May 2019 Newsletter
With this Friday (May 3rd) as the deadline for our Creative Wave ’19 contest, we’re hoping you’re gearing up with some great videos to share with us, and that your students are, too! We’ll have the finalists chosen soon, but right now you can learn about a totally new contest we hope you’ll help us with. Read on for details!
College Quick Tips
Neelam, one of our super video creators and a college student, had an idea for getting college advice for high schoolers and sharing them on our site. We thought that was pretty smart, and the result is College Advice ’19, a brand-new summer contest!
We’re inviting college students to share tips for getting into college and doing well once there. If you are in touch with former students who might have good advice to share, we hope you’ll share this info with them. Our hope is to end up with plenty of tips to help high schoolers as they look at what awaits after graduation.
Please give it a look and let us know what you think! (Do that and the video request in the Sweet Sips session, and we’ll put your name in the hat twice. Wow!)
Each year we ask students to create videos telling the stories of people and groups in their community who make life better for others. Our 2019 Service via Video contest has finalists we’re now happy to share, and in next month’s newsletter, we’ll let you know which one wins!
Charlotte Rollin’ Hornets
Huntersville, North Carolina, USA
Ada Jenkins (2019)
Huntersville, North Carolina, USA
School Campus Safety Officers
Denver, Colorado, USA
You may decide you want your students trying something like this as a fall project before the spring contest kicks in, and if so, let us know – we’re happy to help!
Each month we give away a Starbucks caffeine card, and the winner of the April drawing was Laura Bartel – congratulations!
This month you could win by letting us know what you think of one or more of the three Service via Video finalists, above. While you’re at it, please think about getting your students involved in next year’s contest – we can help with ideas if you need them.
This NAIS video about the Washington School for Girls may seem more of a candidate for the Worth Watching section in our freebies fest, below, but there is a line in the video that stood out to me: “one of the ways we’ve reimagined what an independent school could be is by taking away the thought that there is a tuition associated with attending an independent school.” As it turns out, every child at that school is on scholarship.
What are the thoughts that need a new look at your school? Even if you don’t make a wholesale change, I believe a team that is willing to ask questions like these strengthens the professional environment for the adults and the educational experiences of the students.
A little critical thinking can go a long way.
Every school can get better at something, but exploring that in a way that results in both trying something new and tweaking as needed to make it successful can be hard. Here’s a thought from one of the greatest thinkers ever to help those trying to make something great happen:
We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
– Albert Einstein
May can be a difficult time for capturing a teacher’s attention. In my community, there are a variety of tests placing stresses on teachers and their students, and I know this is common in many places around the globe.
Our hope is that a moment taken to consider a cool idea, watch a compelling story, or try a new resource can be that which re-energizes you for the rest of the day. Please let us know what you think of this newsletter, and we’ll keep trying to make it something useful for you!
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.
* Here’s a Great Big Story video about a guy who decided every child on the African continent should have a science lab that can be pulled out of a bag and put on a desk. It’s called How Small Science Is Creating Big Possibilities in Africa, and the optimism for how creative and innovative children can be, given the chance, is a beautiful piece of this story. (3:04)
* The 2019 U.S. Teacher of the Year is Rodney Robinson, a man who teaches at a juvenile detention center in Virginia. In this clip from CBS News, he talks about equity in teaching, and how with students, “some need more, some need less.” I did some searching on the CBS site for the longer interview, but couldn’t find it – if anyone can, please let me know! (1:25)
* In the Worth Reading section below, I include a piece from Bloomberg about the future of work. Major societal shifts happen in many ways, though, and this video (also from Bloomberg) is about the rather stunning number of homes in Japan that are now empty. For years, I’ve heard about Japan’s declining birth rate, but the logical result in terms of homes wasn’t something I’d considered. Serious food for thought, this. (1:04)
* This short clip is really a commercial for a product called Augmented Reality Flashcards. What interests me about it is the discussion that could ensue about whether this is educationally meaningful, if so how, and if not what would need to change for it to be so. I tried including a link to the company that makes them, but it wasn’t working when I wrote this up. (0:59)
* As a nice reminder that kids’ scientific talents can be of immediate value, there is this video about Liza Goldberg and the work she is doing as a NASA intern to combat climate change through the study of mangrove forests. It’s also a promotional piece for Google Earth, but certainly worth the ad for the story of how a whole lot of dedication can set one up for a fateful moment. (7:11)
* As you see from the first entry, I regularly share cool pieces from Great Big Story, and this one, called The Artist Enshrining a Town’s People in Murals, is an exploration of community, diversity, optimism, and rejuvenation. Getting students’ impressions of this story will likely give you insights on their lives and interests, as well. (3:34)
* Anyone who has taken a look at my Instagram collection of Snapseed-edited pics knows I love travel, and also that I could stand a little education on the finer points of using a camera. It’s good fun to find someone who pushes one’s understanding of photographic possibilities, and I recently ran across Danny Gevirtz’ video, “5 Tips for Cinematic Drone Footage.” It’s a fun piece with some great advice, though I’ll admit there were plenty of points where I thought, “I’ll need to learn about that thingy he just mentioned.” Find his Instagram account at @dannygevirtz.
* This is a deeply thoughtful article on race written by an NBA player, Kyle Korver. Called “Privileged,” Korver explores the subtle pieces of racial interaction in his profession, and draws from them suggestions for anyone wanting a serious discussion that can get us past simplicities in an incredibly important (and very current) topic.
* This well-written story from the Los Angeles Times is a feel-good piece about a young man with plenty of challenges, but lots of drive. Timely, in that it’s about getting into college, too. It’s a reminder that hard work can pay off, and I thank Francine Hardaway for mentioning this post in her excellent newsletter.
* The Mappa Mundi is called in this piece the world’s oldest medieval map, and this BBC gallery with notations is a wonderful chance to explore some very interesting history. You can extend from the article/gallery by going to the official site of the map, which is built more as a game of exploration than an informational flyer.
* What if you could be injected with something that would allow you to have infrared vision? Would you? If so, under what circumstances? The linked article from The Atlantic explores the work of Tian Xue and his lab at the University of Science and Technology of China, where they were able to do exactly this with mice. How they knew they’d succeeded was part of what made this such a cool read.
* Schools looking to up their game for sharing their stories with the community might want to study this blog post from TechSoup called The Top 10 Nonprofit Instagram Accounts: What to Learn from Them. Many of the most successful elective programs I’ve seen in middle and high schools do well because someone helps them tell the stories of the kids’ experiences, and that should be a requirement for anyone becoming a teacher in our tech-infused world.
* I like reading about people who figure out how to do things better, and Joe Phillips of the Kansas City Public Schools found a strong candidate for his technology department by looking past the usual stuff. See this short post from Joe on LinkedIn for the story.
* Educators who are not paying attention to global trends related to jobs, should be. Our students will enter the workforce with a vastly different set of options and challenges than we probably faced, but most studies I’ve seen suggest that the ability to ask good questions, collaborate well, and think creatively will give students with those skills significant advantages. Here’s a piece from Bloomberg (the article contains a summary video, as well) about the future of work, and might prove a good prompt for discussion in your next staff or team meeting.
* This may seem an odd addition to this newsletter, but the post “Six Types Of Boyfriends To Avoid Like the Plague” is actually pretty strong material for teachers who want to be prepared for relationship advice for their students (or colleagues). Too many students don’t encounter such advice, and if having it here helps one kid avoid a bad relationship, then it’s a good addition.
* The Open Heritage Project allows one to explore World Heritage spots around the globe. At the landing page, you can choose spots from a map, get some info, and then click on the Google Arts & Culture link to see some great images. For some, one can even explore in 3D! Learn more about the project from this post on the Google blog. The picture below is from the Lukang Longshan Temple in Taiwan is one of many great images you’ll find.
* Participate Learning recently sent out a message offering a free download of an infographic of a global citizen. The image includes some good discussion points about what students do and how they think of themselves. It’s also not a bad tool for those revisiting their school’s learning outcomes. Note that you are giving info to Participate in exchange for the image, though I’d add that my experience with them has been quite positive, and I have no qualms about their knowing a bit more about me.
* Speaking of the globe, the middle of this post from the Google Blog about Timelapse has an intriguing series of animations built from satellite photos and showing changes in landscape due to urban sprawl or mining or environmental problems. You’ll find images progressing from 1984 to 2018 in Brazil, Nevada, California, Australia, and Wyoming. Great visuals for learning!
* If you have a health unit coming up and want to have students look at comparative rates of obesity in the U.S. and Europe, this article on BigThink has two maps and a chart that will prove useful.
* A number of edtech companies have programs in which they certify participating teachers for their knowledge of cool pedagogy, technical know-how with their products/services, or both. While some of these can be little more than nonpaid sales help for the company, others are strong communities filled with people sharing great ideas. Nate Gildart put together a list of such groups, and if you are a fan of any of the companies, you might follow the links he provides to learn how to get more involved.
* The Audacious Project is an effort to foster and support creative ideas for some of the biggest problems we face. The 2019 ideas were unveiled in April, and you can find some great discussion and inspiration with your students by looking at the eight projects (massively reduce disease, protect the oceans while removing crippling debt, eliminate racial bias in policing, etc.) in this year’s group.
* At almost any grade level, lessons on the environment, geography, and national identity are enhanced using the immersive maps tools you find in Google Earth (or anything like it). The recent release of the US National Parks in Google Earth resource takes this up a notch again, allowing students to work with 360° images of many of the most beautiful American parks.
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Back in February, I shared a post from Wikimedia about their annual photo contest. All the finalists are gems, and like the one from Bangladesh, the one below made it into my folder for desktop images. I can’t read the title, but I love the work.
See you next month!