Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year 2019

As the New Year is upon you, may these quotes help to shape your year!

“Innovation is taking two things that already exist 
and putting them together in a new way.” 
–Tom Freston

“What good is an idea if it remains an idea? 
Try. Experiment. Iterate. Fail. Try again. Change the world.” 
– Simon Sinek

“There’s a way to do it better—find it.” 
–Thomas Edison

“Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.” 
–Jonathan Swift

“It always seems impossible until it is done.” 
–Nelson Mandela

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” 
–Henry David Thoreau

“The world is a book and those who do not travel
read only one page.” 
– St. Augustine

“When the winds of change blow, 
some people build walls and others build windmills.” 
–Chinese Proverb

“If you’re not failing every now and again, 
it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” 
–Woody Allen

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Eco New Year's Resolutions

The week between Christmas and New Years is often a week off work for many of us--or at least a few extra days off in there. It serves as a good time to make sure you get a chance to see all your family and friends, and get in all of your celebrating.

It's also a good time to reflect on your year, and make plans for the year ahead.

It might also be a good week to get a jump start on forming your New Years resolutions. Here are some great eco-resolutions to consider.
  • Clean your closet and donate clothes you no longer want or wear to a donation center or homeless shelter.
  • Watch a eco-documentary once a month.
  • Up your recycling or composting game.
  • Shop with your reusable bags.
  • Buy less bottled water--BYO reusable water bottle or coffee mugs.
  • Upgrade your diet--go flexitarian, vegetarian, or Meatless Mondays.
  • Shop more sustainably--cotton products require a lot of chemicals and water!
  • Buy fair trade coffee and chocolate
  • Walk (or ride your bike) more and drive less. Or, consider public transportation or carpooling.
  • Grow your own garden--that's as organic as it gets!
  • Switch to greener cleaners for your home.
  • Take a pass on the straws... or go with a non-plastic alternative.
  • Go with eco-friendly and energy efficient home products.
  • Become an activist--take part in local campaigns, spread the word about the growing impact of humans on climate change, take part in park or stream clean ups. Barack Obama tweeted of this a day or so ago: "find something you want to change in your community and take the first step toward changing it." Always good advice!!

For more, check out these websites, which served as my inspiration for this post.

2018 Sustainable New Year's Resolutions You Need To Make, According To The Biggest Eco Names

Eco Talk: Environmentally-Friendly New Year's Resolutions

11 Green New Year's Resolutions That Put The Planet First

10 Easy, Green New Year's Resolutions (Even If You're a Slacker)

Ten Simple Green New Year's Resolutions

8 Simple Eco New Year's Resolutions for 2018

10 Green New Years Revolutions

Image created at

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Tidings of Joy, Peace & Love this Season

May your seasonal celebrations be filled with all the gifts that are really important: kindness, joy, peace, hope, friends, family, love, and laughter.

Image created at

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Art of Stone Balancing

This is just downright beautiful... and watching it makes me want to go out and try this in the spring when the weather (and water) turns warmer.

But just watching him build gives me a sense of calm. True Zen. Maybe I'll be sure to revisit this video every time it feels a tad stressful the last few days of holiday prep!


Video from

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Books to Grow On

Disclaimer: I have a junior in high school living in my house.

Yes, she's my kid.  Given that, thoughts of college are swirling in our house.

When I went to Stanford this summer on my CA Tech Tour, we got the backlot tour from a former high school buddy of mine. She talked in admiration about knowing Julie Lythcott Haims. Little did I know at the time that she was going to be a speaker at our school this spring. I hadn't connected the dots, either, with her connection to one of our 4 summer reads: Real Americans, a biography about her experience as a biracial woman in America. Also, being another dot I was connecting: the day before going to Stanford, I had been a bookstore in San Jose and had taken a snapshot of Haim's book How To Raise An Adult. I didn't buy it at the time (hence the snapshot), but I knew it was something I should read.

Having now bought and read it, everyone with high schoolers, should read it! Even those with tweens and just plain growing kids should also read it in order to miss the inevitable parenting potholes along the way!

Julie Lythcott Haims was the Freshman Dean at Stanford for a long time...until that book-tour-thing got in the way. But she wrote about her experience...with GenX'ers like me sending our kids off to college. More and more, those kids are helicopter parented kids. In reading it, I'm proud to say that I didn't totally fall into that parenting category. Maybe it's because I'm a teacher, or from the Midwest, or maybe a bit of an anomaly. I don't know. But before I get too busy patting myself on the back, I did also see shimmering glimmers of me in there too in other ways. I do have my kids do chores, we do have expectations, and we sometimes parent with a smidge of sarcasm...but we've also been a tad over-protective, we check their online grades, we keep the family calendar, and probably have micromanaged a time or two.

Our kids need the experience of failing (often) as kids so they can grow to be resilient, capable adults. Adults who embrace a growth mindset. By trying to overprotect them from this, we set them up for longterm failure and the inability to cope. That's the opposite of what our job is as parents. We need to give them both roots and wings.

My follow-up read was far from a light read. Jean M. Twenge's iGen certainly does not fall in that category! Our Head of School started our opening faculty meetings talking about this book. He also spoke about it at the Back to School Parent Night for all 3 divisions (Lower, Middle, and Upper School). Anyone who is wondering about how the tech is going in your own house should read this book. Anyone with kids under the age of 25 should read this book. As the Technology Specialist, I certainly needed to read it. And, as a Tech Specialist, it's sometimes an occupational hazard--especially when the people in your own house love tech, video games, YouTube, online books, social media and more.

iGen was a hard one to read.

It's often hard to read something when you see your own self-reflection. Not 100%, but enough to open your eyes a tad wider. It's through that, too, where you start reanalyzing the habits in your homes. The statistics alone in the first several chapters are daunting regarding how the boom of rampant tech usage (via smart phones) mirrors the decline in mental health. A perfect quote from the book (page 78):
"If you were goin to give advice for a happy life based on this graph [based on 8th graders' tech usage], it would be straightforward: put down the phone, turn off the computer or iPad, and do something--anything--that does not involve a screen."
That's pretty powerful. There were nuggets of wisdom like almost with every page turn--ones my highlighter often found while I was reading this book.

Both books fall in the category of "must reads"... and I will say they were the perfect companion pieces for each other, soften proving each other's point. (In fact, iGen referenced How to Raise An Adult more than once.) They can be hard and haunting...and somewhat daunting... but important information is sometimes like that. Both books are definitive "signs of our times." And, just like in Thomas Friedman's Thank You For Being Late (another of our school summer reads), the one thing we can count on in this "age of acceleration" is change. It's happening, whether we're ready or not. It up to use to really see what's in front of us, and reimagine innovative solutions to help us tackle the problems! In our world, our community, and in our homes.

Maybe it's not too late to put these books on your holiday wish list!

Book images from

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The High Cost Of The 12 Days Of Christmas

Every year with my 4th Graders I have them calculate the true cost of the song "The 12 Days of Christmas." PNC annually updates their website, The PNC Christmas Price Index, with the current year's pricing. They've done this every year for the last 35 years. They have  kept track of the going rate for a partridge in a pair tree, as well as 8 maids a milking (dismally low), the 12 drummers drumming, and everything in between. The graphics are always quaint and entertaining--as are the fun facts of whether it's up or down from the year before.

For my 4th graders, it gives them a grand opportunity to try out their math skills--especially when they start adding it up progressively over the 12 days! Additionally, they complete the activity on the iPads in Pages--giving them the opportunity to complete a table & a preview for when they are on 1-1 iPads in 6th grade.

We also have a companion piece to this activity where I have the same group of kids do a comparison shopping for Hanukkah prep: from menorah to candles to dreidels and the making of potato latkes.

Math skills--Check! Internet navigation--check!

PNC image from; all other images: I created in Pages

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Thirsty for More

I've been haunted the last month or so by charity:water and Scott Harrison's new book Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, & A Mission To Bring Clean Water to the World.

Haunted--in a good way. In a gratitude-sort-of-way.

I got the book for my birthday, made sure to go through the steps to have the book purchase donated to charity: water. The book was an amazing read--of Scott's own mother's environmental health struggles, his dive into NYC nightlight, and then his inspiration to climb out and give a charitable year of his life to Mercy Ships...which ultimately led to his realization of our global problem of over 600 million people worldwide not having access to clean water. This, in turn, led to his life mission and the creation of charity:water 11 years ago.

It's inspired me to give the book as a gift, and it also inspired me to share Scott's 20 minute video "The Spring" with my family. This then inspired us to be a part of the solution for the global water crisis. We joined The Spring, becoming monthly donors to charity:water.

In addition to this, after finishing the book, I needed more. I found Scott on The Good Life Project Podcast. I've visited a number of the videos on charity:water's website, and ran across this video here, in particular. I like the simplicity in its illustrated nature, finding it a very kid-friendly resource.

May watching this video cause you to take pause this holiday season, grateful for what you have (definitely a theme for my season this year), and may it inspire you to be a part of something bigger than yourself--whether it is this cause or another one that speaks near and dear to your heart.

Logo & book cover from; video from

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Lego STEM Advent Calendar

Advent Calendars are great at holding the mystery of the Christmas season--all behind little doors. For years, we would get the chocolate filled ones. One year, we found a Lego one where you got a little build kit behind each door. That was neat, but it was a bit pricy. I saw a great Harry Potter one this season (as I'm a 27 year teacher who only first encountered the books and the movies here in 2018, I'm a new HP fanatic)...but talk about pricy! So several years ago, I got my own wooden advent calendar at the art store that I painted and decorated myself.

But, I ran across this idea, which I think speaks volumes to our builders and future engineers of America.  This is a build your own Lego advent calendar, with doors on hinges and drawers that pull out--perfect to hide the yummies behind. 

Frugal Fun for Boys & Girls's website created an instruction list last year of how to go about creating your own. Best part about this, it's not year-specific, and the making it is just as much fun (if not more) than the daily discoveries all December long! Additionally, they encourage you to tweak it to make it your own!  

Another great thing about this post--at the bottom, it gives you some gift ideas for the Lego Lover in your house, as well as 4 additional Holiday projects you can dive into! It's a great way to reuse and repurpose some of those Legos in your house.

Go build yourself and your kids (or class) some holiday fun!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Coding, Coding, & More Coding This Hour of Code Week

This fall I attended two coding workshops, both run by our Independent School Association.  One
was on Coding & Literacy and the other was entitled "Infusing Making and Coding in the Elementary Classroom."

Both of them did what a good workshop should do: they got my mental gears spinning and inspired me to take some of the new ideas and put them into practice into my classroom. It also inspired me to do a little shopping, and I purchased the 2 follow up books to Hello Ruby (and write my November 10th post!)

Here are 2 of my coding inspirations. Perhaps they'll serve to inspire you this Hour of Code & Computer Science Education Week (December 3-9th, 2018):

1. For my 3rd Graders and their Colonial Times Unit, I had them use ScratchJr to create a 4 slide animation showing a variety of movement for the early colonists.  Here are a few sample screenshots that I used to show the class. (I purposely didn't add any coding for my last slide so as not to give everything away for my students!)

2.  For my 1st Graders, I used Seesaw Learning Journal's Activity feature to create a 2 part Thanksgiving coding activity. First, they illustrated the following poem via Seesaw with emojis and drawings, then they accessed the map activity to label the code. I have become a huge fan of Seesaw's Activity Library this year, both in searching new ideas, and creating my own to share out with the Seesaw community. If you use Seesaw, definitely be sure to check out the Activity Library--there's a wealth of activities there on any subject you'd want!

Wrapping up... a visit with Linda Liukas, creator of Hello Ruby, is a great place to land during Hour of Code & Computer Science Education Week. Here is her TEDtalk on coding as a language may her energy and enthusiasm inspire you this week!

Scratch Jr & Seesaw screenshots from my iPad, Linda Liukas video from, Computer Science Education Week image from

Saturday, December 1, 2018

'Tis the Season

It's officially December, so you know what that means: 'Tis the Season! (which for many, started on Black Friday...and for others began as soon as Halloween got over!)

I have a complicated relationship with Christmas. It an amalgamation of packed wish lists and added "to do's." Trying to make everyone happy while battling the question of "do we really need more 'stuff'?" Transportation issues to try to figure out who we can see and when...especially when state lines and long distances are at play. Memories of Christmas past and people who have passed. But there's also the lights, the love, the joy in people's faces, and the deeper meaning of the season.

My guess is that I'm not alone in this holiday sleigh...regardless of whether it's Hanukkah or another holiday that's people are celebrating.

Regardless of the holiday that speaks to your heart, customs, and traditions, may this message be the one that centers you and brings you back this year and helps you embrace the season ahead with simplicity and gratitude.

"Tis the Season" image created at; To-Do List from

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Creativity Is...#HourofCode: December 3-9

Creativity Is...

Now that's a good question. What is creativity to you?

Take a minute to jot down five or more answers that crop up. Then watch this, from Hour of Code.

Hour of Code first began in 2013, during Computer Science Education Week. That first week in 2013 was December 9 to December 15. An inspiration from, Hour of Code started as a challenge to teachers, schools, students, and parents alike to take the "Hour of Code Challenge," trying out coding for just an hour. With their programs and tutorials, they showed that anyone could do it!

Try your hand during this year's 2018 Hour of Code week--December 3rd through 9th. Here are a number of options and places to start on their Hour of Code website... where you will find over 200 one-hour tutorials & interactive in one of over 45 languages.  Be a part of this global movement!

video from; image from

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Our Hearts Go Out To California

California has had a rough year--with the wildfires of the summer, and intensified by the fires here this month. The Mendicino and Carr Fires of July 2018 had previously been named the #1 and #7 worst fires in California of all time by Fire.Ca.Gov. Those were the ones that caused us some concern when we were planning our San Francisco/Silicon Valley trip this past August. (We were fine and well beyond an area of concern, though locals during our trip talked about noticing the diminished air quality even that far away.)

By mid-month November, Northern California's Camp Fire (northeast of San Francisco and Sacramento) had repacked those July statistics, and was now slated as the deadliest and most destructive fire California has faced. The Woolsey Fire, with its proximity to Los Angeles, has made this one it's own deep concern. Both fires are creating poor air quality for the entire area and both major cities. Additionally, smaller fires pepper other areas of California as well.

This video was posted by The Years Project on November 15. Just 3 days later, numbers of people who had perished in the fire nearly doubled, and well over 1,000 people were missing. The video blames heat, drought (and less snow pack), the jet stream on causing this heightened level of fire outbreak in California. Clearly, climate change is at play as reported by climate scientists and California fire experts (despite our president's assessment &/or opinion).

Here during the season of Thanksgiving, may seeing this turmoil in California serve as moment to shift our own personal perspective to see the wealth each one of us has. May it grow gratitude in each one of our hearts. Additionally, now is a wonderful time to give thanks to the many firemen and women and first responders who have been there all month long, doing the hard work.

May it also serve to strengthen scientific facts: we desperately need to embark on a number of innovative ideas to battle climate change to help restore our hurting planet.

Map from from

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

May your season be warm and colorful. 
May your hearts be full of love and laughter.
May your feast be filled with friends and family.
May gratitude fill your soul.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Art created at

Saturday, November 17, 2018

No-Waste Thanksgiving

I don't know about your Thanksgiving traditions, but as for many Americans, I'm nearly certain they center around the food, the feast, the festivities. And usually, lots of lots of all of that. If your house is like mine--typically too much of it!

Typically, across the United States, 40% of all food goes to waste. This stems from super-sized portions at restaurants, expiration dates, over-shopping, and on holidays like Thanksgiving, planning too much for the crew coming to you.

With all of that in mind, here are some tips to go about having a no-waste Thanksgiving (and other feasts and feeding frenzies throughout the year:

FoodTank Resources:
RecycleNation provides 8 ideas on how hone in on your planning to help cut down on too many leftovers. They include:
  • checking your guest list, 
  • turkey shopping for your numbers, 
  • consider going meat free, 
  • watching for dishes that need special ingredients (where the rest then gets wasted), 
  • making stock with the bones or using FindAComposter to repurpose that food waste,
  • sending leftovers home with your guests,
  • getting creative with the leftovers you are left with!
  • using the dishwasher versus handwashing--it's more water efficient!
Hungry Harvest's variation to the theme is also to freeze whatever leftovers you know you aren't going to get to. Additionally, bumping up those veggies always helps! MindBodyGreen and Wild Minimalist, agree, adding in letting natural items inspire your decor (versus anything store-bought or plastic).

Popular Science also included a lot of the ideas above (including finding a composting center) and this per person serving:
  • 1 lb turkey per person
  • Proteins 4-8 oz (1/2 cup to 1 cup)
  • Starches 4-8 oz
  • Vegetables 4-6 oz
However my favorite share of theirs was their link to the Guest-imator tool, a calculator designed to help you plan your Thanksgiving menu. You plug in # eaters (by small, average, and big eaters), amount of leftovers, and the type of menu you want: "Classic Thanksgiving," "Veggie Paradise." and "Smorgasbord" w/a little bit of everything. I'm definitely going to check that one out!

Whatever you plan for this Thanksgiving ahead, may your meal be plentiful, just not overflowing! Think largely while you eat lightly--maybe still a feast for you, but lightening the load on our planet!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Grounds For Change

Breakfast the other day was at our favorite bagel shop. A toasted sesame seed bagel with cream cheese, cucumbers, sprouts, lettuce and tomato is one of my favorite forms of comfort food.

While there, waiting for all the yummy layers to be layered, I noticed some signage for Grounds for Change--their coffee source. I'm not a coffee drinker, but more of a green tea girl these last 18 months (previously a Diet Coke aficionado), so I usually don't pay much attention to coffee. But their mission of sustainability is what hit me first, causing me to do a deeper dive.

The Seattle-born company's notables:
  • Organic 
  • 100% free trade
  • Much of their coffee is shade grown--which creates habitats for the migratory birds.
  • They use 100% renewable energy on all sides of processing, packing, and shipping. Therefore, they are considered "Carbon Free Coffee."
  • They use composting for all organic waste (including coffee filters)--the coffee chaff is given to local farmers to enrich their soil.
  • Packaging is made from 100% recyclable paper
  • Burlap coffee bags are recycled by donating them to local farmers to hold back the weeks and stave off erosion.
  • They donate 1% of their gross annual sales to social/environmental organizations
  • They empower women in the coffee growing communities, many of whom are the ones to the do the lion share of creation.
  • And, they work with local/national organizations to promote positive change and awareness.
That's a lot of good going on. I love when places I love show an outward commitment toward the stewardship of our planet. It made my morning bagel a double win for me!

Video from; Images from and

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Hello Ruby

A good picture book takes you places.

With Hello Ruby, that "place" is within the computer, coding and exploring:
"Meet Ruby―a small girl with a huge imagination, and the determination to solve any puzzle. As Ruby stomps around her world making new friends, including the Wise Snow Leopard, the Friendly Foxes, and the Messy Robots, kids will be introduced to the fundamentals of computational thinking, like how to break big problems into small ones, create step-by-step plans, look for patterns and think outside the box through storytelling. Then, these basic concepts at the core of coding and programming will be reinforced through fun playful exercises and activities that encourage exploration and creativity. In Ruby's world anything is possible if you put your mind to it."
Ruby is a whimsical character that invites readers into coding and computational thinking. She is the main character in the 3 book series "Hello Ruby."
Linda Liukas, Finish author and creator of the Hello Ruby series, programmer, founder of Rails Girls, and CodeAcademy alumni,

Hello Ruby links to inspire educators:

Linda Luikas' website

Linda Luikas TEDResidency Talk: Crawling into Coding

Linda Luikas' TED Talk: The Poetry of Programming

Video from, images from!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Diving into Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree is NOT just for Halloween STEM Activities.

It is an integrated program and a philosophy--one based on the importance of environmental literacy in promoting eco-stewardship. Their avenue: taking the learning outside, "using trees and forests as the window on the world." As any environmental educator will tell you, it is through knowing the world and nature around you that you become connected and committed to conserve it. Project Learning Tree does this through its curriculum, its professional development, and the network of support it offers.

Those are all great ways to fend of #NatureDeficitDisorder!

Take a peak into the minds and hearts of 13 Inspiring Examples of Young Environmentalists. Here, you'll see the following young activists dive in with their heart, for the betterment of their community and our world. Cheers to these environmental youngsters:
  1. Alex Lin: Reducing eWaste
  2. Green Ambassadors in Houston, Texas: Transforming a "Food Desert into a 'Greenbelt'
  3. Destiny Watford: Creating a Solid Waste Incinerator
  4. "Students for Sustainabiliy" Club in Washington State: Realizing Reforestation
  5. Ta’Kaiya Blaney: Singing Activist
  6. Cole Rasenberge: Challenging Fast Food Packaging Industry 
  7. Baltimore High School Students: Transforming a Dumping Site
  8. Olivia Bouler: Fundraiser for Gulf Coast Oil Spill Relief
  9. Livermore, California Middle School Students: Reducing Campus Waste
  10. Jersey City 8th Graders: Driving a Drone to Map Trees
  11. Salt Lake City, Utah High School Students: Converting a Bus to Biofuel
  12. San Lorenzo Valley High School Students in California: Organizing an Environmental Conference.
  13. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and more: Suing the Government for “their failure to protect the atmosphere and their future.”

For your own deeper dive into the environment via PLT, follow these 13 environmental examples. Here's a list of some other Project Learning Tree resources:

Project Learning Tree's Mission & History

~Curriculum Offerings, by Grade Level
Activities for Families

Downloadable Green School Investigations

Environmental Education Resources

STEM Strategies

Educator Tips

Recommended Reading, by Grade Level

PLT Logo from, video from

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Donate a Birthday

My birthday is next week. Not a "big" one, but I'm getting close, only a year away to "a big one."

After listening to one of my favorite podcasts, the Model Health Show, I was inspired. I think this year I'm going to donate my birthday--in 1 of 2 ways.

Shawn Stevenson, my Model Health guy, is always chock-full of great ideas. But I must say, it wasn't Shawn who inspired me to donate my birthday. It was his guest Scott Harrison of Charity: Water on Episode 314: The Surprising Benefits Of Helping Others & The Truth About Thirst.

Not only is Scott's story compelling, but it's also a carries environmental bookends given his family's monoxide poisoning in their new home when he was a boy to his inspiration to create Charity: Water.

Additionally, here are some facts about clean water--and the lack there of:
  • 663 million people worldwide live without access to clean water. (That's almost 1 in 10 people--or twice the population of the US.)
  • Women and girls are impacted the most--they are primarily the ones who walk miles/hours to get clean water, carrying 40 pound canisters of water--sacrificing their education and sometimes even their personal safety.
  • Diseases from dirty water cause more deaths (especially among the young) than all forms of violence--including war.
  • Donations to Charity: Water has funded nearly 30,000 projects--with all public donations going to the projects (versus any kind of internal financial management or salaries.)
  • $30 is enough to provide clean water for one person.

To learn more or get the video below:

• Listen to or watch Shawn Stevenson's podcast with Scott Harrison.

• Check out Charity: Water's website.

• Read Scott Harrison's book Thirst. (100% of the proceeds of the book go to fund Charity: Water projects worldwide).

• Revisit a past GTG post: Water, Water, Charity: Water.

• Donate your birthday or consider a monthly donation via "The Spring."

This is where I'm going to start for my birthday. Let me know if you want to join me.

Video from, images from and and

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween 2018

In thinking about what to post here for Halloween this year, I ran across this picture, and it seemed to speak to me the loudest. 

Midterm elections are around the corner, less than a week away. Have a safe and joyous Hallowed Eve tonight with your friends, family, neighbors, or young'uns.... And next week, go out, be an active & concerned citizen, show up, vote for what's important to you.

With Veteran's Day right around the corner after Election Day, it may be a good way to thank that Veteran who fought on your behalf, for your freedom, for your rights. Fought against the racial hierarchy of Nazism, fought for equality, fought to protect and defend our constitution, and fought to protect us from tyranny.

Voter turnout for presidential elections are notoriously low... even worse for midterm elections. For the presidential election in 2016 I did a tech “voter turnout” activity with the 3rd Grade. I was shocked by the numbers who turn out across both parties every 4 years for our presidential elections: range 49% — 62% (from the last 100 years). 

My hope: we have motivated people who show up. 

If you are on the fence. Vote. 
If you are satisfied. Vote.
If you are dissatisfied. Vote. 
If you care for the environment. Vote
If you are concerned. Vote. 
Enjoy your Halloween tonight... but next week: Vote!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Project Learning Tree: Halloween STEM Challenges

With Halloween just around the corner, perhaps Project Learning Tree is the place to go to get some class-time, kid-time, party-time, or creativity-time inspiration.  Their moniker: "Make Learning Fun." Isn't that really how it should be? If it's motivating and engaging, it draws kids in, and it is indeed fun.

Well, one way to do that is to offer some Halloween STEM Challenges. The titles alone are inviting (listed by category):
    1. Spider Webs
    2. Paper Bats
    3. "Bone" Bridge
    4. Articulated Hand
    1. Pumpkin Investigations
    2. 5 Little Pumpkins
    3. Candy Pumpkin Catapults
    4. Pumpkin Elevators
    5. Germinating Pumpkins
    1. Candy Corn Chemistry
    2. Frankenworms
    3. Monster Science Experiment
    1. Ghost Rockets
    2. Floating Ghosts
    3. Mummifying Apples

Image from

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Return to Roofs: Replacing Ours!

It was a dark and stormy night.
Sounds like a typical beginning to a Halloween-themed story.

Unfortunately, it's not just a story, it had become our reality after a very wet summer and fall. The rainy nights led to dripping ceiling and drips coming down the wall, right in our bedroom. There's nothing like the gentle plop plop plop of water hitting the buckets. All. Night. Long.

Yes, it's actually a pretty frightful story indeed, especially on a home that's only 30 years old. But somewhere before us, two layers of roofing had been laid, so we bought the bullet--and a brand new roof.

Not a green roof, but of course, as with everything, I view all new major purchases through an environmental lens when I can.

Having never replaced a roof before, we got a bit of education along the way.

We went with GAF Timberline shingles. Here's some roofing environmental fun facts--some of which are GAF specific. (And no, unfortunately, they aren't paying me in free roofs to say this. Not one single shingle!)
  • The shingles (& the way they are now made) today, the darker shingles absorb less heat than when our house was first constructed 30 years ago.
Now... if only there were solar panels up there too.

Hmm... maybe that's our next big home improvement--it certainly would be a dream come true! Maybe one day!

House from my camera, shingle picture from, Snoopy pic from

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Green Roofs

Once, a long time ago (about 7 years), I helped to build a green roof, on the roof of the greenest school in the world. Unfortunately, about 4.5 years that school shut down. It still breaks my heart.

I did a drive-by about 2 weeks ago, and well... sadly that green roof is not being maintained well. But... I digress.

What is a green roof? and Kids.Net.Au both have a straightforward rundown on why they are so helpful for reducing storm runoff and other perks.

Additionally, there are these videos. Seems to me, everyone would want to have one!!

Video from and

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

More on Digital Citizenship during #DigCitWeek 2018

With it being Digital Citizenship Week, the conversation continues.

Let's start with ISTE's "Citizenship in the Digital Age" infographic (click the title for a larger view. Additionally, anyone who's been around for awhile knows I'm a huge fan of infographics!)

But here is one of my favorite graphics--the one that one of my classes of  5th grade students brainstormed and created about the pros and cons of technology here in our Digital Citizenship Series!!