May 2018 Newsletter
You’ve found your way to the monthly festival of video coolness and endless edu-freebies that is the Next Vista for Learning newsletter!
We start this issue with shout-outs to all the cool teachers who have joined us from Santiago (Chile), Bogotá (Colombia), Canberra (Australia), Indiana (US), and NCEA 2018 in Cincinnati! It’s a pleasure to have so many dynamic teachers from around the world tap into the ideas we share each month!
Those who love the videos we add to the NextVista.org library, you’re in for a treat this month. And next. Read on to discover why.
I’ll start by teasing you! Next month, we’ll feature some of the truly amazing videos that came in from the Global Student Voice Film Festival. Students all over the world found wonderful ways to work with the theme of “In Another’s Shoes,” and I hope you’ll watch your inbox in June for some genuine gems.
Service via Video Finalists
We have two finalists from our annual effort to challenge students to get to know charities in their community and tell their stories. We’ve started the process of having people around the world watch and score these to see which will be crowned this year’s winner.
Sibu Wildlife Sanctuary
Del Mar Academy
Charlotte Refugee Support Services
Lake Norman Charter School
If you’d like to be a judge, just visit our contact page and let us know ASAP. We’d love to get your help!
Creative Storm ’18
We have also launched Creative Storm ’18, our next contest asking students and teachers to share a creative insight on something one might encounter in school in 90 seconds or less. Here are some submissions from the last few years:
Sources of Energy
Learn to Fly on Your iPad
The deadline is many months away, but if you have students who would like to create something for this contest as a final project this term, we’re happy to give them feedback on their submissions. Find all the details on the contest pages, here.
A Little Advice
Last month we launched Hey You!, our effort to begin gathering stories and advice for teens from interesting people near and far.
We ask those we interview three questions, aiming for a one-minute limit to the first two and a two-minute limit to the last one:
- Why do you do what you do?
- What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
- What story captures something important to you?
This month we’ve added videos from two more folks. Lorie Boyd is a human resources executive and Payton Boyea is a financial representative. We hope you and the teens in your life will find some interesting thoughts in these videos to share!
To learn more about Hey You! and how you might get involved, visit the project page.
Leadership Moment: Inspiring Excellence
Last month I had the chance to meet David Clendenning, the superintendent of the Franklin Community Schools in Indiana. As we were talking before a session I ran, he made a point of introducing me to one of his teachers.
This particular teacher will be in Italy this summer, gathering all sorts of photographs for a major educational project for his students. Certainly cool, that trip, but even cooler is that the district is funding it. Clendenning told me that every year the district provides grants to one or two teachers who make bold proposals on what they can do to provide something amazing to their students.
Some might think this is a questionable way to spend district funds. I would contend, however, that any school or district that invests in the excellence of the learning experiences of its students is likely attracting the best applicants for every teaching opening they have. The crowd I encountered there certainly seemed to be of the highest caliber.
Kudos to you and the leadership team, David!
Something to Sip
Each month, we celebrate all of you who read this newsletter by giving away a $5 Starbucks card. Why? Because the idea of watching the cool videos or looking through the many freebies we share while sipping some coffee, tea, or chocolate just makes sense to us, that’s why.
Congratulations this month goes to Delphine Defever in Michigan, who had some cool thoughts on our Hey You! project. Will you be the winner this month?
If you’d like your name in the hat for the May drawing, then watch the two Service via Video finalists, above, and then write us at email@example.com letting us know which one you liked better and why. For an added chance to win, add “Caffeine Service” in the subject line!
image credit: Know Where You Come From by Nathan Dumlao from Unsplash (license)
“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”
– Gabriel García Márquez
A good quote to add, given the extra attention to Colombia in this message. See the pic at the end for more geographic perspective.
I am a big fan of what inspires. As I mentioned in the teaser, the Global Student Voice videos are the kind of student work that easily falls into the category of the inspiring. As you look back over the last four or nine months of teaching, I hope there are many moments that were compelling for both you and your students, and that many more are on the way.
As I say each month: 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.
Worth the Watch
* What might you learn from photographs you take from a flying lawn chair? George Steinmetz created such a vehicle and used it all over Africa to explore the geographic and cultural diversity of the continent, and the results are impressive. This ten-minute TED Talk will treat you to some amazing images!
* Also in the realm of the innovatively cool is this Bloomberg Hello World video about efforts in Iceland to create a better wind turbine. I particularly like the comment from one of the leads at the company that many people see these wind devices and think they’re sculptures rather than devices harnessing wind power.
* Speaking of wind, National Geographic puts out some great videos, and this one about thousand-year-old windmills in Iran easily made my list of cool stories. It’s a piece about history, physics, culture, the environment, dedication, and the effect on individuals of changing technologies and economies. While the story is powerful, like seemingly everything from National Geographic, the visuals alone are worth the time watching it.
* Also in the space of innovation and natural beauty, take a look at this piece about ice stupas in remote parts of India as an approach to helping communities get water in the face of global warming. It’s from the BBC Innovators series, which is a set I’ll be exploring more!
* Not a new video, but First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy by Derek Sivers is worth another watch if you haven’t seen it recently. Buddy Morgan in Australia brought it back to my attention recently, and for those who haven’t seen it, you’ll quickly understand why it’s had almost five million views. What I didn’t know is that Sivers did a three-minute TED Talk where he provides the narration to the visuals himself, and the slightly different script is fun to follow, too.
* There are some cool videos that have been gathered with support from Kleenex, and this one, called The Rising Star, is about a young woman who found something special in her life after her mother took a wrong turn. Horses, hope, and humanity make up this less-than-one-minute piece.
* Dynamic elementary art teacher Tricia Fuglestad put together a video that describes the various projects her students do and why. It’s for a contest, and the result is seriously cool to watch. If you’re looking for tech-related project ideas for your art program, this is a great video to watch.
* This is the first of a three-part series in this newsletter. That is to say, there is a video to watch, a blog post to read, and a resource to try. This video captures the work of a collaboration between Google and CyArk, and is called “Preserving World Heritage with CyArk on #GoogleArts“. Watch, and then read the post described just below.
Worth the Read
* Long-time readers of this newsletter know that I’m a major fan of Google Arts & Culture, and am always interested in what they are adding to this repository of fascination. This blog post covers their work with a nonprofit called CyArk designed to showcase wonders of the world in danger of loss due to disasters, war, or even tourism. It’s a beautiful example of 3D technology bringing us to places we might never be able to visit physically.
* Leaders or those who want to understand leaders might want to read this post about a really effective head of school on the blog at the National Association of Independent Schools site. It’s written by the son of a school leader reflecting on what it meant to be the head of school’s son. There are some strong insights that come through this personal story for leaders of any school or group.
* When thinking of the modern library, many of us in the edtech world think about digital media centers, R&D for teaching and learning (see Ron Starker’s book Transforming Libraries for more), and the like. This CNN Style article, though, explores how art and design have become important for libraries as they become destinations for visitors as well as providing resources for locals. Make sure to look at the pictures, of course.
* Do you have a particular learning style? If so, does it make a difference in how you actually learn? This article from The Atlantic explores how one researcher worked with questions of this kind in trying to figure out whether ideas about visual, auditory, reading, and kinesthetic learning have any meaningful value.
* How might comics serve as a useful medium for teaching and sharing ideas? This article from the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, called, “Comics in Education: An Unflattering View,” moves in a different direction than the title suggests, largely as the result of riffing off the title of Nick Sousanis’ well-received 2014 doctoral dissertation written in comic form.
* Compass Prep is a company that helps students prepare for AP tests, which made me hesitate before reading this article about changes in scores after major revisions of exams. It presents solid data, and is interesting in its detail. Not covered, but interesting to me, is the idea that senior students taking AP classes lose interest in preparing for tests that won’t be recognized for credit by the colleges to which they’ve been admitted. If you know of any research on that, please share!
* Here’s a line that may speak to you: “Instead of asking myself ‘what will happen if it doesn’t work?’ I’ve started to reframe the question to ‘what can happen if it does work?'” It’s an EdSurge piece by AJ Bianco called Why Taking Risks in the Classroom Pays off for Students—and Teachers. I like the honesty Bianco gives readers about his aversion to change, and how that has played out in his career. Those of you looking for a shared reading for a PD day might give this one a look.
* Speaking of professional development, another piece from EdSurge caught my eye. This one, called How This UN Role-Playing Game Helps Teachers Solve Complex Challenges Together, is based on a model for communities strategizing for the future by using role-playing for exploring possibilities in creative ways. Participants might draw cards to be a student, parent, teacher, community member, or administrator. Perhaps thinking along those lines can generate healthy and productive brainstorming within the most difficult topics school communities face.
Worth the Try
* Here’s part three of the Google-CyArk resource that crosses several pieces of this newsletter. This page, Open Heritage, treats the viewer to almost three dozen “expeditions” and 3D models of culturally fascinating spots around the world. Be patient as the models load; the files seem fairly gi-normous. The item below is from the work done at Mesa Verde National Park in southern Colorado in the United States.
* The folks at Digital Promise have launched an international video project called MY World 360°, with the idea that students will “create 360° media as a way to share their perspectives and advance positive action toward the Sustainable Development Goals.” All you need to explore it is on or linked on the home page, and it’s possible that your students’ work will be showcased this September in New York as part of events at the United Nations General Assembly.
* Wildly cool educator Kristina Ishmael (@kmishmael) will be the guest on Edchat Interactive on May 9th at 8p Eastern, 5p Pacific to talk about open educational resources. Joining in is a good idea both because she’ll have great things to share, but also because the system Mitch, Tom, and Steve use to interview people is a pretty cool one. Learn more and register here.
* Pexels is a site for free stock photos (a little like Unsplash) that provides all sorts of beautiful images licensed under CC0 (learn more here). While the license doesn’t require citing your source, I recommend doing so simply to model something every student needs to learn. Big thanks to Alicia Vazquez in California for sharing this site!
Photo of Person Holding Clear Glass Ball by McKylan Mullins from Pexels (CC0)
* The folks at The Exploratorium have a site called Science Snacks, which houses all sorts of cool possibilities for science activities and the ideas that underpin them. The groups include Astronomy & Space Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Culture & Society, Data, Earth Science, Engineering & Technology, Environmental Science, Mathematics, Nature of Science, Perception, and Physics.
* Richard Knaggs in South Africa suggested that readers of this newsletter might want to know about the Khan Academy Breakthrough Challenge. “Explain a big scientific idea in fundamental physics, life sciences or mathematics with a short video.” Their idea of “short” is three minutes or less, and submissions must be in by July 1st.
* If you’d rather test your knowledge of cool and funky spots around the planet, check out this quiz from Google Earth and Atlas Obscura. The link actually takes you to the post in the Earth blog, which will give you several other links to interesting organizations and resources related to the ideas underlying the quiz.
* I’ve been a fan of Book Creator since the Chrome version came out in the last couple of years. There is also an iPad version which has been around for a long time. This tool for combining voice and camera recordings, images, and text into digital books is one teachers I’ve trained get excited about every time I show it. They’ve just released the “Read to me” tool in it, so you can have it read what’s typed in to anyone as often as they wish. You can also find plenty of Book Creator webinars on the company’s site if interested in learning more. Good stuff!
* Steve Wick (@wickededtech) in Illinois shared a site in an ISTE forum that collects short clips from movies and TV one can use as class or activity starters. Called ClassHook, it requires signing up with a connection to a school so that the company knows you are committing to using these clips appropriately. Steve also posts cool resources at his site, which you should peruse when you have the chance!
* Dotstorming is a simple idea-sharing tool providing online boards for posting text and images. Additionally, there is a built-in tool to allow folks to vote on options put forward on the board. The site was built by a Toronto Autodesk engineer named Gareth, who gets big props for putting this out there for all of us! More props to Richard Byrne, who brought the site to my attention.
* While discussing possibilities for cool end-of-term projects with librarian buddy Patrick, he mentioned the MIT Mystery Hunt, a university scavenger hunt experience that has become a rather fascinating study in contorted but compelling complexity. Click above and take a look at the puzzle items in the index. Makes for glorious and gamesome geekiness, it will.
* Finally, if you are someone who likes to explore font possibilities, check out Google Fonts. Several gajillion font families are available to use and even download for use in other applications.
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Towering above the city of Bogotá is Monserrate, a mountain with a church that includes plenty of spots for looking out over huge portions of this huge city. Bogotá is already a place of serious altitude, and taking the tram up to this beautiful spot brings you to right close to two miles above sea level. That is to say, that every flight of stairs in the city, and all the more so looking back over it, left me breathless.
Monserrate and Bogotá (May 2018)
by Rushton Hurley
(CC by 4.0)
See you next month!