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Color Adjustment. You can change the brightness, contrast and saturation of your webcam. I used to be the traditional type but I spent wayyyy to long with props, paper, pics, and rewards. I’m sorry but I don’t care for damn ice cream scoops rewards or car rewards. That’s boring as hell. Too much time and money honestly. Manycam is bad ass. All my props and rewards are there. It takes a while getting used to.
I LOVE being a VIPKID teacher. The children are sweet. The one-on-one environment is ideal for forming relationships with students. The schedule is flexible.
However, there are some aspects of the job that I’m not so fond of.
One of the drawbacks is that VIPKID has a requirement that props be used in the classroom to enhance learning.
The Drawbacks of Physical Props
This is a fair enough request on is surface. Using props helps to deepen the students’ understanding and makes the class more enjoyable.
I was lucky in this regard when I first started, because I had a young son It was easy to “borrow” some of his toys to use as props in my lessons. (And yes, some of those toys may have found a permanent home in my classroom area.)
However, even with easy access to props that I didn’t have to go buy, there were still some issues in the prop department.
The first issue I encountered we difficulty with storing props.
I initially tried sorting different materials to go along with certain lessons, but I quickly found that there were a lot of props that could be used for multiple lessons.
I also tried looking over lessons ahead of time and putting the props that I thought I would need within easy reach of my work station.
Sometimes this worked well.
Other times a student would struggle with an aspect of the lesson and I’d think, “I’ve got a great prop to demonstrate this point,” but it would be so buried among all my other props that I didn’t feel as though I could justify using up some of our precious time looking for it.
Plus, this method meant that I needed to take time outside of class to look over slides and prepare, which was time consuming.
And there were some lessons that it was just difficult to find props for (Lewis and Clark? Molecules? Really?).
Rewards were also burdensome. I had a handful of homemade reward system that I would use, but as I built up a base of “regular” students, I was quickly scrambling to make new rewards so that they wouldn’t be bored with the same reward systems all the time.
These took a lot of time and energy.
A Better Way
Luckily, I eventually discovered Google Slides and Manycam.
If you work with VIPKID, then you’re in luck when it comes to Google Slides. There’s a whole Facebook Group that will link you to all of the presentations that you could ever want (hopefully).
If you are not familiar with Google Slides, it’s essentially Google’s version of Microsoft PowerPoint. It has the added advantage that anyone with a Google account can access its’ products free online. It’s also easy to share what you’ve made with others.
In the Google Slides Facebook group you can access presentations that can act as props for lessons. While most lessons have presentations available, not all of them do, so it would be good to check ahead of time. Some lessons even have multiple presentations, so you can look over the slides and decide which presentation you like the best!
Personally, I only occasionally use the lesson slides. (I’ll discuss what I use for lesson props in a moment.) What I love about the Google Slides group is that there are literally hundreds of reward presentations to choose from.
I have students that I have taught for over 100 lessons without using the exact same reward twice.
I can even let students pick which reward they want. Some rewards go along the reward systems in VIPKID, especially the Unit Assessment rewards, but others are just super creative ideas that teachers came up with themselves.
If you notice a particular lesson or reward that you want to use, but can’t find in the group, then make it yourself and share it with others! Templates are available to help.
All of the Google Slides presentations that are available in the group were made by other VIPKID teachers who were nice enough to share them with others.
It’s an absolutely wonderful resource and I don’t know how I ever got along without it.
When it comes to using Google Slides in your online classroom there are a few ways that you can do it.
When I first started to use Google Slides, I would pull them up on my iPad and hold it up to the camera to show the student.
While this does work, there tends to be a glare from the computer screen and it can be difficult to align it properly and hold it still for the student to see. Most students will still enjoy the reward, but is a bit hard to see.
Now, I was already using Manycam when I began using Google Slides, but at first I couldn’t figure out how to combine the two together.
Luckily, my amazing husband had the idea of pulling out an old computer monitor that we no longer used anymore and connecting it to my laptop. (Isn’t he wonderful?)
Now, this monitor is pretty ancient by technology standards, but it seems to get the job done well enough. If you don’t have a monitor at home, you can buy one (like this one here) on Amazon for less than $50.
There are also used monitors available for a lower cost. You don’t need anything fancy, as long as it connects to your computer.
Manycam Settings For Vipkid
Once you have them connected, right click on the second screen picture at the bottom of the Manycam screen.
Click on Desktop, and then Display 2.
And you’re all set! Just have your Google Slides presentation pulled up on your second screen and you can switch back and forth at will.
Are These the Only Props I Use?
I will say that the majority of my “props” these days are on Manycam. This software lets you display images right on your screen.
It’s easy to search through the images that they have available. If I can’t find something I like, then I’ll make my one by cropping the background out of a picture.
I have a handful of reward systems that I also keep in Manycam. These are useful when I’m traveling and can’t use two monitors.
In fact, Manycam is great for traveling altogether, because it means that I don’t have to pack props.
The OCD side of me has also organized all of my images in Manycam into separate folders for easier access. (I have a LOT of images).
There are a few different membership levels to Manycam, but I find that the Standard membership is sufficient for classroom use. It doesn’t cost too much and you’re set for life!
You can even get a discount on the price by clicking my link here.
I also still keep a handful of physical props handy.
Manycam Vipkid Rewards
Toy animals, food, and letters are useful in several lessons. I also keep a toy microphone to encourage speaking from hesitant or confused students.
Some teachers swear by having a whiteboard to write out concepts, but I have yet to master this skill. I prefer to write directly on the slide or in the chat.
Otherwise, you’re set! No need to buy tons of expensive supplies only to have trouble accessing them when you need them.
How do you minimize the props in your classroom? Do you have any ideas that I missed?
If you aren’t currently teaching at VIPKID, but are interested in checking it out you can use my referral link here. When you do so, it’ll let me know that you used my code and allow me to offer advice with the hiring process if you need it.