April 2018 Newsletter
Hey, you! In addition to the multitude of freebies, the contest possibilities, the way-cool thoughts to share, and a monthly caffeine opportunity, we have a totally new project for you to consider.
It’s called, Hey You!, and it’s something we think will be an interesting watch for young people who might need some good thoughts shared. What, you’d like to learn more? We can help with that!
A Little Advice
It’s our belief that there are many, many teens out there who could use some advice. We’ve started connecting with some interesting folks from all over, asking them three questions:
- Why do you do what you do?
- What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
- What’s a story that speaks to something that is important to you?
We’re keeping these short – the goal with the first two questions is that they stay under a minute, and that the last one keep to two minutes or less. Please give these first ones a look to let us know what you think.
If you know students who might not have anyone who can give them some good thoughts (or students who don’t seem to listen to those nearby), please let them know we’d welcome knowing what they think of these pieces. Find the videos above and all we post going forward on this page.
We are finally ready to announce the winners of our Creative Fire ’17 contest, so let’s get some great vids in front of you:
Collaboration Strand Winner
Words Have a Lasting Impact
Teacher Strand Winner
Digital Citizenship: Thinking about Etiquette
Student Strand Winner
Congratulations to all our finalists – we had some especially close votes this go-round!
We’ll launch Creative Storm ’18 in the next month or so, but if you end the current term having students make short, clever videos that teach something, we’d be happy to work with you to help share them with the world and also make sure they are eligible for the contest.
While the deadline is toward the end of the year, you’ll be able to start submitting entries in May. Know that the usual rules for a Next Vista contest apply: the content should cover no more than 90 seconds, though they get an additional 60 seconds specifically for credits. As always, we’re very strict about which sites can be used and how credits should be formatted. Find guidance here.
While we’re on the topic of winners, we’d like to congratulate Daniel Mares for winning the $5 Starbucks card in March. While this newsletter goes out to over eight thousand addresses of teachers around the globe, we often get no more than a handful of entries each month. Mysterious, it is, and an opportunity for you who are willing to enter!
If you’d like to enter this month, watch the two Hey You! videos linked above, and let us know what you think of them. You can use the Contact Us form, or send them in an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global Student Voice Film Festival Deadline
Next Monday (9th) is the deadline for the Global Student Voice Film Festival! We hope you have entered or will share a cool video before the deadline. Before submitting, make sure to make one last check of the rules so that the videos your students make will be eligible for judging. Find the Student Voice Foundation site here.
A friend of mine, Budd Mackenzie, is a retired lawyer with a powerful story of being inspired to make a difference in the lives of others. He spent over a decade building schools and partnerships in Afghanistan, and learned tons there and from his contacts around the world about instilling altruism in students. Budd has partnered with Dominican University to offer an online course called, “Reversing The Trend – From Narcissism to Altruism.” The idea is to help student find purpose and happiness in their lives by reaching out to help others. It’s a 2-unit class ($270). You can see a nice summary of the syllabus here, and if interested, sign up here.
There has been lots of healthy attention to helping students see a less-than-perfect performance as a strong opportunity to learn. The acronym we hear often: FAIL = First Attempt in Learning. We in education are good at coming up with more acronyms, aren’t we?
The quote this month is a similar idea we can bring to our outlook as teachers seeking ever-greater personal and professional satisfaction in our work:
Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you decided to look beyond the imperfections.
Good thought, that.
The picture on the right and the one at the end of this newsletter were photos I took while visiting Colombia in February. The face in this one captures for me something close to how we feel when one of our students says something funny. It’s a reminder that we should give them room to give us creative responses to the ideas we teach. Smiles like this are opportunities we shouldn’t lose.
May you inspire, and be inspired, each and every day.
We love sharing cool free stuff, and invite you to help us out. You can find the best of what we’ve gathered over the years on the Next Vista Resources pages, but if there is something free and powerful you love that you don’t find there, let us know about it using our resources submission form.
Worth the Watch
* A big reason so many of us like The Olympics is the intensity it produces, and this video (and call) from NBC Sports of the finish of the cross-country team skiing event captures perfectly. Thanks to Ben Gilpin (@benjamingilpin) for sharing the clip as a prompt for good PD possibilities.
* Also in the sports space, Superbowl-winning quarterback Nick Foles offered some thoughts on the importance of one’s struggles, and what it means to listen and learn. For all who believe that failure is an integral part of pushing yourself meaningfully, this is a nice message. Thanks to Lauren Schregel (@Schregelsings) in Arizona for sharing this one.
* If you are looking for a video to prompt a discussion on the environment or the economics of plastics, consider this one from KQED’s Above the Noise, called, “Is Your Fleece Jacket Polluting the Oceans?” The Above the Noise series is especially good at looking critically at all sides of an issue (hence the name) and asking questions rather than making statements.
* The Traveling Telescope Inspiring Africa’s Next Astronomers is a video about a program put together by Susan Murabana in Kenya. The idea is to get a strong telescope to villages and have students there look through them and imagine making science a part of their futures. A nice story from the Great Big Story people.
* This video is about how you spend your time. The maker, Ze Frank, is someone known for sharing ideas in compelling ways. Called The Time You Have (In JellyBeans), it breaks down how the days of an average life are spent. It’s visually interesting and thought-provoking for folks at lots of different points in their lives.
* The photographers at Getty Images are known for powerfully capturing the world around them, and their summary of the previous year is an interesting way to reflect on what we all experienced together. This video is called Getty Year in Focus 2017, and is quite the reminder of moments high and low.
* My buddy David in the Defense Innovation Unit (that’s a thing) recommended this video called Building a Better Cubicle. It’s about IDEO, a design company, taking a challenge from Scott Adams (comic artist of Dilbert fame) to make the lowly cubicle something much more interesting. This eight-minute piece may prompt your students to imagine something new about their school. Lockers that allow you to charge a device or clean your smelly gym clothes? Hmm…
* Jeff Bush in Michigan pointed me to Exploring Immigration, a site with a set of 15-minute videos that are very well produced looking at the history and complexities of immigration in the United States. The Watch Now page on the project’s site will get you to all seven programs.
* Kim Mattina is a Google Certified Trainer in New Jersey, and decided she wanted to find a way to learn from others and share broadly at the same time, so she started a video show called The Suite Talk. In late March, I was her guest, and this episode is about the digital media tools that teachers might try using in classes with Chromebooks. You can also find the show notes here with plenty of links to resources, and her channel with the 2018 episodes here.
* Short videos with something unusual make for great prompts. In this case, “Grace Lehane playing to the cattle in Kilmichael Cork,” a girl plays a song and it prompts the cattle to come to her. The prompt for your students: Why? Find this video and more at The Kid Should See This, and thanks to Ben Friesen (@benjaminfriesen) for the share.
* The videos I put in this section typically have some wildly interesting or inspiring component to them. If this 18-minute piece about opening eggs with toys in them has something like that, I don’t know what it is. However, apparently it is fascinating to small children, as it’s been viewed over 77 million times. I thank Ashlie O’Connor for sharing this mystery with me.
Worth the Read
* What if your elementary school eliminated grades? If you’re in New Hampshire’s NG2 program, it would mean switching to competency-based programs and having students of different ages, but similar ability levels, at times working together, and pushing forward individually at other times. This post is from EdSurge, which demonstrates high marks for the consistent quality of its offerings!
* You’ve probably heard of genius hour or a program like it, but have you read a teacher’s account of implementing it with fifth graders? This Edutopia piece, called Genius Hour in Elementary School, is a strong reflection with details for anyone considering how inquiry-based projects can become part of learning.
* Another strong post from Edutopia I recommend is Extending the Silence by John McCarthy (@JMcCarthyEdS). In it, he compellingly explains how not giving enough time after asking a question gets in the way of helping students develop their thinking. As I see it, as soon as a teacher’s question becomes a contest to see who can answer most quickly, we’ve lost half or more of the students in the room who don’t believe they can compete. Giving everyone time is a strategy that can build confidence and create the kind of atmosphere we all want.
* A New Jersey teacher decided to start a TED-Ed club at his school to help his students develop their confidence researching interesting problems and then conveying their learning in powerful ways. This EdSurge article chronicles his journey and his changes in thinking about his work as a result of it.
* Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times wrote an interesting piece about journalistic speed vs power in an article titled, “For Two Months, I Got My News From Print Newspapers. Here’s What I Learned.” The title accurately reflects the careful ideas that make up this story about how we think about news, and the article would make a strong addition to any high school or college course in which digital literacy is a component.
* In a similar vein, a New York Times article called “The Man Who Knew Too Little” tells the reader about a former tech guy now in rural Ohio who decided to shut out national and international news entirely. It’s an interesting read about a guy who disengaged, and why and how he addresses his disengagement may make for an interesting prompt with your students.
* This is probably more of a watch than a read, but Eric Curts (@ericcurts) wrote a post with a set of Google’s April Fools Day joke videos. There seems to be no shortage of humor at Google.
Worth the Try
* This KQED article on the effect of the 2016-2017 winter rains on three of California’s reservoirs is in the “try” section because the images for each reservoir has a slider in the middle that you can move left and right to see the water levels before and after the heavy rains. Consider it a cool prompt for talking about weather and water.
* You might think several OK Go videos would be a “watch,” but the wildly creative band teamed up with Google people to create a set of learning resources called the OK Go Sandbox. Seriously cool, seriously interesting, and seriously fun.
* While searching for something else, I ran across this page with plenty of keyboard shortcuts specific to Chromebooks. Whoa! Did you know pressing the alt key and a number would take you to the corresponding item in the tray in the lower left, or that ctrl-alt-/ would open up a visual tool for seeing all the shortcuts you can do? Mind blown.
* Do you need to download a video from YouTube or Vimeo? Perhaps your school’s network is shaky, and you want to make sure buffering doesn’t interrupt the power of the story. The company AceThinker has a very easy tool for this, as well as some other resources on their site worth exploring!
* Amy Hunt in Arizona recently showed me Write About, a site built to help teachers get compelling prompts in front of their students. Those used to Google Docs might need to know that when writing something on this site, it doesn’t save automatically, so use that “save draft” button regularly! Awesome share, Amy!
* Alvina Green rocked a recent demo slam shindig at an EdTechTeam with a simple tool called Classroom Screen. This is a tab you can have open with a timer, a noise meter, a traffic light, and more. Find a cool way to use this and let me know, and I’ll put your name in (perhaps a second time!) for the caffeine drawing.
* At the same slam, buddy Chris Betcher (@betchaboy) reminded me of a Chrome extension that I thought had disappeared. So glad to be wrong! It’s called Auto Text Expander, and it allows you to create a little abbreviation (perhaps “/nohw”) that you can type in order to get, “I hope all is well, and that you, like me, are worried about your darling child’s total unwillingness to turn in homework.” It could be many paragraphs, all with a few letters. Save yourself some typing by giving this one a try.
* If you have physics students who can handle a camera, they should check out the High School Physics Photo Contest from the American Association of Physics Teachers. Here are the winners from 2017, and if you aren’t wildly impressed by the one with the smiley face, you’re not paying attention. Thanks to Patrick Vallez-Kelly for sharing this one.
* Another nice share from Patrick is Design Thinking for Libraries, a site with a downloadable toolkit for bringing new possibilities to your school’s library. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IDEO, and the Chicago Public Library were three of the partners who helped make this happen. The makers see the effort as one that can improve, and invite feedback on what they’ve created. Cool stuff!
* What if a set of volunteers from among your students took it upon themselves to explore how they can have an impact locally? What if it were via design thinking processes? Stanford has a program called Design for America, and on its site, you can find projects students are doing to help girls in an economically challenged area see themselves as leaders, help stressed-out students maintain good eating habits, help parents of ESL students play a more active role in their children’s education, and more. Thanks go to David Schiff for sharing this site!
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Ever feel that someone is looking over your shoulder? As I mentioned in the first finish above, this is an image I got while in South America earlier this year. I think of it as a prompt – what advice would the man in the image have for us? What kind of clue to the image’s story could the people sitting nearby give us? What was the hope of the artist?
Over the Shoulder
by Rushton Hurley
CC by 4.0
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