is the teacher deems worthy of survival). Students earn experience points by completing assignments and are able to “level up” just like a video game. Of course, you can lose points, too, if you answer incorrectly or are caught misbehaving (or, again, doing anything the teacher has deemed worthy of losing points). When you lose health points, an interesting dynamic occurs whereby the healer on your team has the option of spending some of their points to keep you alive (which is also in the best interest of the team). If you lose all your health and you ‘die’, your entire team suffers and you must perform a task to come back to life. It’s classroom game-ification at its finest!

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Below you can see the avatar of Andy from Team White Chocolate (teams choose their own names). Patrick, Jessica, Michelle and Jonathan all work together with Andy. They even wrote a creative story together about how their characters met. Looks like Andy may soon need to ask the team healer, Patrick, for some help.

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Classcraft has features that go far beyond what is described above. For example, students can test their knowledge in Boss Battles. In these battles, students must answer questions correctly to defeat a boss villain. Learning grammar becomes a lot more fun when a giant scorpion demon gets killed when you correctly identify a comma splice.

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One of the most popular elements of Classcraft are the quests. The DL teachers program a sequence of tasks that need to be completed in order to unlock the next stop along a prescribed path. Shortcuts are available only to the brave. Below is an example of the quest map. And, these tasks can even take place in some of the following apps.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy – the online library of instructional videos – has become one of the most popular edtech tools in the world. It was started when an engineer (named Sal Khan) noticed that there weren’t any good instructional videos for teaching math to his young niece. It has grown into a worldwide powerhouse of data-driven instruction that include videos on science, reading, grammar, and even test prep. In 801, students are using Khan Academy in a unique way with the support Classcraft.

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As mentioned above, a special feature of Classcraft are the quests. These include several activities students must complete. The first quest for 801 is all about grammar, specifically nouns.

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Padlet & the Global Read Aloud

By using Padlet – a virtual bulletin board – to display assignments, students are able to keep things organized, looking good and facing outward. For the assignment below, students began working with their partners for the Global Read Aloud for the first time this semester. The Global Read Aloud is an innovative international partnership with students from around the globe; millions of students read the same book at the same time and have asynchronous discussions online.  

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As the students embarked on reading the novel A Monster Calls, they first began with an activity called Mystery Padlet. In this activity, both groups in the collaboration offered clues and photos about their respective cities and countries on a shared Padlet “Wall.” They then used the detailed clues to make an educated guess as to where the other group is located. Classes 701 & 702 soon learned that they are partnered with 7th grade classes in Seattle, Washington, in the United States. Over the course of the next few months, the students will continue to connect with their Global Read Aloud partners, using apps, websites and their remarkable English skills to look deeper into the text and grow as language learners and global citizens.

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Flipgrid & Joyce Visits America

When it comes to learning English, one of the things students need the most help with is speaking. Flipgrid allows students to easily submit short videos on a site that allows for quick video replies as well. It’s like Facebook except with video instead of typing. Plus, teachers can listen very carefully to the videos and give feedback to all students. This is not possible in a traditional classroom and truly allows practice to make perfect.

After reading about Joyce, a young girl from Tsai Hsing who convinces her parents to let her visit Taiwan, students created a Flipgrid to explain a time they had an argument with their parents.

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Andy used Flipgrid to tell a story about a time that he broke his headphones. He wanted new ones, but his dad wanted him to use some old ones instead. Although he didn’t win the argu

ment with his dad, Andy did finally get some new headphones. Yay!

 

 

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A lot like the character in the story, Jessica wanted to convince her parents that she 

 

should go to America to learn English by herself. Her parents thought she was too small to go by herself. But she had good arguments for learning English outside of a classroom, and promised she would write down every day what she learned.

 

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Robie’s answer about being too young to go to a concert was so great, Teacher Travis turned it into a Spark. This is the feature of Flipgrid that allows students to create a video in response to someone else’s video. It ‘sparks’ the conversation. Way to go, Robie!

 

 

iMovie

In order to introduce themselves and share details of their lives with their collaborative partners in the Global Read Aloud, Classes 701 & 702 created All About Me iMovies. These impressive short films included detailed descriptions of Taiwan’s culture, student daily life and the prestige of Tsai Hsing School. Students showcased their superior iMovie skills through the use of all of the fresh features of the new iOS 11 version of iMovie. All iMovies were then uploaded to Edmodo, an online educational website that reinforces and enhances digital classrooms and serves as the primary platform for communication between the collaborative partners.   

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Quizlet

Without using any paper, you can study and organize vocabulary using flashcards with Quizlet. So far this year, students in 801 have studied grammar, learning more about comma splices, run-ons and sentence fragments. Students also have studied vocabulary for the Joyce Visits America story. Below are the top five challenging words or phrases from the first chapter of the story.

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Clearly, the hard-working students in the distance learning program have their work cut out for them between learning English, learning about American culture, and learning all these new apps. Armed with iPads, students can use their brilliant minds to take learning to the next level.

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BGL Teachers Rock “Parent Day” in Kunshan, China

Parent Day in Asia is a big deal. The endless preparation on the part of teachers and administration can almost make us lose sight of how important it is to show parents the best of what we can do. This rehearsed display can seem trite but is essential to parents developing their trust in us. In this way, there is profound satisfaction in a job well done. Seeing firsthand parents’ heartfelt pride in their children (who, we must admit, often feel like our own) can make it feel almost like the coming together of a long lost family.

Beautiful winter paintings adorn the window of Teacher Danielle's classroom and are reminiscent of the tree-lined streets of Kunshan.

Beautiful winter paintings adorn the window of Teacher Danielle’s classroom and are reminiscent of the wintry tree-lined streets of Kunshan.

Parents, teachers and students play in XingKong's plentiful play-yard.

Parents, teachers and students play in XingKong’s plentiful play-yard.

Teacher Allison plays an English game with her students while parents happily observe.

Teacher Allison plays an English game with her students while parents happily observe.

What made this Parent Day 2016 extra special at XingKong, our kindergarten in Kunshan, China, was the collaboration displayed between our BGL teachers and their local Chinese partner teachers. When you lack a common language it is very hard to establish a functional working partnership. Our teachers had already done so to varying degrees, but with the shared vision of a successful Parent Day they employed all the tricks to get it done right – Google Translate, human translators, and even good old-fashioned pantomime.

Chinese local teacher, Sienna, rallies her troops while playing a game outside.

Chinese local teacher, Sienna, rallies her troops while playing a game outside.

The result was nothing short of fantastic. Each teacher – Chinese and American – not only planned an effective and engaging lesson, but they also helped each other deliver the content in a way that laid the foundation for a smooth and supportive partnership moving forward.

Teacher Halley models a conversation with two students while parents listen in.

Teacher Halley models a conversation with two students while parents listen in.

Chinese local teachers deliver a lesson about environmental protection - partially aimed at educating parents.

Chinese local teachers deliver a kindergarten lesson about environmental protection – partially aimed at educating parents.

We even had our share of music! Teacher Will busted out his banjo, while the requisite Chinese line dancing (in one instance to Juanes’s La Camisa Negra, which is, surprisingly, a local favorite) was a predictable hit for all the parents.

Gotta love Chinese line dancing.

Gotta love kindergarteners line dancing.

Credit must be given to our team in Taipei, Taiwan as well for their expertise and hard work presenting their very best for Parent Day at Tsai Hsing, where BGL teachers work with both kindergarten and elementary school students.

Are you (or is someone you know) thinking about teaching abroad? If so, check out our available jobs in China and Taiwan – complete with immediate openings! We are an excellent network of accomplished teachers and we are always looking for like-minded talent to join our team.