April 2019 Newsletter
I’ll start this month’s newsletter with a big shout-out to the group from the Kamehameha Schools that met in Waianae, Hawaii, earlier this month for a three-day training I ran. It’s inspiring to meet people with such a passion for helping kids understand their possibilities!
This month is also the wind-down to what I call “conference season,” having enjoyed lots of great idea sharing at CUE and MACUL last month, and with NCEA coming up in another couple of weeks, as I write.
In the spirit of great idea sharing, I’m happy to launch into sharing possibilities and freebies – thank you for reading our newsletter!
(And don’t forget to put your name in for the caffeine card drawing, too! See below for details.)
Our annual service contest has ended, and we are going through the entries now. Watch May’s newsletter for word of finalists and maybe even winners, depending on how fast we move!
The current 90-second edu-video contest, Creative Wave ’19, is in its final weeks, so those of you looking to creatively help others learn something and compete for prizes, now’s the time! The final deadline is May 3rd, end of day, U.S. Pacific time.
For more details, see the contest pages.
Innovative Nonprofits Flipgrid Project
Interested in having your students create short Flipgrid pieces about innovative nonprofits in their community? If so, click your way to Service & Non-Profit Stories and have them add to this content-moderated project.
You may want to see what students in California and Japan have added so far to get an idea.
Santi Khairassame, the founder of Project Recess, recently shared in a forum I read the focused vision of the Juan Morel School, which is a school he works with. It’s strong stuff, and good food for thought for any school grappling with how to articulate its framework for using technology for learning:
At Juan Morel Campos Secondary School (Brooklyn), we…
- use engaging visuals and multimedia projects which inspire learning,
- communicate clearly with everyone in our school community,
- develop meaningful technology skills according to what each person needs,
- purposefully choose appropriate devices and software to meet instructional goals,
- respect our digital footprint by using technology responsibly, and
- track student progress, analyze to adjust strategies, and provide rich feedback.
Technology at Juan Morel Campos School…
- is easy to use,
- is meaningful and not just “technology for technology’s sake,” and
- is updated, accessible and ready to be used throughout the school day.
Have you run across a vision, framework, or activity you’d like to see shared in this newsletter? If so, please let us know!
This month, you could win by writing us to tell what you think of the video below, which is a strong piece by a courageous young man working to overcome some challenges.
Sharing and Entrepreneurship
Teachers who require their students only to use images and media that are designated as okay to share are teaching respect for intellectual property and the ethical use of digital material. Sometimes, however, finding copyright-friendly resources to use are an even bigger challenge than getting the kids to follow the rules! Here are three sites that provide professional stock photos and even clipart, provided freely through the generosity of site contributors: Pexels.com, Pixabay.com, and Unsplash.com
Need a creative idea of what to do with all of the great images available on those sites? Michigan STEM teacher Andy Losik has launched an Instagram project called All Good Days as a way of “spreading the aloha and inspiration of beautiful places through the generosity of amazing photographers who share their art royalty-free.”
Andy has also launched an associated online store via CafePress where he creatively combines cool photos from the aforementioned sites into fun “All Good Days” t-shirts, stickers, and a bundle of other fun products. Check out his stuff at: Cafepress.com/allgooddays
Andy’s work may inspire you to create a shop for your students or your school as a creative outlet or a place to raise funds. Just because we teach doesn’t mean we can’t be entrepreneurial, after all!
This month, we pull a thought from Sir Winston Churchill, who could fill a decade’s worth of picks for our newsletter quotes! This one, though, well describes the power of a teacher’s comment for some of his or her students.
To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.
– Sir Winston Churchill
If our building is a task of years, then what better day to start the project than today?
If you skipped over watching the “In My Shoes” video, above, I’d encourage you to go back and watch it. There is power in a personal story, and Galen packed plenty into his piece.
As you think about your students’ stories, I will finish the first part of this newsletter as I always do:
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.
Images in the freebies section are screenshots from videos or web pages unless otherwise noted.
* The Cleveland Clinic put together a short piece to convey their focus on patients, and call it Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care. It’s a powerful one, and if a similar video were made about your school, what would the captions next to the students be? Thanks to my buddies Rita Lee and Barb Luis at Serra High School for sharing this one. (4:23)
* If you have students interested in space exploration, you might share this 360° video tour of NASA’s space shuttle Discovery. It’s part of an exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and a good chance to see the insides of this amazing vehicle. The tour is part of the Once Upon a Try exhibit from Google Arts & Culture, described a bit more below. (6:54)
* Continuing the space theme, there is this video from Google about the work being done on a remote Canadian island to prepare for humans visiting Mars. Called Mars on Earth, this video might awaken in our students an understanding that there are places on our planet so different from what we might consider normal that we can test all sorts of future possibilities there. (10:07)
* This video is an ESPN Sports Center story about a blind track and field athlete in Texas. It’s called Spirit to Soar, and is the kind of story that can get you past the little (and not so little) things that bother you, turning frustrations into challenges. The resolution of the video isn’t all that great, but the story is wonderful. A big thanks to Aaron Bulgrien in Harbor Beach, Michigan, for the share. (10:54)
* Staying with sports, here’s a Make-a-Wish piece about a girl with pulmonary hypertension whose wish was to meet Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons. Stories about pro sports often focus on egos or interpersonal drama, but when looking for the good athletes can do, this is the kind of moment that stands out. (1:40)
* What do you know about training samurai? If your last name is Ogasawara, you might know a great deal. Thirty-two generations of that family have run a school for training people to do what a samurai does. This includes archery on horseback, and given the topic, you can bet there are plenty of visuals in this Great Big Story video to capture the attention of students. (3:02)
* College isn’t cheap in the United States. That’s not likely news for you, but the complexities of the political argument for making college affordable or free may be something your students would like to understand. Enter KQED’s Above the Noise series, and this episode, called Should College Be Free? – like all the videos they put out, there are plenty of prompts for a good discussion. (5:43)
* Why do we study history? This video, titled What is History for?, explores that idea, and goes well beyond the logic of trying to avoid repeating mistakes. I found this video as part of my checking out Parlay, a tool which I’ll describe in more detail below. Thanks, EdSurge, for including it in one of your mailings! (4:13)
* This could have been in any of the categories, but as I first encountered it as a blog post, I’ll drop it here. The Courage to Question is a VR series of short videos about extraordinary women. These women speak about women in prison, the rights of those considered “untouchable,” ending the practice of child marriage, and advocating for those who are victims of sexual trafficking. The themes are powerful ones, and the women are inspiring. Ask your students who are able to watch these with viewers how the VR video techniques change the stories, if at all, for the viewer.
* This short article in People is about a dog that has become a seeing-eye dog for another dog. It’s a sweet story, and interesting that these two dogs have their own Instagram account (see the screenshot below). I’m clearly not the only one touched by it; as of my looking, the account has almost 80,000 followers. Thanks to my dad for sharing this one!
* With bias in the media and contentions of “alternative facts” now a part of our political (and therefore educational) landscape, finding good material to help students become more sophisticated about what they see and read is critical. This piece called, “How I teach my friends to know what’s actually true online,” is from MediaWise, a group that “aims to teach one million students how to discern fact from fiction online by 2020.” This post is written by a high school student who is part of a group that creates videos to help students learn to fact check. Check out the MediaWise YouTube channel for their offerings.
* On the heels of the college admissions bribery scandal that muscled into the news cycle on March 12th, a mountain of articles appeared bemoaning the situation. One that caught my eye, though, was a piece in Time called, “There’s a Larger Lie Beyond the College Admissions Bribery Case.” The author, Bryan Caplan of George Mason University, posits that university education is much less about what one actually learns and much more about having a diploma from a given school. Arguably, his position ignores the vast numbers of students toiling away at community colleges and 4-year schools that aren’t considered prestigious, but the resulting discussion is a powerful one, regardless.
* How do you learn to program if you are blind? A team from Microsoft developed Code Jumper, a system that involves physical components of larger sequences, and this story tells a bit about how well it went over with kids at New College Worcester, a school where all the students are blind or have low vision. As it suggests in the article, the system is so cool that all students, regardless of sight ability, will want to give it a try. Hopefully so!
* How do students send notes to each other in your classroom? Back in my day, it was via pieces of paper. A decade ago, it was texting. Today, it’s often the chat feature in Google Docs. This short post from The Atlantic includes kids talking about what they discuss and how they use the tool to trick teachers. Perhaps before we go looking for a tech solution to the issue, we should take a long look at how compelling our assignments are.
* Are you looking for a list of core principles for how systematically to think about the future? If so, this post by Marina Gorbis in Educause has five for you. She explores how the team she is part of at the Institute for the Future works on their ideas, and finishes with a description of what futures thinking is: “Futures thinking is not about predicting the future; rather, it is about engaging people in thinking deeply about complex issues, imagining new possibilities, connecting signals into larger patterns, connecting the past with the present and the future, and making better choices today.” It’s a great read, and the video she mentions at the end is another good prompt for professional discussion about the future of learning. You might also check out the IFTF YouTube channel.
* The Arts & Culture project that Google does in collaboration with museums around the world seems to keeping upping its already impressive game, this time via an online exhibit called Once Upon a Try, celebrating a thousand years of inventions, insights, and productive accidents.
* One of the intriguing tools I’ve run across for fostering discussion is Parlay, which starts with great prompts and supporting questions. Look through its many topics, checking out what’s interesting along with the material and questions written for each. According to the article I read introducing the tool, there is a free version, though it wasn’t clear to my poking around the site that you could find out about pricing without signing up for an account first, which is at least a little lame. It’s also possible I was looking right past what would have told me, of course.
* The California Department of Parks and Recreation has a resource called PORTS (Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students). These are electronic field trips with units on kelp forests, missions, redwood ecology, immigration, and more. I learned about this from John Ittleson (@jittleson), Professor Emeritus from CSU Monterey Bay, and a really cool guy worth following.
* The nonprofit iCivics is dedicated to helping teachers give every student a “high-quality civic education.” Its founder is former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, so these civics resources for students interested in American history get some serious credibility from that association. In addition to the curriculum units on the site, there are twenty games, including the latest, called Race to Ratify. In it, students can play multiple character roles as they explore the debate to ratify the U.S. constitution.
* Race is a challenging subject, not merely because it elicits strong emotions, but because it is rare to get a truly creative point of departure for important conversations. In The Race Card Project, though, participants use six-word thoughts to share insights in powerful ways. You can read about the project in this EdSurge post, and it is thanks to EdSurge’s weekly mailing that I learned about TRCP.
* And then there’s this. I thought a Google mailing on March 31st was one of their April Fools things, but it turns out that someone in the Googlesphere decided it would be cool to add the old Snakes video game to some low-end graphic Maps overlays of various cities. The score below was my first (and, as of writing,) only shot at this. Perhaps you are impressed. Emphasis on “perhaps.”
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In honor of my Kamehameha buddies, I add this visual gem. I didn’t take it, but decided to search out a good one after feeling that none of the ones I took were up to speed. I think I found one that fits the bill, don’t you?
See you next month!