October 2018 Newsletter
It’s October, and in many parts of the United States, the leaves are changing colors and those interested in politics are counting down to the election day coming in early November. Bored, we’re not!
Looking past the weather and the political climate, though, it may be that stuff that can inspire kids is your first order of business. If so, you’re in the right place with this, the Next Vista Newsletter for October 2018!
Service via Video 2018-2019
What better source for inspiration than the impressive work of those making a difference in the lives of others? We have a contest going that we hope your kids will try – making short video stories of such people and the work they do.
Here are two of my favorites from recent contests to share with your students:
Foster City Little League Challengers Division
Service via Video
Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano Counties
Service via Video
Creative Storm ’18
You and/or your kids can make short videos that help someone else learn something. In our 90-second educational contest, we challenge you and your students to take topics that students might find challenging and give them a creative spin that will help others.
Here are two examples of such videos:
You can find all the details on the rules and prizes at the contest site, or you might check out the winners from previous contests (there are over sixty of them) to get an idea for how people approached this challenge. And if you have questions, let us know!
Global Student Voice Film Festival II
This is a wonderful chance to have your students’ storytelling abilities bring them and your school some nice attention. The rules are similar to the contests above, as we work hard to help students develop digital citizenship awareness and skills as part of these efforts.
You might also take a look at all these exceptional entries from last year, when the theme was, “In Another’s Shoes.”
In the coming two weeks, I’ll be doing some serious flying, and would welcome seeing you at any of these events:
The EdTechTeam Staunton Summit will be in Staunton, Virginia, this weekend (the 6th and 7th). There are still spots!
Next week (11th-12th with workshops on the 10th), Indiana Connected Educators will hold its annual conference in Noblesville.
The week after that (14th-16th), the Iowa Technology and Education Fall Conference will be in Des Moines.
All of these gatherings are opportunities to pick up new ideas, enlarge your network of cool colleagues, and head back to school inspired – please join in!
Gandalf, the kind but powerful wizard character from Tolkien’s books, provides plenty of good thoughts, but this may be my favorite:
– All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
As a teacher, when given an opportunity to try something cool, do you take it? That may be the moment that a student is best positioned to learn from you and about his or her future.
Something to Sip
Each month, we ask for our readers to give us thoughts on a video, and then draw a name from among those who respond. That person is then sent a $5 ecard for something at Starbucks (or wherever the person chooses, as long as there’s a system for an online gift).
The winner from September is Jeff Simmons in Idaho – congratulations, Jeff!
This month, we ask that you tell us which among the four sample videos from the two contests at the beginning of the newsletter is your favorite and why. Perhaps you’ll be sipping some coffee, tea, or chocolate this time next month!
Perhaps a video above will inspire you to let students bring another level of creativity to their work. Perhaps a resource below will get you thinking about possibilities you haven’t considered before. Perhaps you’ll win the caffeine drawing!
Whatever you may get out of this newsletter, I thank you for giving it your time.
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.
* Picture a group of firefighters in your head. Are there any women in the group? REI Presents posted a video about women firefighters that takes on the question of what people can become, and what they can hope for those who follow. Thanks to the folks at the Rotary eClub of Silicon Valley for sharing this one!
* This video from Kleenex is called “A Time for Change,” and tells the story of three women from different generations spending time together in Selma, Alabama. There is something about the visuals in this one that I found particularly powerful, right down to the note the girl writes at the end.
* San Francisco’s KQED has a video series called “Beyond the Noise,” which is designed to delve more deeply into a topic in a way that helps students better understand the complexity that so many adults choose to ignore, if current TV news is any guide. This episode is about whether gaming can be considered an addiction, and looks at the positives and negatives of playing games such as Fortnite.
* Natasha Hurley-Walker is a professional astronomer in Australia who was inspired by the opening words of Star Trek to become what she is. In this TEDx talk, she explains synchrotron radiation and how it can help us see galaxies we hadn’t seen before. You might use this to help students get a sense of some amazingly cool physics, or you may decide this is a good opportunity to help your girls understand that science is a possibility for their futures, too.
* “What would the miniature home of a bored teenager look like?” This question is part of the story of a project a boy took on because he decided it would be interesting to build a house. Needless to say, he learned tons as part of the process, including how to garden, connecting with a neighbor who could help him with the electrical work, and much more.
* “This isn’t something spectacular. It happens all the time. It just so happens that this time, somebody caught it on film.” That’s a quote from the officer who was recorded helping a homeless man who had no mirror shave so he could get a job. What kindnesses happen at your school each day that almost no one hears about?
* Andreas Schleicher is the Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills at OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), and introduces three ideas for building a better school system in this 100-second video. If this intrigues you, take a look at the book World Class from OECD, which you can read online via this page.
* Brent Coley (@brentcoley) is an elementary school principal in southern California who has a podcast called Teaching Tales. In this episode he talks with Toby Price, a principal in Mississippi. Price talks about the why of what we do as educators, about his two autistic children, and more. Great podcast, Brent!
* As a teacher, have you ever visited a student’s family at their home? In this episode of KQED’s MindShift podcast, the perspectives of a student, the student’s family, and the teacher are explored as part of a story on the possibilities and challenges that come from home visits. Listen and learn about this program at a high school in California.
* Jason Patera, the head of school at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, contributed a post to the site of the National Association of Independent Schools called, “The Show Must Go On: Reflecting on the Difficult Decisions Heads Have to Make.” It’s a beautiful piece about a decision to stage a school play about a school shooting, and also a strong example of what it means to lead well. This quote toward the end moved me: “The arts have the power to inspire, to unify, to broaden perspective, to give voice, to mobilize, and—just maybe—to help us heal.”
* Many people know of Rick Steves, the travel guy. I didn’t know he had far more philosophical thoughts to share, but my lack of exposure to his ideas was corrected with “Travel as a Force for Peace,” a post on Rotary’s website. The ideas in the article build and get stronger and stronger the farther one gets into it. It’s a nice point of departure for talking about travel, politics, and humanity.
* Robert Dillon (@drrobertdillon) is an expert on using space well in school settings. In this post he summarizes a number of ideas that are worth keeping in mind as one looks at possible redesigns of classrooms.
* Sometimes, reading about a person who works to improve the lives of others is what one needs to resolve to make a difference. This story from Rotary.org about Tyrone ‘Doc’ Bledsoe, who started the Student African American Brotherhood (@saabhq), is the kind of story that can help students see the commitment one can make to a meaningful life of helping others.
* Need a quick audio recording? Voice Recorder, from 123Apps, allows you (without any account) to record yourself and save what you record as an MP3. I couldn’t find anything on the site (probably looking right past it) that tells how long a recording you can make. It does, though, allow you to trim the ends before saving, which is pretty cool. Thanks to Tamara Stephens for sharing this one!
* Speaking of audio, you may want to add audio to one or more of the slides in a Google Slides presentation you make. Is that possible? Yep! EdTechTeam created an audio add-on you can use to make an audio file in Drive play when a slide starts, or across slides, or looped on a single slide. Pretty cool!
* Also in the realm of digital media projects, WeVideo has released an educator’s guide to using their browser-based video/creative coolness tool, including loads of project ideas, tips, “WeVideo hacks,” and info about communities they support. Great tool for brainstorming learning activities, this. You might also check out the WeVideo educator community on Facebook.
* The folks at the Indiana University Center on Representative Government created a game called Engaging Congress, allowing students to get a sense of how democracy works in the U.S. You’ll find sections on laws, voting, and checks and balances, with intriguing titles like “Fair Is Not Always Equal.” There’s an online version of the game, and also free apps in the Google Play and Apple App stores.
* For students with hearing challenges and/or who are learning sign language, take a look at Signed Stories. This free app for the iPad or iPhone/iPod comes with a free book, which you can see in American or British Sign Language. The content appears to be more focused on younger children, with an emphasis on fairy tales and nursery rhymes. The promo video on the site linked above shows what the stories look like, as well as showing a variety of people doing the signing.
* One of my favorite tools for Chromebooks from the last couple of years is the Chrome version of Book Creator, a system for making digital books. In the last few months, the Book Creator team has added a number of features for embedding YouTube videos, Google Maps, Drive files, Soundtrap audio, PDFs, and much more. Flip through their team’s Ultimate Guide to Embedding Content in Book Creator to learn both how to do these embeds, and also a bit about many of the hottest tools in edtech today.
* Instagram has a site focused on parents, helping them get to know the app and with ideas about communicating with their children about it. I was particularly impressed with the section on questions one might ask of one’s children (“What are some things you think about before you post something on Instagram?” is one of many strong ones). This could also be a good guide for material for a class discussion of social media tools. Thanks to Richard Byrne (freetech4teachers) for sharing this.
* My colleague Sandy works with 9th graders on their writing. Her particular group has processing issues, and Sandy has found that teaching them the parts of speech is all the easier with some cheesy games. Grammar Bytes! at chompchomp.com is a nice site for finding the silly with plenty of underlying helpful material for a student trying to get up to speed with writing terms.
* The Google Science Fair is accepting submissions through Dec. 12th. Even if your students don’t do a submission, the ideas on the website for the fair could be a great launching pad for an idea that becomes a future submission next year or the next.
* Trevor Beck is one of those prolific and wildly helpful people who puts stuff online for others. Here’s a set of four videos in a playlist he calls, “Spreadsheet skills everyone should know.” In it, you can learn about filter views, auto-updating dropdown menus, the query function, and more. Great stuff, Trevor!
* Finally, here’s a tool for measuring the noise level in your room. Bouncy Balls lets you connect quiet with calm, colorful spheres, or noise with seriously bouncy ones. I’m not saying quiet equates to a great learning environment, but on those occasions when you need it, here’s a way to measure it. Another thanks to Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) for sharing this tool.
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I had the chance to go to Greece this summer for the first time. One of the cool surprises was the harbor of Piraeus, which has been an important port for the city of Athens for just about forever.
See you next month!