The Prop Report #4 – Make a Critter Blocks

Because there are so many different combinations, these will never get boring!

Introduction:

Welcome to the fourth installment of my 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:

Make a Critter Blocks

Manufacturer:

Crocodile Creek

Recommended for ESL classroom?

Yes! These are perfect for Halloween, but they can actually be used for excellent extension in a number of different lessons.

Recommended for hands on learning?

Yes! I think that you could really have fun making challenges for hands-on learning with kids. The older they are, the more complicated scenarios you can encourage.

Pros:

I have the “critter” blocks, but there are several other different options that I’ll include below too. These are versatile, and because there are so many different combinations, they will never get boring. I especially love:

  • The bright, colorful monsters
  • The ability for kids to choose monochromatic options or crazy color combinations
  • The fact that the monsters have many different types of accessories and clothes, perfect for level 2 extension

Cons:

They are just a little bit bulky to handle in the classroom. It takes a little bit of practice to get comfortable “rolling” the blocks or moving them to let the students choose. It is also a little bit difficult for me to hold all three (or six if we make two monsters!) But this is not a big enough con to stop me from using (and recommending) this fun reward!

It’s also a little bit more expensive than most rewards I use. (Ok, I usually use free digital rewards.) But I really enjoy using a few physical rewards mixed in, so for me, it’s totally worth it!

See it in action:

You can see my unofficial product demo here:

In summary:

This reward is a definite yes! 

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

Crocodile Creek – Make a Critter Blocks

For other issues of The Prop Report:

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A Tale of Three Teachers

On this third day of Blogtober/Vlogtober, I wanted to share a short story about three teachers who I introduced to VIPKid. With all of the changes in referring, I thought these experiences might help shed some light into what does and does not make a ‘good’ referral. Spoiler alert: If you prefer videos, you can skip to the end and watch my YouTube version!

Teacher One

I met this person in a Facebook group. The group had nothing to do with VIPKid, but another member (not this teacher) had asked about “work from home” jobs or jobs she could travel with. I responded with some general info about VIPKid, and this person was one of several who replied. After we chatted back and forth, she told me she wasn’t ready to start, but she would contact me when she was. I didn’t think much more about it, and a couple of months later, she said she was ready! I walked her through the application process and helped her through the hiring. As soon as she was hired, she moved to Spain, and we stay in touch today! Even though we are not a “real life” friend and have never met, I love her to death. We have built a relationship and so I was able to be a trusted helper to her through the process, and we remain in touch today!

Teacher Two

This person found my blog and reached out with some questions. She emailed me and said she was thinking about finding a mentor. I helped her through a few questions and then she added my teacher code and then we went through the hiring process. Ironically, she already lived overseas (and continues to today.) So once again, I have never met her face-to-face but I consider her a friend. Our first interaction was a conversation, not a blind referral.

Teacher Three

One day a new name popped up on my referral tracker. Today (in the new world) we won’t have full names or contact info for our referrals. Previously, we did, so I reached out to her to see if she needed help. She made it almost all the way through the process before she responded, and I did very little to help her. Once she was finally hired and had taught her first class, I asked her how she came to sign up using my code. She responded, “No offense, but I didn’t mean to. I have no idea.” She was trying to sign up with a friend’s code, but ended up with mine instead. The reason she never had any questions was that she was asking her friend, yet I was getting the bonus. (I did offer to send her friend the bonus money.) I’m sure what happened was that she read a blog or watched a video and clicked through to the application page. She probably completed the signup process using my link without realizing that it was *my* link and it would stop her from adding her friend’s referral code. It’s my opinion that THIS is the type of referral VIPKid is trying to prevent. No, you don’t have to be best friends or family with every person you refer, but our activities as a referring teacher should be more intentional not accidental.

Remember, we are teachers, first and foremost. Yes, we get a bonus if we have a successful referral get hired and begin teaching, but the goal is to share the opportunity with those we can help and who will make fantastic teachers. The goal is NOT to throw our referral code out into the world and see what sticks.

So if you are having some anxiety about the new process, think of my tale of three teachers, and perhaps it will help.

Happy teaching, and happy referring!

VIPKid Business Cards

With the recent changes in VIPKid recruiting policies, there has been a lot of discussion about what is (and is not) appropriate. A quick disclaimer: If you are a VIPKid teacher, please refer to the Teacher App or portal for the official policy! The below is just how I’ve interpreted a piece of it!

One of the biggest changes is that VIPKid says, ” Referral codes and links must be shared with third parties that you know personally, such as your friends and family. You agree to not solicit, spam, or mass email anyone who you do not personally know with your Referral code or link.” Obviously, that leaves those of us in cyber-space a little bit detached. Does it stop you from getting help? No – absolutely not. But signing up with a code will not enable you to talk 1:1 with another teacher. That makes good old-fashioned communication even more important.

To help prepare for this, I had some business cards printed up today. I included:

  • My logo (MINE – not VIPKid’s!)
  • My name, of course
  • My title (English/ESL Teacher, VIPKid) I am a teacher, NOT a recruiter, hiring coach, etc.
  • My contact information

I did NOT include my referral code. Under the new policy, if someone wants to sign up and work with me 1:1, we will be talking or communicating already, and I can send them the link that way.

When I placed my order, I was ambitious. I ordered 200 business cards. Like many teachers, I was a little uncertain about the future of referring. But 200 cards should last a good, long time.

If you believe in fate, premonition, or just dumb luck, you’ll appreciate what happened next. When I picked up my order, they printed 2,000 business cards not 200. What a deal! Some may say that it was an employee not paying attention, but I say it’s the universe telling me to keep going! It might take me a few years to work through all those cards, but I’ll have plenty to last a while (and they are in line with the new policies!)

Whatever the reason, I’m grateful. If anyone is looking for an easy template, I can share what I did. In the meantime, if you (or anyone you know) is looking to start teaching online, I’ve got a card I can give you!