Saturday, July 30, 2016

San Fran Styrofoam Ban

Anyone who has been following along over here for any amount of time knows that I am NOT a major fan of Styrofoam (aka polystyrene). In fact, I have my children well versed to know that "evil" and "styrofoam" are two words that are locked together.  It's an environmental and health nightmare:



Good news earlier this month comes out of San Francisco. Starting 2017, San Francisco becomes the first city to ban polystryrene as part of their 2020 Zero Waste Goal.  Let's all raise our non-Styrofoam glass to toast this great eco-win!

To learn more about the polystyrene ban, check out this article from LiveScience and watch the video below.


Image from https://earthrespect.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/7266564_orig.jpg, Video from https://www.facebook.com/WeHateToWaste/posts/1440054946011970

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Building a Wall: With Brik Tiles & Legos!

Who doesn't love Lego's?  In fact, a year ago, I wrote about 11 ways why Lego's are downright awesome!

Well, thanks to a new Kickstarter that's out there, we can bump it up to 12 or more!  Who out there, especially anyone who has played around with the Maker Movement, hasn't dreamed about a Lego wall?]

Looks like the Brik Tile is going to make it. With only a few weeks to go in their Kickstarter campaign, the Jolt Team (creators of the BrikBook) are well over their $30,000 goal. The best part--estimated production and delivery, October 2016!

I see a world covered in Lego tiles! If anyone is going to "build a wall," this is the best kind of wall to build!


Image from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/joltteam/brik-tile-legotm-compatible-wall-tiles; Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMRCSrb3Lqk

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Eco Tips on a Dolphin Trip

It's exciting for this li'l eco-warrior when I'm trekking about and happen to see environmentalism in action.  One of our favorite day was our dolphin excursion. We got to pet, kiss, high 5, and kick-board swim with the dolphins.  I discovered they are incredibly, surprisingly strong creatures as they pushed our feet and kick-boards went zooming.

While meandering about at the dolphin center, I ran across some signs detailing some eco tips.  So, of course the camera came out, along with the poster-making apps. 

We are one world--let's all take care of it together.

Photos from my camera at Dolphin Discovery.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Think Eat Save: Reducing Your Food Footprint

It's always interesting when you are living life for a week in another country.
In addition to immersing yourself in a little bit of relaxation, you get the great opportunity of seeing the sights of another culture.  Not only seeing their history, but the little things as well.

One of the very interesting sights I saw was at a buffet on a catamaran day trip we took.  Posted above the pans of amazing food dishes was the following sign:

Anyone who is a mom knows that these are the little messages we all share with our kids.  Especially at a buffet.  That whole "make sure your eyes aren't bigger than your stomach" thing.  I like that here it is a posted message of environmental awareness to help us all reduce our food footprint.

Speaking of which, here's a good video highlighting that same importance in the grocery store. It shows the journey that food goes through to get to your fridge.  Therefore, once it gets there, make sure it gets eaten and does not go to waste or compost.



Photo from my vacation camera, Video from https://www.facebook.com/TheHungerSite/posts/10153793205643366

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Effects of Food On Your Brain

In the summer, I'm always thinking about health, fitness, and nutrition. I think it's that thing called "the gift of time."  That, and there aren't the fast food runs that seem to happen on busy nights of school events or soccer practices.

Here's one of the many gems over at TED-Ed.  My latest discovery of their treasures is "How the Food You Eat Affects Your Brain" by Nia Nacamulli. This video analyzes how food affects our mental functions. Why we might be sluggish after lunch, why we peek and drop after a sugar fix, and how protein, fatty acids, carbs, and more affect your brain in different ways.


For lesson follow-up activities to use in class, be sure to check out the video over at TED-Ed.

Video from http://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-the-food-you-eat-affects-your-brain-mia-nacamulli, infographic from http://www.dallasnews.com/lifestyles/health-and-fitness/health/20150302-how-your-choices-affect-your-brains-health.ece

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Getting Away: The Secret of Life

I'm getting away.

Getting off the radar.
Getting out of the country.
Passports are packed!
I'm sleeping in.
Getting up early.
Lounging and adventuring.
Sitting by a pool and perhaps even drinking yummy fruity concoctions.
Or two.
Seeing exotic sights.
Seeing sunrises and sunsets.
Taking advantage of the best parts that summer has to offer.
Getting away from the rut, the homework, the chores, the papers to grade, the people you love in your own house to go visit other people you love.
Doing the kinds of things that you should do in the summer.
Especially teachers.

Can't wait for the rejuvination!


Reminds me a bit of a Faith Hill Song:

"The Secret Of Life"

Couple of guys sittin' around drinkin'
Down at the Starlight Bar
One of 'em says, "You know I've been thinking"
Other one says, "That won't get you too far"
He says, "This is your life, and welcome to it
It's just workin' and drinkin' and dreams
Ad on TV says 'Just Do It'
Hell if I know what that means"

The secret of life is a good cup of coffee
The secret of life is keep your eye on the ball
The secret of life is a beautiful woman
And Marilyn stares down from the barroom wall

"You and me, we're just a couple of zeros
Just a couple of down-and-outs
But movie stars and football heroes
What have they got to be unhappy about?"
So they turn to the bartender, "Sam, what do you think?
What's the key that unlocks that door?"
Sam don't say nothin', just wipes off the bar
And he pours them a couple more

'Cause the secret of life is in Sam's martinis
The secret of life is in Marilyn's eyes
The secret of life is in Monday Night Football
Rolling Stones records and Mom's apple pie

Sam looks up from his Sunday paper
Says, "Boys, you're on the wrong track
The secret of life is there ain't no secret
And you don't get your money back"
Hey

The secret of life is gettin' up early
The secret of life is stayin' up late
The secret of life is try not to hurry
But don't wait
Don't wait

The secret of life is a good cup of coffee
The secret of life is keep your eye on the ball
The secret of life is to find the right woman
The secret of life is nothin' at all
Oh, it's nothin' at all
The secret of life

Couple of guys sittin' around drinkin'
Down at the Starlight Bar
One of 'em says, "You know I've been thinking"
Other one says, "That won't get you too far"
"That won't get you too far"


Lyrics from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/faithhill/thesecretoflife.html, image from http://newmedia.thomson.co.uk/live/vol/3/2ff032ce052f193dcb21b89f455d7b9dd44c3f1e/658x370/web/CARIBBEANMEXICOMEXICOCON_MEXMEXICO-CARIBBEANCOASTCANCUNRES_001227MOONPALACEGOLFSPARESORT.jpg

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Straws: Sipping & Stirring Up Major Eco Issue

Here are some interesting visual factoids about the hidden environmental impacts of something so simple that we all use with probably every fast food run we make: straws.

They look so friendly and inviting when they come to us at the restaurant, greeting us there in our soda on the table.  

And yet...

Linda Booker wants to do something about this straw situation that's in front of us.

Linda along with Blair Johnson, who also produced the documentary Bringing It Home: Industrial Hemp, Healthy Homes, and a Greener Future for America, are the masterminds behind this next eco-documentary-in-the-making.  They have developed a whole Kickstarter program to help fund this next documentary all about the perils of this slim little sippers.  Check out trailer and Kickstarter plee here for Straws: A Documentary Film for a Sea of Change:


If you are feeling the straw-impact after watching this, please donate to the film.

Here are other places to learn why you should take a stand against straws:


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Updated Periodic Table of iPad Apps

I love infographics, and this may just have topped the list of best one ever--especially related to the edtech world!  Behold, the iPad Perodic Table of Apps, Volume 2 created by Mark Anderson.


I love the color-coded highlighted skills of creativity, demonstrating, learning, workflow, teaching, collaboration, numeracy, and literacy. The only thing that could possibly make it better is if it were ThingLink hotspot-activated. Maybe that'll be a summer goal of mine.  On top of all the other personal agendas I have!  (Insert wink emoji here!)  Or, if anyone finds THAT one (or Mark Anderson, if you make one!), please let me know!!

For high definition image, you can find it here.

Then, go forth and send it to all of your #edtech buddies and pals who coexist with you in iPadLandia! Your next stop after that may just be your App Store!

Images from
http://emojipedia.org/winking-face/, periodic table image from http://ictevangelist.com/periodic-table-ipad-apps-vol-2/

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Park Match From "Funny Or Die"

Leave it to "Funny or Die" to take a twisted turn on the National Parks #FindYourPark and the many National Park Service apps that are out there. The comic geniuses created a fun tongue-in-cheek video comparing the app to a dating app where you can find "love....exciting and new" at a national park near you!

It's a fun way to get inspired to go to your nearest app store and check out one of the following apps to help you navigate to your nearest national park.  (All listed below are free!)
Then, once you #FindYourPark...perhaps it will inspire you to grab your hiking shoes or your camping gear to get you outdoors, moving and grooving and enjoying nature.  What a great plan for the summer ahead! Plus, humor is ALWAYS a grand companion! Might be a great way to celebrate America this 4th of July weekend!

 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Tale of An Environmental Teacher

Once upon a time,....
there was a girl who taught at a very "green" school where they recycled, composted, built rain gardens, had green roofs, raised oysters, grew butterfly gardens, had an entire week dedicated to Earth Day, hosted Earth Hour events, and much much more.

She taught there for a very good long time. There, she was quite in her element, integrating curricular topics on the side of sustainability.  Her students were mesmerized by books like Operation Redwood. They graphed light usage and how long it took different items to biodegrade.  They did biographies on environmentalists such as Jacques Cousteau, Sylvia Earle, Jane Goodall, and John Muir. Her students weekly cleaned and counted Capri Suns to send back to Terracycle to reduce landfill waste. She was even rumored to have a majestic dress made entirely out of Capri Suns. Oh yes! They all ate and breathed the "green" scene.

Until one day....this wonderfully special school closed.

It was at this point the the friends/teachers/colleagues/families/students were quite saddened that they had to scatter like seeds in the wind.  Scatter they did.  They all landed well and started their next phase of happily ever after at brand new schools, public and independent, spread all over the community.

As would not be surprising, our one, same teacher gal also found a new school to call home. Here she got to embark on being the "iPad Lady," bringing new and innovative ideas to classroom teachers at her new school, helping her colleagues find ways to integrate technology and the curriculum.  And all was very good for her first new year at a new elementary school.  Not as "green" as where she'd been, but a good place to land all the same.

Then one summer day about 2 weeks before school started before her 2nd year there, our teacher was asked to do a favor. Would she kindly take on a homeroom classroom due to an unexpected leave of absence by a teacher on staff. This was quite a surprise, but of course she said yes. She embarked on both the hurry and scurry of setting up shop for the incoming students, as well as the "hurry and worry" on mentally getting her game on. She had to switch gears and go into classroom teaching mode versus just teaching tech with an office and classroom visits. It was supposed to be a short-term fill, but as often happens in this tale called "Life," more unexpected things happened, and she stayed in this spot for the whole school year.

There, with her students, she did what she knows how to do best.  She shared the importance of caring for our planet through student-driven tech investigations. She shared the concern of marine debris through mockumentaries and ocean cartoons. She read some of those same books as read-alouds that she had always read in the past. She embarked on a journey with a team of 3 other teachers to help the school become a Maryland "Green" School.  They triumphed and the designation was awarded!

Of course, as happens, the school year came to a close.  In addition to all of those eco-things, our girl helped her students prepare for the next step, write their end of the year speeches, and wrap up the year.  In return, her students surprised her with a very remarkable gift.  Based on her love on the environment, and their love for her, she was given a sizable donation in her name to a local environmental charity, promoted to conserving the Chesapeake Bay.  A gift was given that will keep on giving. The donations will continue forward to help further more environmental programs.

As her son once said in Kindergarten:  "Mom, it's all physics.  The world loves a circle."

A circle indeed. Those seeds that scattered to the wind with the closing of a school, had been sown. More environmental stewards had been grown. The circle of conservationism and environmental sustainability continued to grow outwards.

A circle indeed.  For the love shared and the love spread was more touching than I can describe.   I should know.  I know that girl, that teacher, very very well.

Thank You! Which, of course, is a most delightful way to "End."



GTG logo from http://www.greenteamgazette.com/; Capri Sun dress from http://www.greenteamgazette.com/2015/10/halloween-blasts-from-pasts.html; Michael Recycle costume image from http://www.greenteamgazette.com/2011/10/bein-green-this-halloween.html; CBF image attributes noted above & from https://www.cbf.org/join-us/tribute-gift-e-card?eCardViewKey=5a011206-1af7-4baf-afe6-f1174581b099

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Nemo Nursery

AJ+ is a mecca of informative, fun, insightful videos.  This latest video of theirs struck a chord as the natural follow-up to may last post "Finding, Not Buying, Dory." In it, I was moved by the phrase in the following AJ+ video "Nemo Nursery."

No, not this:

...which you can apparently get for $170 through Disney Baby.
But rather, baby clownfish breeding center.  THAT kind of nursery. And the best part, it's in a school in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, where the primary students are doing the hard work. It's literally a school raising a school (of fish)! How neat is that--especially given it certainly is a one of a kind school and unique learning opportunity for these children.

Students of Belgian Gardens State School are learning some real world education and the importance of being stewards for their environment.  Their proximity to the Great Barrier Reef no doubt helps strengthen their commitment and sense of responsibility.  In 2015 alone, students raised 100 clownfish.  The school has been doing this as a part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Reef Guardian Program for the past 6 years.  Why are they doing it?  To minimize the number of clownfish taken from the Reef every year.

These are the lessons of school that will stay with these students for a lifetime!

I love the way the AJ+ video ends:  "WWDD:  What Would Dory Do?"
I think we all know the answer to that!
 

Video from https://www.facebook.com/ajplusenglish/videos/750710591737117/ , images from http://www.disneybaby.com/products/finding-nemo-premier-4-piece-crib-bedding-set/,  kids and clownfish image from http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/townsville-schools-nemo-nursery-helping-to-protect-wild-clownfish-20160615-gpjjiz.html 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Finding, Not Buying, Dory

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the long-awaited sequel to "Finding Nemo" came out this past Friday.  That movie sequel, 13 years in the making, was of course called "Finding Dory."  We were away camping opening weekend, so we are still behind the times.... but we are so ready to see it!  Especially given we used to have a dog named Nemo, and due to that fact "Finding Nemo" was the first movie we took our daughter to go see, then still wee. Given that, this movie is truly on our bucket list.

After the first four days, "Finding Dory" made $154 million, which is far from chump change! Given that and it's frenzied fans who have been eager to see this blockbuster for years, Dory is going to be swimming in some cash--or at least her human producers and participants are.  With anything like this, the desire to own exotics goes up, crafting a dangerous imbalance on the delicate species.

Likewise is the same for the blue tang that Dory is.  Here's a great mini-clip on why we all should "watch" Dory, rather than "buy" her.  Don't let your desire to grab hold of nature put this li'l gal and her family in a perilous state.  Maybe that's where you need to "just keep swimming" and make more realistic choices for your fish tank!  For more help in finding a "just-right-fish" for you, check out the info page over at Disney's "Finding Dory" website to help you select the perfect fish for you.




"Watch Dory, Don't Buy Her" video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47iwWsycszE, image from http://movies.disney.com/finding-dory

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Hallmarks of a Good Father's Day

Step into the Hallmark Store at this time of the year and you will find the Father's Day cards sandwiched between graduation and all the other special occasion cards.

The cards fall in a variety of emotions, but often feature dad as the handyman, the grill master, the rugged outdoors man, the sports enthusiast.

With our li'l family of 4, we welcomed our Father's Day weekend in the woods. A-camping we did go. True tent camping, for the first time in years. For 4 days & 3 nights we were riverside in the woods of Harper's Ferry, WV.  3/4 of our long weekend, the weather couldn't be more ideal. Even better, we survived the torrential downpour of the first night, staying dry and with a good sense of adventure all hunkered down inside our tent.

Falling right after my teacher meetings ended, this weekend was a symbolic kickoff to summer--not to mention, a great way to decompress. A way to be sure to slow down, appreciate all that surrounded us. A way to breathe a little easier, take time more in stride and on its own time table. A way to gasp in the sunrises and embrace the sunsets over the camp-side Potomac river. We got lost in the flames of the campfire (& a good book or two), got absorbed in the fun of the conversation, while basking in the beauty and green all around.

I got a great dose of Vitamin N.  Nature!

I also got to see the my husband, my kid's dad, in his Hallmark Card element:
• He was the handyman who took the lead in prepping our campground with protective tarps both above and below our tent to keep us dry from the rain we knew was coming.  He patiently showed the kids how to hammer the stakes, creating quite the trio of tent builders.
• He was the grill master at work, baking bacon first thing in the morning to start our day with the tasty yumminess and sustenance that only bacon (or steak) can bring.  Watching him guide my daughter in flipping burgers to perfection made me smile, and thankful that he was tackling all the cooking.
• He was the rugged outdoors man who built our fires, trekked the trails, and 4-wheel-drove us down the rocky hillside to our campsite.  He romped in the river with the kids to splashing about with them.  Their giggles crossed over to where I was sitting, and I found my heart filling with love for my family.
• He was the sports enthusiast who spurred us on to try new and different things, encouraging family fun and bravery while zip-lining and white water rafting. He helped us all step outside of ourselves to try something new, but was also playfully pushing me out of the raft in flat water, but also grabbing hold of my son when he almost flipped out as we hit a wave hard.
In addition to seeing my husband in these "Hallmark" moments, I also had many memories this weekend of my own father, who passed away 5 years ago. We never went camping together when I was a kid, but my family always went on adventures and annual vacations. Some exotic, some rustic, and many of them were ones where the mini grill often came out of the trunk for a hotel side cookouts. There were playful times together including outdoor outings with a bit of hiking and some stream investigations where Dad and I would skip stone after stone. Where love, laughter, good times, and togetherness are all a part of the memories in the making.

These are all the hallmarks of a good father... 
and the hallmarks of making good memories.  

May you make some wonderful memories with your father today and children today, 
or celebrate the memories made in the past 
with your dad in days gone by.  

Happy Father's Day.   


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Collection of Commencement Speeches

Today was my first official day of summer after all of the end of year events with kids--from the annual field trip to Hershey Park with my 5th graders to the final 5th grade promotion speeches as they gear up to move ahead to the middle school.  We had our days of meetings to wrap up and time set aside to pack up. Moving from one classroom to another, I did a lot of overhauling of things hidden away in closet boxes where they had lived a long time.  So files are now tidy, the closet is ready for its new recipient, and my new space is now ready for me to return in the fall.  We finished up with the end of year faculty luncheon where everyone celebrated accomplishments then bid adieu for the summer.

In this season of wrapping up, it becomes exhausting and overwhelming at times, but it brings about a good sense of closure and accomplishment. Like tying up the year, a package with a bow. 

In this season of speeches, I wrote one of my own to serve as inspiration to my students that we all had something to say, here at the end of the year.  As my students delivered their speeches on that last day of school, I found myself grinning to such a degree that by the end, my cheeks hurt from smiling! 

Given all of that, I think I've become more aware of all the viral commencement speeches that swirl about on social media.  I've found myself collecting them, much like someone would collect precious stones, commemorative stamps, or beautiful shells.  I've already shared Matt Damon's 2016 speech he delivered at MIT.  Here are my 3 other favorites this season.  May they fill you with wisdom, and may they make you think!

Historian & Documentarian Ken Burns:


Harvard's Dean James Ryan:


Mike Rowe's Practical Advice
(a different slant than the typical commencement speech!):


Pictures from my promotion & http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=97881&picture=christmas-gift-box, Videos from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEIFuEcjn_s, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBvyBn6crLE, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVEuPmVAb8o

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Our Hearts Break Once Again: Not Another Mass Shooting.

I'm saddened, hugely so, by the news du jour.

Orlando, I am soo, soo sorry.  For your pain, for your loss, for being here once again.

It just isn't right.  And there aren't words enough.  It is just. plain. wrong.

My heart goes out to all of you who were at the Pulse and witnessed this first hand. My heart aches for the family members who were struck with middle-of-the-night fear and fled to the scene of the club or the hospital to find your people. I hope you were in the 5/6 that found your people alive.  Life is meant to be filled with love, not this.  Why are we still judging people because they find safety, security, and comfort in a place that welcomes LGBTQI? Everyone, no matter who, should have a place they can go where they feel comfortable.

End of story.

I find it all so horrific, so sad, so pointless. All this hatred. I'm so sorry we are witnessing yet another perilous public crime that has dramatically & brutally changed the lives of so many and their loved ones.

I don't like to get political (more than eco-political, I should say), but today I am urged, nudged, spurred to go there.

There is not a word "enough" to describe the sickening feeling I get for this. "Horrific," which I have used in my own world, isn't even enough. Slate posted video with Chris Leinonen's mother who was still awaiting the news on her son earlier today: was he hurt? injured? or elsewhere with a dead phone, unable to connect?  On the original Slate post on Facebook that I saw, a few people were slandering this mom and Slate for theatrics. ??!! Really?!? Anyone who is a parent, anyone who has the wherewithal to put themselves in another person's shoes would never EVER say such an idiotic thing. What is wrong with people in this nation?!!?

Add in, I predicted to my husband that people would start coming out saying its Obama's fault. An hour later, true to point, I saw on Twitter that Trump thought Obama should resign on this. Because hate crimes only happen on certain party's watch!?! No. Hate is hate. And unfortunately these mass slayings have been happening more and more, not just over the last 7 years. A trend over the last 20+ years. All parties considered. All partied connected. All parties implicated. It's not just a "party" thing or a "Democrat" thing. It's a sad thing that is completely out of control due to assault weapons, mental illness, and more. We need to come together in this pain. For the 50 who died tragically due to one person's evil and the 50+ who are injured. Pointing fingers, name calling and more are pointless and get us nowhere.

There are so many who are saddened here by the events and the new reality in their personal lives.  When, in the midst of tragedy, will be the turning point?!

To visit the GoFundMe page to donate & help today's tragedy, click here.

Video from https://youtu.be/znAGAarlrNc; Images from http://haikugram.com/post/134468120876/the-weather-forecast-an-ill-wind-blowing-cloudy; Pulse ribbon: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10208750256450053&set=a.1560333204538.78229.1121535789&type=3&theater; Meme from https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/03/f6/d3/03f6d319fdb8645e0a90deb01b4ee89b.jpg

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Learning Through The Launch Cycle

'Tis the season of graduations... I've lived through a few of my own this week!  Between hearing the speeches of my many 5th grade students, and feeling the pride watching my own daughter walk across her 8th grade stage, graduation reflection is all over my mind:

Students are launching into that next step in their journey. Thinking about it, you can almost envision the Life Launch Cycle, as students jump through the hoops of growth and graduation, making their way through all the important milestones:  Kindergarten graduation, 5th grade graduation, 8th grade graduation, high school graduation, college commencement, to weddings, parenthood, and then their kid's own personal achievements.  And the circle continues on.

Since life certainly seems to have a synchronicity, it seems just the right time to happen upon The Launch Cycle, a book by John Spencer and AJ Juliani about the Design Cycle in the K-12 classroom.  On their website on the Books & Resource Tab, they have other videos like the one below, which are tied to chapters of the book.
"Something happens in students when they define themselves as makers and inventors and creators. They discover powerful skills-problem-solving, critical thinking, and imagination-that will help them shape the world's future ... our future." ~From The Launch Cycle Website
      

For some great ways to "launch" into some of your own design projects (or to fill that summer slump of bored kids in your own house), check out the Global Day of Design's Website.  (As an aside, this year's Global Day of Design was April 26, 2016.  Stay tuned as next year's may very well next April!)

And "circling back" to graduation... isn't that what graduation is all about?  We go through life in a design cycle, coming to one end, which leads to a new beginning.  The proverbial "When one door closes, another one (or a window) opens." We go through personal design and redesign all the time.

Life IS the ultimate design process.


Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhQWrHQwYTk; "LAUNCH" cycle image from http://thelaunchcycle.com/; grad cap pic from http://www.datemplate.com/post_graduation-diploma-and-cap-hat_254810/

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Follow Matt Damon's MIT Advice: "Turn Toward the Problems You See"

It's commencement season, and all around speeches swirl. I've even written my own personal graduation speech in attempts to inspire my 5th graders in writing their promotion speeches, which they will eloquently deliver on Tuesday.

Matt Damon spoke Friday to 2016 graduates at MIT. He spoke as only Matt Damon can: with humor (at times self-deprecating), with environmental urging, with encouragement toward innovation, and with a lot of wise, thoughtful remarks.  He spoke of his experience at Water.Org, and he of the importance of "turning toward the problems you see."  Both the problems and the possibilities.

Here are two his most poignant quotes:
"Either way, what we do matters. What we do affects the outcome.... So either way, MIT, you’ve got to go out and do really interesting things. Important things. Inventive things. Because this world ... real or imagined ... this world has some problems we need you to drop everything and solve."
"What do you want to be a part of? What’s the problem you’ll try to solve? Whatever your answer, it’s not going to be easy. Sometimes your work will hit a dead-end. Sometimes your work will be measured in half-steps.... But for all of you here, your work starts today."
But what you really need to do is watch the 20 minute speech in its entirety below.  Then you need to go forward, turn toward the problem (your choice), and start working today.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summertime Cheers: Composting!

There are definite items for me that just scream "SUMMER!" (Maybe in the same way Mel Gibson in Braveheart screams "FREEDOM!"):

-No doubt, for me (& all teachers): The countdown to the last few days of school, & of course, the official last day of school. 

-Memorial Day Weekend = The Gateway to Summer.

-The opening of our backyard, pool--nothing extravagant, but mine!

-Heat! Sun! (Especially after an incredibly rainy Spring).

-Vegetables & fresher, cleaner eating.'

-Time!  (To cut all of those extra veggies! Not to mention, read books and do all those other things I can't quite fit into the school year.)

-Tank tops, shorts, bare feet, & breaking out the non-classroom summer wardrobe.

Today, I had one of those "Summer" moments mentioned above, where it definitively felt like we had arrived.  Chopping some vegetables for some folks who were coming over, I was collecting up the leafy ends of the celery and the centers of the peppers. I was chomping on the ugly carrots that weren't pretty enough to make the veggie tray display. And I was delighting in the fact that I could walk those leafy discards to our backyard compost.  As I told my 5th graders a few weeks ago, I'm the unusual one (the eco-warrior they'd come to know and love) that was tickled pink with the backyard composter that I got this year for Mother's Day.

After nearly 2 years away from the Fort Knox of Compost at my former school, I'd been missing it.

When you have had the 7-year experience of teaching at a mega "green" school where they compost daily... and where I had the infamous "Dabrowka Bucket" of compost that I brought to school weekly for six of those years... this compost-creation of soil had been a part of me.  It was summer salads that had initiated our compost bucket--a 5 gallon green camo bucket that became infamous at our school. I remember the sadness I felt when we learned that the school would be closing.  Yes, it was my home away from home, the safe haven of schooling for my own kids, my place with my people, and a spot where all of us had grown up and grown together. But a part of my melancholy in leaving was also in knowing I'd have to retire my li'l camo compost bucket, which was another huge part of that school & its history for me.

I'd been feeling the last 2 years that I'd been letting the planet down with all of those watermelon rinds and waste-food going to the live in the landfill.  It had pained me a little bit, every time I took another bag of "green" garbage to our trash can.  Paper towels I think were my worst guilty-inducing offender.

But now, thanks to Mother's Day love, I can just walk all that out the back door, deposit my veggie scraps, & smile.

It's the little things in life that make us happy.

Summertime cheers to my veggies, my composter, & the fact that my personal shade of green just got a li'l bit darker!


Images from http://media.photobucket.com/user/JesusFreak783/media/world%20history/Braveheart-7.jpg.html?filters[term]=braveheart%20freedom&filters[primary]=images; "Compost" lettering from http://www.sibrecsa.fr/images/compostage/illus-compostage-02.jpgcompost pic from my own camera.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Barefoot Badminton & Exploring the Idea of Earthing

After a very rainy-season springtime, with less than stellar temperatures, a rash of 3-4 sunny days of glorious temperature (in a row!) is down right nirvana.  Earlier this week, at school we had a half day "Hump Day," which developed into an afternoon of boy-bonding with my son.  We wrapped up the evening with a riveting game of backyard badminton.  Based on the way we played, badminton is would never be considered an Olympic sport at this house!

We giggled as our birdie flew every which way but the right direction.
My son was much more of a diver than me.  By the time we were done, his knees were grass-stained-green, and the bottoms of both of our bare feet were were far from flesh-colored at this point.

Sitting at the back patio table, I found myself contemplating the day. It made for a nice time and place to reflect upon our afternoon, watching the dusky sunset begin its blanketing descent.

It also got me thinking of some some of the Shawn Stevenson Model Health Show Podcasts I've listened to lately where Shawn discusses the concept of "Earthing." This of course, further reminded my copy of Richard Louv's "Vitamin N" that I'm eager to dive back into after report card writing season is over.

"Earthing" or "Grounding" is simply defined by reconnecting to the Earth's energy by way of bare feet. The benefits are many:

These two videos below further help simplify the many reasons why Earthing has so many positive effects, and it helps you grasp the idea of grounding.  (Of course, I'm chuckling at the irony here this eve given that my husband was wrestling with ceiling fan electrical issues and the house's grounding wire while I was pondering the Earthing version of grounding...in order to help us all feel more "grounded!")

What is Earthing? from Earthing.com




Earthing/Grounding by Dr. Laura Koniver, MD (The Intuition Physician)



To further your own investigations of Earthing, check out these links.  Then, go take off your shoes, and let the crisp spring grass tickle your toes and reconnect you to the Earth!  Or better yet, make a badminton date of your own!

Images from https://pgoaamericanprofile2.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/what-is-badminton.jpg?w=670&h=405&crop=1https://www.instagram.com/p/vPVl8XByzn/, and https://hrexach.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/opinions-vary-what-is-earthing/
Earthing.com video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4F8mterVGE; Dr. Laura Koniver's video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjKCoHWl6f0

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

MidMonth #Climate Manifesto: 10 Year Anniversary of "An Inconvenient Truth" #AIT10

What were you doing 10 years ago?

(Here's the part where we all start doing our own historic, personal & mental math, figuring out just exactly where we were and what we were doing, way back when.  And hopefully it is NOT a scene similar to the one from the 1989 movie When Harry Met Sally when Billy Crystal [in an attempt to make conversation] asked his young girlfriend where she was when Kennedy was shot, and the pretty young thing answered, "Ted Kennedy was shot?")

So, 10 years ago = 2006.

10 years ago yesterday (May 24th), An Inconvenient Truth came out.  For those of us who lived through the "dangling chad" era of the Bush-Gore Election of 2000, An Inconvenient Truth brought a new light to politics and to Al Gore himself, 6 years later. Seen more as an intellectual than an a fallen future president, Al Gore and his image instantly turned (with the tables) with this movie alone.  Well, at least for those of us in the environmental sphere. "Al Gore for the Win!"...regardless of presidential status.

Given all of this, history leads to hashtags this week as #ait10 is sweeping the Twitter-waves.  Take Action has inspired this hashtag along with the invitation to share our story of our memories and how this pivotal film has hit us--both then and now.
“In this 10th-anniversary year of the release of the film, I am proud of the progress we have made. Solutions are now within reach. But more than ever, there is no time to waste. We must bring these solutions to every corner of the globe.”— Jeff Skoll, founder and chairman of Participant Media and executive producer of An Inconvenient Truth
Here is a good place to follow up on #ait10 and see some pretty amazing video commentary.  Some of the featured speakers:
  • Jordan Howard, Jordan Howard, activist, Social Goods Strategist
  • Ed Begley Jr., actor and environmentalist
  • Bill McKibben, founder, 350.org
  • David Suzuki, cofounder, David Suzuki Foundation
  • Michael Brune, executive director, Sierra Club
  • Tara Deporte, founder and executive director, The Human Impacts Inst.
  • Lilly Belanger, program director, No Impact Project
  • Davis Guggenheim, director, 'An Inconvenient Truth'
  • Gregg Renfrew, founder, Beautycounter
  • Nancy Pochis Banks, artist
  • and more!
I love watching these commentaries and how this movie impacted each of these individuals.  You see the birth of activism.  It's empowering.  It's what we need.  People being strong, believing in "whatever" it is that they believe in.  It gives passion and purpose to people.  It moves you to be moved.

I am only sad that we are still arguing the existance.  Dan Gutman, children's author and novelist, put it poignantly the other day on Twitter:

Seriously, people.  On the spectrum, what's more important? Our existence or which bathroom we use.  And let's just make sure we are washing our hands, regardless of which bathroom we use!

On this 10 year anniversary, I re-watched An Inconvenient Truth... it's probably my 3rd or 4th viewing ever--but it's certainly been awhile.  Seemed like the reflective thing to do, here, 10 years later.  Again, my eyes opened, and again I pondered... so what if we are wrong,, and the worst case scenario is that we improve our planet. OMG! What if we improve the planet!!?!

For those of you who haven't seen it in 10 years....or forever, you can find it at Amazon and you can rent the DVD at Netflix.  I'm sure you can happen upon it elsewhere as well.

If you're like me, and you can't quite get enough, as it feels like it just propels you to become one with the Earth and your own inner activist, go forth and check out these TED Talks:
Images from http://www.postonline.co.uk/IMG/604/91604/10-years-ago.jpg; http://www.postonline.co.uk/IMG/604/91604/10-years-ago.jpghttp://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/national/gore-top.jpg; Dan Gutman screenshot from https://twitter.com/DanGutmanBooks?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Eyes & Ears Still in Awe of Prince EA

Because I just can't seem to get enough from Prince Ea.

And because he seems to be everywhere I turn:
Seems fitting here on a "all report card writing kind of weekend."  A lot of "need to do," and not as much true on, spot on living.  Need to change that up!! With the weight of the report cards off, I think it might just be able to happen, this next wkend ahead!!

What "One Song" are you going to sing this week?


Prince Ea's video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ja-n5qUNRi8; image from http://lybio.net/wp-content/uploads/Prince-Ea-Everybody-Dies-But-Not-Everybody-Lives.jpg

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Graduation, Reflection, & Speech Writing-- The End Is Near

My 5th Grade students are writing their graduation speeches this week. Promotion. Moving on. The passing of the torch. They are readying to leave us and our campus this year... Next year they will be going forth to our Middle School campus, on to new adventures, and on to new experiences.

While they are gearing up to do that, a dozen days before the end of this school year, I am reading through 18 speeches.

It is during this time that I am reminded of the school year we all enduring, and the history of the last 9-10 months. I'm struck by a lot of memories my students are sharing, the ones we have all enjoyed. I know that there are most certainly a lot of personalities in this class of mine... and I have enjoyed watching them blossom as we have been growing together through the year.

I have also learned a little bit about me through this whole "5th Grade thing". When I started this year, I never thought I would be teaching 5th Grade. My plans were to teach Technology and be "The iPad Lady," Everyone loves the iPad Lady.  I remember the call I got from Head in the middle of August saying "I'm really hoping you'll do me a favor." I thought she wanted me to make a PowerPoint for the back to school meetings!  She didn't.  It was a tad bigger than that. Instead, she asked me to start teaching the Fifth Grade class due to a teacher going on leave.  Little did I know where this would take me.

Initially I thought it would be for 2 weeks.. 5 weeks... maybe even 12 weeks.  It was more.

And more, it certainly was.

I think this year has taught me, more than anything, that life is what happens when you're busy planning for one thing that happen, but then something completely different happens.

So... I became a Fifth Grade teacher. At first for the short term. Then for the long term.

In doing so, I opened my heart to these 18 people in my class who are so full of energy, humor, vim, vigor, and zest. Sometimes they make me crazy.  But I would guess that probably the reverse is true. No matter what, I think we have learned a lot from each other, and I think maybe... perhaps... We have had fun along the way.

Maybe the truest question is:  who has learned more? Them? Me? It's potentially a toss up!

These 18 students of mine are sitting at the crossroads of Elementary School and Middle School. The 3 months of summer is what separates them from being the "big man on campus" and the "new kid on the block." As they transition between the old and the new, my students will indeed graduate from being assured of where they are in 5th grade at the Lower School campus.... to being at the doorway of a new place, as a new face, of Middle School.  But my students bring with them every bit of who they are and where they have been.  They bring with them an understanding of "Yes! I can do this."

They are strong... they will persevere... and they will take this new adventure by storm! I know them, all 18 of them. Therefore, I know it is true!