August 2021 Newsletter
We are launching two new initiatives in the coming weeks, and I hope you’ll find them inspiring! Read on for more details, plus the usual coolness with videos, freebies, and the monthly chance at a free coffee. You might be surprised at how good your odds are on that front, by the way.
One of our new gigs is called Fascinating Folks: Educators Engaging Edupreneurs. The idea is to find interesting people creating tools for the education world, and talk to them in a far more intelligent and productive setting than you might find when someone is trying to sell you something, which isn’t the focus of this series.
This Friday at 1:30p Pacific, 4:30p Eastern, and 10:30p Central European Time, we’ll do the first one.
Brett Kopf, the co-founder of the highly successful Remind app, will tell us a bit about his new venture, Omella. The new tool is a system that simplifies all sorts of elements for how a school or teacher would share info and collect money (fundraisers, field trips, etc.). He’d love to hear your ideas, and we hope you’ll get plenty from the interaction, as well.
So you know, we have no financial interest in it; we just figure better discussions between educators and entrepreneurs ends up being good for everyone. There is no cost to join, but you’ll need to register: register for the meeting here. Hope to see you Friday!
The NV IV
It looks like some adaptation of Roman numerals, but it’s actually a set of lesson plans we’re making for you.
In a hospital, an IV is designed to get nutrition to a person by supplying it directly into the veins.
In the Next Vista Inspiring Video (“NV IV”) posts, you’ll find a post with an embedded video (or a link to a video), a prompt, and one or more questions to help students think a little differently. These are free, of course.
The first one is called Forcing Focus, and it’s about work being done in China to put devices on students’ heads to keep them focused in class.
These posts will be generally written for secondary students, but we’re curious to know what elementary teachers think of them, or how they adapt them, as well.
We’ll put one of these on our site every week this semester to see what you think. Please share your opinions with us!
Two EdTech Guys
Richard Byrne and I will re-launch the Two EdTech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff Zoom shindigs the second and fourth Thursdays this fall. The first will be on September 9th.
What time will they start? Well, that’s what we’re not sure about. The two options we have at the moment are (1) 7:30p Eastern/4:30p Pacific, or (2) 4:00p Eastern/1:00p Pacific. Please let us know which you think is the better option.
Service via Video
It’s hard to imagine a much stronger piece of PR for a program or school than a student-created video that tells the story of those who help others. If you’re asking local service groups to support what happens at your school (something they love to do, and often don’t get asked enough), this is the kind of thing that can show them your school’s alignment with their values.
Our Service via Video ’21 is a contest designed to encourage your students to create great stories. Take a look at some of our past winners to get a sense of how cool these can be.
We can also help you help your students make great videos for this project. Start by taking a look at our Service via Video project pages. Then reach out to us, and we’ll find a time to Zoom with you and help you avoid common mistakes students make with this kind of project. We’re happy to help!
It may seem odd in these times to tout an in-person event, but a really good one is coming up in October for those of you in China.
The ACAMIS Tech Conference is being hosted by the Shanghai Singapore International School, and will take place in October on Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th. I’ll be sharing some thoughts (remotely), and am jazzed to hear what the other speakers will be adding, as well.
The call for peer presenters is still open, too. Find the details here, and I hope you’ll take part!
This quote comes from an advice-for-new-teachers post from Edutopia that is included in the “Worth the Read” section, below.
Listen to those who see possibilities in students.
– Jason DeHart
Good advice for keeping your energy flowing, that is.
For many of you, the school year has either just started or will do so soon. Consider the advice from Mr DeHart, above, and let this be a year when you help students unlock all sorts of possibilities within themselves!
As we say each month: 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
* The most consumed raw material worldwide is water. Can you guess what is second? It’s sand, and despite the apparent abundance, we’re using it at a far greater rate than it is being replenished naturally. This CNBC story does an excellent job of introducing the issue, its background, and a variety of political implications – a great prompt for a discussion with high schoolers. (9:49)
* This film, called One Breath Around The World, is an artsy and very cool exploration of about a half dozen or more spots globally. There’s no dialogue, but plenty of hauntingly interesting music and fascinating scenes. (12:41)
* The name of this award-winning short film is Kinabuhi. It’s the story of a group of coconut farmers in the Philippines, and while there isn’t much said, there is so much conveyed in the images. It’s the kind of story that raises many, many questions about who in our world is able to do what and why. (14:20)
* The description starts with, “Brian Greene explains the basic idea of String Theory in under 3 minutes.” What it doesn’t mention is the cool computer graphics that accompany the explanation. Kudos to the World Science Festival folks for sharing this one. (2:33)
* Here’s a story of Lori Portka, an artist who dedicated herself to painting one hundred thank-yous. It’s a touching reminder of the good that comes from expressing gratitude to others, and perhaps a good framing thought on your way into the coming semester. (7:54)
* Staying with art, let’s enjoy the art and heart of Amanda Williams. Her TED talk, Why I turned Chicago’s abandoned homes into art, looks at how she beautifully celebrated her childhood and community on Chicago’s south side. You’ll learn a little bit about a lot in this talk, from redlining to Ultrasheen. A great way to explore how we think of ourselves and our communities, this. (13:21)
* The Olympics may have brought forward some questions about Japan you’ll be able to discuss with your students in the coming months. While sumo wasn’t a sport in the Olympic games, it might be interesting to share the slimmed-down recording of this bout from July which pitted the two top wrestlers, Hakuho and Terunofuji. They were both 14-0 in the tournament, with this the final and deciding match. You’ll get a sense of the mental battle that is part of the centuries-old Japanese sport of sumo, though as it turns out, these wrestlers were both born in Mongolia. (2:41)
* A Brief History of Dogs is a TED-Ed talk written by educator David Howe. The narrator takes us through how domesticated dogs separated from wolves to become the first domesticated animal. It’s a good piece for covering topics like evolution, breeding, and symbiotic relationships. (4:40)
* And then, you get someone like David, who apparently fell in love when he met this girl. Gotta love a good story of rescuing a dog. (3:16)
* While on the subject of the animals one meets, perhaps you have students who are fascinated by sea creatures, and perhaps you would be surprised that one can “pet” an eel. Good to know that’s an option. (2:03)
* One more animal video. This one is about the danger to wild bears of becoming used to unnatural (human) food, and the clever ways this Montana organization helps companies make products that bears can’t get into. (4:01)
* The world record for stacking M&Ms. Any guesses? If you like the record holder’s short video, you might follow up with the CNN news piece on the feat. This is a good prompt for getting students to work with the difference between “simple” and “seemingly simple.” (0:27)
Worth the Listen
* This is not one for younger students. It’s a StoryCorps piece by a man who, while incarcerated, was tasked with burying the corpses of “unclaimed, penniless or unidentified individuals.” It’s a powerful and dark topic that might help even the most self-absorbed teen think a little more broadly. (2:37)
Worth the Read
* Richard Culatta, the CEO of ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education), penned a post for CNBC on four things not to say to kids about their use of technology. It includes strong explanations of why common things kids hear can be confusing to them, and is a nice reminder that how we speak is at least as important as what we mean.
* You’ve likely seen any number of pictures of the Pyramids of Giza. Have any of them been from straight above? In these images (not video) from Ukrainian photographer Alexander Ladanivskyy, you’ll see exactly that, and in a level of detail that might surprise you. Very cool stuff.
* Ahead of starting the semester, you might ask yourself a good question: “How do you know what you want your students to do from one moment to the next?” That’s a question Michael Linsin explores in an end-of-July post on how you visualize your teaching, and a good read before the students return.
* In July, Edutopia posted a piece by Coleman Fitch about activities for building connections with and among students for the new school year. It includes some clever activities for your first day you might adapt for your class.
* For new teachers, the advice of Jason DeHart in another July Edutopia post, No One Starts Out Awesome: Advice for New Teachers, is certainly worth a few minutes of one’s time. The Cool Quote from earlier in this newsletter is from this post.
Worth the Try
* Those interested in mail privacy might take a look at the new Email Protection system offered by DuckDuckGo. This post in Spread Privacy (a newsletter from DuckDuckGo) tells you quite a bit about how information in email messages is tracked, typically without the knowledge of the one using the address.
* Submitting a proposal to ISTE has for years included sharing research that supports the ideas that underlie the proposed session. I tried Get The Research, an online tool for finding peer-reviewed research papers that I learned about from a Richard Byrne mailing. It’s an interestingly simple site, and I found that about half of the papers I tried to access from the links in the search results didn’t successfully load. Still, being able to find research papers to consider for one’s work is nice, and I’ll be giving this more of a look when the ISTE proposal period kicks in again.
* The United States Federal Communications Commission has a $7B+ Emergency Connectivity Fund that “will help schools and libraries provide the tools and services their communities need for remote learning during the COVID-19 emergency period.” There are many covered services and equipment, including wifi hotspots and computers. If your school is looking for funding along these lines, this is likely worth your time. Move quickly, though – the funding period closes this week!
* The Modern Classrooms Project is one I’ve written about before. They work to help teachers better understand mastery-based instruction, and have a structure that can be used to frame the learning at entire schools. Recently, they put out a nice accessibility guide that covers a wide range of topics educators should know in thinking about their students with learning differences. Give it a look, and if you’re curious, you can go to their main site to learn more.
* I recently reviewed a very cool book by Jessica Pack called Moviemaking in the Classroom, which will be released by ISTE in the coming months. In addition to mountains of great advice on how to bring together video as art with video as communication (let that settle in), she shares many useful tools, including Videvo for free stock footage and SoundBible for free sound effects. (Warning on SoundBible: there’s a section specifically related to flatulence. You might suffer if middle school boys catch wind of that.)
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This summer a couple of billionaires became astronauts. I found the two launches pretty fascinating to watch, and like that they gave us a rich vein to mine in terms of prompts for discussions with students.
What’s below is a screenshot from the video feed of Branson’s flight. I think it’s an easy case to make that this was the cooler-looking vehicle.
Virgin Galactic live feed
screenshot taken 2021-07-11
May you launch into a wildly cool school year.
See you next month!