January 2019 Newsletter
I think it’s kind of fun that there are teachers who hadn’t finished kindergarten when others of us celebrated the year flipping over from 1999 to 2000. The predicted computer crashes of the time failed to materialize, but our predictions for the coolness that comes from the contests we are working on to celebrate your students’ insights are a certainty! So let’s launch into the new year, starting with…
Global Student Voice Film Festival
The deadline for your students to enter the Global Student Voice Film Festival is Monday, February 18th, so now is a great time to get folks in motion if they aren’t already moving.
This year’s theme is “Activating Change,” and students are challenged to come up with up to 60 seconds’ worth of a story that addresses that theme in some compelling way. Big hint: as you can see from the videos that did best in last year’s festival (when the theme was “In Another’s Shoes”), creative interpretations of the theme were the heavy majority among the winners. Note the contest’s very specific rules related to sources and citations.
Winners this time will be invited to the annual international ISTE conference, which will be held in late June this year in Philadelphia. A big thanks to Next Vista’s partners in the GSVFF: WeVideo, EdTechTeam, and ISTE.
How cool would it be if several of your students created a video that helps a worthy charity in your community tell its story? The opportunity to do just that is the core of the Service via Video Project, which Next Vista has been running since 2012.
As you’ll understand from some of the past winners, students can share a message about improving others’ lives that can help that charity or group get their message to a larger audience, gathering new support and volunteers to the cause. It’s a great way to get your students to understand that they have skills now that can help the larger community. If you aren’t up for clicking the link above, here are three former winners to share:
Loaves and Fishes – Serving Those in Need
British Columbia, Canada
This is a chance to get kids focused on revision (of script and video drafts), professional communication (requesting appropriate visuals from the charity, for example), and teamwork (the best videos are often a result of creative collaboration). Find much more detailed info at the project page.
Catch a Wave!
This month we have launched our spring contest, Creative Wave ’19. The idea is to creatively describe something one might encounter in school in 90 seconds or less. Additionally, we require that students use their own media or material taken from specific sites (for which we know it is legally usable) and cite their sources according to the models we provide.
In other words, the contest celebrates the creativity and digital citizenship of the teachers and students who enter. You read that right, too! Teachers can enter our contest, either with their own work, or with work they have done in collaboration with their students. Loads of opportunities to be celebrated, this contest provides.
If you’re curious what kinds of videos become finalists, you can take a look at the ones from previous contests submitted through the student strand, the collaboration strand, or the teacher strand to see what you think.
Finally, we’re starting our judging process for the contest that ended a few weeks ago (Creative Storm ’18). If you and/or your students would like to help judge, please let us know!
A Trio of Winners
We were going to give away just two, but with so many entries, the committee of one decided to go with three giveaways. Huge crowd celebration noise goes here. Our three winners are Sarah Fink, Konni in den Bosch, and Tamara Addis. Congratulations to all three!
We’ll give another card away this month, and here’s how to get your name/email in the proverbial hat: go to this page, and pick any two videos linked on it to watch, letting us know what you think. We hope that will get you to consider using that page to help your students understand how many different ways there are to make a video, so you’re welcome to share it with them if you like. The shortcut is: tinyurl.com/NV-video-sets
image: Know Where You Come From by Nathan Dumlao from Unsplash
FETC will happen in Orlando, Florida, from the 27th to the 30th of this month. I’ll be doing lots of presentations, so please say hello if you get in range of my ramblings.
IETA is Idaho’s big edtech shindig, and happens February 4th-6th in Boise. Last year’s gathering was an impressive sharing of ideas, and I look forward to seeing the many cool people I met there last February.
So, yes, we’re on our way to 2020, and all the interesting numerical fun that entails. In the meantime, though, we’ve got 2019 ahead of us to find whatever our students need to believe in themselves and their futures. It’s an honor to help explore those possibilities with you!
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.
* This short film, A View from the Window, is about a day at the California School for the Deaf. It’s a beautiful piece with minimal dialogue that celebrates childhood, as well as the challenging moments so many in American society often face. The link takes you to the Atlantic article which includes wonderful comments from the filmmakers about the experience of shooting the video. (7:37)
* One of my favorite new things in my life from 2018 was learning about the group Magic Wheelchair, which creates wildly cool costumes for kids in wheelchairs, incorporating the chairs in the costume. Off-the-charts cool, as you’ll see. Here’s a short piece from Comic Con that gives you a sense. (0:45)
* If 20% of your country floods every year, what do you do at that time about school? Perhaps, you make boats that serve as classrooms. This is happening in Bangladesh, and thanks to the Great Big Story people, you can learn about it now. (2:41)
* Another gem from Great Big Story is this piece about a Colombian fruit market that includes a whole host of unusual fruits and people who can explain what they can do for you. Warning; you may be asked to explain the word, “aphrodisiac.” (2:31)
* Global Goals Jam is a project by Press Start Hong Kong to get people working on global issues in their local communities. This video is the highlights of the two-day program they did in Hong Kong, and may inspire your students to do a jam to address challenges on their campus. (5:14)
* Does it sound like a good idea to kill off all the mosquitoes in your area? What about around the globe? This biology and ecology news piece from Bloomberg describes a project to see if that’s possible, and could be a nice discussion prompt for a science lesson. (1:43)
* The Global Nomads Group has spent two decades fostering dialogue and understanding through its projects. This video celebrating their many projects may inspire your students to think about what they can do to improve the world. Note that the themes in this video may be too complex for younger students. (7:40)
* The season of Santa may be past, but this video about actual reindeer and the Mongolians that herd them from Great Big Story is a poignant one for any time of the year. Do you know people who feel they are part of a disappearing calling of some kind? (3:02)
* This is what that kid who has been struggling all year experiences when something great happens with peers who celebrate each other’s accomplishments. Thanks, ESPN, for sharing this great recording from a fan. (0:43)
* If you’re curious about the AI science behind smartphone camera systems, you might enjoy The era of the camera: Google Lens, one year in by Aparna Chennapragada on the Google blog. It’s a cool bit on developing technology, and a cool prompt for what the students imagine as being the next powers of the devices they use.
* In British Columbia, some people in a service club learned that they could help the population of herring along the coast recover using sewing machines. This is a nice story of simple innovation and action, and a good prompt for asking students what they can do to help their environment.
* This piece from EdSurge describes one middle school teacher’s work to get her students more invested in school. It focuses on what one student did with a genius hour project, and the ripple effect that came from it.
* Conrad Wolfram, the person who designed Wolfram Alpha, has ideas on a math curriculum that “assumes computers exist.” In this EdSurge interview, you can read more about that, along with some unusually nuanced (for edtech reporting) thoughts on the place of coding in education.
* How might you frame a difficult conversation with the parent of a disruptive child? In this Edutopia article, Joe Hirsch provides a concrete approach to describing problematic behavior and inviting the parent to help move forward. Before doing so, Hirsch also explains the weaknesses of the “sandwich” approach of surrounding bad news with encouraging comments. Useful stuff.
* Another nice piece from Edutopia covers assumptions that teachers should avoid about themselves and their students. This short read is especially good for those who find themselves repeatedly frustrated with their work.
* Late last November, NASA’s InSight Mars Mission achieved a major success when the lander made it successfully to the red planet. You can share the goals of the mission with your students through this National Geographic video (4:14), and then have your students look at the most recent images shared publicly.
* The deadline is near for Digital Promise’s MY World 360º project, with submissions due by Jan 25th. The idea is to get students thinking about how they tell their stories when 360º film is the medium. You might also look at the strong resource that is their production guide for such videos.
* Nate Gildart put together a set of slides on how to go from knowing zip about Google Forms to making good ones to ninja-level use of add-ons. Find a link to the slides and info about them at this post on his blog.
* Speaking of Drive, did you know that you can start a new Google Doc by putting typing “docs.new” in your address bar? Thanks to John Sowash (his blog) for news of that nice trick (where you’ll find more like it).
* Many of you know TechSmith for its strong software packages like Camtasia for screencasts and SnagIt for screen capture. They also have created the TechSmith Academy, which has nine videos on storyboards, scripts, shot lists, lighting, audio, and more. This is a great resource for any video production class, or anyone wanting to learn more about raising one’s game with video.
* If you’ve ever wanted to put a picture of yourself, your beloved, or perhaps your beloved cat (I did all three for a Christmas card for my wife), you might use this simple tool to remove a background in order to layer it in front of something else. Good fun, and…no account needed.
* Need something to keep you focused while working on your computer? Richard Byrne (of FreeTech4Teachers) posted about some Chrome extensions that are designed to keep you away from sites such as Facebook or YouTube which can eat away time you need for getting something else done. In this video about these attention protectors, he shows how to use StayFocusd and ReCall Study Time, and adds some info about FlashTabs, which converts new tabs to flashcards to help with memorizing vocabulary or anything else you can type into a flashcard.
* Turning creative writing into the central element of an online, multiplayer game is the underlying idea for StoriumEdu. The game design is focused on motivating students to write while giving them the flexibility of learning at their own pace. While this isn’t a free tool, you can extend the normal two-week free trial another two months by using “nextvista19” as your coupon code. That’s plenty of time to get some good ideas for things to try with your students. Thanks, Storium folks, for tossing out something nice to our readers with that extension!
* What are your students’ hopes for the future? If they can capture those in art, they might try entering this year’s Google for Doodle contest. It’s open to private or public K-12 students, and also K-12 homeschoolers, and ends on March 18th. See the rules linked above for more info. Interesting web page for the contest, by the way.
* Google makes available plenty of information about what was searched for in 2018 using its system, and on this page you can look at the top search terms by category, as well as play a game about which items were of most interest (a time-filler, perhaps). You can skip the data and go right to the images with their video, The Year in Search 2018 (2:00). As with all these annual videos, keep the tissues close by.
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Earlier this month, I made my first trip to Abu Dhabi to speak to teachers of the Institute of Applied Technology schools from across the United Arab Emirates. Their hospitality was wonderful, and I left impressed with their focus on fostering creative engagement with their students.
I also got to look around a bit, and was especially taken with the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a place of stunning beauty. I hope I captured some measure of its wonder in this shot:
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, at Twilight
by Rushton Hurley
CC by 4.0
See you in February!