Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Canva For Education

In my last post, I mentioned toe-dipping into some edtech tools this summer. It left me with needing to put Canva in a post of its own!

Canva has long been a go-to website for me for creating digital signage and imagery. I've used it frequently here at GTG, always referencing when I do. They've made some additions with their Canva For Education which make it a teacher's dream! No doubt it's one of the many edtech shifts that have come out of remote and hybrid teaching during the pandemic, making it easier for students and teachers to connect.

The perks of Canva for Education:

  • It's free to K-12 teacher's and their students--sign up just entails a teacher login on your school domain and verification.
  • Teachers can invite students to their Canva classroom to assign and manage class activities.
  • It works seamlessly with Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, and more.
  • It opens up pro features including fonts, icons, and images.
  • The templates!! A wealth of customizable templates on every subject including social-emotional learning. Insert 3 thumbs up here!! Some of the broader category of school-specific templates include:
    • Class Posters
    • Schedules
    • Graphic organizers & mind maps
    • Lesson Plans
    • Certificates
    • Bookmarks
    • Certificates
    • Class Decor Kits
  • Not to mention all the templates they already had which could be adapted to the classroom: 
    • Integrating Bitmoji's (just discovered that one!)
    • Presentations
    • Infographics
    • Business Cards
    • Brochures
    • Newsletters
    • Resumes
    • Invitations
    • Even fun stuff like T-shirts, menus, postcards, and logos. Just think of the literature extension ideas you could use by assigning creative activities like these.
The possibilities are endless, both from the teacher productivity standpoint and the "create and write" standpoint for your students! 

"Head Back to School With Canva" art created at; Graphic organizer image screenshot from; Logo from

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Toe Dipping into EdTech Tools For the Fall

I think I've entered that "toe dip" season of the year. I'm not talking pool or beach or other water sports, which are all at full emersion! The "toe dip" of which I speak is that point in the summer where my mind is slowly going to thoughts for the new year. Slow. Bite sized. Bits. Then instantly jumping right back into the full emersion part of the pool! A slight visit, but then a swift return to make sure that I'm "wearing my summer well." It's an interesting evolution that happens for teachers. It's all part of the swirling healing process of closing out one school year and the recouping and readying for the next year.

I've had some mid-summer one-day professional days at school.We do these "Summer Institutes" every summer so our teachers can learn from our teachers on a myriad of topics. These become the perfect toe-dipper kind of days. Good time to rejuvenate and refocus, and learn new items, which in turn start those spinning wheels to start looking into other things. My next several posts will be on some of those workshops, and on some of my other toe dips along the way.

Today's toe-dips include some really cool online edtech resources I've run across that would benefit any teacher. They include timesavers as well as other inspirational finds. May you enjoy toe-dipping into them at your leisure:

  • Seesaw Connect, which is an online virtual global conference for Seesaw Teachers next week: July 26-30. Once you register (free!), you can can take a multitude of online, on-demand short courses to get your gears turning on how to incorporate Seesaw in many different ways. Access remains open until August 13th.
  • Education World has a slew of templates, diagrams, forms and charts all classroom-centric that you can print. Great resource!
Best part of can take one, try it out, then go right back into summer mode. You can investigate while you've got some of that free time on your hands and check out what's new out there. May this little list inspire a tidbit of toe dipping, then let you re-immerse yourself into whatever part of summer you wish. My favorite is always my pool!

Art created on (my next-time toe-dip tool to share!)

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Power of the Wind and the Weather

Two days prior to my wedding (in the wayyyy back machine), we had a "Hurricane Day" off of school (think "snow day") two days prior due to Hurricane Floyd. It rained and rained, and I gleefully tackled all those last minute bride things. Unfortunately though, our wedding venue had it's power knocked out, and we had to re-route the entire wedding in about 24 hours. We did--the day ended up being a beautiful day--and we are still in our "happily ever after."

Flash forward a handful of years.

We moved to Florida for my husband's job, where we lived about 6 years. During the first two weeks of our move there we had a tropical storm. I don't even think it had a name. The idea of it scared this Midwest girl to death. Unlike before when I was living in Maryland and it wasn't a direct hit, the intensity of Florida weather brought about more of a fear factor. All we got in my Hurricane Floyd experience was rain and power outages. Not necessarily direct hits. I was way more accustomed to the occasional weirdly-green sky that accompanies a tornado and the dash to the basement than any kind of water/ocean destruction. Other than anxiety, we clearly survived with the only fall out we had was a hyperspaz dog and watching the intensity of rain fall on us. 

Flash forward another handful of years.

After living in Florida, you find yourself saying seemingly-bizarre statements like "It's only a Category 1 hurricane" and "that 'cone of uncertainty' will shift and we'll be fine." It's funny how experience of "weathering the storms" gets you here. Yes, we boarded up our house a few times, and we also packed and left occasionally, to go to the other side of the state to avoid the brunt of it. But we were always fine. However, we also saw the destruction from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. At one point earlier in its trajectory, Katrina had been tracking right to us. Luckily it shifted leaving us fine, but horrified for New Orleans. We counted our blessings on more than one occasion.

Flash forward 16 more years.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Elsa swept through our time while we were vacationing in Duck, NC a few weeks ago. We had a lovely day of massages in store--perfect for the rainy weather--and were surprised by the limited amount of rain we actually got. We had already preemptively "battened down the hatches" the night before at our rental house,  so we weren't really worried. Yes, there were white caps on the 2-3 foot deep Currtick Sound out our back window, but nothing more. Those comments came back to our kids: "It's only the tail end of a tropical storm." It made for a relaxing indoor day of books and games and comfort food. Until bedtime.  That's when the strongest band of weather came through. Being in a beach house and right on the water, we were more exposed than I had ever been in a weather situation. I've never felt a house shake like this. The wind was intense. I later discovered it was upwards of 25 mph with gusts up to 42 mph--all from 11 pm to 3 am. No wonder the house was shaking, the way these homes are built up--not fully on stilts, but with openness underneath.  I never got into full panic mode, but it was a level of angst I hadn't felt in awhile. I think some of the calming effects of the massage earlier that day had worn off.

But we weathered the storm and even slept some. In fact, the sun was out and skies were clear by 7 am the next morning. The only true evidence of a storm (other than the still-jitters in my stomach) was the debris line halfway up the yard showing how high the water rose.

Even the osprey nest next door looked like it had also weathered the storm quite well. Given that, I'm a bit in awe at their construction skills!

It definitely shows you the power of nature, and leads you to a reverence where you honor that power. It causes you to take pause as you watch the events and intensity on the rise and breaking records. And it certainly has you counting your blessings. 

"Tropical Storm Alert" image from, Hurricane Floyd weather map from, Category 1 hurricane chart from, Wind Chart for Duck, NC from, all other photos from my camera.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Biodiversity, Birds, & The Outer Banks

As I mentioned in my previous post, we vacationed this summer in Duck, North Carolina. A trip planned in February when the future of the pandemic was still unknown and a driving getaway vacation seemed like the best plan. Mountains last year in New Gorges River, West Virginia; beach this year in the Outer Banks.

I've never been to Duck, nor the Outer Banks in general. I've been reading about this "ribbon of sand" of barrier islands in a book in our rental house entitled Duck: An Outer Banks Village by Judith D. Mercier. Printed in 2001, it is 20 years out of date; however, given it's a historical "biography" of the town, it's only omitting the last 2 decades. History is history, and it's been interesting learning about Duck's and seeing in the pages some of the places we have already been. 

Additionally, Duck is a designated bird sanctuary. Approximately 400 bird species have been seen in and around this part of the the Outer Banks and their waters. The variety of habitats such as tidal flats, ponds, salt ponds, grass beds, shrub thickets, and maritime woods--plus other factors including the barrier islands becoming a good "stopping spot" when winds and weather hit--makes it a perfect spot for a bird sanctuary, indeed. Additionally, it's part of the migratory waterfowl's Eastern (or Atlantic) Flyaway, making it another reason for birds to stop and visit, especially in the spring and fall. Ironically, the only thing using the duck blinds out in the sound are the migratory birds!

Not far south of Duck is Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1938. It too is a "nesting, resting" sanctuary spot for migratory birds and other animals, including the endangered Loggerhead sea turtle.

Darn it, why did we forget the binoculars!

Interestingly, Twiddy (the rental company we got found our vacation stay through), has an amazingly extensive Birding Guide to the Outer Banks of coastal North Carolina birds of the barrier islands. Featured on that page along with the slew of native birds to this area are 20 bird facts featured in infographics.

Another excellent resource on birds is The Cornell Lab's online portal "All About Birds." Using this, I think I've determined that my white diving fisher birds are Northern Gannets. They do make a dramatic plunge!!

Of course, I can't mention Cornell's Bird Lab without mentioning Merlin--their birding app. I had to move this one to a more prominent spot on my phone and make sure to add the US: Southeast Bird Pack!

From Mercier's book mentioned above: "Today, ornithologists and ecologists value ospreys as an indicator species. These birds help gauge the general well-being of an area's ecosystem and the health of its waterways" [page 249]. Despite the growth of development in both Duck and all of the Outer Banks aver the last several decades, the fact that we have these bird sanctuaries and the variety of biodiversity bodes well for the area. Just as we have seen eagle populations grow and flourish over these decades, ospreys have too

All of which brings me back to the osprey nest I've been watching here from our back balcony at Duck. As quoted from Judith Mercier's Prologue [pages ix-x]:

"A pinch of earth separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Currituck Sound. Generations ago, a meager band of seafarers, fishermen, and duck hunters settled this area of North Banks land. They and their families built a small community, a neighborhood sheltered by the oaks and pines growing atop the sand hills. Today thousands of summer tourists visit the same place, a bantam village they know as Duck.

Duck constitutes barely 2 percent of the land area of North Carolina's Outer banks. Virtually hidden until the early 1980s, the village and its inhabitants enjoyed several centuries of solitude and anonymity."

Yes, traffic was a bear on Duck Road when we arrived. However, once landed, like the nested ospreys I'm watching, you understand why. The Northern Gannets know why. And probably so do the other 300 or so species. 

Duck is certainly a good spot to nest and rest. 

Quotes from Judith D. Mercier's book: Duck: An Outer Banks Village, map from, all other pics from my camera and compiled in

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

#Blueminding in Duck, NC

As I'm writing this, we are on vacation in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Duck, specifically. 

It ties in so brilliantly with having finished re-reading Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do byWallace J. Nichols. Our backyard view is the Curritick Sound and water as far as the eye can see. In fact, on our dock this very instant, I have a hunting osprey who is lying in wait atop a post, ready to swoop down on any fish nearby to bring home to his or her little one in the nest two doors down. All of this puts 3 ospreys in easy view, adding both a show and symphony from their squawks of these magnificent birds. 

Other seabirds are fishing too, leaving a plethora of things to capture my interest the water, distracting me from my writing task at hand. However, ironically, the distraction IS the task. The writing IS the distraction. The water IS the point. Each dive-bombing bird on their fishing expedition brings a smile to my face. Being brought up a midwestern girl, this vista wasn't my typical landscape growing up. The cornfields are home, but water is my sanctuary.

Speaking of's calling. The water. The writing can patiently wait.

* * *

During our week in Duck, we distracted and #blueminded a lot:

Walk downstairs to paddleboarding 

Watching neighbors & their fishing mornings

Beach lazing 

Balcony gazing

Wave chasing

Deck sunning


Biking and board walking

Boating and dolphin watching

Dining on the gifts of the sea

I'm ready to go back.

Photos from my camera and graphics created at on

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Green & Blue: What the Doctor Ordered

On our road trip heading to our vacation destination, I was listening to a multitude of podcasts, and 2 of them talked about our brain's capacity to take in new information. Surprisingly, we can only learn 3-4 hours of new content a day. That goes for teachers and students alike. It really spoke about the exhaustion factor that comes with that--especially in remote (and hybrid) learning. When I think of the intensity of the learning curve for everyone on this planet the last 16 months, it shows me how "wired and tired"and over "tech-ified and fried" we all have been, and how much recovery time we all need. All of which brings me back to Florence Williams' Nature Fix & Wallace J. Nichols Blue Mind and of course the concept of "nature deficit disorder" coined by Richard Louv. We all need prescriptions to get outside, to then nearest waterway or green space. We need moments of eco-mindfulness to re-center, restore, and recover. Aaron Reuben reiterates the same thing in his May 2019 article for Outside Magazine "Science's Newest Miracle Drug is Free." 

If you need help finding someplace, ParkRX America's website is where you need to go. You can type in your address and instantly find some good green and blue space nearby. Plus, in their Media section, you can find a slew of good books to read to reiterate the point (both of which I mentioned above are listed!). And here's a good video from ParkRX to get you in the mood to head outdoors too. Which I will definitely make sure is a large part of my vacation!!!

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Red, White, & Rejuvenate

I ran across Matthew E. May's June 30, 2016 article "The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Productivity Over A Long Weekend Is Also The Most Fun." The "long weekend" in question was the 4th of July holiday, and he wrote it 5 years--long before pandemics and quarantines. Yet, "the meat" of the article still holds so very true. While "Red, White, & BBQ" sound like a great plan for the Fourth, his points in his article make a solid call for nature outings, unplugging, and firefly fireworks as being an even better plan!

He detailed studies from the University of Kansas and University of Utah that investigated the effect of stepping into nature and stepping away from our digital devices and their impact on creativity. I know I was pretty tech-centric 5 years ago (and often wrote about my love-hate relationship with technology--despite the fact that my job is very tech-connected)... but it doesn't hold a candle to the tech life I've lived this past year with zoom calls, hybrid & remote teaching, and the necessity of having to use texts, Facebook, and video calls with loved ones who live far away. If there was a researched and studied benefit 5 years ago, you can bet it's still needed and probably in the category of mandatory versus just plain necessary.

The findings in this study showed that a 4 days in nature (hiking, in this study) showed a 50% improvement in creativity. Futher findings showed that insight and problem solving were also improved due to stepping away from the constant demands that our pinging smartphones and digital data overtax our busy brains. This is particularly true for our the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for processing and organizing information, short term memory, attention, decision making, and impulse control. We get tired and stressed and digitally overstimulated, these sometimes are the first things to be affected and go on the fritz!

Whether it was a result of the increased time in nature, the decreased time with tech, or the combination of the two was not delineated. However, it does seem like a stellar combination to pursue given the outcome. Do we need days on end of this unplugged, nature-centric regimen? Probably not. But some time out in nature, soaking in some green or some blue, might be the best way for you to really reset this red, white, & blue holiday to help you not only rejuvenate but to also up your game at work or at home.

Images created at

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Patrick Dougherty's Latest & Local Environmental Creation

Beautiful environmental sculptures in basically your backyard are rare and exceptional treats. 

That's exactly how I felt as I meandered through Patrick Dougherty's latest installation at Maryland Hall in Annapolis entitled "Old Home Place." It was an additional delight for me to be in the middle of one of Patrick's works given I had researched and written about him in December 2020

Meandering through the structure made of sticks and saplings at the base of an already full and lush tree, I felt instant peace in the little hidey-hole structures surrounding the trunk of the tree. I'd love to bring in a book and curl up inside. It's a total dream treehouse to my inner child, and took me back to the little hidden getaway I had as a child underneath two tall twin evergreen trees in our yard. I remember having picnics, secret meetings, and just enjoying life in that hideaway. It was the same feeling I had while wandering in the little "huts" here.

In order to make this structure, it took four truckloads of local sycamore, sweet gum, and willow branches collected from Maryland's Eastern Shore in early May. Depending on the weather, this environmental art is slated to last for 1-3 years. 
A panoramic view from inside one of the "huts."
A selfie inside
Thank you to Patrick Dougherty for sharing his work with us here in Annapolis. "Old Home Place" is now part of his amazing body of work which includes over 300+ pieces he's created worldwide! So wonderful to have this special spot so close to home. It's a perfect place to go, unwind, and unplug!

To learn more, check out these Capital Gazette articles about Patrick Dougherty creating this installation:

Pictures taken from my camera at Maryland Hall. Title picture created at

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Blue Mind Revisited

My first official day of summer was last week. No more school days. No more post-planning teacher meetings. Just full on summer after what might be the longest school year ever. 

Thinking back to the speeches our 5th graders wrote for their promotion as they ready themselves for their next step of middle school, I was hit by how much they had been through. 

How much we all had been through with our hybrid school every other day, several weeks in the middle needing to go full remote, then coming back fully on campus. 

Sitting at the cusp of summer right at the very beginning, seeing the hope and beauty of all the sunny days ahead--it's a beautiful sight. 

It also just so happened to be coincide with the first day our pool was open and ready for me for my maiden day of entry. That blue water was calling me, and boy oh boy did it feel restorative and like coming home. 

This year more than ever.

It also seemed like the perfect day to start rereading Wallace J. Nichol's book Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.

After the school year I've had and after 15 months of a pandemic, rereading one of my favorite books about one of my favorite places seemed like what I needed to do. I am definitely in need of a little #BlueMind.

In thinking about that, I was inspired to take some of the quotes that Wallace J. Nichols includes in the book and bring them to life with some visuals.

To dive back into my previous comments about this amazing book and the power of water, check out my past posts:

Images created at

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

A Slew of Summer Fun Ideas

Summer is here, both in spirit and by way of Summer Solstice, this year on June 20th. The longest day of the year marks the official seasonal start of summer--though many of us mark it unofficially by either Memorial Day or the end of the school year.

So now that summer's here, there's that Phineas and Ferb question and answer of "I know what we're going to do today, Ferb" here in the "104 days of summer vacation."

The obvious things always pop up. Pool days. Maybe a trip to the beach or a boat ride. A picnic or hike in a park. Taking in a ball game. Maybe a bike ride. But sometimes you just need a little inspiration to come up with a few other ideas to get you off your beaten path.

Here's a few lists to help you fill your 104 days of summer which would make Phineas and Ferb proud.

So....."As you can see
There's a whole lot of stuff to do 
Before school starts this fall! (Come on Perry!)" 

If you are bored this summer, it's your own darn fault!! Consult your inner Phineas & Ferb, and go have some fun. Pronto!!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

When Father's Day, Civil War, & the Environment All Intersect

Father's Day, Civil War, and the Environment are not the typical trio. Not by a long shot. Yet it's funny how this year, in my world, they all seem to intersect. I'll admit it, it's a bit of a weird convergence, yet it illustrates my Father's Day 2021. 

As part of an extended family adventure, my husband and his dad, both sizable Civil War history buffs, along with a handful of the rest of our family clan, are embarking on a 4-hour historic battle field tour as part of our plans for our Father's Day/Juneteenth weekend. While I'm not the history fanatic the rest of them are, I'm excited that the weather is supposed to be gorgeous this weekend, which will make our outdoor adventure even better!

With the Civil War on my brain as we were gearing up to go, I started googling these 3 terms just to see what it would bring up. Apparently, a lot. 

One of the many things I ran across was a book entitled "An Environmental History of the Civil War" by Judkin Browning and Timothy Silver. I never really considered environmental issues under the veil of the topic of the Civil War, but of course, it makes sense. Wars are fought outdoors--especially back in 1861. The land governed how those battles were fought. Civil War battles in the North were named according landforms and bodies of water. [The South typically named the battles based on the nearby town.] The four years of the Civil War brought a direct connection between the natural world and humans given the disease brought about by ailing, weakened soldiers and animals. But from reviews of the book, post-Civil War was also a time which brought about the conservation movement and the beginning of our national park systems.

Another book along the same lines is Kathryn Shively Meier's Nature's Civil War: Common Soldiers and the Environment in 1862 Virginia. Its description places Nature as the common enemy and an equal opponent to both Confederate and Yankee soldiers. "Man versus Nature" has always been a common theme in literature class... and reality! 

In fact, if you google "environmentalism and Civil War," you come up with even more articles if you still have a desire to delve deeper online into this connection. 

Another interesting find on my pursuit of tie-ins to Civil War and Father's Day led me to this headline on by David Roos fro 2018: "The Man Who Inspired Father’s Day Was a Single Dad and a Civil War Vet." The man in question: William Jackson Smart. William was married and widowed twice in his lifetime. He was the father of 6 from his first marriage and 14 children total after his second marriage and second wife died. A Civil War Veteran, William served as the inspiration to one of his daughters who dedicated herself toward the creation of the first Father's Day. 

This daughter--Sonora Smart Dodd--was 16 years old when her mother Ellen (William's first wife) died in childbirth. Years later, Sonora was attending one of the first Mother's Day events at her church in Spokane, Washington in 1909 when it struck her--if we have a day for our moms, why not our dads? In David Roos' article, he has several quotes from Sonora on the dedication she saw her father give her family and siblings. She brought forth her first petition to the Spokane Ministerial Alliance for Father's Day in 1910, wanting Father's Day to be held on June 5th, her father's birthday. Due to timing, they opted for a later date--June 19th. The 3rd Sunday in June. From that first Father's Day in Spokane Washington, Sonora went forward for 60 years (long after her father died in 1919), working towards getting Father's Day to become a national holiday. 

Sonora's dad, William Jackson Smart, was born in Arkansas. Records show he ultimately fought for both the North and the South in the Civil War. Starting as part of the Confederate troops, he was captured in 1862 and opted to join the Union rather than be relegated to a prisoner in a war camp. After the war ended, William ultimately ended up with his family in Washington state. It was here, after her mother died and later William's second wife died, where Sonora saw her father working hard to protect and love his kids as a single father. 

Pursuit pays off, but it was a long time in coming. In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed the Congressional resolution placing Fataher's Day on the 3rd Sunday in June. Sonora Smart Dodd, who by this time had achieved success as a poet, artist, children's book author, funeral home director, and civic leader in Spokane, was 90 years old. She died at the age of 96, seeing her lifelong dream come to fruition.

As you approach this Father's Day, may your personal history meet up with you as you celebrate the important fathers in your life. Your day probably won't tie in to the Civil War or entail a battlefield like my Father's Day plans do this year, but maybe some time spent outdoors on a beautiful Sunday may be a great way to celebrate.  

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Mount Recyclemore At G-7

20,000 pieces of electronic waste all in one place is sizable to begin with. 

Put those pieces together in an artistic installation--it causes people to take notice. 

Put them into the faces of 7 world leaders AND put them on the beach across the Carbis Bay Hotel in St. Ives, Cornwall, United Kingdom where the G7 Summit is taking place--it makes national news.

Welcome to Mount Recyclemore!

Reminds me a bit about Mount Trashmore!

Mount Recyclemore was created by artist Joe Rush & musicMagpie (a second hand electronics store) with the help of 15 artists over the course of 6 weeks. It was first created in Rush's south London studio scrapyard then shipped to Cornwall to be erected in time for last week's G7 Summit. The G7 is the "Group of Seven" organization of leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and the Summit was held during the 3 days of June 11-13, 2021. 

The reason behind this creation: to spotlight electronic waste, its harm to the environment, and the need for it to be more easily recyclable and reusable. It is especially true given that some of the worst e-waste heavy hitters being developed nations. E-waste leaches chemicals into the soil or water if sent to landfills, or becomes hazardous air pollution if burned. Both of these are major contributors to environmental destruction and climate change. Additionally, materials in phones, laptops, monitors, and other tech waste include precious materials from limited resources where the extraction process adds major impact to our planet. Especially when e-waste is the fastest growing waste stream right now.

Taking the lead from South Dakota's Mount Rushmore's 4 presidential faces, this structure highlights the following seven leader's faces (in order from left to right):
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
  • Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga
  • French President Emmanuel Macron
  • Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • U.S. President Joe Biden
With climate change and Covid-19 being two of the top issues of the Summit, Mount Trashmore as a creation of discarded tech becomes an important symbol for the environment. 

After the Summit's end on Sunday, June 13th, the plan is to move Mount Recyclemore to musicMagpie’s headquarters in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

A Packed Padlet Full of Culturally Responsive Resources

As the diversity of our classrooms grows and branches out, and as the news headlines continues to crop up with stories of racial, religious, gender, and sexual identity injustices, it is our role as educators to continue to educate both ourselves ourselves and our students. Some people might argue "political issues" are too political for an environmental education, edtech, & innovation blog, but social justice is indeed a climate and environmental justice issue. 

It is from this vantage point that the teacher in me argues what all of this really is: it is an "empathy issue." Our job as teachers is to help our students see things from other perspectives, analyze situations, think critically, and explore other cultures. By understanding where someone else is coming from, we can learn about and better understand their experiences. Just like a habitat is healthier when there is a lot of biodiversity in that environment, so too is our global, human experience!

For several years now, I have adored Padlet as one of my favorite edtech tools for compilation, curation, and collaboration. I love it even more when people use it to collect resources with the sole purpsoe to share. This Padlet here came from a Diversity-Inclusivity-Equity [DEI] workshop that a colleague of mine attended. It is an expansive resource of many culturally responsive books, texts, articles, and videos for all ages. The goal of the Padlet: to help broaden the perspectives on variety of DEI topics. My always GTG goal: to share digital resources!

May we all continue to grow and learn more about our friends, our neighbors, our students, our community members, and other people across our planet so we can widen our understanding of others' cultures and their struggles & successes. By learning more about others, we ultimately learn more about ourselves.

Scroll through the Padlet embedded here (both horizontally and vertically), then click the links of the resources you are interested in. You can also access the Padlet on its own webpage here.

Made with Padlet

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Matchmakers For the Environment

Dating apps are all the craze and have been for years. I know a number of people who have met their future spouse through these--whether it's one of the "swipe right or left" variety or another kind.

Would you swipe right or swipe left for a cleaner environment to help reduce and repurpose waste?

Maayke Aimée Damen brings about an interesting and innovative parallel to dating apps with the work she does at Excess Materials Exchange [EME]. Maayke is one of the co-founders of this Amsterdam-based digital platform. Since 2017, EME has worked to help create a global circular loop by reusing materials and exchanging them with other companies that need these materials as raw products. In doing this, it helps repurpose what was potentially seen as waste and funnel it to some one else who needs it--which in turn helps create a much smaller ecological footprint for all parties involved. Classic case of "supply & demand" meets "one man's trash is literally another's treasure. 

Maayke speaks about it here in her 2020 TED Talk. She describes how they are   basically "materials matchmakers," helping to find the best environmental fit for other companies. 

To learn more, check out the visual below and investigate Excess Materials Exchange's website.