March 2019 Newsletter
It’s March, which for many of you means time changes (it happens on the 10th, here in the U.S.). While you’re looking at your clock and calendar, remember that we’ve got a deadline coming up for kids to participate in one of the coolest things we do, and let’s start this month with that coolness.
Service via Video
What do you remember from middle and high school? The really powerful moments in terms of learning tend to come from unusual things: a big project, a fascinating field trip, etc.
If you’d like your students to have a powerfully memorable learning experience, we encourage you to use this month to have them craft stories of people, groups, or organizations in your community that make a difference for others.
Our annual Service via Video contest wraps up at the end of day, US Pacific time, on Friday, March 29th. You can get all the details on the contest page here, but feel free to start your creative fires moving with last year’s winner, below, or any of the 14 videos that have won the contest over the years.
Charlotte Refugee Support Services
by students from Lake Norman Charter School
We hope your students will inspire others to experience the joy and meaning of helping others!
Support Those Fighting Cancer
Speaking of helping others, almost all of us have friends and family who have battled or are battling cancer. There has been real progress treating this terrible disease over recent years, and I ask that you help me in my efforts to support cancer research, education, and patient assistance this year. Two possibilities:
First, if you’ll send the name of someone you’d like to remember or support in his or her battle against cancer, I’ll donate $10 to create a luminaria in his or her honor. You’re welcome to send a message and a digital photo, as well. I’ll do this for up to 25 luminaria.
Second, if you’d like to help me with my fundraising by sending a contribution, go to my American Cancer Society page here. Every little bit helps fund research, teams taking calls from patients and caregivers seeking help, and the costs of low-income folks trying to stay close to loved ones in the hospital. Please help if you can!
Stories of Schools
An important focus of the work I do with schools is helping them find new ways to develop and tell their stories to their communities. Recently while visiting via video conference a group of students in a university teaching class, one decided to connect me with his mentor teacher, Denise Koebcke, and that led me to learn about LEAD, a project she created at her school in Indiana designed to develop students’ ability to mentor younger students.
As you might imagine, that they made a video to share the story immediately impressed me! Here is that gem:
Each month we give away a $5 Starbucks card via email, and last month (cue the trombone), no one entered. Shocking. We went back to the January entries, and drew Nate Doelling’s name. Nate, we are jazzed to send a caffeine card your way!
This month, you could win by writing us to tell what you think of any of the videos that have ever won the Service via Video contest. Find the full set here.
My mother taught English composition and writing for over four decades to university students in Arkansas and Texas, and this month, I’m crediting her with a great quote. I’m not entirely sure it’s hers, but she’s my mom, she’s cool, and I’ll go with it:
“Profanity is the crutch of the inarticulate.”
– Dr. Linda Selman
My brother shared that with me as I was assembling this newsletter, and I suspect that in addition to being grateful to him for passing it along, I’ll feel somewhat guilty, in a filial sense, the next time I succumb to using that crutch.
For those who know me well, I’ll simply say that it does happen. Humble bow.
I’ll add that I did some searching for the quote above, which yielded a lot of four-letter words and derivatives from people who felt it was insulting, or wanted a chance to craft something ironic. Some of it made me laugh my posterior off. It does call into question the presumption underlying the quote, of course.
Now that I think about it, Mom uses such terms when watching football games and the Razorbacks are underachieving. Hmm.
As I mentioned in the email alerting that this issue was posted, I am connecting now with schools during 2019-2020 on a set of “culture and climate” issues, including developing and highlighting great learning, communicating more effectively with the community, strengthening morale and teamwork, navigating change, and more.
This kind of work is what funds my little nonprofit, and if your school is looking for approaches to the above, please contact me so I can give you some ideas and even a proposal if that’s the right move.
And as always, 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.
* ADHD is something many joke about, but it’s serious for those (and those who care for those) who deal with the variety of differences encompassed by those somewhat misleading four letters. Jessica McCabe started a YouTube channel a few years ago called “How to ADHD,” and her well-produced videos paint a far more compassionate picture of the topic. This video is called How to (Explain) ADHD, and if you find it’s a good one for you, students, and/or colleagues, you might also check out Jessica’s site for many more videos. (7:38)
* What comes to mind for you when you read, “beauty of the skies?” This piece from VideoFromSpace of views of the night sky from Yosemite National Park in California may mean that from watching this video forward, a deeper sense of wonder will always be within when you look up. (7:52)
* Joe Sanfelippo is a principal in Wisconsin who shares ideas regularly, including on his one-minute walk to work each day. He records videos on these walks that are great fodder for leadership discussions, including this one on a “personal day giveaway” – an inventive way not simply of providing a possible reward for a member of the team, but also for helping leaders better appreciate the work of folks across the campus. If you like this, you might also take a look at his channel on YouTube. (1:27)
* IDEO is one of those companies that is constantly exploring cool possibilities. They’re also one of the leaders in design thinking, and this short clip on an Elmo app is a nice example of setting things up simply in order to get feedback before sinking major time and money into a more formal prototype. Almost a decade old, this is, and still fun to watch. (0:42)
* The South China Morning Post has been a leading newspaper in Hong Kong for decades. More recently, they have expanded to offer a variety of media pieces, and this one, called “China’s Last Cave People,” is an interesting story of poverty and familiarity. (6:00)
* A Forest Garden With 500 Edible Plants is the first part of the long title of a story about a guy in England who decided that gardening could be done in a way that greatly increases the resiliency of the plants. Thanks for this video go to the folks at National Geographic, who give us all loads of wonderful stories! (3:23)
* For a bit of a laugh with an interesting thought or two jogging alongside, there’s Joseph’s Workout Machines. In the screenshot below, Joseph is avoiding a used diaper by doing the squats while the bar keeps getting lower. One of several creative approaches to movement, this. (3:30)
* Over the years I’ve posted this newsletter, I’ve shared hundreds of articles that I thought interesting, concerning, and/or inspiring. This one by Kevin Kelly in Wired Magazine places in the top three of all of them. It’s called AR Will Spark the Next Big Tech Platform—Call It Mirrorworld, and it’s a wildly powerful glimpse of the near and not-so-near future, with endless points of departure for questions about technology’s potential for good and ill, divergence and dissonance among societies, and a thoroughly different world than what most of us have known.
* What does your grading reflect? Does it properly show what students have learned? What do you give extra credit for, if at all? This NAIS post on equitable grading looks at how the staff of the Georgetown Day School began to grapple with those questions as they sought something more easily understood and defended. I’d have liked to see more material on how changing practices might affect how students see a new system, but there are still many thought-provoking points shared.
* Are you a gamer? Do you have students or children who spend a lot of time playing World of Warcraft? This article from the BBC, called My disabled son’s amazing gaming life in the World of Warcraft, is a touching look at the value of tech-enabled connections and the kindnesses that can come from them. With so many stories about the nasty side of the internet available to us, here’s a nice one for providing a little balance.
* This post from Edutopia by Elena Aguilar has a list of (stay with me on this) “self-care strategies” you can use to boost your resilience. It may sound a little crystal-rubby as you read it here, but I’d say give it a look, as there are plenty of good ideas she offers that you could use right away.
* Here’s another nice read from Edutopia called 10 Powerful Community-Building Ideas, and in addition to the thoughts on building bonds in your classroom, there are a handful of short videos, called 60-second Strategy pieces, with strong visuals for how these ideas work.
* Future Crunch put up a post called 99 Good News Stories that is as interesting as it is discussion-prompt-filled. If you’re interested in progress with conservation, global health, tolerance, living standards, clean energy, drops in violence, and more, this post is a wealth of possibilities. Thanks to Nissa Hales (@lyttlelf) for sharing this one!
* How should students approach tedious assignments? In China, one girl asked to copy many lines got a handwriting robot to do it for her. Clever or dishonorable? The debate has apparently been rather intense in Chinese social media.
* I do a lot of work with schools to tell the stories of their academic successes, and consequently greatly appreciated this post by Banyan Global Learning about a project which brought via videoconference a speaker to a school they work with in Taiwan. They paint a picture of the activity in a way useful to those trying to make something similarly cool happen for their students, and finish with an embedded TEDx Talk from the speaker (Dr. Adriana Galvan of UCLA) about her research on the teenage brain.
* What do you think the map below reveals about the world? A site called Worldmapper has all sorts of different maps that address things like migration from specific countries, disease rates, rice production, and more. As for the one below, it shows the expected increase in life expectancy by country between 2015 and 2050. This could be a cool map and question to use to start a class.
* If you teach students age 7-11, and they can speak English, and you want to connect them with other classrooms around the world, you might take a look at Empatico. This 90-second intro video gives you a sense of how to set things up. Empatico is an effort of the KIND Foundation, which focuses on health as well as celebrating and inspiring kindness.
* A friend of mine, Rachel Medeiros, teaches digital literacy to middle schoolers, and posts an interesting video with questions every week on her blog. Recent topics include a video about tech’s responsibility to the world, high-stakes sneaker trading, and a Pixar short.
* If you put media pieces together for your class or your school, you may want something that looks like what’s below. The artist, Nick Youngson, has a large set of images like this at The Blue Diamond Gallery website with different words and phrases that you can freely download and use as long as you follow the proper procedure for citing your source as per Creative Commons rules. Youngson has another set with the word on the paper of a typewriter. Thanks to Nate Gildart (@nathangildart) for showing me this site.
* This post from Edutopia is called 7 Ways to Spark Engagement, and is a try instead of a read because the ideas are things you’ll want to do. Ideally, it’s also a set of strategies to help you figure out where your strengths match your students’ needs.
* Common Sense Media has created all sorts of resources to help kids stay safe online. In this piece, called How to Teach Your Students to Think Before They Post, they share a dozen lesson plans split evenly between 3rd-5th grades and 6th-8th grades. They also promise that more material is on the way for K-2nd and 9th-12th grades.
* The BBC Travel team puts together some impressive multimedia pieces about different places around the world. This one, called A Hidden Village Carved into a Cliff, is about a remote place in Oman, and is loaded with interesting info and photos and one very cool video. If this one intrigues you, find more at their BBC Travel Journeys page.
* There is a project called Live Lingua which has collected a wide variety of public domain language learning material and made it freely available. Their business model seems to be that they direct interested folks using the material to Skype lessons. That seems fair. Some of what I found in the collections seemed rather old, but their collection from the U.S. Peace Corps has some newer content. As you can tell from the sampling in the screenshot below, there are a lot of options. I didn’t see anything for Japanese (the language I used to teach), but it may be the Peace Corps hasn’t worked there.
* Finally, you might take a look at CERN’s re-creation of the original World Wide Web tool (or read about it in an article on The Verge). It was 30 years ago this month that a group of CERN’s scientists proposed what became the system for navigating the internet that we know today. On the recreation page, you can see a timeline of developments of the idea, the original browser, the code that started it all, and more. Thanks to my friend Gary Meegan (@garymeegan) for sharing this one!
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Continuing the boats and cool skies theme from last month’s finish, here’s a picture taken a few weeks ago when Babe Wife and I were taking an early-morning stroll the last day we were visiting folks in San Diego.
See you next month!