Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year's, PlanetPals' Style!

happy new year palsPlanetPals always has a plethora of green offerings for young and old alike!!  New Year's is no different!  If you are looking to add a little green to your calendar-changing-eve festivities, or if you are looking to "darken your shade of green" by way of a few resolutions, here are some great resources.

PlanetPals "Green New Year's" Page:
From do-it-yourself noise makers, to world-wide crafts, to Chinese New Year (& our upcoming "Year of the Snake"), to ideas what to do with your outdated calendars, or even how to throw a greener party... find a slew of goodies here.

The Planet Pal "One a Day" Pledge:
There are lots of resolution ideas here, including the pledge below. This is a great way to help you or your cherubs do little things daily to add up to big things over all!

one a day pladgeDo one thing, big or small
Just be green, it helps us all.

A little thing, a thing a day
Can change the world,
In a great big way.

PlanetPals pics and pledge from

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sending Snowy Seasonal Wishes Your Way

Sending you...
Marvelous merriment this Christmas Day.
Handfuls of happiness a bit ago on Hanukkah nights.
Fun-filled family times for Kwanzaa ahead.
And a Past November full of Diwali lights.

Sending you snowy seasonal greetings during this time of love.

You too can send snowflakes of love to Newtown, Connecticut to help welcome Sandy Hook Elementary students back to school this January. Help them create a wintery wonderland by sending your paper-made snowflakes (by January 12th, 2013) to:

Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 10, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514

Photo from my camera, a handful of snowflakes created by my 2 kids and their grandmother on Christmas Day for Sandy Hook using my mom's CriCut machine.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

In the Clouds In Costa Rica This Holiday Season

One of the things I love about my job is that there is always something in the works at Eagle Cove School [aka: "ECS"]!

On one of our last few days of school this December before break, there was more going on than just holiday parties, making ornaments as parent gifts, reading holiday stories, and an all-school sing-a-long. In between all of that, my 3rd graders managed to squeeze in a quick FaceTime iPad conference with our science teacher. This, in and of itself, isn't so unusual. But, the FaceTiming was a tad farther than just the other side of campus. It happens that way when Tim Decker, our science teacher, happens to be in Costa Rica!  [Rumor on the street, our 5th graders also FaceTimed Costa Rica and Mr. Decker as well.]

Christmas and Costa Rica don't normally go hand in hand in our neck of the woods... but they do this year. Using part of his Christmas break and the last few days before break, Tim Decker flew south to spend some time at The Cloud Forest School. The Cloud Forest school (el Centro de EducaciĆ³n Creativa) is an is an independent PreK--11th Grade school located on 100+ acres of cloud forest in Monteverde, Costa Rica.

The reason for this mid-December visit? To foster an environmental & educational friendship with a like-minded school. When you look at their vision, it is easy to see the parallels to ECS, a Maryland "green" school since 2006. From the Cloud Forest School's website:
"Our vision is to help foster a sustainable future for the Earth by educating individuals to:  Love, respect and protect the natural environment;  Strive for justice and peace as well as academic excellence, and;  Work towards conserving biodiversity and enriching community life."
Like-minded indeed!

Additionally, while packing for Costa Rican warm-weather-wear during our typical Maryland winter season, Decker packed heavy for his trip down south.  He took a suitcase-full if needed school supplies that were brought in by ECS students & their families.

Once down in Costa Rica, Decker met with school leaders and teachers to brainstorm future collaborations between the two schools. He also shared a virtual tour of ECS that our 5th graders created with their 1:1 iPad program using the iMovie app. Plans are in the works between the two schools for future video-conferencing visits and student activities comparing and contrasting our riverside/wooded school campus with their Cloud Rainforest campus. Wheels of educational ideas are turning on both sides!

photo.JPGEagle Cove School's Parent Association funded Tim Decker's trip through the sales of special eco-Tshirts. First through fifth graders submitted designs centered around an environmental quote. The winning design (by one of our ECS 2nd graders) included a quote of her own creation.

As quoted in the December 2012 Bay Weekly, "'This project seems perfect for our students,' Decker says. "It brings together science, language, geology, culture, technology, and service.'" To learn more, be sure to check out Bay Weekly's link or go to the the 12/11/2012 article in The Arundel Patch.

Given the mutual environmental passion of both schools, it's easy to see the magnetic attraction. Additionally, given the lens of community stewardship and collaborative spirit of learning that are at play, the following quote seems to strike a chord:
"A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed...It feels an impulsion...this is the place to go now. But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind all clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons." ~ American author, Richard Bach
Mural in the works at The Cloud Forest School (photo taken & shared by Tim Decker)
White-faced monkey in the Costa Rican jungle (photo taken & shared by Tim Decker)

Classroom FaceTiming pic and Tshirt pic from my camera; map of Costa Rica from; Classroom pic of Tim Decker from

Friday, December 21, 2012

Greening Your Holiday Routines

I've said it before, and here I am saying it again--I am a big big fan of Pinterest.  Being a visual to the N-th degree, I find it appeals to the heart of both my learning and organizational style.  In this last week before Christmas, here are a few finds & links I've tucked away on both my Christmas Pinterest Board & my "Eco-Mania" P-Board.  Think of them sort of like goodies I'm now tucking in your stockings, as a way to add creativity AND sustainability to your holidays!!
Photo: Gift wrapping the green way
recycle christmas

Images from:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Healing the Hurt, #26Acts @ A Time

Looking at the calendar, we are less than a week away from Christmas.  Glancing at my December GTG posts I've written, I'm struck by their similarity, especially given what is on my mind today.  3 posts on an experiment on homelessness in addition to the horrific events of Newtown, CT last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary.  The dichotomy of sadness & difficulty in contrast to the Christmas season hasn't gone by unnoticed.

Our country right now, in the aftermath of Newtown, is raw with unbelievable pain for the loss of those 20 dear sweet children and their heroic teaching staff.  On so many levels it is still so difficult to wrap a mind around.

Yet a movement is floating in the wind.  A contagious flow of positive energy as a means of healing the hurt.  Inspired by Ann Curry across the twittersphere, a movement--one gaining momentum--has begun.  She explains her initial tweet in detail over at
"After the experience in Newtown. I thought, “What if? Imagine if everyone could commit to doing one act of kindness for every one of those children killed in Newtown.” So that’s what I tweeted. And guess what? People committed. I said in my tweet, “I’m in. RT if you’re in."

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Following along on the hashtags #20acts and #26acts (which also includes the 6 teachers who died at Sandy Hook Elementary as well), you can definitely see that there are a lot of folks who are "in."  What an ideal way to counter the pain and help heal our nation and the anger over this.  I feel it's a wonderful way to renew both our faith in humankind, as well as the spirit and meaning of Christmas.

As I was reading of friends' and others' acts this morning, I had an overwhelming need to watch "Charlie Brown's Christmas," hearing the music of that traditional TV tale, and seeing that li'l scraggly tree all lit up with love at the end.  Love is what heals.  So too does taking that extra minute to reach out to someone who you wouldn't ordinarily.  Perhaps it happens in the surprise gift or two you send to a far away friend that will be quite unexpected.   It falls in the donation my family and I made on behalf of the teachers of our school to the Cloud Forest School in Costa Rica to help them get extra supplies.  It's the warmth of heart you get knowing you have donated gifts to Toys For Tots or a local Angel Tree.

I especially felt it today at Payless Shoes when I was buying a replacement pair of work shoes for me (as my old ones have been battered by the mulch on our school playground during recess duty).  After paying for my shoes, I bought an additional $5 gift card.  Right there at the cashier stand, I wrote: "To You, From Me.  This is in honor of the events in CT this past weekend in hopes that we can heal the hate as a nation.  Please pay it forward any way you can to help heal our country from this sad loss."

Girls SmartfitGirls' Toddler Glitter Ballet FlatI glanced around the store as I was ready to depart, and there in the li'l shoe aisle was a dad with his 4 year old blondie, trying on sparkly shoes.  I handed this gift card to him with a simple "This is for you," and a swelling warmth in my chest.  It reminded me of my own blondie daughter at that age and her delight in her own "ruby reds" (which is ironic now given her distaste now for anything that doesn't fall in the category of "Tomboy").  It nearly broke my heart thinking of all those lost sparkles in Connecticut.   But it made me feel good, that my little random act of kindness put a smile on that daddy-n-daughter duo's face.  It made me feel like I was helping perpetuate that positive energy--that feeling, that healing.

Given Ann Curry's inspiration, I now challenge you to go forth and do good.  How many Random Acts of Kindness are you in for?

Looking for resources and ideas of ways you can make someone's day?  Check out the Random Act of Kindness Website.  Likewise, there are many great books out there on the subject!, Picture page, Charilie Brown Christmas from, Payless gift card & shoes from Minor Myers, Jr. quote from

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wishing You Peace, In The Aftermath of Tragedy

Like many today, I am filled with a sadness over the horrific events of yesterday's December 14th shooting at Newtown, Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School.  

Being a teacher myself, I didn't find out about the horrible situation until almost the end of the day when it was revealed by way of family text messages on my phone .  My job in the classroom doesn't have me at the ready-watch of the TV, Internet news, or even a radio. Also, being a teacher, I couldn't help but imagine how awful it must have been for the students and staff of the school.  I found myself playing it through my mind as if it were my classroom, my colleagues, my students.  Saying it was a sickening sensation is completely understated.  As a parent, I found myself doing the same with my two children.  This is the reason why many of us in America--in the world--are crying today and holding our children a little bit closer!

My hearts is going out to all the families today.  The parents who learned of their loss after sending their children to the safest place they could imagine--school.  The brothers and sisters who have lost their sibling playmates.  The parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends who have Christmas presents under trees for their li'l ones who are now lost to them.   Especially at Christmastime, it all feels doubly cruel--though unthinkable, it already is.  

Last night my husband and I took our children to a community train garden.  We were doubly privileged in that we got to see our kids' glee in the amazing Winter Wonderland Trainsville that surrounded them.  My heart is heavy for the families of the 26 victims of one man's wild rage, for they will no longer get to experience the innocence and joy I saw in my children's faces as they saw the magic that surrounded them.  

If you (or your children) are having a hard time dealing with the aftermath of all of this news and the tragic images so prevalent on the news/Internet, here are some amazing resources from The National Alliance for Grieving Children.

It is my wish that in the aftermath of such a terrible, unthinkable event that we all can be filled with peace, warmth, and comfort... and may these senseless crimes cease, being replaced with peace.

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Info & Experimentation in Homelessness ~ Part 3

For those of you following along, this week I've been following a conversational path of homelessness as I have been following the 10-day path of voluntary true homelessness of Dean Wright.  Dean is the Executive Director of the Freeport Area Church Cooperative (FACC) in Freeport Illinois.  (You can go back and follow that conversational path at Part 1 & Part 2 to catch up.)

From November 26 to December 6, Dean lived the homeless life.  Here is his final video blog installment, entitled "The End or the Beginning," an eye opening view from him on his 10 day experience.  In it he includes some really key ways you can help the homelessness in your community, in both big and small ways.

[To watch the entire video blog series of Dean's experience, check out his FACC YouTube page.]

In thinking about homelessness these past 2 weeks--seeing it through Dean's eyes, it led me down this path of searching for more statistics.  Here are a few of the other resources I found, which are equally eye opening.  May it start a trek for you this holiday season, to do the right thing, and help out so many that need your help.  Thank you Dean for helping to open my eyes, and so many others!

⌂ Homelessness Mapped in the United States:  This 2009 map (the most recent I could easily locate) shows homeless estimates by state.  At the website, there is quite a bit of additional date and statistics on why people find themselves in this unfortunate situation.

⌂ The Living Wage Calculator:  Dean limited himself to a $6.50 daily food allotment.  By doing a little math, you can figure out what that would allot you for the year.  At the Living Wage Calculator, you can see what it costs in yours community, or any other in any of the other states.  This calculator indicates typical expenses for reaching the bottom level standards of living.  It also stretches it out based on your family's parameters (numbers of parents, number of kids).  Scary, how expensive it can be, and how easy it can be to tip low-wage job employees into economically-tight situations.

⌂ Homelessness & Hunger Infographic:  Freeport, Illinois is approximately 2 hours (or 120 miles) away from Chicago.  This infographic (below) depicts the "real picture" for Chicago.  Odds are high that it is similar for most major metropolitan areas.

Video from, Map from, Homelessness & Hunger infographic from

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Info & Experiments in Homelessness ~ Part 2

When we last left off... Last Friday my 3rd graders were making sandwiches for the homeless (something we do 3 times during the winter season).  They got to experience life last week through Dean Wright's eyes--a college friend who has currently been doing a living 10 day experiment in homelessness.  Why?  To bring an awareness to the plight of the homeless person in his hometown of Freeport, Illinois.

It's been eye opening, and I have found myself assuming the role of "video blog stalker each day," eager to see Dean's epiphanies, tribulations, trials, & triumphs along a journey many of us wouldn't eager invite.  I found his Day 8 bonus feature yesterday enlightening & invigorating.  "Yagottawanna" watch it... To quote/paraphrase Dean:  
Ya gotta wanna be in the game.
Ya gotta wanna take action
You gotta wanna make change. ...
Life is a contact sport.  It involves that we're in in it.  
Get in the game.  Do something!

Sending kudos & cheers to Dean as he faces his last 2 nights!

Chalk drawing from (interestingly, about feeding the homeless); Dean's video from

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Info & Experiments in Homelessness ~ Part 1

228. Not a batting average, but a sandwich count.

45. No, again, not a batting average. (Could it even be a batting average? I haven't a clue.)  Rather, it is the amount of time it took 13 third graders to compile 228 sandwiches given a school's worth of bread, cheese, and lunch meat donations.

The purpose--one of 3 wintertime sandwich making sessions for Happy Helpers for he Homeless, started in 1983 by 10 yr old Amber Coffman.  Eagle Cove School has been connected with Happy Helpers for 16 years.  In the 6 years that I have been at ECS, my class as been making sandwiches, averaging about 600 a year.  That's a good 3,600 sandwiches in my tenure alone! That's something that certainly feels good to be a part of!
an organization

This year, homelessness had a face--that of Dean Wright, my college roomie's husband.

No, Carrie did not kick him to the curb.  Dean is the Executive Director for the Freeport Area Church Cooperative (FACC).  As a plan to to bring awareness to the homelessness situation, he has voluntarily embarked on a 10 night adventure of homelessness in his Illinois hometown.  He embarked on this quest this past Monday, November 26, planning to continue through December the 6th.  He is doing 3-10 minute video web-logs telling of his experiences.  Here's his video following his first night out in the 20 degree frigid Illinois temperatures.

This became an excellent way for me to share the meaning of our sandwich making with my 8 and 9 year olds.  (Especially once they came to terms with the fact that one, he is not truly homeless; two, he is doing this voluntarily; and three, no, homeless people probably don't have a Facebook page.).  So we made our 228 Maryland sandwiches in honor of "Illinois Dean," who would be sleeping out int he world tonight.

Watching the videos, I find it fascinating (not only because I know Dean), but by the way his experience has of course led him to think about things.  It also becomes such an eye opening experience for anyone watching him candidly speak about it.  There's a true perspective shift that occurs, on so many topics:
  • What truly is important in life?  
  • How much do we each take for granted? (Like the toasty comfort of one's bed or the ability to get a glass of water when you are thirsty in the middle of the night!!)
  • How do we treat people, based on perceptions alone?
Parallel that out with the upcoming holiday season, it really, truly, completely makes you think!

One of my favorite "episodes" so far of Dean's has been the morning of Day 4, when he said:
"You know what I was thinking?  Everyone should be passionate about something. Anything. It may not be homeless people.  It may be something else. That's okay. Things don't get done when people don't have passion about things. ... Sometime I just don't see some of the passion that I think think we need to see in our community.  When people have passion, and they're a motivated leader--whatever they're doing, things get done.  They get done!...  I want to inspire and try to motivate people today. If helping homeless people is not your gig, that's okay. Find what your gig is. Go out there and passionately pursue it for the sake of your community.  Just for the sake of your own heart. I think we could use a lot more that everywhere.  I guess that's just what I will leave you with here today."
So now it is like the latest soap opera.  We can't miss an episode.  We need to see what Dean is up to, and how he survived the latest night.  Funny, this "addiction," as I am not keen on reality TV shows of any sort.  But this IS reality... and truly an eye opening experience.  This IS what's worth watching.

To see more news about Dean Wright's Homelessness Experience, check out this news article or Dean's web-log videos.

For a list of ideas of things to donate to your nearby homeless shelters (including wool socks), check out the Homelessness Shelter Directory.

For a list of 35 ways you can help the homeless, check out

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I'll share some interesting infographics and calculators on the subject. 

Dean’s web-log videos from photos from and

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Power of Plastic In Pictures

I'm feeling very "infographic" lately.  Maybe it goes along with my visual learning style and the fact that a picture does indeed say 1000 words.

I think this one speaks largely to me because there are so many times that we mindlessly waste.  For me, plastic shopping bags is one of them.  For the 20 min. life span of these baggies (many of them that wind up wafting in the wind as "witches drawers" and then later in our waterways), I seriously question the use of petroleum for this.  Yet, a grocery store trip seems so second nature to all of us--to come home with a plethora of plastic bags.  I think freezer bags and the zipped up quart, gallon, and sandwich sized ones of these fall here too.  So common place to throw leftovers or lunch into them, where they in turn get wasted.  Even when we feel mighty, "I am recycling," what are we doing?  So many municipalities don't actually recycle these.  It's a farce that we smugly buy into, thinking we are doing good, when in fact, they often times also become landfill fodder or windblown items that ultimately become part of marine debris, harming our watery wildlife or additional waste cluttering up the corners of our planet.

Just watch the movie "Bag It" and you will see life through a new view!  Same too, check out this infographic below.  In these past days of Black Fridays, and Christmas/Holiday shopping ahead, it might be worth doing yourself and your planet a little good, by planning ahead and packing your bags--so the stores don't have to pack their own plastic, vexing varieties!


Infographic from , plastic bag monster pic from

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Seeing the Forest Through the Black Friday Trees

Here this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, it got me thinking:

In the aftermath of all of this...
Infographic: The Dark Night Rises - Black Friday Madness

...perhaps we should be focusing a little more on this...

Take time this weekend to focus on what is truly important.

Black Friday infographic from, Gratitude infographic from Via all found at

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey Treats for All This Thanksgiving!

Eat Like A Pilgrim
by Browse more
 data visualization.
Happy Thanksgiving! 

Here is just one of a great many fantiastic finds that I happened on from Larry Ferlazzo's growing list of The Best Sites To Learn & Teach About Thanksgiving.  There you'll find over 6 dozen Thanksgiving themed links and sites, so you can have a tasty, informative and edtech-ian Turkey Day!!  (His "Best of..." Series is an amazing bounty of resources alone--on any subject a teacher might have a hankering for!!!)

Of course, after your feast, you might want to hit the SunSentinel's Holiday Exercise Calculator!!

And, in my book, no Thanksgiving is complete without watching & chuckling over the 1978 sitcom "WKRP" Thanksgiving episode!!

Have a bountiful &
beautiful Thanksgiving,
full of family, friends,
feasting, festivities & frolic!!

Infographic from

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Cornucopia Called EdCamp

Thanksgiving is just a few short days away.  It's usually at about this time in the school year that I wonder how the heck it has happened that we are already here?!
When I look back, especially over the last 6 weeks alone, I see my own autumnal path to here--and it was by way of EdCamps. A virtual cornucopia of EdTech, iPads, PLN's (Personal Learning Networks) galore and more.

I've written about EdCamps before, and I'm a self-proclaimed EdCamp fiend.  In this season of gratitude and taking time to celebrate those things I'm thankful for, EdCamps certainly are up there on my list--certainly after family and friends, but right alongside personal job satisfaction.  How can an amazing and FREE professional development opportunity where you can learn from your regional colleagues/educators NOT be in there!?!

Here is a great video that describes the essence of EdCamp:

Between my time at EdCamp Baltimore (Sat., Nov. 10th), EdCamp Harrisburg (Sat., Oct 20), & before that on Sat., Oct. 6th at EdCamp Hagerstown], I have harvested a bounty of professional development.  I most certainly got a cornucopia of EdTech treasures by way of websites, iPad lesson activities, new apps to investigate, and great ideas I could use in class each of the following Monday mornings. 

The level of sharing, both in and out of sessions, on Twitter, their websites, and beyond make it possible to let the learning continue...even if you weren't there.  Along those lines, one of the neatest sessions I went to was when Jeff Bradbury from TeacherCast led a panel of EdCamp pros in a panel discussion concurrently (by way of livestreaming and Google hangouts) with a panel from EdCamp Minneapolis St. Paul.  Pretty darn cool to be crossing time zones with tech, and be in two places at once!

Here are some places to go to learn some of the cool things I learned along the way in my autumnal trek of Maryland and Pennsylvania EdCamps...
For more EdCamps on the horizon, check out:
  • EdCamp NJ ~ Sat., Dec. 1st
  • Upcoming EdCamps ~ Check out the Wiki of dates & places--you can go here to also get links to all of the past EdCamps (including the more than 30 EdCamps just this past fall). Each link takes you to the individual webpages and listed resources from each of their own their full days!
Here in this season of crispnes and color, may your Thanksgiving be bountiful--full of blessings, love, peace, harmony.

Annnnnndddd... if you're truly lucky, may there be an EdCamp nearby, sometime soon, to mark on your calendar!  ☺

Cornucopia photo from, EdCamp video from, Edcamp logos from each of their home webpages; Thanksgiving iPhone screensaver from

Saturday, November 17, 2012

America Recycles Day ~ Nov. 15th

If you were paying attention, this past Thursday, November 15 was America Recycles Day.  As with many of the "Environmental Days," even with a presidential proclamation, America Recycles Day didn't get the press it deserved.

Of course, some camps argue the value of a one-day environmental "day."  With something like recycling, it begs the question:  "Why just recycle on ONE day?  What about the other 364?"  That is a great question!

I personally subscribe to both camps. No, one day isn't enough.  We should be recycling daily.  And I do--both at home and at school.  I talk about it in my classroom, especially because it is a Maryland "Green" School. 

Yet, as a  firm believer that change can begin with one person, I believe change too can begin on one day.  Most current data takes us to 2009, where we (in the US) can celebrate a 34% recycling rate. (For more eyeopening statistics on all sorts of recycling data, go to the Keep America Beautiful Recycling Stats & Facts page.)  For as many years as we have all been recycling & been urged to recycle, and for the amount of items out there that we CAN recycle, I'm disappointed in this figure. I personally think we can do more, and do better.  It is for that reason that Environmental "Days" such as our November 15th America Recycles Day are important.  It brings about a focused one-day effort of awareness.

Of course, how much of that "news" do any of us actually see on that one day? That also is the disappointing part.  I only saw it (and knew about it) because I'm always on the hunt for eco-news.  Similarly, it's also because I teach at a Maryland Green School.

So, the moral of the story is:  yes, it can only take one person to make a change.  Even better--a lot of those solo individuals.  Each one of them highlighting it, shouting about it, and helping others become aware so that recycling eventually can become that "every day activity."  That way it can become those "other 364 days" activities as well.  With that, then perhaps our 34% can move it's way up to a fraction better than just 1/3.

Lucky for us too, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) [in coordination with Keep America Beautiful (KAB) and the Alcoa & Alcoa Fountation] are also working on moving that percentage--especially since the US is far below many other countries in this department.

So, even if you missed America Recycles Day this year, no one said it had to be on November 15th in your house.  Make it happen.  You can get a lot of resources, facts, and helpful hints here:

Guides, Templates and Downloads from America Recycles Day

Recycling Tips from America Recycles Day
RecycleBowl Symbol

Information & Ideas from Keep America Beautiful

Information about the "Recycle Bowl"
(A "SuperBowl of Recycling" event where 1500 schools participated for 4 weeks in October to November of 2012 nationwide.  Eagle Cove School contributed just over 400 lbs during our time RecycleBowl-ing.  Not to shabby for a school with a population of 83 students!)

American Flag pic from, Recycle Bowl symbol pic, Keep America Beautiful logo from, iCare image from from

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Mosaic Leading Up to Veterans' Day

It's been a rather significant week or so--more eventful and bigger than most.  Few weeks are as full as what we have faced here in our country the last week.  We've had:

A catastrophic hurricane, where the damage is still in repair in much of the East Coast.  Don't even get me started on how amazing that some people can still question if this is a matter of climate change.

✎ A coming together of people to help our fellow citizens rebuild.  This past Monday, November 5 was coined a "Day of Giving" by Disney & ABC TV, and the American Red Cross.  ABC television shows focused their efforts on gaining donations for Hurricane Sandy victims.  A reported  $15,663,327 was collected.

✎ A remarkably emotionally-charged and close election between two dynamically different candidates.  According to Huffington Post on Friday, November 9th, with most of the votes finally being in, the popular vote totals were really strikingly close.  61,173,739 votes (or 50.5%) for Obama to Romney's 58,167,260 votes (48.0%).   In the world of millions, 3 million isn't a huge difference when you look at 119 million voters.  What that means, is there is a lot of hard mending ahead.

✎ A local celebration occurred at my school, Eagle Cove School, on Friday, honoring Veterans. A powerful parade of PreK'ers through 5th grade students, their teachers, parents, grandparents, police escorts, military representatives, a deacon, a bugle player playing "Taps," a gun salute...all with flags waving on a causeway overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. It was an amazing tribute, followed up by visiting a fire truck, an ambulance, police motorcycles, and a Coast Guard boat at our pier.  Extraordinary!
 A national holiday.  Today.  Veterans Day.  A day to honor all of our men and women who have fought for our country.  A day where we should all stop and say our thanks, and say some prayers to the men and women we have lost who were fighting for all of us, and for the men and women who still are!

I think when you look at all of these events together--happening in such a short period of time--you get a very powerful mosaic.  A mosaic not only of our country, but also of the American people.  We're emotional and empowered, hardworking and helping. When the times are tough, we're there for our fellow citizens... to help out our country.  We have a whole crew of people who have taken on a hard sacrifices to fight for our freedoms and our country--and for them we are thankful.  They have secured our right to vote... even if it gets venomous and vitriolic at times. 

So today on Veterans Day, where some people might still be feeling broken by the results of the election or the aftermath of the hurricane, remember that it is indeed like a mosaic. Sometimes in the piecing of thing back together, we get something stronger, more beautiful, and more memorable than we had before. Our Veterans have helped us become the monumental mosaic and the country that we are today.

Veteran's Day pictures from my camera, "Day of Giving" pic from, & the mosaic pic from

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Time Is Now... Now Is the Time: VOTE!

At long last, it is here, the time is now. USA Election Day is one "wake up" away. In some ways it seems as if it has taken forever to get here (if you count up all the campaigning ads and the time they took up to get us here.) In other ways, it flew. Okay, no not really, but I was trying to be optimistic. I too am a bit in Abbie's neighborhood of crying over "Bronco Bamma." I am tired of the politicking and complaining--on both sides of the fence.

 According to CNN reports, we are at an unprecedented "neck and neck." It's going to come down to late hours and electoral college end-of-night summaries. It literally could go either way. Whether that comforts you, or scares the pants off you, it is what it is. Given that, get yourself out there and vote! Even though I personally feel we should be a nation that decides by popular vote, your popular vote counts in determining you state's electoral vote. So go out there and do your civic duty!!

For those of you who need a refresher on the electoral college, check it out thru Disney and this electoral college video:

In summation: The time is is the time. Vote. Do your civic duty. Make your voice count and be heard. It's important. It's THAT important! Even if the lines are long and it doesn't feel worth it. It is. Now get out there and do your thing!!

Happy Election Day!

Vote pic: from ; video #1 from' video #2 from

Friday, November 2, 2012

MTV Chats Climate Change With President Obama

With just a handful of days left of presidential campaigning, and in the horrible aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, this seemed like the time to share last week's MTV's interview with President Obama. With the focus on Climate Change in this clip, perhaps we'll all see it in a new light in the after the wreckage of Frankenstorm Sandy. 

Our GTG hearts go out to all of those folks who are still wrestling with their devastation.

Video from 

Monday, October 29, 2012

The "Frankenstorm" Is Here

As the winds start whipping up, the "fiercest" of this very rainy, hurricane-y day, here's to squeaking out a quickie post before the power goes down. Seems like the right time for a follow up to yesterday's "I'm Not a Climatologist, but Frankenstorm Sandy's A-Coming" post.

It was a dark and stormy night...

Classic horror tale starter.  Yet, tonight as the rains hammer down, as the winds kick up, as "Frankenstorm Sandy" makes landfall here in the Northeast, it's the perfect description for tonight.  After a day off school, watching the rain come down, laying in wait for the power to go out, hoping the sump pump holds out and the backyard saturation doesn't funnel down the basement cellar door stairs, the pitter patter of the rain is now second nature.

I find it interesting that CNN apparently has banned from their commentary the use of the term "Frankenstorm."  Too scary.  Hearing the storm with it's whipping winds, intensifying here, I feel the looming doom.  I've watched the news a bulk of the day, seeing pictures of Ocean City, MD drowning away, and numerous other sites up and down the coast.  Heck ya, it's scary!

Hurricane Sandy - Olivia Newton-John - Grease - P 2012A great article that doubly agrees in the scariness of a not-so-scarily-named Hurricane Sandy, is an article from "Think Progress' Climate Progress" written by Joe Romm. The title isn't short and sweet, but it hits it to a 'T': "CNN Bans Term 'Frankenstorm,' But It's A Good Metaphor for Warming-Driven Monster: 'Largest Hurricane in Atlantic History."

Joe includes some "unprecedented" quotes about this unprecedented storm by some well-knowns from the climate/weather world. My personal favorite quotes are from Joe himself where he agrees with environmental author & educator Bill McKibben that "Frankenstorm" is indeed precisely the right name for Hurricane Sandy.
"Frankenstein — and his monster — have become a metaphor for the unintentional consequences of scientific and technological advances.... The name “Frankenstorm” fits. Ostro says this is “even more extreme” than the infamous Perfect Storm of 1991. The unique severity of the storm is the point! Manmade warming has consequences.... Manmade climate change is one monster we still have some control over. But here’s the final warning. We are already seeing Frankenstorms, and we’ve only warmed about 1.4°F over the past century. We are on track to see more than 5 times that warming this century. The monster storms that would spawn are beyond imagining." ~ Joe Romm
Ouch!  When are we all going to open our eyes and take heed?  In a state that currently has a hurricane warning for this side of the state, and a blizzard warning for Western Maryland, how many floods, forest fires, derecho storms, record snow falls, Frankenstorms, and other massive weather events is it going to take until we take heed??

To all who are in the path of destruction and doom of Frankenstorm Sandy, may safety, security, electricity, and a dry environment be yours, this dark and stormy night.

Snoopy pic from; Hurricane Sandy from Grease photo from

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I'm Not A Climatologist, But Frankenstorm Sandy is A-Coming!

I am not a climatologist, nor do I play one on TV.  However, it doesn't take a climate scientist or a rocket scientist to know that we on the US East Coast have a doozy of a storm coming our way.  Hurricane Sandy, still a few days away, already holds hope and promise of being one for the books.
My history of hurricanes goes back, and (just like the winds and wetness of a hurricane) keeps swirling back:

  My wedding got rerouted 24 hours before "I do's" given 1999's Hurricane Floyd hitting Maryland, knocking out power of the venue where my husband and I had planned to get married/have the reception.

  I lived in Florida from 2001 to 2007, where we had a string of some nasty named storms, but we were lucky enough to escape all major hits. We put out sandbags, we boarded the house, we saw the water rise on the streets and the trees bend like twigs. We traveled to family on the other, drier Florida coast, and for one storm in 2005 I even bolted to my folks in Illinois--assured that it would be "3rd time's the charm!" that season.  Again we lucked out.

  This weekend, I have books on desks and everything "up" in my classroom, as do others in my Magothy River-edged school. Sandbags school-wide to follow. With my classroom being the closest to the shoreline, I'm not taking any chances. (Especially when I know that the storm surge of Hurricane Isabel in 2003 hit at high tide, putting the water level above the 5-foot dockside fence. Yes, I'm fearing the prediction that history may well be repeating itself here with Hurricane Sandy.)

I'm not a climatologist, but I read the news.  I know that this is predicted to be a "Frankenstorm" as it seems to have all the elements of multiple storm systems coming together simultaneously, with a cold front potentially stalling it, which will prolong the effects.

I'm not a climatologist, but I AM an environmental educator at a Maryland "Green" School who has read a number of books and articles on planetary climate change.  A great quote, especially on this storm is from Climate Science Watch's Jordan Nichols:
"To adapt a famous quote on another subject: you may not be interested in climate change, but climate change is interested in you. While both presidential candidates and moderators of the debates have taken criticism for avoiding the subject of climate change, it may not be that easy for residents on the U.S. East Coast to avoid the effects of the 'Frankenstorm' -- Hurricane Sandy.... It seems Mother Nature is sending us a message. It’s almost as if Mother Nature trying to tell us something, 'you can ignore climate change all you want, but its not going away.'”
 I find Nichols' commentary fascinating--if not humorous--here on the cusp of the election.  It's a good article--you need to read it!!

It led me to wondering, and conducting my own research.  I went to the NOAA site and found a list of the number of named storms since data recording started in 1851.  They have a nice chart, which I then adapted to the following chart, grouping the data by decades and averaging it out. (Click on it to enlarge it).

I then used my above "Storm Chart by Decade" data to make a graph with one of my favorite kid-friendly graph sites:  Create a Graph.  Like I said, I'm not a climatologist, but the trend between number of  named storms, number of hurricanes, and number of major hurricanes is clearly visible, with the last 20 years being the highest on the graph in 2 of the 3 categories.  Middle elementary and older students could do the same activity, and chart their own, same results!

I'm not a climatologist, but Nichols' article is consistent with much of the other climate change information out there:  the warmer our planet gets, the warmer our ocean waters get, which makes it ripe for more (and more severe) weather events such as hurricanes.  Another quote from Nichols' Climate Science Watch article:
"Using data from storm surges, the 'abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above predicted astronomical tides,' Grinsted now had data from as far back as the 1920s. What did they find? 'Using surges as an indicator we see an increase in all magnitudes of storms when ocean temperatures are warmer,' according to Michael D. Lemonick of Climate Central."
As Nichols states in his closing:
"Our climate is changing; this is now more painfully obvious than ever. Recent studies suggest that the majority of the coasts in the United States are vulnerable to rising seas due to climate change. The signs and warnings are very clear, but there is no sense of urgency to prepare for our impending climate 50 years from now. The United States has fallen behind on this front, while other countries are planning for the future....The seas will rise, whether we believe in climate change or not, so we must adapt and prepare. What we need is political leadership to start talking about climate change again, no matter whether it’s an election year or not. Time is running out on preventive action, while the 'Frankenstorm' draws nearer."
View outside my classroom door.
It's been said before (many a-time)--I am not a climatologist. But my question is this:  Do I need to be when these are the reports that are out there?  Seems like all I need to be is an informed voter, an educated "educator," and a girl who needs to batten down the hatches, because (ready or not), Frankenstorm Sandy is going to rear her ugly head!

Hurricane Sandy projection map from; photos from my camera of hurricanes past and near present, Table data adapted from, and graph created using the table data here and the Create A Graph website (