Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Most Schools Don't Teach

Interesting question--What do you imagine it is that most schools don't teach?  I saw this video posted on a good friend's Facebook page for the first time a few days ago.  Since then, I've seen it start cropping up time and time again.  Before hitting the play button, I pondered (especially given I teach school), what could it be?

The missing lesson:  Teaching how to Code.  From's "About" page:
"Our vision is that every student in every school has the opportunity to learn how to code. We believe computer science and computer programming should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry and algebra."

I think said it the best on the home page:
Musician/The Black Eyed Peas & Entrepreneur
Here we are, 2013, we ALL depend on technology to communicate, to bank, and none of us know how to read and write code. It's important for these kids, right now, starting at 8 years old, to read and write code.“

Photos from; Video from; and go find a great stats infographic at

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reduce. Reduce. Reduce. Reuse. (THEN Recycle!)

I saw this today, and thought it was the perfect follow up to my "1 Reason Why Reuse Trumps Recycle" post of a few days ago.  "Reduce" is even higher up the true scale on the 3R's mantra than "Reuse" (and most certainly higher than "Recycle")!

To learn more, run, don't walk to "The Story of Stuff!!"

From The Story of Stuff Project's Facebook Page:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

1 Reason Why "Reuse" Trumps "Recycle"

If you are an environmentalist, you know the feeling of pride that comes when you say, "I recycle!"  (Perhaps even saying it in with slightly "holier than thou" attitude).

Well, here's just one of the many hundreds of reasons why "Reuse" comes before "Recycle" in the "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle" mantra.  How many things can you "reuse" (rather than "recycle") this week?

Why Reuse a Cup?
Why Reuse a Cup? via Factory Direct Promos - Reusable Bags

"Click image to see a larger version or to grab the code to share on your website or blog 

Image from

Monday, February 18, 2013

Educate, Engage, & Energize with MAEOE ~ Part 3

As I've mentioned before in this series of take-aways from my MAEOE conference earlier this month, so much of the focus was around the need to get outdoors.  "Prescription N" as Richard Louv (author of "Last Child in the Woods") calls it--with the "N" standing for "Nature."

Along those lines, Amy Beam, outdoor educator and nature awareness educator in the Metropolitan DC gave a really interesting 1/2 day session at MAEOE entitled "Let's Go Beyond the Walls."  As a Montessori educator, Amy shared so many nature-centric ideas Maria Montessori.  She also shared a clip from the documentary "Mother Nature's Child."  You'll see her here in the trailer below.

After spending the afternoon in Amy's session, delving into some explorations and investigations of our, inspiration has been bubbling and brewing.  Here were some of my favorite:

  • Exploration Backpacks--A quick Google search said that for $59.95, I could get one...but I love  hat she had created some perfectly fitted for youngsters through her own ingenuity and the Dollar Store.  Stocked with magnifying glasses, notepads, mini colored pencil sets, water colors, mini flashlights & mirrors (to see up a tree), envelopes for finds such as feathers and other delicate things, and even freezer bags for traveling aquariums.  I could see outfitting our school classrooms with little packs like this for the recess explorers who are more naturalist than playground athlete.  We all know them:  the kids who wonder about, wondering what on Earth to do at recess. Click here to see the pic above (not the $59 one), and "Learners in Bloom's" blog on the creation & use of them.
Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature
  • Sensory Routines & exercises from "The Coyote's Guide to Connecting With Nature" (Amy's outdoor bible)-- From finding a "sit spot" (a place to land and just observe for 10 minutes or so), to tracking, to mapping, to the art of questioning as a way to help youngsters come up with their own insight...there were a lot to ponder.  Some of my favorite were the sensory exercises of having the kids put on:
-fox feet (to silently make your way around)

-deer ears (to hear the slightest sound
-raccoon hands (to touch and investigate)
-mouse whiskers (to get close)
-owl eyes (to scan the big picture)
-eagle eyes (to zoom in on one item)
-coyote nose (to hone in on scents)
  • The biggest take away--Natural play spaces are different than playgrounds.  They lead you to be more inventive.  Even in the biggest playroom or the best playground, you can't have the richness indoors or on a structure than you can get outdoors!  We need to remember that!

For more information about Amy Beam and her 2011 "Montessori by Nature" Conference Notes, please check out this link.

Mother Nature's Child Trailer Video from; book image from, backpack image from

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Educate, Engage, & Energize with MAEOE ~ Part 2

Just when it seems like it was just Christmas, here we are at Valentine's Day.  Valentine's Day, that season of love, you can't help but have hearts to come to mind.  A family tradition over the years has been to transform the EveryMan Meal of Meatloaf into "The LOVE Loaf."  This year, in thinking about it and about dinner, I was moved to music, creating a sort of "Ode to the Love Loaf," singing it (of course) to the tune of "The Love Boat."

Of course, humming that tune, it reminded me (in a "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" sort of way), of my 2nd session at MAEOE's [Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Educators] conference that I attended just this past weekend.  The session was entitled "Teaching Environmental Ethics Through Games and Songs" and was run by two gregarious and fun educators, Edward Hall and Sean McGuinn of Arlington Echo.  They are two vital components of the Camp Woodlands Kindergarten Environmental Literacy Unit "Trees Are Terrific." During their hour long session, they had us singing, moving, and grooving to some familiar tunes with revamped text to make science concepts come to life for young children.  We also had an opportunity to write a tune of our own.

Music’s Effect on LearningIt was a fun session which I loved, but it was great in reminding us of all the things we already know.  Kids are much more engaged when they are entertained, and active participants in their own learning.  It builds a kinesthetic memory, which strengthens the retention of the skills.   Here is a great infographic reminding us why we need to incorporate music more (double click on it to enlarge or the above link):

Here's a fun and easy one from Hall & McGuinn's Arlington Echo Trees Unit:
Leaves, Branches, Trunks and Roots
(sung to the tune of "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes")

Leaves, branches, trunks, and roots, trunks and roots;
Leaves, branches, trunks, and roots, trunks and roots;
Seeds fall down and start to grow.
Trees are Terrific!  Don't you know?  Don't you know?

Don't forget the movements--
or to speed up!
"Leaves" = wave hands
"branches" = "strong man" pose
"trunk" = hands on hips
"roots" = touch feet

"seeds fall down" = wiggle fingers down like snow
"And start to grow" = reach arms out and up
"Trees are terrific!" = wave arms in air
"Don't you know" = point to your head

Here's the one our 3rd grade group of 4 teachers created in 15 minutes or less.  (It's not ready for the Grammy's, but it's fun, teaches a bit, & does the job!)

The Itsy Bitsy Raindrop
(sung to the tune of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider")

The Itsy bitsy raindrop flows down the watershed,
Into the gutter, straight to the river bed.
Tributaries join and bring the water down
Now the itsy bitsy raindrop, in the bay has found.

So put a little song in your school, a little life in your lessons, a little wiggle and jiggle and a mini jam session in your classroom.  It'll leave your kids (and you!) energized and glad that you did!

(For more eco-songs à la Green Team Gazette, check out this link.)

Infographic from, Arlington Echo logo from, and Love Loaf pic from my sister-in-law.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Educate, Engage, & Energize with MAEOE ~ Part 1

MAEOE | The Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education
After a bit of a hiatus, I'm back, with a mind that's a-buzzing!  I've just spent two days knee-deep in EcoMania at the Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Educator's [MAEOE] Annual Conference in Ocean City Maryland.  I think this makes year five, and it's always such a supreme wealth of ideas and insights.  You can't help but go away energized, overflowing with new ideas and inspirations that you can't wait to put into practice.

I'll admit it--it's my own little annual nirvana!
The theme of this year's conference was "Educate-Engage-Energize."  They hit it spot-on.  600+ educators from Maryland (and neighboring states) from schools (both public and independent), outdoor education centers, and environmentally-minded people came together for half and full day sessions, keynote speakers, hour-long workshops, plenary sessions, and excursions.  After several years of attending, you start seeing old friends and recognizing faces!!

top-tenrev2Over the next several posts, I'll be reflecting on and sharing the many fabulous resources that I have collected along the way these past few days.  The overwhelming umbrella of ideas over this weekend reminded me of the "green bible" of outdoor and environmental educators.  More than once, all roads led us back to Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder" and "The Nature Principal."  The overwhelming message is that having that time (that unstructured time) outdoors to play and explore is precisely what we need to neutralize so many of the ills facing us all.  

The biggest eye-opener:  kids these days spend an average of 6--7.5 hours in front of a screen.  As impossible as that number seems, it clearly is reachable through the law of averages including weekends and summer vacation.  It's startling, surprising, and sad... yet, in looking around at the explosion of technology (especially in the last 3 years since the appearance of the iPad and other mobile devices), perhaps it's not as startling as it first seemed.  So it is our job as parents and educators to do something about this to help our younger folks achieve balance in this growing tech world of ours.  It is our duty!

Images from the MAEOE website; Top 10 poster from

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Turning Your SuperBowl Festivities a Green Shade of Yummy

Unless you've been living under a rock (or hiding your head in the sand because your team didn't make it here), today is SuperBowl Sunday.   SuperBowl XLVII.  (That's 47 to you non-Roman-Numeralonians).  The Baltimore Ravens -vs- The San Francisco 49'ers.

Here in the greater Baltimore area, there's a ton of hometown pride and seas of purple everywhere--church, the grocery store, you name it!  Fingers are crossed, and clocks are counting down to kick off time.  I (for one) am hopeful, for I know how grouchy my football friends and family can get when their team is not on top!  I have to live with them, so yes indeed, I am hopeful that Purple Fever reigns supreme!

No matter which team you are going for, odds are high there's a SuperBowl party in a lot of people's future. Here are some great last minute munchies to bring a li'l green to your purple or red & gold parties:

SuperBowl photo from; Food photos from the links associated with them.