March 2018 Newsletter
So many cool videos to share with you this month, I have! Additionally, we’re getting close on two contests that I hope will intrigue you and your students. Ah, so much goodness, so little time!
A big welcome goes out to all you new folks on the list, too. I was fortunate to meet amazing teachers in Idaho, Illinois, Texas, and Colombia in February, and I know some of you will get students creating things we can celebrate, or at least win a caffeine card from our monthly drawing.
Finally, I’m scheduling summer and fall PD, so feel free to reach out if that’s of interest. These gigs make my little nonprofit go, after all, and it would be wonderful to help you and your team find new possibilities for your school.
Creative Fire ’17 Finalists
Here are our student finalists for our fall contest, and we have folks around the world judging these and the collaboration and teacher strands now. We’ll announce the winners in mid-March on our site, and also in the April newsletter.
If you’d like to cast votes yourself, feel free to send a quick note letting us know, and we’ll get the ballot form to you. We welcome your having students watch the videos, assemble their votes, and then cast one ballot for them, as well. If that’s of interest, just mention that in the contact form.
In no particular order:
How To Annotate
Ralston Middle School
Sutter Middle School
How To Produce Music
American Canyon High School
How To Shoot A Slapshot
Christian Brothers Academy
Our partnership with ISTE, WeVideo, and EdTechTeam to run the Global Student Voice Film Festival is now in the homestretch, with an April 9th deadline. Make very sure that your students read the rules page (under Contest Info) carefully before submitting their videos.
Next Vista’s annual Service via Video contest has an April 20th deadline, so those looking to earn a donation to a local charity should give this one a close look. Check out the dozen or so previous winners for inspiration!
That last one is a project in which students brainstormed terms that apply to their state and filled out the alphabet, making one video for each letter (two, actually – there are subtitled versions of every video). The screenshot below if from The Letter H, which (as you might imagine), includes the term “Hollywood.”
If this sounds interesting to you for your school, community, state, province, or country, then let us know, and we’ll work with you to make it happen!
We’ll draw another name this month, and to get in the mix for the $5 coffee card, watch the four finalists above and let us know which one you liked best.
image: Know Where You Come From by Nathan Dumlao from Unsplash
This week (7th-9th) I’ll be in Grand Rapids for Michigan Association of Cool conference (MACUL.org – it actually stands for something else, but I like my interpretation better). Please find me at one of my sessions and say hello!
Next week it’s the annual shindig of CUE.org in Palm Springs (14th-17th), where I’ll be presenting and signing books. Ping me if you’ll be there, too.
The following week (22nd-23rd) is the EdTechTeam Arizona Summit, which is sold out, but there are still workshop slots available.
How inspiring are your staff meetings? I do a session at many conferences called “Much Better Staff and Team Meetings,” and often get a crowd of folks very, very interested in seeing some improvement in this fixture of their professional experience.
In April I will do a free webinar on this topic, and you are welcome to join in at either 4p or 7p Eastern time. The April newsletter will have the links for registering. (An earlier version of the newsletter identified the date for this as March 12th, but the webinar has been postponed, and the correct date and links for registering will be added later.)
I recently read Things Fall Apart for the first time, and was so impressed with both the beauty and the tragedy of the story. This month’s quote is from that amazing novel:
A man who makes trouble for others makes trouble for himself.
– Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
We put this little newsletter together each month with the hope that it brings a smile to your face, a new tool to your toolkit, and/or an idea that helps you see the world in a new way. What all educators do is to provide hope for the future, and if our effort brings some of that to you and your students, then that’s a boatload of awesomeness, in our humble opinion.
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
* The folks at Great Big Story did this piece on Matt Maxey, who brings hip-hop to deaf culture. Matt, a.k.a. DEAFinitely Dope, grew up with hearing challenges but didn’t learn to sign until he was eighteen, but saw in hip-hop culture the opportunity to explore an interest in a powerful and inspirational way.
* Would you want a robot dog? The Sony Aibo is a rather sophisticated, AI-enhanced robo-pooch, and this video from Abt covering CES in Las Vegas will introduce you to him/her/it. Perhaps a child has allergies that prevent having a real dog, or it could be this is a fairly expensive way to get students thinking about the role of affection with pets, or a prompt for thinking about the programming around trying to mimic it. You’d have to go to Japan to buy one of these admittedly cute $1700 puppies.
* In February I connected with Jeremy Anderson, a youth motivational speaker based in Georgia. He posts cool and thoughtful videos in a series called Next Level Students, and this one focuses on better communication based on two questions from teens, one about communicating with parents, the other about communicating with teachers. Good stuff!
* Brandon O’Neill (@boneill75) in Guatemala recommended this video of athlete and movie star Dwayne Johnson talking about a high school coach who was willing to look past the actions of a punk kid, and through his own actions convey a message about possibility.
* Erin Glab in Cartagena, Colombia, suggested I watch The Tree from Lead India. It’s a nice piece about obstacles, frustration, initiative, and teamwork, and the one who leads is a child, which is pretty cool. How does your community find its leaders?
* I think I’d put 500 Days Alaska to Argentina – a Modern Motorcycle Diaries into the geography folder. This just-over-nine-minute video is a GoPro compilation of Alex Chacon’s ride through the Americas, and has plenty of interesting visuals. While it might be too much of a daredevil video for some, the variety of landscapes held my attention. Thanks to Ken Shelton (@k_shelton) for sharing this one.
* The folks at Kleenex share some beautiful stories, including this one, called Wrap a House in Love, about two American veterans from Afghanistan coming home to a loving community. Good stuff!
* Looking back (and up) on last year’s eclipse, why did people react as they did? This short video on the BBC’s Twitter page captures the thoughts of lots of people as a NASA timelapse provides the visual. Did you see the eclipse, and if so, did you find it to be something powerful?
Worth the Read
* What makes a boy a “good” boy? Are strength and confidence exclusive of meaningful sensitivity and intimacy? Paul Cumbo from a high school in Buffalo, New York, posted a wonderfully thought-provoking article on the site of the National Association of Independent Schools called, “Boys Will Be … The Boys We Raise,” and it’s a great read and powerful prompt for discussion.
* Carl Hooker (@mrhooker) put out a post in February called “Digital Parenting BINGO,” and it’s a great set of ideas for how to think about the youngsters in your life, their devices, and what they choose to do online. Give these 24 ideas a look and ask yourself which ones, if any, you would approach differently.
* There are several good posts on the page linked later in this sentence, but the first one was the title that caught my eye: Fresh Starts for Hard-to-Like Students. It’s by Allen Mendler on Edutopia’s site, and you’ll find three great suggestions for helping kids who give you problems see themselves in a new way. While the piece is more focused on elementary, the advice is good at all levels.
* Another nice piece from Edutopia: What Students Remember Most About Teachers, by Lori Gard. It’s one that was posted several years ago, but is an annual help that we as veterans might pass along to our colleagues in their first year of teaching. In addition to the nice thought, it raised another question for me. Yes, as positive, caring adults, we are remembered fondly for our kindness, but how strong is that memory if we don’t also find ways to help them see their intellectual potential, as well?
* “Algorithms and data must exist to serve educators,” was not the title of this piece from EdSurge, but it could have been. Using data helpfully while keeping some level of privacy is no mean feat, and the questions in the piece are good points of departure for those wanting AI systems to help us educate more effectively. The actual title of the post by Junaid Mubeen is Humanizing Education’s Algorithms, and it’s well worth the read.
* Steve Wick (@WickedEdTech) is an Illinois educator who posts all sorts of strong material, and this post, called “10 Great Hashtags Educators Should Be Exploring,” is a nice primer for teachers on using hashtags in Twitter.
* I hesitated before adding this next one, as it’s tough stuff. I’ll start by saying that I dearly love the city of San Francisco. If you’ve ever seen the movie Batkid Begins (here’s the trailer), you know what I mean. The piece from NBC Bay Area is called Diseased Streets, and examines the sidewalks in one of the toughest sections of the city where trash, needles, and human excrement are distressingly common. The opening visual of hypodermic needles on a path where a group of kindergartners are walking by is jarring. Still, as educators, we are hopefully people who will face difficult facts and ask each other what can be done. Ideally, we’ll then find ways to do what needs to be done.
Worth the Try
* At ICE 2018 in Illinois in February, the opening keynote speaker was Chris Ulmer, the founder of Special Books by Special Kids. He’s traveled the world to meet young people who have all manner of challenges, and asks them to share what they want the world to know about them (here’s the YouTube channel). The stories he shared were so beautiful that I’ll be watching more of these, for certain. His messages teach so much about what constitutes not just good teaching, but what makes for being a good person.
* You can find six free posters on the site for A Mighty Girl, a site dedicated to building a collection of materials to help teachers and parents “raising smart, confident, and courageous girls.” Much of the site is focused on recommendations for (and links to buy) books, toys, movies, etc., but the blog appears to have plenty of good thoughts for those just giving it all a look. Below is a screenshot from a portion of the Mae Jamison poster.
* Those looking for free technology for hospitalized children can go to Grahamtastic Connection and learn about its efforts to help kids facing all sorts of challenges, including cancer, cystic fibrosis, transplants, and more. A link at the top titled “Submit a Request” invites someone from a child’s medical team to request a referral form.
* TechSmith, the company known in part for its strong screencasting software Camtasia, has a blog in which they share some ideas for all sorts of things in the digital media realm. In January, they posted a piece on image editing that is a nice summary from what some would call a 30,000-foot view. The author talks briefly about color filters, vignettes, balancing brightness and contrast, and even a trick using lens flares. Cool post, this, for anyone interested in image tweaking.
* The Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia has an interesting collection of images and commentary on its site. I took a screenshot of the painting below and pulled this from the paragraph describing it: “William Trego’s March to Valley Forge was painted in Philadelphia and exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1883.” Great prompts, these.
* I often show the game Quizizz to folks in my session on strong class starters. The Quizizz folks just announced several nice improvements to the game, including being able to select more than one right answer and making five answer options for questions instead of just four. Play on!
* Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) recommended a nice tool with a simple interface for creating animated GIFs called FlipAnim. The tools are easy to learn, and when you’re ready to save it, you’ll be prompted to “upload” it. Once done, you’ll see a small blue “GIF” button in the lower left, and can download what you’ve created as a GIF file.
* Speaking of Byrne, his Practical EdTech mailing recently featured anchor.fm, a site for creating and sharing podcasts. On it, you can record directly into the browser, arrange some sound effects, and then publish it on the anchor.fm site and in other popular podcast libraries. After watching Richard’s tutorial video, I threw together this less-than-one-minute podcast on love just to give it a shot.
* Feel like checking in on an owl’s nest? The Google Earth folks put this set together, called The Raptors of Montana, and you might give it a try to see if you catch one of these wise ones at home!
* Another nice Google Earth item is the National Geographic Photo Ark, which is working “to document every species living in human care.” Spin the globe and find all sorts of images of all kinds of species. Zoologically cool, this.
* On a recent episode of Lee Webster’s Google Demo Slam show, Lee showed the Chrome extension Flico, which allows you to learn about visuals that appear in a YouTube video. Click the button in the lower right (once it’s fully loaded into your account), and it will work to identify the image in the video player. If it does so, you can get info such as it figuring out that a particular image is the Eiffel Tower, and then it will give you the chance to see it on a map, or look at it in Street View, or similar. Impressive stuff – thanks, Lee (@solveXtech)!
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