Saturday, October 31, 2020

Halloween 2020

Viruses don't tend to consult the calendar when it comes to best timing of when to show up. They also don't take leave near soon enough--as 2020 has show us. Covid in particular doesn't seem to care that Halloween is this weekend. 

In light of all of that, here are some safe ways to enjoy Halloween for you and your kids, so there's still holiday fun for every one.

  • The CDC's Holiday Celebration Page (which also includes thoughts for Día de los Muertos [Day of the Dead], and Thanksgiving, including activity risk assessment for all)

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Show Up. Vote.

I've been watching a lot of The West Wing lately. For whatever reason at the time, I never did watch it first go around (now 2 decades later). It certainly seems better than watching the news most days. I've always remembered the abrasive cacophony of political clamor in the weeks prior to election, but the last few presidential elections have seen noisier (and more divisive) than ever before. The one silver lining is that at least it seems to have raised everyone's interest in civic involvement.

Given that, this seemed like the best post I could post one week prior to Election Day. If you haven't taken part in early voting or mail-in voting (we did the latter, dropping our ballots off at the Board of Elections) or making a game plan to go in person, do so. Vote. Take advantage of making your voice heard. Take part in your civic duty. Make a plan. Vote.

Don't take it from me, take it from the folks at The West Wing. Both here below and in their HBO Max "A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote." This remake (done in play-style with a lion share of the same actors, here 17 years later) of Season 3: Episode 15 "Hartsfield Landing" was part of a special to bring more voters to the booths. Special cameos include former First Lady Michelle Obama, President Bill Clinton,  & Lin-Manuel Miranda. It did not disappoint!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Netflix's Documentary: The Social Dilemma

Several health podcasts I've been listening to lately have referenced the Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma," calling it one of the most important documentaries of our time to watch. Hearing that in multiple places, that's what you tend to do. 

Poignant phrases in the trailer alone include: "Using your psychology against you." along with "This is checkmate on humanity." This is especially powerful here in an election year--particularly THIS election year during THIS pandemic.

Watch the trailer here....then get to Netflix and watch the documentary in full! It will open your eyes and cause you to take a long pause in your parenting and your lifestyle choices.... Not to mention your ability to be so easily manipulated by the powers that be and that mobile device in your hand.

This documentary serves as an interesting companion to follow up Dig Cit Week and to the current book I'm reading by Vivek H. Murthy (the former Surgeon General under President Obama) entitled Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World. All of the above certainly leaves this girl pondering a lot both personally (as I can be far more tech-connected than I should be) and professionally (as my Lower School Technology Specialist, in an increasingly more tech-centric world with Zoom School and more).

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

DigCit Week: October 19--23, 2020

Students at my elementary school this year have become familiar with the often-attributed Superman quote "With great power comes great responsibility." I've been using that as the umbrella of digital citizenship this year of hybrid & remote learning with increased tech time via zoom (& zoom chatting), emails, learning management system, shared Google documents, Seesaw assignments, and more. Every session we stress the importance of being safe, being respectful, and being responsible. Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs) have been signed by students and parents alike. 

With Digital Citizenship (or DigCit) Week upon us this week (October 19th--23rd), after 6-8 weeks of school, it's somewhat the perfect time to revisit and remind now that we're all in our "new normal" routines.

Common Sense Media, the go-to for digital citizenship, puts it simply: "This year more than ever, we are all digital citizens."

I turned two of my favorite videos of Common Sense Media into Seesaw activities, encouraging them to reflect on how we all need to be Tech Superheroes. This, along with my Superman quote, resonated with all students, kindergarten to grade 5.

During this week, take some time to help your students find their inner DigCit hero. With the more we are on tech at all ages, the more safe and responsible tech use needs to be a focus and a priority.

Here are some resources geared explicitly for Digital Citizenship Week! 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Falling for Fall

I was traveling to Western Maryland and West Virginia the first weekend of October. The drive was gorgeous as colors started popping up in the growing three-dimensional-drive as I went from relatively flat to rolling hills to the mountains. Still heavy on green, but more colors kept popping the further pest I traveled. The sky was the crispest of blues. With podcasts streaming through my stereo along the drive, I was certainly in my happy place.

Along my travels, I landed at Cooper's Rock outside of Morgantown, WV.  

Fall is beautiful...though I will say that Spring is still my favorite season with it's awakening and being a season of hope after the cold cloistered winter. Fall brings me back to school, but also to a layer of melancholy that we are circling back round that seasonal cycle again with winter ahead. But it circles me back to the beauty and brilliance of color too.

As I was basking in the shock of golden hues and red leaves amongst the greenery, I was marveling at how with every tomorrow it will look a little tad differently. Next weekend and the weekend after this, the vista will be vastly varied from today's view. 

This all had me thinking about these two Free Tech For Teacher's posts by Richard Byrne:

The wind is whipping a bit around me today as I write this--a sunny yet cooling day. A shower of colorful leaves drifts downward, bristling about, like autumnal confetti. I think that means Fall is here.

Photos from my camera from the weekend of October 3-4 in West Virginia.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Nonpartisan Election Resources

It's definitely an election year--there's evidence of it everywhere. Not to mention, this year seems heated like never before.

Regardless of your political stance, it is always good to know what is going on when it comes to candidates, platforms, and civic engagement. Especially when it's just under 3 weeks away.

Here are some nonpartisan teaching resources for this year's election to help students get a greater understanding on the importance of voting and some of the terminology that bounces around this time of the year. 

  • PBS Learning Media's Electoral Decoder: An interactive electoral map where you can not only see the electoral breakdown of past elections, but you can use it to predict future outcomes for 2020.

Image created using

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Ready Resources for Remote & Hybrid Teachers

Two posts ago, I shared some reflections and resources about how to mentally and emotionally survive these crazy Covid teaching times. I talked about sustainability not in my typical “green” and “eco” sense, but from a mental health perspective of making it through what might be our hardest year of teaching (collectively speaking on behalf of the whole profession).

This post is sort of a companion piece. I have more resources here, but these are from the edtech perspective of how to make life a little easier for you if you are teaching in a remote or hybrid learning environment. 
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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

TED's Countdown For Climate Change


It's a poignant combination of memorable numbers, making for a memorable date ahead for this Saturday, October 10th, from 11 am -- 5pm EST.

TED is sponsoring their Countdown for Climate Change. This is a virtual event & global initiative to highlight the goals to building a better future by 2030. #JoinTheCountown is their hashtags to open communication for a cleaner, more resilient future based on creativity & innovation. One of their main points: "It's a movement open to everyone."

Detailed in their plan is to answer these 5 interconnected questions:

Among the 61 speakers planning to speak on Saturday at Countdown, here are just a few of the scientists, engineers, activists, leaders, educators, authors, researchers, policy experts, entrepreneurs, social justice advocates, conservationists, entertainers, and more. Click here to see the full line up of speakers.
  • Chris Anderson, Head of TED
  • Angel Hsu, Climate and Data Scientist
  • Al Gore, Former Vice President and Climate Advocate
  • Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge
    António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Environmental Educator
  • Jane Fonda, Actor and Activist
To learn more about Saturday's upcoming event, check out their website:

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Thoughts a Month Into Hybrid School

This summer when I was introduced to the idea of "hybrid school" (where half of the kids are in class and half are remote), my first instinct was it had to be like juggling knives.

I was not wrong.

Hybrid for me at my school means that most of our preschool through 1st graders are in school in person (with the exception of those students who’s parents opt to keep them home full time). Our 2nd through 5th grade students also have a handful of “full-time remote learners,” but otherwise they in person at school either Monday-Wednesday or Tuesday-Thursday, and every other Friday. It’s definitely mental juggling trying to remember which Friday is which! We bring in our home kids daily via Zoom and Swivl to create a full class experience for our kids. We are using technology more than ever before with Seesaw, our learning management system, online resources like Google Drive, and online reading & math platforms. Our specials teachers either zoom into the classrooms for the littler ones, or travel by cart to the classrooms for our every-other-day kids. We are masked and socially distancing, the latter of which is tricky given the whole nature of being educators… not to mention it’s totally in the nature of kids to come close and be near each other.

The post “I’m a Hybrid Teacher, and I’m On the Verge of Quitting” on the Marvelous Teacher Musings website nails the difficulties of this style of teaching in so many ways.

Now that I have been in hybrid-style school for a month, entering our fifth week, I’m still finding it exhausting. We are the frontline workers. We are going in daily into what feels like a hot zone.

Daily, there’s a degree of “gearing up” to “go back in there” that I face—when getting out of bed as well as getting out of the car in my school parking lot. Lots of deep breaths and some internal monaloges of “you can do this.” (Sometimes they are interspersed with other soliloquies about hating life.) In some ways, It is getting easier. Often times, it still just as hard as it was on day one. It is just hard, and hard for everyone. I can see the struggle is real for all of my colleagues, who are buckling in and doing the best they can midst all of these crazy times. As the elementary school technology integrator, I have had lessons that have felt like my worst teaching experiences ever as I wrestled with keeping my in class kids engaged while I’ve wrestled (almost individually) with my at-homers. I’ve also had lesson sessions where it actually almost felt like “the good ole days!” I’ve also noticed that the students are completely remarkable—patient and perhaps even grateful, realizing how it feels to be back in school after 6 months at home given both our spring remote learning season and a long socially distanced summer afterwards.

The more I am living this hybrid learning model, the more I'm noticing that it is going to be "the marathon" versus "the sprint." The spring remote learning was the sprint. Everyone was in the mindset of “just get to the end.” It’s definitely a different race here and now. The end, from this vantage point of start of October, is a long way away. From this place, we are in a marathon. We need endurance, stamina, and longevity to make it to May or June. We can't keep going at an unsustainable pace. Pace—steady and slow--is the only thing that will win the race of the 2020-2021 school year.

Likewise, it reminds me of the flight prep on a plane that we get from the attendants: in case of emergency, put your own oxygen mask on first. Teachers, by nature, are planners, and there’s really nothing you can plan or control midst a pandemic. It’s a lot of uncertainty and flexibility, and adapting as things change around us. That’s tough for a lot of us to grapple with… and it is exactly why we need to put on our own mask first. (A near pun, in today’s times.) We do that through going easy on ourselves and making sure we providing space for us to catch our breath, sleep, and heal from the exhaustion of these times. The definition of resilience is having the capacity to recover from difficulties. It’s about mental toughness and adapting to the adversity that surrounds us. It is gleaned in part through self care. Those two pieces are the only thing that's going to get teachers through this time—perhaps our most memorable year as educators.

Teachers notoriously are terrible about self-care. There’s always lessons to plan, papers to grade, parents to email or call. Their own life, families, friends, and other responsibilities get smushed around all of that. But now, more than ever, we need to make sure to find the time for it. Our sanity and ultimate health need us to do just that. Here’s a list of resources that I hope you find helpful, so that these crazy times can begin to feel just a little bit more bearable and ultimately sustainable.

Last but not least, here are the 2020 Teachers of the Year and their thoughts & self-care coping strategies. 

Images from,