Saturday, May 14, 2022

Eco-Podcasts

I'm a major fan of podcasts--especially on big chore days at home or when driving (especially during longer trips). Being an information junkie can do that to you. 

I was recently looking for some new ones to listed to and ran across these curated lists of the latest podcasts in the environmental world! These will definitely keep you busy!

Any good ones you know about--recommend them here! Always looking for the latest listen!

Image created at Canva.com

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Do Nothing Day

Sometimes you need a "Do Nothing" Day. That's where I was recently at after a particularly full week of work and a whole lot of extracurricular, parental driving. This followed up another full week of germs when deep in our house. [Somehow, maybe 30 years of teaching, I ended up with super immunity and fared better than the rest!] 

As I was contemplating that and my "sit-outside-and-contemplate-stuff-on-a-beautiful-spring-day" mood, I was reminded of this infographic I'd run across around Earth Day on MindShift's Facebook page. It was posted with the following caption: 

"We could never have loved the Earth so well if we had had no childhood in it." –George Elliot #sketchnote via @kwiens62

I found myself on my Do Nothing Day finding a sit spot, reading on my patio, gazing at the clouds, petting the dog, and ultimately writing here. 

Phineas & Ferb definitely said it well:
"No place where we have to go....so we're just going to go with the flow... Slow down, look around you, throw your to do list away... Let's have a Do Nothing Day."

Yes, a Do Nothing Day is the right answer in every way!


Video from https://youtu.be/eB9H4HVeMW4; infographic from https://www.facebook.com/MindShift.KQED/posts/4991285797573966

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Celebrating All Mothers This Weekend

 Mothers come in all shapes and sizes:

  • Infant-holding new moms and moms-to-be
  • Phone-calling our adult moms when we are grown
  • Grandmoms, Aunts, & Mothers-In-Laws 
  • Sister-Friends, Step-Mothers, Besties and more
  • Father's who are fathers and mothers
  • Memories of our own from when we were little
  • Memories of own when they were aging 
  • Memories of children or mothers we've lost
  • Memories of children we never had
  • Mother Earth, Gaia, Mother Nature
Celebrating all moms this weekend. 


Image created at Canva.com

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The Importance of Travel

Over Spring Break, I did a little bit of traveling. It definitely was what I needed to step outside my "same ole, same ole." I got the opportunity to go back to an old familiar place as well as go to a new locale where everything I encountered was new. After two years of pandemic, where many of us have stalled plans to see new sights, I was reminded of the importance of travel. It's a wonderful way to see all the amazing, unique and unusual places on this Earth of ours. It inspired me to create this:

I always get frustrated when these do not upload with the clarity that they should, To see this at Canva, click here: https://www.canva.com/design/DAE7z7e2ZfM/TDuGLvxb_vzAJ6Ew8hr4PQ/view?utm_content=DAE7z7e2ZfM&utm_campaign=designshare&utm_medium=link2&utm_source=sharebutton 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

David Attenborough Lifetime Achievement Award

Sir David Attenborough is in the category of "Environmentalist Greats" like Jane Goodall, John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, and Sylvia Earle. (For more "greats," check out this Treehugger article. No doubt, the list could easily be 5 times longer!). 

At the age of 95, he has been an avid eco-warrior for 7 decades. It is for that reason, he certainly deserves the honor that was bestowed on him last week, just before Earth Day: The United Nations Champion of the Earth Lifetime Achievement Award for 2021. The Champions of the Earth awards are the highest award given out by the UN Environment Programme [UNEP] and is awarded to people for their contribution to biodiversity, pollution, climate change, other important environmental issues. They have been honoring environmental leaders since 2005. 

The Lifetime Achievement Award is not the only UNEP award given out annually. To date, the UNEP have honored "106 laureate, ranging from world leaders to technology inventors. They include 26 world leaders, 64 individuals and 16 groups of organizations." The categories and 2021 winners are as follows, and you can learn more about them here. Each award winner has a short video along with a tribute to their activities at the links listed below.

  • Inspiration & Action Award: Nonprofit Group Sea Women of Melanesia
  • Entrepreneurial Vision: Maria Kolesnikova from the Kyrkyz Republic
  • Science & Innovation: Uganda's Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka
  • Policy Leadership: Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley

Check out this UNEP link to see the Laureates across all categories since 2018. Further filtering can get you to individual laureates dating back to 2005.


Image from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/04/movies/david-attenborough-a-life-on-our-planet-review.html; Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vlvn23rSt0M

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Amanda Gorman's "Earthrise"

The beauty about Earth Day is that we have come to the point, after fifty years and if you've been paying attention, that Earth Day should not be only one day. More than a day, more than "Earth Week," more than "Earth Month," every day should be Earth Day.

Many of us had never hear of Amanda Gorman until we were blown away by at President Biden's inauguration with her poem "The Hill We Climb." Since then, she's perhaps a modern day poet rockstar to many. As her website states, she's a wordsmith and a changemaker: rockstar indeed!

A dear friend from my very green school of days gone by shared this video of Amanda Gorman's poem "Earthrise" on Earth Day. Powerful. Inspiring. Meaningful and moving. Created before Inauguration Day in 2021! 

While Earth Day has passed, the meaning of the importance of that day has not. Every day should be Earth Day

Image from https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-55738564; video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwOvBv8RLmo 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Earth Day 2022: What Are You Going To Do?

Happy Earth Day 2022.

With Earth Day this year on a Friday, it gives you not only Earth Day to make a difference, but the entire weekend.

My recent Earth Day post listed a lot of resources online to investigate. Excellent resources to learn from and, if you are a teacher, to help inspire you to bring environmental stewardship into your classroom. 

But Earth Day isn't just about education, it is also about "doing." It's about going out there and doing something that makes a difference to our planet Earth. Getting involved. 

For that reason, I'm referring back to a resource I listed in my April 13th post last week: EarthDay.org's 52 Ways to Invest in Our Planet. I love this list for so many reasons. It's a clickable list, so it is a great learning tool. I also love that there are 52 listed ideas. You could save one to do each week, giving yourself 52 weeks worth of planetary action to help make a difference. Additionally, you could print this copy I created and use it as a Bingo Board of taking action

How many things can you do this weekend to take action?




Bingo board created at www.canva.com using screenshots from EarthDay.org's list of 52 Ways to Invest in Our Planet: https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-tips/ . To print a higher quality version of this board, go to here: https://www.canva.com/design/DAE9f3yYDDw/s3FuUa50DTHnQedZ8-YzWA/view?utm_content=DAE9f3yYDDw&utm_campaign=share_your_design&utm_medium=link&utm_source=shareyourdesignpanel

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

How Well Do You Know Earth Day's History?

As a follow up to my recent post about Earth Day and with it swiftly approaching this Friday, it is time to test your knowledge! How much do you know about the history of Earth Day? Take this quiz and find out!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Holidays Abound


Surprisingly, it is not often when Easter Sunday, the eight days of Passover, and the month of Ramadan all overlap. 

This year they do:

  • Easter: April 17th
  • Passover: April 15th--23rd
  • Ramadan: April 2nd--May 2nd
The reason for this is in part due to Ramadan being the 9th month on the Islamic lunar calendar. Additionally, the Hebrew calendar follows a lunar calendar but adds a 13th month in 7 out of 19 years to meet up with the Gregorian/solar calendar that we all use to follow January to December. With these different calendars at play, the simultaneous timing of major holidays within the sacred traditions Christian, Jewish, and Islam religions only happens approximately every 33 years.

All of this, along with the also highly secular nature of Easter in the United States, reminds us that the world is filled with a beautiful variety of people. We are connected to each other on this planet of ours. Earth Day on April 22nd is another reminder of that. 

I ran across this quote from Ben Irwin on Preemptive Love's website that sums it up beautifully:

"Human diversity is a lot like biodiversity: once it’s lost, it’s gone. And we may not realize how much we need it until it’s too late."

May we all take this spirit of diversity and carry it throughout the entire month of April... if not the entire year. Whether you are feasting for Easter to celebrate the end of your 40 days of Lent, fasting for Ramadan to celebrate during Eid al-Fatr, or fasting from leavened grains yet feasting in other ways during your Passover seder, may your holiday be one filled with love, family, and joy.


Pictures created at www.canva.com.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Earth Day Is On The Way

With Earth Day 2022 less than a week and a half away, it's time to dive into some valuable resources about this valuable resource of ours: our planet!

Earthday.org always has a wealth of resources. Here are just a few:

Population Education is always one of my favorite resources. They have a vast array of Earth Day activities, with lessons and activity packets by grade level.

PBS has an Earth Day collection of grade leveled activities that blends together environmental awareness with social justice and conservation.

At the United State's Environmental Protection Agency's website you can find an Earth Day countdown, projects and lessons for teachers, history, and more.

What are you planning for Earth Day 2022?

image from https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/conservation/events/earth-day-2022/

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Have Yourself an Eco Easter & Planet Friendly Passover

Spring has sprung as evident with the popping of flowers and the warming of the weather. We all are probably ready to bid winter "adieu!"

With Easter ahead next weekend and Passover starting the 15th, folks are probably starting to get preparations in order. Here are a few ways to get a sustainable start to your holiday festivities ahead:


Celebrations in General--including Passover Seders:

  • Cook less to have less food waste. Do we really need all those sides? Do we really eat all those leftovers? Plus it saves money and calories! And, if you do have leftovers, focus on eliminating those first with your next meal plans!
  • Eat fresh and go plant-based when you can. Less of an impact on meat is always a healthier approach to the planet. Organic for the win!
  • Candles make it cozy. Go for the eco-friendly variety and save some electricity with more lights out and build an ambiance.
  • Decorate with natural items: plants make a beautiful table setting.
  • Cut back on the plastic where you can. Whether that's cups, cutlery, or plates, less plastic always makes things more eco-friendly. Reusable items and washing those dishes is the better plan here. If that doesn't work, go with something that composts or biodegrades.
  • Go for zero-waste. If you are Jewish and turning over your kitchen to rid your home of grain items or only have kosher items on hand, give away the food you are eliminating. Donate unopened items to food kitchens or shelters. Plan early to reduce shopping for items you'll soon be wanting to remove.
  • Tupperware items are always better than baggies and wraps when it does come to leftovers. Not only will it keep the plastic from leaching into your food (which is healthier for your body), but it saves valuable petroleum for something other than purchased throw-away plastic!

Easter Specific:

  • Save those plastic eggs from year to year. Yes, it's fun to go on that Easter egg hunt, but you'll save money and resources when you can pull out that saved stash of eggs from year to year. Or, repurpose them into a DIY Easter wreath or centerpiece decorations. You also might be interested in investigating these plant-based eggs where no plastic was used in their creation.
  • Same goes for Easter baskets. They don't have to come cellophane wrapped and new each year! Reusable baskets wooden or wicker baskets work just as well and can make for part of the annual tradition. 
  • Likewise, Easter grass for those baskets does not have to be green plastic strips. That plastic grass won't recycle and will just fill a landfill. Plus, it gets all over the place. Instead use crinkled paper grass which biodegrades. Or, use seed-paper to create your own grass/basket filling!
  • Who says an Easter hunt has to be eggs. Scavenger hunts can come in all shapes and sizes. They can include small meaningful toys (don't just buy junk at the dollar store) or self-created coupons for fun surprises or events! Also, create a list of natural items like certain leaves, acorns, pinecones, and more to make it a memorable outdoor event to connect to nature.
  • Individually wrapped candy creates a bounty of packaging waste--most of it plastic and not recyclable. Consider making tasty treats instead! Along the way, Fair Trade Chocolate is also more planet-friendly.
  • Cheap disposable decorations are just that--cheap and disposable. Decorate with natural elements. Use cloth table cloths. Think outside the single use throwaway posters and cutouts.
  • Use natural dyes when coloring your eggs. Steer clear of the plastic wrapped paint pellets that we see so often on the shelves and rely on some of the recipes linked above. Plus it is a good way to do some science experiments with your littles and have them literally thinking outside the egg dye box!
  • When buying eggs, go for the compostable cardboard egg cartons versus styrofoam, which never biodegrades. 

Many thanks to these resources for the above ideas: 


Images from https://ssfu.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/sustainable-easter/https://www.greenchildmagazine.com/eco-friendly-easter-basket-fillers/https://www.bhg.com/holidays/easter/decorating/easter-table-setting-ideas/https://www.brit.co/seder-table-settings/https://ecoadventures.org/special-events/





Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Grist 50 Environmental Fixers

When we all start talking about environmentalism, it gets easy to get caught in the doom and gloom. That land of weight and worry tends to do nothing for our sense of hope for the future. "Hope" is a word that I've seen in a lot of my environmental reads lately. Likewise, it is part of the name of Jane Goodall's podcast: Hopecast. Truly, it's what we all need to keep fighting the good eco-fight and give us momentum to keep going!

Inspirational environmental innovators can be a way to see that hope and be energized. Since 2016, Grist.org has been focusing finding these "fixers." They see these people as folks who go forward as problem solvers and "solutionaries." Gaining nominations from their readers, Grist makes a list of their Grist 50--50 environmental leaders who are charging forward in the areas of sustainability, climate, and equity. These men and women fall in the categories of art, business, tech, media, science, health, food, politics and more. They are chosen by their ability to work toward a healthier, more sustainable future while making a positive impact in their community, going the distance to come up with new and creative solutions to environmental challenges.

This year's categories find 2022's fifty folks falling in these categories: 
Be sure to check out their archives introducing you to the annual Grist 50. Going back to 2016, that gives us 350 eco-heroes to celebrate! Plus, Grrist's digital tribute is visually amazing and different each year, bringing innovation into each year's presentation of people. It's an energizing and inspiring way to learn about seven years of fascinating people and what they are doing for all of us!

Image from https://grist.org/fix/about-grist50/

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Little Seed Libraries

I've written before about my love of the Little Free Libraries before. They are darling and promote such a love or learning and reuse. Every neighborhood should have one!

Along the lines of this, I ran across a Seed Library when I was perusing Facebook. I found the following image on the FB page The Heirloom Gardener - John Forti. Can you imagine if we had these waterproof cuties out in the world, along people's path? It would promote gardening and perhaps even community gardens. What a wonderful way to spread the love of nature to young and old alike!

Image from https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=521529449334892&set=a.235991337888706

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Cherry Blossom Season

Washington, D.C. is a beautiful city in the spring...especially when the Cherry Blossoms pop. I've been fortunate enough over the years to live close enough to meander about the city just in search of the perfect photo op. This year I didn't make it down there, but my Facebook feed was filled with photos from friends who were able to make it there. Simply Gorgeous! 

If you are like me and can't make it to DC (or don't care to wrestle with the inevitable crowds of everyone else wanting to see the scenic view too), you can find a bunch of photos on the @CherryBlossomWatch's Instagram page or follow the beauty on their Facebook page.

According to Cherry Blossom Watch's website and its work with the National Park Service, peak bloom was predicted to "spring" into floral glory this past week, March 22 to 25th. Historically, the peak occurs around April 4th. While the peak bloom only lasts a few days (depending on weather conditions--especially wind and rain), the Cherry Blossom Festival now runs for almost a month. This year, the festival is from March 20th to April 17th this year. The festival annually is predicted to fall when peak season occurs, however it's always a bit of a guessing game. Late winter warmth can make the blossoms appear earlier, whereas a cooler winter pushes the season later. So it's a science of appearance that only nature truly knows.

The cherry blossom trees were a gift of friendship to the United States from Japan in 1912. The original gift of 3,020 trees were planted around the city, and after careful cultivation through the year, cuttings from these original trees have been replanted to maintain the original genetic line of the trees. Now the iconic blossoming views are around the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial are part of our American culture; and here we are, 110 years later, still enjoying their beauty. 

Given global warming temperatures, the trend of when these trees blossom has been creeping earlier and earlier in the year. National Park Service has been tracking peak bloom dates since 1921. This winter, with the second warmest December on record and mild weather in February and March, the 2022 peak dates have come about a week earlier than the averages over the last 30 years. In fact, this year marks the third year in a row of earlier arrivals than normal. The reason? Warming trends and earlier blooms are a result of a warming planet. Grist.org has an excellent article that goes even deeper into the science of climate change and its effects on the cherry blossoms. The biggest reason that this is a big deal is because of the timetable of when the pollinators mature and can visit and fertilize the flowers... which then affects the timing of the resulting food chain of critters who feed on these pollinators. Further studies on the cherry trees in Japan and their blossoms indicate the same climate trend, where trees in Kyoto, Japan had their earliest blooms ever last year on March 26th, 2021.

This 2016 video created by the National Park Service Climate Change Response Program details the reasons behind the earlier season (along with some amazing views).


Saturday, March 26, 2022

Earth Hour 2022 Tonight: Sat., March 26th 8:30-9:30 pm

With #ShapeOurFuture as the 2022 theme, Earth Hour is tonight. By tuning off lights along with other nonessential lights from 8:30-9:30 pm tonight [Saturday, March 26th], you can take part of sharing with the collective, community vision of unifying for the planet.

For ideas of what to do during your hour of "lights out," check out EarthHour.org's "1 Special Hour, 7 Meaningful Ways to Spend It" (there are some GREAT activities listed here) as well as these past GTG posts: 

Additionally, you can browse Earth Hour events over at earthhour.org.

Looking for more ways to take part beyond the 60 minutes? Check out go EarthHour.org's "Going Beyond the Hour."

Hashtags to follow on social media: 

  • #ShapeOur Future    
  • #Connect2Earth    
  • #EarthHour    
  • #EarthHour2022     
  • #OnlyOneEarth
What are you doing tonight to turn off your lights and take part?

Image from https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/earth-hour-and-its-significance.php and https://www.earthhour.org/take-part/organise-an-event/marketing-materials, video from https://www.facebook.com/earthhour/videos/762790861791472/

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Innovation Through Sketchnoting

Sketchnoting is one of those "things" that have cropped up over the last several years, no doubt due to the visual nature of social media. Much like infographics, sketchnotes are a visual portrayal of information on a subject that is a doodler's dream. In that way, it's a specialized form of an infographic where the graphics are hand drawn (or "sketched") elements to make the information come to life. 

In a lot of ways, it's not surprising when the statistics look like this:


My guess too is given the digital interactions we all do, creative, innovative visualizations like infographics and sketchnoting will continue. 

Given that, these two sketchnotes created by Julie Woodward are the perfect way to explore innovation. Building flexible thinkers who can help create future solutions is a definite goal of today's students!



Saturday, March 19, 2022

A Wealth of Women's History this Month

As we march the past halfway point of March, there's so much to take note of this Women's History Month. Resources abound in all directions: STEM, innovation, history, inspiration, and more.

One of my favorite discoveries is what is happening at the Smithsonian. Being a hop and a skip from DC, it's killing me that I may not be able to make it down there to see what is on display around the many Smithsonian Museums around the National Mall. The "IfThenSheCan" Exhibit is displaying 120 statues of women of famous contemporary female scientists. The catch: their distinctive orange 3D printed, life size nature makes them a highly visible stop and the largest ever collection in a single location of women statures. The exhibit hopes to promote the power and importance of women in STEM to inspire girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math. Currently, only 27% of the STEM field is women. The exhibit is on display March 5-27th, 2022. I can only imagine how powerful it would be to walk amongst these women! You can learn more about the featured women and take a virtual tour on the exhibit website.

Here are some other resources and points of interest this month: 

For 21 facts and a historical trek teaching you about some of the dates and stats surrounding Women's History month, visit this Woman's Day article. 

I subscribe to writer and history teacher's newsletter The Clever Teacher. In her latest post, she details 5 Women's History Videos for Kids. All 5 are great finds and I highly recommend them.

Back at the Smithsonian, the National Museum of National History has an exhibit called Girlhood [It's Complicated]. It investigates what it means to grow up female in America. If you can't get to DC, you can learn more at the link above or at the exhibition website.

A number of virtual events are happening this month through the Library of Congress. Additionally they have a research guide about Women's History

Learn about the 2022 Women's History Month Theme "Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope" at the National Women's History Alliance.

Google Arts & Culture has a variety collection of resources too.

  • Google Arts & Culture has a wealth! Go there and search "women's history" to get 146 stories including:
  • For more, go to Google Arts & Culture and search "women and environment" for 20 more including:

Lots of resources abound. Be sure to check them out!!

Image from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/blogs/national-museum-of-natural-history/2022/03/08/120-3d-printed-statues-of-women-redefine-what-scientists-look-like/ Courtesy of IFTHEN® Collection, by Hannele Lahti

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Earth Hour 2022: March 26th @ 8:30pm

10 days from now it will be the 16th annual Earth Hour. What started in 2007 as a local event in Sydney, Australia has now become a worldwide, global event that happens in your time zone, on the 4th Saturday of March from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. During that time, individuals and businesses are encouraged to turn off all non-essential lights for that hour to symbolize our collective commitment to the planet. By clicking those lights off, it shines a spotlight on the importance of every person and their ability to take action and make a difference. Likewise, it draws attention to our global energy consumption and how that affects climate change.


For a timeline of milestones from 2007 to today, ways to take part where you are, and why 2022 is so important, check out Earth Hour's website or WWF's Earth Hour site. Likewise, you can check out Green Team Gazette's Earth Hour archives.

Wondering what you can do to fill your evening--here are some good ideas, all from my 2018 Earth Hour post:
  • Stock up on candles and light them up as you knock out all your other lights at 8:30 pm.
  • Unplug and have some good ole fashioned non-tech time.
  • Play a game of night time Hide & Seek.
  • Have a candlelight dinner... perhaps al fresco.
  • Roast some marshmallows over a bonfire with good friends.
  • Take a moonlit stroll.
  • Spend some time in reflection and meditation.
  • Play board games with your family by flashlight.
  • Go stargazing.
  • Take a night hike.
  • Tell ghost stories.
  • Take time having great conversations and quality time with someone you love.
  • ...the sky is the limit! Create your own fun! Let me know what you are planning to do!

Sunday, March 13, 2022

A Pandemic 2 Year Anniversary

This weekend marks the 2 year anniversary when everything shut down in 2020 thanks to the growing numbers of Covid 19. 

As with any milestone in our lives, it causes us all to take pause.

It struck me especially earlier in the week when this image popped up in my Facebook memories from 2 years ago. Little did I know the extent of foreshadowing it really would be.


Thinking back more to Friday, March 13th, 2020, that was the day our school along with the majority of all schools across the country shut down. I had just come off a grueling recertification application for our school's Maryland Green School status. I'd been working nonstop on that application for about 8 weeks, which overlapped with approximately 2 weeks of school tech prep, trying to forecast needs for what our tech team thought would be a 2 week (or so) Coronavirus hiatus. My spring break travel plans to see my mom in another state were canceled and I spent my break instead on tech prep documentation. Spring break was followed by remote learning. Not 2 weeks, but 2 and a half months. My daughter's high school graduation went virtual. Her senior trip was canceled. Summer vacation plans were canceled. "Covid College" was a thing. At my independent school, we started the school year masked and hybrid, splitting classes into cohorts who went every other day. Zooming while teaching in class felt like we were juggling knives and living in triage. Meanwhile many others schools stayed remote for the bulk of the year, dealing with their own challenges. One year ago, a year into the pandemic, our school brought all students back full time, but it was rare compared to the public schools, and it was no where near what teaching had been pre-pandemic.

What we thought would last 2 weeks has now rounded out 2 years. [I remember flipping out when someone commented in April or May of 2020 that it could go until 2021!] 

Terminology such as the multitude of variants, "social distancing," "flattening the curve," "learning loss," "zoomers and roomers,""contact tracing," and "vaxed and boosted" have peppered our vernacular. We've gotten good at "doomscrolling" on our devices. We've also been either hopeful or stressed while mask mandates are lifted. This past 3 weeks at my school was "mask optional," and in some ways, I'm not sure I'll ever be ready to take off my mask in large groups. When the virus eased up last summer before Delta came, I had my mask off--now, I'm thankfully watching those positivity rates decline in our highly-vaccinated state, but I also am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Are we really ready globally to call it Covid-quits...or does the virus have another plan in store? I just don't know any more!!

Throughout the whole pandemic and its many phases, I've often thought of times in history when people have collectively gone through events that have changed them. War is often what comes to mind. I think of the victory gardens and rationing of WWII and how people worked collectively for the common good. I think of the way people of the world united over 9/11. Even globally, much of the world is collectively on the same side of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the fight for democracy. Yet, fighting the pandemic didn't fall in that same category in our now-very-partisan country. As a teacher, following the science of the virus all seems so incredibly logical--yet not everyone has viewed Covid-19 this way. [But that's become a political rabbit hole, and one I'm not heading down here.]

Two years in "normal times" brings about a lot of change. During a pandemic: even more. We all are collectively changed. At times, I almost feel like it has literally changed my DNA. In some ways, perhaps we all are a little broken because of it.

There has been a lot of talk over the last two years about the "new normal" and what that is and what it should be... and how perhaps we should all "just return to normal." I think we are all still recovering--especially those of us who have lost someone to the virus. (Covid deaths over these two years in the US near the 1 million mark at 965,000 people.) Many of us are still mourning the loss, too, of missed milestones and hampered opportunities stolen by the pandemic.

While epidemiologists and medical doctors continue to learn more about Covid-19, its mutations and longterm effects, we as citizens are continuing to learn how to navigate this world. As in times of enormous change, that's when we re-analyze our priorities and make decisions how to go forward. Determining how to be with each other again after globally enduring a lot of isolation. No doubt, we will all be learning from this for quite some time. With any luck, it's rounding the bend. May we navigate it well, taking care of each other along the way as we do.


Warning graphic citation unknown, graph from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1102816/coronavirus-covid19-cases-number-us-americans-by-day/, Hope image from https://greenwoodcapital.com/life-after-the-pandemic/

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Pausing to Ponder the Class of 2030

When I was doing my spin through all of the various Google Arts and Culture Experiments, I happened on on of them that caused me to take pause. 

The title: "Slogans for the Class of 2030." 

We do a lot with the "Class of 20__" structure at my school. Given that, I knew that those students were our current fourth graders. Additionally, with the style of this video and with the young artist Celeste, it really left me wondering where we would be in 8 years in terms of innovation and technological advancement. For some predictions, check out this article/image gallery from Goodhousekeeping: "30 Facts About the Class of 2030."

Our world ahead is most certainly for our children to create! May we teach them well

Video from https://youtu.be/6-0pcsS2tkg, Image from https://experiments.withgoogle.com/douglas-coupland

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Harvard's Askwith Education Forum: How K-12 Schools Can Take Action on Climate Change

A colleague pointed me in the direction of Harvard's Askwith Education Forum's webinar: How K-12 Schools Can Take Action on Climate Change. Not only was it free to register, but free to watch for all after the fact. It was a powerful hour of discussion with moderator Bridget Long (Dean and Saris Professor of Economics at Harvard Graduate School of Education) and 3 amazing experts: 
  • John King Jr., President and CEO, The Education Trust; former U.S. Secretary of Education 
  • Pedro Martinez, CEO, Chicago Public Schools
  • Becky Pringle, President, National Education Association
[Side Note: One of the interesting things was John King Jr's approach given he is a fellow Maryland resident. When I started doing more digging on him, I also discovered that he is a candidate for the Governor of Maryland.] 

The conversation between these experts in this webinar focuses on how schools and educators can be leaders toward a more sustainable planet and society. Additionally, they discuss the multi-faceted impact of environmental justice and why there is such a great need to educate our students on these factors.

They also share information about the Aspen Institute's K12 Climate Action Plan and the Local K-12 Climate Plan's Key Questions to Get Started. These are two great resources for environmental educators.

To learn more, go to the Askwith Education Forum's page and watch the video and learn more about the webinar. You can also watch it here or below.




Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Environmental Good News

There's a lot going on in the world right now. Especially as we are approaching the 2 year mark of major global impact from the pandemic, (along with climate crisis, racial injustice, and polarized politics). The current events in the Ukraine feel extraordinarily heavy and hard. [In fact, if you and your children are having trouble with that, please check out this article at Very Well Family.]

Given the harshness of the 2020s so far, sounds like we need a heavy dose of "insert good news here."

IPS Positive News Stories does just that. The Inner Picture Stories (IPS) Project was created by Jellis Vaes. The purpose of IPS is to share forward stories connected to the beauty of life, opportunities that surround us, and ways of getting a better handle on healthy mental health. Sharing the good stuff!

In their December 24, 2021 podcast, they bring to light "5 Positive Changes in the Environment." It can be easy to be stuck in the doom and gloom especially when it comes to the environment. So here, they focus on these 5 stories, showcasing a short video for each on their website highlighting more about each one.

1. Search Engine Ecosia, where you can plant trees through clicks. They just planted their 100-millionth tree.

2. Nzambi Matee started her company Gjenge Makers to create bricks from recycled plastic. In addition to being lightweight and low cost, they are 5 to 7 times stronger than concrete.

3. In Oslo, Norway, they launched the Yara Birkeland, the first electric, self-propelled container ship. This cuts 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

4. A study from The Society of Conservation Biology has shown that conservation programs have aided in preventing 48+ animal extinctions during the 27 years between 1993-2020.

5. In Liguria, Italy the Ocean Reef Group launched Nemo's Garden, a first in the area of underwater vegetable gardening.

Image created at canva.com

Saturday, February 26, 2022

The Tree-mendous Benefits to Trees

One of the things I personally like about Facebook is that I follow a number of environmental and edtech sites. Given that, I am exposed to a lot of ideas from a lot of sources. Footpath Foundation shared this infographic created by Greenpeace. Definitely makes you understand why we have treehuggers out there--trees give us a wealth of benefits. 

Image from https://www.facebook.com/FootpathFoundation/posts/5082349455157205 created by Greenpeace.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Google Arts & Culture Experiments

I've been doing some investigating around Google Arts & Culture. Not surprising given it's connection to Google, there is definitely a wealth there!!

One of the really interesting parts of the Google Arts & Culture world is their Experiments, which is self-labeled as "the crossroads of art and technology, created by Artists and Creative Coders." 

Currently, there are 80 Arts & Culture experiments [though, at this writing, there are 1605 Google Experiments total on a wider scope than just the Arts & Culture Collection]. Of these, here are a few that have environmental tie-ins. You definitely could get lost here, spending a lot of time exploring each one!

🎨 Voices for Change--A Global Goals World -- A 3D virtual experience to learn about the 17 United Nations Sustainable Goals. Mixed in are 1500 voices and comments from people from 60 countries.



🎨  Pollinator Pathmaker -- Design a garden that's a pollinator's dream. When you finish, you get a certificate of authenticity along with planting instruction to bring to you own backyard.



🎨 Cold-Flux -- Discover what can happen to our polar icecaps as global temperatures rise.

🎨 Medusae -- Data visualization that shows what happens to jellyfish populations when water temperatures rise and acidify, and those waters are overfished.

🎨 The Lagoon -- A visual collage to show you what can happen to a coastal city as water rises.

🎨 Climate Change Impact Filter -- Hundreds of pictures and a sliding scale to raise or lower temperature show you what can happen to 62 species (plus human-created items) if our global temperature rises.

🎨 Plastic Air -- With microplastics in the air, unseen, this gives you an opportunity to see what you can't see but are breathing in.

🎨 Coastline Parodox Filter -- Take a look at actual and predicted global sea level rising due to the effects of climate change.

🎨 Diving into an Acidifying Ocean -- Interactive data visualization that shows the effect of warming oceans on marine life.

🎨 Timelines -- With the help of drone footage over two glaciers in Switzerlandand Google Earth, take a look at the glacial retreat over the last 140 years.

🎨 What We Eat -- Data visualizations of what you eat and the carbon footprint it holds.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

The Power of Music & Nature

This is one of the many beautiful stories that came out of the pandemic. I didn't hear about it at the time, but read about it in Jane Goodall's latest book written with Douglas Abrams: The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times (part of the Global Icons Series). [More on that book in a future post.] It showcases the power of music and nature.

In June of 2020, at Barcelona's El Liceu Opera House, the string quartet live-streamed a concert. Performing Puccini's Crisantemi (Italian for "chrysanthemums"), the quartet In the thick of the pandemic, no people were allowed in, however there was only standing room available as every seat was filled with plants donated from a local nursery. 2,292 to be exact. The video is beautiful, hearing the music wrap around its colorful, cholorphyl-filled audience. Then what a gift for these musically infused plants to be given to Spanish healthcare workers who were enmeshed with patients struck with Covid-19.  Visionary Artistic visionary Eugenio Ampudia created this idea to bring music to the online world of folks in lockdown while also gearing at the importance of both music to support plant growth and how both nature and music can positively influence our mental health.

Bravo and standing ovations to all.


Video from https://youtu.be/HWMn0680cbo; image created at Canva.com