Saturday, August 29, 2020

World's Largest Lesson: Global Goals For Sustainable Development

While researching the late Sir Ken Robinson, I ran across this video series about the World's Largest Lesson. Created a few years ago, this ties in the with United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development, with their target date of making "our planet fair, healthy, and sustainable by 2030." Both were written by Sir Ken Robinson. And... with the second one narrated by Emma Watson, and the first narrated by Malala Yousafzai, how can it be anything but amazing?!

On The World's Largest Lesson website, there are a wealth of free resources (including lesson plans) and ideas for taking action as students. 2030 is a mere ten years away. 

With every year, it becomes more daunting, but we can certainly do the important work, if we put our minds to it! These videos certainly serve as inspiration!

The World's Largest Lesson pt 2 - with thanks to Sir Ken Robinson and Emma Watson from World's Largest Lesson on Vimeo.Videos from and Part 2:, Part 3:

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Honoring Sir Ken Robinson

For a more decade, Sir Ken Robinson has been known as a rock star--at least with teachers and when it comes to his viral social media. His infamous 2006 TED talk "Do Schools Kill Creativity?" still is one of the most-viewed TED Talks of all times. For that reason combined with his push for innovation, imagination, & creativity in education, it is with great sadness too learn of his passing at the age of 70 last Friday (August 21st, 2020).

It got me thinking about how his philosophy is sort of the heart of this blog: GTG. Creativity is the foundation of innovation, which is the key to solving many of the problems of our world. Additionally, he was an avid environmental activist. For that reason, it is fitting to honor him. 

In looking into Sir Ken's history, I ran across his New York Times bestseller The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, a New York Times bestseller he co-wrote with Lou Aronica. It seemed only right to read. In it, he discusses the importance of marrying your personal talents, natural attitudes, and your own passions to reach your "Element" in order to achieve a future in which you thrive. It ties with those "21st century skills" especially given the global & technological change growing exponentially this last decade--and beyond into the future!  

It really causes you to think about it all in the wake of the pandemic and the necessary changes we had to make for spring remote learning... and hybrid learning (for me) this fall. In fact, he has a thoughts on this subject, just this past May.

He also spoke of imagination and empathy in part of his longer 2011 speech at the Dalai Lama Center for Peace & Education. Empathy seems to be a common theme these days in many places.

For more on Sir Ken Robinson and his brilliance and inspiration--or simply to pay tribute yourself to an amazing man who left this planet far too early, check out the following:

Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Benefit of Trees

I ran across this infographic about the benefits of trees--urban trees in particular. It reminds me of the concept of "forest bathing" (which also reminds me of our get-away trip to the New River Gorges area of West Virginia and all the tree greenery that surrounded us.

Visuals like this help keep us centered, especially this year when everything seems constantly up-in-the-air with the uncertainties of living in a pandemic.

Glancing back at the infographic... maybe there's benefits in treehugging too!

Image from and uploaded by Maibritt Pedersen Zari

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Our Oyster Graduates

A friend of mine posted this video on Facebook recently. It is a video montage of an early fall day ten years ago at one of my favorite places: my former school where I was the 3rd grade teacher. I've often said it was perhaps the greenest school in America!

Oyster Day became an annual tradition at Eagle Cove School. Typically our eldest, the 5th graders, won the right and privilege to put on the hip-waders and be the ones to get in the water to put the oyster spat cages and bags in the water. In this video of a decade ago, though, the 4th & 5th graders were both on their annual team building outdoor trip, based on the way the calendar dates fell. So this special year, our 3rd graders, as the oldest on campus that day, earned this surprising privilege. As their 3rd grade teacher, I can guarantee, I had a lot of ecstatic kids in my class that day who got to do the really cool, big kid, important stuff.

I think it's fitting this year (AND at this time of the year) because my 2010 third graders are heading to college this fall. They are the ones that experienced their senior year spring in the middle of a pandemic and remote learning. They are the ones who had a topsy turvy, unique, & unexpected graduation. Our seniors at my current school had a socially-distanced graduation on the school campus lawn, with paper-faced faculty posters stuck to chairs so the students could have an audience there supporting them. Our seniors received their diplomas in a special, almost militarily-scheduled, individualized Diploma Ceremony, crossing the stage... all the while being video-taped, and this footage was sewn together to create a Zoom-style graduation that no one ever expected. The school did it right, and the faculty, staff, and parents were proud. As I watched our 2020 graduation (where many of my former 3rd graders were graduating), I was touched, and often thought of those environmentally-active third graders of a decade ago.

Now, as we have hit this point at the end of summer, these once-third graders are heading to college. Some heading to campus while others are readying for a semester online at their own homes. For that reason, this video seemed more than just memories to me, but a tribute to all of those former students of mine as they head off into their next adventure. Masks in hand, ready to put on when they get to campus... maybe getting a Covid test along with all their text books... and ready to dive into this next chapter. May we wish them well as they pack the car, deck out their dorms, and find new passions and pals. They will rock it! Of this I know!

Video created by Carl Treff, from, Image from and

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Environmental Education Resources for Remote Learning

The best way to learn about the great outdoors is to get right out there. But, for those of us who are educators facing an uncertain fall of hybrid or remote learning, it could happen that outdoors is not really a place we get to with our students. Even if we are hybrid or fully "brick and mortar," teaching, there may be new parameters in place where field trips or bus transportation is limited due to physical distancing or trying to keep our "bubbles" small.

Here are 5 places to go to with a wealth of resources to help bring some virtual learning opportunities into your classroom, especially by way of computer, back yards, or school grounds.

Image created at

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

When Less Is More

I've just finished reading"The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store" by Cait Flanders. In it, she details a life of minimalism and how she arrived there in one year with by imposing her own "shopping ban." In truth, it also details her several-year "journey of less" in all aspects of her life. Less shopping, less clutter, less debt, less food & snacking, less weight, less mindless TV watching, less social media, less drinking, less work, and much more.

Minimalism has always piqued my interest--as evident on my bookshelf (filled, ironically, way too many books) but in titles such as "Simplify Your Life" and "Inner Simplicity" (both by Elaine St. James), "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less" (by Greg McKeown), and "Simple Abundance" (by Sarah Ban Breathnach). I've watched  "Minimalism: A Documentary About Important Things." But it sometimes is hard to be a true minimalist when you have teenagers and a husband and a dog, all of whom have differing opinions.

It wasn't intentional, but I ended up reading Cait Flanders book right after spending 30 man-hours this summer with all of the above participants (minus the dog) overhauling the basement. When you have teenagers,  you don't necessarily need the "Magic Treehouse" books, or Lincoln Logs, or Playmobile guys, or dress-up costumes, or stuffed animals anymore. It was a process that was probably at least 5 years overdue. I tend to be very organized, so I can organize a lot of stuff and not look like a hoarder. However, we had certainly surpassed that point in the basement. It was a big job. And it stunned me a little bit thinking of all the money over the years that had gone to all of this stuff we were getting rid of. But, as my husband reminded me, it served a purpose at the time, and that time had passed. This certainly was a strong tie in to Cait's own realizations and her journey as well.

I tackled the lion share of the job, but I couldn't even start the project on my own due to overwhelm. As a family, we created 4 blocks of time where all four of us worked for only one hour at a time, cranking through as much as we could in that hour. Those blocks of simultaneous 4-man-hours helped accomplish a lot in a concentrated time. They cut through my sentimental "maybe we should keep it" moments. They were far more cut-throat! Multiple truck-loads of stuff were donated--bags of books included. Old crafting items went to school to be up for grabs. Several bookshelves were grabbed from the curb by our neighbor. We still have a pile of stuff that we're considering selling (or it may come to donating) as I'm really just ready to offload those items.

The memorabilia was my hardest part, with boxes of never-scrapbooked items, but I organized those into one tub per child of keepsakes. Apparently I thought it'd be a good idea to save every kindergarten handwriting page my daughter ever wrote, so we had a lot of recycling as well.

The room is still a work in progress as we have some odds and ends to fix (one of which may involve a handy man), but it is a world of improvement. It's not overstuffed and cluttered. It's actually spacious and inviting. It goes with Cait's concept of "Whenever you let go of something negative in your life, you make room for something positive."

Likewise, as I was wrapping up Cait Flanders' book last night, I reflected on some of her broader thoughts. The basement overhaul has been tied also to my daily treks on the exercise bike (also in the basement) to improve my overall health and stamina--which in turn has started helping to shed a few pounds. This, in turn, has also led to more veggies on my plate. Cait's quote "Every small change you make pays compound interest. It helps you make another change, another mind-set shift, another decision to live in a new way" seemed to be whispering right to me. Ironically too, it's cropped up as I'm simultaneously reading James Clear's "Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones."

Having never been much of a shop-a-holic, both Cait's book and my basement have led me even further away. I don't need more. We have enough. Along those lines, I'm trying to read more books on Kindle (including Cait's) as books are my shopping downfall! I'm grateful for what we do have, and I know that some of our stuff will be the same stuff we will later be getting rid of. The landfills truly don't need more, and I wonder how much I'm greenwashing myself with all my donations simply to avoid seeing someone else throw them away! In reading Cait's journey and taking my own, it makes you look at your priorities through a fine-toothed comb... and that was only my basement!

You can learn more about Cait Flanders on her website or by following #TheYearOfLess in social media. Maybe it, or my basement story, will inspire you to make the best out of "less" in your life.

Cait Flanders' book cover from & all other photos from my phone & basement.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Great American Outdoors Act

Things that are important are worth doing, doing well, and spending valuable time on.

Since 1964, 5+ decades worth of time has been spent by members of Congress, environmental activists, businesses, and more to do just that to support the Land & Water Conservation Fund in order to bring the Great American Outdoors Act to fruition. I happen to know one of the key players who was working hard for at least the last eleven years to push through this Act and get it to the President's desk. I know she was doing a lot of celebrating this spring as the bill passed each of the following:

  • Introduced in the House of Representatives on March 28, 2019 by the late John Lewis;
  • Passed the Senate on June 17th, 2020 by a vote of 73-25;
  • Passed the House of Representatives by a huge bipartisan vote of 310-107 on July 23rd, 2020;
  • Signed as a bill on August 4th by our current president.

What will the Great American Outdoors Act ensure? It sets aside major funds to safeguard & protect parks, forests, and trails on the local, state, and national level, without a 50 year time restriction (as has been done in the past). For the next five years, $1.9 billion per year will come from energy development revenues to provide facility maintenance and infrastructure assistance for "national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and American Indian Schools. It will also use royalties from offshore oil and natural gas to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund to the tune of $900 million a year to invest in conservation and recreation opportunities across the country."With over 325 annual visitors to the national parks, repairs are backlogged (to the tune of $12 billion), and this money will go far for improvements.

For some it may be a bit of a surprise given Trump's environmental track record, especially when his administration worked in the past to shrink protections from national monuments such as the Bears Ears National Monument, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National monument and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. According to The Hill, Trumps' reversal stems from the fall re-election of Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) and Steve Daines (R-Montana) and hoping to hold those seats in the Senate.

To celebrate, this year all public land fees were waived on August 5th, and going forward the same will hold true for all future August 4ths to commemorate this environmental win.

To learn more:

Images: and

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Change & Growth-Notes from Nature

I have some posts doing some brain-brewing, but based on my bandwidth (as mentioned in my last post), they haven't made it to either paper or computer.

But as I sit outside writing this today, on a pretty pristine, low humidity day, I'm struck by this poem from 1000 Hours Outside's Facebook page. I've been a fan of the concept of 1000 hours outdoors for awhile, and have monitored my summer "outside" hours both last year and the year before.... This year too I'm making my tallies once again. I'll have more to follow as we get to the start of September.

The pandemic time has certainly been a time for reflection--because "time" is the one thing we do readily & easily have! That gift of time! Change is on the horizon for educators as they continue to grow their tools to use them in new ways of teaching. Teachers have the change of getting to know new students and creating that new community of "our" learners. We have an election ahead this fall, which potentially could bring about change. We have the annual, cyclical rotation of change in our own homes, which bring about transitions and new milestones, new grade levels for our kids, new experiences. This poem equates growth and change together, two peas-in-a-pod, if you will. These words make for a thoughtful outdoor-centric reflection and meditation on all of the above.

May we all find and truly see the undercurrent of new possibilities, growth, and change. We can always thrive, and sometimes do the most, when we are in a season of change.

Poem image from 100 Hours Outside's Facebook Page: ; butterfly pic from

Saturday, August 1, 2020


There's irony in the fact that "bandwidth" relates to both technology and mental capacity.... which means it is also ultimately tied to nature and the outdoors (for we all know that the latter is the cure for the former).

In this world that's already highly tech-i-fied, after a season of remote learning and multiple Zooms a day, computers make the world go 'round. Especially as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the United States. Social media, news, the TV, and more tell us that now as August arrives, we in the United States did a rather abysmal job of curtailing the Covid as our curve continues to crawl the wrong way.

From a teacher's perspective, summer is always my season to regroup, relax, and rejuvenate. It's that time we teachers soak up, tackling those home tasks we maybe haven't gotten to over the past several months. (Mine right now is overhauling the basement!) Likewise it's time to read books (for business and pleasure), search out new ideas, percolate over our classrooms and curriculum, and even have a few adventures so that we can be ready to dive into the fall school year.

School is not now, nor has it ever been, a 9 to 5 job.

Summer 2020 ... much like the rest of 2020 ... is an beast unto itself, and the normal "summer things" just aren't the same. For me, I've noticed a direct hit on my bandwidth. Literally (technologically by way of my wifi) and physically/mentally/emotionally/spiritually.

It's summer, and yet I've spent approximately 12-15 hours both this week and last doing school work. Teaching professional development (PD) classes, taking other PD classes, reading, researching, wrestling with wifi, orchestrating, and organizing some real needs for my school, my teachers, and myself. Will we be in school, out of school, or somewhere in between with a hybrid model--and will it be safe? I know teachers who love their jobs who have resigned rather than go back into a classroom they do not deem safe due to their local Covid numbers. Likewise, I know others that are making sure their affairs are in order by making sure their wills are written. Just in case.

As my zoom meetings have moved from spring teaching to summer learning, it all heightens awareness. Perhaps only if we can prepare for everything! Typically, summer is a time to relax the reliance on calendars... yet this year I am religiously keeping a calendar so I can make sure to show up at the proper Zoom times. My calendar is peppered with white sticky labels as events get rescheduled or canceled due to quarantine restrictions. I've got layers and layers of labels covering up canceled commitments.

My brain feels much like that layered calendar, trying to keep track of what is and is not happening. I can't shake the feeling that the ground beneath seems to be constantly shifting. We're trying to be flexible, but there is so much uncertainty in the unknown. It makes it difficult to plan. (Teachers are big planners by the way!) Case & point: we're working on the 4th iteration of move-in days for my daughter's college. The lacrosse tournament we went to (masked) last weekend for my son was on it's 2nd or 3rd calendar date, having shifted a month or two later month than originally intended. In our house, my family is putting forth dedicated effort to follow the restrictive orders of "safer at home;"yet, after months of this it leaves us wondering why we are trying so hard to stay healthy when it's clear that others are not. Meanwhile, numbers of Covid cases and deaths grow exponentially. (Yes, there is increased testing, but the positivity rate in some states is downright scary.)

It all leaves a layer of frustration under the surface--much like my calendar sticky labels. It all piles on top, dismantling motivation along the way. Plus, social media and nightly news show us continued signs of racial injustice, peaceful protesting, reports of rioting, and stories of military-style secret police in major metropolitan areas. All the while, we carry our own concern for our own children, our own parents (some of whom we haven't seen in awhile due to all the regional restrictions), our own wallets and how the economy is affecting it....also on top of conundrums of "what's for dinner," "do we have clean laundry to wear," and a myriad of other mental calisthenics that keep us awake at night.

There's an overload in my brain.... all related to a lack of bandwidth!

The oft-used quote "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" comes to mind. But, the pile-on sometimes does more than just build character. The overload can weaken your immunity because there just are way too many things to think about. In the age of coronavirus, a weakened immune system is the last thing we need!

Now more than ever, as we enter August, teachers and students need to make sure to take the time to relax our brain. Parents and kids and the community as a whole does too. We need to schedule in more than zooms and work and planning. We need to take time breathe. To unwind. To unplug. To get outside. To get some sleep. To focus on healthy approaches like sleep and exercise. To slow down if have yet to do so. We need time to watch campy TV shows just to laugh! We need time in or near water to decompress and to soak up #bluemind to counter the non-stop, active, anxious, "red mind."

Without doing a combination of all of the above, we certainly aren't going to have the bandwidth as teachers (and parents) to make it through the upcoming school year. By all means, no matter whether we are remote, in class, or in the in-between, I sense that this will be the most memorable school year of our lives. It'll take grit and work to reconfigure the art of teaching school. Teachers are some of the hardest working people I know, and I have no doubt we will accomplish that goal. My hope is that it doesn't come at an incredible expense or loss--of our spirit, of our creativity, of our clarity, of our health, or even our lives. We love our students and give them our all... but we want everyone in our midst to be safe and stay healthy.

A wish I have for all of you!

Definition from; Images from, and