Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Dichotomy of 2 Neighboring Days: Thanksgiving & Black Friday

There are memes galore showing the dichotomy of the spending craziness of Black Friday as the follow up to the themes of Thanksgiving: appreciation, family, plenty.

If you live like I do, you try to focus on one holiday season at a time. Let's face it: Corporate America doesn't! Christmas Ornaments typically compete for shelf real estate at the same time as Halloween decorations are up in department stores & novelty shops.  The rule in our house & my car (much to the chagrin of my teen) is no Christmas music or movies until after Thanksgiving.  Well here we are, on the other side of Thanksgiving, and it's all open. Black Friday marks the unofficial start to the shopping extravaganza called Christmas. According to the song, it's "the most wonderful time of the year." Or rather, the most "spending-est" time of the year.  Black Friday sales followed up by Cyber Monday...and jingle sales, jingle sales, jingle all the way.  Which leads to the next parody song:  "Just Another Manic Spending Spree."

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and all things First World, I look around, and what do I need?  I truly have enough.  Sure, the bank account could be padded more, we could go back to the days when the cleaning lady came (cut to provide for other priorities right now), maybe a massage, and a nice tropical vacation could certainly be calling my name.  But what do I need?  Black trouser socks. That's really about it.  But, that won't cut it on the Christmas list.

Then there's the kids' Christmas lists.  Ei yie yie: holy guacamole!
It's the time-old-trouble of teaching needs versus wants versus "enoughs."  Plus, there's a lot of people who love my darling duo, so they need lists too.  Next thing you know, a glazed look comes over the kids as they scour the Internet for things they feel they surely can't live without.  I swear their pupils turn into dollar signs. Or probably those are little pupil-sized gift wrapped boxes in their eyes instead.  Lots of them.  I mean, they're kids. They love Christmas. It's a magical time. I get it. They don't have a full concept of money, and the greed thing just naturally comes to play when TV MarketLand is on the move, and all the techified whirly-gigs and gizmos cost a boatload each.

But, it ultimately becomes "just more stuff."  By mid-January, the newness always wears off.  I think about the biggies that my kids wanted last year.  When was the last time they even played with that stuff?  At that point, there's just more "stuff" to manage.

This 4 minute video from Films for Action entitled "Live Rich" does a nice job of poignantly showing the depth of the "stuff" that we manage as we get more "stuff."  It does a nice job of dovetailing (inadvertently) on REI's #OptOutside campaign they had for Black Friday. #OptOutside was their movement to close all 143 of their stores to promote their passion & their mission--to get both their customers & their employees outside.

Even though the Christmas Season is officially on us, and we can now say "Black Friday be gone" as it has now passed, there's still plenty of time this holiday season ahead to focus on a few questions that deserve contemplation and answers:
  • What is truly important to you?
  • What is the true price of the price you are paying for your "stuff" (Christmastime and all the time)?
  • What do you really need?
  • Can money even buy that?  
  • If not, what does?         (Typically that answer is "time and togetherness.")
Cheers to each and every one of us for an intentional Christmas Season ahead.

Images from,
Video from

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time of appreciation, gratitude, and generosity.  It's about pausing and saying thank your for all the pieces in the puzzle that makes up your life.  The messy ones, the beloved ones, the random ones...they all fit together to make the beautiful mosaic that is your life.

In that same sort of way,
it makes me think of stones,
and one of my favorite poems. Yes, I'm mixing metaphors, but I feel both are what's tied to the heart & meaning of Thanksgiving:

"Drop a Pebble in the Water"  ~by James W. Foley

"Drop a pebble in the water:
just a splash, and it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples
Circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center,
flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling
where the end is going to be.

Drop a pebble in the water:
in a minute you forget,
But there's little waves a-flowing,
and there's ripples circling yet,
And those little waves a-flowing
to a great big wave have grown;
You've disturbed a mighty river
just by dropping in a stone.

Drop an unkind word, or careless:
in a minute it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples
circling on and on and on.
They keep spreading, spreading, spreading
from the center as they go,
And there is no way to stop them,
once you've started them to flow.

Drop an unkind word, or careless:
in a minute you forget;
But there's little waves a-flowing, 
and there's ripples circling yet,
And perhaps in some sad heart
a mighty wave of tears you've stirred,
And disturbed a life was happy
ere you dropped that unkind word.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness:
just a flash and it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples
circling on and on and on,
Bearing hope and joy and comfort
on each splashing, dashing wave
Till you wouldn't believe the volume
of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness:
in a minute you forget;
But there's gladness still a-swelling,
and there's joy circling yet,
And you've rolled a wave of comfort
whose sweet music can be heard
Over miles and miles of water
just by dropping one kind word."

Here's a lovely musical montage tied to this same sentiment: 

May your Thanksgiving this year be a mosaic of memories, 
and a plethora of ripples out on the pond. 

Thanksgiving Mosaic from
Stairs Mosaic from
Mother Theresa Quote/pebble/water image from
Video from
Poem from 
(where you can find other inspirational links and resources dedicated to those who make a difference.)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Get Thee Outside to a No Wifi Zone This Fall!

Using SparksPeople's article "Why Getting Outside is So Good for You," this is the word cloud you get. The words that crop up are evident:  outside, vitamin, natural, health, benefit, green, outdoors, and more!  These are the words that were vital and apparent in this article, and the ones that "stand out" because they are the ones that are "outstanding" in the article.

What does your LIFE "word cloud" look like?  Where do you spend your time?  What words are going to be bigger in the spectrum of your world? Where does your emphasis lie?

Indoors? Outdoors? Or upside down?

When I hit the wall, stress-wise, emotional-wise, fretting-wise, I check in with myself.  What does my word cloud look like?  

Dry! Dull! Dud!  
Overworked. Overtired. Overwrought. Overyuck!

Not at all like the above.

Note to self! Get thee outside this fall!  It makes all the difference!

Maybe you need to check into the no wifi zone. Do it more than once!

Maybe you need to check out one of this season's Michael Hyatt's podcasts: "Season 5, Episode 2: Nature's Calling Podcast: Get Outdoors & Gain 3 Life-Changing Benefits.. (I love Michael Hyatt!)  Do it more than once.

So it's Thanksgiving-approaching fall, and we are on the edge of becoming more sedentary. What are we to do?  Take advantage of that last li'l bit and get thee outside!! Now. Pronto. ASAP!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Turkey Day is On The Way-

A week and a day from today is Thanksgiving.

I'm not really sure how that happened--this passage of time thing. Didn't school just start?!?  Shouldn't it only be like the end of September?  How is it nearly the end of November? Sometimes that's what happens to us teachers.  Running like mad, racing the clock, with our heads down lesson planning and grading papers, looking up to see exactly how much time has indeed passed!

If you are like me with Thanksgiving sneaking up on you, you might find yourself scrambling like a turkey on the move from Farmer Joe.  If that's the case, here are some resources that might make your late-breaking planning a little smoother. In turn, that might open up some time for you to investigate the items in your life for which you are thankful. 

Get your kids shaking their tail-feathers with the Turkey Dance:

Turn Into A Turkey Poster Set
No, you're not turning into true turkey's, but Digital Divide & Conquer over at Teachers Pay Teachers has come up with a 6-word, character-driven acrostic of the true meaning of the season. There's a free "lite" version and a full, paid version, depending on your teaching needs.

NEA Thanksgiving Lessons
With a multitude of categories, and even more links, the National Education Association website has a slew of resources for you and your K-5 classroom.

Scholastic's Thanksgiving Lessons
Scholastic is always a go-to place for many curricular contents. There are lessons geared to PreK-2nd grade, as well as 3rd-5th grade lessons.

A Change in Perspective:  Looking at Life from the Turkey's Point of View
If you want to investigate what Thanksgiving looks like from the turkey's feathers, here are two places to investigate.  Check out the Thanksgiving Goodies at Classsroom Magic to get some ideas using the book "Pardon That Turkey" by Susan Sloate.  There's also some fun things over at Teachers Pay Teachers including Stephanie Stewart's "Don't Eat The Turkey."  Get your students doing some persuasive writing, petitioning for another major dining feast other than our feathered friend.

An Attitude of Gratitude
Looking to gear your Thanksgiving studies more toward attitudes of gratitude? Check out these 3 links for a wealth of activities for many age groups, complete with both student and teacher resources.

And it's always good to end on a tasty treat!

images from:

Turkey Dance video from
Oreo Turkey treat video from

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Diabetes Day: November 14

Slated half way between Halloween and Thanksgiving, today marks an awareness day:  World Diabetes Day.  In fact, November is Diabetes Awareness Month.

I wonder if that was by accident. I know I've added an unwanted pound or two the last few weeks as I raid my kids' candy cache from trick or treating. And I know that the tryptophan. carbo-loading, feast-fest Day o'Thanks' menu is in the making.

Here's a startling quote from (which is an excellent place to go for fact sheets and interactives)
"415 million adults have diabetes. By 2040 this will rise to 642 million."
Wow!  Those numbers are staggering.

Clearly there is a need for a little awareness so we can try to turn those numbers around.  I've written about our sugar-saturated & overly-obese society before.  When I look at the dates of my posts, the conversation hasn't changed much over the last five years.

World Diabetes Day is a global awareness campaign that is spear-housed by the International Diabetes Federation. Last year, over 100 countries had dedicated events to raising awareness in both the dietary and hereditary causes of diabetes, and how to handle life if you are afflicted with this chronic condition. This year, 323 events are scheduled in 76 countries. The first World Diabetes Day was in 2007.

Here is an infographic with some more eye-opening statistics:

To learn more about World Diabetes Day, check out some of the following resources:
Here are some recipes that can lead you on a
Go forth this weekend with greater awareness, and a pause with the intention for a more mindful approach to eating.

Images from:; Infographic from

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Celebrating 11:11 AM on Veteran's Day

Picture 5 soldiers, standing straight and tall, in a line, side beside. One tall representative for each branch of the 5 branches of military: Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, and Air Force. Standing at attention, honoring all of those who have come before them to fight for our freedoms, and honoring all of those who are yet to come,

In a way,  Anthem Veterans Memorial in  Anthem Community Park in Anthem, AZ is like that line of attentive soldiers. However, something environmentally magical happens on 11-11 at 11:11 am. That's November 11th: Veterans Day. The placement of the five pillars align in the most perfectly planned way.  It was engineered so that the sun would directly align on a mosaic of the United States' Great Seal through the precision-cut elipses within and throughout the marvelously metallic pillars. Military environmental and engineering magic indeed!

41703 N. Gavilan Peak Pkwy.
Anthem, AZ

And then there are the bricks. Each paver in the ground has names of men and women who have been in the service. The red if the bricks, the gleaming white if the 5 pillars, and the backdrop of a blue sky further commemorate the day in patriotic color.

The park was dedicated Nov. 11th, 2011

To learn about  what when into the memorial and how it was engineered, click here to see an interview with Jim Martin, Chief Engineer.

This is my environmental tribute to Veterans' Day--what's yours?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sharing Our Planet: Hour of Power

After attending the OESIS Conference (the Online & Blended Education Symposium for Independent Schools) with five colleagues a month ago, inspiration hit.  A baby was born. That baby's name was "Sharing Our Planet," an environmental issues showcase for the students in our grade level.

You can see this cute little baby, now a growing toddler in the making here with the S'more webpage I created to inspire my students to take action on a global environmental issue.

Additionally, you can get a sneak preview of the Tellagami video I created for the S'more webpage:

It is based in the Google Idea of 80-20 or "Genius Hour," a growing trend in education for kids to use "their hour of power" (=1 hour a week) toward something they are passionate about. Rather than give them an open realm, we centered it around environmental issues.  Eight weeks seemed like a natural time period to "drive this car."  Integrating technology, research, writing skills and creativity, this collaborative multi-media projects will have its debut sometime mid-December.

To help guide students, I took screen shots of the S'more and created this hand book to help lead them through the process and the project (see below).  Given the multi-steps associated, I knew the guidance would come in handy.

We are currently only about one-third of the way through the process right now in our classroom. The kids are knee-deep in researching their inquiry questions.  I'm eager to see how the projects will grow and develop. The kids were ecstatic and ready to dive right in the moment they heard "project" and "choice!" Overfishing, marine debris, deforestation, and loss of habitats are just a few of the topics my young friends are eagerly researching. They are trying to decide if they will be filming documentaries, teaching the skills to another class, making power points or public service announcements.  These are just a few of the ideas--yet the sky is the limit!

My class actually booed when the end-of-the-day-announcements happened the other day and and it was time to go home! Signal of student excitement & teacher success indeed!

I will keep you posted as the creativity continues with our Share Our Planet Showcase.  I'm sure the excitement will only continue to grow as the showcase approaches!!!  (For students & teachers alike!)

Image & Slide share created from the webpage I created specifically for thiis topic:; All photos are cited in the s'more as to where I found them. Video created using the Tellagami app.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Bill Nye's Nat Geo Explorer's "Meltdown"

This past Sunday night (November 1st), over at the National Geographic Channel, you could find Bill Nye lying on a couch.  He was stretched back on his therapist's couch, bemoaning how he was feeling with the angst & grief of his planet.  His therapist, Arnold Schwarzenegger, told him that what he is facing is "climate change grief."  Arnold told him (as only "Ahr-nold" can do) that he's going through the 5 stages of mourning about climate change:

  1. denial
  2. anger
  3. bargaining
  4. depression
  5. acceptance

It is from the couch of the therapist's office that Sunday night's "Meltdown" began, from National Geographics' Channel's show Explorer.

Although the show is a little humorous in places, it certainly isn't humorous about the loss, potential future loss, & subsequent grief we will face if we continue on the trajectory we are currently on.  The stunning quote from NatGeo's own web news article by Michael Greshko states:
"According to the National Wildlife Federation, more than 200 million Americans likely will bear some mental health hiccup because of climate change and related events."
That's a lot of people, and a lot of hiccups.

If you haven't seen the show, check the listings to see if/when it is going to be replayed.
Sunday, Nov. 8th 9 am EST looks like it might be the next time it plays.

In the meantime, check out:

The "Cool It!" Special Issue of National Geographic's Magazine--centered around climate change.  Check out the interactives & online additions here.


Video from, pic from