new contest finalists, videos and more to inspire
NV_sunset_logo(with_outline-100)Wow, we're one-eighth of the way through the century! Getting going with 2013 for Next Vista means sharing the kind of stuff I always do in this newsletter (inspiring videos, useful freebies, and encouragement for all those who give their time to educating children), but before we get to that, there are eighteen finalists to share. Please give 'em a good look, and share your (and your students') thoughts with us in a reply!
 Mountains of contest finalists
After several months, much encouragement, revisions with proper citations, and more, we ended up with almost 180 submissions to our fall contest, Mountains of Creativity, over a hundred of which we've posted to the site. Curious as to which ones were chosen as finalists? Wonder no more!
Teacher Strand
area_of_a_triangleArea of a Triangle
erosion_and_weatheringErosion and Weathering
green_screen_special_effects_in_imovieGreen Screen Special Effects in iMovie
how_to_talk_to_adultsHow to Talk to Adults
peter_the_greatPeter the Great
quadratic_graphsQuadratic Graphs
the_water_cycle_2The Water Cycle
Collaboration Strand
cause_and_effectCause and Effect
how_not_to_get_a_prom_dateHow Not to Get a Prom Date
math_vocabulary_rapMath Vocabulary Rap
Student Strand
american_governmentAmerican Government
the_big_island_of_hawaii_the_orchid_isleThe Big Island of Hawaii: The Orchid Isle
color_sign_languageColors in Sign Language
kahoolawe_the_sacred_islandKahoolawe: the Sacred Island
lets_write_your_name_in_KoreanLet’s Write Your Name in Korean
line_dancingLine Dancing
how_to_play_mary_had_a_little_lamb_on_the_pianoMary Had a Little Lamb on the Piano
Winners will be chosen by an audience at FETC at the very end of January. We'll announce it via our contests lists (let me know if you're not on it and want to correct the problem) and my Twitter feed (@rushtonh). We'll also celebrate the winners in the next newsletter, of course.
If you would like your class to choose one or more videos for a special award, though, reply letting me know. As long as no videos from your school are in the finalists, the students watch every video, they discuss what they learn from them (strengths, weaknesses, how they'd approach the topic differently), and come up with a name for the certificate (Millard Fillmore Middle School Mighty Marsupials Award, for example), we can make it happen.
For those involved in TICAL in Arkansas schools, we have a contest in motion specifically for you that finishes January 25th. Write me if you're interested in that one.
For everyone else, we'll launch our Spring 2013 Creative Flight Contest in February. Go ahead and start brainstorming ideas - your video may be in the next list of finalists!
 stories of service
Our current service contest ends this Friday (January 18th)! Find out more at:
Service via Video
Regardless of contest deadlines, if you have students whose work could inspire others, please let me know - we'd love to highlight what they're doing.
 good donation, good cause
So a beautiful woman walks into a UPS store... That beautiful woman is the woman I married, and about six weeks ago, she put "Next Vista for Learning" in their fish bowl with names of customers' favorite local charities. They drew a name, and we were the lucky recipients of their generosity! Major cheers for UPS, my babe wife, and anything else you wish to celebrate.
 cool school stuff
Ever think it would be cool to thoroughly redesign your school? Ever wonder what schools that have gone beyond simply giving this a thought ended up with? The Cool Hunter, a site which "celebrates creativity in all of its modern manifestations," gave this a look, and gave us a post with tons of pictures of truly cool and creative spaces. Thanks to EdSurge for mentioning this!
Is there something wonderful that happens at your school? Let me know about it so I can tell everyone else - what's better than a great activity? Sharing it so that it touches more lives, of course. Lemme know!
 conference thoughts
Those of you looking ahead to the summer may be thinking about taking in the good food, great history, and warmth of San Antonio to attend ISTE at the end of June. My advice whenever someone tells me they're going to the Big Kahuna of North American ed-tech gatherings is to get there early enough to attend Social Ed Con which takes place Saturday (June 22, this year) before the formal start of the conference on Sunday. My favorite part of an already great get-together, it is. As that web page isn't yet set up for this summer's gig, I'll hold off on the link, but will add it in a coming issue.
In the coming weeks, enjoy one or more of these with me:
FETC (Orlando, Florida, USA; Jan 28-31)
Google Apps for Education Tokyo Summit (ASIJ, Tokyo, Japan; Feb 9-10)
TICAL (Little Rock, Arkansas, USA; Feb 12-13)
integratED PDX (Portland, Oregon, USA; Feb 17-19)
 videos to inspire
Why do we teach? Catch Jarrett's TED talk, How a Boy Became an Artist, and you'll know.
While I'm not normally blown away by bagpipes, the music and images of this video moved me. Get in touch with however much Scotland flows in your veins, and welcome the new year with:
This story is almost seven years old, but as I haven't included it in the newsletter before, I figure it's time. It's about an autistic high schooler, a basketball game, and the willingness of his peers to celebrate him in a spontaneous and beautiful way.
Exploring existentialism, now. The first video is a contest winner from last year by Megan Birdsong, a teacher in California. The second is a cat and his view on his world. Somewhat different takes on life, perhaps.
You'll find more videos, along with some way-cool free tools following the wrap-up, below.
 the wrap-up
Before finishing, I'd like to note the passing of one of Next Vista's earliest supporters. Justin Bell was a man with a quick wit, a passion for doing a job well, and a heart of gold. Heaven is richer for having you, and we're blessed for having known you. Good-bye, good friend.
To all who kindly take their time to read my ramblings, may 2013 be a year in which you inspire, and are inspired, daily.
 Featured Free App, by Liz Holter
toontasticTootastic is a creative storytelling app that students will love! Toontastic records a student’s voice and animation as a cartoon video. Students can draw and animate their own characters and backgrounds or choose from a variety of pre-made options. Story elements such as conflict, climax, and resolution are introduced and developed as a story is created. Students can also choose background music that matches the mood of the story. This app truly helps students develop their creativity and storytelling ability. Check out Toontastic and let the fun begin!
 more fabulous goodies
Neon_free_sign_by_jking89Forever Friends is the sweetly-named offering from the University of Illinois Extension, "designed for 4-6th graders to learn about Japan, China, India, the Philippines, Korea and Vietnam and their cultures." When you set up on the site, it guides you through getting your "passport" for the various virtual trips you are about to take. Cool!
If you need guidance on having students blog, middle school teacher John Miller just posted a wonderful summary of ideas and issues, and Andrew Schwab let us know about it in the Guerrilla Learning Google+ Community. Thanks to both!
Why I Hate School But Love Education is a spoken word piece by Suli Breaks. According to the About section of his YouTube channel, Suli "is hailed by many as one of the greatest speakers ever to have graced the stage." While I have serious doubts about the "many" in that sentence, this piece is a thought-provoker, and I found it worth the six minutes (and preceding commercial) it cost me.
Solo, Piano - N.Y.C. is a short film by Anthony Sherin, chronicling the day an old piano is on the street. It's a beautiful piece, and a solid prompt for questions of what we value, as well as what we learn of ourselves when caught off guard. Thanks to Lois Langehaug for this.
How might stringing together footage of one-second clips from each day tell the story of a year? Cesar Kuriyama did this, and the link below is to the result. The second link is a great BBC story about the piece.
Below is a link to a strong set of six videos on critical thinking, sound argumentation, and similar created by the Bridge8 team in Australia. Find their CC-licensed videos here:
A century of history in just ten minutes happens in the video linked below. Note that there is a focus on conflict and disaster as especially noteworthy items, and some of the scenes are pretty gruesome; this may be too much for some, especially younger students.
Greed, as amplified by a photocopier. Thanks to Leila Dibble for sharing a good conversation starter!
The American Embassy School in Delhi, India, is not one I've had the good fortune to visit. However, at the GAFE Summit in Mumbai in December, I met several of those who teach there, and they told me about "The Bob Show." Dr. Bob Hetzel is the school's director, and when he does a full staff meeting (about four times/year, apparently), he weaves in stories and videos to convey his message. These meetings are legendary, and one element of his August 2012 one included the following video. We don't always know how meaningful our simple words of encouragement may be to others, and this 15-minute film is a fun and poignant story of that truth. Thanks to Maureen and Katrina for sharing the story of The Bob Show!
Wouldn't it be cool to take a video online, and layer on top of it thought bubbles, maps, and more? Turns out you can, and for free! Cheering. Buddy Randy Damewood let me know about Popcorn, a project from Mozilla that allows you to do just this.
While Minecraft isn't free, it does seem to have inspired lots of interesting thoughts from teachers all over on possible uses in educational settings. Below are three sites for the Minecraft-interested; the first is to their MinecraftEdu site, which allows purchasing for half the normal price. The second is Primary Minecraft, with loads of ideas about using Minecraft in elementary settings. The last one is the Google Group for teachers using Minecraft. Thanks to Sarah Rolle, Simon Lewis, and John Calvert from the GCT list for mentioning these.!forum/minecraft-teachers
In the last newsletter, I mentioned several resources related to typing, and got a couple of nice recommendations back from Mark Suter (thanks, amigo!). The first is TypingWeb, with the standard typing games and tests, but it also includes a teacher portal, which Mark has used to monitor the progress of over two hundred of his students.
The second is called NitroType, which Mark uses when students are able to stay focused for at least twenty minutes. This is a typing-skills improvement game based around racing, and students (who sign up for their own accounts) can compete with others around the world. Slick interface, and good fun!
Looking for a way to get kids to follow the news? What if it were delivered weekly in rap? Find this, as well as loads of vocabulary lessons (K-12) at Flocabulary. While this is for the most part a paid service, they do have a number of free videos on the home page, including a 2012 Year in Rap summary which, while not Google Zeitgeist, was quite impressive.
Staying in the world of hip hop for the moment, let's imagine that this next video will make one of two things happen: you'll pause and rewind ad nauseum to learn how to make a hip hop hit (that's what this tutorial is about), or you'll get a sense of what it's like to be learning something when the teacher is going way, way too fast. Thanks to Alex Couros for tweeting this one.
A student at Carnegie Mellon, Tess Rinearson, compiled a number of resources related to teaching students computer science and computational thinking. If you are thinking about a CS program for middle schoolers, keep this link close by.
Some of you may recall my telling about, an effort by James Sanders to provide teachers with a cool tool to motivate students. Seems the Smithsonian has stepped into similar space by offering "Smithsonian Quests," designed to allow students to show what they've learned via the Smithsonian web offerings. Find out more at:
Love being able to look at an image from multiple angles? Wouldn't it be cool to be able to do that for skeletons, fossils, or even ballet positions? You can at 3DToad, an offering by TechTol Imaging, in part to let businesses know that they create such images as part of their business. Am I good with their offering something free to educators in order to show what they can do? Oh, yeah.
Noted blogger Larry Ferlazzo recently posted "The Best Videos For Educators In 2012 - Part Two," which included this piece called, "Sensory Overload," from the Interacting with Autism project. Great video for stepping out of one's own shoes and seeing the world in a new way.
Looking for one-minute videos done by youth around the world? The One Minutes Foundation created space to celebrate such pieces in their One Minutes Jr. program. As I've seen only a small portion of the thousands on the site, I don't know how family friendly the collection may be, but it's certainly an avenue for creative possibilities. Thanks to DK for mentioning this one.
TED fans are probably aware that there is TED-Ed, an effort to share wildly cool insights via TED-style videos in educational spaces. One video recently released is titled, "Questions No One Knows the Answers to," which turned out to be, for me, a very cool twelve minutes worth of, "How many universes are there?" and, "Why can't we see evidence of alien life?" See for yourself at:
Curious what it's involved in getting to Mars? Here's the story of the launch and landing of Spirit in 2004. Can't imagine those scientists slept much the night before.
Many of you have heard me talk about the button theory (kids press a button to see what it does, adults ask what it does before pressing it) that was fashioned and written up by my buddy DK. He has just posted a blog about tips on speaking that may be of interest to those of you who present. Interesting thoughts!
Here's a beetbox. "You misspelled it," you say. Nope. It's a beetbox. Hard to know what to say, really.
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