Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where Does It All Go?

A couple weeks ago we were in the Caribbean for a real, no-kids vacation. Yes...I'm totally ready to go back already... but that's a whole other conversation.

While we were there, having an all-inclusive "splendiferous" time, this "green" girl started pondering the universe from her lounge chair:  Where does the trash go?  Especially when the resort had no recycling. And if the tourist meccas don't have recycling...well, it just makes you wonder what's going on on the rest of the island. 

I am not a world traveler, not by any means.  But I've been around the block, been to several places around the US, and been to a small handful of other countries in my lifetime.

Since I've embarked on my eco-path, I've been to enough hotels and airports to realize that recycling is a rarity and plastic-wrapped apples (which I still don't get) is more the norm.

In the Midwestern town where my parents live, they still must sort their cleaned/rinsed recyclables, and they don't even always take cardboard as that recycling stream is glutted.  Coming from the single- stream recycling of Anne Arundel County, Maryland where they strive for a 50-50 recycling rate, I know I'm spoiled.  (Anne Arundel County is still currently at 39%--which I also don't get as they have said they would rather the community err on the side of over-recycling and they will sort through your questionable items if you place them in the yellow bins).

So...given the US alone is so varied in their ability/willingness to recycle, what happens in other countries?  Especially countries like Caribbean Countries.  If we're not recycling in the hotels(while the drinking bottles and sodas say "please recycle"), then what are they doing in the cities and markets where clearly the locals have far more to worry about (like economics and perhaps even survival).
Add in that with island nations (even sizable island nations), there's only so much land.  Yes, that is true anywhere, but it seems more poignant when picturing an island.  Is there truly room for a landfill on a body of land that is limited in space?  And at what point is it maxed?  Where does the trash go?

Perhaps the locals have a much less materialistic way of life than "Joe American," but there's a lot of Joe American tourists in hotels that don't recycle.  Those hotels that clutter the local landfills.

I'm befuddled.  Where does it all go? 

Pictures from my camera, spring break week, on the edge of the equator.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Green Blog With an Edu-Infomercial

Thanks to our admissions director at school (who found this li'l gem at a workshop she attended), I'm now a big fan of the Khan Academy. What's that, you ponder? I'll let Bill Gates & Sal Khan tell you themselves here in the video below (or go to to catch it yourself...which, after watching this video, odds are you're going to want to go there anyway, for more than just this video!)

Why am I such a big fan? Other than the sure ingenious of the Khan Academy videos, here's the real reason: I taught mixed numbers & improper fractions this week.

Typically, here's what happens: I visually try to show the definition, time and time again, about what something like 1 3/4 means. You know the picture, something like this:

What I invariable get is kids telling me that the improper fraction is 7/8, seeing 8 fractional parts, rather than something between 1 and 2 whole pizzas. They don't realize they're counting by 1/4.

Well, a 6 minute lesson by Sal Khan, along with my own supplementary commentary coalesces the lesson in a way that I've never been able to achieve by myself. Could it be that I've finally mastered the fine art (and articulation) of mixed numbers? Possibly. Could it be that my population this year is just simply brilliant? Perhaps. But more likely it's the Khan Academy's down to earth way of sharing details, and perhaps even a little tag team action.

So the Educational Infomercial du jour--go check out Watch his TED Talk video so you can relate to Sal Khan almost as if he were your down-to-Earth math tutor, that'll remind you a little bit of Raymond from "Everybody Loves Raymond." Then tackle math (easy, hard, and in between) like you've never done so before with their videos and exercises. When you're done with that, there's always physics, calculus, statistics, venture capitalism, and mucho mucho more!

Great brain candy for the classroom and your inner mathematician!!!

Photos from and

Monday, March 28, 2011

After the Darkening of Earth Hour

At our house, there were a multitude of candles, about 11 buddies and pals of all ages, a bonfire, marshmallows, and revelry....and of course the lights were out Saturday night from 8:30pm -- 9:30pm for Earth Hour.  We were in the throngs of the citizens of the record-breaking 134 countries that also took part.

Other records:
  • Brazil went from 98 cities (in 2010) participating to 124.
  • Canada went from 304 cities (in 2010) to 422.
  • Across the USA, Girl Scout troops were notable with their leadership.
  • YouTube switched out their light in their logo during Earth Hour.
  • New York City flipped the switch for all 96 United Nation buildings, Broadway theatre marquees/signs, the Empire State Building, and bundle of buildings in Times Square.
Here's a snippit of news from Euronews (click here or go to

Mark your calendars: 
Earth Hour 2012 =  8:30pm--9:30 pm, Saturday, March 31, 2012.

Can't get enough info &/or you are an Earth Hour junkie?  Check out, or

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Today's the Day ~ Earth Hour!

8:30 pm -- 9:30pm, Saturday, March 26th!   
Earth Hour! Lights out!
It's here, and the Earth is rotating so Australia, New Zealand, 
the Philippines, Singapore and more have already switched off their lights!  
Candles here are poised and ready, 
bonfire wood is all aligned...
now all we need is the clock to turn and the sun to go down?!

So what are you doing tonight during your 
"hour without power?"

For another great Earth Hour site, go to
Video from

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mark Your Calendars! This Saturday 3/26/2011 from 8:30--9:30pm is Earth Hour

Earth Hour!
This Saturday, March 26th, 2011, from 8:30 pm -- 9:30 pm, your time zone!
The largest voluntary act of environmental activism.
Turn off your lights during this hour to take a stand against climate change!

Play games, build a bonfire, have a candle lit dinner, tell ghost stories, sing songs fireside, take a night hike...just turn out the lights & make your word be heard!

To get in the Earth Hour mood for Saturday, check out Lanny Smith...the EARTHMAN....and his 2009 World Wildlife Federation Earth Hour Theme Song here or go to:

To go on and see the March 9th, 2009's Nashville, Tennessee "Earth Revolution" Talk Show interview with "Earthman," (Lanny Smith), go to

Other good Earth Hour Info & Fun Sites:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Opening Your Eyes to World Water Day = March 22nd, Annually

In the "Must See TV" Department, this video will truly open your eyes to the importance of today's global environmental awareness day, World Water DayAnnually, March 22nd highlights the importance of clean water and sanitation, and just how important those li'l precious drops of H2O can be.
What can you do?

1.  Watch & share the video above.

2.  Walk a mile (or 3.7 miles = 6 km) with a jug of water or two so you can see what some people in the world endure to get to the nearest water source (with no guarantee it's clean).

4.  Use this precious commodity with great care!

5.  Go to to see where you can donate to help improve circumstances world-wide. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's a Big Eco Week and a Big Eco Month Ahead

'Tis the season of a number of eco events....this week, and this month!  Take a peek to see what ones that need to mark your calendar:

1.  A year ago today, March 20th--Happy Birthday Plastiki
Plastiki, our favorite water bottle boat made of 12K+ plastic water bottles set sail into the Pacific Ocean a year ago today to highlight plastic waste in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch!  Check out their blog marking the event!

2.  Tuesday, March 22nd:  World Water Day, global event
Just around the corner is World Water Day--To see a poignant and amazing videoon the 6 km per day (about 3.7 miles) that many people walk world wide daily to get water (and not always even clean water), check out my March 19th blog on World Water Day: .  Likewise, check out the "World Water Day" link on the GTG theme cloud!

3.  Currently in DC:  March 15--27th:  DC's Environmental Film Fest
60 venues, 150 films, and 26,000 film-goers descend on some important DC documentaries. The place to go (even if you can't get to DC) is  Many shorts are available online at the website!

4.  Saturday, March 26th from 8:30pm -- 9:30pm:  Earth Hour, global event
Two "Must See" videos as to why you should spend your hour (or more) with the lights out, go here or go to

5.  New this month (March 2011) at ~ 2 new books well in-sync with World Water Day:
Plastiki: An Adventure to Save Our Oceans* Plastiki: An Adventure to Save Our Oceans by David de Rothschild.  Celebrate the one year anniversary by checking into an indepth look at some of the adventures the Plastiki crew endured, just a year ago!
Be sure to check out the near-two-minute video narrated by co-author Ted Danson (yes, TV's "Cheers" Sam Malone)

6.  Friday, April 22nd (Good Friday):  Earth Day, global event 
Be sure to check out the video gallery here at or get loads of other resources at

Yep, it's a full month...Mark those calendars, and don't miss your chance to take a stand and be informed!!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

World Water Day: March 22nd

World Water Day = Annually March 22nd.
Online learn more: or
Raise awareness of water cleanliness, sanitation, 
           (and how lacking those are)!
Lack of access to clean water is the problem and affects health, 
            education, and income.
Documentaries to check out about the global water crisis:
             FLOW and Blue Gold.
Wealth of more resources at
A million+ women and children walk 6 km daily for water
              (whether or not it's clean!)
Take action by walking for water:
Every year, internationally, celebrated on March 22nd.
Really cute "water" shape book for classroom writing activities at
Did you know that 40% of the world's population
                don't have adequate sanitation?
About 1 in 8 people globally don't have access to clean water.
You can do something about it!  Take action!!

World Water Day Poster from

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tropical Sensations

Slowing down to the true speed of often do any of us in this whirlwind, technologically savvy world really allow ourselves to do?

Being a "person-on-the-go" kind of person, it seems more and more difficult for me to do just this. My mind seems like it's constantly going:
  • What's for dinner?
  • When are the kids' sports practices?
  • Are the school uniforms clean?
  • Oh, note to self: buy toilet paper.
The list goes on and on.
So to be on vacation....a long-overdue one at that....hanging by the pool, hearing the water on the realize how long it's been since the body slowed. Since you could hear your own breathing. Since you just "were."
Reminds me of French Class in high school and the conjugation of verbs: "ĂȘtre."
"To be."
Clearly, I need a reminder of "Raison d'ĂȘtre" ("the reason to be") is to just be!

I need to do this more often. 

We all do.
No worries, ja mon!  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Eco-Terrorist or Modern Day Thoreau? You Decide.

Edward Abbey video"But love of the wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need - if only we had eyes to see." ~ Edward Abbey
I don't know much about Edward Abbey, other than he sometimes went by "Cactus Ed" and he was sometimes called the "Thoreau of the American West."  An internet search also brings up he could fondly be called a "conservative anarchist" and an "eco-terrorist." 

But, in a good way, of course!

I guess you could say that as a writer of an environmental blog, I could be considered anything from an eco-warrior to an eco-naziNo, not officially "the green police"  (though I do love that Superbowl 2010 Audi commercial!), but I have been known to give the occasional "compost infraction" (especially in my "green school" classroom where we do compost.)

So I'm sure you're probably wondering...where the heck did Edward Abbey enter in to my radar?

A friend of mine sent me a quote from Edward Abbey, in honor of both our school spring break and my crazy past-time of hunting for resources that are simultaneously ecological and educational.  It's an odd hobby, true, but someone's got to do it, right?!  Truly, as I find all-things-"green" out there, I keep getting struck by how much is out there that sooo many don't know but yet it's sooo important to know!

Hence, why I do it.

So, in this season o'spring break, this quote is not only timely, but true.  May you take it as much to heart as I do!
"One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive them."  ~ Edward Abbey
To learn more about "Cactus Ed," go to
And, because I couldn't help but include it....the 2010 Audi Commercial:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Because I Can't Get Enough: Earth Heroes Part Deux

As I wrote the other day (in "Wall o'Fame: Earth Heroes!"), these "Earth Hero Series" books are my new classroom favorites, and I can't get enough of them.

Author Carol Malnor is the author of two of them (Earth Heroes: Champions of the Wilderness and Earth Heroes: Champions of Wild Animals).  To make the stories come even more to life with your students, click this link below to hear a 10-minute audio interview with Carol Malnor as she discusses Jane Goodall and 4 other environmentalists in her "Champions of the Wild Animals" book:

Earth Heroes: Champions of Wild Animals (Earth Heroes Series)Earth Heroes: Champions of the WildernessEarth Heroes: Champions of the Ocean (Earth Heroes Series)

It's always fascinating to hear what an author has to say about his/her own book.  Not to mention, kids always get so much out of hearing authors speak.  Listening to the audio like this is also a great way to investigate the reading skill "author's purpose!"

Another great resource for lesson plans and to find Carol Malnor's blog "Out My Backdoor" along with tons of other teachers' resources for other great books for kids, go to:  When you're their, click the "teachers and parents" link!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wall o'Fame: Earth Heroes!

Earth Heroes: Champions of Wild Animals (Earth Heroes Series)Earth Heroes: Champions of the WildernessEarth Heroes: Champions of the Ocean (Earth Heroes Series)
Cheers to one of my new favorite teaching resources--the Earth Heroes series (pictured above).  Each book is a collection of biographies that features 8 "champions" in that field.  Environmental powerhouses such as John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Jane Goodall, President Jacques Cousteau and many many more make up the list of key eco-players. 

About a week ago, each of my 3rd graders in my class picked an environmentalist.  In picking "their person," they got a 10-page chapter from one of the above books:  Earth Heroes: Champions of the Wilderness, Earth Heroes: Champions of Wild Animals, and Earth Heroes: Champions of the Ocean.  After reading and researching, highlighting and note-writing on their brainstorm web, they each wrote a 2-4 page cursive-written, impressive composition...each one starting "[My Person] was [is] an Earth Hero."

Let me tell you, they blew me away!  Very impressive compositions for 8 & 9 year olds, if I do say so myself (and being a 3rd grade teacher for the past 9 years, I've read a 3rd grade essay or two!).  If you're in the classroom and looking to do a unit on biographies, this is the way to go!  Added to that, they created a visual image on a body cut-out...see my "Wall o'Fame" and some of their written highlights here below!
Jacques-Yves Cousteau:  "He is a famous oceanographer....He influenced John F. Kennedy. ...My Earth Hero is important in many ways."

Tierney Thys:  "She is a famous oceanographer who studies ocean sunfish....She helped save them and has studied them for more than a decade."

Ronald Lawrence:  "He studied wolves a lot when he had time....The Canadian Wolf Center in Canada wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Ron....He was a friend to all animals."

John Muir:  "John Muir was the president of the Sierra Club...He was an inventor, writer, farmer, lecturer, and a glaciologist.....John was a "green" person and a person who really helped to take care of the Earth."
Rachel Carson:   "Rachel saved eagles, falcons, and other birds by telling the world of the dangers of DDT....Rachel inspired the beginning of the EPA. ...These are only a few of the reasons why Rachel Carson is an amazing person."

Sylvia Earle:  "She is an important woman in history.....She was named a 'living legend'...She has had a lot of ocean accomplishments and is a very interesting person."

Richard St. Barbe Baker:  "Richard was known as the 'Man of the Trees.'...He helped save twelve thousand acres of redwood trees....He was a famous environmentalist."
Eugenie Clark:  "I admire this person because she worked hard to share information about sharks.  Eugenie Clark is sometimes called the 'Shark Lady' because of all of her hard work."

Roger Tory Peterson:  "Some of his accomplishments were that he wrote and edited over 50 bird guides.  ....Richard created the "Peterson System" of identification for field guides....He is interesting, and with him, people wouldn't know as much about birds."

Archie Carr:  "One of his great achievements was that he told people on Earth that over-fishing and collecting the eggs of sea turtles damaged the population....He published 10 books and more than 120 scientific articles.  He also did research that helped protect sea turtles."

To find these award-winning, children's non-fiction books that have a way of drawing your student readers in with their engaging text, "Fast Facts" and personal timelines, click the pictures or links above, or go to either or  You know when the 8-9 year olds are pouring over the books and timelines and can't seem to get enough of them, that you have a thing of gold in your hands!  A written wealth indeed!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

DC Environmental Film Fest

Coming to a Nation's Capital near you...the 19th Annual Environmental Film Fest!

What does this entail?

It's exactly what 60 venues, 150 films and 26,000+ film-goers have in common in Washington, DC in just a matter of days!
From March 15--27, 2011, you'll get an opportunity from to see a boatload of eco-minded films, many of them free! How often in America does that happen??

Click the title above or go to: in order to see the schedule & what's in store at the film fest! Everyone should take action and take in some environmental eye-opening movies!

DC EFF Logo from
Filmstrip image from

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Connect the DOT.s

I don't know about you, but I remember being a kid and loving "dot to dots."  You start with random dots, which, when put together sequential, this picture appears before your eyes.  You need all of them, or it doesn't quite come together!

Well, in away, that's the same thing that's happening at The Alliance for Climate Education's (A.C.E's) DOT.  But the DOTs aren't regular A.C.E. DOT is a promise. An aim.  A pledge.  A pledge to "Do One Thing."  Where? Here, planet Earth.  By "doing one thing" to help the environment, each one of us becomes a dot in the dot-to-dot called life where we all working together to aid the planet, to fight climate change, they say on their website:
"together our DOTs can make a ginormous difference!"
To make your pledge be a ginormous part in solving the problem, click the title above or go to  Make your pledge as to what you can do (and are willing to commit to doing).  While you're there, see some of the on-site videos of others and their "DOTS" the one here below!!  Also, you could check out their Youtube site:  Great classroom opportunities abound from these videos, anywhere from student-created compositions to inspiring your youngsters to take action!!

Picture from

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Bounty of Books

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”  ~ Dr. Seuss 
It seems only fitting that on Dr. Seuss' 107th birthday that the focus should be on books.  In fact, special thanks to Jasmine for sharing this link of great green finds!  I think that Dr. Seuss would give a stripey hat vote of approval!

The list is a good one, with many of them one's in my own eco-library...and several I haven't seen and can't wait to check out.  My top 5 (well, make that 6) favorites from the list:
  • The Lorax (speaking of Dr. Seuss!)
  • The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle
  • The Earth Book for Kids
  • The Great Kapok Tree
  • The City of Ember
  • Charlotte's Web
There are great books on all sure to check it out!

Image from

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March's GTG Newsletter is Out & About!


It's March 1st, so the March Green Team Gazette Newsletter is out!  
Big surprise to no one: it heavily hits Earth Hour,
which is a mere 25 days away!!
Included with websites and basic EH-info
is a brainstorming sheet to use in classrooms
for any Earth Hour writing you may want to do!