Saturday, January 30, 2016

No Impact, Man?!

When you hear the words "no impact," what does that mean?

Well, if you go online and search out a definition for "impact," this is what you get:

1. the striking of one thing against another; forceful contact; collision: The impact of the colliding cars broke the windshield.

2. an impinging: the impact of light on the eye.

3. influence; effect: the impact of Einstein on modern physics.

4. an impacting; forcible impinging: the tremendous impact of the shot

5. the force exerted by a new idea, concept, technology, or ideology: the impact of the industrial revolution.verb (used with object)

6. to drive or press closely or firmly into something; pack in.

7. to fill up; congest; throng: A vast crowd impacted St. Peter's Square.

8. to collide with; strike forcefully: a rocket designed to impact the planet Mars.

9. to have an impact or effect on; influence; alter: The decision may impact your whole career. The auto industry will beimpacted by the new labor agreements.verb (used without object)

10. to have impact or make contact forcefully: The ball impacted against the bat with a loud noise.

11. to have an impact or effect: Increased demand will impact on sales."

"NO Impact" clearly means the opposite.

Which lands us upon "No Impact Man."

"No Impact Man" was a movie, documentary, experiment on NOT making an impact on the environment.  Like I said: it's a book, it's a movie, it's a blog.  It could even be called a way of life.

There's even a follow-up with "How To Be Alive: A Guide to the Kind of Happiness that Helps the World"

It even made its way to the world of podcast (and a very good one at that):  "The Good Life Podcast, Colin Beavan: No Impact Man on How to Be Alive"

From Bill McKibben via Amazon:  "This is the book where self-help turns into helping the world—and then turns back into helping yourself find a better life. Fascinating and timely!"

A good read I can't wait to read!  Or watch!

You can buy the movie from the website, or rent or buy it from Amazon.

Dictionary definition from; Images from and; video from

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Brrrrrilliant Blizzardarious Lesson Plans

It's no surprise to anyone that the Eastern has been dumped with snow.  A LOT! This past weekend was a blizzardarious 48 hours worth of wind, blowing snow, drifts, and ever-falling snow.  To look at one falling snowflake, you wonder how in the world it can be an item of such peril. Then you ponder how many millions, billions of snowflakes are out there, piled up!

While contemplating all of that, with all that gift of time (and equally wonderful gift of snow days), teachers start thinking about the way to incorporate all those snowflakes in topical, seasonal lesson plans.

If that's you, here's a few lesson plans that might come in handy:

Free Tech 4 Teachers: Lots of Lessons About Winter Weather
Richard Byrne includes quite the collection of resources all in one post on the hottest cold topic of the week. Some of the topics he includes are:

  • A multitude of activities from Scholastic (including the Interactive Weather Maker)
  • A video explaining the Wind Chill Formula
  • A video from Minute Earth entitled "This is Your Brain on Extreme Weather"
  • A video from Bytesize Science entitled "The Chemistry of Snowflakes"
  • A video from Minute Physics entitled "Why the Full Moon is Better in Winter"
  • And a list of some fun things to do in the snow (which always includes igloo making!)

Education World:  A Blizzard of Winter Lessons
Education World has "shoveled up" (their words) links for 2 dozen sites which directs you to over 50 cross-curricular activities, with approximate grade levels next to each link.

Just In Weather  Baltimore Snow History: Breaking Pattern Of Storms
In the neighborhood of more information than lesson plans, we have Justin Berk's weather site with news on the pattern of storms over the past 2 decades or so.  Baltimore apparently has a history of a major snowstorm (or two) every 3-4 years.  This year, however, it broke that pattern!  In checking out the snow measurements at the cusp of this storm, I was struck with how this would make a great graphing project to take that chart, and then add in the numbers of this storm.  Topping out at 29.2 inches of snow here in my neck of the woods, it certainly was a recordbreaking doozy. Have students jump on Excel, Numbers, Google Sheets, or the Create-a-Graph website. What a great real-world math problem and STEM connection!

Snow photos from the toasty comfort of my house; "Big Baltimorre Snowstorms" chart from

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Reflecting on Our Fall Hour Of Power

Two months ago inspiration struck as a result of a 2-day technology conference I attended in Boston. A weekend of creating and computing, we rolled out both a S'more website and the post "Sharing our Planet: Hour of Power."

Upon unleashing the project with the students, you know it's successful when they start complaining when it's time to leave for the day.

As we were wrapping up our inquiries, investigations, and final projects right before the holidays, we ended with a reflection on our 8+ weeks of our "Hour of Power:"  Yes, we all learned a lot from the studies on oil spills, water pollution, deforestation, methane plumes, world hunger, clean drinking water, overfishing, and more. Yet, the student reflections below (in addition to their projects) showcased their creativity, collaboration, and level of engagement during this process.  

Hour of Power Reflection

We started our “Hour of Power” with the hopes of giving each of you the opportunity to explore a topic related to the environment that is important to you. Take some time to reflect on everything we did from:

· brainstorming environmental issues
· thinking about a topic
· creating inquiry questions to investigate
· researching
· taking action & making a personal action plan
· creating a project
· including technology
· and presenting our project.

  • "'Hour of Power' was very fun, interesting and educational to me...I think it was fun trying to get other people involved in helping this situation because I feel like other people are going to be interested in it." ~ L
  • "'Hour or Power' was a gigantic project full of excitement, fun, and tough times... My partner was awesome, especially because we got to bounce ideas off each other, and helped each other improve our own ideas." ~ J1
  • "I really enjoyed being able to pick our partners and topic." ~ C1
  • "It was a good way to learn about our environment.... We accomplished a lot." ~ N1
  • "My favorite part was when we made our documentary video. I found the editing very challenging.... I am especially proud of our documentary..... I would love to do it again." ~ N2
  • "In the end of the editing, it was worth the work, even though it took a lot of time... I am super proud of the documentary we made." ~ B
  • "I learned lots of facts in water pollution. I learned how much polluted water there is all over the world and who it affects."  ~ N3
  • "I felt it encouraged others to think about not using water that they have been using unwisely. Also, it will make them save water because they know someone has less or unhealthy water." ~ M
  • "I think our topic is important because when one problem starts, another starts and another. So if you can help our problem, we can help to avoid more problems. I learned that there are many other environmental problems than pollution, and other major problems." ~ S
  • "I was not aware of how bad overfishing is. I did not know overfishing is right where we live!" ~ K
  • "One thing I enjoyed about Hour of Power is that we came up with over 25 facts about water pollution! HOP really educated me about problems in the world." ~ G
  • "I think working with my partner was good because he had a lot of determination for this project. He and so ended up being really successful....I learned that world hunger is one of the biggest problems in the world and kills a child every 5 seconds." ~ R1
  • "My group and I worked really well together. We stayed on topic, we used our time wisely, and our final project turned out great! I wouldn't change a thing!" ~ J2
  • "I liked working with a partner and choosing something I thought mattered to me. I also enjoyed the creative part like the action plan." ~ R2
  • "The part that I was most proud of in the outcome of the scripts. They included facts, humor, and most importantly what new information we learned... We learned that many of the marine animals suffer from all the trash that people drop--some on accident, some on purpose." ~ M1
  • "It is important to inform and persuade people about safe, clean drinking water because a lot of people die from it and it is terrible. I learned that environmental issues can cause a lot of things to happen to our environment." ~ C2
  • "It felt good when we were taking action to take inform people about our problem... If we could do it again, I would definitely do this because I liked having the choice on everything and to be able to use a lot of technology." ~ P
  • "I have learned that one environmental issue leads to another." I think that is important for people to was really nice focusing I what really matters to me an deciding where the project should be driven....This project has provided an experience that has changed me to be more aware if environmental issues." ~ G2
Nearly all of the students mentioned being so proud of the work they did... and how much they both learned and enjoyed the process.  That is the part that truly stands out!!  Will we do another Genius Hour?  More than one student requested that we do!  Time will tell!

Image from our S'more website & Hour of Power paperwork.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

MidMonth Climate Manifesto: Defined

Thinking back to before Christmas and our really warm, unseasonable weather, I'm weighing heavily this whole climate change thing.  As I wrote about in that post, my son got a bit worked up. I think he felt like the warm December days were going to continue, and we might just implode. Even at his age, he's heard enough and knows enough about this climate change thing to know it's a big deal. It's all over the news. And it's scary.

Given the fact that it does make the nightly news more and more these days, I certainly have a plethora of which I could write about. But, I don't want Green Team Gazette to be the forum for just spewing doom and gloom. It's too doomy and gloomy!

But, we also can't bury our heads in the sand. It's a concept that needs to be revisited.  Often. (Or at least, frequently.) When armed with information, we can then do what we need to do: we need to reinforce that climate change a significant matter that needs our attention.  We need to reinvest our time, energy, and commitment to helping minimize the harmful effects of our lifestyles that are leading to the rising temperatures of this global problem. We need to remind ourselves of our individual and collective responsibilities in causing the problem so that we can begin to diminish the effects.

Thus begins a monthly feature.  A MidMonth Manifesto, if you will:
"manifesto, noun:  a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives, as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization."
May it serve as a mid-month morsel of relevant resources to help both raise awareness and also point us all in the direction of taking action to fight climate change.  

The following letter is from NOAA, where you can find many other great letters written by kids on climate change.

Image from; definition from; letter from

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Dreaming With Martin Luther King, Jr.

It's not new news:  Monday is a national holiday:  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Of course, probably more so than anyone else, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is strikingly known for his efforts to strengthen, enhance, and move us forward in the Civil Rights Movement, both as individuals and as a nation.

As partisan politics and differing views STILL noisily show & bark on--we are not done.  His message on equality in our world is still so vital, here 50+ years after the Civil Rights Movement.

Empathy is still needed for all of us, on a daily basis.

To help you celebrate Dr. King and his visions for a united "United States" and connected human community, here are several links for contemplation, reflection, and even perhaps even some activism:

  • 8 Leadership Lessons from Martin Luther King Jr  (Michael Hyatt Podcast & Post)
  • All National Parks Are Free On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Huffington Post Article, 1/8/2016)  Get outside!! This year's January 18th is an admission-free day for national parks. The first of 16 days for this year ahead.  It might be a nice way to go forward for your personal self as a way to celebrate the great wide world we have out there.
At our little schoolhouse, we are having a Martin Luther King, Jr. Assembly ahead on Wednesday. At our grade level, we showed our students Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech.  We also then videotaped students reading excerpts of that speech to show at the assembly.  We then had a brainstorming session where the students came up with a compilation of what our dreams are for a better world.  Following up a study of homelessness, thoughts included having everyone feeling fortunate for what they have as well as having a warm bed and safe place to sleep at night.  Other thoughts included helping the environment/fighting climate change and also treating others the way we all want to be treated. 

There were more!

In his 39 years, Martin Luther King did so much on behalf of civil rights, activism, and our country.  Activism comes in big and small steps.  What can you do, even in the tiniest of ways, to be a leader that would make Dr. King proud??

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016's "One Word" Resolutions

A common trend in New Year's Resolution writing over the last few years 
has been to find a word, one word, and make a commitment for the year ahead.  

This year, I'm going that route again.  My word:

I see this as a very "up"lifting word--always nudging towards the side of half-full versus half-empty. always aiming high versus low.  A word that always encourages you (aka, me) to check in with myself and strive to be my best self.  Whether it's....

Looking up.... to others, from my devices, to a higher power;
Shaping up... and honoring myself, my health, & being their for my peeps;
Stepping up & jazzing up... my game, my routine, my character,
                  my ability to be my best self;
Filling up... my water glass to "hydrate up," my spirit, my heart with love.

All these words work to help me "live it up," "show up," "wake up" & "get up".... and sometimes even "lighten up" to have a fabulous 2016 ahead.

What's your word this year?  

I encourage all to find that word, and find a creative way to express it, unleash it, and live it!

Up image created using both the Scrap It & Pic Collage Apps.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Wolves & Rivers & Changes Over Time

The 4 minute movie "How Wolves Change Rivers" is not new to the Internet--it was posted nearly 2 years ago.  Yet I'm always moved by it (as is my dog when he hears the wolves howl).

In 4 minutes it discusses the shift in multiple levels of environmental change--all brought about over the course of  the reintroduction of wolves that were once absent for nearly 70 years at Yellowstone National Park. This change is called a "trophic cascade," which happens when a top predator is either added or removed from a predator-prey food chain situation.  Over time the entire ecosystem is transformed.

It shows us the power of biodiversity!

For a visual about how wolves have kept "Yellowstone in balance," check out this infographic:

Video from; photo from, & "Wolves Keep Yellowstone in Balance" in 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Back to School: Restarting Your Engines

Time is so weird.

Yes, I realize the profoundness (and somewhat silliness) of this statement.

So it's now 2016.  Now January. Now post-New Years, post-Christmas, post-winter break.  AND, we're back to school. How the heck did all of that happen?  Oh yeah, time. It's constant, continual, and a run-away train.

We are now 3 days in to being back to school. It's always a little rough of an adjustment after being off a week or two--especially given all of the late nights antics, festivities, and fun. We've been blessed to have 2 weeks off, which has been so great and so ripe for the time away. Time to get ready for the holidays then celebrate with friends & family. Time to travel to visit family far away. Time to sleep, time to get caught up, time to step away.

As a person on the constant go, "stepping away" is actually something I'm not always quite comfortable with--and typically not very good at. There's never enough "time" for all of that (she says facetiously)!

Of course, after a whole bundle of days of watching yummy movies on the Hallmark Channel, surfing the Internet, reading actual books, playing card games with the kids, sleeping, and visiting with friends and family, you see that it's in the "stepping away" that it is there that you find the cure.  It feels backwards, but that's where the rejuvenation comes from.  That's the exact thing you need.

Here are 3 good articles that prove my point:

It's Official, Teachers Must Relax Over Christmas to Avoid Burnout

Christmas Break Seen as Vital to Teachers' Well-Being

Dear Teachers, It’s Time to Reset

Teachers out there:  Depending on how your break went, you may or may NOT have gotten that "time to reset," that well-deserved break.  Same goes for doctors, engineers, and anyone else out there in the working world.  I think these articles above can speak to you--regardless of your profession.  

Teachers are a rare bird, in that our work definitely comes home: whether that's grading papers, creating lesson plans, answer emails, or waking up at 3 am trying to wrestle with how best to be there for "Johnny" or "Suzy."  I like the fact that these articles talked about how even a few days can make a difference.  Martin Luther King Day is coming ahead, so if you missed out over break, maybe that's your chance.  Or maybe you need to set aside a weekend of no work. Or maybe a snow day is around the bend (despite the very non-winter-like Christmas we just had out in the East & Midwest).

Or maybe you need a well-placed mental health day.  Even a few hours can truly go far.

Check out the image below if you need a few ideas on how best to give yourself a break, even when we are all now "back in business!" Take a break and be good to yourself! 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year & New Year's Resolutions

New Years Eve is around the bend  As we enter into the "new" new year, this is the time that traditionally we all look at what's around us. It's that time to assess:  What is it you want to keep... and what is there that needs an iteration or two? Perhaps you are regretting that extra Christmas cookie (or twenty), or that extra cocktail (or more). Maybe you are taking note of which of your friendships enrich your lives and perhaps which relationships are ones its time to release. Habits & attitudes may need to be rebuilt, readjusted, and renewed. Here's a few of my inspirational suggestions for 2016:

For tackling your own resolutions, here are some handy resources that might simplify your plans of action for the year ahead:

Here are two links from my ultimate favorite life-focused inspiration:  Michael Hyatt.  I'd completely recommend his podcast series "This Is Your Life."  It's changed the way I move about in the world as it is frequently what I'm listening to in the car.  Here are two links specifically for goal setting:
According to, the #1 Resolution of 2015 was to lose weight.  Given obesity in America, I'd imagine we'll see the same for 2016.  If you were one of those who had too many sugar cookies over the holidays, here are some links to help on that front:

  • For a visual of how much sugar you are taking in, check out Sugar Stacks.  Here's just one example.  Sometimes the drinks you are leaning toward are more sugar packed than you think. Beyond beverages, you can also click through their links for sugar in snacks, cookies, deserts, and more.
  • Chef Jamie Oliver has long been a fan of healthier eating.  His Food Revolution show from several years ago gave some eye opening stats, facts, visuals & challenges.  His most recent brigade has been the documentary Sugar Rush where he spoke out on Obesity in the UK.

Whatever your goals for the year ahead, I wish you luck in pursuing them!  
Cheers to your new year.  Make it the best one yet!

Radical Resolutions image created using PicCollage for Kids, "In Defense of Food" trailer; Coke pictures from