Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Earth Day Bitmoji Board o' Books

bean bag chair chill

Anyone who has been hanging around for any amount of time over here knows that I am a major fan of Bitmoji Boards as an edtech way of sharing resources.

Here is a great that I ran across for Earth Day, created by @MissHecht. You can find this and approximately 80 more of her Bitmoji creations at her LinkTree Account. She has one on Recycling, Biomes, and Animal Adaptations too, which might also serve your environmental needs here this Earth Day. You can also buy her (aka Bridgette) a cup of tea as a way of saying thanks, or follow her Creative Teaching with Miss Hecht page on Facebook.

 
Bitmoji Boards created by @MissHecht and you can find them to make a copy of her amazing boards at https://linktr.ee/misshecht

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Environmental Justice Resources


From the EPA website, "environmental justice" is not as simple as a Websters definition. In fact, it has 3 defining points:


Sadly, over the eras, many of our black, brown, indigenous, and impoverished people have been living in the places where most of our environmental hazards have occurred. Some are due to bad luck and poor living conditions. Some are due to white communities adopting a NIMBY attitude (aka: "Not In My Backyard"). And sadly some have been purposeful governmental choices... making injustice far from a coincidence and rather by design. Due to this, environmental racism is a real thing.

A lot of conversations have been happening over the last year or so particularly centered around racism. Nationally, it certainly came forefront to us all as we sat at home, gazing at our televisions and the news as there wasn't much else to do in 2020 in the middle of a pandemic and we saw the stories of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor surface. Likewise, we have also been talking about a lot of diversity, equity, and inclusivity issues at my school--more this year, but it's been a growing conversation over the last several. Books like Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho (and his YouTube videos), White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, and How To Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi have been on my reading list over the last two years.

Given all of that, I was particularly struck when I ran across this extensive compilation of anti-racist resources for nature lovers. That was a thing? Why yes, it is--because of environmental justice (and injustice). Compiled by Wilder Child (a great website and now one of my new favorites to follow on Facebook as well), the resource list is entitled "Decolonizing Nature Connection: Resources for Raising Anti-Racist Nature Lovers." In addition to environmental justice by way of everything mentioned above, interestingly enough, nature is not necessarily as accessible as one would imagine! Environmental injustice has made being out in the great outdoors a more "white thing" than I ever thought. I mean, nature is free, right. And yet, I'm learning, it's not as free as I thought it would be.

The resources are plentiful and all through the lens of environmentalism. It provides a lot of interesting choices for my 52 Weeks/52 Books goal this year. In fact, my next book ready to read in my Kindle app is J. Drew Lanham's book The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature, one from the "Decolonizing Nature Connection" list. I'll be reporting back later on that read after I finish it.

If all of this leaves you wanting to dig more than into Wilder Child's growing list and you find yourself interested in doing a deeper dive into the conceptual background of Environmental Justice, check out these two articles:
Collage created on Canvas.com using pictures fromhttps://images.app.goo.gl/fbEiM9kfthK3Q6FHAhttps://www.teatown.org/what-is-environmental-justice/, and https://comingcleaninc.org/environmental-justice, definition of Environmental Justice is a screenshot from https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/learn-about-environmental-justice, Dr. Robert Bullard quote image created on canvas.com, screenshot of "Decolonizing Nature Connections" by Wilder Child from https://docs.google.com/document/d/18-D6-ZZA5rmgiapiokAFMte3isYK8dVqXswE8d16xlQ/edit?fbclid=IwAR3LHO0HsmE0trGYJ9PYUsooCPu2GcJdiTUs3wXS-prKv98Gs9nOyLAG1Sc

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Nature Is Part of Our Nature: A Reminder of the Benefits of Being Outdoors



Spring has sprung and the weather is warming. Thank the Lord almighty! The long winter with the Covid connection on top was getting to be too much. 

I'm gleefully ready to move on from the winter blues (made worse this year from the pandemic) and and probably an inkling of seasonal affective disorder. Spring is the perfect time to reset our internal clocks and sync them with the biorhythm of our circadian clocks. We finally get to feel the sun on our faces, warmth rewarded with short sleeves, and I'm finding myself outside and writing in a state of supreme bliss in my favorite office!

I often find myself circling back to this topic of the therapeutic nature of nature. Where we get our Vitamin D from more sun than our vitamin bottles, and we can rejoice in Vitamin N: Nature. 

Yes, theoretically we can do this in the winter too, but I am indeed a winter wimp, smiling more in the sunshine and warmth.

Nature certainly is part of our nature. This image showcasing a slice of a tree stump and a fingerprint really does put the finger on the pulse (pun intended).

These articles highlight the multitude of ways 4 mentally, physically... of ways being out in nature can "do a body good" psychologically, spiritually, physically, mentally, "decompressionally," educationally, developmentally, with your sleep health, and more 

And just a few from the GTG Archives:

So do yourself a favor: Find a nice healthy snack, a lovely lemonade, a tasty green tea, or just a big thermos of water and go find yourself some nature. Maybe a hike, a picnic, a sit spot, or a lounge chair. Soak up the sun, watch some birds, listen to the pounding of woodpeckers and other bird calls, watch some scampering squirrels or chipmunks, marvel at the glistening of sun on a body of water....and bask in the benefits of being outdoors. 

Images from: May you find yourself: https://www.facebook.com/chelsey.bahe/posts/10164989735150581Tree seasons from http://www.felicia-levy.com/2017/10/14/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/Tree-fingerprint from https://www.facebook.com/flowwellbeingnetwork/posts/226598855788156

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Happy Easter Weekend 2021

It is in the spirit of spring weather that I send you warm wishes for a joyous Easter. 

Be healthy, safe, and breathe in the beauty of the outdoors.


Image created at canva.com

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Eunice Foote: Foot at the Front Door of Climate Change

Closing the door here on Women's History Month as we make our way to April, we're going to take a sneak peak at Eunice Foote, one of the first to actually have her foot in the door and finger on the pulse of climate change.

Eunice is a little known female environmentalist and women's rights activist, however surprisingly, she was one of the first to introduce the idea of global warming and climate change.

Born 202 years ago in 1819, Eunice Newton Foote (of Seneca Falls, New York) was a physicist, inventor, and women's rights advocate. Through experimentation over time, Eunice studied the sun's rays effects on different gases using an air pump, glass cylinders, and thermometers. From there, she wrote up her findings in a paper in 1856 entitled Circumstances Affecting the Heat of the Sun's Rays. It was presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting by male scientist Joseph Henry rather than by Eunice Foote herself. The reason for this is not clear given she presented a different paper of her own the following year.

However, it was Irish physicist John Tyndall who is often credited for the discovery of the greenhouse effect (which is the foundation of global warming and climate change) in 1859--three years after Eunice's paper!

What is likely is that Eunice's work was probably unknown by Tyndall, due probably to the fact that women of that era were not revered in the science fields. Secondarily, the primary folks in the field at that time were Europeans, not Americans. Thirdly, Eunice held the status of amateur scientist, making it yet another reason why her name did not circle in all the right places. Additionally she did have some flaws in her study, yet despite that, she was the first to make the full connection. Given that recognition is due where it is due, Eunice was noted (posthumously)  to be the first to notice carbon dioxide and water vapor absorbed heat--linking to how our atmosphere would lead warming the planet with increased carbon dioxide.

To learn more and further tip your hat to Eunice Foot as the "Mother of Climate Change," read these articles and watch either of the animated video or short film below:

Photograph of Eunice Foote from https://www.comoxvalleyrecord.com/opinion/science-matters-the-woman-who-discovered-global-warming/, sketch & writing picture from https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://allthatsinteresting.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/typing-woman-vs-footes-research-featured.png&imgrefurl=https://allthatsinteresting.com/eunice-foote&tbnid=95oF71LWBr2nHM&vet=1&docid=5qhn66NSg3KgYM&w=1100&h=585&source=sh/x/im, Videos from https://youtu.be/09yKxAB9IlM and https://youtu.be/WxgAOKzOcBU

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Earth Hour Tonight & "You're The Voice"

"You're The Voice" is perfectly named for this anthem, put together by the group 1 Million Women. Although it was released in 2015, it may not be something you have seen before. 

Sharing it here during March & Women's History Month & on the day of Earth Hour is also well-timed. So many times throughout the course of history, women's voices have been silenced. Yet here, it serves as the perfect foil--countering the silence and being the voice of change, climate action, hope, and leadership.

It also is the perfect anthem for Earth Hour, a long-standing, environmental and global grassroots movement dating back to 2007. Make your voice heard tonight, Saturday, March 27th from 8:30--9:30 in your time zone by turning out your lights. Also, be sure on the 27th to check out Earth Hour's virtual spotlight. To learn more, check out my previous GTG post from 3/20/2021.

Earth Hour's Virtual Spotlight Video: Share it forward!

Image created on canva.com and Video from https://youtu.be/7-3FuApUbnc and https://youtu.be/hvBsgfn_cvY

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Women's History Month, Environmental Style

I can't let March go by without a conversation or two about Women's History month, especially as it is tied to environmentalism. Truthfully, I don't believe in "The Months" as a way of teaching anything. It often pigeon-holes people to thinking that Black History should only be discussed in February, Women's History in March, Asian Pacific History in May, LGBTQ Pride in June, Hispanic Heritage from Sept 15-October, and Native American History in November. I'm sure there are many more "months" out there. Truthfully, all of these marginalized groups should be daily-remembered in any unit of study. 

Case in point, I was sharing Computer History with my 2nd graders the last two weeks and I detailed my "places it happened scavenger hunt" of Sillicon Valley from Summer of 2018. That was the expedition I navigated while my husband drove all around (God love him) soI could see the places history happened: the Hewlett-Packard garage, the garage of "the Steves" (Wozniak and Jobs) where Apple was born, Google, Facebook, meeting Carl Sjogreen of Seesaw, and more. What I discovered as I was preparing to share my photos and the backstory of computer history through those pics was all of the people that were missing. I was sharing it in March, so did that mean I should only be sure to include the famous women innovators in the tech field of Silicon Valley? No! So I made sure to share a collection of women of all ethnicities and a number of non-white men as well. We definitely had an open conversation on the "who's missing in these pictures?"... followed up by "look at all of the amazing things women and non-white men did as well."

This is how all concepts should be shared in 2021. And it's something we talked about in my Master's program, well over 20 years ago as well.

But, "The Months" do help give structure to those who aren't already thinking along the lines of being inclusive across races, genders, sexualities, nationalities, economics, and more. So for that reason, I think it's necessary to specifically pay tribute to a few of these women environmental leaders and change makers. 

I've listed the ladies names & major accomplishments under the resource that discusses them where you can go to learn more about how these fabulous females made a difference. I wasn't at all surprised to see repeated names on the list. With the first mention of her name, I included a brief description of what each woman (along with her birth and possible death date). Over half of the list was new to me, and it really highlights how fundamental and phenomenal each of these women are!


A Mighty Girl's Guardians of the Planet: 16 Women Environmentalists You Should Know (6.5.2020)

  • Anna Botsford Comstock (1854 - 1930) -- environmental educator, author, first female professor at Cornell University 
  • Kate Sessions (1857 - 1940) --"Mother of Balboa Park" who is responsible for gardens & park & tree planting in San Diego 
  • Rosalie Barrow Edge (1877 - 1962) -- founder of the Emergency Conservation Committee & world's first refuge for birds of prey. 
  • Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1890 - 1998) -- author of The Everglades: River of Grass and avid conservationist
  • Margaret Thomas Murie (1902 - 2003) -- known as the "Grandmother of the Conservation Movement" & key player in passing the Wilderness Act
  • Rachel Carson (1907 - 1964) -- marine biologist, author of Silent Spring which helped push for the creation of the EPA and the elimination of DDT
  • Dian Fossey (1932 - 1985) -- American primatologist who studied gorillas in Rwanda
  • Jane Goodall (b. 1934) -- British primatologist & world expert on chimpanzee in Tanzania and animal welfare advocate
  • Sylvia Earle (b. 1935) -- marine biologist, oceanographer, first woman Chief Scientist at NOAA, and founder of Mission Blue
  • Wangari Maathai (1940 - 2011) -- Nobel laureate, first woman in East & Central Africa to earn her doctorate degree, and Kenyan founder of the Green Belt Movement to empower women and plant trees in deforested areas of Africa.
  • Biruté Galdikas (b. 1946) -- primatologist who studied orangutans in Borneo and created a rehabilitation center for reintroducing orangutans into the wild
  • Winona LaDuke (b. 1959) -- Native American activist, founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project and Honor the Earth
  • Erin Brockovich (b. 1960) -- public health and safety activist who exposed groundwater contamination in Hinckley, California
  • Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores (1971 - 2016) -- indigenous environmental justice activist for the Lenca people of Honduras
  • Isatou Ceesay (b. 1972) -- known as the "Queen of Recycling" in The Gambia, creator of the One Plastic Bag movement, & women's empowerment through environmental advocacy
  • Greta Thunberg (b. 2003) -- Swedish teenager who is a dedicated climate change activist 

Heal the Bay's "Five 5 Women Environmentalists Who Changed the World" by post by Mariana Estrada (3.8.2021)
  • Wangari Maathai
  • Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores 
  • Isatou Ceesay 
  • Winona LaDuke 
  • Vanessa Nakate (b. 1996) -- Ugandan founder of the Rise Up Movement & climate change activist

University of Connecticut's 5 Women Who Have Revolutionized the Environmental Movement (4.12.2018)
  • Rosalie Edge
  • Sylvia Earle
  • Wangari Maathai
  • Lois Gibbs (b. 1951) -- public health and safety activist who brought attention to the Love Canal, New York neighborhood that was built on top of a toxic waste site and founder of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice
  • Vandana Shiva (b. 1952) -- Indian ecofeminist, biodiversity expert, author, and creator of the international college for sustainable living: Bija Vidyapeeth

  • Jane Goodall
  • Sylvia Earle
  • Wangari Maathai
  • Rachel Carson
  • Vandana Shiva
  • Isatou Ceesay
  • May Boeve (b. ~ 1984) -- environmental activist & cofounder of the climate change awareness website 350.org which is dedicated to reducing levels fo carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
  • Marina Sylva (b. 1958) -- environmental & social justice activist, politician, and Brazilian Amazon Rainforest advocate
  • Greta Thunberg
  • Vanessa Nakate

SF Environment's Celebrating Women Environmentalists During Women's History Month

  • This article is a comprehensive list of 41 environmental activist American women! Surprising too are that there are still new names! 
  • Included in the list: Jane Adams ~ Mollie Beattie ~ Frances Beinecke ~ Julia "Judy" Bonds ~ Reverend Sally Bingham ~ Carol Martha Browner ~ Rachel Carson ~ Aurora Castillo ~ Ruth Chickering Clusen ~ Heidi Cullen ~ Laurie David ~ Marjory Stoneman Douglas ~ Dianne Dillon-Ridgley ~ Sylvia A. Earle ~ Rosalie Edge ~ Lois Gibbs ~ Dr. Dianne Glave ~ Maria Gunnoe ~ Dolores Huerta ~ Celia M. Hunter ~ Lisa Jackson ~ Lady Bird Johnson ~ Elizabeth Kolbert ~ Winona LaDuke ~ Maya Lin ~ L. Hunter Lovins ~ Sophie Maxwell ~ Margaret “Mardy” Murie ~ Donella H. "Dana" Meadows ~ Irma Muñoz ~ Barbara Y.E. Pyle ~ Marjorie Richard ~ Linda Sánchez ~ Susan D. Shaw ~ Hilda Lucia Solis ~ Sandra Steingraber ~ Wilma Subra ~ JoAnn Tall ~ Kimberly Wasserman Nieto ~ Dr. Beverly L. Wright ~ Elizabeth Yeampierre

All banners created on canva.com

Top banner images from https://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=11863--Pictured in order: Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Wangari Maathai, Sylvia Earle, Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores and Greta Thunberg

Middle banner images from https://greenpop.org/10-woman-environmentalists-you-should-know-about/--Pictured in order: Vandana Shiva, Marina Silva, May Boeve, and Vanessa Nakate

Bottom banner images from https://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=11863--Pictured in order: Kate Sessions, Isatou Ceesay, Dian Fossey, Rosalie Barrow Edge, Erin Brockovich, Winona LaDuke, and Margaret Thomas Murie

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Earth Hour: March 27, 2021 @ 8:30-9:30 pm

A week from today, next Saturday, March 27th, is Earth Hour. This has been one of my go-to annual events. Since 2007, starting solo in Sydney, Australia, then going global, lights go out locally the last Saturday of March from 8:30-9:30 pm in your time zone. 

Like "the wave" this time-zone-centric "lights out" approach helps bring an awareness to climate change. 

As with just about everything else this last year has had to adapt and change in their approach. Gatherings couldn't happen last year for Earth Hour, so instead, it went online and you could go to a "candle'ed approach" to Earth Hour in your own homes.

This year too, innovation must prevail. Earth Hour 2021 inspires everyone to still click off your lights for that hour, but then also to go online and take action to spotlight our planet, making this year's Earth Hour their first "Virtual Spotlight." So just in the past the spotlight was on turning off the streets, building, landmarks, and more to draw attention to climate change, this year, that awareness will be highlighted online with a social media blitz. The goal, to flood the Internet with their Earth Hour video they'll be posting on all of their social media pages. Share it forward and spotlight the importance of Earth Hour and planet Earth by posting, re-tweeting, emailing, DM-ing, and more on all of your social media platforms. Their goal....to make it the most watched, most trending video of the day, passing the message far and wide.

Where will you find this Earth Hour Virtual Spotlight video?  
All of the following next Saturday, on March 27th:

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Green Your Day o'Green: Happy St. Patty's Day

As we have all learned during this last year, levity, fun, and humor have been the things that have severely missing. Given the weight of the last post, I thought celebrating the green o'St. Patricks Day may be the way to go. 

Go green this green holiday with these 20 ideas of  how to green up your St. Patty's Day in the greenest of eco-ways on this Irish day!

1. Don't go buying new green for your wearin' o'the green. Check out your closet and go with something you already have.

2. Want something new-to-you to wear? Visit a thrift shop and take advantage of the "reuse" industry.

3. Bow out of the glittery green hair sprays and face paints that are far from natural. Go re-usable with necklaces, hats, and accoutrements to jazz up your St. Patty's Day style.

4. Same for all of the plastic festive wear. #PlasticIsNotFantastic

5. Looking for some festive wear for your table? Use the real stuff or purchase the biodegradable variety of cups, plates, napkins, and silverware.

6. Make sure all recyclables get into your recycle bin.make sure beer cans, bottles, and other recyclables make it into the correct bin.

7. Drink eco-friendly Irish coffee.

8. Even better....take your own reusable mug.

9. Start the day instead with a green smoothie or some lovely green tea.

10. Make green the theme for your meals. Get a hefty dose of those leafy greens or other veggies in your meals du jour.

11. Going traditional feasting fare: go organic, local, grass-fed corned beef.

12. Or, move away from the meat-heavy traditional foods as meat-eating animals require a lot of environmental resources.

13. Get your green by getting outside and getting some Vitamin D, some Vitamin N(ature), and some exercise.

14. When indoors, turn off or unplug anything electronic you aren't using. Save that phantom electricity.

15. Same goes for the lights!

16. Go green with your cleaners (though, let's be honest, who's cleaning on St. Patrick's Day? Not this li'l leprechaun!)

17. Support green, eco-friendly businesses and restaurants. GreenAmerica.org is a great place to go to size that up.

18. Drink organic green beer....or at least support a local brewery.

19. If you are hitting the Irish pubs, skip the plastic straws in your beverages.

20. Likewise, if you are out and about, consider ride sharing to get home safe and sound.


All of the ideas are inspired from the following articles if you want to dive in and read more!

Kiss Me, I’m Eco-Friendly! 5 Tips for a Truly Green St. Patrick’s Day

Putting the Green in St. Patrick’s Day

REALLY Go Green with Eco-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day Activities 

How to Green Your St. Patrick's Day

15 ShamROCKIN' Ways to Go Green this St. Patrick's Day (and every day)!


Art created at canvas.com 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

One Year: Through The Eyes of a Quarantine

As we hit the one year anniversary of when many schools and communities in the United States went on shutdown March 13th, 2020 due to the novel coronavirus, the phrase "through the eyes of a quarantine" came to mind. This led near-instantly to Lin Manuel Miranda's song from Hamilton coming to mind:  "Through the Eyes of a Hurricane." I played around with modifying it:

In the eyes of a quarantine
We are homebound.
While the virus swirls,
A pandemic.

March 13 of '20, a quarantine
Locked us all down
In every town.
Near nation-wide, a long year now.

That's about as far as I got.

A year ago, I didn't have an inkling that we'd be here, in this way, an entire year from then. Silly us, as we prepped through the end of February and the start of March for the potential for remote learning, none of us thought it'd be more than a few weeks or a month at most. When glimmers of conversation cropped up in the news it could be until 2021, I found it unbelievable and despairing. 

And here we are now. A year later.

Some schools and children have been on remote learning for an entire year, or darn near close.

Last spring, I wrestled with remote learning. Then I learned this fall that hybrid learning and teaching to half the class in the classroom and the other half simultaneously via zoom is actually harder. Last April, who would have thought those words would be coming out of my mouth! As teachers and students alike, we have worn our masks--or 2 simultaneously--all day long every day since August. Essential workers in our own classrooms. 

Whether remote or hybrid (or perhaps some schools even full back in--ours is going that route after our Spring Break), we've become worn out. We've watched numbers spike and dip down then spike up again. We've started seeing variants make their way like a wave across the planet. We've missed out on a lot of golden moments and memories and milestones. It's been a really long time since I've seen my mom outside of a computer screen. In fact, all of 2020 and then some. 

And we've also been frustrated as we see people we know (either in our paths or on social media), doing their own things, taking trips or having parties, making us feel like some of us are working so hard to do the right thing, while others gallivant and "live life because its meant to be lived," yet in the middle of a pandemic, it doesn't feel right or just. This leaves some of us "pangry" [pandemic angry--yes, it's a thing], and that too has an exhaustion associated with it. Especially as variants crop up and we feel the never-ending-ness of this pandemic.

But...we've seen the glimmer of hope too. For some, that comes with a new president. For even more, it's associated with the virtual "light at the end of the tunnel" with vaccines and the science and money backing them. More hope coming forth too as more and more of those vaccine make their way into arms. As a teacher, I'm thankful to be bumped up on that list with both vaccines behind me--and in me.

I ran across an article entitled "What the Quarantine Can Teach Us about Zero-Waste Living, Saving the Planet, and Hope" by Sophie Hirsh on GreenMatters.com with the environmental sites I follow. A Google search will lead you to a bounty of similarly themed articles about what we can learn from this time. The eco-tie-ins are many:

During the pandemic, we've eaten at home more--meaning real food, healthier options, and reasonable portion sizes (versus the super-size portions of many restaurants, which then leads to waste or even obesity). We've learned to make do with what's at home because a trip to the grocery store can feel cumbersome with masks or the need to order online. The same is true as we've been less likely to go out shopping and coming home with things we don't need. Inadvertently, many of us have lived a more minimalistic lifestyle. We've seen we can get away with less... and it also has created innovative work environments, making us rethink work and school. We've also seen evidence in the early days of the planet restoring itself with cleaner air and animals reclaiming some urban areas which encroached on their natural habitats. Despite it being a drastic measure, clearly, it's doable. And we are starting to see some of those eco-initiatives come through in Biden's presidency. 

I purposely chose the masked Mona Lisa in my opening art because it feels symbolic of the year. Part of the allure of Leonardo da Vinci's famous work is the mystery of Mona Lisa's smile. Eyes and smiles go together. Part of the intrigue over the Mona Lisa painting is in her eyes, which seem to follow you. It has a name: the Mona Lisa effect

Over the last year, especially teaching in a mask (and seeing the daily Zoom thumbnail of myself), it's true that you definitely can have smiling eyes. But, the true connection in the smile is the part that's now-been-hidden behind the mask for a year now. Paralleling a lot of human connection that has been missing in our adapted lives this past year. 

As more and more people get vaccinated, we are able to come a little bit more out of our hidey-holes. We can start to re-gather together into shared living space as Spring starts to flower and warm. May we carry forth some of the importance lessons we've collectively learned. May we really be able to "see".... and may we smile and embrace joy, despite the loss of a hard year.


Art created at canva.com; Mona Lisa masked pic in stock art on canva.com; 3 pandemic pictures from the following: https://www.weareiowa.com/article/news/nation-world/merriam-webster-top-word-of-2020/507-451a352e-c31c-402f-85ee-8938bf785861, https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2020/12/01/pandemic-chosen-as-word-of-the-year.html, and https://leslieannetarabella.com/2020/12/nothing-good-about-2020.html/

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

A Bounty of Books, All About Nature

I love books. Picture books. Novels. Nonfiction. Biographies. Mysteries. All of them. Of course, we all have our preferred genres, but gravitating towards books is something I always do.

I think it's the teacher in me. At my previous school, my class library was second in size to only the school library when it came to numbers. Now, sadly, many of those are in boxes in my garage or other classrooms as I now have a mere office versus a classroom. Additionally, I spend most of my time at school not even in my office, but visiting other classrooms, doing my edtech thing. 

As for my house, my own kids have certainly graduated past picture books, so those shelves too have been thinned. But books are still part of my blood, and this year I'm striving to read at least one a week (novels and nonfiction, not the picture book variety). And, most of my books these days are on my phone in my Kindle app.

But given books are as much a part of me as my personality, that's why I love lists like this, where there's a bounty of books.  Kudos to Penny Whitehouse at MotherNatured.com for compiling this list of "100+ Enchanting Nature Books for Kids." 

Seeing this list, and loving how each title is linked and ready to be shopped, I want to dive in and go order a bundle. Here's where willpower is tricky when you have a book obsession like me! 🙃

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Thomas Crowther's TED Talk on Biodiversity & Restor

Much like the soothing sound of the birds and crickets that open this TED Talk, Thomas Crowther's voice is equally relaxing as he details the importance of biodiversity for our planet. In his talk "The Global Movement to Restore Nature's Biodiversity" from October 2020, he details the research on reforestation. 

As he says, restoration and reforestation is not the single solution to climate change. It isn't just about offsetting emissions, but it is one of many solutions to help bolster our current ecosystems. 

Additionally Crowther discusses Restor, an open data platform that will launch fully later this year to crowdsource data on restoration projects. This will ultimately accelerate both the acquisition of environmental data and knowledge to lead to environmental progress. By learning from each other, this "digital ecosystem" helps inform future actions and projects. Backed by Google and other science and tech partners, we see once again how innovation is what will help make the global environmental changes we need.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Richard Byrne's Discovery, Discussion, Demonstration Framework


As the Lower School Technology Specialist, I'm always on the look out for the latest and greatest tech tools for the classroom. Digging into new tools, especially in this hybrid/remote learning world we are living in has continued to be one of my passions, and I'm always on the lookout for new ways to help my teachers engage their students. 

Because of all of that, Richard Byrne has been one of my go-to's throughout the years, and I've written about my adoration for all he does to help teachers integrate technology. I get his weekly newsletter  detailing his latest posts on Free Technology for Teachers. He also writes Practical EdTech.com too.There are always edtech gems in there that get my wheels turning. 

In one of his latest newsletter, he mentioned the Discovery, Discussion, Demonstration framework that he uses when encountering new technology and trying to determine if and how he will use it in school. Good hints here (as always) even for the most seasoned tech teachers. He included this video post from last May 2020. When you go to this video on Youtube (which I posted below), you also will get the link to the slideshow he used. 

Thank you Richard for all these spectacular tools!!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Jordan Sprigg's Repurposed Sculptures


When it comes to the green chasing arrow recycling symbol, the "reduce, reuse, recycle" are purposely in the order that they are. But more and more, I think the symbol really should be a square with "repurpose" in there just before "recycle." Some might argue that "repurpose" and "reuse" are synonymous... and perhaps they are. But I like the "purposeful" part of "repurpose." It's not by happenstance. It's done by design.

Speaking of design, metal artist Jordan Sprigg knows a lot about it. For the last 7 years, Jordan, who is based in Western Australia, has used scrap metal from retired machinery as his sculpture medium of choice. The antiquity that comes from some of the earlier settlers to Australia gives his wildlife animal creations a rusty and rustic appearance. He purposely keeps them in that state to showcase the history. Looking at his life-size (and sometimes larger than life-sized) creations, you'll see anything from gears to yard tools to complete machine parts. Making what once was trash into treasured pieces of art, Jordan brings history to life. I must add... the Outback makes for the perfect backdrop for his amazing art, on display in his website gallery.


You can learn more about Jordan and see his amazing creations, be sure to visit his website, Facebook page, and his Instagram

Additionally, for an excellent article on repurposing, check out this post at Thrive Global, which is where I got the art above.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Frosty Inspiration from Robert Frost this Winter

My son has a poetry analysis assignment for school. Ahhh, the joys of English Literature.

His assigned piece: a tried and true Robert Frost classic that speaks to the wintery wonderland we've been encountering. In fact it inspired a winter walk a week and a half ago on Valentines' Day and the images in this poetic presentation. A great way to get in a wintery walk and unplug with some of my loved ones.


Poem text from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42891/stopping-by-woods-on-a-snowy-evening, slideshow at https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/e/2PACX-1vQW71Di9ZwJRLozWahKDVW-N81EB2Jc3mTC62KKvnqCmzIrIqbAwA3i6ErBOl1GQinQu5kHEVip1mGs/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=5000

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Holly's Hiking Manifesto

As I mentioned in my last post, I learned about the 52 Hike Challenge from my colleague Holly. With her permission, I am sharing her astute, sharp-witted, endearing writing about hiking, getting out in the great outdoors, and insights from her treks thus far. I'm definitely inspired and making plans to accompany her in the future.

I have always loved going for a long walk in the woods and with 2020 being what it was, getting outside and going for a hike was one of the few things I could do to maintain some sense of normalcy. Honestly, there were days when a long hike to a beautiful view was the only thing that allowed me to breathe deeply and feel like everything would be okay. When I started looking ahead to 2021, I knew that finding a way to hold myself accountable for regular hikes would be great for my mental and physical health, but I also knew I didn’t want to participate in any challenge that was focused on specific mileage, speed, or weight loss etc. The #52HikeChallenge is great because it’s about each individual pushing themselves out of their comfort zone - whatever that looks like for them - and just enjoying every mile and seeing where the journey takes them!

Sometimes my hikes are short, and sometimes they are long. Sometimes they are easy, and sometimes they make every muscle in my body scream “why are you doing this!?” But at the end of each one, the sense of accomplishment I feel is incredible. Whether it’s just that I got to enjoy some fresh air, or that I got to see some wildlife (on #Hike2 I saw 11 deer running together through the woods!) or that I pushed myself to continue hiking up a never-ending hill - it’s ALWAYS worth it. One of the things I love best about going for a hike is that it isn't about being the fastest or best athlete, it's just about putting one foot in front of the other. Anyone can be a hiker! I definitely used to think that in order to be a "real" hiker you needed to live somewhere with extreme terrain and mountains, and have all sorts of fancy gear, and be really athletic, and that your hikes had to be really high mileage to even count. Wrong! There's a lot of gatekeeping that happens in the world of outdoor recreation, and it can make a lot of people feel unwelcome. The truth is, being "outdoorsy" can be as simple as throwing on a pair of sneakers and going for a walk in your local park, and we should all be working hard to make everyone feel welcome in outdoor spaces!

Although my official #52HikeChallenge started in 2021, my hikes in 2020 pushed me way outside of my comfort zone and are a huge part of why I knew this challenge would be the perfect one to keep me motivated and help me continue seeking out ways to push myself outside of my comfort zone. In 2020, I did multiple overnights on the Appalachian Trail by myself, had my first bear and rattlesnake sightings, completed multiple hikes over 10 miles, enjoyed many mountaintop views, and learned the value of merino wool socks (good for your feet, AND the planet!) and how trekking poles will literally save your knees and possibly your life if it’s raining and there are large slippery boulders! Despite always having enjoyed hiking, if you had told me in 2019 that any of those things were going to be a very regular part of my life, I would have laughed in your face! And while I’ve only completed 6 hikes so far in 2021, each one has included beauty (snow covered trees! A flock of bluebirds!) as well as its own set of challenges: Icy hills? Check. Rude mountain bikers trying to run me off the trail? Check. 3 inch thick mud? Check. But every time I conquer another challenge - no matter how small and silly OR overwhelming it may seem - I’m reminded that I am capable of so much more than I ever imagined for myself and it is always best to just jump right in when something seems difficult.

This #52HikeChallenge will have me doing more hiking than ever and I hope that by sharing my adventures more of my friends will start to see the benefits of getting outside and enjoying a walk in the woods! 

I know I am excited to see what each and every mile brings to my life this year.

Picture 1: You get a patch when you do the #52HikeChallenge! I love patches! This patch is going to see a lot of exciting views this year!

Picture 2: Yes, that is the trail. Yes, those boulders are wet. Yes, this is what I mean when I say trekking poles will save your knees AND your life!

Picture 3: When it’s so foggy in the morning that it seems like it’s raining and you remember why everyone says to ALWAYS carry a rain coat even when there’s no rain in the forecast!

Picture 4: Wintery wonderland! I always prefer snow over mud!

Picture 5: The views always make the sore feet worth it.


Special thanks to my friend Holly for sharing your wit and wisdom and love of hiking and the great outdoors. All pictures are hers!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

52 Weeks Challenges

At the start of the new year, it's often the inspiration to start those resolutions with the hope and promise of fresh starts. Dry January. Fitness regimes and routines. Spending less & saving more. One Words. Eating healthy--"this year for sure."

Here mid-February, it is hardly the start of the year. In fact, by this point, 6 or so weeks later, many of those resolutions are long-left by the wayside. 

But I've been taking notice and inspiration of some 52 Week Challenges on social media that I'm finding more forgiving than a true New Year's resolution. In part, they can start January 1st, but they don't have to--you get to be the ultimate creator of when it all starts. In this way, motivation and magic can happen at any time. 

Additionally, many of them are inspired to get you out of your own rut. After a near-year of pandemic, we all need that.

I am making good headway into my own 52 weeks/52 books personal program. Having fallen in love with Anne With An E on Netflix (and having never read Anne of Green Gables), I am working my way through Lucy Maud Montgomery's series, along with a list of many other fiction and non-fiction titles. I am definitely on track with my book-a-week goal. (Plus, little did I know, there's an actual 52 Week Book Club for that!)

Another 52 Week Challenge that has spoken to me is the 52 Weeks/Ways to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone. Given that hanging at home is another peril of the pandemic, this certainly is a good one. If you are itching to become more of a risk taker--a week at a time--a few good sites to investigate are here, here, and here.

But I think the one I'm most drawn to is the 52 Hike Challenge. Being a bit of a winter-a-phobe myself, with less-than-stellar knees, I'm not ready to start this one yet! I need warmer, drier weather. But I'm completely in awe of it. One of my school colleagues is embarking on this one and I'm living vicariously through her and her hikes. It also speaks highly to my eco-educator side as it makes for a great way to hit the reset button. We are so in need of unplugging, now more so than ever before with all the zooming, hybrid/remote classrooms, indoor life, and pandemic perils. Outdoors, and all the health benefits that go with it, is where we need to be.


My colleague who is embarking on this challenge hiked over 200 miles last year... so this is a natural next step. For her, hiking and the fresh air is always the great equalizer. You will get to meet her in my next post. Thinking about it all makes me want to put on some hiking boots and get out there myself. For now, at least, maybe just my snow boots to go take a winter walk (which is where I'm heading next, right after I close my computer).

We all need little nudges along the way. Use the weeks ahead to be yours. 


Art created from canva.com, video from https://www.52hikechallenge.com, 52 Hike Challenge logo from https://www.52hikechallenge.com,


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day. May yours be filled with the following, and may you help make the day of everyone in your life. Planet included.

If you're still looking for an eco-friendly gift or way to spend the weekend, be sure to check out my previous post.


Art created at canva.com

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Eco-Friendly Valentine's Day Ideas

This Sunday is St. Valentine's Day....
are you ready?

Whether it's Date Night Valentine's Day, Galentine's Day, or even Palentine's Day you are celebrating, here are a baker's dozen eco-friendly ideas for ways to celebrate this weekend ahead, all inspired from the article "14 Eco-Friendly Ideas for A Sustainable Valentine’s Day" by Tassia Agatowski. 

Of course, given the pandemic, a couple of the ideas I tweaked. For instance, given we're on the 11 month "staycation," I didn't even go there. We've got that one handled!!

Cheers and have a glorious 'Tine's Day, whatever one you celebrate!!


Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Benefits of Being Outside

peacefully reading

Communing with nature. Biophilia. Ecotherapy. Forest bathing. A walk in the woods. Unplugging. Getting out into the great outdoors.

Whatever you call it, it would seem that there is a definite call to you, from nature. As Richard Louv wrote about in "Last Child in the Woods" (published Earth Day 2008) and the more recent "Nature Fix" by Florence Williams (2018), there is certainly a calming and therapeutic effect of nature.

In the vein of "Where's Waldo?" and Bitmoji classrooms combined, check out this clickable Google slide deck I created to investigate some of the tried and true verified benefits of getting outside. 

Then, do your body good and get outside. Take advantages of some of these advantages!! Don't let the winter weather slow you down or stop you in your tracks.


Benefits of Being Outside Bitmoji board created by me & can be found at https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Xi_aJKTTy0-wmq88GomNhhYxFpqTRltVCBrDoo_Bnyw/edit?usp=sharing. Benefits images created at canva.com and the information found at https://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2021/01/18/prc-phd-take-a-walk-in-nature-for-balance-and-restoration-its-cheaper-than-therapy/#.YBQgrS1h1-V, Me on a mushroom avatar from Bitmoji.com

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

A Snowy Day

I'm sitting here on a Sunday, watching the snow fall in my backyard. It's our first official "real" snow. We had a dusting a few weeks ago, but nothing really stuck. This one, though, is "real." No blades of green grass peeking through. We have a solid blanket of white out there. It's been coming down steadily all day.  Plus, we have the promise of several more inches to come. 

It's is leaving all my teacher friends (and no doubt our students) texting about tomorrow, wondering if we will have a snow day. Please, pretty please, we ALL say! 

There's something about the hope and promise of a snow day. Whether it's to run and go slip-sliding and sledding outdoors, or whether it's to stay snuggled in on the couch, by the fire, with a good book, the first snow is magical like that. 

In the age of Zoom, remote learning, and the technology to make school happen at home, we all still--teachers and kids alike--still believe in the hope and magic of a snow day.  We hope our administrators who make those big decisions to do too. Please, pretty please!

The world with its silent flakes falling from the sky blankets us with quiet and indoor comfort. It just seems to slow down life a little. More so with a snow day and the gift of time. Across the board, on teacher chat boards and much of the keynotes at the Future of Education Technology Conference I virtually attended last week, "time" seems to be the common denominator these days of what teachers need. It's been a hard year this year with pandemic-style teaching and teachers are tired. We all could use a little gift of time. Please, pretty please, let us have that wintery wonderland gift of all gifts: a snow day, a snow "yay!"

Follow up: Happy to report the decision came down: snow day, snow yay! And boy, was it delicious!

Image created at Canva.com with a photo from my backyard.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

The Environment: There's An App For That

It would seem there's just about an app for everything these days. 
The environment? Sure, even for that! 

In fact, there are a few:

Think Dirty

The personal care industry is chocked-full of a whole lot of chemicals and potentially toxic ingredients that sometimes are packaged in earth-friendly and healthy labeled bottles with greenwashing claims of being "100% organic," "natural," and "eco-friendly"...when in fact they may not be. With the help of the Think Dirty app, you can scan the barcode and find out what's really inside the product you are buying. It will also give you "cleaner" alternatives to the product in your hand. As an independent source, you get the true "dirt" on what exactly you have in your hand and might be putting on your skin, face, or hair. They currently have over 850,000 products from the cosmetic and personal care departments in their database from most American & Canadian companies. In addition to rating products and shopping lists, it also can help you track how you are "cleaning up" your bathroom products.



Compilation Lists:

These 3 lists have some go-to apps to check out if you want to be sure to travel a little lighter on our planet.


Apple's App Store "Lend a Hand from Home" Page

Here you'll find a dozen or so apps that will help you do a variety of things to help our Earth from ways to repurpose clothing, plant trees via web searches, cook and eat greener, eliminating junk mail and more.

Here, author Shelby Brown mentions a few of the same apps mentioned in the Apple App page above, but also includes others like how to find: water stations for refilling your water bottle, vegan/vegetarian restaurant, and gardening tips to darken the shade of your green thumb. 


Deccan Herald's Earth Day 2020 Top 5 Must Have IOS Apps to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint 

Again, you'll find more of the same (which should really emphasize the point that these apps are top finds)... however, I included this one for the "Seek by iNaturalist" app mentioned. It's a great way to connect with nature (for young and old alike) by helping you identify the flora and fauna you encounter on your hikes or out in your backyard. 


"There's an App For That" image created at canva.com, Video from https://vimeo.com/thinkdirty/wewantyouto, "Lend a Hand from Home" screenshot from https://apps.apple.com/us/story/id1504486668,