September 2020 Newsletter
This month we’re celebrating the good people do for others, the good advice in our webinars, the good freebies that some good souls (that would be us) gathered for you, and the good drink that you might win (see below).
Time to jump right in to all this goodness!
Happy to Help
This fall, we’re inviting students from around the world to create videos for our Service via Video contest, such as these two winners from past years:
Shining Hope Farms
by students at the Lake Norman Charter High School
Mobile Loaves & Fishes
by students at Lake Travis Middle School
Each month this fall, to celebrate our Service via Video contest, we’ll highlight what we see to be an especially interesting effort to help others.
This month, we look at The Memory Project. The summary? Pictures of children from orphanages are gathered and sent to this organization, which passes them along to a high school art program. The students create portraits that the organization sends back to the orphanages. The children get a meaningful keepsake, and the students do something wonderful for others. Win-win.
Click on the image above to see a video about their work.
If you know a really amazing charity or nonprofit effort you’d like to tell us about, please send us a message via our contact page.
In August we posted recordings and resources on eduprotocols, compare and contrast activities, fake news, and the first day of school. You can catch them all on our recordings page for Activities Across Grade Levels!
This Thursday (3rd) at 1p Pacific / 4p Eastern, Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) of Free Tech for Teachers and I will do another in our weekly episodes of Two EdTech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. Join in the fun by registering here.
This week’s special: after Richard and I finish the recording, those who join us live will get to meet Cecelia Babkirk, a retiree and returned Peace Corps Volunteer who taught high school English in a rural Ethiopian village. Cool stuff!
Also Thursday, this time at 3:30p Pacific / 6:30p Eastern, Susan Stewart (@TechCoachSusan) and I will do another episode of Activities Across Grade Levels, giving all sorts of ideas on effective in-person and online lessons. This week, we’re joined by Tom Mullaney (@TomEMullaney) for a session specifically on Jamboard, Google’s collaborative online whiteboard tool.
This thought, from English writer, publisher, playwright, and politician Joseph Addison:
What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul.
A quote worthy of being etched in stone, that.
In August, we pulled two names from the hat, and our winners of the $5 Starbucks cards are…drum roll…Joan Smigielski and Samantha Fletcher! Congratulations to you two, and enjoy sipping on that coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or whatever you make happen with our gift.
This month, you can enter your name in our drawing by watching either of the two videos in our service section above, or the Captain Communicator video below. Once done, let us know what you think via our contact page, and you could see a caffeine card in your email inbox at the beginning of October.
We’ll add this month a video that is a favorite of friend of Next Vista, Richard Byrne. He mentioned this video in a recent post, and that generated about two thousand watches in a matter of about 48 hours. Gotta like that.
The video is also good advice for students learning to email their teachers during distance learning, of course.
If you’re wondering why Richard has such a following, you’ll figure it out quickly by checking out his blog, Free Tech for Teachers.
Emailing Your Teacher, with Captain Communicator
by Patricia Balbuena and her students
If you’ve been struggling with distance learning, or are just curious about some need that is unmet with your tech world, feel free to write and let us know. We’re happy to help.
As we wish you every month about this time: May you inspire, and be inspired, each and every day!
Rushton and the Next Vista team
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.
Worth the Watch
* This beautiful animated film about a family in Mumbai is full of detail and complexity, and genuinely touched my heart. It’s called Tokri (The Basket), and has won a number of awards. After watching the piece, read the three-paragraph description on the YouTube page, and then follow the link to the short piece on Vimeo that shows, in part, a timelapse of the eight years of work that went into making this story. (14:14)
* You may know someone who is detail-oriented. You may be such a person. If so, this story of Luke Towan via Art Insider will sing to your soul. Towan builds miniature models that are truly on another scale. Hahaha. Prepare to be charmed, impressed, and perhaps appreciative of a good magnifying glass. (3:06)
* A good friend from college and I were talking recently about the national exploration of race. We got into the topic of the term “white fragility,” which is one that I have wondered about in terms of whether it points to something more productive or counterproductive for extending the conversation. He directed me to a video posted by Big Think called “Why ‘I’m not racist’ is only half the story.” In it, the researcher who coined the term, Robin DiAngelo of the University of Washington, Seattle, explores the challenges of the topic in a way that many will appreciate in terms of its nuance. (6:33)
* This may seem an odd addition – it’s a video of a bricklayer working. Still, I think it can make for an interesting prompt. What do you learn from the techniques you see? What techniques aren’t in the video, but are necessary for doing this kind of work? What do you assume about the bricklayer? (4:30)
* Who knew possums could be cute? The Australian wildlife sanctuary that posted this video also has a pretty cool Facebook page, Batzilla the Bat, for those interested in bats. (1:03)
* From the cute to the mesmerizing: this is called Pendulum Waves in HDR, and could be a great prompt for a science or art lesson, among others! (3:05)
* While on the subject of what’s mesmerizing, let’s take a moment to celebrate an off-the-charts cool combination of music and marbles. This is “Marble Machine” by Wintergatan. (4:32)
* Recently I shared an artificial bird video as a prompt. In this case, it’s a “spy hummingbird” getting us close up to what the video says is half a billion (with a ‘b’) butterflies. (3:13)
* Ever wonder what’s involved with simultaneous translation? This TED-Ed video looks at that important and challenging work in this animated piece. Beyond simply studying another language in excruciating detail, you’ll learn of complexities with translations at given moments, an example from history of getting it wrong, and how one can learn to cope with a lot of stress. (4:41)
* Let’s finish the watches with a focus on the good in the world. This Great Big Story piece is about a guy walking all over the world with a dog. As a prompt, you could build lots of activities about math and distance, obviously, but also about creative ways of funding such a venture, etc. Perhaps some company would sponsor you to do something you’ve always dreamed of doing! (4:39)
Worth the Read
* The idea of plastic dividers around your desk might frighten some first graders. At the St. Barnabas Episcopal School in Florida, however, the teachers decided to make the desks into jeeps and have a ceremony giving them the keys to their vehicles as part of welcoming them back to school. This story from CNN is wonderful for kids lucky to have such teachers, and wonderful for the school letting the community know they’ll go the extra step for their students.
* The New York Times has a series called The World Through a Lens, and this particular offering is about Caleb McKenna’s work with drone photography in the skies above Vermont. A nice read, and some stunning pictures. Thanks to my Rotary buddy Cal Mann for the share.
* On Thursday the 3rd, Susan Stewart and I will be joined by Tom Mullaney to do an Activities Across Grade Levels episode focused on Jamboard, the collaborative whiteboard tool from Google. Tom’s blog, Sustainable Teaching, has loads of good ideas, including this piece from the spring, called Multiple Choice and Distance Learning. If you’re wondering about options for assessment while teaching online, this is an important read. (image credit: Notebook on Wooden Desk by Jeffrey Betts from Unsplash (license))
* Also in the space of effective teaching online is Watch Out For These 3 Mistakes You’re Making During Distance Teaching, a post from Paul France on EdSurge. Taking seriously the three mistakes France identifies – too much passivity, too little dialogue, and assuming that completion equates to learning – can lead to major improvement in one’s teaching.
* At the end of August, Michael Linsin of Smart Classroom Management posted a piece on a technique developed by an Italian software developer. The technique is designed to focus a person on getting through a variety of tasks quickly, especially when that person is experiencing a lot of stress trying to handle what is on the to-do list. If you’re a teacher stressed about your work as you teach online or through a hybrid arrangement, this short read might be quite helpful to you.
* This post from the Entrepreneur’s Handbook on Medium is called, “Google’s Genius $49/mo Course Is About to Replace College Degrees.” If the goal was to get me to click and read, it worked. The argument is an interesting one, though if you go to the trouble of clicking to see the comments, you’ll see some great reactions to the (according to one person) “irrational exuberance” of the author. As a reflection on changing educational options and basic economics, however, it’s a golden prompt.
Worth the Try
* Just guessing, but this page on “ornitographies” will be the first time you’ve seen this type of art before. Might be worth putting in front of students to try and guess what is going on.
* The University of Colorado at Boulder has posted an Engineering Design curriculum that includes plenty of K-12 teaching material with activities on Rube Goldberg machines, a biodome project, a spaghetti soapbox derby, and over 170 more items. Thanks to the amazing Peggy Reimers (@preimers) in Texas for sharing this one in a TCEA post.
* Should your students’ cameras for your online class be on or off? This infographic by Torrey Trust (ISTE Teacher Education Network) looks at the issues you should consider, along with how to train students to be effectively engaged. You can also get the Google Docs version, and here is the blog post with other projects and resources Torrey has shared.
* You probably know that when presenting in Google Slides you can turn the captions on to provide a reasonably good transcription of what you’re saying (depending on how much you enunciate). What you may not have known is that you can do the same thing and have the captions translated to another language. Efraín Tovar explains how in the video in this tweet.
* Holly Clark (author of the recently released book, The Chromebook-Infused Classroom), recently posted to her blog about visible thinking routines and apps that support such activities. If looking for something to address one of the eleven routines she identifies (three examples in the image below), you can find the full chart here, and the post here.
* Google has launched a resource for younger students called Kids Space. Available for Android tablets (starting with Lenovo ones), the idea is to allow kids to explore topics of interest safely, customizing what they do by creating a character to use with their exploring, if they like. Not having a Lenovo tablet, I am only going on what Google has posted about the app, but I would love to be in touch with anyone who tries it.
Missed a recent issue? Here you go:
Was this shared with you, and now you want to sign up, too? We’re certainly happy to have you do so! It’s all free, and if you ever get tired of it, you can unsubscribe or let us know to remove you, with no offense taken.
Let’s add some cool color to the finish to this newsletter. Wikimedia Commons has long been one of my favorite sites for copyright-friendly images, and this one caught my eye as especially fun.
See you next month!