April 2020 Newsletter
If you were looking for some good news, then you opened the right message! We’ve got a mountain of interesting freebies and useful this-and-thats for you as you deal with the changed world.
And just because we can, we’ll make a game out of this. We have the usual opportunity to win a Starbucks card, below, but if you also send us a thought about the winning image and what it is, we’re happy to add your name to the drawing hat an extra time! So nice, we are.
All month long in April, we are celebrating videos about service to others. Each day at this page, we will feature a video that has been a finalist in our annual Service via Video competition. At a time when the stress of shelter in place directives and of figuring out how to teach online may be depressing, watch a video made by kids about the good that people do for others.
Here’s the first we’ll feature for the first of the month, please bookmark the Celebrating Service page and check back each day for another couple minutes’ worth of goodness! Do it every day and let us know what you thought, and your name will just keep going in the hat for the drawing.
Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets
from Service via Video 2019
Given The Issue of Now and how it’s turned the world upside down, we’re figuring that anyone wanting to enter either our Creative Strength ’20 contest or our Service via Video ’20 contest may need some extra time. For both, the final deadline is Friday, May 22nd, end of day, U.S. Pacific time. For more details, click the links above, and if you have questions, please let us know.
Wildly Useful Webinars
After schools began to shut down here in northern California, I started putting together free webinars to offer guidance on switching to online instruction and teaching effectively using what is available on the internet. Recordings from previous weeks are on our webinars page, as well as the links to register for our upcoming broadcasts.
This Wednesday (April 1st) at 10:30a and 1:00p US Pacific time (1:30p and 4:00p US Eastern time), I’ll do the next episode of Activities Across Grade Levels with the highly talented Susan Stewart (@TechCoachSusan) We’ll look at using online voice recording tools for all sorts of great learning from the youngsters up to high school. Watch the webinars page for the episode on the 8th, which will focus on reading activities.
And on Friday (April 3rd), at 10:00a US Pacific (1:00p US Eastern), I team up with Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) of FreeTech4Teachers.com to share ideas as part of Two EdTech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. We had tons of great questions in the first episode last week, so feel free to give that a look (on the webinars page) to see what you’d be in for.
The above are free, but you do need to register. Do that or catch recordings of previous broadcasts here. And please let us know what you think!
Monica Martinez of mpowerDesigns is an accomplished teacher trainer, graphic designer, and writer. She created a one-page PDF with ten wonderful tips for teaching online, and I recommend it for anyone exploring what it means to have made the move from classroom to online.
If you go to the document, and are willing to let us know which of the last two (#9 and #10) speaks more to you and why, we’ll toss your name in the hat again for the drawing. (Read on if you’re not sure which drawing we mean!)
“How might I win a $5 Starbucks card?” you ask. This month, you can do that by either watching any service video in our set of finalists over time, or by watching one of our webinar recordings. In either case, contact us here and let us know which one you chose and what you thought of it to get your name in the hat.
And for those of you who kept reading past the last paragraph, do both of the above and get your name in the hat twice! Wow.
This, from a Barrington, Illinois, reader of the New York Times’ coverage of how life has changed in the time of the novel coronavirus:
“I am 73 years old, diabetic with heart issues. So, I am following the new rules: Live alone, remain alone, ‘sheltered.’ The news is nonstop Covid-19. But I need life, not updates. I miss most that which I took for granted. I am rediscovering that my adult daughters really do love me, that my ex-wife and I still worry about each other, that my faith fills a very real spot in my life. My world may have flipped, but my priorities are falling back into order.”
The coming weeks may be the toughest yet for those of you in the United States. Know that providing a calm and encouraging voice will be what many of your students need most now. The changes we’ve experienced are profoundly difficult, but we can still be the people our students need us to be. And despite everything:
May you inspire, and be inspired, each and every day.
Rushton and the Next Vista team
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.
Worth the Watch
* This video is a trailer for the Shelter-in-Place Superheroes series Banyan Global Learning is doing this month aiming to help young students (age 2-8) get some fun learning in while schools are closed. Different members of the Banyan team will share music, science, gardening, and more in a live stream using Zoom every Thursday. It will happen at 10a US Pacific time on the 2nd, 9th, 16th, and 23rd, but spots are limited for those wanting to take part and ask questions. Register here. (2:54)
* Videos about acts of kindness may be especially valuable to educators at the moment, both as encouragement for what they do, and as fodder for online lessons. This item on the CNN Instagram feed was one I found quite moving. Thanks to Todd Seal (@iamtoddseal) for the share. (2:50)
* Sometimes you meet amazing people. In the last month, I’ve met Anil Gupta, who has a TEDx talk called The Happiness Formula. He talks about the worst year of his life, and the beautiful understanding that came from it. One of your students, one of your colleagues, or you may need this message. (15:17)
* This organization works to inspire girls to see possibilities in STEM careers, and they have videos highlighting women they call “SheHeroes.” In this one, you’ll meet mathematics professor Christina Eubanks-Turner and learn the story of the challenges she overcame and the encouragement that helped her do it. Great stuff! (5:29)
* If we’re not thinking about what our way of keeping learning happening is doing to parents who’ve been recruited to help, we’re missing something important. Here’s one Israeli mom expressing her thoughts. And by the way, don’t video yourself while driving. (1:32)
* Michael Bruening is a teacher willing to share his musical talents, it seems. Here’s his parody of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, but all about his switch to online thanks to the coronavirus. (2:44)
* This is not a kitten, but a nearly-full grown male Sri Lankan rusty spotted cat. Thanks to the BBC for the video, and to CNN for letting me know about the world’s smallest cat. (1:57)
* Also in the cool nature space, this Canadian Broadcasting Corporation program not only provides great shots of animals, but it’s a 360-degree video of the terrain and the wildlife. (3:13)
* Google Arts & Culture offers up The Dawn of Art, a 360-degree visual story of the drawings in France’s Chauvet Cave, called by some the oldest art on Earth. The English version is narrated by Daisy Ridley, and the French version by Cécile de France. (9:44)
* And then there’s this for people desperate for some sports to watch: marble racing. (8:10)
* I did a webinar with Patricia Aigner for the ISTE Technology Coordinators PLN called K12 Instructional Continuity and COVID-19. If you’re a tech coordinator and haven’t had enough coronavirus news already, give it a look! (38:26)
Worth the Read
* Before I get to reads related to The Issue of Now, I’m giving the Gen X’ers (a group I’m happy to be part of) some attention, and everyone else gets a field guide to us. This article from Paper City Magazine was shared with me by my ultra-cool sister Elizabeth (as you’d guess, another Gen X’er), and if you were born between 1965 and 1980, I think you’ll love it. Everyone else: it’s good for you. (image credit: pong atari by Rupert Ganzer from Flickr (CC by-nc-sa 2.0))
* Speaking of that virus, if you are like me, you’re wishing you didn’t get a gazillion messages a day about it, but you do want the latest information from experts and professional journalists. Medium has started a blog on its site where you can get to the best of the articles being published. If is free, unlike most of its offerings. If you prefer, you can get an email update from them.
* At this point, most emails with the term “COVID-19” get a pass from me. I can’t say I need details on what my preferred shoe store is doing about the virus. A post from the NAIS mailing, though, was one I chose to read. It’s called 3 Heads Discuss Their Decision-Making Process Amid Coronavirus, and it’s a nice glimpse into what thoughtful heads of school do in a crisis.
* This piece from The New Yorker, Why Is Russia’s Coronavirus Case Count So Low?, is interesting not simply as news, but as an example of journalism that explores an issue in genuine complexity. For your more advanced students, this may be great fodder for discussions of politics, science, health, economics, math, and more. Man, do I love a well-written article. Thanks to my buddy Cecelia for the share. (image credit: Moscow story by Michael Parulava from Unsplash (license))
* Will Oremus has a piece on Medium called Coronavirus Is a Preview of Our Self-Isolating Future. It’s a thoughtful examination of what it means to work from home: “It feels, in some ways, like a dress rehearsal for a future that was already on its way — one in which more and more of us self-isolate voluntarily, interacting with the outside world only from behind screens.” He rightly explores who these ideas don’t apply to, which allows us to see another kind of social divide.
* And now for something unrelated to The Issue Now! Would you play the piano for an aggressive male elephant? Paul Barton does this in Thailand, and this story in MNN tells why he spends time playing classical music at an elephant sanctuary.
Worth the Try
* Nate Gildart (@nathangildart) of Nagoya International School put together an “Acts of Kindness” Kahoot for teachers wanting to add a few moments of caring encouragement for their now-online students. Great stuff, N8!
* Audible has responded to school closings by making its Audible Stories space with children’s stories freely available to everyone – just click and listen. The categories include Littlest Listeners, Elementary, Tween, Teen, Literary Classics, Folk & Fairy Tales for All, along with materials in French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.
* At the school where I spend most of my time, a number of our teachers weren’t using Google Classroom heavily before COVID-19 shut us down. Having moved to online instruction, though, those teachers started asking for help with some of the basics, and it’s good to be able to point them to Eric Curts’ Classroom tutorials on posting assignments, adding materials, and more. He also has videos on what students see, which is useful, as well.
* Those working with Google’s video conferencing tool for the first time might also want to check out Curts’ set of five video tutorials for Google Meet. The titles are How to Start a Video Meeting, How to Invite People to a Video Meeting, How to Join a Video Meeting, Basic Use and Features, and How to Record a Google Meet. I was an immediate fan after watching the “Basic Use and Features” video, as I love how it was organized and presented.
* These satellite photos are shared on BBC with a slider that lets you see the spot at a time before the COVID-19 crisis and after. It’s an interesting and very visual way to think about the effects of our efforts to slow the spread of the virus.
* The Internet Archive is interesting for many reasons, but this announcement certainly caught my eye: “Announcing a National Emergency Library to Provide Digitized Books to Students and the Public.” Previously, they were only able to provide given titles when only a certain number were being used, but they’ve removed the waiting lists for the 1.4 million digitized books they have. This means you can assign the books they have to all your students without worries of some getting waitlisted. The previous link is to the blog announcement, go directly to the National Emergency Library, or perhaps just start reading Robin Hood now.
* If you are adjusting to online teaching, and on your list of things to learn is how to move a video you make in Screencastify into EdPuzzle, very cool teacher Barb Luis has a tutorial for you (done in Google Slides). Thanks, Barb!
* You may know code.org as a tool for helping kids learn some programming and computational thinking. They also have professional development courses to help teachers learn something about these topics, and if you find you aren’t slammed creating materials for your students as you learn to teach online, this may be a good hobby to pick up!
* When I read that Wizer is a platform for “smarter worksheets,” I was seriously skeptical. It may be, though, that they use that tag to draw eyeballs to the site, and given what I found there, all good. Check out this “worksheet” on music in Star Wars for a sense of what an interesting point of departure this could be for a class project.
* Quizizz released a 15-question quiz on COVID-19 and health practices that may be good for students not already inundated with such information. This was apparently one they put together with the help of health experts, so kudos for that!
* This dashboard about the spread of COVID-19 from Johns Hopkins University is updated every few hours. It’s sobering, but a useful tool for students learning about epidemiology. The interface is well-constructed, too, so web design students might give it a look. I appreciated that its sources are identified and linked, of course.
Worth the Look
* The photo app Agora runs a photography contest called #Work2020, and on this Forbes page they highlight 16 of the 50 winners. Off-the-charts stunning images, these. Find them all at the Agora site, here. Just wow. (The screenshot below is just part of the image from the contest – give it a look!) My guess is you’ll find the colorful overall winner from Vietnam mesmerizing; I certainly did.
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Be healthy, and we’ll see you next month!