September 2018 Newsletter
Two contest launches – two! They’re gems, too. Read about them below, and then go on to get a few ideas, catch some inspirational videos and articles, and try a few tools and resources that we’ve put together so you don’t have to take the time to do so.
“Thank you,” you say.
“Happy to help,” we reply.
Global Student Voice Film Festival II
For several months in the Next Vista Newsletter, we’ve been highlighting some of the exceptional videos submitted as part of the first Global Student Voice Film Festival. We hope you’ve been sharing these inspiring stories with others. Here’s an interesting one from that contest that is quite challenging regarding homework and future possibilities, and could spark some interesting discussion with high schoolers:
This month, we are happy to share the theme for the second year of the film festival: “Activating Change“
Find all the details on the film festival pages of the website of the Student Voice Foundation. The final deadline is Monday, February 18, 2019, but those who submit their videos by Monday, December 17, 2018, will get word on whether their submissions met our rules for sources and citations and will be able to fix and resubmit them by the final deadline. Additionally, we will work to have early entrants receive technical feedback from participating video production programs.
Note from the videos that did best last year that almost all were videos that took an interesting angle on the theme of “In Another’s Shoes.” That is to say, taking time to discuss creative approaches might well be a good investment for those looking to reach the top tier (and be invited to ISTE 2019 in Philadelphia).
Service via Video 2018-2019
One of the projects we at Next Vista are most proud of is Service via Video, our annual effort to inspire students to tell the stories of those who make life better for others. Could this be the project you do that your students will never forget?
These videos can be about individuals who do good for someone else, a club service activity, or a community charity working hard to make a difference. If about a charity, a video that reaches finalist status could earn that organization a $200 donation (see our rules, particularly those regarding sources and citations, for details).
We hope you’ll help your students understand that their ability to craft and tell a compelling story can help make an impact where it is needed. Let us know you’re interested, and we’re happy to help you put it in motion with your students!
Each year about this time, a major online gathering of teachers happens with Global Collaboration Week and all the cool sessions that get shared. This is a great chance to connect your classroom with others around the world, or just get a good idea or two from any of the great presenters who participate. Register here to receive the schedule and more details. Act quickly – it’s coming up the week of September 17th!
Those in Southeast Asia who will attend the EdTechTeam Singapore Summit, I look forward to seeing you there! The gathering is on September 15th and 16th, and hosted by the Singapore American School, where I spent several years in the early 1970s. I was much shorter then.
Each month, we invite our readers to watch one or more of our videos and let us know what they think. In return, we place their names in a hat (or the random.org equivalent). Toward the end of the month, we draw a winner and then let that lucky soul know that the prize is an electronic $5 Starbucks card. With that, one can get a coffee, a tea, a hot chocolate, or whatever else the seemingly ubiquitous chain offers. The winner can also point us to a different vendor, as long as the vendor has an online gift card system we can use and it doesn’t run afoul of our 501(c)(3) rules.
For August, we celebrated Brandon O’Neill in Guatemala as our winner! Will it be you this month?
To enter for September, watch this video made by some students in Holland, Michigan. Let us know what you think, and your name goes in the virtual hat. Perhaps your students can make a video telling about their community – we’d be happy to highlight it!
We ran across a nice one for this month:
If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.
– attributed to Ignacio “Nacho” Estrada
Cool thought, but we couldn’t find anything definitive telling who Nacho Estrada is and that this is his quote. Is it the famous ventriloquist? Someone else? If you know, please tell us!
I am taking a shot at doing much more work with my blog this semester. It’s a challenge I’ve given myself, and hopefully (a) I’ll share plenty, and (b) what I post will be useful to those that read them.
What are you challenging yourself to do in the coming months? We can all improve what we do, and, as educators, that improvement may make the difference for a child who needs it.
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.
* There’s something off-the-charts cool about a 12-year-old girl describing herself with the sentence, “I’m a scientist.” This video about young Gitanjali Rao from the Great Big Story tells about Rao’s work to create a better tool for detecting lead in water. She was motivated by stories coming from Flint, Michigan, several years ago on contamination and inadequate treatment in its water system.
* Continuing the theme of kids who make cool things happen, here’s a story about a teen who began teaching himself about machine learning using YouTube videos. He ended up creating an open-source system to help doctors detect breast cancer earlier. The video includes some great lines about who and what students can be, given the chance to learn.
* The organization is called Dirt is Good, and you might quickly guess that its focus is to encourage kids to play outside more. Their video, Free the Kids, powerfully hammers the point about what time outside means by interviewing inmates at a prison, who treasure their two hours outdoors each day. Thanks to Lynn Barnes-Wallace for sharing this one.
* Examples of innovation abound, though we usually notice after they’ve become huge (Amazon, Uber, Netflix, etc.). Here’s a story about edible spoons, forks, and knives that you can learn about now in order to watch it take over the world in the coming years. I hope that will be how it works, anyway! Thanks to National Geographic for giving us this video.
* This GE commercial is about a girl who invents stuff. It’s a cool message, and I’d love to know that it’s a true story, though that isn’t clear to me. The video is called “Meet Molly, the Kid Who Never Stops Inventing,” and seems to be part of a series of stories from GE. Thanks to Trevor MacKenzie (@trev_mackenzie) for sharing this video.
* Here’s a nice mix of geography, philosophy, and art. It’s a National Geographic Short Film Showcase piece about a diver in The Philippines and how she thinks about what she does. There are some clever camera angles, and both the photography and the story can be strong prompts for discussion for all ages.
* This video by an Australian media group is called Japan’s Independent Kids, and describes the effort Japanese parents go to in order to help their children learn to go places on their own, run errands independently, and the like. It’s a real contrast to how Australians (and Americans) often think about their children, and includes an interesting moment interviewing an Aussie young person about the difference.
* The geology department at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, is using drone technology to study fault systems and the segments between faults. This video about the effort is interesting both for the science it discusses, and also for the promotion it represents of the program and the university. How do you tell the stories of success to your community about the outstanding programs at your school?
* If you are like me, you’ll be laughing your posterior off not far into this video. It’s a group playing Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra” (also the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey). Why is this funny? Because the group is artistically bad; admittedly, it’s by design. The group’s requirement was that to be part, you had to choose an instrument you didn’t already know how to play. (You might also give the Blue Danube Waltz a listen. Oy.) A hearty thanks to Mark Dohn for sharing this one with me.
* I wrote a blog post on how difficult moments can be opportunities, and Luke Allen (TechLuke) shared this thought: “A key part of the responses is to never make it about the person but rather about the idea, incident or behavior. People are less likely to be as argumentative if they don’t feel they are being attacked as a person.” Great stuff, Luke!
* Educators Largely Uncomfortable with Newer Tech-Based Teaching Practices is the title of a T.H.E. Journal summary of the recently-released report from Project Tomorrow covering PD and tech-enhanced teaching and learning. The study (a link in the summary takes you to the report) included “responses from more than 10,000 schools in more than 3,300 districts,” and raises some good questions about the quality of PD offerings for teachers, as well as pointers on where PD might concentrate using technology. Thanks to Steve McGriff (@stevemcgriff) for sharing this one.
* On a different spot in the comfortable-with-technology spectrum, there’s the recent announcement by the Japanese trade minister that Japan is working with a number of companies on a project related to flying cars. The two-paragraph post in Engadget could be a great discussion prompt for students. Thanks to Ferheen Abbasi (LinkedIn profile) for the share.
* Have you ever become frustrated helping your child with homework? This article for parents from the National Association of Independent Schools, called When “Helping” with Homework Isn’t Helping, is a nice reminder of the interpersonal challenges that can interfere with learning.
* A nice pointer from EdSurge took me to this article from Science News about using Google Glass to help train kids on the autism spectrum to better read facial expressions. This seems a good reminder to me that as we look at different tools, it’s important that we get creative time for brainstorming with colleagues to guess at what other uses we might put the tools to.
* The GQ article, “The Great Chinese Art Heist,” is not short, but it’s an intriguing mix of mystery and history. If a museum displays something looted during a military campaign a century and a half ago, is that simply art appreciation, or is the museum brazenly insulting the country from which the piece was taken? This could be a point of departure for a student’s semester or capstone project in any number of fields.
* Holly Clark of EdTechTeam wrote a post with ideas for getting into gear with the new school year. These are good ideas for being your best personally and professionally, and you can find 10 Life Hacks for a New School Year on her blog.
* “The first decade of augmented reality” is the title of this post from Ben Evans (@BenedictEvans). He takes us back to the discussions ahead of smartphones, and guides us to thinking about the similar moments and points for AR. Interestingly, this is a post from April of 2017, so a little like he tracks what happened with smartphones, we can track what has happened with AR. Those interested in efforts to glimpse the future, this is a good read for you.
* This short piece by Stephen Mosley (@scullymulder01) posted to Medium is a set of ideas on using Google Drawings as a tool for gathering ideas, creating timelines, building newspapers around topics students are exploring, and more.
* Getting students to think at deeper levels often involves finding something that intrigues them. This page of winners of a worldwide service club photography contest not only provides some amazing images, but also the cool advice of the judge, who helps us understand something new about taking a good picture.
* Mike Kaufman (@MrMikeKauf) posted a micro-credential bootcamp for MacBooks designed to help 7th graders get to know the devices they will be using at school. It includes badges, challenges, and videos, and he’s made it available to everyone here. The link above is to his explanation of how to put such a bootcamp together, and here is the page the students see for the MacBook program. Mike even provided a Drive folder with loads of resources for those using the Bootcamp – thanks, Mike!
* Many of you have heard of hyperdocs, the tool made famous by Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis. The idea is to build a lesson that is student-centered in the sense that the path to figuring things out is one that intrigues them. Here’s an example focused on haiku poetry, and nice both as a tool for talking about haiku and also as a way of getting a better sense of hyperdocs. I’d tell you who made it, but I couldn’t find that info on the doc – let me know if you do!
* Google bought a company that created an add-on system to Google tools for showing how to use them. Buddy Gary Meegan showed me that this training and walkthrough system is now something you can add via the Chrome web store. Good stuff!
* Those using Google Classroom have seen some significant changes over the last couple of months. John Sowash has some strong overviews of the changes and help videos, and Alice Keeler released a playlist of 32 how-to videos for the updated version of Classroom. Kudos to John and Alice for all the helpful content!
* Those teaching in schools which have adopted Chromebooks may find that parents don’t have a clear idea of what these devices are and how they differ from traditional laptops. Google has put out a two-page PDF explaining what Chromebooks are, and this might be a good tool for your school or as a template for something you want to convey to your families.
* Finally, Richard Byrne has released his annual Practical Ed Tech Handbook highlighting many of the best tools and resources being used by teachers around the world. Thanks, Richard, for making this viewable doc available to everyone!
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In July, my wife and I visited Turkey to spend time with Irmak and her family. Irmak was our exchange student daughter for seven months in 2003, and we consider her, her parents, her husband, and her new daughter (our first “grandchild”!) to be family.
While there, we took in an old library. Really old. This is the remnant of the Celsus Library in Ephesus. It’s an amazing place amidst many breathtaking reminders of a distant past.
See you next month!