5 Lockdown Life Hacks with BGL

by Kellen Sprew & Jacquelin Fink

Make the most of learning at home with these simple life hacks. Our after-school virtual programs create unique learning environments that offer fun alternatives to the typical online class. Learners focus on things they really enjoy in BGL’s after-school clubs:


Puppet Laboratory

Theater & Expression

Role Playing & Games








What life hacks have you discovered during the lockdown? Share with us in the comments!


Not Your Average Bridge Project!

by Patricia Reiter

A few months ago, a “foodbridge” was not a thing. As of now, it is the imagined creation of three brilliant, young ladies at Tsai Hsing School in Taipei. Ann, Yulianna, and Angel’s “Foodbridge,” pictured here, is the culmination of their vision for how to create a bridge that works toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets a specific need with an actual, employable solution.

These stellar students are pictured below with their self-assigned job responsibilities. Their bridge would connect a palace in Thailand with a very impoverished area that is currently separated by a wall in order to “hide” the situation. The girls proposed a bridge instead, with food left for the hungry. By utilizing food that is nearing expiration, this thoughtful plan helps with poverty, hunger, waste, infrastructure…and access to jobs and healthcare. You can view a video of their slideshow at this link. This unique bridge earned the girl-powered trio a top-finalist ranking! Bravo, girls!

Future World-Savers

The amazing example set by Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) inspired this brilliance. This organization of engineering marvel, hard work, and heart, scours the planet for places in dire need of bridges. Everyone wins!

Vision & Mission

It did not take long for the students to embrace B2P with both fascination and appreciation for B2P’s incredible work. Our future world-savers got to work creating their own vision and their own mission, based on B2P’s mission.

Meaningful Endeavor

It was a true delight to see these energetic and intelligent youths embrace such a meaningful endeavor. Each eighth-grade group worked tirelessly within a strict timeline to create a bridge in their own vision. This was not your typical glue-the-popsicle-sticks-and-put-weights-on-them activity.


Driving that point home was the Field Trip LIVE the students took to the many bridges of Portland, Oregon. In addition to looking at the mechanical structures of the bridges, the students discussed the practical and metaphorical purpose of each bridge on this virtual field trip, as you can see in this clip.

Tinkercad Bridges

 It was now time for the students to create their own bridges to prosperity. After the student groups answered the essential questions of who would be helped, where, how, and why, the students transferred their thoughts to a physical design by creating a computer-aided image of their envisioned bridge using Tinkercad.


Who will be helped?



Impressive Presentation

Three very industrious youths, Jordan, Ian, and Ian, worked under their “company identity,” WCPO. You can see the strong correlation between their CAD design and the final project. WCPO also earned top finalist ranking with an impressive presentation, full of “wow’s” and a bit of laughter.  


Feat of Engineering

WCPO created a bridge to offer passage over the Bering Strait. Not only did they create a model and structurally sound plan for this feat of engineering, but they created a business logo for all of their work. I especially liked their sandwich inspired double deck…is it obvious that this class happens right before lunch? These boys really “hammed” it up!  


Envisioned Bridge


Student groups gathered materials from home, focusing on reusable materials instead of purchased items. Finally, they built. See the building process of Ann, Yulianna, and Angel here, on Youtube. The build was limited to four class periods and was completed at school. Each group then presented its bridge, along with its intended purpose, to a group of outside panelists, via videoconferencing. Our panelists, from different educational and occupational backgrounds, evaluated the bridge viability, SDG impact, and quality of the pitch. The finalists were chosen.

Evaluate the Plans

For our culminating event, the esteemed representatives from Bridges to Prosperity joined us live to evaluate the plans and bridges of our seven finalist groups. The students were definitely nervous, standing (virtually) in front of B2P’s engineers and directors, while the rest of the classes looked on eagerly.



Brimming with Joy

As their teacher, I did what every proud teacher does…sat teary-eyed, brimming with joy. The presentations were a success, with the students and B2P enjoying mutual appreciation for the work completed on both sides.  


Beyond a Textbook

 This experience went way beyond a textbook as it intertwined humanitarianism with learning, leading to the betterment of this earth home we share.


Impactful Infrasctructure

The opportunity to explore the work and diverse talent of the brains behind Bridges to Prosperity connected students to work opportunities and worthwhile, meaningful employment. Not to be underestimated was the knowledge and insight into just how impactful infrastructure, such as a bridge, can be to a person, a family, or a community.


Feat of Engineering

Our students now understand that one simple footbridge can provide an entire village with access to education, employment, healthcare, and a better life. This empowered perspective will serve their brilliant minds well as they move their own talents into the workforce.


Our most genuine appreciation to Bridges to Prosperity for bettering the world every day, and for allowing our students to glean some of their magic. But, it’s always better to hear it from the students, so listen to Ariel share her thoughts.

True History of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr – Student Activism Club

On January 18th, 2021, Banyan Global Learning’s Student Activism Club celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Our special guest, Mansa Moosa-El (Mozez) joined us virtually to share precious first-hand knowledge of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Era.

Mozez is a Los Angeles based activist, organizer and community protector. Fighting for justice is his life’s mission. He broke down the struggles that Dr. King and many other Black leaders from that time endured on the path to equal rights. Mozez enlightened us on the true history of Dr. King, explaining how over time his legacy has been watered down to be more palatable to the masses. 

From this meeting, students learned exactly what it meant for activists to go against the status-quo in the past, and find similarities in the present. MLK Day has only been a holiday since 1986. Mozez made it a point to let the students know just how many obstacles activists have had to overcome to get their deserved recognition. The students are learning how to stand strong and remain resilient when justice is at stake. 

Dr. King’s legacy is just the tip of the iceberg of Black activism. His actions and words provided the students with the perfect gateway into a world of community organizing. Mozez will be joining us again during Black History Month!

Our Favorite Tools for Online Learning

by Katrina Baran & Deirdre Marlowe

At BGL, we’ve been teaching using video conferencing for more than a decade and are still awed by the number of tools available. The internet is crowded with apps, programs and websites that promise to be the best ones to use to engage your learners. Face it, the world of edtech can be more than a little intimidating at times. How do you know which app is the right app? We’d like to help you make your choice. Here are some of our favorite apps.



Students use Flipgrid to inspire student conversation and improve their speaking skills. Rather than type messages on a message board, students record themselves speaking about a topic. Depending on how the teacher sets things up, students can view each other’s messages and record responses. We love how Flipgrid provides a safe space for students to speak publicly.


Our students post info, links, videos and images on a teacher-created Padlet board, or create  their own boards to display their work and ideas.

The many styles of board available make it  flexible. When given the opportunity students enjoy commenting on, liking and ranking each other’s posts. We use Padlet both synchronously and asynchronously.


Our go-to collaborative productivity software is Google Workspace (formerly G Suite). Students can work together in real-time in slides, docs and sheets, and teachers can check in on students’ progress in real-time, too. Students and teachers need Gmail accounts to use Google Workspace programs collaboratively. We love how these apps can all work together.


Our teachers use Mentimeter to create word collages or clouds based on student input. The most common words are largest and the least common words are smallest. While Mentimeter can be used as another approach to KWL charting, we especially appreciate how Mentimeter can provide a quick formative assessment especially while a new topic is being covered.


Although a bit more complicate, Glogster enables our students to make interactive collages using video, text, images and external links. While students cannot (yet) collaborate in one glog, they can view, comment on and link to each other’s glogs. We love how Glogster helps students build on each other’s work and facilitates teamwork.


Students (and teachers) no longer need to be graphic designers! Canva is a free web-based graphic design program that comes with many templates and graphics for all of us to use to create interesting posters, infographics or other graphics. We appreciate how Canva helps us make headers in documents we create more interesting and student certificates display-worthy.

What are your favorite edtech tools? Let us know in the comments!


by Katrina Baran & Deirdre Marlowe

At BGL, we’ve been teaching using video conferencing for more than a decade and are still awed by the number of tools available. The internet is crowded with apps, programs and websites that promise to be the best ones to use to engage your learners. Face it, the world of edtech can be more than a little intimidating at times. How do you know which app is the right app? We’d like to help you make your choice. Here are some of our favorite apps.


“Just Vote,” A Song by Amani Weary – from BGL’s Activism Field Trip Club

BGL’s Student Activism Club is a collection of truly inspiring youth who have been busy making change one sign, poem, song and march at a time. Their efforts came to a head on Monday, November 2 – the day before Election Day – as they shared their creative projects that are inspired by issues important to them. One of those was 14 year-old Amani Weary’s original song – Just Vote.

If this doesn’t give you hope that the future of our world is in good hands, we’re not sure what will.