September 2019 Newsletter
Hello, September! Ten years ago this month, we moved our newsletter mailing to Vertical Response from what had been a cumbersome process of sending the newsletter in groups of a hundred every hour through a day. I can still smile knowing that such pain is in my past!
You may be thinking that, perhaps having seen so many videos we’ve celebrated, it would be cool to do a video project with your students, too. If so, please take a look at the list of ideas that begins last month’s newsletter.
To launch the next decade of organized mailing, we’ll start with a throwback or two. Enjoy!
One of the videos highlighted in the mailing sent in September, 2009, was the one below on helping kids with disabilities learn to ride horses.
Therapeutic Riding Volunteer
by Kristy Graziano of Long Island University’s Educational Technology Masters Program (learn more about LIU’s graduate programs)
submitted as part of the Next Vista Seeing Service collection
We still believe just as strongly that helping students learn to tell the stories of those who make life better for others is time well spent.
If you would like to help students fine-tune their writing for a larger audience, gather and work with feedback meaningfully, and even earn a donation to a good cause, you might want to contact us about this school year’s Service via Video contest. There is also plenty of good info in this doc we created for those interested. If anything raises questions for you, feel free to reach out to us. We’re happy to help!
Going back five years, we highlighted the finalists from Creative Strength, one of our edu-video contests. Among them was this gem for teaching about one of the body’s systems:
The Digestive System
by Dara Brady of Lakeside Elementary
submitted as part of the 2014 Creative Strength Video Contest
And speaking of contests…
This Semester’s Contest
It’s that time again to start thinking of ways to pull some serious creativity out of your students as they make fun and helpful explanatory videos for our newest edu-video contests, Creative Bridge ’19!
The rules haven’t changed. In 90 seconds or less, creatively explain something one might encounter in a cool video. There are more rules and models covering media sources and citations, etc., and you can use them to make the contest part of your digital citizenship lessons. If you need some brainstorming on that front, send us a note and we’ll be happy to spend a few minutes in a video call offering ideas.
Last month I made a pitch to encourage you to consider picking up the book on the left. Unlike the other content in this newsletter, it’s not free. However, the proceeds all go to DonorsChoose projects, so feel free to help out!
The book is called Fueled by Coffee & Love, and it’s a collection of real stories by real teachers. The Kindle version is only $3.99 (at the time I ordered my paperback), and it’s full of stories to remind you why we do what we do.
I wrote one of the chapters, called “Being Worthy,” and it’s about my time working with amazing teachers in The Philippines. This May I went back to that country to work with another group, and some of the teachers from the original group (2013) worked as assistants this time around. What a blessing to know them, learn from them, explore new things with them, and be inspired by them. I hope you like the story!
And speaking of coffee…
The August winners of our monthly caffeine card drawing are (drumroll…) Tara Klotz, Konni indenBosch, and Brandon O’Neill – congratulations! Those of you who entered but didn’t win, keep trying. It’s not a large pool from which we draw!
To enter for September’s Starbucks giftito, Watch either of the videos highlighted earlier in the newsletter and let us know what you think. We love the idea of you sitting in front of your computer, enjoying a little learning creativity on our site, and sipping a coffee, tea, chocolate, or whatever floats your boat.
Over 10+ years of putting this newsletter together, I’ve highlighted somewhere in the realm of two thousand cool things to watch, read, and try in our freebies section (more of those goodies, below).
Why go to the trouble? Because if it helps just one teacher a month (you, perhaps) find one thing that makes your work easier, allows you to inspire a student, or helps you see new possibilities for your school, then the several hours of work it takes to put this together is easily worth it. And if it’s happened once for every newsletter we’ve sent out, that’s well over a hundred good reasons to do this.
As I always finish the newsletter before we enter the Valley of Many Freebies: 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.
* What do kids question that adults locked into patterns may not see? In this case, two fourteen-year-old students in Swaziland came up with a less expensive way to do better hydroponic farming to help the families in their community. Their project won a Google Science Fair Scientific American Science in Action Award. Submissions open for this year’s competition on September 13th and close December 12th. (2:54)
* Pond5 is a “content marketplace that meaningfully shares licensing revenue with its contributing artists,” and I noticed in a recent mailing a mention of a video about September in history. It includes bits about World War I, the Bobby Riggs-Billie Jean King tennis match, the start of Oktoberfest, and the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. Might be an interesting watch to prompt a discussion, this. Their promo for their “Editorial Collection” is interesting, too. (1:00, 1:33)
* The 2019 National Association of Independent Schools conference included a PechaKucha presentation session, and George Swain of New York did this one on how getting hit by a car made him a better leader. It’s a cool piece with strong advice for any leader (or educator curious about becoming a leader). (7:32)
* From independent schools’ strengths to a debate in the UK about their effect on society as a whole, here is a video from The Guardian called “Should we abolish private schools?” How do you feel about private schools? Do they preserve choice? Foster innovation? Perpetuate economic and political gaps? Send your thoughts our way, and get your address in our caffeine card drawing. If you enter the way we described above, too, you’ll be in the drawing twice! (7:02)
* One charity that I think is off-the-charts cool is Magic Wheelchair, which helps kids in wheelchairs get amazing costumes for times when a costume is a cool thing to have (Halloween, etc.). This short video is about the delivery of a Batmobile costume to a kiddo at Comic-Con, and if this doesn’t make you want to learn more about what they do, you’re not paying attention. (0:36)
* An especially appropriate video for this newsletter, The Magic of Making Sound will draw aside the curtain on the work of Foley artists. Haven’t heard the term before? Neither had I. These are people who specialize in manufacturing sounds for video, and if you don’t find this a fun watch, you’re not listening hard enough. (6:32)
* If you have truly chosen your own path, what happens to you? This video from Green Renaissance is about an artist in New Zealand, and the story will generate questions in students they won’t soon forget. Called Tinkering with Intent, it’s likely one you’ll want to share. (5:34)
* A video on the sport of mountain boarding might seem an odd addition here, but the story could also provide a metaphor for students starting the school year. This guy learned, built, and refined his interest to become an almost-three-decades-long career. What will you, the student, have learned, built, and refined by the end of this school year? Thanks to Great Big Story for another goodie. (2:50)
* I enjoy seeing compilations of clips without dialogue designed to tell a story, and Japan – A Short Travel Film (by Charlie Johnston of Media Hog Productions) is an impressive addition to this genre. You’ll see many sides of the country in this short piece, but make sure you’re okay with the footage of the dancer between about 1:34 and 1:40 before showing it to your class. You should review any video from beginning to end before showing it to students, of course. (4:28)
* Staying on the Japan theme (and another thanks to Great Big Story), this one is about mochitsuki, or the process of making mochi. This video is about not just anyone doing the making, though; Mr Nakatani is really, really fast at it. And if you’ve ever had fresh mochi, you’ll be reminded of just how delicious this stuff can be. (2:34)
* John Sowash, author of the Chromebook Classroom, has a regular podcast on all things Chromebook-y. In this episode, he dives into useful detail on how to use these devices when offline (you can also get the links there to the iTunes and Stitcher pages; I used Google Podcasts), and any school using Chromebooks with kids dealing with poverty issues will want to have these ideas, how-to’s, and tricks. You can submit questions for him to answer at his Chromebook Classroom page set up for that. (18:17)
* A team of fun folks from Concordia International Shanghai puts out a podcast called the Concordia EdTech Roundtable, and in June, they interviewed me (Rushton) about school leadership, writing, and work I’ve done in the Philippines. If you have time to give it a listen, please let me know what you think; I’d welcome your feedback! (39:02)
* The Medium title “It’s Time to Blow Up The Public School System” was one tailor-made to catch my eye. The author, Matthew Kent, pulls together a variety of critiques of schooling as it commonly happens in the U.S. and many other countries, but while there are suggestions about how schooling could be different, it does not get into the weeds on alternative models, nor explore why the word “Public” is part of the title. The most compelling part of the post for me was the list of things Kent suggests an unbiased observer might conclude about our schools, which you’ll find very early in the essay, and which could launch any number of great discussions with colleagues.
* The short post 5G Will Blend Physical and Digital Experiences is not focused on education, but those of us trying to imagine how education might evolve might feed a discussion with the ideas it shares. In particular, there are several quotes from Penny Baldwin of Qualcomm on what much-higher-speed connections will allow, and these might be a good window for peeking into the future of learning.
* Kat Crawford is an educator who works with ways technology can serve students in detention centers and similar environments. How This Music Program Is Helping Incarcerated Youth Tell Their Stories is a piece she wrote for Education Post about a project called Unsung. If you find the story moving, you might watch this more detailed presentation she did for my online Rotary club in January of this year.
* In August, Ken Shelton and Matt Heifield wrote an intriguing piece about common start-of-school icebreakers they learned not to use. The piece raises interesting questions about equity and learning, and is very much worth the read.
* September is the month for the Global Collaboration Week online events, this year happening from the 23rd to the 27th. Browse events and project descriptions on this page, and get inspired to make memorable learning happen with your students in an international project in the coming months!
* The CS First program from Google is a system for helping elementary and middle school students learn about coding. Last month, they announced two new activities, called Characterization and Interactive Presentation, that align with ELA standards. Read about the initiative here and follow the links to the starter guides, lesson plans, and resource downloads.
* Tara Klotz in Michigan (caffeine card winner!) was working to have students create stories in video, and found that many had trouble getting started. They didn’t know where to go to talk to people, they weren’t confident in how to put the stories together, etc. Things changed for her when she found Pixar in a Box, part of the offerings at Khan Academy. In it, one can find mountains of material about storytelling, lighting, color, effects, virtual cameras, and much more. Like everything else at Khan Academy, it’s free, and they have iOS and Android apps for their resources, as well.
* We included a blurb about the California CareerZone last year, and are happy to mention them again, as they’ve added new resources for teachers working to help students explore career possibilities. It’s now easier to have students create and share work with teachers in their educator accounts, revamped lesson plans, and even a beta version of PD offerings for teachers. While there is some focus on California, you don’t need to be in California or even in the U.S. for the content to be useful to you.
* As mentioned above in the blurb about the hydroponic farming video, the Google Science Fair welcomes submissions starting September 13th, with the deadline on December 12th. This page focuses on ways teachers can help students identify problems to research, develop their ideas, and communicate their findings. There are also kits to download designed to “inspire your classroom,” as well as rules, judging criteria, and more on the competition site.
* Common Sense Media has released new lessons for high-school classes to expand all the good digital citizenship content they have for early years, elementary, and middle grades. Their splash page mentions videos, slides, customizable resources, and bilingual materials.
* Richard Byrne recommended in a recent mailing a stop-motion tool for Chrome (on Chromebooks, Macs, or Windows devices) called Stop Motion Animator. It’s an open-source project that requires no sign-up, and says “it does not collect any information, and it does not connect to the internet at all.” Richard added a nice three-ish-minute tutorial for the tool that is two years old, but still more recent than the tool’s latest update. I’ll add that I encourage anyone heavily interested in free tools to spend time on Richard’s website, Free Tech for Teachers.
* A mindfulness tool called Calm is designed to allow students to benefit from “a few moments of quiet and stillness.” The company that makes the tool is now giving the lifetime premium version for free to “any teacher with a K-12 classroom,” and you can sign up for it at their site.
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In August I had the honor of working with the first Certified Innovator Academy in Japan, held at the Roppongi Google office. That space includes a set of recording studios for YouTube Japan, and this is the wall art you see when you walk into the space with their front desk.
A boring place, it is not.
See you next month!