Slidekick: Rewards

There are so many ways you can use Slidekick to quickly and easily identify the best reward for your student.

This is the second post in a 5-part series all about Slidekick, the app developed by a VIPKid teacher, for VIPKid teachers.

Be sure you check out Issue 1 (Getting Started) to get the basics!

I LOVE using Google Slides for rewards. While there are a lot of great ways you can use slides, this one is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE!  As of this moment, there are 5,347 rewards loaded in Slidekick spanning 35 different categories. (And because I’m an editor in the group, I can see many, many more just waiting for editing and approval!)

Within Slidekick, there are several ways you can search for rewards specifically.

Option 1: Search by reward keyword.

  1. At the bottom of the app, click on the star that’s labelled “Rewards.”
  2. Click on “View All Rewards” at the top of the screen.
  3. Use the search bar at the top to type in keywords.
    • These could be lesson-specific like “food,” “animals,” “India” etc.
    • Or they could be interest-based like “Batman,” “lego,” or “princess.”

It’s usually best to use one keyword to narrow it down; sometimes multiple keywords don’t return great results. For example, instead of searching for “Spiderman, Ironman, and Hulk” try searching for “Superhero.”

Option 2: Search by reward type.

There are so many different reward types here. To search for a certain reward type:

  1. At the bottom of the app, click on the star that’s labelled “Rewards.”
  2. Click on “View Reward Categories” at the top of the screen.
  3. Click on the reward type that you want to use, and you can browse all rewards of that type.

I’m going to resist the urge to talk about them all. (That’s a topic for another blog series.) Instead, I’ll list just a few of my favorites. A few of my favorite reward types are:

  • Find a Star (FAS): Students select a number (or vocab word, or picture.) Some of the options will reveal a star, while others will reveal a picture or gif. You can see an example of this in action in my blog post about Using Google Slides with VIPKid.
  • Pick One: This is similar to FAS, but there are usually two options to choose from. The student chooses one and a picture, gif, or scene is revealed. Sometimes there are stars incorporated into these, and sometimes there are not.
  • Candyland: This is my favorite for my younger students who might not be comfortable making decisions in class. In Candyland, students “spin” the wheel and land on different colored spaces. Each space correlates to something related to the lesson, and then there’s a gif that’s related.
  • UA Maps: These are special rewards designed that align with the “maps” or gameboards in the lessons for Unit Assessments.

Option 3: Search by Lesson

Some people choose the reward based on the student, while others choose it as a way to extend upon the lesson. If you are looking for the latter, there’s a slightly different process to find your reward.

  1. At the bottom of the app, click “lessons.”
  2. Either scroll through the list or use the search bar to find the lesson you will be teaching.
  3. Click on the lesson.
  4. Click on “Extension Rewards.”
  5. Scroll through the list of recommended rewards for this lesson.

It’s important to note that not all of the possible rewards for a lesson will be listed. So if you don’t see one that suits your desired needs, try searching under “rewards” for the lesson number or keyword.

There are so many ways you can use Slidekick to quickly and easily identify the best reward for your student. I encourage you to play around in the app and try it out for yourself.

If you’re looking for more, be sure you come back for the rest of the series! Or you can always see it in action on YouTube as well!

In the next three issues, we’ll dive deeper into:

  • Issue 3: Props & Lessons
  • Issue 4: Rapport
  • Issue 5: Bringing it all Together

In the meantime, be sure to visit the Google Slides Facebook group to get started.

If you have questions, please feel free to let me know in the comments.  Until then – happy teaching, and happy sliding!

Slidekick: Getting Started

This is the first post in a 5-part series all about Slidekick, the app developed by a VIPKid teacher, for VIPKid teachers.

What is Slidekick?

Slidekick is an app that was developed to help VIPKid teachers find, organize, and use Google Slides in ESL classrooms.

Where can I get Slidekick?

It is not available in any app store, and it is not for sale.  You can only get it by being a member of the VIPKid teacher community, and the easiest way to connect is through Facebook.

Once you join the Facebook group, go to “Announcements” and check out the Slide Guide. There, you will find a link to download Slidekick (along with many other useful resources!)

The first time you download it on each device (phone, laptop, iPad, etc.) you will be asked to provide an email address.  You’ll be emailed a code that you need to input in order to proceed with the download. Occasionally, you’ll be prompted to get another code, but for the most part, I stay logged in without going through this additional step.

How much does Slidekick cost?

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Slidekick (and all VIPKid Google Slides) are free for use in the VIPKid classroom.

What can I do with Slidekick?

You’ll learn more about how to use Slidekick in the next four blog posts; however, here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store!

  • News and Updates from your Google Slides admin team.
  • About the VIPKid #GS Group – learn the history of this phenomenal group of people and resources!
  • Who’s Who in Google Slides: Find out who the admins, moderators, and editors are. Thank or tip them for their work in Google Slides.
  • #GS Admin Team: Meet the Sliders behind this group and find out more about these amazing individuals.
  • Create & Contribute: Find templates and resources to help you create your own Google Slides creations! Upload them right from the app!
  • Join Us! Join the Google Slides admin team for recorded and live training sessions!
  • Rewards: Search by category or topic for specific rewards to use in class.
  • Lessons: Search by lesson for props, extension rewards, feedback templates, and lesson notes!

You will NOT be able to display slides from within Slidekick. There are other options that are recommended (also in the Slide Guide!) for the options people use to display the slides.

In the next four issues, we’ll dive deeper into:

  • Issue 2: Rewards
  • Issue 3: Props & Lessons
  • Issue 4: Rapport
  • Issue 5: Bringing it all Together

In the meantime, be sure to visit the Google Slides Facebook group to get started.

If you’d like to see a quick walk-through on screen, check out the accompanying YouTube video:

Slidekick – Episode 1

Slidekick 1 thumbnail

If you have questions, please feel free to let me know in the comments.  In the meantime – happy teaching, and happy sliding!

 

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!

Google Slides Magic

By now, you may know I love Google Slides. I usually default to the classic rewards and use them to extend on our lesson. Every once in a while, I will make a very unique, custom reward that I use for one specific student.

A couple of weeks ago, my sweet student Tracy brought some paper frogs she had drawn and cut out. They all wore clothes and crowns, and she said one was the mom, the dad and the baby. That same class, she brought her My Little Ponies to class with her.

As background, Mom used to get very upset when Tracy brought toys to class. In feedback, I explained we could use them, as long as Tracy just brought one or two toys, so Mom reluctantly agreed. As we used them more and more in class, Tracy got more excited about learning, and Mom got on board.

Fast forward… after this frog class, I thought it would be fun to make Tracy a special reward, so I wrote a story using Google Slides. I downloaded most of my images from my subscription to PNG tree, and I made up a story about the frog prince who lost his parents. Tracy is in the unit studying “feelings” so the topic was great to ask “How does he feel?”

Tracy was delighted to see that I had a custom story for her, and she recognized her toys from the last lesson!

In a rare occurrence, Mom wasn’t in class with her that week, but when I got the feedback, Mom thanked me for making the reward and asked if I could send her the pictures from the slides. (In China, they can’t get to Google Slides, even if I wanted to send her the full lesson.)Screenshot (1)

I took screenshots for her, and sent them via WeChat.

In our next class, as soon as I turned on the camera, Tracy held up a printed version of my story! She proceeded to read the entire thing to me, inserting the emotions she had learned to describe the characters. She and mom had been practicing all week until Tracy could read it on her own!

My heart just melted!

Here is a video I made so you could see how I first used it as a reward for Tracy, and then how she read it back to me. The audio is not very good from the playback, but it’s still adorable! Watch the cutest thing ever here: Google Slides Magic Video

Thank you to Google Slides and WeChat for making it possible to build such fulfilling relationships with families across the world.

If you would like more information about using Google Slides with VIPKid or are just interested in getting started in general, please let me know in the comments!

Happy teaching (and sliding!)

VIPKid Dictionary

Are you still struggling to incorporate your FAS with your SN PPT timeslots during your MC classes?

Are you new to VIPKid? Are you still struggling to incorporate your FAS with your SN PPT timeslots during your MC classes? Don’t worry! There are a LOT of acronyms with VIPKid.

The below is certainly not a comprehensive list, but hopefully it’s enough to get you started. If you have a new one I’ve missed, let me know in the comments and I’ll add it! Many are acronyms, but I’ve also included a few words that might be confusing if you are new to our VIPKid world!

Bao Bao: This is a nickname for “child” used by some Chinese families. Occasionally, you’ll see a class scheduled with “Bao Bao” and this just means that the parents haven’t yet chosen an English name OR perhaps it’s a trial and the student has not yet been confirmed. Often in Facebook posts, you’ll see teachers refer to their student as “Bao Bao” just like an American might refer to a generic student name.

Brand Ambassador: Brand Ambassadors are online influencers on social channels with an engaged audience who can help curate, promote, and share information with VIPKid teachers. If you’ve done a google search for VIPKid, I can assure you that you’ve run across some brand ambassadors. They will have content that’s clearly marked as their own content vs. “Official” VIPKid sanctioned content from their brand ambassador role.

Builder’s Program: The VIPKid Builder’s Program provides high-performing teachers with the opportunity to get involved in other aspects of the company. There are several different roles that fall into three main categories: Create (focusing on bringing the teacher voice into the curriculum development,) Promote (for teachers who like to share VIPKid in the community,) and Support (for those who want to support their peer teachers.)  More information about the different programs can be found below. To qualify for any of the builders programs, you must have taught at least 1,000 classes “as finished,” have a 4.90 apple rating from your last 100 classes, and have a 5.0 participation rate. More information on the builder’s program can be found in the VIPKid Support Center.

Coach: VIPKid Coaches are part of the Builder’s Program. Coaches are teachers who facilitate in-person coaching sessions were applicants can practice the basic skills of online teaching. This is a part of the VIPKid Interview Process – Fast Pass Coaching Day.

Community Ambassador: A community ambassador is a role that’s a part of the Builder’s Program. Teachers serve a three-month term and provide support to other teachers through the Official VIPKid Facebook group or the Hutong.

Curriculum Reviewer: Curriculum Reviewers share feedback with the Curriculum team via small group and 1:1 calls. This role is a part of the Builder’s Program.

FAS: Find a Star is a game that is often played during class. This can be done digitally through Google Slides or by printing out pictures or numbers and hiding stars underneath them. There are many different ways to play Find a Star, but it’s a popular game among teachers and students alike. You can see an example of it in Using Google Slides with VIPKid.

Finish Type: Each class is marked with a disposition by VIPKid upon completion.  For a teacher to be paid, the finish type must be one of the following:

  • AS_SCHEDULED
  • STUDENT_NO_SHOW
  • STUDENT_IT_PROBLEM
  • SYSTEM_PROBLEM

Other finish types that will affect your payment and could perhaps incur teacher penalties are:

  • TEACHER_NO_SHOW
  • TEACHER_NO_SHOW_2H
  • TEACHER_CANCELLATION_24H
  • TEACHER_CANCELLATION
  • TEACHER_IT_PROBLEM

GS or #gsOG: This refers to Google Slides, and if you see the hashtag, it generally refers to the Google Slides Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/vipkidgs/.)

IPAED: This is a teaching method used in many VIPKid lessons.

  • Introduce: This is where you show your student a new word or idea.
  • Practice: The student practices repeating the new concept. These slides are often drag and drop so the student can get comfortable with the new information.
  • Apply: The student is asked to apply their new knowledge. These slides are often fill in the blank so the student can really show they learned the information.
  • Extend: This is your chance to extend upon the information. If the student has mastered the concept, then you can add to it at this point.
  • Demonstrate: Here’s where your student can show you what they’ve learned! In major courses, this refers to the projects they do for homework. In some supplemental courses, the students get the chance to demonstrate more regularly!

JCL: Junior Creator’s League is a supplemental program available for students through VIPKid. It’s designed to develop students’ interests into skills through hands-on learning. The lessons are very specific to a unique topic (for example, biology or singing.) More information can be found in the certification center.

Local Leaders: Local leaders are active meetup hosts in their communities, strong promoters, and they identify and execute on local opportunities. Local Leaders are a part of the Builder’s Program.

MC: Major Courses are the primary courses that students can take through VIPKid.  There are currently seven levels of MC classes:

  • Level One (PreVIPKid)
  • Level Two (Being phased out)
  • Level Two Interactive
  • Level Three
  • Level Four
  • Level Five
  • Level Six

Each MC has 12 units and 12 lessons in each unit. The unit is divided into halves, with a unit assessment at the end of each.  Each lesson is numbered as follows:

  • Class Type (MC)
  • Level (1-6)
  • Unit (1-12)
  • Half (LC1 or LC2)
  • Lesson (1-12)

For example, MC-L2-U1-LC2-10 means that it’s a major course (MC) in Level 2 (L2). It’s Unit 1 (U1) and the second half (LC2) and lesson 10.

MCM: Mock Class Mentors are those who help teachers pass their certifications. They provide feedback and suggestions for improvement.conduct 1:1 classroom role-play scenarios and provide feedback to applicants and current teachers certifying in new curriculum or levels. This is a part of the Builder’s Program (see above.)

Mentor: Mentors create and run 1-hour workshops for VIPKid teachers. You may also hear teachers refer to a referring teacher as a mentor (for lack of a better word.) Please note, true Mentors are paid positions that are part of the Builder’s Program, while a referring teacher is simply someone whose code was used during an applicant’s application process.

Peak Timeslots: These are prime teaching hours, generally when Chinese students are not in school.

PPT Timeslots: These are the most popular timeslots and are the best to open if you are looking for increased bookings! For more information on timeslots and VIPKid scheduling, check out VIPKid Hours.

Product Advisory Council: Members of the Product Advisory Council are a part of a team that meets monthly to brainstorm new features, discuss upcoming launches, and test new features. This role is a part of the Builder’s Program.

SIT: Student IT – this is when a student has a proven IT issue on their side. Teachers are paid for 100% of the class in Student IT situations.

SN: Short Notice – this refers to timeslots that can be booked up to one hour before class. If a timeslot is not marked as “short notice” it will expire 24 hours before class time. You can learn more about SN booking with VIPKid Short Notice 24-hour Bookings.

SNS: Student No Show – this is when a student doesn’t come to class. Even if a student isn’t in the classroom, you are required to stay and wait at least 15 minutes for trial classes and a full 25 minutes for other classes. There are many different opinions on what should, or shouldn’t be done when you are in a classroom and your student hasn’t arrived. I personally post a message in the chatroom every 2 minutes. After the first 2 minutes, I contact the fireman so that they can call the parents. I take screenshots every five minutes in case there is any question that I was there, ready to teach. This is not required, but simply a best practice I choose to use.

TESOL: TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and encompasses what used to be called TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language). Within VIPKid, you’ll most commonly hear this in the context of the VIPKid certifications offered in conjunction with the TESOL-VIPKid Foundational and TESOL-VIPKid Advanced certifications.  The foundations certificate is now required for any new teachers who don’t have a degree in education, but the advanced TESOL is optional.

TIT: This is the dreaded “Teacher IT” – if there is a system problem that prevents you from teaching at least 3 minutes of class (and it is not the student or VIPKid’s fault) then you forfeit 100% of the payment for that class. It’s always helpful to have a backup ready to go in case of power outages or internet failures. Ipads and mobile hotspots are lifesavers!

TMC: Teaching Material Contributors create and design prep materials, level certifications, and participate in testing new curriculum. This role is a part of the Builder’s Program.

TNS: Teacher No-Show. Noooooo….  this is when you fail to show up for, or cancel, a class. Obviously, you get no pay for these. In addition, you will be penalized (usually $10 for a normal 25 minute class, or $20 for a 50 minute class.)

TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language is a standardized test to measure the English language ability of non-native speakers wishing to enroll in English-speaking universities.  There is a supplementary course offered by VIPKid to help students prepare for this test. Certification information is available under the Certification tab in the Teacher’s Portal.

T2T Feedback: Teacher to Teacher Feedback is optional feedback left in the portal that’s only visible to VIPKid and other teachers.  It is intended to be used to provide the next teacher a short update about the student or their progress. Be careful! There are a lot of opinions about how this should (or shouldn’t) be used. Ultimately, I suggest adding whatever notes you feel would be helpful if YOU were the next teacher!

I feel like there are far more of these types of words and acronyms that an experienced teacher now takes for granted, so please – if you have questions or others to add to the list, please let me know!

In the meantime, if you are just getting started with VIPKid, check out the application process Completing the VIPKid Application and feel free to use my referral link if you’d like some help through the hiring process!

Thanks, and happy teaching!

Using Google Slides with VIPKid

Google Slides is a tool that can be used to enhance your ESL lessons. They are essentially online slide shows that behave similar to Powerpoint, but everything is stored in the cloud. Teachers often use Google Slides for rewards, props, or both.

What types of Google Slides are available?

There are too many different options to count! I personally use Google Slides mostly for rewards. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, to choose from.  Some of my favorites include:

  • Find a Star
  • Candyland
  • Teacher vs. Student
  • Tap and Reveal
  • and so many more….!

How do you display Google Slides?

There are three main ways you can display Google Slides.

  1. Holding your phone up to the monitor. (This is what I do.  You can check out this video to see how it looks on camera.)
  2. Using software like ManyCam or CamTwist. This is a great option to be able to alternate between your face and a reward in the classroom, but it does require meeting basic, minimum computer requirements and a little more tech-savvy.
  3. A second monitor displayed in your classroom.

There really is no right or wrong way to use Google Slides. The one limitation is that you must never try to upload the slides into the VIPKid classroom directly.

What are the benefits of Google Slides?

  • They are super easy. Once you get comfortable with the slide finder and/or the planner, you have hundreds of props and rewards at your fingertips!
  • They cut down on clutter. For prop minimalists, or those who travel, you no longer have to worry about keeping up with lots of different props and rewards for all different levels. Simply search and pull in what you need by type, character, or lesson.
  • They are totally customizable. Not only are you able to choose from a wide library of slides created by amazing teachers, but you can easily create your own too! Whatever you want to reinforce in a lesson – you can do so at your fingertips.

How can Google Slides enhance a VIPKid lesson?

I love to incorporate Google Slides with the interactive reward slides built into the lessons. Take a concept that’s in the lesson already and then build it out.

You can even customize your Google Slides to specific students and what they need to work on. I made a custom reward once using the artwork of one of my students.

I personally like to build in optional extension options. If a student is struggling and you are running short on time, you can do the minimum. If you are ahead of schedule and looking for extension options, you can spend time using questions and answers on the slides to add to the lesson.

I absolutely love Google Slides, and I use them more than any other reward. What’s your favorite reward? Let me know in the comments!

In the meantime, if you are just getting started and looking for more information on rewards in general, check out:

Types of VIPKid Rewards

Or, if you are wanting to get started with VIPKid, here are some tips on completing the VIPKid application or jump right in and apply here if you would like for me to help guide you through the process!