November 2019 Newsletter
Hello, edu-folk! Welcome to National Novel Writing Month. This is a real thing, also called NaNoWriMo, and if you’ve been meaning to write a novel, you can join others who are making things happen at their keyboard.
In an effort not to create a novel out this newsletter, let’s get right to one of the main characters of this story:
Service via Video!
We’re launching Service via Video for the 2019-2020 school year. And there was great rejoicing! Your students can create up-to-two-minute videos telling the stories of those who do good for others, and even win eligible charities a donation.
We’ll share below the winner of the first Service via Video contest, back in 2012. The rules were slightly different then, but you can see what the experience meant to both the students and the seniors featured in the piece.
Visiting the Atria Senior Living Center
students at St Leo the Great School
San Jose, California, USA
Feel free to use the page with all our winners from Service via Video as a writing prompt for your students. Hopefully, they’ll even take an interest in submitting a story themselves!
Creative Bridge ’19
While December has the final deadline, the early bonus deadline for Creative Bridge ’19, our current creative edu-video contest, is this month, on November 15th. Videos entered by this date will definitely get feedback to allow the students to improve their submissions, or fix problems that otherwise would have kept them from being considered in the contest.
In addition to the student strand of the contest, there is a teacher strand and a collaboration strand, as well. These two strands get fewer submissions, so if you’re looking to get some good PR for your school, give this a shot. Your chances are great!
In October I visited two truly inspirational places on a single day, and put together blog posts about each one. You can learn about Stanford’s hospital school, or about the amazingly creative Playground Global via my posts.
If you know a place that could be inspirational to thousands of teachers, please let us know about it with a quick note! Doing so could enter you a second time in our annual caffeine card drawing.
image provided by Kathy Ho, used with permission
Each month we draw a name (an email address, more precisely) from the hat and send that person a $5 Starbucks card (or a $5 card for another place that offers electronic gift cards from their secure website).
In October, our winner was – wait for it – Laura Bartel! A big congratulations to her, and to those who entered but didn’t win, keep trying. The chances are good your name will come up sooner or later.
This month, we’ll draw from among those who watch any one of the Service via Video winners on this page, and then let us know which one and what you thought of it.
image credit: white ceramic mug and saucer with coffee beans on brown textile by Mike Kenneally from Unsplash (license)
Friends in China, I’ll be heading your way this month and next and would welcome connecting at either the Future of Education Now conference in Beijing in November, or the Advances in STEM Education conference in Hong Kong in December.
I’ll also be in Miami in January for the annual FETC shindig, which is a wonderful whirlwind of cool ideas and possibilities every year. There will be many teachers and school leaders from around the world attending, but particularly strong representation from the U.S. north and Canada. Could that have anything to do with the conference being in Florida in January? Hmm…
November is National Gratitude Month in the United States. Given that Thanksgiving is one of the most important holidays in the country, that’s no big surprise probably.
If you haven’t done so, though, let your classes know you’re thankful to be their teacher. That kind of message can make them thankful for the same thing.
As with every month, I finish the before-the-freebies section with this thought: 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 nice animated one I watched with Ms Gott’s students in Idaho a few weeks ago. Pip is a not-very-big dog looking to enter Canine University, though there are some challenges from the start. It’s a nice reminder that most of us need to learn from (and overcome) our mistakes to get to where we want to go. (4:05)
What makes an accessible playground something that really works for kids with special needs? In this PBS story about the Magical Bridge Playground in Palo Alto, California, you’ll see not just the structural pieces that make it a fun place for everyone, but also how one parent’s willingness to put in the effort maked a difference for the community. (7:17)
This TED talk about drones is called Meet the dazzling flying machines of the future. The speaker, Raffaello D’Andrea, is part of a lab in Zurich, and takes time in the talk to demo a number of cool drones built with AI systems, including a swarm of small ones that seem to be a dance of fireflies. Interesting? Well, the audience gave him a standing ovation. (11:35)
This simple piece from Lori Gracey as part of her TCEA Motivational Monday mailing is called Baby Bear, and is footage of a mother and baby bear making their way up a slippery slope. Plenty of ideas for those working to break themselves from the habit of helping too much. (2:59)
Katerra is a construction company working to make building construction much more efficient, and put out a promotional piece called Reimagining the Construction Site. For those of you working to help students learn how people approach and pitch innovation, this is a nice resource. (3:29)
You may have heard of Boyan Slat, a young Dutch guy who as a teenager decided he wanted to do something to clean up the plastic in the oceans. Last December I shared a video about what has been built from that interest, and this month, I add a CNN report on his progress. I particularly like that it shows how people learn from mistakes and don’t give up in the face of criticism. (3:01, 3:04)
This news report from CBS Boston is about a 3D crosswalk idea developed by a student in Medford, Massachusetts, that helps get cars to slow down around the school. The idea has been adopted by other communities, too! This is another find from Lori Gracey at TCEA – thanks! (1:50)
This post is a thoughtful, passionate argument for what is missing (and immediately important) in the common focus on STEM. Rather aggressively titled, Forget STEM, We Need MESH, this piece by Tim Wise in Medium affirms the importance of STEM while arguing for more focus on media literacy, ethics, sociology, and history.
Imagine being born into a culture that has no written language, but deciding it was time to develop one. What would you do? What challenges would you encounter? This piece from Microsoft Story Labs is about ADLaM, now the language of the Fulfulde people, and one that was invented in the 80s by two brothers when they were children.
The university newspaper The Stanford Daily has a cool if long-titled article about crowdsourcing science called By playing video games, people are helping Stanford faculty make discoveries in biology. One strength of the piece is the value of seeing those who are not “experts” in a given field as people who can contribute insights effectively if given avenues for doing so. A little humility can go a long way.
This blog post from Michael Linsin might better have been titled, What to Do When Students Complain in Class, but regardless of the title, it’s good advice to use as part of building a productive focus on excellence.
Another nice post from Linsin is this one called How To Handle A Student Who Rejects Your Kindness. It points to something we all experience, and how not simply to be a better teacher for that student, but also how to be a better person for yourself.
While reviewing a draft of Reality Bytes, a book about AR and VR by Christine Lion-Bailey, Jesse Lubinsky, and Micah Shippee (cool stuff!), I ran across a reference to a post that summarizes the “soft skills” students need to be successful. It’s by Bernard Marr in Forbes, and might help you think about how you design learning activities.
Know what you’re getting into before clicking this next link. It’s a long piece that speaks to an obscure obsession (typewriters), written by a guy with some skills in the writing department (“made of pure unobtanium”). It’s called The Handwriting, Drawing Typewriter: Brother Type-O-Graph BP-30, with User Manual! – that says plenty. The name of the writer, according to the writer, is The Right Reverend Theodore Munk, who is an expert on old typewriters. A different kind of piece, this is. Thanks to my friend Pat Vallez-Kelly for finding this one.
At a time when so many around the world, and especially here in the United States, need some extra instruction on what constitutes a logical connection, there is this resource, which the author calls Spurious Correlations, and which I would call inspired. Here’s an example:
While we certainly want you paying attention to our video contests, there are plenty of others out there, and this site has a bunch worth exploring. Let me know if you enter one of them!
Weerapong Chaipuck is a photographer based in Thailand whose work with light and settings is so stunning it’s worth putting in front of students to prompt discussions. That is, if your school’s network filter doesn’t block 500px!
Jesse Lubinsky of the Partial Credit podcast has slides on using Google’s geography tools across the curriculum you can explore. Called OMGeo! Google Geo Tools for Every Classroom, it includes overviews of the many different tools available to educators, along with plenty of ideas for learning activities. Below is one of the slides, this one on exploring the geography of Mars. Nice work, Jesse!
Aaron Brill in San Francisco recommended Classroom Screen, a multi-purpose teacher tool for picking names, checking the sound level in the room, running a timer, and more. I quite like that there are so many beautiful pictures to choose for the background!
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In honor of my upcoming trip to Beijing, I went looking for an interesting Beijing pic I can legally use, and came across this cool one from Unsplash.
See you next month!