March 2021 Newsletter
Consistency is a recipe for both comfort and boredom. As March goes, there are some consistencies with other months of the year you may not have known: “March begins on the same day of the week as November and ends on the same day of the week as June every year.” (Thanks, Wikipedia.)
Whether you find that thought comforting or boring, we work to consistently inspire you with cool ideas and contests, and you’ll find plenty of our attempts in the sections that follow, so dive in and follow along!
Our 90-second edu-video and 2-minute service video contests are in motion, and if you were hoping for a time when students wouldn’t have a lot of competition for prizes, you’ve come to the right year. Given the complexities of pandemic schooling, we aren’t anticipating a lot of entries, which is an opportunity for any student willing to put some energy into a clever video (and also follow the rules).
Deadlines are at the end of April, but for Creative Recovery ’21 (the edu-video contest), there’s an early bonus deadline that can yield even greater advantages to those who submit a video (and also follow the rules).
Here are a couple of past entries to inspire you. You can find all the finalists for the edu-video contests here, and all the finalists for the service video contests here.
How to Drop In on a Half Pipe
from Creative Bridge ’19
some physics (and perhaps a reminder about wearing a helmet)
Lake Norman Health Clinic
from Service via Video ’17
women making sure others get needed care
As you may know, we regularly record and post webinars with topics of interest to teachers everywhere. You can register here or at the links below – it’s free, and we’ll send you word of when we post it if you can’t join for the live recording.
This Thursday, Two EdTech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff will start at its usual time, 4:00p Eastern / 1:00p Pacific (and 9:00p UTC). Feel free to send questions that have been oppressing you, and we’ll work on an answer!
Later the same afternoon (6:30p Eastern / 3:30p Pacific) we’ll welcome guest Andrew Vanden Heuvel to look at how you can incorporate astronomy stuff in Activities Across Grade Levels. After all, why not fire their imaginations with infinity and beyond?
Worth the Listen
Wait, shouldn’t this be with the rest of the intriguing freebie resources, farther down the page?
This one, though, was so fascinating a story to me that I decided to feature it more prominently.
The piece is an EdSurge podcast titled, “Is It Still Teaching When the Professor Is Dead?” It’s as intriguing an exploration of what constitutes teaching as the title is eye-catching. The piece is about fifteen minutes long, and if it doesn’t prompt some fascinating questions for you about our profession, I’m guessing you weren’t paying attention.
We give away a $5 Starbucks card every month, because it’s more fun to give them away than not to. For February, we decided to give away two, because that’s double the fun. Simple math, that. The lucky winners are Wendy Heyd and Konni indenBosch – congratulations to you both!
How do you enter for March? You have two options.
One way is to watch either of the highlighted contest videos, above, and let us know what you think on our Contact Us page.
The other is to share a thought on this month’s newsletter or our newsletters in general. Is there a section you typically go to straightaway? Is there something about the newsletter that has made you recommend it to someone else? Do you have a suggestion for how to improve it? Enter by going to our Contact Us page and passing one or more thoughts in our direction. We bow appreciatively.
I center much of the work I do to help teachers and school leaders improve on the nature of communication and the power of stories. This quote by the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe catches that beautifully:
People create stories create people; or rather, stories create people create stories.
What is the story of you and your students this year? Are there moments of breakthrough in learning for them, or you, or you both?
I’ll keep the above short this month, as there is a bumper crop of good videos to describe. Enjoy, and please share your thoughts with us as requested in the Super Sips section!
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 short animated piece is a beautiful and touching story that I came across while exploring some good news sent out each week by Future Crunch. The video is called Hair Love, and is a family story which is at times funny, and at times very touching. Have a tissue close by. (6:47)
* Staying with touching and insightful animated stories, here’s one called Umbrella, which is another award-winner. It’s a reminder that we don’t and can’t know all the stories behind why students act the way they do. However, if we keep a clear sense of our lack of omniscience, we might be able to support a child at a time it is most needed. (7:55)
* This TED-Ed talk on the Atlantic slave trade is an especially strong historical piece for students in its argument for an economic explanation of colonial and racist philosophies that followed. Getting a student to draw connections and look for meaningful evidence for those connections is arguably one of the most important elements of history education, and this tool is one worth adding to your resources. (5:24)
* I will get to a non-animated piece, but not yet. This is from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory here in California, and is designed to provide an animated visual of what they accomplished in February landing Perseverance on Mars. (3:10)
* Can you reduce pesticides and enhance plant growth with light? The crazy-cool creatives at Studio Roosegaarde (catch Dan Roosegaarde’s TED Talk here) decided it might be possible, and the result is downright beautiful. (2:50)
* Antarctica fires the imagination of scientists and artists in so many ways. If you are introducing students to the continents, climate change issues, scale in photography, or anything similar, See Antarctica Like Never Before from National Geographic is a wealth of captivating scenes. (2:30)
* John Ross Rizzo is a doctor and NYU professor who delivered a TEDx talk in late 2018 called Assistive Technology & Advanced Wearables. The talk explores how upcoming assistive technologies can transform how we think of abilities and disabilities, and is a strong resource for discussions of innovation. (11:36)
* London’s Victoria and Albert Museum has posted a number of videos on applied and decorative arts, and this one about micromosaics is quite the window into an artist’s work. One way to use this video would be to show it in sections to your students, encouraging them along the way to guess how long it takes to finish it (revealed at the end). (4:42)
* One can create portraits with pencils, crayons, paint, or…grass? In Growing Portraits with Grass, the Great Big Story folks tell about two British artists who use light to grow grass in a way that yields something rather photographic. (4:55)
Worth the Read
* Kylene Beers is an award-winning teacher in Texas who posted a letter to school leaders everywhere with a simple request: stop. That is, stop talking about children being “behind” in their learning. Is some fairly arbitrary benchmark worth worrying about at a time when kids are dealing with loneliness, anxiety, fear, and grief? The point is well taken, and Dr Beers’ plea is a story well told. A different question is whether we teach, and as a system allow teachers to teach, in a way that lets children creatively explore and want to pursue excellence. That, too, is a question that should be asked and explored in the context of whether we are surviving our circumstances such that we have hope for something better. (image credit: untitled photo by Nadine Shaabana from Unsplash (license))
* Lots of people ask questions of computers. “Siri, why do I crave chai lattes constantly?” Some of these questions are easier to answer for the device than others. Still, given that a certain kind of communication is taking place, what if that interactive AI technology were good enough to answer young kids’ questions about what they are reading, or listening to someone read to them? This EdSurge piece about the PBS KIDS show “Elinor Wonders Why” explores research being done on that front, and the answers and subsequent questions may be very important for the future of learning.
* The Unrulr app is one I’ve written about before. It’s an interesting effort to get students to give each other better feedback in an environment that is much like the social media tools they use. In this post from the company, they share the story of a design and architecture teacher explaining how the approach has helped get students pursuing their projects more effectively.
* The Medium article The 12 Coolest Human Traits is a good one for subtle SEL instruction, I’m thinking. Great reminder of how one can live with the right things in perspective.
* This Chicago Tribune story about a 14-year-old who tracks down vaccination appointments for the elderly is a nice example of how students can make a difference for others now. A great share from Brandon O’Neill at St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju!
Worth the Try
* Big style points to teacher Richard Hung for creating a set of videos to prompt questions about how we use water. He based this series on the work of Dan Meyer and others, and you can find Dan’s dozens of 3-Act Math offerings here.
* The Internet Archive holds many treasures for the educator. One of the many collections is the audio from older radio programs, which includes entertainment such as Dragnet and Gunsmoke. More in the educational realm, you’ll also find collections of speeches, such as this set from Winston Churchill.
* Getting your students to want to read is no small challenge, especially since many of the requirements students have encountered have worked against that goal. Book Brackets, though, are a tournament-based way to foster joy in reading. The linked resource is a site created by teacher Rachel Clark, and the process is as simple as choosing a set of books, having students read them, and having a creative presentation made at the end by students for students.
* Teacher Jane Kwon created an environmental research project for 3rd/4th graders with directions, slides, and accompanying videos on topics such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Dakota Pipeline, and Flint water crisis. She includes a note-taking template and a video to help students improve their note-taking skills.
* This teacher has an added little bit of fun when assigning a number of homework problems. Not sure that there’s a lot of room to defend the value of a varying number of problems for what he teaches, but it’s still a fun video. As it’s recorded vertically (appropriate for 9Gag, I’m guessing), we’ll skip the screenshot. Thanks to Steven “Paella Master” Shagrin for sharing this one!
* Ever wanted to create your own escape room challenge for students? Suzanne Felipe is a San Francisco Bay Area educator who shows in this tutorial how to create an escape room for students using a Google form and different tools and games from Flippity. Try it out with a grade-level or department colleague to accelerate your creative brainstorming!
* I’ve written about Open Middle before, but didn’t know about the Google Slides virtual activities that they’ve made available. The image below is from one of the kindergarten ones. At the time of writing, they have slides up for K-8th grade and several high school subjects on the doc that gets you to the decks, and it looks like they have more planned.
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March is Women’s History Month, and this shot I found on Unsplash seems to me to be about the strength and determination that make equality a real possibility. As teachers, let’s encourage our girls to face the future with hope and grit!
photo by Jyotirmoy Gupta
from Unsplash (license)
See you next month!