Thursday, January 31, 2013

Oceanic Trash, Infographically Speaking

Here's a pretty interesting infographic (I almost Freudianly wrote "infogarbage") about oceanic trash.

Pretty topical follow up from my classroom activity today (a repeat from last year) where I had the kids scan QR codes to find out (then graph) how long items "Live in the Landfill."  (To learn more about that activity, visit my GTG post from Jan. 29, 2012 "Math Month Meets Eco Stats & A Touch of Tech")

Ocean of Garbage
Created by:

Infographic from

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Balancing the Best & Worst of iPadLandia

I've been thinking a lot about lately about my class, in my house, with my kids, the best way to use them, monitor them, not get sucked into the vortex of them. (Parent, child, teacher all inclusive!)

The latest conundrum on that front has to do with how to balance the natural (yes, sometimes addictive) draw of the iPad, yet also drawing the lines on the shut-off switch. Similarly, it dances parallel-ly with how can I use it in the classroom to get the "biggest bang for my buck." And, I will be also has to do with this:  showing my own children that there is more to life than MineCraft. So upon this quest, I came upon 2 really great podcasts from NPR's 'On Point's: "iPads in the Classroom" and "KidPads." Truthfully, I think these two podcasts should be mandatory listening for all teachers--especially if they are at all interesting in moving with the times, whether in an iPad school or a school that invites a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program, or in a school thinking about it.

Listening to these 2 podcasts, I found myself realigning my perspective and vantage point as both a pro-iPadLandia teacher, and a techie parent of total tech-head children!

It's tough being a parent in the digital age!! Our generation of parents is the first to wrestle this digital age phenomenon and try to maintain a semblance of balance between time outside, time connected, time unconnected, time with books, time with art, time with building, time with others, and time alone. Here we are in this era with the li'lest of ones who think that magazines are broken mobile devices. "Angry Birds" is more of a cultural icon to youngsters perhaps than tried-and-true book characters such as Frog & Toad, Laura Ingalls Wilder, or Charlotte and Wilbur. It's a rapid moving world that we, as parents and teachers, weren't even imagining 3-4 years ago. The rate of change is exponential... which we all know, but perhaps lately it has become even more eye-opening to me in my own house than before.

Hence why I am here!!

So the moral of the story:   Strive for balance. Electronics and hand held devices aren't "shut up toys" to be used in restaurants or elsewhere. (Eek! I saw a child playing his DS in church last week as the li'l fella  accompanied his parents up for 1st communion!!!). Set the limits. Tablets are tools, not toys... and there is more than just eDevices to life. Bring out the books. Broaden their horizons. Kick them outside. Biggest thing--Be the parent.  Parenting: it's not for the weary or faint of heart!

All of these reasons are why, in my class, I demand that my cherubs ask if they can "learn" on the iPad rather than "play" on the iPad!
So..... when it comes time to have your youngsters "learn" on the iPad, have them do it in a directed way. Limit the gaming and introduce your wee ones to the apps that are good for them (in addition to the playful ones that they already know about).  These apps (and you know them or can find them on my Pinterest board) are certainly engaging, yet perhaps not on your child's normal radar. Use iMovie to record family memories. Read iBooks or Kindle. Use the Dictionary or Thesaurus or do internet research to widen their horizons. Write and be creative using Pages, Scribble Press, Keynote, Popplet or more. Practice math facts. Use flash card creators or make QR codes. Look at Google Earth. Check out the interactive whiteboards. Be musical or artistic. Be inventive!

Here are some of my latest finds on the subject of limitations: maybe this may be the end of my soapbox.
Ummm, probably not. 

My kid pic from my camera.  Angry bird pic from  iPad with "Magical" quote:

Audio from "iPads in the Classroom" Podcast from: and "Kidpads" Podcast from

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration Day 2013

There are certain times you feel it--the vastness, the importance.

Most certainly, I was struck with the sizeable impact of that moment today.  Watching the Presidential Inauguration here with my 2 children, I was struck with the magnitude of watching history in the making as it simultaneously accompanied the power of the historic past.  How can you not:

  • 150 years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, 
  • 50 years after Martin Luther King, Jr's 1963 March on Washington,
  • ON the day we commemorate Martin Luther King here in the United States,
  • As our first African American president retakes the oath of office
  • With Medgar Evers' widow Myrlie giving the invocation,
  • Looking out on the panoramic vista of our Nation's Capital, with the flags billowing in the breeze, and the crowds filling the backdrop from Capital to Washington Monument...
How can you not feel the maginitude?

I feel today it surpasses political parties and the squabble of partisan politics.  This Inauguration (and all it represents) truly was an awe-filled, powerful moment for our country.  It brings the words of a century and a half of famous Americans, talking about freedom, equality, and the power to believe in what can be and what has become:  Abraham Lincoln, Civil Rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Medgar Evers, and other activists.  Political debates on issues (and no doubt, subsequent name calling and partisanship) can come another day.  It is because of the journeys and decisions of people of our past, that we can hope for and believe in both our future and the future of our children.

For any Inauguration Day coverage you might have missed, start at CNN.

Video (& and excellent article) from

Martin Luther King Quote from :

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Food For Thought


It's been awhile since I went the health & nutrition route...and I miss my Jamie Oliver Food Revolution days. Here's some pretty interesting "food for thought!"  To supersize this infographic about caloric intake and supersizing, go to

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

When EdTech, Eco, & Good Books Unite: ECS Eco Reads

An idyllic island.
Seventh Heaven.
Blissful Contentment.
Literary enchantment.
A Good Book.

To some of us...they all are synonymous for the same thing.

My version of Shangri-la typically involves a pool deck, a lounge chair, glorious weather (akin to the surprisingly mild Maryland January weekend weather we have just had), a little rest & relaxation, and most certainly a good book or three!

Add in my fondness for the world of EdTech wealth that the Internet & mobile devices provides... insert ECS Eco Reads here.

ECS Eco Reads was inspired from of the creative genius of Carrollwood Day School's "CDS Reads" website for Jaqueline Davies' book "The Lemonade War."  (To learn of my personal love for CDS Reads, click here.)  ECS Eco Reads is a similar spot in cyberspace where folks can come to listen ECS faculty & staff read enjoy well-loved stories. Currently it features eco-favorites such as Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax" & Ellie Bethel's "Michael Recycle," however I understand more titles are in the works and on the horizon!

Similarly too, there are other good literacy resources within the site as well as a calendar of environmental holidays to help you celebrate the people and events that have celebrated our Earth!  Come along for the ride, basking in the beauty of a good book!  You'll be glad you did!

From the ECS Eco Reads website:
"Good books come in all sizes. Come along with us while we read some old favorites and introduce you to some new ones. All of the books here have an element of the environment at its heart. 
Reading specialists will agree: elementary-aged students (even those who can read themselves) benefit greatly from hearing stories that are above their level. They are rich with vocabulary and depth, and hearing it read aloud by someone else is a great way to capture the hidden nuances that can be missed when children read stories themselves.  
So whether you read along with us snuggled up on the couch with your family...or stretched out on the grass (following along on a mobile device) while gazing at the sky above)... come along for a listen. "ECS Eco Reads" is just the place to do that, and strengthen your love of reading, nature, the environment, and this home planet of ours!!"

Pictures = screenschots of the ECS Eco Reads website (

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Paying Tribute to 99 Years of Environmental Vision & Wisdom

This past week, two people I know each lost special people in their families. Their two ages combined totaled 199 years! Remarkable lives, long lived.

John (Jack) Joel Burton
September 1913 - January 2013
One of the gentlemen was John Joel Burton (referred to by my friend as "Uncle Jack"). John Burton had a full life of adventures as a chemical engineer and a traveler of the world. Tales hold true too that "Uncle Jack" could also play a mean game of backgammon.

A voracious lifelong learner, he also loved writing and sharing his ideas. At 99 years old, having previously lost an eye in a chemical project, John Burton had an ability to see with a greater clarity of vision than many either half his age or blessed with both eyes.  According to my friend: "Uncle Jack was a fighter for the environment.  As he grew older, he became more dedicated in his fight to raise awareness of how we were hurting our natural resources.  He wrote innumerable letters-to-the-editors in many newspapers and magazines.  He had many op-ed pieces published.  He had essays about an assortment of topics. Many were about the perils of global warming and population stress on the globe."

To see many of John Joel Burton's writings, visit his website to read his thoughts on these topics:
One of the most fascinating things I noticed was that many of his texts were written in the early to mid-2000s.  Ten years later, the topics are still current, and unfortunately (when it comes to the "debate" about climate change) still surprisingly questioned.  As I previously stated: John Joel Burton had more vision than most.  Here are some pretty powerful quotes that were a decade ahead of where many still are today.
"We are the leading nation in the amount of greenhouse gases already added to the atmosphere and in the amount we are adding at present. And as the wealthiest nation we can best afford to undertake preventive actions. Is it a coincidence that the U.S., with the most unregulated free market economic system of all nations, is also the nation most opposed to taking action to prevent global warming?" ~ John Joel Burton 
"To put it simply, our culture lacks a global perspective, an understanding and compassion for the economically or socially disadvantaged, an awareness and concern for the future and a willingness to sacrifice some aspects of our lifestyles for the common good. We have a flawed definition of a successful life in which 'success' is seen as the amount of power, prestige or wealth an individual has acquired. 
"I am strongly against overconsumptionism--consumption of things we doesn't really need but that are seen as essentials by our culture and the power of advertising. It is most likely that the people of the wealthy nations are going to suffer from global warming, and exhaustion of global resources, starting with shortage of water. We need a culture that does not glorify wealth and high living but instead glorifies individual merit." ~ John Joel Burton 

Good thinkers and champions of the environment will always be missed. Cheers to you, Mr. Burton, your 99 years, and all that you did with them.

Pictures from my friend, Heather Burton Boughey of her "Uncle Jack." 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Science Girl Explains Climate Change

There's a saying: "out of the mouths of babes."  This video entitled "Science Girl" puts that saying to work.  Sponsored by The Climate Reality Project, this video shows the difference between climate and weather, and it brings to light why climate change is as important as it is--and how our over-reliance to dirty energy is also at play!
Video from

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Years' Reflections

When I was a kid, we had a family tradition of going to a Bavarian-style hotel. About an hour and a half from home with family friends to celebrate New Years. We did this for years, so the hotel was kind if like a home-away-from-home. We had a freedom to go exploring about, and--just like home--there were always little nooks and crannies that were comfy little hiding spots. It was also part of my traditions (especially during my high school and college years) to cozy up annually in one if these little comfy spots and reflect on the year, and make resolutions for the year ahead.

Something similar to what many people do here at the start of each new year.

As you do that here and now, at the start of 2013, perhaps some of these items below will serve as inspiration for you as you concoct your resolutions for this new year ahead.


Do One Thing
DOT = Do One Thing

All pictures with captions reveal where they can be found, the other 2: my house, New Year's Eve.