Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Embrace "The Beauty of Different" This New Year

Recently, over at UpWorthy, I ran across this 3 minute video from The Beauty of Different.  (There's also a book out there by Karen Walrond with the same name.)

The message is largely for women (and girls!), yet I think it's applicable to just anyone.  The true message:  be you! Be true to you.  Love your life, and love the gifts & talents you have.  That's where confidence comes from.  We've all seen that person with "that glow."  They're all over this video... that glow of sublime happiness.  Of being happy and healthy and in love with your life.

My daughter debated with me that this video isn't "about being green." Technically, she's right.  But, it is about being amazing...and being amazing is about being healthy and happy and delighted by your own "effervescent charm."  And if that isn't environmentally-friendly, I don't know what is!

As we are sitting on the cusp of watching one year end, and another year begin, it seems like the perfect time to go forth and be amazing!!  Happy New Year!

Video from:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOz0DHoMsq8
Photo from https://scontent-a-lga.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/1544566_629192650473165_987668339_n.jpg

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from GTG

From my house to yours, may your 
Christmas be rich with memories
and overflowing with love!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Go for a Hacker Mindset

How old are you...and how old is Logan LaPlante??  (13, by the way)

Spot on!

I love that his top 8 include:
-exercise                    -diet & nutrition
-time in nature           -contribution & service
-relationships             -recreation
-relation & stress management
-religious & spiritual

What do YOU want to be when you grow up?


Video from http://youtu.be/h11u3vtcpaY

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

12 Days of Christmas

Every year on some radio station or another, I usually hear the run down on the total cost in today's world of "The 12 Days of Christmas."  'Tis the season indeed for that.  This 2012 infographic does a nice job of visually showcasing how pricy that kind of love is in today's $$.  Also fun on the Degree Search blog post is how the price has changed over time.  Inflation certainly takes hold!!

The Cost of True Love: The 12 Days of Christmas [infographic]

Speaking of "The 12 Days of Christmas"...here's what I consider to be the best version e-va!  From Straight No Chaser (an a capalla group that does a great mashup of Christmas tunes here):

Infographic from http://degreesearch.org/blog/the-cost-of-true-love/
Video from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Fe11OlMiz8

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Offsetting Random Acts of Violence with Purposeful Acts of Kindness

This weekend commemorates the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 26 lives were taken senselessly.  Newtown & the nation were horribly shaken, especially during the holiday season.  It's an anniversary that should never be.  I'm still as heartbroken for the families as I was last year.  The Huffington Post article on the anniversary was a particularly thoughtful reflection.

Additionally now, this weekend will become another anniversary of another wretched shooting, this time due to the double murder and suicide on Friday at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado.

As the country faces unbelievably sad moments such as these (especially during the holiday season), and politicians wrestle with gun laws, the senslessness of it all shines out.  People will be without their people at Christmastime due to the violence of others.  That's just plain wrong and makes you want to do something, yet leaves you feeling powerless as to what to do.

Last year, in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, a movement sprang up to take back power by attacking the fear and injustice--a movement based on spreading the joy and love of the season by "paying it forward."  #26Acts was begun, and it was through the sharing of human kindnesses that hearts began to heal.

Tonight as I was playing the "Santa Elf" role (wrapping presents for teachers, friends & family, & care packages for far-away friends), I was thinking a lot about all of this.  The unexpected surprises that will appear in mailboxes, on front porches, and on teacher desks that will be from me.  We all do this.  It's all a part of sharing the Christmas spirit.  It all helps to awaken the human spirit--theirs, but even more--mine.  

If you are looking for some ways to offset the random acts of violence with some random (or purposeful) acts of kindness, here is a list of some great resources.  May it help your heart grow 3 sizes larger, filled with holiday spirit, much like Dr. Seuss' Grinch's heart did!  May it help remind you of the true reason of the season.

 Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar--a clickable calendar with different ideas each day on how you can do something this season to make someone's day.  25 ways to grow your heart, each day of this month!

 Lesson Plans on Random Acts of Kindness--A whole Kindness Notebook, tabbed out by grade level, filled with activities to use in your classroom.  They were compiled by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, and are all free--a great kindness, indeed!

 Kindness Videos--Again, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation outdoes itself.  Many of the videos are not only information, but inspirational and thought provoking!  They also have some great monthly calendar & poster resources at their website which may inspire you to do a little something every day.

Images from:
--Sandy Hook Elementary Heart picture from http://northendwaterfront.com/2013/01/north-end-community-holds-candlelight-vigil-to-remember-newtown-shooting-victims-photos/
--Kindness red tag from http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/calendars-and-graphics
--Dr. Seuss Quote heart from http://www.spoolandspoonblog.com/2012_11_01_archive.html

Friday, December 13, 2013

It's Not Too Late for Hour of Code Week

It's GTG hat-turning time, switching from "eco" to "edtech."  Sometimes, they can be two sides of the same coin. This week, however (given it's Computer Science Education Week), it's heavy-handed on that edtech side. And kids nation wide are loving it!

Hour of CodeTake the kids at Carrollwood Day School in Tampa, for example. Computer teacher Barbara Hawkins has been cross-age pairing students to work on many of the Hour of Code activities this week.  In her classroom, learning comes alive.  (This is right about where teaching comes alive for us teachers!!)

Thousands of teachers nation-wide are doing the same.

If you haven't taken advantage of Hour of Code/Computer Science Education Week--it's not too late.  Here are a number of resources that will assist you on this quest.

What is it?
The Hour of Code is a challenge to teachers/students to try computer science/programming for one hour.


  • Common Sense Media’s “Hour of Code” Offers a Quick Easy Introduction to Computer Coding” --A multitude of resources here
  • So many good resources.  So much coding that needs to happen.  Jump on it!! Code away....today!

Images from
1. http://www.carrollwooddayschool.org/page.cfm?p=323&newsid=510#.UqpWhwXvZME.facebook
2. Video from  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU1xS07N-FA

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Shop 'Til You Drop

I'm sitting here, a week-and-change after Black Friday and all the ads, incentives, free shipping, & more, looking at my Christmas list (making check marks as I shop -- as any good Santa would do), and I find it all fascinating.

Propaganda, errr, I mean advertising... to the N'th degree!  Sigh.

The day after Thanksgiving I ran across this on Pinterest:

Black Friday, Black Friday, some ecards

There's something more than a tad disturbing with this philosophy!!
Or rather...this REALITY.

For me, one who isn't a fan of shopping on a "good day," Christmas and all that comes with it hits me oddly. I love the lights, the music, the sights, the sounds, the magic & mystique (especially from they eyes of the cherubs)... but the shopping (and yes, admittedly, the spending of money), hits me poorly.  The meaning that's projected is "If you love me, you will spend a boatload of money on me."

Anyone who has been following along the last 4 years knows that materialism doesn't exactly float my boat. I am a big fan of "The Story of Stuff."  I know the value of the dollar.  I have the salary of an independent school teacher, and while we do okay, we're not rolling in the dough.  We don't overtly overly-indulge our 2 children, and yet, they want for not.

We are a middle class family, and my kids have a crew who loves them.
Therefore, we have "stuff."

I feel we are a society over-consumed by consumerism. There's wayyy too much "stuff" out there.  In the world, in the stores, in my own house.  Christmas comes around (for both my kids and I), and I'm hit with the loud thought:  how much more "stuff" do we really need?  I think back to the BIG chit'lin "wants" from last year (from my own home), and I assess & query: "how much were they truly used the last 365 days?" I'm saddened by the probable answer.

Insert "Toys 'R' Us" ad here.  When I saw this advertisement, I knew it was "blog fodder."  As an environmentalist & anti-materialist, I'm more-than-slightly appalled!  Yes, Toys 'R' Us is a mecca (which has overwhelmed me since it first came about in my hometown during my teen years). Yet, this video screams consumerism over environmentalism to the N'th degree.  There are soooo many things wrong here.  Watch and see. (Then read the LiveWell's article "Misguided Toys 'R' Us Ad Makes Nature the Bad Guy.")

So my challenge to you (and yes, to me, as well):  Step away from this ad.  Step away from the Christmas consumerism.  Step toward the light of sanity, and do what you need to do this holiday season that will keep you on the straight and narrow this season!

Delight in the fun, festivities, the humor, the hugs, the lights, the sights, and the sounds, and all the people around.

Images from:
SomeEcard from http://www.whatevo.com/post/Black-Friday-BD868F37CD935E16
"Story of Stuff" pic from http://dariobusch.com/2011/01/the-story-of-stuff/
Shop Till you drop from http://www.myniceprofile.com/girls-45787.html
Meet the Forest pic from http://livewellcolorado.org/livewells-commitment/newsroom/livewell-blog/misguided-toys-r-us-ad-makes-nature-the-bad-guy

Video from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5SXybm6bss

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"How Amazon Stole Christmas"

I found this infographic interesting this week as I've been Amazon-ing through my Christmas list.  What's even more entertaining is the Seuss-esque rhyme associated with the original article over at Direct Marketing News.  Send in the drones and the Prime free shipping!

Infographic from http://www.dmnews.com/infographic-how-amazon-stole-christmas/article/320050/

Monday, December 2, 2013

Still Talking About CNN's 2013 Heroes

Sunday night I curled up on the couch to watch the 2013 CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tributes .  The top 10 heroes were highlighted (and you can learn more about them and some of the other nominees here.)  Their stories were telling, heartwarming, and inspiring of hope.  TV you walk away feeling good from (which doesn't happen much any more, these days)!

I've stated before (after the news of the Hero of the Year came out, but before Sunday's show aired) how I was particularly proud of home state eco-man Chad Pregracke.  Well, that didn't stop at his acceptance speech.  He spoke more about it afterwards (and in this clip below) with Anderson Cooper.  Yep!  Illinois environmentalist done good--well done, Chad!

If you missed the tribute, you can watch it again this Saturday, December 7th at 9 pm ET/PT on CNN.

Pic from http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/19/chad-pregracke-of-east-moline-illinois-is-the-2013-cnn-hero-of-the-year/

Video from http://www.cnn.com/video/standard.html?/video/bestoftv/2013/11/29/cnnheroes-chad-pregracke-intv.cnn&video_referrer=

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Thoughts

The house this morning is a surprising sound of quiet in that the li'l people here have amazingly decided to sleep in.  Secondarily, their night owl mom is the first one awake to see the morning light.  A double rarity indeed!  Add in it's a beautifully sunny day after two drearily rainy days, it looks like it has the making of a lovely Thanksgiving Day (with the added bonus of reflective time to think about this day of thanks).

I ran across the following video and post from SustainableMan this morning. They both highlight our natural ability to take things for granted--the polar opposite of the themes for Thanksgiving: showing gratitude and being grateful.  (Being a bit of a wordsmith, I find it interesting how similar the words all are in spelling:  granted, gratitude, grateful.)

Initially, I started to steer clear of sharing SustainableMan's "Take Nothing For Granted" video because of the language in the montage. (Be warned, there is some both from the comedian voice-overs and the movie clips.)  Yet, it poignantly illustrates "us" today:  a society that takes things for granted, gets consumed with materialism, and misses the true meaning of what surrounds us.  It's a definite "makes you think...and rethink" kind of video.  Their post on the subject does the same!

Take Nothing for Granted from Sustainable Man on Vimeo.

Ahh, I hear it!  The pitterpat of li'l feet.  I think I need to go hug one of those "what's really importants" who just woke up!

May you have a joyous and heartfelt Thanksgiving this year, focusing on what really matters.

"Gratitude in the Everyday" image from:  http://stephanywrites.com/2013/11/gratitude-in-the-everyday-part-ii/
Video from: http://vimeo.com/35554292 
Live, Love, Laugh photo from http://leftbrainbuddha.com/practice-gratitude-happy-thanksgiving/

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Talking Turkey Across the Turkey

Thanksgiving is merely a day away.  It's that autumnal time to be centered around an "attitude of gratitude." Family and friends come together for feasting and fellowship.

Yet sometimes, that fellowship brings about an interesting mix of folks, all of whom have a different set of values and views on life.  Sometimes that lends itself toward animated discussions and perhaps heated conversations since not everyone sees things through the same eyes.

If that's the table (& tablemates) that may be facing you tomorrow, here are two sites I ran across today that might help you when it comes to dinnertime conversation.  Especially if those conversation turn political or issue-centric.

The Sierra Club's Holiday Survival Guide 
This clickable site gives you some helpful hints as to what to say to Big Oil Uncle Tim, Eco-Skeptical Brother Jim, Fracking-friendly Grandma, Newby Green Sister Laura, Fellow Greeniac Nephew Chase, and Bah Humbug Gramps.  You can also get some yummy recipes along the way!

Can You Talk Turkey With Your Climate-Change-Denying Relatives This Thanksgiving?
Kate Sheppard's Huffington Post article comes complete with video.  The video is a presentation where Sheppard talks about how she (a decided liberal) has conversations with her farming/Republican family about climate change.  Truthfully, her concept would work well on any subject given she stresses the point of making points based on the values of your audience.

I'm pretty fortunate and for the most part, don't need either of the above.  My family and in-laws know of my eco-warrior ways, and they deal with it accordingly.  But, knowing not everyone is in my same boat, maybe these two sites can offer you some helpful insight!

Thankgiving tablemates pic from http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2013/11/24/thanksgiving-how-eat-american-politics/dr3jHLnGnsS7Cj9i9X44jP/igraphic.html

Sierra Club Holiday Survival Guide:  screenshot of http://www.sierraclub.org/holiday-survival-guide/

Video from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/26/climate-change-deniers-thanksgiving_n_4325264.html

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Eco Stats

An interesting article came out a week and change ago in the Washington Post.  It detailed the environmental cost of Thanksgiving Dinner.  Back in the day with the Wampanogs & the Pilgrims, the carbon footprint at the first Thanksgiving was incredibly low...however these days, of course things are a tad different.

The Washington Post article computed food miles of some of the Tgiving staples, and then compared them with data from the Environmental Working Group in order to break down the amount of fossil fuels used to get things from field and farm to supermarket to your table.  Here's a graphic I created using the iPad app Skitch and the data from the Post article.  Needless to say, the carbon cost of your Thanksgiving feast adds up quickly--and that's not even looking at the caloric cost!

Displaying photo.PNG
Moral of the story:  reminds you that no matter how yummy it is... everything comes at a cost!  Thinking "green" happens on every scene.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

CNN Eco-Hero of the Year 2013

It's probably not a surprise to anyone, that I follow a whole lot of eco-peeps over on Facebook and Twitter.  EdTech stuff too.  Well, my eco-feeds today were overwhelmingly telling the same story.  The big story o'the day was all about CNN's Hero of the Year 2013.

For me, I had a double dose o'pride:  Chad Pregracke, this year's #1 Hero, is not only an environmentalist, but an Illinois guy.  Go ILLINI!  I'm proud of the heartland; I'm proud of the homeland!

The numbers in this less-than-2-minute CNN video are amazing alone.  Chad (& CNN) do a nice job of showing (in under 2 minutes) how much impact an inspired "party of one" can make.  This always emphasizes:  One person CAN make a difference.  Working with his nonprofit Living Lands & Waters, Chad has dedicated himself to river cleanups country-wide.   Over the past 15 years, Chad has made a pretty impressive resume for himself:  he has collected 7 MILLION pounds of trash.  That's dedication. That's definitely a "R.O.L.E. Model."  My favorite quote:
"The garbage got into the water one piece at a time...And that's the only way it's going to come out." ~ Chad Pregracke
Sad but true--the finds show that 90% of what is found is recyclable.  Makes you wonder:  what are we doing here?  And why aren't we doing more?  And why aren't we recycling it?

Thank you Chad Pregracke for doing more!

To meet all of this year's hero's, check out this page over at CNN.

In the aftermath of all this info, make December 1st a DVR kind-of-night.  Set the remote, or camp out in front of the telly.  Check out the heroes for some must-see-TV of the best kind.  The type of reality TV that really matters!  Check out "CNN Heroes:  An All-Star Tribute" on Sunday, December at 8pm, EST.

But wait! There's more!

What are you doing Spring Break?!

If you don't have an exotic beach-side adventure in store--you could. Beach-side the Mississippi River, in the Memphis, Tennessee area. Living Lands & Waters is offering up an Alternative Spring Break. Eco-tourism, at it's finest! Check out this video for more insight and information on this project, Spring 2014.

For more on Chad Pregracke, watch this:

Pic from: http://mikerowe.com/2013/10/vote-for-chad/

Videos from:

#1: http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/19/world/hero-of-the-year/index.html?c=homepage-t

#2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFXSnigIMzk&feature=player_embedded#!

#3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsfFw1hnJ_8

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Save The Magothy River" ~ An Oyster Documentary

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” ~Marc Riboud
“Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” ~Walt Disney Company

 I think the same thing can be said with the taking, and sharing, of videos.  Especially when multiple video clips are put together to tell a story.  Especially when that story is a rescue mission to save the Chesapeake Bay.

The latest story that has been told and that needs to be shared is Charles Germain's video documentary entitled "Save the Magothy River."  With interviews and assistance from The Magothy River Association, Department of Natural Resources & the Maryland Grow Oysters Program, Eagle Cove School, Horn Point Laboratories, and Chesapeake Clear Video, Charles Germain has created an amazing and informative ten minute documentary on the sights and sounds of the Chesapeake Bay...and how instrumental oysters are in filtering the bay.

Watch "Save the Magothy River" here, or check it out at this link.  Charles Germain uses his pictures and videos to beautifully remind us how powerful a few individuals can be, especially when that force grows and a community "takes action."

Save The Magothy River from Charles Germain on Vimeo.

Video by Charles Germain: https://vimeo.com/79028979#
Pictures are screen shots from Charles Germain's video: https://vimeo.com/79028979#
Quotes from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/pictures

Sunday, November 10, 2013

EdCamp B'More 2013

Emergency lights on my car dashboard didn't keep me away. (Luckily it was just tire pressure issues, which is easily remedied at a nearby gas station.)

Construction and the inability to find the building initially didn't keep me away. (Luckily, I could park, walk, and find good on-foot navigators on campus.)

Keep me away from what, you ask?

Why, EdCamp Baltimore!

I've proven to be a bit of an EdCamp addict here in the past.  It is an amazing kind of professional development that grows right around the participants who then turn leaders and fellow collaborators. 

It's been said if you walk away from a traditional workshop with one good idea to implement the next day, you are ahead of the game. EdCamps typically come with a higher rate of success and a greater degree of next-day implementation. And at a better fee:  free!

I squeaked into camp after my car and traffic troubles just in time for the first session--an intro to Twitter. Even being in the Twittersphere for a couple years now, growing and learning from my PLN (that's a "Personal Learning Network" for those who don't know the acronym), I still walked away with some new tidbits. I don't care what your field of expertise is--Twitter is an amazing place to connect from other like-minded individuals in your field.

My other 3 sessions also came with insights galore--from Google, to social media to boost your school's image, to experiential/inquiry based learning.  After yesterday, I can't wait to really spend some time investigating--here's just a few of the new finds:

--Google Apps for Education & the wonderful world of Chrome (wow--an area of wealth that this kid didn't know about, but a lot of other EdCampers sure did!)

--Newsela.com:  A website of news articles where you can adjust the readability online based on lexile levels. What a great way to differentiate--and follow up with a quiz for comprehension!!

--My last session was a combo deal session including the ideas of Makerspace, PBL, STEM [Science, Technology, Enginieering, and Math], STEAM [STEM with arts integration], experiential learning, and outdoor education.  This served as a great way to make a lot of connections between many sides of the similar active-oriented learning activities.  The Google Doc for that was chock-filled with resources!  (See session 4 for that link here.)

Truly, this is just a mere snippet and the tip of my #EdCampBmore experience

To learn more and experience a bit of the back-end of Edcamp Baltimore, be sure to check out the Schedule.  It is complete with links to Google Docs of notes per session.  Definitely worth the click-through!

Another great reference is the Smackdown link...where participants share a quick mention of a website or teaching tool of inspiration.

But perhaps the most important website to visit is the wiki of links to future EdCamps.  Odds are, there's one not far from you, coming up soon!  It's a great and inspirational way to spend a Saturday!

Pictures from:  Logo = http://www.edcampbmore.org/; EdCamp word cloud = http://edcampcolumbus.wordpress.com/ ; EdCamp/Traditional Conference comparison chart = https://edcamp.wikispaces.com/JEdcamp+SFBay

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Singing A Sad Song O'Plastic

Plastic Pollution Coalition has had a long-time anti-plastic mission. They recently made news with their Virgin America's flights, which I wrote about last week.

Here's another gem, this time in music video format, to help raise the awareness of how wasteful single-use plastics are.  It reminds me of this time of the year & Halloween season...in particular, it makes me think of "witches drawers,"  What's that, you ask?  It's that wayward plastic bag, which got trapped in a tree, after floating in the wind.  I wrote a post on wafting plastic bags I wrote back this time of year in 2010.

Check out here, "The Ballad of the Plastic Bag."  May the song stay with you, and help you make different decision when you see any plastic floating around in the wind.

For more on the perils of plastic, check out the GTG archives here.

Picture from http://blogs.denverpost.com/thespot/files/2011/12/plastic-bag-caught-in-tree-branches-275x183.jpg

Video from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQdpccDNB_A

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Eco-Friendly Travel Solutions

Plastic Pollution Coalition is at it again.  Their mission:  to rid the world of single-use plastics.  They recently made news with their affiliation with Virgin America Airlines. After discussions, the two have teamed up to stand strong for sustainability.  Along with some revamped environmental practices (like terminal hydration stations and the elimination of plastics on board), the following video entitled "Plastic Pollution Travel Solutions" was produced for Virgin America's on-flight entertainment.  

To learn more of Virgin America's commitment on sustainability, check out:
  • Virgin America's Transparency Statement & their commentary on being the first airline to openly address their carbon footprint.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Halloween in Retrospect

It's big business here on Halloween (at the runner-up position of "Most Profitable Holiday"). Call it Christmas in October for retailers.  Clearly evident when I walked into the Costume Shop earlier this month. Luckily it was next door to the Goodwill, which was way more profitable for me when it came to finding bargains.

So here on November 1st, it's intersting to see the
#'s in these 4 infographics ($,#, and more!!)

Halloween, clothing waste, textile waste, green Halloween, eco-friendly Halloween costumes, green Halloween costumes, sustainable Halloween costumes, USAgain, infographics, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, recycled fashion, upcycled fashion, recycled clothing, upcycled clothing

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Baby Owl to the Math Rescue

Data comes in handy so easily for creating real-world math in the classroom.  When you can combine it with literature, it becomes like virtual nirvana for a teacher.  

 imageThis past week I read one of the many books by my favorite environmental writers, Jennifer Keats Curtis. With Eagle Cove School's annual Earth Week, we are fortunate enough to have had her visit with us every year for the last 5-6 years to share writing tips along with her eco-reads... and I have written about Jennifer Keats Curtis before.
The read this last week with my 3rd graders was Baby Owl Rescue.  This story details the importance of  how to take care of an owlet who has fallen from his nest.  (Note to self--bring in the expert such as an animal rehabilitator so the animal gets the proper treatment it needs.)

With the help of the Sylvan Dell website and 38 pages of lesson plans, a great math lesson on adding three multi-digit numbers landed in my lap...and delighted my 3rd graders.  With information from the Great Backyard Bird Count, one of the Sylvan Dell pages included the data per-state and Canadian territories for Great Horned Owls (the same owl friend as in Baby Owl Rescue).  Here is a sample of what my troops were able to do in math to not only build their computational skills, but also to strengthen their environmental awareness simultaneously.

For more ideas and insights on how to use this remarkable book in your classroom, check out the following resources:

Baby Owl Rescue pic from http://www.teachingbooks.net/tb.cgi?tid=18213; Math sheet from my camera.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Doing the Math in the Aftermath: What 16 Days of Shutdown Cost the National Park System

GTG over here is not a political forum, per se (other than the "go take care of your planet, & stop using evil Styrofoam for goodness sake" mission). However, with the 16-day government shutdown, and it ending in the literal 11th hour before the US loans were destined to default, a lot of life is political these days. (How can it not when tactics are used that are akin to negotiating with two-year-olds and terrorists...but I digress.)

The infographic below is telling. It tells the tale of what 16 days did for the National Park Service. I had heard radio stories about people who had weddings long-scheduled at some of these National Parks, only to be hijacked by the Congressional powers-that-be. Park Rangers, who are far removed from the Metropolitan DC area, were furloughed because they are "governmental employees." Hard hit too were local businesses that rely on their nearby parks to bring in their profits.

Striking and startling stats: 20,000 Park Service employees were out of work as the 401 U.S. National Parks closed down. Ouch! Check out more facts below, or see the full-sized version over at Huffington Post. At school, I just wrapped up a Place Value unit with my 3rd graders, and because of that I am especially struck: I know just how strongly these harsh numbers would have hit my 8 & 9 year olds!! So many comments are bubbling up with me, but I'm going to leave the rant behind, and let these numbers speak for themselves. They speak loudly--yes, they do; especially, when you do the math.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Water-Cycling Through a Rainy Weekend

When you have about 2 weeks of glorious, sunshiny weather (weekends included), you know it's just not going to last forever.  The other shoe is bound to fall.  Well, scratch the shoe, and make that raindrops.  Raindrops are a-falling on all our heads over here for about 4 days now. Our preacher today at church said, "For those of you out there praying for rain, you might just want to lighten up on that prayer just a little bit for the rest of us."  It's true!

I've always been one to see a good old fashioned rainy day as a bit of a gift--an opportunity to slow down, give yourself a break, take a nap, and be one-with-the-couch with a good movie.  But after multiple indoor recess days (ask any teacher--these are the bane of our existence), sogginess beyond belief, and it's still a-comin' down, there comes a time when it's a bit much.

So upon pondering the "what's coming down," it reminded me that it eventually makes it all back up.  The water cycle is continuous and crazy like that.  Given that, it felt like a good day for an H2O review-o!

Of course, no one can do it like everyone's favorite comedic scientist can--Bill Nye the Science Guy:

For those of you who are master musicians and have an affinity for a li'l rainy day rap, this one might be for you.  (You can find a version of it with lyrics printed at this link.)

And lastly, here's a shorty from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center which would serve as a good place for students to try out their vocabulary while discussing the visual water paths on screen.

Here are some great sites for lesson plans to further your examination of the water cycle.  Might make for a great rainy day activity!

Pic from http://blog.moscreative.com/2011/08/25/thawed-out-thursday-top-3-things-to-do-on-a-rainy-day/

Bill Nye the Science Guy video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPJYPo2qhOM

Water Cycle Rap:  http://youtu.be/F9Yi4dAzHsc  (Do note--upon watching this new find, I noticed that the word "Precipitation" is misspelled on one slide.)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Annie Leonard Does it Again: The Story of Solutions

Annie Leonard has been a long time favorite over here at GTG.  She had me at "The Story of Stuff," and kept me with her many other animated shorts speaking out on other "stuff."  She's covered a lot of ground in the last 6+ years.

Her latest:  The Story of Solutions.  A look at "game changing" solutions, making a move away from "more" to "better."  (The timing of its release I find interesting given the situation of our ever-so-effective governmental shut-down!!)  Once again, she nails it.

Check out "The Story of Stuff" website for resources & information, to read her blog or take action, and of course to learn more about all her 8 past projects & movies

To see more on my thoughts on the rock star I think Annie is, be sure to look into the GTG Archives:

Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cpkRvc-sOKk

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Senator Simonaire's 2nd Annual Chesapeake Summit

Random Thursday evenings can bring you a myriad of things.  Given they are the night of Sept. 26, 2013 and you are in Pasadena, Maryland at Chesapeake Bay Middle School, what it'll bring you is the 2nd Annual Chesapeake Summit hosted by Maryland Senator Bryan Simonaire and his daughter Meagan Simonaire.  Inquiring minds might want to know what exactly it is that this brings.  Well, it brings together Senator Simonaire, the local community, several students from 11 area schools, and Dr. Donald "Mutt" Merritt on the subject of The Chesapeake Bay and the Oyster Restoration Program.


The 1+ hour program featured "Mutt" Merritt speaking on Horn Point Oyster Hatchery and the "true partnership between all concerned parties that led to the hatchery...and  the 3 factors that have taken our Chesapeake Bay oyster population (wonderful filters that they are) down, leading to the "demise of an inexhaustible resource:"

  • Over-harvesting
  • Habitat destruction
  • Disease
  • (and the lesser noted one:)  Misplaced priorities

He also spoke of the environmental, economical, and social importance of oysters--how they are the Chesapeake's equivalent to a coral reef, bringing together habitat and biodiversity, not just for oysters, but for many other marine species.  Add in the historic value of oysters on both Maryland and Virginia's past, and the oysters ability to clean & filter the water of sediment, nutrients, and overall-improve the water quality of the bay and its tributaries...we need these li'l oyster guys to flourish!  Especially since humans have led to their demise.

So insert the kids and the Senator here.

The Chesapeake Summit was started to stress that point that we "always need to be doing better."  Who else to do that and show case that than children?  Senator Simonaire paid tribute to 21 individual students from 10 area schools, and the whole student body of Eagle Cove School for their work to not only help the Chesapeake Bay, but also in areas of conservation, recycling, and environmental education as brought about by the students themselves.  Students from preschool age to high school age were honored for their eco-achievements.  A lot of good things are going on in Anne Arundel County Maryland for the environment and Chesapeake Bay area!!

Eagle Cove School was commended as a whole school for the entire student body participating for many years now in the Marylanders Grow Oysters Program. This year, 60 bags, at about 40 pounds each, were delivered to the water to await pick up by Marylanders as Eagle Cove School served as a drop off point for later pick up by community members.  Children as young as 3 and as old as 5th grade served as that 2,400 pound total transportation system.  Senator Simonaire had citations ready for every Eagle Cove student (in addition to the other 21 students honored), and presented them to the 7 ECS children who were able to attend the ceremony with their parents.

In a world where the nightly news brings along enough bad news per night to fill up your week, it was nice to be surrounded by "the good stuff" for once, seeing these young kids from all these school, doing so many great things for our planet!!

To see pictures of the event over at Senator Simonaire's website, be sure to click here.

To see highlights of Eagle Cove School's Oyster Day last year, click here.

All pictures here taken from my camera the night of the event 
or from the ECS citations awarded by Senator Simonaire.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

If You're in the Neighborhood of Cambridge Maryland...

...on Saturday, October 5th from 1-5, this might be just the event for you!

If you're in the neighborhood, come celebrate the Chesapeake Bay and their oyster restoration program at the Bill Burton Fishing Pier.  Bill Burton was known for his outdoor reporting for many-a-year for the Baltimore Sun, and honored & memorialized with a named fishing pier in 2010.  His words say it best in a video I've shared before, but well worth sharing here again!

To read more about Bill Burton from the GTG archives, check out:

Video from http://youtu.be/dTxOldtb4AE.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


At the mention of the word "role model," what comes to mind.  Perhaps you see religious figures like Mother Theresa or the Pope.  Maybe celebrities, athletes, or world leaders come to mind.  Or perhaps people closer to home enter your brain:  moms, dads, teachers, preachers, grandparents, family friends, coaches, or youth group leaders.  Here's what Dictionary.com's app had to say--which shows it can be just about anybody:

It was along those lines that Eagle Cove School's "R.O.L.E. Model" program was created this summer by our science teacher and a professor friend of his.  Why?  To tie together Eagle Cove's commitment to environmental stewardship with community citizenship. (Not to mention, tying with basic tenets in our school promise, song, and mission statement.)  This year, we are actively looking for and celebrating student role models at school.  "R.O.L.E" stands for "Respect for Others, all Living things, and the Environment."
The purpose?  To inspire students to take action, make decisions & good choices, and show leadership in positive ways by helping out their community--in big and small ways.  During our Friday "Morning Meetings," we are taking a moment to honor and celebrate the kindness and accomplishments of others who have done something positive for their peers and community.

Our first R.O.L.E. Model recipient:  Lennon.  

Lennon was attending a local day care program this summer while his folks went to work. On the first day of his summer there, he came home a bit bummed that they didn't recycle like he was accustomed to at Eagle Cove.  So he talked to his folks, who contacted me, about ways he could bring more recycling to the summer program.  I loaned them a handful of eco books like Michael Recycle that he could share with the kids at the center.  Then, Lennon shared with them how Eagle Cove School recycles juice pouches (like Capri Suns) through Terracycle.  He even did some digging around on the Terracycle website with his family to learn about how it works.  He set up a bin for recycling, and voila!  They were in action!

As can happens in real life, the momentum dwindled after awhile, and Lennon discovered how hard it can be to be one fella trying to save the world.  But in the same respect, he discovered what one person CAN do.  He created a "Recycling Robot" costume with a myriad of recyclables he had inspired the group to collect.  He brought the juice pouches to school to add to our upcycling collection. On the costume, he included this sign (which is a tad hard to read when the picture is enlarged, so here is the text):

"One Goddard School collected 182 recyclables in one week.  There are 385 Goddard Schools in America.  If all of the Goddards collected trash over the summer, in total there would be 840,840 pieces collected.  182 x 12 x 385 = 840,840."
This completely answers the question:  "I'm only one person?  What can one person do?"  Clearly, if every one person did something, collectively, we'd be doing a lot!!

Lennon exemplified what it means to be a role model.  He was completely worthy of earning our first R.O.L.E. Model medallion of honor!
Will every month bring about big ideas like this?  Maybe, maybe not.  But, again, little actions, just like the pebble thrown in still water, can create many ripples. Back to that one person idea again:  we can make a lot of ripples in that water if everyone gets busy and works toward making the world (or our school community) a better place!
For added inspiration (and a bit of "on campus marketing"), here are some of the R.O.L.E. Model posters my class created to help inspire the school community to be role models.  We used school iPads and the Motivational Poster app to create these posters and will be hanging them around school this week.
May the ripples of role model-making begin! 
Special thanks to Lennon's folks for letting me share his story, which is also now a great ECS story!!

Images taken at ECS school highlighting Lennon's project, with the inclusion of Dictionary.com's screenshot of the app's definition of "role model."