June 2021 Newsletter
Looking for cool ideas? Not only do we have a horde of ’em below, but we can also help with active and inspiring PD possibilities for your school or district for the coming school year. With topics like Service & Distinction, Telling Your School’s Stories, and The Fun and Cool of Improvement, we have plenty of proven programs. If curious, just let us know via our contact form.
Onward to the ideas, opportunities, and goodies!
We are happy to announce the finalists of the Creative Recovery ’21 educational video contest we’ve run during the first half of the year. Below are our student and teacher selections. Note that we’d welcome your help in getting winners chosen. Details a little farther down the page.
How to Grow Sugar Cane
Tsai Hsing School
San Gabriel Academy
San Gabriel, California, USA
How mRNA Vaccines Work: Coronavirus Edition
Crystal Springs Uplands School
Belmont, California, USA
How To Tie Your Shoes (2021)
Miniota Elementary School
Miniota, Manitoba, Canada
Addition Using the Friendly Ten Strategy
One, Two, Fliparoo (Putting on a Coat)
Would you be up for helping us select the winners? If so, let us know on our Contact Page, and we’ll send you the form that is the ballot. All told, it will take about fifteen minutes of your time, and we’ll put your name in the hat from which we’ll draw two names for a Starbucks card, too!
This was my third year to co-teach Creative Solutions for the Global Good, a class we offer as part of the design thinking-based program at Junipero Serra High School. We finish each school year with presentations on the cool projects that served as the central piece of each student’s work for the class.
This year, we had some students from Parklands College, a K-12 school in Cape Town, South Africa, talk about their impressive work, as well. About a hundred people from 15 countries joined in, and you can watch the 45-minute fun fest (with another ~25 minutes of Q&A) by clicking here or on the image below.
If you’re curious to learn more about this class and how we’re working to inspire young people to make a difference in the world, feel free to reach out to me.
Like last month, the number of gift cards we’ll give in June out is a function of how many entries we get. Five or fewer means one, six or more means two. In May, we made it to the plural, and happily send congrats to Wendy Heyd and Debbie Gonzales for their wins in the drawing!
This month, choose one of the finalists from the Creative Recovery contest, above, and tell us what you think of it to get your name in the hat. While you’re at it, go ahead and let us know you’d like a ballot to help us choose the winners – we’re happy for the help!
In a 1987 commencement speech, Gloria Steinem shared this insight:
“Whatever you want to do, do it now. For life is time, and time is all there is.”
There does seem to be more time in the summer, we’ll note.
We hope you found some ideas and energy in what you read above, and that the freebies below will generate yet more! This part of the year is a time for letting a good idea or ten take shape, and you are always welcome to reach out to us if you have one to discuss. As we always finish:
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
* This is quite the compellingly cool summary of the not-so-simple year we’ve been through. It’s a converging complexity called “Let the Paint Dry” by Daniel J. Watts, and it’s worth your time. (11:25)
* There is a magic to innovative art that a good story can bring forward. In this story of artistic creativity, called Please Touch the Art, you’ll meet an artist and a blind artisan and the good story that brings them together. (5:18)
* If you enjoy engaging kids on the topic of the oceans, this animation about just how deep the ocean goes is a great choice. There are a lot of cool science what-ifs that flow (haha) from the ideas in this Tech Insider piece. (3:29)
* What machine, if simplified, could save thousands of women in poverty-stricken parts of the world from dying in childbirth? This commercial is for a point-of-care ultrasound device, and could foster some strong discussions about health, science, economics, innovation, and more. (3:00)
* The shamisen is a traditional stringed instrument in Japan, and this short video will introduce you to it in an especially beautiful setting. A good conversation starter about music, design, and culture, this. (2:49)
* A group of students from Malawi Children’s Village worked with Full Circle Studios to create a 45-minute film called Juma’s Story. The movie introduces us to a boy facing the challenges of focusing on school, not letting his mother down, and dealing with social pressures around him. The piece was designed to prompt discussions about HIV/AIDS in Malawi, and is apparently regularly shown on Malawi National Television. (43:45)
* Google has a project called Starline, and it’s a new way of connecting at a distance using 3D displays. The woman and child in the screenshot below are part of a screen. If you need a “Whoa!” moment as part of the start of the next school term, share this video with your students and see what they come up with as ideas for changing the world. (1:50)
* Let’s turn to chocolate and math. This video suggests that you can remove a piece of chocolate from a bar and end up with the full bar and the extra piece of chocolate. Cool prompt for students, and I like that the narrator is “Crazy Russian Official.” Thanks go to my buddy Stephen Shagrin, a.k.a. The Paella Master, for sharing this one. (2:15)
* Or perhaps you’d simply like the beauty of blooming flowers in a timelapse video. Thanks to the CNN 5 Things daily mailing for this! (2:40)
* You gotta love a great marriage proposal. This one in Beirut included a flash mob. (4:58)
Worth the Listen
* This Stanford Social Innovation Review podcast is about an effort to create videos to help health care workers in low-resource parts of the world. The interview starts with Deb Van Dyke, a nurse practitioner who has put heart and soul into creating possibilities for those who work on the front lines of global health challenges. The initial story about a baby struggling to breathe is one you won’t soon forget. (31:38)
* Teacher and poet Angela Barnes wrote and posted a piece called Ode to Seven Smiles. It speaks to the hearts of all of us who have become attuned to the magic moments of getting to dedicate ourselves to the possibilities our students bring to our classes. The first 45 seconds of this piece are about the tool, Anchor, which is cool, but feel free to jump to the 0:45 mark if you want to hear from the author right away. (3:33)
* Concordia International School Shanghai is the source of a fun podcast called Tech Talk Roundtable, which is very much worth having on your podcast feed. One of the May episodes features a 2nd grade teacher, Dan Speed, who has used a number of exceptional video activities to drive dynamic learning with his students. Those who love stories of kids taking things way past the usual expectations will love this. (34:30)
* The question of to what extent a school can police the speech of a U.S. student is an exceptionally complex one, going at least back to Tinker v. Des Moines (1969). In late May, the New York Times podcast The Daily did a piece on a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court about a student’s use of Snapchat and the punishment a school chose for her. The podcast includes the questions of several members of the court, and can be fodder for PD, rules discussion, or a class on government. (28:03)
* NPR does an annual student podcast challenge, and the stories about the middle and high school winners brought a smile to my face. Learn more about the winners and the contest, and consider what stories your students might have waiting to share. (6:38, 4:06)
Worth the Read
* The idea of universal preschool has gained some serious traction in the United States in recent months. Like any large-scale experiment, however, working to avoid problems is a tricky piece of planning. This EdSurge post, titled “The Unintended Consequences of Universal Preschool,” explores these issues well, and could be a good component of a design-thinking discussion for social benefit efforts with students.
* Edutopia posted an article about using reflections from this school year titled, “End-of-Year Conversations Solidify Teachers’ Learning.” The idea is not to lose the insights gained, and emphasizes the need to “provide teachers the time and space to learn from one another and grow together.” The piece not only makes the case for this, but also provides a framework to make it happen.
* Very quick read, this. Google has released an update for Docs that allows one to see the revision history by right-clicking on the text in the doc. Cool. Learn more here, and raise a coffee cup to John Sowash, the Chromebook guru, for sharing this in his regular mailing.
* I read Michael Linsin’s writing about classroom management, as he frequently tosses out good ideas. This post, called How To Build Rapport When You Have A Quiet Personality, was an especially strong one from May’s offerings.
* This fits in both the Read and Try sections! It’s a blog post about new additions to Book Creator, which I have encouraged teachers to explore ever since they came out a few years ago with the Chrome app. They’ve added several features, including an image citation tool, and they went to the trouble of quoting me! Humble bow.
* The Atlantic article Winners of the 2021 BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition has stunning photos with fascinating descriptions you can use to spice up science lessons. This one apparently took the diver/photographer five days to reach a level of rapport with the fish that the shot was possible.
* Richard Byrne (my partner on the Two EdTech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff webinar) has what is probably the most popular edtech blog in the world, and for good reason: he has posted over fifteen thousand times, and the ideas have been consistently useful for over a decade. This one covers possible uses for a simple app for one’s own program or school. It focuses on the Glide tool for turning spreadsheets into “apps,” though strictly speaking, they are easily-crafted web pages that appear like apps on a smartphone.
* Many of you are people I’ve met at edtech conferences over the years. Austin-based Carl Hooker is one of the amazing people I’ve had the good fortune to get to know, and he posted a strong piece about the future of edtech conferences that all of you who enjoy such events should read.
* As I write, the NBA in the U.S. is getting in gear with the playoffs. This story about Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia, told in a series of tweets, is one that will make you smile, and also allow a lesson on perseverance. Thanks to buddy Sean Williams for sharing this one.
Worth the Try
* Google announced that it’s now possible to get captions from audio coming from a page in the browser. Very cool!
* For simple animations on laptops or Chromebooks, take a look at Wick Editor, an open-source tool for creating animations and simple games. This has been around for a few years, and includes a community tab on the site with a handful of examples. Thanks to the kind soul from the ISTE Commons forum who suggested giving this a look!
* Story Spheres bills itself as “a tool for enhancing 360 images that lets you position audio within a scene, to easily create interactive experiences.” The sample pieces are a bit thin, though I quite liked this one about Uluru in Australia. The basic idea is to place audio files into images, and this could be the path toward interesting student-created immersive experiences using AR and VR tools.
* Peter Dunsby is an educator in Cape Town, South Africa, who posts beautiful images to his Instagram feed. Give this a look for great material for discussions on astronomy with students.
* The Opportunity Atlas is an interesting data tool on income, race, gender, job growth, and rent for the United States. Even those in other countries might enjoy the kinds of questions students might begin to ask using such a tool. Thanks to Ken Shelton for sharing this one.
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This image by Nasr Rahman was taken in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. It reminds me of the mountain monasteries one might see in the Himalayas. May your break between terms include times of quiet and beauty!
See you next month!