August 2018 Newsletter
For a load of folks on this list, the beginning of the new school year is imminent. It’s a time of excitement, possibility, and hope that ducks are all in a row. If you’ve got room in your brain to squeeze in a cool possibility or two, then you’re reading the right thing, as we’ve got all sorts of ideas, stories, and freebies to share!
Global Student Voice Film Festival
We’ll start with a video from last spring’s Global Student Voice Film Festival that prompted a few tears from me when I first watched it. It’s part of a set of exemplary entries we’ve posted to our site, and I hope you and your students will watch them all!
Angelo Rodriguez High School (Fairfield, California, USA)
Watch for word in the September newsletter (or sooner at StudentVoice.org) for the next contest’s theme and launch.
Creative Storm ’18
Creative Storm ’18, our current 90-second edu-video contest is in motion, and we want your students to share their creative work to help others around the world learn something cool.
Like last year, the idea is to take something one might encounter in school, convey it in some creative way, and do a strong job using and citing your media. Our rules are quite strict on that front, so if you need any help getting students on board with using specific sites and citation models, let us know.
Our little project for getting interesting people to provide encouragement and advice now has several more videos from folks answering these questions:
- Why do you do what you do?
- What advice would you have for your 16-year-old self?
- What’s a story that tells something important to you?
You’ll find sets of short videos from a digital learning specialist, a retired lawyer, and a blended learning specialist. These are part of a diverse group of people who hope their stories might be meaningful to your students.
We hope you’ll share the videos in the Hey, You! set with your students and let us know what you think of them.
The winner from July is Joan Smigielski – let’s give her a big hand!
To enter, all you have to do is watch a video we point you to, and let us know what you think. This month, we ask that you go to our set on different careers, scroll down to a title that interests you, and give that a watch. Once done, go to our contact page and tell us which you watched and what you thought of it. In return for a few moments of considering a career video, you could soon be sipping something from Starbucks (or another place with an online gift-giving system).
image: Coffee Core Seed by Engin_Akyurt from Pixabay (CC0)
While most of my work this month is visiting schools and districts where I will provide what I hope to be an inspiring message for their teachers and students, there is the Santa Barbara Summit coming up quickly on the 8th and 9th in southern California. Click on that link to find the schedule and session offerings. It’s a great gig in a pretty place with talented teachers. Join in!
The company that puts these on, EdTechTeam, does all manner of great learning gatherings around the world. Find out what’s happening near you at this page.
At a time when many students worry that something they’ve done before will mark them as lost causes in the eyes of their teachers for the coming year, here’s a good thought to keep in mind:
It is so easy to stop at external behavior; it takes compassion to see the wound that lies underneath.
– Fr Eunan McDonnell SDB
image: Worthy of Love by Tim Mossholder from Unsplash (license)
A huge thank-you to all those who send notes my way after reading one of these newsletters. I appreciate the encouragement!
It’s quite fun gathering the material that populates them, and when some idea above or freebie below ends up making a difference for some student somewhere, we love to hear about it.
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.
Worth the Listen
* Imagine that there’s a homeless person you see regularly, but you’ve never approached and talked to that person. This three-minute-ish StoryCorps piece is a conversation between two people for whom this separation got bridged.
* Vicki Davis’ The Ten-Minute Teacher Podcast is a staple of great conversations in (obviously) nice-sized chunks for those who want to get an intriguing idea or two while driving, exercising, and similar. The episode called Why Kids Can’t Stop Moving was the most-downloaded one from the first half of 2018, and for good reason. It’s a nice examination of the neuroscience behind many quite active children, along with suggestions that can help such kiddos cope more effectively with what they do in the classroom.
Worth the Watch
* Over the last few years, I’ve shared a number of wonderful videos put together by the people at Great Big Story. This one, though, might be my favorite. Imagine you have a child in a wheelchair who wants to have a cool costume for Halloween. What do you do? Watch this video about Magic Wheelchairs, and be inspired.
* Another nice one from Great Big Story is about a boy who does triathlons with his brother, who has a rare disease that makes him unable to walk or talk. It’s called The Brotherly Love that Conquers Triathlons, and is a nice one about focus and friendship between brothers.
* A building that cools itself? The architect who designed this building in Harare, Zimbabwe, used logic learned from termite mounds to create a building that uses far less energy than other buildings its size. Chalk this one up under “design” and “biomimicry.”
* A dog who was hit by a car lost the use of his hind legs. This video, called Unlikely Best Friends, is about the couple that adopted him, the relationship, and joy. A nice 60-second piece from Kleenex, this.
* I’ve probably shared this video before, but as I couldn’t find it on my resources page, it seemed a good one to bring back! CNA – Speaking English is a promotional video for a company that connects students learning English in Brazil to retirees who have time and welcome having someone to talk to. It’s a beautiful collection of snippets from participants that will make you smile (and perhaps reach for a tissue).
* If you didn’t have a job, and believed you couldn’t get a job, would you turn to crime? According to Curtis Carroll, an inmate of San Quentin State Prison, many of the people in jail are there for crimes motivated by a need for money. He teaches personal finance (and how to think about making good decisions) to other prisoners, and his story is worth the watch.
* If you are a member of ISTE, but didn’t make it to the conference (or couldn’t get into a session you wanted), you might take a look at the dozens of videos of sessions they posted in July. You’ll need your ISTE login info to get to the page.
* The Vox folks created a six-minute video that covers the age-old geography issue about the weaknesses of flat maps. Called “Why all world maps are wrong,” it’s a piece that one might use to prompt questions about the maps, globes, and even what a “straight” line is.
* Here’s a nice one for those helping students learn something about teamwork. The title, if Google Translate is accurate, is Race for Soup. At about a minute, it’s a very quick watch, and the direction of the story will be obvious to most older students. Younger students, though, may find this a powerful piece. Thanks to my buddy Hadar for pointing this one out.
* Finally, here’s a video with advice from 5th graders about how to be a good teacher. The guy making the video is in my online Rotary club, and we have a thing called “Coffee with a Rotarian,” which is a monthly chance for pairs of our members around the world to connect via video conference and get to know each other. In this case, Nate decided to create this advice video, as his partner that month, Yvonne, is on her way to becoming a teacher. Good stuff!
Worth the Read
* I’m not one to focus much on what different stores do, but this article about how Ikea gathered some of the top designers in Africa to create a new line was an interesting one for thinking about design and culture.
* “Schools often underestimate the social, emotional, and academic potential of playtime and fail to design recess to optimize those benefits.” This Edutopia post on recess describes it as an integral part of education and how schools can make that happen.
* Interested in the future of virtual reality as a fundraising tool? How about what it means to be one who invents new things? This article about an inventor who was motivated to join a service organization describes the intertwining of these two interests, and may give some ideas about who you can be long before you’d normally begin to imagine that future.
* Has your team discussed or tried a no-zero policy? This article on whether a no-zero policy helps students from Edutopia starts strong, with a collection of great comments from their Facebook readers. The end is a bit weak, including a personal pet peeve: the inclusion of the term “silver bullet,” which almost always suggests to me that the writer has abandoned nuance in favor of something Olympically bland. Still, this is a good topic and a strong read for anyone willing to discuss the complexities of grades and motivation.
* In several places across the United States, rural districts looking for ways to save money tried moving to a four-day week. While there are questions about retained learning and much more, here’s an article on the effects of a shorter work week from the Guardian on employees from a company in New Zealand. Hmm.
Worth the Try
* Here’s a mix of watch and try: four videos from PBS Learning Media about teens who have stepped up to take action on issues they care about. One is focused on educational equity, another on immigration, a third on youth development, and a fourth on what it means to her to be pro-life in her school setting. These are a “try” because the series includes learning activities, support materials, alignment to standards, and a classroom guide. If the current environment makes you want to help young people learn to discuss issues compassionately rather than shout at each other as many of our politicians do, this is a great resource.
* On Thursday, August 16th, at 8p U.S. Eastern time, the team at Edchat Interactive will do a free, interactive PD program called I Know a Student with a Problem Just Like That! – register for this talk with Christopher Bugaj covering four common scenarios of struggling students via the link earlier in this sentence.
* If you’ll spend time in the coming weeks reviewing concepts students are supposed to have remembered over the holiday, then consider Blended Play. I learned about this one from Richard Byrne’s Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week, (a good mailing list to be on). Using several game boards, students or teams can answer questions. When right, their icon moves toward the final piece, which when reached wins the game. It’s a simple question-and-answer review setup, and you can see Richard’s video on it for more details.
* Here’s a different take on educating kids about fake news: a game that takes one through the process of creating something that goes viral. Fake It To Make It is a clever indication of how media and messages are used to capture attention, and could be a great activity for high school (or possibly even middle school) students. Thanks to Cindy Lane (@Clane) and Steve Dembo (@teach42) for sharing this.
* Speaking of fake news, Dr. Lesley Farmer of California State University, Long Beach, has a resource site for teachers wanting to help students better understand how news is reported and manipulated. There are plenty of resources and guidance for librarians who are working on activities around fake news.
* Communicating with parents in multiple languages is the focus of Talking Points, a tool that allows you to text a parent and for the parent to receive a translated version of the text. The free version covers three classes and up to 150 students, and also allows sending pictures and group texting.
* Australian Paul Hamilton created Thinking Routines, a set of activity frameworks for helping younger students develop deeper understanding of the material they encounter. It’s interesting for both the content and the medium you’ll encounter his ideas; he used Book Creator to cleverly integrate its audio and video tools to describe each routine.
* The NextGen Personal Finance site has mountains of activities, curricula, and more for those teaching (or interested in teaching) secondary students about money. The nonprofit was formed in 2014 by a teacher from East Palo Alto, California, whose mission is to “revolutionize the teaching of personal finance.” They provide webinars for those interested in learning to use the free system, and there’s even an all-expenses-paid summer institute possibility.
* If you are curious how a Google doc was revised over time, you can go through the revision history to look at various moments, or play it in video-like fashion using the Chrome extension Draftback. Apparently, you can also get graphs showing changes over time.
* Also in the Chrome extension realm is Auto Highlight, which purports to automatically highlight the important content in an article. I suspect this is more of a meta-tool that allows a student to compare what he or she thinks is important to what the tool identifies, and come up with reasons for discrepancies with thoughts on which may be “wrong.” The creator invites feedback, as well.
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In June I had the chance to spend some time in Japan, and on my last full day stopped in the town of Fuji to see the famed mountain up close. Trips there for that reason may be a bit of a disappointment if the weather is uncooperative, and as I’d had perfect weather the rest of the trip, I suppose I was due some clouds and rain.
However, because this was a station where many of the bullet trains did not stop, I had the chance to watch a number of them fly through the station with the mist from the rain whirling with them. Whether this photo captures the coolness of that moment is your call, but I decided I had scored something special, thanks to the weather.
See you next month!