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Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Love of Books... And Jane Goodall

This summer, a children's library that was very dear to me closed its doors. Outside of the public system, the books from this library were in need of finding a new home.  Over 1000 books were now homeless.

Books, like people, need someone to love them.

We all know: we protect what we love.  Given that, I pushed hard against my natural instinct to grab them all and run.  (Let's be real: my overstuffed, doubled stacked bookshelf at home already has maxed its limit. That's what happens when you move from a 3rd grade teaching position to that of technology specialist, with an office versus a classroom. There was no way I could accommodate 1000 old friends.)  

Luckily, there were many other book lovers (& lovers of this library), so the majority of the books found new places to live. Classrooms. Gifts for grandchildren. Bookshelves in family homes. A library for a Boys and Girls Club was going to be born from some of these books.  These books were going forth to make a difference in the lives of students, children, teachers, & more.

That is what is called the silver lining in the aftermath of loss.

Within the 5 bags I brought home (3 for another teacher friend and 2 for me), I found some old friends. One book in there was a gem of memories indeed. An autographed copy, in fact. The book: With Love by Jane Goodall. 

With love, indeed.

I was fortunate enough to see this champion of the environment speak at my former school in the Spring of 2008. Dr. Jane Goodall's passion and purpose are unrivaled.  This video speaks volumes of both of those, and points us the direction to go forth and make a difference.

A tribute to Dr. Jane Goodall  
(Song: "Why Shouldn't We?" by Mary Chapin Carpenter)

The video and book also can serve as a spring board to learn more about this amazing woman who followed her dreams and broke barriers as a woman as well as a human going forward in the animal world. It serves as a good example that if this solitary woman can live in this chimpanzee world, communicating and hearing each other, then certainly shouldn't we be able to do that with our fellow humans?

To immerse yourself or your class in Jane Goodall's amazing world, check out the following:

Virtual Tours:
Other Sites to Investigate:
  • The Jane Goodall Institute is always a great place to go to stay current with Jane's adventures
  • Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees site has a number of downloadable classroom activities and lesson plans.
  • BrainPop not only has as movie for Jane Goodall, but some educator resources as well.
  • Core Knowledge has a detailed, multi-day lesson plan for Kindergarten, with a bounty of books and additional resources.
Books:
  • Since this is what led me to reflect on Dr. Jane Goodall, this is a good place to circle back to. For a complete listing of books on all levels about Jane Goodall, as well as books she has written, this list at Amazon.com is a good place to go.


Autograph from my book and my camera, Book image from http://www.amazon.com/Love-Jane-Goodall/dp/0735818150/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438268595&sr=8-1&keywords=jane+goodall%2C+with+love; Video from https://vimeo.com/3202137#embed

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Back to School ~ Back in Business ~ Back to the Monumental Task at Hand

'Tis the season. Today's the day. It's official. Back to school. Back in business.

That annual time has come once again--we are here at end of Phineas & Ferb's "There's 104 days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it." I didn't count, though I'm pretty sure it did NOT feel like 104 days. It's universal: summer is officially over on that day when backpacks are on backs. That first "photo-worthy" day when kids are back to school.

Summer is over. Sigh.

Luckily for my children, they aren't there yet. Their fateful day is still a week away. But as a teacher, today's the day I head back.  No, no backpack, but my car is packed with goodies collected over the summer that need to go to school.

This back-to-school day is a bittersweet moment, as I already miss the luxury of summer. Pool days. Sleeping in. Reading books. Running around. Adventures. Vacations. Change of pace.

Instead, I know I'm in store for a day of meetings today.

But, there's also energy ahead. I know that today I'll be reuniting with my colleagues. We sit at the cusp of a blank slate, a brand new school year. Electricity is the flip side of that freshness. New ideas & new plans get set into motion. This fervor is what sparks our imagination which leads to inspiration.

As much as I hate to say goodbye to that open schedule of summer, there's something to that "back in business" feel. It's a vitality of that only teachers "get."

As classroom teachers, specials teachers, administrators & others who work with students, we always have a lot on our plates. Though we know the answer to Taylor Mali's ultimate question: "what do teachers make?"  We make a difference.  


Making a difference is quite a challenge...but so worth it!  It feels pretty good when you see "your" kids get it. A pride like no other  And they do "get it!"  I know, because we, as teachers, are rooting for them, pushing them, encouraging them, urging them, and guiding them to "get it."

Back to school. Back to business. Back to the monumental task at hand.

Cheers to all of you educators out there.  Have one heck of a school year.




Images:  Phineas & Ferb pic from http://www.disneygals.com/2015/06/its-been-a-great-summer-an-interview-with-jeff-swampy-marsh-dan-povenmire-phineasandferbevent.html, Teacher quote from http://www.buzzquotes.com/technology-quotes-for-teachershttps://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/the-other-21st-century-skills/: video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuBmSbiVXo0

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Water, AJ+, & Their "Running Dry Playlist" @YouTube

We've all heard it before:  "Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink."

Fitting for this oceanic planet of ours where 71% of the earth's surface is covered in the wet stuff. Additionally, according to USGS, the oceans hold approximately 96.5% of that blue liquid gold. But, no one is going to go out and grab a glass-full or a garden-full of oceanic salt water for survival. 

Hence why these stats (though interesting) are less-than-helpful at solving the drought problem.

While solving the drought problem is a doozy, we can begin to tackle it with information.  Here's where my newly-discovered li'l info-gem of AJ+ enters.  AJ+ is a news medium that has made it their mission to change the way we look at news.  Gearing it toward the video-and-visually-minded, social media-oriented consumer, AJ+ tells the news through video stacks, and an active social media presence at YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram.  There's also an app for that (both on iTunes & for Android).

Their vision:  
"AJ+ is a global news community for the connected generation. We highlight human struggles and achievements, empower impassioned voices, and challenge the status quo. We bring you the stories that are shaping our world. Do you ever laugh, cry, get angry or inspired? You’ll fit right in." ~ From AJ+'s About Page on Facebook

This month of August, AJ+ is dedicated to the drought and bringing about awareness of water scarcity.
At YouTube, they have created their "Running Dry Playlist" which currently has 12 videos. Some are entertaining--all are informative.  (In fact, the Drought Hack of Lawn Painting was one that came up in the GTG conversation not too long ago.) 

My favorite 2 from the 12 (which was hard to narrow down, as they are all good--I mean, who doesn't want to learn about Water Wars with stop-motion LEGO animation?):





Perhaps if we flood all avenues with this type of environmental conversation, more people will start opening their eyes while simultaneously starting to make a difference! 


Planet Earth pic from http://pmm.nasa.gov/education/lesson-plans/freshwater-availability-classroom-activity; All AJ+ images from www.ajplus.net and AJ+'s Youbtube channel; Videos from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZvaXQ3Sb9g and https://youtu.be/0ZvaXQ3Sb9g?list=PLZd3QRtSy5LPVhmGqHam_a-2EPkyVf5c_

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Road Tripping: Celebrating Our Country's Beauty

Every summer I take a semi-cross country driving trip, crossing several state lines to visit my family and my original hometown. [Perhaps a rarity in today's world: to be able return home to the same house that my folks lived in when I was born.] It's like an annual Jack Kerouacian solo trek to the motherland,...though different with two (non-driving) kids in tow. As I get older, the trip does feel longer--did someone put more states in there??  But, luckily, as the kids get older, technology helps take them to their own little backseat nirvana, as I drive the 12-13 hours--all the way as the lone driver.
This year, after 10 days in the heartland, we got back in the car, and turned south. A triangular trip was made. Our destination was Nashville, Tennessee to meet up with Daddio for a family vacation. The Grand Ole Opry, The Nashville Zoo, and the historic sites of Franklin, TN were some of the high points we hit before hitting the road again for home. The long way was well worth it--scenery and memories both combined.

As it always happens, the driving creates a lot of time to think.  It opens up a perspective as you consider the time, captive in car.  During the drive we had silence but we also had random conversations.  We played every car game you know. We also bellowed out show tunes & 80s music and air-guitared to Billy Joel music.

Equally as good, we got to see some of the amazing sights of our country.  You witness the landscape changing along the way:
  • Mountain vistas on the horizon. 
  • Rolling hills that eventually flatten the further west into the Midwest you go, then start rolling again when we head back east.
  • The lucky lushness brought on by a summer of rain (as opposed to the brown drought-stricken news scenes of California).
  • Corn tassels blowing in the wind.
  • City skylines of state capitals like Indianapolis, Columbus, & Nashville.
  • Wind farms that would make Don Quixote proud.
With all those sights, there always comes emotions, memories, & new realizations.

It really reminds you how beautiful this country is...which of course circles us back to music:



There is so much day-to-day that we take for granted. Out of the ordinary experiences like all-day driving trips and videos (like the one above) help build perspective. That realization of how small we truly are on this planet makes it really valuable.

May you take time to open your eyes and really see all that is around you today!

[I've written about my road trip experience & associated landscape awe before.  Click here to see that blast from the past.]


Pictures from my camera in a LiPix Pro app picture collage; Video of "America, The Beautiful,"performed by the US Navy Band & Sea Changers from https://youtu.be/7OYYQEHqJ_c

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Clif Bar: Advertising for Adventure & the Great Outdoors

In today's world, everything has a "brand." It's the logo and the name that stand out and speak volumes with just an image, a tagline, a presences.

We all know it & we can't help but see it on the TV, in advertisements, in radio jingles, and on street billboards.  It's no surprise nor secret:

Companies need marketing departments. 
Actors and actresses need agents.
Politicians need platforms.  

Given all of that, "the environment" is sort of left high and dry:
   
     -No Vice President of Marketing
     -No advertising campaign or agent to run it.
     -No multi-million dollar budget.
     -No voice amidst the noise.

(Well, there is the Lorax, but the lone Lorax may not be enough these days for all the noise that's out there these days!)

Luckily, "the environment" has Clif Bars on its side. From the look of their ad campaign, it looks as if the Clif Bars company has decided to be the power that empowers us all to embrace the environment. Their message in combination with the power of Vitamin "N" (aka, Nature), Clif Bars does a good job of harnessing the importance of caring for our environment and jumping on outdoor adventure, as these two videos show!





Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Go Virtually Anywhere On a Virtual Field Trip

Summer and professional development go hand in hand for us teachers.  As I've mentioned before, I've been busy in the PD arena:  reading books, listening to podcasts, and attending workshops (even teach a few). Yes, I've also been toe-dipping in the pool, but it is pretty interesting: those mental gears don't stop spinning & planning.

Maybe it's an occupational hazard for teachers!

My latest PD trip has been has been about trips. Virtual field trips.

With the Internet a click away, it's amazing how you can be, literally, virtually anywhere!  

Here are some good links to pursue if you are in search of somewhere to go... without ever leaving your classroom!

A Symbaloo webmix of 80+ places to investigate.

Get Outta Class With Virtual Field Trips
EducationWorld has a handful of good links and great advice of where to go and how to create your own.

A blog post from Kennedy Schultz from the Kid World Citizen blog (where this VFT image is from!)

Online collections of images, artifacts, videos, map views and more curated from Google on art projects, historic monuments, world wonders, and more.

3D models of museum artifacts and more, with printing plans for 3D printers.

360 views and images using Google Maps & Street Views of places all over this world.

Archived trips a

Article full of ideas and implementation from Young Children, November 2011

This of course is just a smidgen on the map of what's out there in the arena of virtual field trips.  If you are finding yourself landlocked or budget-stuck when it comes to trip planning this year ahead, grab a computer and head someplace exotic with your students.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Doozy of a Drought & What You Can Do About It

It's been a doozy of a summer for California and many other places plagued with drought.
Even despite a record rainfall July 20th of this year, California is hurting.  Tends to work that way when you are 4 years into a drought. Especially when it's perhaps the worst one California has had to date. According to NASA, megadroughts such as these aren't going to go away.


Drought brings about a wealth of other secondary issues (many of which can create critical and emergency situations):
  • increases in wildfires
  • diminished agriculture yields (which effects national, state, local, & personal economics)
  • increased food/water costs
  • loss/destruction of animal habitat
  • diminished water supplies for home/commercial use & drinkable water
  • soil erosion &/or poor soil quality
  • increased health issues due to poor air quality
  • a rise in stress-related distress due to all of the above
The cause? If you ask me (and perhaps the vast majority of climate scientists out there), all fingers point to climate change. Yet, some states aren't even allowed to use those words.  But I digress....

So what do you do if this is where you call home?  Clearly, you conserve water! Additionally you make some different landscaping choices [called "greenscaping"] to remove the heavy need for your front lawn to gulp down massive amounts of water. Here are some effective & even some innovative ways to go about doing that.

What do you do to conserve water where you live?


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Hop on the H20 & Hydrate

It's summer time, and it's no surprise to anyone--it's hot out there.  What's the best thing you can do when you're overheated?  Hydrate!


Since Spring Break, I've been trying to do just that. Largely, my initial quest was for a healthier alternative to my major Diet Coke vice.  Word on the street is that my beloved Diet Coke is filled with all sorts of yucky stuff for you. Additionally, given that my main source of caffeine comes from that (and I'm not a morning girl nor a coffee drinker), that's been a hard cut to get down to just one a day! But I did (although I'm still not ready to go cold turkey yet).

Water boosts your energy. A majority of us are dehydrated (75% according to the infographic below). Often times we eat when our body is really telling us we are thirsty rather than hungry.  Here are two great infographics that might lead you to upping your intake too.  (Note to self: Grab from the tap rather than the mega "Big Water" industry of plastic-wasting, single-use bottled water!)

If competition is what gets going, you might want to check out 30 Day Water Challenge.  At that link you can get more details & some great accountability tools to document your water intake. I'm going rogue (though I could update my intake in my Fitbit), and just trying to travel with a class of water in hand!

How is water working for you?

Do you have any creative approaches to get that healthy H2O into your system?





Images from http://1111now.com/achieving-perfect-health-bashar/; "Miracle that is Water" infographic from http://organicolivia.com/2014/05/01/why-you-should-drink-hot-water-in-the-morning-homemade-strawberry-lime-aloe-water-for-detoxing-vitamin-absorption/, "Drink More Water" from http://www.pedometersusa.com/drinking-more-water.html; 30 Day Water Challenge pic from http://pepperscraps.com/30-day-water-challenge-64-oz-a-day/

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Nature-Starved, AKA Nature Deficit Disorder

Two words have been haunting me since my last post: "nature-starved."

I think there are many people out there who are afflicted lack of time outdoors, communing with nature.

Some might call it a "disorder."  In fact, "disorder" is exactly what Richard Louv, champion creator of  the concept "Nature Deficit Disorder" would call it.  He's written about it in two books:
And I've written about Richard Louv & Nature Deficit Disorder a number of times here at GTG.

Looking at the publication dates of Richard Louv's books, you'd think we all should know well by now that "Vitamin N" (aka, Nature) is the cure that magically could soothe our disconnected souls. Yet, we are all still here in this same disconnected place, years later in 2015.  Articles continue to be written on the topic, as tech addiction and waist lines continue to grow.

If you haven't read either of Richard Louv's books, you really should.  I'd recommend starting with Last Child in the Woods, perhaps because it's my favorite of the two (& my first read of them both).  If a book isn't your style, here are some other good places to start.


May these sources inspire yourself to get out and about and get your daily dose of Vitamin N.  It's easy to start small. Go take a walk. Read a book outdoors. Sip something refreshing on your back patio and soak it all in.  Write a blog post outdoors while sitting outdoors. (Oh wait! That's what I'm doing right now!)  Go out in the world to explore & have an adventure.

Let me know what it is that you are doing!


Images from http://www.slideshare.net/krawczyk80/no-child-left-insidesaving-our-children-from-nature-deficit-disorder, http://www.greenchildmagazine.com/vitamin-n/; video from http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2zdg61_nature-play-teaser-2-with-richard-louv_fun 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Nature-Starved? It's Not too Late to Get Thee Outside

David Suzuki recently wrote a great blog post entitled "A Term for that 'I Need Time in Nature' Feeling."  In it, he invited readers to write in their thoughts on what that term would be.  As David posed, if "hangry" is "hungry & angry" then what might be the right term when you are nature starved?

All of this got me thinking about my last two weeks.  I was struck by the fact that a majority of it has been sponsored by the great outdoors.  These are the perks of summertime--the freedom of schedule to be able to go out and about to do these things.   I've found myself...

Beach combing for shark's teeth in Chesapeake Beach:
Sunset sailing in Annapolis on the Windward Schooner (followed up by walking about downtown, ice cream cones in hand!):
 Hiking the Billy Goat trail in Great Falls:
Swimming in our backyard pool:
Even hanging out with Billy Joel, moving and grooving to some of my favorite songs during his outdoor arena concert.

And let's not forget:  mowing the yard, pulling weeds, biking the neighborhood, reading under the trees, & dining al fresco after dinnertime grilling.

If you still need a little encouragement, watch this Clif Kids video


So are if you are indoor-i-fried, "denatured," or feeling overly AC'ed, it's not too late to get out there, troops.  There's still plenty of summer ahead, and many opportunities to get outdoors.

What are some of your favorite ways to celebrate the great outdoors this summer?


Images from my camera & Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ8ALjMOGq8

Saturday, July 25, 2015

EPIC! For Educators eReader App--Bringing A Bounty of Books To Your Young Readers

Kindle.  Nook.  Kobo.  Sony. 
Stand-alone eReaders, and apps on iPads & Androids alike. eReaders are here, there, and everywhere. 

eReaders make it possible to carry a bounty of books wherever you go. It's revolutionizing the book publishing industry and the way many of us read.

With them, you can carry a stack of books in your hand (on your tablet), saving trees-worth of paper. eReaders are not only a techy alternative, but an environmental one as well!!  Especially if your kids eat books for breakfast like mine!

As youngsters are embarking on the eReader route, teachers are finding them to be a classroom treasure as well.  The EPIC! app is one of my latest #EdTech discoveries that puts an endless number of books in your child or student's hands.  My favorite feature is that they have opened up their entire library for free to educators. Yet, even at the parent subscription of $4.99 per month, it's still a great economic deal for book lovers!  Check out my screencast movie below to help you learn just how epic the EPIC! app is for Educators.

A short synopsis on the merits of EPIC! for Educators 
(an iPad book reader app for teachers and students up to 12 years old)


EPIC! image from https://www.getepic.com/; Vimeo video from https://vimeo.com/134162145 (created using The Explain Everything app, iMovie, GarageBand, & Pic Collage)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Eco Leaders: Starting Young & Leading the Way

It's never too early to start making a difference.

Just take notice of these 12 young men & women.
They know that, and have led the way in environmental activism:



I came to learn about this dynamic dozen in my son's 3rd grade class this past year. Moving away from researching historic leaders like Theodore Roosevelt or Leonardo da Vinci (who are great and important leaders), the teachers compiled a list of 30 contemporary young leaders. Kids and teens who followed their passion to make a difference.  Social & environmental leaders who were struck with inspiration, then made a major decision to do something to take action & engage others.

The enthusiasm about these young leaders was "sparktastic" within my son's class.  The students compiled their internet research and were abuzz about the TED talks they watched the GoFundMe pages some of them visited. They researched, wrote, presented, and created amazing 3D structures to showcase their Leader.  They then shared it all out to parents and students by way of their class-created Leadership Museum.

The interactive infographic above will introduce you to 12 of the 30 young environmentalists my son's classmates studied.  Kids, teens, & young adults who followed their passions, making a difference.  But 12 is just the tip of the iceberg. Check out the Kids Are Heroes website to be inspired by a slew of other young people who are indeed heroes, leading the way!!

If kids can do it, so can we!
Big or small, it all counts.


Interactive infographic made with the Pic Collage App & Thing Link https://www.thinglink.com/scene/673530599092256769; snapshop at the Leadership Museum from my camera.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Embarking in Infographics 101: Presentation Station

I kicked off the summer in "presentation mode."  There was certainly a level of "no rest for the weary" with that game plan!  But the good thing about starting the summer that way is that relaxation follows along with the bulk of the summer.  As I ponder that (from a pool floaty), I'm pretty happy with the timing!
As I mentioned before, my school offers an optional "Summer Institute" to it's PS--12th grade faculty and staff during the summer.  A place to come, to learn, to build & enhance our craft as educators, to strengthen our teaching skills while following the trends of current education.  As we pursue the "love of learning" and the "pursuit of knowledge," our teachers are our colleagues, and in turn they become both our mentors and our learning mates.

This summer, I got the opportunity to co-teach the Summer Institute class "iMovie for iPads" and solo-teach "Infographics" the first week of this summer. As I prepared for my "Infographics 101" class, I got the chance to massively grow my infographics Pinterest board, investigate 5 online infographic creators along with the iPad app "Pic Collage." I also got to be energized by my learning colleagues in class.  One day (6.5 hours) and I got to witness so many great ideas, so much electric energy and enthusiasm!

Along the way, I found a slew of environmental (and other) infographics to share my message. There's a lot you can do in your classroom, both teaching with infographics, as well as creating your own. I look forward to sharing them with you!

Check out my presentation below or at Slideshare.



Slideshare "Infographics 101" presentation created by me, at http://www.slideshare.net/thirdgrade/infographics-for-the-classroom-elemhs; image from http://libresources.lrei.org/content.php?pid=436135

Saturday, July 11, 2015

#10 Reasons (+11 More) Why LEGOs Are Eco Awesome


If you are a parent of builders, or a builder yourself, you don't have to be convinced of the magic of LEGOs. But in case you do, here are #10 reasons (+11 more) why LEGOs most certainly are awesome! Eco & otherwise!

1. Lego is Pursuing a Move Away from Plastic:  
At the tune of $150 million, LEGO is hot on the pursuit of a sustainable, bio-based material to replace of the iconic plastic block.  After 65+ years of parents stepping on carpet-hidden plastic blocks, it's hard to imagine LEGO stepping away from the 6,000 tons of plastic they use annually in production. Their goal is to make this move by 2030.

2.  Female Scientists Make the Mini figure List:
For the 2nd year in a row, female scientists have made the roster of notable minis.  This year's biggie on the list honors oceanographer Sylvia Earle.  Other key female players include veterinarians, aerospace engineers, mechanics, & members of a pit crew.  In 2013, the first female lab scientist surfaced; and in 2014 a female paleontologist, astronomer, & chemist cropped up.  More female kits and sets are in the works (including a proposed Jane Goodall)! 

3.  "Big Bang Theory" makes the LEGO Set & Mini figure List:
Additionally, there's an August 1st release next month of the cast/set of Big Bang Theory.  In addition to Sheldon & Leonard [the male theoretical physicists], Raj [astrophysicist], & Wolowitz [aerospace engineer], there's also some pretty sharp ladies in the mix.  There's Penny [who has risen from actress/waitress to pharmaceutical salesperson], microbiologist Bernadette, & neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler.  Bazinga!

4.  LEGO Says Adios to Shell Oil:
Greenpeace put the pressure on with their 2014 video showing a plasticized Lego arctic being buried under oil.  This outrage against the continued Shell Oil drilling of the arctic is what cause LEGO to quit their long-time ties with Shell.

5.  LEGO Rental & Reuse Sites Are On the Rise:
Sites such as Pley and Rebrickable are on the forefront of acknowledging that LEGOs, though great, aren't cheap.  So, rather the purchase them all at a minor mint, these rental & reuse sites bring about the green cycle of "reduce, reuse, recycle."
6.  There's a LEGO world out there, possibly bigger than LegoLand:
MOCpages.com is a major LEGO fan community."MOC" (or "My Own Creation") pages is where you can go to record images of what you have made via your LEGOs, and it serves as a great digital show and tell. Founded by LEGO artist & aficionado, Sean Kenney, it's a free community, available to and for all.

7.  LEGO Itself Knows How to Do Education:
Where MOCpages is not affiliated with LEGO, this LEGO Education portal is.  Here you can find the most recent online catalog, any late breaking news & events, check out LEGO education, and also dive into LEGO Education Global. Find also grade level resources, specialty kits, after school programs and more.

8.  LEGO Artists & Sculpturists Showcase the Magic of Making
Nathan Sawaya & Sean Kenney are a mere two who prove that LEGO's aren't just for kids anymore.  These two artists have taken LEGOs to new heights, taking designing and LEGO artistic engineering to new heights. I wrote about Nathan Sawaya this past Earth Day when I used his Philadelphia Franklin Institute Exhibit "Art of the Brick" to a kindergarten LEGO activity with our Earth Day Maker Night & iPads. Sean Kenney also has internationally touring exhibits, 8 best-selling children's books, & many original designs for sale. His "Nature Connects" series (currently at a number of arena's in North America) puts 1.6 million LEGO's to work creating life sized nature-oriented sculptures, many life-sized or larger, bringing "nature's beauty & whimsy to life."

9.  And in Honor of the 4th of July...
... and through this September, you can see Old Glory, waving her LEGOs & her red, white, and blue.  At the Smithsonian American History Museum in DC, our American flag is being built from the ground up.  Super-sized.  I wonder how many people can actually walk by and NOT take part!

10. The 2015 Academy Awards
It's not often you see not only a LEGO animated movie, but a live-actioned replica of the movie.  But that's exactly what the Academy Awards did during their Oscar's presentation.  "Tegan & Sara" sang their "Everything Is Awesome" LEGO Movie theme song, with real life singers and dancers bringing the music and Movie to life  Add in that Nathan Sawaya created golden LEGO Oscar Statuettes.  Outstanding!

LASTLY....
#11--21.  But Wait! There's More!
+11 Awesome LEGO Facts That Will Make You Want to Break Out the Bricks Again from The Huffington Post.

Do you have a favorite way LEGO has made your day--
eco-wise, or any other way?


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer Time Is Professional Development Time

Anyone who is a teacher knows two things:

1.  Summer is a long awaited gift.  A time of decompression, reflection, & rejuvenation.

2.  Summer in NOT totally relaxation & time off.  Minds are a-whirling for the year ahead almost before decompression truly sets in.

It is in that gift of summertime (where 12 months have been jammed packed into 9-10 months of late night paper grading and weekend lesson planning) that a bounty of professional development can occur. Likewise, some amazing summer opportunities of workshops, conferences, continuing education classes, professional development, and books on bed stands or in Kindles, waiting to be read.

At my school, each summer we have a "Summer Institute" of optional all day professional development educational opportunities, with a complete course selection set up throughout the summer.  The main reason is to help PS--12th grade teachers at our school grow in our craft and stay in touch with educational trends.  (More on that later!)

Here's some of the #EdTech professional greats that have been happening out there already this summer.  Even if you missed them on the front end, you can catch up on the learning that happened here:

iPadPalooza:
When & where was it:  June 23rd--25th at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas
Ways to learn, after-the-fact:
     --iPadPalooza Presenter Resource Page
     --Creativity is Key" post at ZigZagging Through Education & Technology
     --Check out @iPadpalooza or #iplza15 on Twitter

ISTE 2015:
When & where was it:  June 27th--July 1st in Philadelphia, PA
Ways to learn, after-the-fact:
     --Google Doc of Session Notes
          (tons of links!)
     --#NotAtISTE2015 Livebinder 
          (again, tons of curated content)
     --TeacherCast video of ISTE 2015
           Pre-Show Podcast
     --Check out #ISTE2015 and
           #NotAtISTE2015 on Twitter

EdCamps 2015:
When & where:  ongoing in many locations, just check the website of upcoming free one-day camps to find one near you.

Educational Trend Websites:
     --Mindshift  (Future of Learning)
     --Edutopia  (K-12 Tips & Strategies)
     --The Learning Network (from NY Times)
     --Educdemic  (Connecting Education & Technology)
     --Education Closet  (Arts Integration & STEAM)
     --Education World  (Ed resources spanning the disciplines)
     --Make Magazine  (Maker Movement)
     --Brain Pickings  (Cross Disciplinary Treasure Trove)

Podcasts & Webcasts:
      --TeacherCast University
      --SparkChasers
      --ISTE
      --Michael Hyatt (not related to #EdTech, but more to leadership,
           and fabulous with every listen!)

What are some of your favorite summertime professional development offerings?


Images:  Summertime: pic from my camera, created using the Motivational Poster app; ISTE by Numbers infographic from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=475&category=ISTE-Connects-blog&article=Infographic%3a+ISTE+2015+by+the+numbers

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Freedoms, Flags, & the Fourth

No, I'm not bellowing "Braveheart's" iconic sound byte: "Freeeeeeeeedom!"

But, that being said, the 4th of July is upon us, and it brings about thoughts of our freedoms.

It's been a week and change here in the grand ole U.S. of A. A week+ OF change!  "Freedom" has taken new heights.  Unless you have been living under a rock the last 7--10 days, the Supreme Court has aok'ed and authorized gay marriage in all 50 of the United States.  Rainbow flags are a-flying.  As they should be.  Let's vote in honor of "happy."  ALL people are entitled to the right to be happy! We all deserve to be happy, especially as life is hard enough.

There's also the counter-flags, the ones that are NOT a-flying. The move to bring down the Confederate flags in the aftermath of the Charleston church massacre is a good one.  President Obama excelled as an orator during his eulogy at Rev. Clementa Pickney's funeral.
"It's true, the flag did not cause these murders... but we all have to acknowledge the flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride. For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation. We see that now....By taking down that flag, we express God's grace." ~Pres. Obama
There's even the new freedom to take pics at the White House.

Then, there's the "green" flag that was flown symbolically by way of The Pope's Encyclical!!  Way to go, Pope Francis, defender of our planet!

Yes, freedoms abound.  
And with that comes responsibility.

As a long-time liberal, I have always been in favor of "happy." I see the "freedom of happy" as extensive.  I think of conversations I've had with people who feel others "should" & "could" be doing things differently--for reason A, B, C, X, Y, Z. Given the very recent history of the US, it causes me to ponder: "Why do we all care what others are doing or what others are caring about?  Does it matter to us?"

The answer is no--others' lives are theirs. Our business is ours.  

We all have the right to be free, to go forth, and to...
  • love one another,
  • love ourselves,
  • help our planet,
  • refuse,
  • reduce,
  • reuse,
  • recycle,
  • take responsibility,
  • take action,
  • make a move, 
  • make a motion,
  • fight for what we believe in,
  • share what's good,
  • not get sucked into the vortex,
  • turn on our minds,
  • turn off the social media influences,
  • fill ourselves with the power of good versus the power of evil,
  • make healthy choices,
  • share our messages,
  • pursue happiness,
  • take part in incremental change,
  • learn something new,
  • be true to our friends, family, and selves,
  • be innovative, be creative, be inspiring, and be connected.
This 4th....go forth & be happy.  
Embrace love, embrace each other, embrace what surrounds you.  

What makes you happy, and what freedoms inspire you?!


Freedom Wordle:  http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-freedom-word-cloud-image13269107 ;  flags: http://www.truthrevolt.org/sites/default/files/styles/content_full_width/public/field/image/articles/gay_marriage_81102178.jpg?itok=67iw93y3; freedom & happiness: http://www.liveluvcreate.com/image/freedom_and_happiness-290909.html, Sparkler heart: http://4theloveofyoga.com/yoga-sequences/4th-of-july-freedom-yoga-flow-celebrate-being-free/


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Say It Loud, Say it Proud: Plastic Bag Free Day 7/3/2015

'Tis the season, in good ole USA to be readying for that red-white-and-blue day, Independence Day. A day of freedom...as well as festivities, BBQ's, pool time & picnics, fun, frivolity, and fireworks. Hamburgers, hotdogs, & apple pie.

In order to plan for such yummy kind of fun, you need to go shopping.  Grocery stores do well, no doubt, here in this week before the 4th of July.  Think about your 4th fun prep, or even your last supermarket run.  If you are like me, you came home with a bunch of bags of food and a sundry of other household goods.

Ask yourself:  Are you a paper, plastic, or reusable bag kind of person?

Well, the push this week, especially Friday, July 3rd, to go plastic bag free.  Grab your reusable bags and get thee to the store, loaded and ready to go shopping.  Why?  The reasons are numerous (many of which are detailed in the infographic below, as well over at the International Bag Free Day website.  My favorite plastic bag fact happens to be that plastic bags, which take potentially 1000 years to biodegrade, have a typical life span of about 25 minutes of use--from store to door.  That's a lot of lifetime of waste for the minutes of convenience they provide.

For more resources, check out Plastic Bag Free's Resources.

So your challenge:  can you embrace the freedom of the Fourth of July, and go plastic bag free this holiday?  I think you can!  So, armed with knowledge, your next stop should be your grocery store.  Shop 'til you drop for your Independence Day extravaganza, bringing in your own bags, so you can come out without the additional plastic waste!  Then picnic and party on in style!

For more resources as to how to have an additionally eco-friendly 4th of July, check out Sprout's 2014 post on the subject.



Images from:  http://cdn.history.com/sites/2/2013/12/independence-day-parade-P.jpeg; http://blog.sproutwatches.com/index.php/2014/06/how-to-have-a-eco-friendly-4th-of-july/; infographic from http://newhope360.com/blog/infographic-cost-plastic-bag; Bag Free World Logo http://www.plasticbagfreeday.org/

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bill Nye, Emojis, & Climate Change! Oh My!!

It really doesn't get much better than this:  It's like the ├╝ber Reese's Peanut Butter cup where a whole lot of great tastes taste great together!!

Working with GE, Bill Nye (yes, "the Science Guy") has begun a web science series.... with a little help from his Emoji friends. First tackle: holograms. Second tackle:  Climate Change.  (It's real, we can use those words, Florida & Wisconsin & other climate denier states.  Just because you don't want to believe it doesn't mean it goes away!)



This is all a part of the bigger idea that Bill Nye & GE have co-constructed.  #EmojiScience is a 5-part series that will (as Jeff Beer says in his Fast Company article) "hit on topics like energy efficiency, mapping the mind, and materials science, in which recent discoveries show serious potential to impact the world."

Also featured on the EmojiScience website is the "Emoji Table of Experiments."  Might just be what the doctor ordered to spice up your child's summer for those blissful moments of boredom when true creativity & exploration happen!





Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPqd20tdncg and can also be found at http://emojiscience.com/
Emoji Periodic Table from 
http://www.fastcocreate.com/3039715/ge-drops-some-social-science-with-the-periodic-table-of-emojis