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; 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

Bill Nye the Science Guy video:

Water Cycle Rap:  (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