September 2021 Newsletter
Welcome to the loads of fun that await you in this newsletter! We’ve got cool learning activities ready for you to use (NVIV), we have another discussion between teachers and entrepreneurs (Fascinating Folks), we will soon hit the two-month mark before our Service via Video deadline, and much more.
Let’s jump in, shall we?
A new offering this year is the NVIV (Next Vista Inspiring Video), and we’re liking the response so far! Over the more than a decade we’ve put out the newsletter, we’ve shared hundreds of great videos from all over the internet. Now, we’re picking out some of the best and sharing one each Wednesday with questions for ready-to-go learning activities. (You’re welcome!)
These videos are normally rather short, and the questions we ask are geared toward middle and high school students, though several elementary teachers are telling us they’re useful for their classes, too.
This week’s is an animated one about a dog with a challenge to overcome, and is a gem for all ages.
Find the full set of NVIV videos and prompts on this page, and if you want to be on the list of those who get notified of new postings each week, just let us know.
Last month, we had our first Fascinating Folks session with Brett Kopf (one of the co-founders of Remind, and now with the startup Omella). He had plenty of ideas to share and good questions and answers for our little group, and if you’re curious what it looks like when entrepreneurs and educators have a brainstorming session, feel free to give the recording a look.
This month, on Wednesday, September 22nd, 5p Pacific / 8p Eastern, we’ll meet and talk with Craig Nugent and Michel De Jong of The Daily Edit, a new tool for identifying bias, omission, and manipulation in online news sources. This has clear potential for how we teach media literacy, and I hope you’ll be able to join us. It’s free, but registration (the link is on this page) is required.
Stories of Service
Our Service via Video ’21 is a contest designed to encourage your students to create great stories about those who make life better for others. Take a look at some of our past winners to get a sense of how cool these can be.
There is still just over two months before the November 5th deadline, and we hope you’ll take an interest. Start by taking a look at the project pages, then, if you like, reach out to us, and we’ll find a time to Zoom with you and help you avoid common mistakes students make with this kind of project. We’re happy to help!
Two EdTech Guys
On Thursday the 9th of September (1p Pacific, 4p Eastern), Richard Byrne (the Free Technology for Teachers blog) and I will restart our fun webinar, Two EdTech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. We really need to shorten that name.
Each month we give away a $5 Starbucks card, because it’s a fun thing to do. In August, we cracked the double digits with entries, and decided to give away two! Even more fun, that. Our winners are Sonya Rosenglick and Ginamarie Dempsey. A jittery woohoo to you both!
This month, we’d like to know what you think of our newest NVIV post! Please give it a look, and let us know what you think on our contact page. For going to the trouble, we’ll add your name to the hat for the September drawing.
As I mentioned last month, for those of you in east Asia, the ACAMIS Tech Conference is being hosted by the Shanghai Singapore International School. It will take place in October on Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th. They’ve got a good lineup of speakers, and they even included me! I bow humbly in their direction.
Here in California, Fall CUE ’21 is on the horizon, as well. Learn more about this conference on October 23rd and 24th taking place in-person (and remotely) in Stockton at Teachers College of San Joaquin.
There’s no need for sight when you have vision.
– Lex Gillette
Despite not winning gold in Tokyo, Lex holds the world long jump record for a blind athlete, and if you’ve never heard Lex speak, you’re missing out. Amazing guy! Here’s his talk from TEDx San Diego.
For most of the recipients of this missive, the school year is kicking into high gear. With all the stresses this part of the calendar brings, remember that a kind word from you may be the most powerful thing a child can hear. Hang in there, and watch for those opportunities to drop a smile on a student who needs one.
And as we say each month:
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
* The Life Rolls On Foundation runs adaptive surf and adaptive skate events that give people the opportunity to experience something they may have thought out of reach. What does it look like when a community comes together? It looks a lot like Life Rolls On. (5:21)
* Bessie Coleman is a fascinating American who deserves space in any U.S. history textbook. She was the first Black American woman to have a pilot’s license, and got it at a time when she couldn’t go to any flight school in the United States. Watch this short video of her story for more details. (3:06)
* One of the more important things for young people to do is to find something they love that gives them a sense of distinctiveness from their peers. In this case, a 14-year-old in San Francisco took on the challenge of learning to make really good sourdough bread. His story shows the work and joy that can come from pursuing something well. (3:11)
* For those of you teaching about the danger of contaminated food, here’s a safety video from a city in Victoria, Australia, that may be useful. It’s an animated piece that illustrates microbiological, chemical, and physical contamination that can occur when one isn’t careful. (2:43)
* In this TED-Ed talk written by educator Joao Magalhaes, you can learn why different species have different life spans, and what factors make for shorter and longer average lives. It’s a good point of departure for discussions of biological diversity. (4:55)
* Let’s say you love karate. Let’s also say you think helping others develop the confidence that comes from karate is important to you, so you start a business online to make that happen. Let’s further say that…you’re 12 years old. If all this is true, you’re probably Sierra Deodhari, the founder and CEO of Sierra Karate. This kickin’ story is from the folks at Unstoppable. (4:45)
* There’s a very old parable from India called The Blind Men and the Elephant, and it tells how several old (and blind) men encounter an elephant, and each touches a different part of it (tusk, side, leg, ear, trunk, and tail). They argue about the reality of the elephant based on their limited perspectives. Sound like a political environment you’ve encountered? Thanks to my buddy Francine for spotting and sharing this one. (3:50)
* In case you missed it earlier, Next Vista launched a series we’ll do several times this fall on educators speaking with entrepreneurs. The first was in August with one of the founders of Remind, Brett Kopf, talking about his new effort to create an app that revolutionizes how teachers and schools do fundraisers. (26:54)
Worth the Listen
* Do you have a gifted and talented program of some kind in your school or district? If so, what do you know about how that program runs, and what do you know about how such programs got started? This EdSurge podcast explores the history and polarizing nature of Lewis Terman, one of the minds behind the modern IQ test. You’ll find a complex set of motivations that generate highly-charged opinions about his work and what these programs are and should be. (42:14)
Worth the Read
* “In a survey of more than 3,000 families…about 40 percent of parents who have children with autism did not feel comfortable sending them back to school in-person this fall.” We all know that different kinds of learning settings present some challenges and some benefits, and this article exploring how some autistic students have performed online is a strong one for developing a more nuanced understanding of the choices parents now have.
* At first glance, the EdSurge post Is Data Science the New Coding? may seem like an esoteric argument about tech, math, or both. Thinking about how to educate students to deal with a range of overlapping topics in math, statistics, and information literacy (to name a few), though, could also breathe life into how we think about choice and relevance in middle and high school education, though. You’ll find some info in the article on the Data Science 4 Everyone project (University of Chicago), which has plenty of resources for those looking to take a new perspective on math and more. (image: photo by Lukas Blazek from Unsplash (license))
* An interesting piece from EdSource titled, Leading teachers offer lessons for how to reinvent schools, offers several takeaways from schooling during the pandemic. The article is apparently a summary of some studies from quite a bit earlier in the year, but the ideas still make for solid discussion prompts.
* The National Association of Independent Schools blog recently included a post from Jason Haber called, “What Happened When the ‘Silly’ Teacher Became Serious.” It’s one teacher’s reflection on going from being the “fun teacher” to being very heavily focused on academic outcomes. A reminder for those who feel they’ve become too serious, perhaps.
* Most months I share a Michael Linsin post on classroom management. His late-August one on what he calls “handholding” covers the dangers to the students of being a micromanaging teacher. This is a great read for those who speak too much in their own classrooms.
Worth the Try
* Richard Byrne has released his free annual guide, The Practical EdTech Handbook, for ’21-’22. This is a superb collection of free resources for any educator, divided helpfully into over a dozen different topics. Bookmark this gem!
* Another nice one from Richard is a June post that lists the six things to try when a web app isn’t working like you expect. As a primer in tech troubleshooting, this is worth ten minutes of your school’s staff meeting time, and may in turn save countless hours of your IT person’s time. (image: photo by Elisa Ventur from Unsplash (license))
* I was introduced to the NightSkyPix page, How To Do Time Lapse Photography, in late August. It’s a cool tutorial that, let’s say, doesn’t appear to skip any steps, so I’m guessing those with some background in photography will be at an advantage. That said, a dedicated student wanting to learn about time lapse will find this a treasure trove. A big thanks to Carlo for sharing it!
* I’ve been a big fan for years of Duolingo, the free phone app for helping one learn a language through a game-like system. This summer, they released Duolingo for Schools, which will give teachers the chance to post assignments and track progress with the lessons. I’m curious to know if they’ve adjusted any content (such as sentences that discuss alcohol) that some schools might prefer removed or limited.
* Do your students need some reminders about email etiquette? Richard Byrne of FreeTech4Teachers (and my partner on the Two EdTech Guys webinars, and a guy whose name seems to keep appearing in this newsletter, created a nice piece in Canva that highlights five pointers for your students’ missives.
* And finally, for those of you who love spreadsheets, here’s a cool helper video covering more than a dozen Google Sheets formulas (formulae?) that you can use to spice up how your sheets work and look. The guide, Jeff, is good fun, though watch out for the not-so-small-number of ads that crop up.
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For many of you, the school year has just begun. Whatever age they are now, your students were once babies with all the promise and hope that wells within a parent’s heart.
Not all of our students will make honorable choices in our classrooms. However, even in their worst moments, they still have that promise and hope within them.
See you next month!