The Prop Report #2 – Joyin Animal Friends Hand Puppets

This prop set is an absolute yes – for the ESL classroom or just for fun.

 

Introduction:

Welcome to the second installment of a new series: The Prop Report. In this series, I plan to share my favorite props and rewards that I use in my ESL classroom. The link to the product is an affiliate link, so if you choose to purchase the item through the link, I get a little bonus. For more info about this series of posts, you can read my overview and full disclaimers here.

The product:

Animal Friends Deluxe Kids Hand Puppets with Working Mouth (Pack of 6) for Imaginative Play

Manufacturer:

JOYIN

Recommended for ESL classroom?

Totally! I use these all the time!

Recommended for hands on learning?

Yes! I think that young kids would have a great time putting on puppet shows with these.

Pros:

This set of puppets comes with six different animals, so you have a variety to choose from. My favorite feature is the hard, moveable mouths (in all of them but the elephant.) I also love that you can position your thumb and pinky in the arms and move their arms. (Be sure to check out the video for the famous dabbing raccoon.) The sleeve of the puppet goes far enough down your wrist that you don’t have to be extremely careful about showing your arm and ruining the “magic” on camera. These puppets are large enough (especially the elephant and monkey) that they are comfortable on your hand. I also really like that they are substantial enough that you don’t have to use them as a puppet.  You could actually hold them just like a plush stuffed animal.

Did I mention the moveable mouths? Kids like nothing more than to see an animal “eat” one of their stars or even bite their teacher!

Cons:

Not all of the animals are commonly found in VIPKid lessons, though they might be in other ESL company powerpoints or perhaps even other lessons. If you are a prop minimalist, it might be overkill to have six puppets, especially if all you want to use them for is an icebreaker.

See it in action:

You can see my unofficial product demo here: Super Cool YouTube Video

roar

In summary:

This prop set is an absolute yes – for the ESL classroom or just for fun.

If you would like to purchase it, here’s the link on Amazon.com:

 

JOYIN Animal Friends Deluxe Kids Hand Puppets with Working Mouth (Pack of 6) for Imaginative Play

VIPKid – Teaching on the Road

My VIPKid journey has been filled with milestones. In fact, we earn different badges to celebrate the big ones. So far, after 1.5 contracts, I’ve earned a few:

  • 30/100/180 days as a teacher
  • 1st, 10th, 100th, and 500th classes taught
  • 1st, 50th, and 100th 5-apple ratings
  • 100th student taught

This morning I celebrated my own personal milestone: teaching my first class remotely. One of the most amazing benefits of teaching with VIPKid is the ability to teach from anywhere you have an Internet connection. Up until now, I just haven’t taken advantage of this.

My husband needed to come to New Orleans to renew his passport, so I tagged along for the ride. I actually closed my early morning times so I could sleep in, but I have my normal Monday morning 7am class (Rosie) who books like clockwork several weeks in advance. Today she had a mid-unit assessment scheduled, so we took the show on the road.

It just so happened that this was a very easy lesson for props. What did I bring? One ziplock bag that included:

  • My mini-whiteboard and a magnetic marker
  • Uno cards
  • He/She/It magnets

Because I was teaching a student I was very familiar with, I did not hang a special background. I sat in front of a blank wall with a picture on it. I was in front of a large window that offered plenty of light, plus I dragged a lamp nearby.

The results? An easy, effective class.

If you are thinking of taking your own classroom on the road, here are some suggestions:

  1. Consider using digital props and rewards. Google Slides is a great option for both, although there are other options available.
  2. Create a grab bag of versatile props that you can grab and take with you. I would suggest:
      A small, magnetic whiteboard and marker
      Magnetic stars that can attach to the whiteboard
      A small pronoun chart or print outs of pronouns
      Flash Cards (ABC’s, animals, numbers/math, and shapes)
      Key characters (Meg, Mike, Dino, and maybe the level 1 characters if you teach it)
      A simple backdrop (This could be a shower curtain, a blanket, or even a colorful gift bag that could be hung from the wall.)
      Some external, battery powered lighting (just in case.)
  1. Have fun! Just like with your classroom at home, if you are engaged and enjoying class, your students will too!

I also let Rosie’s mom know in advance I would be on the road so she wasn’t surprised. When I got set up, I sent her a picture of the day’s “classroom” on WeChat. After class, I got the sweet message below from her.

So, even though this isn’t a milestone “officially” with VIPKid, I consider this morning a success.

Have you taught successfully from the road? What’s your go-to list of traveling props? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! If you would like to keep up with my future trips I’ve started a dedicated feed on my instagram. I hope you will check it out!

If you are looking for an opportunity to have a job where you can travel as well, I’d love to help you get started with VIPKid. The first step is to apply. You can get a preview of all of the steps in the process here: VIPKid Application and Interview Process (Updated May 27, 2019). I would be happy to help you through the process. Just let me know!

The “Art” of Teaching

I couldn’t help myself. I bought an Apple Pencil. I justified it because I needed an iPad for backup when the Internet or power was down. I couldn’t miss my classes, after all. How that justified the pencil, well….

So far, I’ve mostly just doodled with it. During my non-VIPKid day job, I sit on a lot of conference calls. I find that if I let myself look at email, I will get distracted and stop listening to the meeting. So, I will occasionally doodle like the below.

But today I had the chance to draw my first “reward.” It was in one of my favorite 2-D prop groups, and someone had asked for a specific type of reward to be drawn. (Check out my little monster dudes above!) I gave it a shot, and it was actually very fun to duplicate and re-color my little drawing.

Would I recommend the Apple Pencil? Only if you are a serious artist or really enjoy doodling. I don’t think there is anything I could do with my poor level of talent that would justify the money spent on the pencil.

Is it fun? You bet. 🙂

New VIPKid Teachers: The First 48

… The first 48 hours can set you up for success in what is sure to become a successful journey with VIPKid.

Congratulations! You’ve been hired as a new VIPKid teacher! Now what?

On the television show “The First 48,” the title sequence said, “For homicide detectives, the clock starts ticking the moment they are called. Their chance of solving a murder is cut in half if they don’t get a lead within the first 48 hours.” With VIPKid, the stakes aren’t nearly as high, but those first days and weeks after you are hired are still pretty important.

There is a lot of advice on the Internet about what you should do while you are waiting to begin teaching.  Here are the first three things you should do within the first 48 hours:

  1. Open Your Schedule
  2. Schedule the New Teacher Kickoff Workshop
  3. Assemble a basic set of props

Step 1: Open your schedule.

I say this with a big disclaimer. You will not get booked immediately. You will most likely not get booked within your first week. There is no single formula to tell us when you will be booked. For some, they get booked in days. For some, they get booked in weeks. For some, they get booked in months. It is different for everyone. But one thing is absolute. If you do not open your schedule, you will not be booked.

If you are like me, you would rather wait until you are “fully prepared” and have reviewed every single lesson you could possibly teach. Even if that were possible (which it’s not) it would take FOREVER, so just rip the bandaid and open up some timeslots.

Remember, parents book their classes 2-3 weeks in advance, so while you are welcome to open up timeslots immediately (especially if you are willing to try Short Notice 24-hour Bookings) you will have the most success opening slots following the booking frenzy for the week after next. VIPKid also recommends that you open slots for at least 3 weeks in advance to allow the highest chance of re-booking immediately following a class.

For more information about how to open your timeslots and when, check out VIPKid Booking Schedules.

Step 2: Schedule the New Teacher Kickoff Workshop

Jumping in to your first class can be exhilarating, but also terrifying. Even if you passed your mock class certifications with flying colors, there’s something about sitting across from a real little person across the ocean that is just so much more! The best way to make sure you are prepared is by attending a new teacher kickoff workshop. The objectives of the workshop are:

  • Help you prepare for your first class.
  • Learn more about the VIPKid life.
  • Find out all about the awesome workshops and other resources available to teachers.
  • Learn a bit more about how to “run your business” in the platform.
  • Get some precious tips from experienced and super-friendly mentors.
  • Get gifts especially made for new teachers.

The workshop lasts 1.5 hours, and they schedule at least one on MOST days. I would suggest checking your calendar and getting one scheduled within your first week. Once you get a taste of what’s out there, you’ll want to schedule more, so the earlier you get started the better!

For more information on where to see the schedule and how to find this workshop, check out my overview of the VIPKid Library and Certification Center.

Step 3: Assemble a basic set of props.

Don’t go crazy. You don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money. In fact, I’m certain that you already have much of what you need right around the house! Depending on what levels you are certified to teach, you may want to adjust, but here are some basics:

Free Props (or things you already have)

  • an apple
  • stuffed animals or pet toys (I use dogs, cats, elephants, foxes, and pigs the most for some reason.)
  • a ruler
  • game pieces (dominos, dice, colorful paying pieces, play money, or UNO cards are a few of my favorites)
  • your smartphone (There is a whole wealth of digital rewards and props available in the Google Slides Facebook group. Or you can always pull up photos or gifs on your phone that you find relevant to the lesson.)
  • printed or drawn props (Meg, Mike, and Dino, He/She/It, alphabet flash cards, printed stars to award during class, happy and sad faces)

Inexpensive Props

  • a small, handheld whiteboard
  • flashcards
  • a toy microphone or other musical toy for songs
  • a bag of balloons (great for colors, counting, size, weight, and more!)
  • some inexpensive educational decorations for your backdrop if you didn’t already decorate for your mock class certifications
  • a simple reward system (The options are endless here – pick out something you think is fun and cool, because if you like it, your students will too.) For ideas, see Types of VIPKid Rewards.

You will be amazed at what you can find to use in a lesson just lying around your house. One of my go-to props is a packet of Ramen noodles and a set of chopsticks from a restaurant!

I want to stress that it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money on props. It’s also not necessary to have every single prop planned out in advance. But I know from experience I felt more comfortable knowing that I had a few trusty items I could grab if I needed to!

If you had visions of your first 48 hours with VIPKid being filled with classes and students, I’m sorry to disappoint you. However, know that those first 48 hours can set you up for success in what is sure to become a successful journey with VIPKid.

Happy teaching!

 

Making a VIPKid Bitmoji

Let me start by saying that this was not my idea. Many teachers have used this (probably more successfully than me!) But even though I used Bitmoji regularly, it took me a little trial and error to figure out how to make my very own VIPKid emoji.

I decided to write down a quick how-to guide to help!  Since not everyone has experience with Bitmoji, I’ll break it down into three sections:

  • Getting the App and making your own Bitmoji
  • Personalizing it for VIPKid
  • Making Props

and bonus content: installing the Bitmoji keyboard

Step 1: Getting the App and Making Your Own Bitmoji

  1. Download the Bitmoji app on your phone. Everything in this section needs to be done on your mobile device – either through the Bitmoji app or Snapchat.
  2. When you first download the app, you will need to register. If you use snapchat, you can log in using Snapchat. If you would prefer, you can sign up with Email.
  3. Once you sign in, you’ll be prompted to create a new Bitmoji. (This is the fun part!)  You’ll be prompted to choose everything about your Bitmoji from facial shape to eye color, and everything in between! Just choose each option and scroll to the next choice along the bottom of your phone app. It even lets you take a selfie so you can see your face next to your Bitmoji as you are designing it to see how close you are!
  4. Once you are finished, it will prompt you to go to “settings” and enable Bitmoji as a keyboard option. I suggest doing this while you are there, and I’ve put some instructions at the end.  But if you are ready to start making props, you can “skip” this step and go back and do this at any time.

Step 2: Personalizing Your Bitmoji for VIPKid

  1. As you are personalizing your Bitmoji, there are two things you will want to choose to make it a “VIPKid” teacher.
    • Headphones: These can be found under headwear, just like hats.
    • An Orange Shirt: There are several to choose from. If you don’t wear orange in class, just pick out something that suits your style
  2. Once you’ve chosen a shirt, you can also pick out a VIPKid logo or picture to put on the shirt when you print it and use it in props. I haven’t found a way to incorporate into digital Bitmojis, so no need to look for this in the clothing.

Step 3: Making Props

  1. From your laptop, desktop, or other favorite prop-making machine with a Chrome browser, go to http://www.bitmoji.com.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page and download “Bitmoji for Chrome”
  3. This will add the small, green icon into the upper right-hand corner of your Chrome browser.
  4. When you click on it, you can search for different Bitmojis or click through the grey icons at the bottom.
    • The star shows recent Bitmojis used and popular ones.
    • The hand shows hello and goodbye messages (like a wave).
    • The face with hearts has messages of love.
    • The smiley face shows happy messages.
    • The face with no smile shows sad or angry messages.
    • The horn shows holiday or event-specific messages.
  5. Right-mouse click on the bitmoji of your choice and choose “copy.”
  6. Right mouse click in a Microsoft Word or Publisher document, a Google Slides document, Powerpoint, or other prop-making software. Click “paste.”
  7. If you’d like to add a VIPKid or Dino logo, find a .png image and paste it onto the Bitmoji. If you don’t have one, check out VIPKid Branding Resources and you’ll find several.

chrome extension

browser bit

Bonus Content: Installing the Bitmoji Keyboard

These instructions are for an iPhone, since this is what I own. 🙂

  1. Click on “Settings.”
  2. Click on “General.”
  3. Click on “Keyboard.”
  4. Click on “Keyboards.”
  5. Click on “Add New Keyboard.”
  6. Click on “Bitmoji.”
  7. Move the slider so that “Allow Full Access” is green.

Once you have the Bitmoji keyboard installed, you can toggle between it by clicking the small globe at the bottom of your iphone keypad between the “123” button and the microphone/spacebar. You can then copy and paste into text messages, emails, or even WeChat!

For other operating systems, check out Bitmoji help at their website.

I hope this is helpful. If you are just starting your VIPKid journey and are looking for a mentor, let me know and get started with the application! Otherwise, happy teaching!

VIPKid – Preparing for Mock Class (Lower Level)

There is no better way to meet VIPKid’s expectations than to clearly know what those expectations are.

Congratulations on deciding to certify for lower level classes with VIPKid! This certification will allow you to teach Level 2 Interactive (the most popular level with VIPKid!) as well as Level 3. Always remember that there are materials provided in the teacher portal that can help you prepare for, and review, the course curriculum at any time. To get started, here’s what you need to know. Please note, this is current effective March 2019.

Before you begin, I suggest reviewing the VIPKid Teacher Applicant Performance Indicator. VIPKid will send this to you before your mock class, and your mentor can also provide you with a copy. This will tell you exactly what your VIPKid mock class mentor will be scoring you on. There is no better way to meet VIPKid’s expectations than to clearly know what those expectations are.

1. Prepare for both lessons. There will be two different lessons (A&B) provided in the classroom.  Your mock class mentor will choose one of the two lessons for you to teach during your mock class, so please be sure you prepare for both!

2. Review the objectives for both lessons.

  • For <u>option A</u>, the goal is to teach the words “ball,” “throw,” and to blend phonemes z/r/s/h (onset) with -ip (rime.) You want to avoid a lot of words that don’t specifically support these objectives
  • For <u>option B</u>, the goal is to teach the nouns “kite” and “doll” and the verb “fly.” You will also be teaching target sentences “Do you fly a kite? Do you throw a ball? Do you swing in a swing?” with the goal being to have the student answer “Yes, I ______,” or “No, I don’t ______.”

3. Plan your reward system for both lessons.

Rewards are a hot topic with many teachers. There is a built-in reward system in all VIPKid curriculum. With Interactive Level 2, the reward is interactive, and the student can manipulate the items on the screen as part of their reward. If you ask 100 teachers how they use (or should use) the rewards, you will get 100 different answers. Honestly, that’s one of the great benefits of VIPKid is that students can learn differently with different teachers! My suggestion for the mock class is to build a custom reward that can be used WITH the interactive reward slide. That way, all your bases are covered. An ideal reward system:

  • Is fun!
  • Is visible at all times during class!
  • Supports the learning objectives!
  • Engages the student!

Be creative… if you love it, so will your students (and your mock class mentor!)  For specific ideas on how to get started, check out these posts:

4. Plan your props for both lessons.

It is important to have props that you bring to class to reinforce each lesson. It is recommended that you use at least three props, and at least two different types of props. Here are examples of different types of props:

  • Printed or Drawn (2D) props: flash cards, printed pictures, drawn pictures
  • Realia or 3D props: real items from your home that relate to the lesson, toy versions of items in the lesson
  • Digital props: gifs, google slides images that you display
  • Other props: whiteboard, magnetic letters

You will want to plan your props for both lessons in advance and practice with them on camera. It’s important to practice on camera so you are comfortable holding items closer to the camera or further away. Most laptops allow you to record sessions directly from your built in camera which is great for you to watch yourself and adjust.

Similar to rewards, find and use props that YOU enjoy. If you are excited about them, your students will be. Here are some ideas to get you started:

5. Anticipate Possible Errors

As you are planning your props, it’s a good time to anticipate what errors a student might make. If you are in a live mock class with a mock class mentor, I promise they WILL make mistakes just to ensure you catch them and are comfortable correcting them. If you are recording a demo, you will want to pretend that your student made a mistake to demonstrate how you could correct an error. Props are a great (and positive) way to help correct errors.

Here are a few ideas on common errors you might anticipate in each of your certification classes:

6. Plan your TPR for both lessons.

TPR is one of the fundamental building blocks of ESL. For most of us, it doesn’t come naturally, so it is important than you plan TPR and practice it. When I was first preparing to become an ESL teacher, I followed a three step process.

  1. Plan. I reviewed each slide and practiced different TPR techniques that I could use on each one. This got me comfortable making the motions.
  2. Practice. I practiced this TPR any time I had the chance. (My prime platform was my shower!) I didn’t memorize it all, but I got used to the common gestures I planned to use. The more you make the movements, the easier they will become.
  3. Preview. I recorded myself using my webcam practicing my TPR. That helped me get used to how big my gestures needed to be while still remaining on the camera. I found out which gestures looked the most precise and crisp and I was able to change those that did not convey a clear meaning. I can’t stress enough how helpful this step is. If you record yourself, your mentor can watch it and give you feedback, but you’ll also be amazed at how much you will notice. For example, even just waving goodbye looks so much better when you hold your hand stiff with your fingers together! The only way you can know this is by watching yourself in action!

7. Download the Teacher App and update your laptop’s flash and Chrome. VIPKid recommends using the Teacher App for all classroom activities, and it is also my tool of choice. If there is a problem, teaching through the Chrome browser is a good alternative, so have all of this updated and ready before you begin.  It also wouldn’t hurt to restart your computer or ipad.

8. Allow yourself time to go into the classroom and practice before you begin. VIPKid will give you access to a practice classroom, and I suggest using this so you get comfortable in the VIPKid environment. This will become second nature to you once you have taught a few classes, but it’s great to get your feet wet before your certification.

9. Set up your “classroom.” You do not need to spend a lot of money to do this, but you will want to put some thought into where you will be doing your mock class certification.

  • The background that will be visible in the video frame should create a learning atmosphere. VIPKid defines this as having visible props, an uncluttered, designated area, and having a space optimized for teaching.
  • You will want to be sitting or standing an appropriate distance from the camera so you can be clearly visible at all times, and your camera should be at eye level so it feels as though you are making eye contact with your student.
  • Lighting should be balanced with no shadows or significant glares on you or your props.

10. Review the application performance indicator (again.)  This is so important, it bears repeating.  There is no better way to meet VIPKid’s expectations than to clearly know what those expectations are. I was new to teaching in a formal class environment, and new to ESL, but I prepared extensively using this tool, and My VIPKid Interview Results were great. I passed my mock class certification the first time. I say this not to brag, but to help reassure you if you are feeling uncertain or overwhelmed.

The preparation time doesn’t have to be extensive, just intentional.  I hope that this guide helped you get ready for the process, and I would be happy to personally guide you as your mentor.  If you are interested, please apply using my referral link or add my referral code (AMELI0055) to your application.

Good luck!

 

Prop Ideas – VIPKid Lower Level Certification (Option B)

Congratulations on deciding to certify for VIPKid lower level classes! These are so much fun to teach. Because you will be working with younger students, props are especially important to help reinforce the learning.

As I mentioned in VIPKid – Preparing for Mock Class (Lower Level), there are several types of props you can choose from.  You should be prepared to use at least 3 props and at least 2 different types of props.

Common types of props include:

  • Printed or Drawn (2D) props: flash cards, printed pictures, drawn pictures
  • Realia or 3D props: real items from your home that relate to the lesson, toy versions of items in the lesson
  • Digital props: gifs, google slides images that you display
  • Other props: whiteboard, magnetic letters

Be creative and find things that you can use that you enjoy. I would also encourage you to not spend a lot of money on buying props. I PROMISE that you have things around the house that you can use without spending money.

Here are some examples for Option B that you can use to get started! (Check out Option A here.)

Slide 19 (kite/doll)

  • Real kite or doll
  • Printed or drawn pictures of kites and dolls

Slide 20 (She flies a ____. This is her _____.)

  • Real kite or doll
  • Printed or drawn pictures of kites and dolls
  • Flash card with the word and/or picture of kite and doll

Slide 21 (What is it?)

  • Real kite or doll
  • Printed or drawn pictures of kites and dolls
  • Flash card with the word and/or picture of kite and doll
  • White board or flash card with question and answer

Slide 22 (fly)

  • Real kite
  • Printed or drawn pictures of kites
  • Gifs of someone flying a kite
  • Verb chart for “fly” (I fly. You fly. We fly. They fly. He flieS. She flieS. It flieS.)

Slide 22 (fly)

  • Real kite
  • Printed or drawn pictures of kites
  • Gifs of someone flying a kite
  • Verb chart for “fly” (I fly. You fly. We fly. They fly. He flieS. She flieS. It flieS.)

Slide 23 (listen)

  • Ear (to hold up during listen)
  • Mouse (to demonstrate drag/drop)
  • Verb chart for “fly”

Slide 24 (Do you _____?)

  • Yes and No flash cards
    • Green and red
    • Thumbs up and thumbs down
    • Yes and No
  • Picture of someone throwing a ball and swinging in a swing
  • Gif of someone throwing a ball and swinging in a swing

Slide 25 (Do you _____?)

  • Yes and No flash cards
    • Green and red
    • Thumbs up and thumbs down
    • Yes and No
  • Picture of someone throwing a ball and swinging in a swing
  • Gif of someone throwing a ball and swinging in a swing
  • Pronoun flash cards (he/she/they)

Slide 26 (free talk)

  • Kite (real or pictures)
  • Ball (real or pictures)
  • Pronoun flash card (she/they)
  • Target sentence “Yes, they fly a kite. Yes, she throws a ball)
  • Verb chart for “fly” and “throw”

With props, the possibilities are endless, and I encourage you to think about what you have around the house that you can use. Props do NOT have to be time intensive or expensive. They are just supplemental items that you can use to help reinforce the lesson.

For printed and digital materials above, I have samples that I can send you to use in your mock class if you would like. Simply sign up using my referral link or add my referral code AMELI0055 before your mock class. Comment below with what you would like help with, and I will be able to get your email address from your referral application.

Good luck!