Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Becoming an Eco Activist

To piggy back some of the positive moves I've seen eco-wise in the aftermath of the United States leaving the Paris Agreement, I wanted to promote some small ways we all could become activists. 

Always a fan of infographics, when I ran across the following article, I knew it had a future as a great visual... so I crafted one!

What can you do to make an environmental impact?

Infographic created by me on

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Take Part in #ISTE17 This Weekend--Whether You Are There Or Not!

Football fanatics have the Superbowl.
Soccer fans have the World Cup.
Baseball aficionados have the World Series.
Movie lovers have the Academy Awards, while music lovers have the Grammy's.

If you are an #EdTech Teacher, your ultimate "Superbowl" is the annual ISTE conference.

And ISTE 2017, my friends, is THIS weekend: June 24th--28th, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas!

Man, do I wish I were there!

Disclaimer: I've never been to ISTE, but being a bit of a techno-nerd, it is on my bucket list. I'd be in my own personal nirvana! (Though I will say, that FETC 2016 was pretty darn awesome and a super second place!! And, as a Maryland environmental educator, MAEOE ranks right up there too!)

Typically 18,000+ teachers attend, and the learning and experience are at a global, exponential level. From Expo Hall to Keynotes, to workshops and networking, it's just downright like no other!

Like I said, I'm not going to be there this year either; however, listening to Vicki Davis (aka @CoolCatTeacher) and her "The 10-Minute Teacher" Podcast this week & interview with Peggy George (episode #105: "5 Ways to Participate in #ISTE17 Even If You're Not There #NotAtISTE17), I can be there without being there. That's pretty darn awesome!

If you are like me, and long to be there, you can learn from your couch, computer, car-ride commute, patio, or poolside these next few days ahead.  Check out the following:

And don't forget to check out ISTE resources for 2016 (just replace "17" with "16" to see what you missed last year.   You could have a boatload of professional development between them both and all these resources!  Which, let's be real, isn't that part of how we teachers spend part of our summer?!)

I'd love to hear about your favorite finds as you parallel travel alongside the ISTE Conference--whether you are there or not. I'm certainly going to be making my way along the above links myself!!

ISTE/Coolcat poster from; 10 Minute Teacher Podcast from; Video from

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


There are 2 official days of summer:  The day you get out of school (says teachers and students everywhere!) and the true calendar date that marks Summer Solstice: June 21st, where the sunlight hours are at their peak due to the tilt of the Earth on its axis toward the sun an its annual trip around.

For me, there might also be a third... that day I get to get in our backyard pool and just bask! Not having had that experience as a child, I was startled when we moved into our house 10 years ago. With a newbie walker wild child at the time, I was sure a backyard pool would be a disaster. Little did I know how much it would capture my heart. It certainly is my summer love!

It is here that I...
  • read books;
  • become one with the water;
  • become more mindful;
  • truly take notice of the blue of the sky; 
  • marvel at the depth of green of the leaves;
  • work out my muscles with a variety of water aerobics;
  • nap on my pool floatie;
  • play around with my peeps and my pups;
  • listen to the osprey family that always returns to the tower behind m back fence and trees;
  • watch squirrels scampering about, in the grass or along the fence-line;
  • get my dose of Vitamin D & Vitamin N (Nature!);
  • slow down to the speed of life--something I always have a difficult time doing during the busy-ness of the school year;
  • breathe!
Today, let's celebrate all those reasons on this first official Summer Solstice day of the season! May the longest day filled with the brightest of sunlight to make your day truly shine and cause you to take pause to celebrate!

First Day of Summer pic from; Pool pic from my camera

Saturday, June 17, 2017

10 Eco Innovations Worth Celebrating

When it comes to the environment, sometimes we are steeped in the negative. We can thank politics and news for that. However, the good news is all too often overlooked.

Let's take a minute to champion these 10 things on the environmental front that are worth celebrating!

video from; image from

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Great American Duck Rescue of 2017

School's out for summer, in my little world. Last week for kiddos, this week we teachers wrapped it up. In honor of that, I felt like it was the right time to share "The Great American Duck Rescue of 2017."

You see... kids weren't our only patrons this spring. In addition to all the little cherubs that are left in our care and safe haven by their parents, we had some extra special trust placed in our hands. Trust from Mama Duck.

Mama Duck is a frequent friend, who finds a home with us each year.  For years, she has come to nest and set up shop in our courtyard--a completely enclosed, fox-free, kid-free, complication-free (& catered) environment. Not to mention, it becomes a peek-able, teachable moment for our students, watching the ducks grow in the spring, then fly off in the fall, right after we have returned back to school. We know it's the one and only Mama Duck as she has a little limp, which is part of her signature trademark.  Here's a picture of Mama Duck and last year's crop of ducklings.

This year, we may have even gotten to see some of the courtyard courtship with her and Papa Duck, and conveniently camera-captured it.

I'm not exactly sure what Mama Duck was thinking this year, though.  She managed to set up shop in a non-traditional spot. She must have been casing out the joint on a weekend, where it was kid-free and quiet.  She decided to put her nest not only on our playground, but right outside one of the 5th grade doors--which believe me, is never a quiet location on a weekday!

Being a school who embraces problem solving and the maker movement, the 5th graders, their teacher, and the janitorial staff put up some orange fencing as a temporary boundary to keep wayward PreK & Kindergartners out of the nesting area. Then a team of handy 5th graders and their fathers came to put up a more sturdy wood and wire "Fort Knox Fence."

All was well in the newly-created coop, and baby ducklings ultimately hatched. About a dozen of them! They had a lovely first day, experiencing their world, where playground peeks could happen, and impromptu pools showed up.

But again, the question arose:
Mama Duck, what were you thinking?

She had build her nest right under the bush beside the 5th grade door--but more importantly, next to a PVC drainage pipe. A broken one at that, with an open and exposed hole on the bush-side of the pipe that none of us had previously seen. Enter Duck Drama on Day 2 with that! While the ducklings were all cozying up in their nest, about 7 of the dozen ducklings got a lesson in gravity and the fell right on in the side-hatch-hole-door, and down the pipe. Luckily, a few teachers noticed some of the ducks were missing then happened to hear the distant sound of baby ducks, peeping down the pipe. Operation Great American Duck Rescue began in earnest!

Duct Tape Tools & extensions were created that crouching teachers attempted to use to rescue the little fluffs. About 5 were retrieved via bending, stretching, reaching, and with some major arm scrapes along the way. But there was still the sound of tweets beneath. So then we all started surveying the territory. Where did this pipe lead to? We found the ultimate ending to where the drain would drain, down little hill on the far side of the playground. Problem solving minds started brainstorming. Ducks can swim; this is a drainpipe. What happens if we flush water down?  The hose alone didn't create strong enough current, so then buckets of water were poured down. I happened to be one of the teachers with a student, down by the outflow area--where we decidedly heard the tweets as well. The water stream was building, and wait--it sounded like the tweets were getting louder! Yes! But wait? My 5th grade friend and I looked at each other--do you hear 2? We both could have sworn, yes indeed!

It took far longer than we thought it would, but the stream kept flowing and the sounds of the ducklings sounded closer and closer. Please, let there be no grate to close them off from the exit!

As other teachers were looking for flashlights or buckets to help with the rescue, there came a point I was by myself, sitting on the concrete block hoping and awaiting our feathery friend(s). The river of water kept flowing the right way, when voila! Out popped a duck. Rescue! But wait! Open land... a duckling... me! Must Capture Duck!!

Well of course, the li'l fella was scared to death when I attempted to scoop him up, which he didn't really like all the man-handling and jumped right out of my hands...inches from the concrete block I'd just been sitting on. Li'l ducky, we haven't come this far to have death by concrete! As I'm jumping around trying to contain a little scaredy-duck, out pops a second feathery friend from the dark depths of the drainpipe....leaving me nervous I'd lose one or jump on the other. Luckily, our science teacher had perfect timing, with a 5 gallon bucket in hand--wondering what on earth I was doing jumping all over the place. She clearly had steadier hands than I, and swooped them up in the bucket. Ducks were all reunited with Mama, and we all breathed a little sigh of relief!!

One of our Master Fence Builders happened to have one wayward duckling at home by the water, apparently abandoned by its mother... so that night, Operation Relocation took place. Our waterside family came to the school to gather up and relocate Mama Duck and her dozen ducklings to their house. Mama Duck instantly adopted the little orphan, and have a new playground-free, waterside community to live in.

And they all lived happily ever after!

Taking part in the whole event made me feel in touch with nature in a way that helps put it all in perspective. In this great big, complicated world, it's the little things that are important. Being of service to others is what matters. We saved 2 ducks, and really a family of feathery friends+ 1 orphan too. Yes. These are the important things, and I was grateful we all could help & be a part of something small, but bigger than us all.

Pictures taken from either my camera or those of my colleagues. Word art added using


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Summer is Here for You, Teachers

This week, we had the last day of school for summer.  Yes, every year the song "School's Out For Summer" reverberates in my brain for about two weeks surrounding this time period!

While I still have two days of wrap up meetings, tidying up, and end of the year luncheon's this week ahead, we are officially here. Summer. Some schools have been there for a bit while some still may have a bit to go. But in honor of this season, I want to share these videos with you, my teacher friends. Being one of you, I know how hard you work, and how this gift of sunshiny days are your reward for a year spent well--working hard, planning perfect lessons, grading mountainous stacks of papers, assessing projects, writing report cards, worrying about your students, celebrating the accomplishments and caring for your crew.

May summer be yours to cherish, refresh, reinvigorate, and ready yourself for fall!

Videos from and; image from

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Food & Facts For Thought: #ClimateChange

The world is still a little riled up with life in the aftermath of the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Given that, I thought it might be time to check in with the climate scientists to give both climate and science deniers a little food--and facts--for thought from Yale Climate Connections.

Video & logo from

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Inspiration in the Aftermath of The US/Paris Climate "Discord"

The world is a little noisier this week, after the environmental blow from Trump this week, pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Accord--leaving a stark party of 3, standing alone.

Of course, as Trump may or may not know, it's not as easy as pulling a plug and walking away.  Due to a clause in the Paris Agreement, to withdraw, you need to give written notification to the UN depository, but it can't happen until 3 after the date the agreement was enforced:
Nov. 4, 2016 + 3 years = Nov. 4, 2019.
At that point, it takes another year before a country can officially leave. That date will be  Nov. 4, 2020, which just so happens to be one day following the US Presidential Elections of 2020. This allows for a bit of a sigh of relief, as this will now be a campaigning point for whoever runs for our next president. Time will tell if that will involve Trump or not.

Of course it begs the question: When did our planet (or science for that matter) become a political issue?

Clearly this week (and when the 31% EPA budget cuts were proposed).

But an interesting thing has happened amidst the sideswiping news. America has rallied. The world has rallied. Almost like "Wonder Twin Powers, Activate" (from way back when, when I was a kid), An inadvertent uprising has occurred since Trump's announcement & withdrawal, and a boomerang of events has happened:
    • Many buildings were lit up in green lights Thursday following the withdrawal. This visual solidarity in buildings like New York's City Hall & State Fair, Boston's City Hall, and DC's Wilson Building (as well as others internationally) show that there is support and understanding that Trump's decision isn't every American's decision.
    • June 1st, Leonardo DiCaprio (an avid environmentalist) listed on his Facebook Page the importance of going forward as grassroots activists, mentioning these 5 organizations as excellent starting points:
    1. Indivisible Guide:
    2. NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council):
    3. Resistance Manual:
    4. Stand Up America:
    5. Take action on

    All of this, and more, are definite calls to action. These are the elements that give hope to the difficult environmental situation many of us feel we are facing this week. Hope is certainly the opposite of fear and desperation. This fighting spirit is the foundation of many American tenets and much global inspiration. Perhaps, it is in the face of adversity that people truly become united, discovering what's important to them, what's worth fighting for, and what counters complacency.

    Here's some inspiration from Larry Page, Co-Founder of Google, to get you out there, fighting for what you believe in. May it be "uncomfortably exciting" going forth while you "grab a dream" for a cleaner, healthier planet!

    Video from Goalcast:
    Image from;
    Eiffel Tower pic from
    map from
    Environmental wordle
    Wonder Twins pic from