February 2018 Newsletter
Try and picture me juggling all the contest possibilities, the good gigs on the way, and the heap-o great freebies that we somehow packed into this newsletter. Very quickly, it all falls around me, because it’s waaaaay too much for a mere human to handle. We all laugh, and then you pick up any piece of any of it that interests you.
That is to say, welcome to the February 2018 edition of the Next Vista for Learning newsletter! Jump in, shall we?
the Global Student Voice Film Festival
The Global Student Voice Film Festival challenges students to create a short video with the theme “In Another’s Shoes.” You can approach it in one of two ways. One possibility is telling an original story that helps the viewer better understand someone different. The second possibility is a biographical sketch along the lines of My Name is Michael, one of the most popular videos in our library.
You’ll find the details on the festival site, and you’ll recognize our orientation to helping students become good digital citizens by using copyright-friendly content and citing everything. The rules page lets you know from which sites you can get images and audio for projects. All footage must be taken by the students themselves.
Your students have stories to tell – help them share those stories with the world. Submit by the end of February, and they’ll also get some feedback for their efforts. All free! Eesh, but that’s a good deal.
Service via Video ’18
Do your students know of folks and organizations in their communities who make life better for others? Would they be willing to make a short video telling stories of service to others?
Our annual Service via Video contest is in motion, and we hope that you will share word of this opportunity with your students and colleagues. The video students make to help a charity, for example, may end up helping it find new support and volunteers. Along the way, that teaches the students their voices are powerful tools for helping others!
Need help getting students to give this a shot? Let us know and we’re happy to find ways to help you.
Creative Fire ’17
The deadline has passed, and we will soon have the finalists identified. Those who submitted, watch your inboxes for news, and good luck!
If you want to have students create up-to-90-second videos to help others learn something, and you’d like to work together to have Next Vista highlight your students’ work, just contact us, and we’ll connect to explore how we can help you. As always, no cost for doing so. Such nice folks, we are.
Because February is the month of love, and because we had a bumper crop of folks submit a favorite video as part of our monthly giveaway in January, we’re giving not one, but two $5 Starbucks cards! How jittery does that make you feel?
Congratulations go to Felicia Davis and Patrick Vallez-Kelley for getting their names drawn! And thanks to Random.org for the help on that front – if you’re looking for more free tools to handle all sorts of big and small things like drawing names, make sure to check out our resources pages. You’ll find plenty of goodies a little farther down this newsletter, too. Freebies Central, this is.
This month, we’ll do the drawing-two-winners thing again. You just swooned, didn’t you? Take part by giving our English Language Project page a look, watching one of the videos in any set, and letting us know what you think via our contact page. We love feedback, and you may love coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or similar enough to take a few moments to share a thought. We hope so!
Many of you might well be fans of Trevor MacKenzie’s Dive Into Inquiry, which is a superb book on learning to incorporate inquiry techniques into your teaching. This month, he’s releasing a new book, and there are plenty of goodies available to those who pre-order it, including an ebook version, access to webinars, and more. Give it all a look at: trevormackenzie.com
While on the subject of books, I’d love for you to take a moment to read Nate Gildart’s review of Making Your Teaching Something Special, my second book. Like the first one, a portion of what I receive from sales goes toward helping the efforts of Next Vista for Learning. This free newsletter is a good example!
Coming up this month and in early March, we have several good gigs you might want to join if time and distance allow!
The first is IETA 2018 in Boise from Feb. 4th-6th. It’s a gathering for school tech folks (Monday) and teachers and tech folks (5th-6th) with sessions designed to maximize the active learning that happens at a good conference.
Next up is the EdTechTeam Colombia Summit in Cartagena from Feb. 18th-19th. Those in South America (or those who need to spend some time in South America) are welcome to register and join in. ¡Qué interesante!
Shortly after that on Feb. 23rd-24th is Texas Impact Lab in Dallas, also from EdTechTeam. The Impact Lab is a different arrangement than the normal EdTechTeam summit, so give the site a look (and then join in!).
At the end of the month is Illinois Computing in Education ICE 2018 in Chicago from Feb. 26th-28th. This year, the conference has moved from where it’s been for several millennia to a new site to accommodate the heaps-o-folks who gather for this seriously fun gig. It’s near O’Hare, so jump a plane and join in!
The following week, from Mar. 7th-9th, is the annual conference of Michigan’s MACUL in Grand Rapids (it’s an even-numbered year, or it would be in Detroit). This amazing gathering is chock-full of great sessions every year, so if you’re in range of GR, put it on your calendar!
In the midst of winter, I finally found there was within me an invincible summer.
– Albert Camus
Thanks to @rachellewynkoop for her post on Instagram that shared that one.
While the freebies are a major draw for anyone who reads this newsletter, we hope you’ll also take a moment to watch one of the videos on the site, such as this one from students in Cove, Oregon, on the danger of not paying close attention in a crosswalk.
Get your students involved in video projects that can be shared here. We think they can give others new learning confidence and inspire them to share their talents, too!
And speaking of such, and as I finish each month, 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
* Curious about design? Here’s a fun and informative, seven-and-a-half-minute video put together by students at Parklands College in South Africa explaining the design process. Kudos to the Parklands PC Science team for sharing!
* Snow in the Sahara? Here is an article with some amazing pictures from Algeria with exactly that, and this could prompt some wonderful science discussions about weather. More of a look than a watch, but all good, and at the very least, these are great images to see!
* Love watching someone adlib well is a joy. Here’s a weather guy dealing with some rather extreme temperatures being broadcast on his screen. Having fun with what goes wrong is not a bad thing, and may be far more memorable than what one meant to do.
* Here’s a Kleenex video. I don’t mean you need tissues to watch it, though you do. What I meant was that it’s a video from the Kleenex company about a custodian who is well-appreciated by his school. Great piece – thanks to Tom Murray (@thomascmurray) for sharing this!
* Let’s say you live in Indonesia and you have some disability that makes it difficult to get from place to place. Enter Difa City Tour, a company which focuses on addressing the specific transportation needs of those with disabilities. This video, The Taxi Service Fighting for Indonesia’s Disabled Community from Great Big Story, is a good one for helping students see possibilities where others might see barriers.
* Did you know that in space, one gets taller? Here’s a one-minute piece from the BBC explaining why.
* As one very much interested in creative approaches to complex problems, I was intrigued to run across this TED Talk by Ted Halstead, discussing a different kind of market-based approach to dealing with climate change. He makes four main points about the plan his group, and each could become the basis of a great discussion for high schoolers in an economics or environmental science class.
* My friend Donnie Piercey (@mrpiercey) told me that this TED talk on city flags is his all-time favorite. Struck me as an odd subject to get Donnie’s superlative, so I watched it. Turns out it’s an awesome treatment of design, passion, and sense of community. The speaker is a guy called Roman Mars, which is way up the list of great names.
Worth the Read
* Here’s an inspirational read from NPR’s site: “From Trash to Triumph: The Recycled Orchestra.” It’s about a group of young musicians who live in a slum next to a landfill on the outskirts of Asuncion, and their instruments are made from trash recycled from the landfill. With the article you’ll find a just-over-one-minute video of the group playing a song, too. This story was made into a documentary, and it’s easily worth the three-and-a-half minutes it takes to watch the trailer. Thanks to Rotary buddy Catherine A. for sharing this one!
* This Edutopia piece is called, “Are You at Risk for Secondary Traumatic Stress?” and is a highly recommended read for teachers who work with students who have major challenges emotionally. Being aware of the toll our work can take on us is healthy, and this article has plenty of suggestions for how to keep yourself in good shape.
* Could you write and tell a story that is purposely designed to be so boring that it puts someone with insomnia to sleep? This article from The Atlantic, titled The Podcast that Tells Ingeniously Boring Bedtime Stories to Help You Fall Asleep, is about a guy who has become quite good at it. If you’re talking with students about clever ways to address problems or similar design thinking ideas, this might be a good resource.
* This article is about something I don’t think I’ve ever before added to our newsletter, and the science behind measuring it with a pill one swallows and lets pass through the system. The folks who wrote it clearly had some fun with this serious post on a potentially important medical advance. What is it? If you haven’t guessed, it’s what at one point the writer calls, “intestinal wind.”
* Giving students visuals that allow them to organize major news stories in their thinking is helpful in promoting awareness of the world around them. This NPR story has powerful pictures and short summaries some of 2017’s biggest stories.
* Those of you who present at conferences know that sometimes (ISTE, for example), it is important to identify research that supports the main points of your presentation. This Edutopia piece highlights some of the more interesting research studies released in 2017, and you might give them a look to see if any might be good material for developing your ideas.
Worth the Try
* Math teachers might like Open Middle, a site with lots of simple math challenges contributed by many different educators. The challenges are arranged by grade level (it might be better to say the grade level that corresponds to one’s math level). These can be used to challenge kids who complete activities early, or to start class getting students to think creatively about numbers. Thanks go to John Funk (@twpwf) for sharing this one.
* CareerZone California offers a point-of-departure page of 15 industry sectors, from which the viewer can find out the average wage, how many openings there are each year in California, the number of recent graduates, and a breakdown of which related occupations pay the most, are fast-growing, etc. Plenty of good discussion material for thinking about the future, here!
* If you’re up for more in the jobs discussion, take a look at WillRobotsTakeMyJob.com (yes, that’s a real site), and if you’re like me, you immediately start thinking of cool discussion possibilities with students. Thanks, Tom Murray (@thomascmurray), for sharing this in a DDN session I attended.
* Another nice recommendation from Tom: EveryoneOn.org. This can help a school find low-cost internet access options, along with digital literacy training, and more. Start by putting in your zip code, and then it asks some questions to help direct the viewer toward specific resources. They aren’t selling anything, either!
* Those of you seeking to prompt some science “curiosity” might take a look at the most recent images from our rover on Mars. This can build off ideas on what it would be like (and what one would need) to survive in this landscape, what places on Earth look stranger to the students than what they see in these images, or what planets outside our system might look like, if we could get close enough to take a picture. Only a matter of time, that. #seewhatIdidthere
* Almost everyone who can read Shakespeare and understand what they’re reading would agree The Bard is at or near the top of the greatest writers who ever lived. That’s if they can read and understand it, of course. Well, the site My Shakespeare gives folks without degrees in literature a wealth of tools for doing so, including audio recordings, translations into modern language, videos exploring several of the plays and contexts for them, pop-ups for obscure references and terms, breakdowns of characters, and more. Thanks to Sherri Burroughs (@SBurroughsSJR) from St. John’s Ravenscourt School in Winnipeg for sharing this one.
* Want to easily play a video from YouTube without all the distractions of the less-than-honorable comments and “related” videos? Check out SafeShare.TV, which allows you to paste a YouTube link, and it does the rest. Thanks to Dawn from Bishop Kenny High School for suggesting this site.
* Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) recently suggested Patches as an interesting free tool for creating virtual reality environments. This appears to be a tool for kids ready to try their hands at pretty sophisticated components of objects for web pages and similar. You’ll find a number of tutorials on the site, though the news page doesn’t contain much content, so it’s unclear how much the project is being supported currently.
* Professor Barb Oakley and her co-instructor, neuroscientist Terrence Sejnowski, run what is thought to be the most popular MOOC (massive open online course) in the world, Learning How to Learn. The total commitment involves “about 3 hours of video, 3 hours of exercises, [and] 3 hours of bonus material.” Following the link will take you to the Coursera page with detailed info about the four-week curriculum. While you can pay in order to get a course certificate, the course is offered for free. You will need to sign up for an account with Coursera, of course. With almost 32,000 ratings averaging 4.8 out of 5.0, this is certainly one to look at.
Kimberly’s Free iOS App
Looking for a twist on the coloring book craze? Try Unicorn 3D – Color by Number from AppsYouLove. It’s a coloring pages app featuring 3D voxel art design. It is simple and easy to use, and picture themes include animals, city, food, fashion, people, nature, and many more. Unicorn 3D can be enjoyed by all ages. Younger kids can practice number recognition, fine motor skills, and using a legend. The tool allows students to learn about pixels and voxels, and the artwork or timelapse videos they create can be shared on social media and saved for other projects. Unlimited access to all content is available through subscriptions and there are in-app ads. Time to start coloring!
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I haven’t been doing major Instagram posting over the last few weeks, but there is this one that might be worth sharing:
This could be where you bring your boat, or the plank one walks, or the chance to get closer to deeper, or the end of comfortable and/or restrictive familiarity, or the last moment before floating, or the feeling you might need to turn around, or the end of your direction being dictated.
See you next month!