Friday, August 30, 2013

Apple Recycling

It's no surprise to anyone--2 of my favorite topics are "eco" and "edtech."  

Hence this little world:  Green Team Gazette.

Earth911 reported today that Apple has put into place an iPhone trade-in policy, called "Reuse and Recycle."

How does it work?  Head to the Apple Store the next time you want to upgrade your phone--and take your old one.  The odds of getting a trade in (with a monetary saving toward your new phone) for it are on the rise.  In doing this, it catches Apple up to where other cellular providers/manufactures have been for awhile. (Apple does have a recycling program in place for iPhones/products that are in disrepair for awhile, yet at no charge--signalling the difference in this new policy.)

Given the fact that annually, 135 million cell phones (in the US alone) go to landfill (and even more to the junk drawer), this could be a major eco pro!  Check out the infographic below from Sprint.

Courtesy of Sprint

Infographic from; iPhone pic a screenshot from my phone.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dueling Banjos

Here's Kermit the Frog proving, once again, although it's not easy to be green, you certainly can do it in style!

You too, Steve Martin!  Kudos for the smiles today, gents!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Sights of Western Massachusetts

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

August in Western Massachusetts presents you with some stunning sights. A shock of red or orange in a vista of green trees is probably one of the biggest. How can the leaves be changing color already? Not many, but that hint that autumn is around the bend. The dramatically cooler low 70's lean toward that hint too...even when it seems its been a mild August with unseasonably mild month.

Other remarkable & memorable Mass sights this week:

Stacks and stacks of firewood awaiting the winter ahead of fireplaces and wood stoves. I've never seen such volumes of firewood...but then again, I've never had to prep for a New England winter!! (This pic is such a slight fraction. We passed a few establishments that had multiple piles of wood in the parking lot...the picture not captured!)

Windmills (er..."wind turbines") and solar panels everywhere. Noticeably so!! An environmental sight to behold. (More on this in a future post.). There's quite a sustainability contingent up in the Berkshires. We composted food at the end of the meals at our lodge, Stump Sprouts. (There was also an out building with a solar shower there.) We also used a composting bathroom at Hilltown Wilderness Adventures and saw other features of their Eco Village including their eco-cabin & green house; there was recycling galore everywhere we went; & we found many organic dining establishments with a wealth of vegetarian options.

The dimensionally greenness! The hills and mountains of the Berkshires gave such a rich picture of a hearty, woodlandish summery outdoors. Great hiking, biking, & swimming hole territory!! Especially beautiful was the Chesterfield Gorge, a National Wild & Scenic River.

The tallest mountain of Massachusetts (Mount Greylock) and an amazing view.

Sled dogs! They're not just for Alaska or winter time anymore. Fabulous experience at Hilltown Wilderness Adventures with Marla!! Puppy kisses for everyone!

The Eric Carle Museum, with a special gallery on Knuffle Bunny's Mo Willems. A double win for this house!!

Mass MoCA (= Museum of Contemporary Art) was another eye opening museum. Where else can you find dragons made or reusable materials and fountains made from styrofoam block?

But no bear or moose...
tho definitely signs of that a bear had been there!

And good people. Everywhere we went, people were amazing. A true climate of kindness. Kindness, sustainability, and the richness of the outdoors...a true and genuine find, and the makings of a good vacation.

Quote from Pics from my camera.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

PadCamp 2013

It might be safe to say that I am an EdCamp Fanatic. Everything about these speaks to my inner edtech aficionado: a free, energizing, personal learning opportunity geared toward an educator getting the most of the experience, learning from your peers, and a high likelihood of being able to use something you learned the very next day.

This past August 8th's was the 3rd annual PadCamp in Galloway Township, NJ.  As per usual, it did not disappoint!  Especially since the last 2 years I just missed it for one reason or another--this year I was determined to make it happen for me--and it did!!  I made it to PadCamp.

Here is a ThingLink I created with a few clickable links to my favorite PadCamp hotspots using their logo.

Some of my other favorite take-aways:

The 11 am session with Brad Currie was great, and perhaps my favorite.  Brad is a Middle School Vice Principal/Supervision of Instruction for Chester, New Jersey's school district.  You can find him on Twitter (which he whole-heartedly promoted for professional development) at @bcurrie5.  He talked about what's on his iPad (see the PadCamp session notes here), and just talked a lot about this social media world we are in.  This interconnectedness through social media can broaden your role as a "lead learner" and help you have a true wealth of professional resources.  I'd say that's true, whatever your field of study and interest--it's not just an #edtech sort of thing!  I like too how he stressed that you didn't need to think you had to know everything in order to teach in a mobile device environment.  It's all about student engagement, and helping the kids to create and share.  I like too his philosophy that kids should be exposed to multiple types of devices as that only builds skills.  A multi-platform approach (rather than strictly an iModel) leads to higher capabilities.

Brad also introduced us all to "Digital Learning Day."  This year, it'll be on Feb 5, 2014.  Go forth and commit to using your mobile devices in school to learn that day!!  

Blogs in the #edtech field that Brad endorsed:

Additionally, a great way to approach twitter is through one of the many teacher chats on Twitter--see Cybraryman's page for a comprehensive list of these!!

Another great session was in the 4th block, entitled "Let's Talk About Apps for Elementary Reading Comprehension, Analytical Reading, Problem Solving, etc."  The session notes ended up being very detailed, with lots of reading and math apps shared!

Definitely a day of a lot of sharing, good ideas, and great takeaways!  If you haven't checked out an EdCamp near you, you need to!  Every time I check their wikispaces calendar, there are always new ones added!!  And you always go home re-energized and with a slew of new ideas!

Images:  PadCamp pic using a screenshot of my iPhone apps and the app Motivational Poster,  PadCamp pic from logo, adapted with clickable buttons at .  Digital Learning Day photo from

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Look At Plastic Pollution Through A Museum's Lens

The Plastic Pollution Coalition always has a strong, yet unique approach to the perils of plastic waste and marine debris. 

Here is a link to an interesting minute or so video of one of their latest approaches--a museum display within Munich's Museum: Man and Nature.

It's an interesting way if showing plastic's longevity!

Photos from

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Way To Go Wakefield

Here was a nice yummy find at a convenience store we popped into for a li'l "gas and grub" as we were traveling from Illinois to Maryland on a mega drive. 

Healthy for both me AND the environment.  Way to go, Wakefield!!  

For more on Wakefield's commitment to the environment through their reduced-waste packaging, check out their site!

Photos a la my camera.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


We interrupt this regularly scheduled eco/edtech blog to go and get all philosophical.

"Reunited," the 1978 song performed Peaches and Herb, always comes to mind when I think of reunions and long time get-togethers.  Perhaps that's because I'm a product of the 80's.

I recently attended a high school reunion.  It was one of those spanning types of reunions where it arcs to connect several years, and even several high schools. (I think because my class called it quits on the 20th). Technically, it was my 26th high school reunion, and though there were very few people there that I really ran around with "back in the day," it's always interesting putting the names with the faces, and seeing what we've all grown up to be.

Facebook these days helps you stay better connected with a lot of your old buddies in a way that wasn't possible before FacebookNation took over.  But reunions are the things that really get the nostalgia and old memories flowing.  You just can't help yourself from tripping down memory lane.

I have attended 3 in my life:  my 10th, my 20th, and now my 26th.  Each one hit me at a fairly significant time of my life.  The 10th was after a long-term relationship went south and I was newly single; the 20th was after my second major cross-country move and I was about to start a new job; and this most recent one was the first one after my dad died.  Each reunion (and of course the people who were there), brought a new layer of memories back in their own context.  Additionally too, the life experience you bring to the reunion table (and the further away you get from the high school experience) alters and shifts the way you look at things.  New perspective that makes all those awkward and adventurous high school moments fall into the greater picture.

The experience of a reunion, the reminiscing, the sad awareness of the former classmates who have passed away, and the memory of who you were then, mixed with the realization of who you are now, builds a timeline that you truly can see, for a moment, in its entirety (as things in our busy world often don't allow you to make time to do this in the flurry of daily life).  

[Yes, it's a run-on sentence, but that sort of speaks volumes in and of itself.]

decaturhs.jpgSo I look back and smile, at this (and all of my) high school reunions.
Here it is, we've had a reunion for a school that is now the merely a building holding an entirely different hometown/competitor high school. Before that, this building got shifted into my former middle school (as our town downgraded the number of high schools they needed), when my middle school got torn down to build a Target.  As a point of interest, my 11-year old thought that was funny as we were walking through Target buying school supplies.  We both kept chuckling by the fact that she's preparing to go into middle school this fall, and here we were essentially IN my middle school (while standing in the checkout line of Target).

But it just goes to show you:  the school is not the building, but the memories of the experiences.  I think we all would have laughed, way back when, to even imagine that our middle school would become a Target, and that our high school would virtually cease to exist.

Yep...memory lane!

I'm grateful for the handful "oldie but goodie," dear friends who've known me for 30+ years. There's something in that kind of friendship, with the longevity it provides, that serves as an anchor.  I will admit it--my hair was not near as big as it was back then. This is probably a good thing!  I'd like to think I'm a better version of who I was then.  My sense of humor, tho similar is sharper.  My sense of vision, now wider.  My philosophical sense, ever strong.  All of which proves that life's a journey, not a destination!

Reunion pic from School building image from

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Great Plastic Purge

Ask my kids (definitely my "at home" ones...and possibly even my "at school" ones), and they'll tell you because they know:  I HATE packaging. Always have. That probably is one of my greatest environmental pet peeves:  packaging and PLASTIC.

You name it:  The weird little ties that lock every little piece of every toy to the cardboard box. The plastic-encased items that you just about need a chainsaw to get into.  The plastic wrapped in plastic wrapped in plastic. Ugh. I especially despise the "designed for waste" varieties--like plastic bags. It's gotten to where my seven year old will often tell the store clerks "Oh, we don't need a bag" if we're purchasing only a few items.  He's just as happy to carry them out by hand.

One of my favorite and newest "foods for thought" on the plastic waste commentary is the video "The Great Plastic Purge."  The folks over at National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) got together with design studio leftchannel to create this PSA about marine plastic pollution.  It details how plastic is pervasive, and disposal is an environmental problem and an economic problem.

The Great Plastic Purge from leftchannel on Vimeo.

It's not new news that many communities have begun plastic bag bans, and they've been spreading like wildfire. (Los Angeles, most recently on June 13, 2013 jumped on board--an impressive coup for banning communities as LA is the 2nd largest US city!)  Images like this one below help prove the point and showcase the need.  This photo was shared on the Bag It Facebook page to help promote Bring Your Bag Chicago at this weekend's Figment Arts Festival in Chicago.  This picture is a part of the total image of the 2568 plastic shopping bags that Chicago shoppers use in only 1 minute. 

Multiply THAT out exponentially!!!

If that image doesn't cause you to stop and take pause, I'm not sure what will!  Clearly, there's we have an environmental problem that needs to be addressed.  If only that were the only one!

Video from  as seen on

"Trekking Trash" photo from

Chicago's 2568 bags photo from as seen on Bag It's FB page.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Life Well Lived

As we're rounding up July, it seems both hard to believe that we're this far into summer...yet also important to remember that it IS still summer!

Despite the fact that many schools are starting to get geared up (or perhaps you are like me, a teacher gearing up to gear up), this video seems like a nice place to stop and smell the important 3.5 minutes to remind yourself what's important for "A Life Well Lived." 

You don't need to climb Everest ever, or be the first one to do it (like Jim Whittaker was) to see the value in getting out there and doing "it"--whatever "it" is!

A Life Well Lived | Jim Whittaker & 50 Years of Everest from eric becker on Vimeo.

Video rom
Bracelet from (quote from Jim Whittaker).