January 2021 Newsletter
Finally, finally, finally, 2020 is behind us! Praise the heavens.
We’re celebrating the new year with new contests, great webinars, and a Starbucks card giveaway! “Don’t you do a Starbucks card giveaway every month?” Yes, but only if someone enters. Hint, hint.
Let’s dive in.
Most of the videos in the NextVista.org library have come to us through our 90-second edu-video contests. Students and teachers around the world have put together clever pieces on all sorts of topics, and we share them with the world ad-free, thank you very much.
Our new contest is called Creative Recovery ’21, and we’re excited to get you and your students involved! There’s no cost, and can be done with less of a time commitment than you might imagine. Learn more on our contest page, and feel free to contact us if you’d like to connect and share ideas about making it work.
We also challenge students to tell the stories of the people and organizations that make life better for others in our annual Service via Video contest. Help your students learn that they have the power to make a difference in their communities through simple storytelling!
Both contests have deadlines at the end of April.
In partnership with the Utah Education Network, we’ll do a Q&A session covering both contests on Monday the 25th in the afternoon (3p Pacific, 4p Mountain, 5p Central, 6p Eastern). Join in via the link on this UEN page.
Ready for our combo of fun learning and practical advice? This Thursday at 4p Eastern, 1p Pacific, join Rushton and Richard for Two EdTech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff! You can send questions you need answered to us via our Contact Us page, as well.
Later in the afternoon at 6:30p Eastern, 3:30p Pacific, Rushton and Susan will take on the topic of self-direction and self-management in learning in Activities Across Grade Levels. That will include a look at an exciting new app called Unrulr, which allows for another level of collaborative exploration with students’ learning.
Join in this week, as our next shows will be February 18th!
Your School, Post-COVID
What to focus on now in order to prepare for schooling after the pandemic may be something you haven’t considered, or perhaps you’re wondering if your team’s post-COVID plans include everything you’ll need.
Rushton gave guidance for switching to online learning last March and preparing a team for the fall last June. On Friday, February 5th at 4p Eastern, 1p Pacific, he’ll offer up ideas on how to prepare for a return to “normal.” Hint: it shouldn’t be what you did before the pandemic.
You can register for the February 5th program (and find both earlier recordings) on our Guidance webinars page.
For a preview of this webinar’s content, visit Rushton’s blog post on the topic.
Celebrating the start of a new year, we’re giving you the easiest way we’ve ever thrown out to get your name in the hat for a $5 Starbucks card! All you need to do is to go to our Contact Us page and let us know in the comments section what 90-second video you would make if you were to enter our Creative Recovery contest.
Not sure what it would be? Go with something your students seem to have trouble with every year. Maybe we can prompt several folks to make videos that will help out your students (and you)!
As for the winners of our December drawing, we’d like to congratulate Valerie Fawley and Ashley Brown! Ashley may be the first person in the history of Next Vista to win a card two months in a row – it pays to give it a try, doesn’t it?
On Saturday the 30th, North Bay CUE and NapaLearns are running an online edtech shindig called the Learning Innovation Summit. Free admission, but you need both to register and perhaps be willing to listen to me, as I’m their opening keynoter. My talk is called, “What Teachers at Great Schools Do Better: Tech and Inspiration.”
At the beginning of February (3rd and 4th), Idaho has its annual and annually cool edtech conference, IETA. This year the theme is Ticket to Learn, and you can learn all about the offerings at the conference site.
While listening to Eric Sheninger’s keynote for LACUE ’20 a month or two ago, I was struck by a quote he shared from Paulo Coelho, the Brazilian lyricist and novelist:
“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”
Here’s to hoping you got a smile and some excitement out of what we have above, and will find plenty of coolness in the resources still to come. While we’re at it, let’s enjoy that 2020 is in the rear-view mirror, too!
May you inspire, and be inspired, each and every day of 2021!
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
* About this time each year, Google releases a video that tells what people around the world have been searching for. Every year it’s an emotional ride to see the images and hear the voices. Here is the 2020 video. (3:00)
* Reuters also released its pictures of the year video for 2020, and it’s loaded with powerful images. In its entirety, this is probably better for older students, and I would also consider how raw the emotions may be for some children given what and who they may have lost last year. (3:03)
* This video, called Take Care of Yourself, is one that shows that the hard work we do can be for a larger purpose. I hope that you are finding ways to reach the joy of successfully inspiring others regularly. You might also keep a tissue close by for this one. Thanks go to Chris Cochrane and his team’s work to create this story. (2:55)
* Sometimes a story can give us the determination to take a difficult experience and make it into something powerful. This video about paralyzed runner Hannah Gavios is one that all those trying to recover from the challenges of the COVID world might watch for inspiration. (5:56)
* Given recent events, some of you may be looking for content related to the history of the US Capitol. This piece, called The Capitol Building: A Journey Through Time, might be interesting to share. Thanks go to CNN’s 5 Things mailing for this one. (4:17)
* Almost a decade ago, Japan cell phone giant DoCoMo released a commercial that on YouTube generated all sorts of discussion on whether this is something beautiful or exploitative of nature. It’s a massive xylophone constructed to play Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring as a ball rolls down. Thanks to Barb Luis for sharing the video with me! (Is “exploitative” a word? Heading to Google now…) (2:12)
* If you have been looking for an unusual piece to introduce students to ballet, this one with masked dancers from Post:ballet and Berkeley Ballet Theater of Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Snowflakes might be the right one. A cool combination of setting, videography, and wonderful talent, you may have students whose first sense of the art of ballet is sparked with this gem. (7:05)
* Do you feel like the piano player and that your students exhibit a similar level of quiet focus as in this piece? Piano for Wild Macaques in Temple, Lopburi, Thailand was filmed by a 6-year-old with the same last name as the pianist, so kudos to the family for sharing both some snippets of beautiful music and an intriguing scene with the rest of us. The temple may be as much as a thousand years old, by the way. (3:30)
* Not at all sure what to think of these dancing robots from Boston Dynamics. Really dark set of comments that follow this Russia Today post on the YouTube page. (2:41)
Worth the Listen
* The Story Collider shares “true, personal stories about science.” In this episode, called “Strangers: Stories about the people we don’t know,” you’ll hear Dr Dale Okorodudu talk about the experiences that led him to start Black Men in White Coats, as well as Laura Yvonne Bulk discuss challenges and perception for those with visual impairment. The stories are personal and compelling, and can generate the kinds of moments that stick in students’ memories. If you are gathering content for Black History Month activities in February, you might add this to your doc.
Worth the Read
* The title of this EdSurge article on the science of memory is Forgetting Is a Feature, Not a Bug. The article is short, but the podcast is almost 25 minutes, and may help you rethink how you introduce ideas to your students. (image: untitled by geralt from Pixabay (license))
* I strongly believe that the next big question for all of us is how the changes of 2020 direct the changes of schooling in the decade to come. In this EdSurge post, called Now Is the Time to Redefine Learning — Not Recreate Traditional School Online, the authors describe this issue using the SAMR model, and offer great examples of schools and districts that have already taken things to the next level.
* Those of you with an interest in environmental issues might enjoy this NY Times article (possibly behind a paywall – apologies, if so) about the world’s largest garbage dump being turned into a park. The story of Freshkills (that’s the park’s name) is also one of hope at a time when a theme of recovery is a welcome one.
* Michael Linsin puts out a weekly blog post about classroom management strategies. This one is called How To Handle A Student Who Complains About A Grade, and has strong insights about how to think about your communication in order both to deal with a complaint effectively and establish an ever-stronger environment for all your students.
Worth the Try
* One of my favorite posts in 2020 from Richard Byrne (the FreeTech4Teachers guy and my partner with the Two EdTech Guys webinar) was this one, called 5 Ways to Improve the Odds of Students Actually Watching Instructional Videos. The title says it all.
* Adam Moler is a middle school history teacher in Ohio who had never been into games, but decided to give gamified learning a try as part of a unit on ancient Rome. He called his game Barbarian Battlefield, and in this Edutopia post, he describes not only the nature of the game and how students responded to it, he provides links to what inspired him and resources you can use to give it a try.
* If you are intrigued at the thought of advising a member of the U.S. Congress on technology issues during ’21-’22, you might take a look at the Congressional Innovation Scholars fellowship program, which is accepting applications through February 5th. Follow the link for details.
* Students at Parklands College in Cape Town, South Africa, created an app called Simple Learning Time to help other students learn to tell time. It’s been downloaded thousands of times, and is worth trying in any setting where iOS devices are available for learning.
* Lori Gracey of TCEA put out a post on their blog about ways of using the popular game Among Us! with students. She gathers a variety of suggestions, and there are more in the comments that can spark your creativity.
* 2020 didn’t prevent Unsung: The Voices of Youth Justice from happening. This project helps incarcerated youth create music to share their lives in powerful ways. The link will take you to the YouTube playlist of last year’s first- through fifth-place entries. As with all songs and videos, review these to make sure the content matches your students’ level.
* Really striking photographs can be useful for launching discussions, getting learning started actively with a class, or prompting another level of creativity in a meeting. DIY Photography released its best nature photographs of 2020, and there are some really stunning shots to capture your and your students’ attention. I recommend right-clicking on an image you plan to use and opening it in a new tab in order to remove any potential distractions. The image below is the winner in the black and white category.
* Google Arts & Culture offers up The First Journey Around The World, a collaboration with several Spanish institutions to highlight the 500th anniversary (502nd, in 2021, as it happens) of the launch of the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan to circle the world. There is plenty of great material, and this can be a strong addition to an explorers unit.
* John Sowash of The Chromebook Classroom offers up strategies for making your online Meets/Zooms more engaging, from having a Student of the Meet, to escape rooms, to jamming with the students. Thanks, John!
* For PD, those of you who (like me) are fans of Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo’s work with Eduprotocols might want to take a look at sessions recorded as part of a program to introduce teachers to some of the protocols introduced in their popular book. For those not sure what this is about, think of systems for simplifying processes, so that it becomes easier for students (and for you) to concentrate on content when planning learning activities.
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It’s my hope that we’ll be able to travel again in 2021, as seeing new spots around the world and learning their stories of the people and history sings to my soul. A couple of years ago, I visited Abu Dhabi for the first time to speak at IAT TEC (shout-out to all of you still on the list!), and the highlight of my time in the city was visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. While I got some good pictures, this one from Daniel Olah was too stunning not to share.
See you next month!