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!!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Digital Citizenship Week: October 15-19

Two weeks ago we started our digital citizenship series with our 5th graders--an annual event that occurs seemingly earlier and earlier every year. Not surprising as it seems cell phones (and tablets) come to our teens and pre-teens earlier and earlier. This year, it played closer to our typical beginning of the year technology classes tied with the Acceptable Use Policy and the importance of being safe, being responsible, and being respectful when online.

Given my role as Lower School Tech Specialist, I'm sort of the "iPad Lady," who comes into each classroom once a week (in addition to their regularly scheduled Tech class), teaching a coordinated lesson tying in technology. It is one that I have planned with the homeroom teacher. For this series, however, #DigCit IS the focus and the lesson itself.

I introduced the topic by emptying my regular school bag one at a time with many of my regular items: 2 laptops, power cord, bag of chargers, my iPad, my phone, nifty screen cleaner, my earbuds, and even my Computer History ticket badge! They easily noticed the theme, and both classes (unbeknownst to each other) called me the tech-version of Mary Poppins with my endless bag of goodies. They saw the tech connection, and we talked about my mutual love/hate relationship with technology. Seems they shared the same vision!

I showed them the Harvard Innovation Lab video "Evolution of a Desk" and we talked about how technology has transformed our lives in just their lifetime and a little beyond. Given it was a tech talk, students completed a digital survey that I created via Seesaw, our digital learning journal that parents are connected to. My students listed the advantages and disadvantages of tech--and surprisingly, the "cons" list was longer than the "pros."

Good discussions abounded in both classes! In the weeks ahead, I'll share more of our digital citizenship discoveries and exploration. Until then, here are some inspirational resources to set off Digital Citizenship Week, which starts this Monday, October 15th.

✦ Common Sense Media's Digital Citizenship Portal
For 15 years, Common Sense Media has been the go-to place for ratings, reviews, & resources for all sorts of media. It makes sense they would have lessons by grade level, classroom postersfamily media agreements, interactives, articles about kids' digital well-being, plus more.

✦ Be Internet Awesome
Google's digital citizenship curriculum and online game platform Interland.

✦ ISTE Digital Citizenship Insights
The International Society for Technology and Education is the center of edtech standards. In addition to articles, there are professional development resources, infographics, and so much more.

✦ EdWeb Webinars on Digital Citizenship
I'm a big fan of EdWeb's webinars. Great experts sharing super information on a lot of subjects.

✦ iOS 12 Screen Time
A list of all the features that Apple has created with the latest update to tackle distractions and monitor the amount of time you are spending on your devices.

✦ EGUSD's Digital Citizenship Portal
California's Elk Grove Unified School District's website and collection detailing their program to teach "the safe, effective and ethical use of digital technologies" to their students.

Talking with Teens About Instagram
Tied in with Scholastic, these two are working together to talk about social media and making a positive impact on kids' worlds.

✦ #DigCitCommit
The Twitter hashtag addressing the question to teacher: "what are you committing to teaching your students this year?"

Images from and and

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

7 Billion Dreams. 1 Planet. Consume With Care.

No words in this video (which is now over 3 years old), but it certainly does make an impact, leaving you thinking.

What will your impact be on these (now) 7.6 billion dreams?

Video from UN Environment for the 2015 World Environment Day (June 5th Annually)

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Little Free Libraries

When we were out in Silicon Valley, doing my little scavenger hunt of technology's historic sites, almost right across the street from the HP garage there was a little free library. I'm kicking myself for not taking photos of the few I saw, as they were just downright darling. Not to mention, they are a great little neighborhood discovery, and also a sweet treat to inspire reading... AND recycling.

Little did I know, though, that these are bigger than the little guys lead you to think. Yes, I've seen them before in a different places, but I didn't know they were "a thing." As in, an Internet sensation kind of thing. According to their website, they have over 75,000 Little Libraries registered in over 88 countries. That's a total thing!! And it's making me want one for our neighborhood!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Stone & Soil & A World Map to Scale

This definitely falls in the category of places I'd love to visit one day! 
Of course, Denmark isn't quite in my neighborhood.

Verdenskortet (Map of the World) is a walkable map of all globe on the banks of Denmark's Lake Klejtrub was created by Søren Poulsen over the course of 25 years. 4000 square meters make up the 45m x 90m map. Even more impressive, Poulsen started creating it in 1944 (at the age of 56) and continued to work on it until he died at the age of 81 in 1969.  It's truly a remarkable feat!

What a great way to spend the day outdoors, exploring the world on this map!