June 2020 Newsletter
With so many of you just catching your breath after finishing the spring term, or perhaps not quite there yet, it may seem odd to bring up next school year. Still, at a time when we’re dealing with unprecedented challenges, getting your head wrapped around what’s possible for the fall as early as possible is important.
Worry not, though! The info about upcoming opportunities to prepare won’t keep us from sharing plenty of cool ideas and freebies like we do every month – all gathered and organized so you don’t have to put tons of time in doing it yourself. Happy to help, we are.
On Thursday the 4th, it will be the 100th anniversary of the Congress passing the 19th Amendment, giving American women the right to vote. That’s a pretty cool historical moment for the United States, and in celebration, here is the original video which started our set of careers videos, which we posted in December of 2006.
from Next Vista Careers
If you want your students creating videos about careers, let us know, and we can talk about how the project works!
Exactly how the beginning of the coming school year happens is not something anyone can know for sure at the moment. The variables of age and virus transmissibility, facility space for keeping physical distance, strength of online instruction efforts from the spring, effectiveness of work to help all students gain internet access, political ramifications from following scientists’ advice, and more, will lead to different policies in different places.
On Wednesday the 3rd (10a Pacific / 1p Eastern), I’ll present some hopefully helpful ideas in a webinar called Preparing for Next School Year: Guidance for Teachers and School Leaders. Like all the webinar offerings from Next Vista, this is free, though you do need to register at our webinars page.
Then on Thursday the 4th (2p Pacific / 5p Eastern), we’ll do the next installment of Activities Across Grade Levels. In this series, we look at possibilities with resources and tools for online teaching with young learners (K-2nd), upper elementary (3rd-5th), middle school, and high school. We believe that the ideas at all levels are valuable to teachers across grade elementary and primary, and hope you’ll register, watch, and agree. This week Susan and Rushton will look at how you might use the summer, and you’ll find they have a special guest taking part, too! Visit our webinars page to register, and the series page for the other eleven episodes we’ve recorded.
On Fridays (10a Pacific / 1p Eastern), Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers and Rushton finish each week with a combination of fun and powerful ideas in Two EdTech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. Register on the webinars page, or visit the series page for past episodes.
Register now! You’ll get an email reminder later, as well as a note for when the recordings and resources are available. All at the same low price of free. 8^)
Scoring isn’t finished for entries from Creative Strength ’20, which ended a week and a half ago, so we can’t share those with you just yet. Humble bow. Watch our home page for word of which videos made the finalist cut!
Our Service via Video ’20, contest, though, will run through the summer and early fall, so we hope you’ll give that a look. Students needing something extra to do for community service credit or as part of a summer assignment should give it a try. Not only will it be something powerful they remember, but they might create videos that help nonprofits in your community better tell their stories. If you want to connect about ways to make that happen with your students, please let us know.
In June, we start our summer thing of giving away not one, but two cards each month. Why? Because it’s twice as much fun, and we love honoring those who stay with us during vacations! Just who we are.
To enter this month, watch these two videos (and see the more specific instructions, below):
Dorm Room (subtitled)
from the Next Vista EL Project
from the Next Vista EL Project
As you see, these are both from the University Terms set in our English Language Project. We group them by sets (Rooms of a Home, Colors, Technology Terms, etc.) and each term gets its own video and a subtitled version. The idea is to help an EL student get help from seeing the words before moving over to just listening without the help of the subtitles.
To enter our drawing, let us know what you thought of these two videos, and what set or sets would be good for your students.
Looking ahead about seven weeks to July 20-24, you might well want to save time for Indiana Connected Educators LIVE, which (a) is free and (b) may have the most impressive range of fun and interesting ed-tech folks of any free conference I’ve seen. Register here, and take a look at the set of scheduled speakers here.
As I mentioned in May’s missive, we’re trying something new, which is to send an extra and much shorter note mid-month. If you have any thoughts for us on how to make that as useful as possible for you, please let me know.
As I say at this point every 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
* What changes a life? There are many answers to the question, but one that may not leap to mind is…a bicycle. The organization World Bicycle Relief has changed the lives of over 800,000 people through a simple but very powerful idea: help someone become more mobile, and that will increase educational opportunity, gender equity, economic possibility, and the reach of health care. Beautiful innovation, this. (2:58)
* You can support dancers through Swans for Relief, an organization that is working to help those whose incomes have halted due to their performances having stopped. Here, 32 dancers from 14 countries perform a piece by Camille Saint-Saëns. (6:15)
* Staying in the performing arts, this video from the National Institute of Allied Arts Zimbabwe is of a school group winning a marimba competition. Called Hillcrest College – Marimba Challenge Cup Winner, it’s a nice reminder that focused and well-prepared students can do amazing things. (3:00)
* Why is this person drawing on a massive emerald? Actually, it’s a video of an artist crafting a highly realistic picture of an emerald, and an intriguing watch for anyone who loves drawing and painting. (3:55)
* From what is drawn, to with what one draws. This video from Faber-Castell shows their processes for making pencils, to the tune of over two billion a year of that we shouldn’t throw. It’s a well-edited piece, and may hint at why a pencil company has over 225,000 YouTube subscribers. (4:34)
* Videos about squirrels aren’t my top choices for what to watch when online, as there are plenty of the critters in the neighborhood I can watch without the medium of the screen. That said, this not-that-short video is another level of awesome. Mark Rober of some legit YouTube fame spent time creating the American Ninja Squirrel course for the four visitors that laughed off his “squirrel proof” bird feeders, and then carefully documented their attempts to conquer the course. There is no small amount of cool science in this full-of-cool video, and your students will love it. (21:39)
* Here’s a Great Big Story video about the company that provides all manner of vehicles to Hollywood movie studios. I include it because students thinking about the future should know that whatever their interests may be, there are more possibilities than they may think for the talents they cultivate. (3:43)
* This video, called Top 13 US National Parks in 4K Ultra HD, contains pretty stunning footage from Yosemite, Zion, Canyonlands, Bryce, Rocky Mountain, Crater Lake, Arches, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Olympic, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks. There is music, but it avoids what it calls in the description, “the distraction of words.” (31:03)
* This summer you might get in touch with your inner artist and follow Jeff Brain’s tutorial for creating your own Zoom background via Photoshop. He uses simple watercolor paints to get things going, and ends up with a cool and distinctive background. Nice work, Jeff! (26:42)
* Fireworks are interesting, but I rarely expect to see something new in that space. The idea of “spherical fireworks,” though, led me to this video, which could produce some good discussions with students over science concepts. (1:46)
Worth the Read
* What might school look like this fall? Here’s a Huffington Post article on different fall scenarios from the 11th of May that offers some good thoughts. Still, given how fast things are changing, you’ll want to keep looking for the most up-to-date information from your school, district, or region.
* With the switch to online learning likely to continue in one form or another into the coming school year, teachers should make sure they understand how to identify and their responsibilities when witnessing abuse of students when you are connected via video. This story from EdSurge, called When an Online Teaching Job Becomes a Window into Child Abuse, is a story about tutoring kids in other countries, but is a powerful and well-written one for keeping the issues and processes in mind for more local arrangements.
* As noted above, it’s certainly possible that you’ll start the next semester doing online instruction. Taking some time during the summer to raise your game on how to think about dealing with that is certainly worth your time, and one of the biggest questions has to do with what you’ll change in your assessments. In this Edutopia piece, Summative Assessment in Distance Learning, Andrew Miller explores a number of thoughts and possibilities, prompting some serious reflection of how testing happens.
* Another strong piece from EdSurge is What Recreating School in Minecraft Can Teach About Reimagining Education. It’s an interview with a student at the University of Pennsylvania about how they built their campus in Minecraft, and the questions allow one to get a sense of the possibilities, tools, and potholes to consider for those wanting to recreate their own campuses.
* My friend Billy Lee is an 88-year-old retired architect who has a blog. In this post, his friend Bill Shilstone (only 81 years old), shares a note about his grandson that explores what Billy likes to explore: the nature of friendship. Use it as a discussion prompt in your citizenship lesson!
* Late last year, math teacher Andrew Burnett penned a piece about taking a break from teaching to do educational research. Despite my skepticism of educational research, I was intrigued by his apparent enthusiasm for what he’d learned. What really changed him was watching strong teaching (as it turns out, research-based strong teaching), and it reminded me how rarely most teachers get to see others at work. A great read for anyone, but especially for math teachers.
* On the day I was putting the final touches on this month’s newsletter, I learned about The Ickabog, a new J. K. Rowling book for children, a chapter of which is being released for free every weekday over a period of seven weeks this summer. Can’t say I’m a child, but can say I’ll be adding this to my summer reading. There’s even a contest devoted to the illustrations. Cool.
Worth the Listen
* John Green is one of the two brothers who started the immensely successful Crash Course educational video series. This (shorter) post and (longer) podcast is about what he has learned as part of this work, and the clip early in the episode taken from one of the videos on world history will be joyful for any teacher who hasn’t heard it, but has heard a student ask whether something will be on a test. As you would imagine, Green has cool thoughts about educational video and learning generally, and finishes with wonderful comments about the importance of teachers to our society. A great listen. (33:32)
* This podcast is the opening episode in a series called Disarming Disability, from two women born with congenital differences. They introduce themselves and begin exploring their shared experience of growing up with different bodies than the kids around them, and how along the way the difference became a source of empowerment. It’s one to listen to carefully to make sure it’s a good match for your students, but may prove inspiring to some who struggle with how they see themselves. (41:50)
* The BBC has a series called Sounds, and covers music, radio, and podcasts. Much of their content is about popular culture, but this 56-second long piece is an infectious disease reporter talking about the goal of a coronavirus vaccine. Great prompt for a biology or immunology class. If you like it, you might also listen to this just-under-three-minute piece about using AI to determine likely treatments for COVID-19. (0:56, 2:42)
Worth the Try
* Guy Bresler, an educator in Israel, created an impressive game using Wikipedia called Naraview. Players take any two articles, and must connect them using links available in the articles connected. This could be a very cool way to spend some time while sheltered at home! Here’s a video tutorial from Guy, too.
* If you love it when people go to some trouble bringing something new to what has become a bit tired, you probably already know about the band OK Go and their amazing music videos. You may not have known, though, that they have a site called OK Go Sandbox that focuses on the videos “as starting points for integrated guided inquiry challenges allowing students to explore various STEAM concepts.” The screenshot below is from a video built around various optical illusions, called The Writing’s on the Wall.
* It wasn’t an easy choice as to whether to put this in the watches or the tries, but it was very easy watching this to come to the conclusion that the amazing Ben Cogswell has reached an off-the-charts level of cool with this series. The frame is his Kinder Rockets site. Ben and his family have posted daily messages and read-alouds for kinderpeople over the past few months, and I was so impressed I donated. What you should do is to get ideas from this creative master! And donate if you want. 8^)
* Miguel Guhlin posted a nice piece to TCEA Tech Notes recently about add-ons that users of Google Classroom might want to explore. He describes each one and adds a video that tells more about it, though it wasn’t completely clear to me which ones are always free. Miguel also has plenty of good material at his website and Twitter feed.
* Pond5 is a company that sells high-quality, royalty-free images and footage (remember, the “free” in the term “royalty free” is not about the content being free from spending anything; it means paying up front and not having to worry about paying under a royalty model). They’ve also assembled some of their footage into short virtual tours on YouTube (five at the time of writing: London, New Orleans, Japan, Alaska, and New York City) that are each under a minute long. Good fodder for discussions!
* Those who like a good Photoshop recipe will enjoy this one from Robert Cornelius in DIY Photography called 9 Steps To Create A Magic Portal With Photoshop. He gets into some serious detail on the particulars of different tools (in Photoshop and otherwise) for image manipulation, and I should be up front that the only thing free is the advice! Still, plenty of cool ideas, and the “Speed Edit” video of this work at the end of the post is fascinating.
* Did you know Pixabay, a good site for getting images free of copyright, also has similarly-licensed music for your media projects? I didn’t know about it until Richard Byrne brought it up as a great share in one of the webinars the two of us do!
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This may be a summer like no other most of us have experienced, but that doesn’t mean we need to ignore what summer is. In honor of Pixabay music, I found this summer-y and dental hygiene-questionable image on Pixabay that seemed a good share for June. If you are in the southern hemisphere and need a fall- or winter-themed image, let me know, and I’ll find one for you!
See you next month!