Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Starting The New School Year with a Maker Mindset

Today is my first official day of school--with kids! (Not to be confused with the 1st first day where I say adios to summer!) Given we are a school with a maker mindset, these 4 videos felt like a great way to greet the year, looking at the maker movement, and both individual & collaborative approaches to creativity and the design process.

May your year ahead be filled with all of it, inspiring you to innovate all year long! "Make" the most of it!  Additionally, here's a great list of maker resources from the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance to use in your classroom.

Maker Manifesto image from;"Maker Movement & Mindset" movie from; "Born to Do This" movie from; "Why Do You Create" from;  "An Honest Look at Creativity"

Saturday, August 27, 2016

My Cross-Country Podcast Travel Companion: "The School of Greatness"

This summer, I did an annual Jack Kerouacian trek from my home to the childhood homeland. 770 miles, two kids, packed car, snacks galore. And caffeine! Don't forget the caffeine as the 12.5 hour trek is a one-day deal, powering on, with this gal as the solo driver. That makes for a 25 hour round trip cross country tour! It's easier these days now that the kids aren't so little.  Stops are in-out missions and we are on the move.  The things you do to go home to the people you love.

Given this year's adventure, podcasts were my friends while the backseat crew had movies, books, and tablets as their best buddies.  Yes, there were dictionary word games and song-a-thons, but mixed in between was the fortification of a lot of good brainspace.  I've been investigating many different podcasts, but I keep coming back to the same ones:
Plus, I've just recently started listening to "Inside Quest" with Tom Bilyeu.

But this trip was largely brought to me by Lewis Howes.

His interviews were fascinating, and brought many insights.  Plus, it made for some good car companions for when my kids were sleeping or too busy playing to pay attention to me.  (Though, I did actuallly catch them listening from time to time.

Here's a bit of wisdom I gleaned while "on the road:"

  • From Larry King--the importance of asking questions & tackling life through humor
  • From Taye Diggs--the importance of gratitude
  • From Shawn Stevenson--the importance of sleep & ways to improve the sleep you're getting
  • From Lisa Nichols--the power in faith & overcoming your own personal obstacles
  • From Laird Hamilton--the power of breathing & meditating to "get in the zone"
  • From Tom Bilyeu--the power of growth over fixed mindset & achieving self-awareness
  • From Gretchen Rubin--the importance of habits to build happiness

Good road companions and messages along the way. An excellent way to get geared back up with all the back-to-school business as that's the season we are in!

Good brain space always makes for a loyal travel companion--no matter where you go!!

Lewis Howes image from; podcast image from

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Finding Your Inner Selfie: Soul Pancake-Style!

It almost doesn't matter what day of the week you do it: watch the news these days and you see more negatives than positives.  Especially during an election year!

Additionally, narcissism also has taken on a new meaning this year, both with the election and the onslaught of social media selfies.

Soul Pancake & New Age Creators are taking on the front-facing camera.  And, in doing so, building video below.  Good stuff!
kindness, empathy, compassion...and building our "inner selfie."  To learn more about what that is, watch their

My favorite line:
"How do we start using social media & technology to make ourselves more awesome as humans?"
Very excited to see what else the New Age Creators are putting together regarding "creativity, love, home, happiness, and finding the real you."  I love too how there's an implication that getting away from the phone and getting outside is grand plan as well!


Image from; Video from

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The End is Here: Goodbye Summer, Hello New School Year

Here is my view, the last official "day of summer." (Weekends, excluded--hallelujah, I still have my weekend ahead!)

It's always a bittersweet moment.
It feels like the antithesis of the toasting glasses welcoming the wonder called summer ahead!

As I sit here and reflect on the dark, leafy green fullness of my backyard trees, and compare them to the still-newish, hopeful spring trees of June, it's easy to see the passage of time. The cicadas tell me that. The birds that hone in on the known-feeder, tell me that. The ever-growing grass in August heat tells me that (and that it's time to mow again).

So too do the June, July, and August days that have passed. Adventures, vacations, home improvement projects, books read (for pleasure and professionally), workshops taken, games played, decompression time, and even the days of the minutiae and mundane.

For those who are not "in teaching," it's pretty hard to understand. They see the glory in those "3 months off." For those of us who do teach, we know half of June is spent wrapping up the year and our classroom, and half of August (if not more) is spent looking forward to the year ahead. It's more like 6-8 weeks of true summer if we're really truly lucky!

Additionally, people who don't have work where they "bring home homework" also don't understand. We teachers are packing a whole lot of expectations and catching up into our summertime. We are frantically trying to make up for those nights-'til-11pm grading papers, lesson planning, laminating cutting, or keeping the house going in a forward motion by having clean laundry to make it through "tomorrow." We try to repair the ruffled edges where our house has gone awry from the over-busy-ness of the school year schedule.

As I sit here and look at my list of summer goals for around the house (along with school-prep for the year ahead & bonding time with my kids), I see a lot that didn't quite happen. But then that begs the question of whether the list was realistic to begin with? Can "9 months" of undone chores, projects, and more truly get done in those 3 months?  Plus, in the hectic-ness & mess of school, sports, and schedules, can we even sustain on that same go-go-go level that often feels 24-7?  Decompression time is vital.  I for one need to remember that I love to read "real" books, binge watch shows on the DVR or Netflix, and catch up on documentaries or podcasts that are meaningful to me.  It's almost like I need to remember how to play, have fun, and just "be" with the people that are important to me.

Sometimes that all gets lost in the school year.  Maybe this summer I was right where I was meant to be, doing what I needed to be doing!

Herein lies the blessing and the curse, which are all just two sides of the same coin. As sad as it is to say goodbye to summer, going back to school has a rejuvenation effect. Newness surrounds and abounds. The creative flow of new ideas, new curriculum, & new classrooms of students all serve as energetic catalysts. The same holds true with the colleagues next door to banter with & bounce ideas off of.  For a teacher, the swirling ideas and beautiful brain spaces don't or can't happen in the backyard alone.

Yes, there's also a beauty in back to school.  I'm starting my 25th year as a teacher on Monday. Luckily, I have a week of set up time & meetings where I get to get my feet wet before the young lads and lassies come.  I can gradually ease back into that oh-so-familiar groove.  But, there's a year of unexpected surprises ahead that does bring a natural glee with it. 'Tis time to bring on the newness that's married with the familiar sights and sounds of school. 

Hmmm... In a lot of ways, it's not much different than sitting on the back patio, toasting the start of summer with champagne. The feeling is the same, if you're open to it!

Backyard pic from my camera; back to school pic from Amanda Burton at; clip art  from; "solar" image from

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My Backyard BFF

Today I reunited with one of my very best friends: my pool! It's not anything exotic, but that 18' diameter above-ground pool is my sacred summer place.

My buddy and I had been on a bit of a break--about six weeks smack dab in the middle of the height of summer. That, in and of itself, is a travesty! With two vacations book-ending July and a hole in the liner (& the time necessary to fix it)... along with a minor surgery recovery, I was in my own personal drought while the pool was out of commission.

But today I was able to return to my happy place. My personal space out in nature where I get to watch the birds visit our feeders and the tree-side birdhouses where they've made their homes. 

It's where I can watch squirrels scampering and scavenging on the fallen seeds from the bird feeders. I dazzle at the dappling light as it perks through the greenery of the tree.

It's where I exercise (which is huge because this kid is NOT "Sporty Spice" and exercising doesn't come naturally to me, unless it's walking to get in my 10,000 steps. 

My pool is where I relax (& same with pool side). Its where I read and really play with my kids and my dog. It's where I actually can be in the moment, doing my version of sun salutations. It's where I'm as close to meditating as this over-thinking girl gets. It's my source of Vitamin D, Vitamin N, & true energy.

And it certainly makes the hot humid summer days bearable!!

Even though the start of school is right around the bend, this happened at THE perfect time. Reuniting with my backyard bud was just in time to get some last bits of rejuvenation right before in back in business!

Image from my backyard!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Another Periodic Table of iPad Apps: STEAM-Style!

Mark Anderson, creator of The Updated Periodic Table of iPad Apps (Vol. 2), is at it again this summer, concocting yet another periodic table of apps.  This time, STEAM based apps!  Thank you Mark Anderson for your brilliance!!

For a higher resolution picture, click here to go to Mark's resource.

Next stop....getting busy at the Apps store!

Image from

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

"Sustainable Self" Via The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post's tag line is "Inform. Inspire. Entertain. Empower." Under the leadership of
Arianna Huffington, the Huffington Post has been around over a decade since it originally launched May 9, 2005. For some of us, it feels longer as it has become such a news mainstay as it's popularity has simply soared. Clearly readers are being informed, inspired, entertained, and empowered!

Always pushing the creativity envelop here in the digital age, The Huffington Post once again lives up to it's tagline. This time, it's by way of "Sustainable Self," an online series of original, animated short videos about the importance of making simple environmental choices in our own homes. The shorts first aired July 26, 2016 with 2 trailers introducing "Sustainable Self." (Check them out here and here.) They also aired their first official short: "BYO: Bring Your Own."

Wet your whistle here, then make a date to check out the videos each week!

Sustainable Self logo and "Bring Your Own" Video from; Arianna Huffington pic from 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Sesame Street Tugs Our Heart

It's hard to believe the start of the 46th Season of Sesame Street is just around the corner.

Though the intro has changed visually over the years, that song still rings true.  All of which probably make last week's news of the restructuring of Sesame Street & the loss of three of their key and
longstanding actors even more ground shaking for those of us who grew up on the wholesome diet of Sesame Street.  Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when "Bob," "Gordon," & "Luis" feel like old friends. (Actors McGrath, Roscoe Orman and Emilio Delgado, respectively.)

Even when you haven't watched the show in maybe 10 years (and that "you" would be ME due to my children outgrowing it), you feel the loss.  It's the loss of "the good stuff" that has stood the test of time.  It's the loss of knowing and taking pleasure in the fact that it was out there. And it's also that secondary loss of losing something that was a part of my childhood that I grew up with.

There's some controversial conversation that maybe the backlash was not well received, and the "Powers That Be" over at HBO may be reconsidering this decision. Time will tell.

In the July 28th article "Five Times Bob, Luis and Gordon from ‘Sesame Street’ Taught Us to Be Better" by Gabe Meline, we take comfort in where this trio of gentleman have taken us.  It seems especially contradictory to this election year when it seems we haven't an empathetic "gentleman" in the race. (Though half of the reason is because we have a historic election year with our first female to be a major party candidate nomination, so kudos to Hillary Clinton for that!). The 5 video clips in the article are throwbacks to how great these 3 gents were at serving as role models for young viewers. Gabe too shows how these messages stay with those of us who are now adults.

In thinking and reminiscing about the cast of human and muppet characters on Sesame Street, I'm thrown into a meandering down memory lane--many of which are accompanied with their songs and my own Sesame Street soundtrack.  Cookie Monster. Big Bird. Elmo. Snuffleupagus. Maria & Susan. Bert & Ernie. Grover. The Count. Kermit. Oscar the Grouch. Sesame Street always took the big and small life lessons and peppered them in amidst the ABCs and 123s. Sometimes with big name stars along the way.

Take for instance this music parody video with Macklemore from January 2015 as he and Oscar take on trash.  Oscar's been in that trash can for 45 years and counting....and he's still there.  But, at least he is enlightening us along the way

For more trips down memory lane, here you can find "11 'Sesame Street' Videos for Earth Day."

If you still haven't gotten your's a collection of 99 environmental videos from Sesame Street!

Thank you for all you've taught us these 45 years, Sesame Street. Cheers to your 46th year ahead--may it be the start of many, many more.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Climate MidMonth Manifesto: "Now Is the Time" During This Political Season

In this post-season of both Republican and Democratic National Conventions, and the current season of political campaigns everywhere you turn, it is no surprise to all that it's going to be some noisy months between here and November 8th.

For anyone who's been paying attention, one political party's candidate supports the imperative need to focus on climate change, while the other still denies that concept of even exists.

Here in this video is Leonardo DiCaprio, a long time environmentalist, speaking on how "Now Is the Time."  When record temperatures hit month after month, along with other environmental issues brought upon by human choice and human destruction, he's telling us all, now is the time indeed.

Let that be a part of your decision-making strategy this November 2016.

Video from