Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Reflecting on FETC 2018

There truly is nothing more magical than Christmas in January.

In Florida.

At a 3-day edtech conference, appealing to my ever-loving joy-of-learning self.

With one of my favorite people in the world, a former teaching colleague... reliving our time at last year's FETC (Future of Education Technology Conference), and making new memories this year!

With 70° weather, when what you have left behind is 40°, maybe 50° weather.

45,000 steps on my Fitbit... 10 sessions (amounting to over a dozen hours of insight and education) ... multiple dozen of booths and poster presentations visited... and what feels like that many photos, notes, and links to check out. January really is the perfect time for this conference (for more reasons than just the weather). There's plenty of time for implementation here in the next 4 months of school before summer.

With Christmas in January, rather than holiday lights, the twinkling comes in the form of LED lights, iPad and laptop screens, and the idea-flashes that come with the inspiration of speakers of the 36th annual FETC conference last week. 

My favorite parts:

1. The 20 minute free chrome extensions presented by Dr. Lynn Herr. My reading specialists will be giddy and I can't wait to get them on our Chromebooks!

2. Getting inspiration from my girlfriend as we talked about her MakerLab and learning about all the things she found fascinating in her workshops.

Sir Ken Robinson
3. Hearing education guru Sir Ken Robinson and tech goddess Kathy Schrock share their own unique wit and wisdom.

4. Getting my book Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classrooms autographed by Monica Burns, realizing that we'd met about a decade ago as my partner in green and I visited her then-school (Alain L. Locke in NYC). With that partnership, later she and a team of their teachers came to visit us at our school to discuss our environmental initiatives. At the book signing, Monica and I discussed how both of our experiences at Alain L Locke ultimately and serendipitous led us both down our current paths.

5. Being able to walk away with at least 30 new-to-me websites and apps, ready to come home and more deeply explore each one... and eager to bring those back to my school to inspire both students and teachers alike!

6. Learning about the varied and amazing top 25 AALS websites (& resources there) from Shannon Miller... who's session last year at FETC 2017 turned me on to both Buncee and Padlet.

7. Speaking of Buncee...Hanging out with the Buncee crew, getting to meet other Buncee Ambasadors "live and in person," both at the conference and after hours.

It all reminded me how vital it is to step out of your daily routine, take a break, explore new things in your field (expanding the field of vision of those things you love), and to never stop learning or connecting.

My walk-away websites & apps to investigate, & you might want to check out too.

  1. Post-It Plus
  2. Chatterpix
  3. KidLit.TV
  5. Book Creator
  6. Little Bird Tales
  7. Flipgrid
  8. Booktrack
  9. Google Draw
  10. Google Keep
  11. Google My Map
  12. Classhook
  13. My Simpleshow
  15. Spreaker
  16. Write the World
  17. Sugarcane
  18. Baamboozle
  19. Vizia 
  20. Cite This For Me
  21. Formative
  22. Rewordify
  23. OER Commons
  25. Nearpod
  26. Adobe Spark 
  27. Listenwise
  28. CommonLit
  29. Media Smarts
  30. American Association of School Librarians Website: Tools & Resources
  31. Make Belief Comix
  32. Sutori
  33. Hyperdocs
Of course, as I look at them in number list here, my work is cut out for me! 

Maybe I'll take it a day at a time. Leading me forward, look at where I'll be a month from now! 

That's the beauty of being out in the learning world of FETC... you come away so completely rich! Yes, richer for the experience, indeed!

Pics from my camera and my experience down at FETC 2018.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Let it Snow: The Science of Real Snowflakes

Back in December, I wrote a post about the magical making of Faux Snow.

Today, we dive deep into the blizzard of information about the real stuff that makes up our Winter Wonderlands!

There's an amazing microscopic detail to snowflakes... and Crystallography is an actual science! A great place to learn a little more about it is from Kiddle, the Kids' Encyclopedia. (Which is a wonderful new school tool too!)

The video below shows how these crystallized minis form at the molecular level. (As a literal aside... there are a multitude of other videos on the YouTube right hand sidebar on this page for those of you who just can't get enough!) It also details how over 80+ years, we've gone from being able to identify 21 classifications of 121 different types!

For more on the science & beauty of snowflakes, check out the following resources as you marvel about these miniature works of art the next time it snows:
  • Winter-Themed Resources from the NEA for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12

All 3 macro photos of snowflakes from Alexey Kljatov, found at Video from, The book Snowflake Bentley was purposely put in quotes above to not have it compete visually with the added links. Snowflake Bentley book image from

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Is Algae the Answer to the Petroleum Problem?

After reading my eco-reads of 2018 (Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World by Bill Nye and Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution by Peter Kalmus), thinking about innovative ways to solve our environmental and climate problems has been heavy on my mind.

That's why this video about Dave Hazlebeck, algae, & Global Algae Innovations speaks loudly to me.  Can fuel be made from algae? Could algae-biofuel be a potential future solution to our global and geopolitical problems? Could inspiration be around the corner for creating change? Fingers are crossed. These are the changes our world needs!

Here's an infographic that goes into more details.

Video from; infographic from; image from

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Great Green Wall

Here on our one year anniversary of America's Inauguration Day of our 45th President, I'm going to pay my tribute in this way....

If we are going to build a wall anywhere, this is what we should build. The Great Green Wall is an project with the plan to counter the dry Sahara desert from growing. The plan--an 8,000 kilometer long and 15 kilometer wide green wall that is meant to provide food and jobs for the multitudes of people of people in the center of an area facing climate change.

Begun with the first planting in 2008, the Great Green Wall is destined to be the largest living structure on Earth and a modern day wonder of the world!

Videos from and; image from

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Good Life Project: Podcast, Living Creed, & the Maker Movement

If you have been hanging around for any amount of time over here at GTG, you know I'm a mega fan podcasts. It's a good way to get a daily dose of inspiration...especially when held captive in the era of being an uber-taxi-driving mama! (Though I will admit--the Hamilton Soundtrack is a close second!)

Jonathon Fields is the creator of the Good Life Project. It is a podcast with heart and soul, and I was struck by two elements, especially here at the start of the New Year.  One, his Living Creed for the Good Life Project is a striking manifesto creating the life you want to live. It reminds me of the One Word concept--though clearly a few more words than one! It also parallels the Maker Movement, and a similar Maker's Manifesto I've written about before.

The Maker Movement connection also spoke loudly to me in this particular Good Life Project episode. I love how he discusses "the touch economy," and how the more digital we all become, the more the maker movement is a growing trend in education (including the high tech, low tech, and no-tech sides of the maker movement). He also had some very interesting comments about the voice-only aspect of podcasts, and how it helps us all connect deeper to each other on the empathetic and emotional levels.

Jonathon Field's photo quote from;  Jonathan Field's Personal Manifesto/Good Life Project Living Creed from; Podcast from

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Bombas: The Socks That Give Back

For Christmas, despite the family gift exchange, one of my sister-in-laws had a little something for everyone. On the count of 3, we all opened.

Socks! She got us socks!

(Which I will say, as an adult, excites me far more than it ever did when I was a kid.)

And this year, it excited me more, as the socks came with a story. The socks were Bombas socks, and with every pair purchased, another pair is donated to the homeless.

My sister-in-law, with the help of us having feet and needing socks, donated about a dozen pairs of socks to help out the homeless.

The company was the inspired beginning with a Facebook quote that struck Randy Goldberg and Dave Heath: socks are the #1 requested clothing item from homeless people. That reminded me of a series I wrote about a five years ago when a college friend of mine did a 10 day stint at purposeful homelessness to experience what many of his patrons at Illinois' Freeport Area Church Cooperative. After doing the Susan G. Komen 3 Day//60 mile Walk for Breast Cancer, I even have my own personal experience on the importance of socks and footcare--especially in the rain! Good socks are a must!

These 2 videos show Randy & Dave in action, from inspiration, to 1 million socks donated, to 5 million socks donated!

1 Million Pairs of Bombas Socks Donated from Bombas on Vimeo.


So as I'm wearing my Bombas, and they are indeed feeling like the most important socks on Earth! Gifts that keep giving are perhaps the best ones to get!

Videos from and; images from and and

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Trio of Eco Reads for the New Year

My environmental library is pretty sizable for your "Average Joe." I think it's an occupational hazard for being an environmental educator for 7 years, and an eco-blogger for 9 years!

This Christmas my library has grown by 3 more books.  At this point, I've only read one and am currently mesmerized by another, but they all have been on the top of my bed stand stack.

In case you are looking for some eco-reads, here's my trio, and I'd say a great place to start!

Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World by Bill Nye (2015, 2016)

Bill Nye for the win, as per always. Fact-finding (and sharing) scientist, myth-buster, and engineer with a tinkering, designing, and curious mind, he lays out several issues and the creative innovation that it's going to take visionaries AND the citizen activism that it will take all of us to make small changes at home and big changes with our voting power. A voice of the ages indeed. I love the empowering aspect of his writing, taking us out of the fear factor and resignation that the climate conversation can sometimes bring.

Peter Kalmus is a climate scientist and a dad living in suburbia. This book is a bit about him slicing his own personal carbon footprint, living a simpler life and achieving greater happiness along the way. He and his family of 4 live on 1/10 the fossil fuels of the average American--giving inspiration to us all that it is indeed possible to live with and on less. Some of his approaches are definitely outside the box! Kalmus outwardly mentions his approach in combining science, spirituality, and taking action. Again, more optimism versus "doom and gloom," and a message that will get many thinking!
The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, & the Remaking of the Civilized World by Jeff Goodell (2017)
More weighty than the other two, as a harsh dose of reality splashed literally in your face. The sea-levels are rising--undeniable scientific data. Our shorelines and major cities will indeed be changing by century's-end. His writing comes from his experiences as he travels the world and reports from the front lines--detailing how the climate deniers are out of touch, merely ostriches with heads in the sand.  This book also was acclaimed as A New York Times Critics' Top Book of 2017, one of Washington Post's 50 Notable works of Nonfiction for 2017, and one of Booklist's Top 10 Science Books for the year.

The more I read, the more I'm convinced that the current administration is leading us the wrong way. In many wrong ways, but environmentally I'm for certain. As Peter Kalmus said in his title...we must "be the change." Scientifically, spiritually, and by taking action. May we all lead this 2018!

Book Images from each one's page, Eco Reads banner created by me on

Saturday, January 6, 2018

New Year, New You!

We're a week into the New Year... how are your New Year's resolutions coming along?

Or, are you more of a "One Word"
kind of person?

Or, are you like most of us,
with the energy and stamina
on your resolutions is already dwindling?

Here are some of my favorite Shawn Stevenson Model Health Show podcasts to energize you for the new year ahead! Take an hour or two and watch or listen to one or a few!

Image from; Videos from; v=RTregJr4EUI&;

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

One Word for the New Year

For the last 4 years, I've marked my New Year's Resolution by embarking on "One Word." The theory behind this is that one word will govern and oversee your year, with everything going forward. Words from my past four years include ChangeMakeUp, and Notice. The picture here is contemplative and perfect... though clearly it is time to reflect for the new year ahead: 2018!
Therefore... this marks my 5th year of going forward with "One Word" (which speaks to the heart of my Life Coach friend: Karin Mitchell. If you don't follow her blog Chart Your Course," please do!).

I've been doing a lot of thinking the last few weeks and I've generated a growing list of possibilities. (Who knows--maybe next year, one of these will be mine.) The words are as follows:

Fresh                   Aspire                   Patience                 Thrive           Breathe               Release               Grateful heart       Abundance        Energize                Stop                Flourish              Launch                  Embrace                 Delight                Uplift              Reboot                Reignite                Renew                    Clarity                 Sharpen       Swim                  Grace & Gratitude       Middle Way
After living with the options for a week or two, I keep gravitating back to this one.  My word this year:  8/-ate.

For 2018, there's a symmetry that I adore.

8 is both a visual with the annual date, and it's also iconic as well as symbolic on other levels too. Being a highly visual person, I adore this element of my word. It's also a suffix on some very important words associated with it that I want to focus on this year. The date--with it's 8--will serve as a constant reminder. I'm also a bit of a rule breaker at times--especially here--when it comes to "one word." But sometimes, this rule-following girl is indeed a rule-breaker! And those needed times are thrive-worthy!

My word 8/-ate is as follows. (There's really 9 parts to this word beyond the 2018 & 8 element of it):

--ate: What is it that I just ate--or want to eat? Is it good for my body and soul? Healthy? Nourishing? This is important to me at this stage in my life, and I want to stay focused on that!

--Hydrate: Water is the foundation to life. My mantra: Drink water--and also green tea for me. (I'm more than 9 months "Diet-Coke-free" and totally on the green tea bandwagon!

--Navigate: Guidance... particularly self-guidance is important. Especially with teenagers in my house. I sometimes need to check my thin-skin at the door and navigate in a way that isn't always natural for me.

--Radiate: Joy, happiness, love, energy, and positive spirit. I always say that my quirkiness and spirit are part of my effervescent charm, and I need to remember to be in this place and radiate this side of me!

--Meditate: As a girl who is always living in her brain and serving as a recovering perfectionism, meditating and slowing down are where I need to be. A year and a half ago when I had nose surgery for my deviated septum, I was able to breathe in a total new way that I didn't realize I'd been missing out on for years! Breathing is certainly important!!

--Percolate: Yes, a coffee word (and I'm sooo not a coffee drinker!)... but a thinking word. I seem to always have ideas percolating. Again, the perils of an over-thinker. Of course, it begs the question: is it a peril or a perk? May I always percolate when it comes to new and exciting ideas.

--Celebrate:  The joys, the wins (even those minor daily ones), should always be celebrated. So should our loved ones!! In big and small ways.

--Scintillate: Not your everyday word, which is part of its beauty! The dictionary tells us that this means "To send forth light in flashes; sparkle." I want to do this the new year ahead--for me and for my loved ones. Shall we all sparkle.

--Iterate: I'm a Maker-Tech Teacher. I teach my kids to fail forward and to iterate. May I iterate often this year ahead... at school, by example, and in life for me--even when it isn't comfortable. Because change isn't always comfortable, but it's always productively helpful.

May 2018 be a year of "8" for me, and perhaps for you. Or do you have your own word(s) that are going to be your navigational force for the year?

Images from; One word image from

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year 2018

May your New Year be your best one yet!

Image created on Canva.