Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Dial Down Your Eco-Anxiety

Climate change concern, especially in the era of crazy, polarized politics, can lead to eco-anxiety. What exactly is that? Eco-Anxiety is the nerve-racking mix of worriness, nervousness, uncertainty, and other levels of distress that come about due to being aware of our planetary environmental issues. Sometimes it falls in the category of hyper-focus or overthinking... and sometimes it comes from having an overly sensitive and caring heart. But, it's hard to leave your empathy behind when you care about the planet and feel helpless or hopeless about what to do with the growing environmental concerns.
 
I ran across this Intersectional Environmentalist post, which inspired me to create this visual below on Canva.com. May it serve you well if you are inspired to take to journal writing, which is always a good way to deal with emotions. 
Eco Anxiety by Vicki Dabrowka

For more reading on the subject of eco-anxiety and what you can do to help yourself out, check out these articles:
Additionally, here are some times when I've alluded to eco-anxiety in the past here on GTG:
If you are finding yourself completely overwhelmed or distraught with climate/environmental anxiety, please seek help through loved ones or trained mental health professionals

Saturday, November 26, 2022

The Benefits of Birds

There are a lot of sayings and idioms that involve birds: 
  • Like a duck to water
  • Birds of a feather flock together
  • Free as a bird
  • Birds eye view
And these are just a few. [For more, check out The Spruce's article Bird Idioms Explained.]

But the fact that they impact our language so much pays tribute to how readily available our flying feathered friends are. 

And lucky for us...birds do not just influence our language. They apparently serve our mind, body and spirit! Mary Jo DiLonardo addressed this fact in her 11/9/2022 Treehugger article "Seeing or Hearing Birds Is Good for Well-Being"

Researcher Ryan Hammoud (from King's College in London) led the study, finding that having birds in our sights or sound-space can actually provide positive emotional benefits for up to 8 hours. His goal in his research: to use the information for combining health, urban design, and city plannning. Hammoud noted that there has been a lot of studies focusing around the healthy impacts of Vitamin N--Nature, but not specifically centered on birds. (Vitamin FF--Feathered Friends?? 😉) 

Using the app Urban Mind, his experiments focused on 1,292 people who completed almost 27,000 assessments, surveys, and follow up questions. Three times a day, these experiment participants were asked questions about their proximity to birds as well as their current emotions--both positive ones (like self-assured, joyful, relaxed) and negative ones (like apprehension, overwhelm, and detached). Additionally, they took data on participants' diaagnosed mental health conditions. Researchers wanted to determine if there was any correlation between the birds and their mental well-being.

Results showed that regardless of diagnosis of mental health, all participants showed a positive spike in their emotional state when birds were factored in (regardless of other environmental stimuli)--sometimes lasting up to 8 hours. This was the first evidentiary study to prove that both the songbirds' melodies and watching them in fanciful flight or simply dining at the bird feeder. It also provided scientific confirmation that the biodiversity that surrounds us when we are out in nature (the flora, the fauna, and the feathered) all are part of that Vitamin N. [Go here to read the entire scientific report of the study.]

Additionally, this scientific study supports the efforts of 3BillionBirds.org and their pursuit to protect bird populations. According to their statistics, we no longer have 1 of every 4 birds we had in 1970. This species loss we now know also has a significant impact on our mental health (particularly depression). By raising conservation efforts when it comes to birds, we also--once again--are giving ourselves and our planet the gift of health.

My husband and I joke about how the older we get, the more bird feeders and birdhouses we seem to be acquiring. Little did we know we were just being proactive about our mental health! That's definitely "something to crow about," and may just be the key to being "happy as a lark."

* Bonus: Want to bring more nature sounds into your life to help create some calm while you "get your ducks in a row?" Check out this 3 hour soundtrack of bird songs from Acerting Arts on YouTube.


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Hope & Happy Thanksgiving

Given a little Halloween frightfest at the hospital this year (aka: scheduled surgery), I've been back to being laid up with more "wintering" and recovery happening at home. 

What does that mean for me? A lot of sleeping, reading, some TV binging, and repeating... once again. 

The timing of it is such that it has hit a lot of holidays: starting with Halloween, then spanning my Thanksgiving and Christmas, with the return being hopefully at the start of the new year. 

I did this purposefully to take advantages of the Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks, because ahhh... the calendar as decided by the teacher's school year!

One of the many books I read during this span of time was Hope: A User's Manual by MaryAnn McKibben Dana. I got it for a friend of mine who is troubled by the global climate crisis and how we always seem to miss our mark. As can happen with climate conversations, the level of doom and gloom can get you down. 

I wanted to give my friend "hope." Given "hope" has been a frequent theme in my own book choices, I felt I could use another dose of it myself, and got myself a copy as well.

The thing I really liked about this book (and something that made it fascinating to be reading it while sequestered at home during election season earlier this month), is that it referenced hope through the lens of so many things. 

Included in this list: elections, insurrections, social justice, systemic racism, climate change, pandemic pandemonium, and more. Many of these things are the exact concepts that (over the last half dozen years) still feel so heavy on me. Hope: A User's Manual met my post-hospitalization-hibernation well. I utilized this time to sleep, recover, and reflect on it all along with many other things. The author admitted early on the mere writing of the book, during the pandemic, was an attempt to "write herself back into a sense of hope" [p. 11]. 

I needed that book too.

MaryAnn McKibben Dana paints hope as different than optimism, toxic positivity, pithy platitudes, gaslighting, perfectionism, or over-romanticized nigglings and notions. 

Instead, hope is a "muscle to be exercised" [p. 22]. 

It is active not passive. 

It sometimes is quiet, and sometimes it gains fire from an anger that burns within. 

It can sometimes stem from joy and laughter and play. 

It can often times be uncomfortable--but we don't grow through comfort. 

It is a story we cultivate. 

It's the micro-movements we make. 

It's the breaths that stablize us. 

It's the beauty in nature that surrounds us. 

It's the small beacon of light on a dark day. 

It's the hard things that don't get fixed quickly or sometimes even in our generation, but that improve over time. 

It's the collective good fight to create a better world. 

It is grace, compassion, self-kindness, and perseverance. 

To me, hope has a lot of the same power as gratitude.

Gratitude is what alters your perspective toward what you have, not what you need. It can inspire you to give to those who need appreciation. It can lead you to give to grow your thankful heart.

May you have a Thanksgiving holiday filled with gratitude, friendship, countless blessings, and hope

Photos from https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/arts-and-culture/g22701713/happy-thanksgiving-quotes/?slide=9Additionally, from the same website gallery: Slide 5Slide 2Slide 12Slide 16Slide 21slide 22Slide 25Slide 29Slide 32; Banner created at www.canva.com

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Take Time to Sit & Watch

Maybe because it's starting to get late in the fall season...

Or, maybe because the beauty of autumn and the color spectrum of leaves always causes me to take pause...

Or, maybe because I simply have leaves on my mind (see my last post)....

This image and quote combination from 1000 Hours really spoke to me.

Save time this season for more of this:

Image from https://www.facebook.com/1000hoursoutside/posts/pfbid02m1Hc6BdgvhykJB47BHtHCUtu1PA46EaPZseBPFLwyJ3Jg3R4Hz74T6vBomEu4b7el

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Reaching 8 Billion

Yesterday (Tuesday, November 15th, 2022) was the Day of 8 Billion. It was the day we, as a planet, reached the global milestone of 8 billion (with a "B") people. This feat took only 12 years to go from 7 billion (in 2010) to 8 billion.

Ever since yesterday when I heard the news of it being 8 Billion Day, I've periodically checked in on WorldOMeter's website. It shows the current population numbers in live time, with numbers changing by the second. It's amazing to see the incredible jump from this time today versus the same time yesterday!

Watching the trajectory historically as we gain each additional billion is fascinating. The graph below--as well as the data in the chart I made--were from Population Education's website and their post by Marian Starkey [July 6, 2022] entitled "8 Billion and Growing: World Population Milestones Throughout History." Both data visualizations are eye-opening and jaw-dropping when you think of how that rate has increased over time. The startling point too is how flat the line on the graph was for population growth from year 0 to 1800 (which you can see on the graph shown here).



While it's looking like United Nation projections don't have us hitting 9 million until 2037 (15 years, a bit of a bigger jump than what we just saw between 7 and 8 billion), there clearly are ramifications across almost every field of study and interest. Of course, there are the environmental impacts of an ever-crowding planet. Technology and medicine have made it possible to have fuller, richer, healthier, and longer lives. Growing population means we need to have the resources available for us to live here on our planet as well as to provide us with food for all of these growing people. 

To learn more about the Day of 8 Billion and how 8 billion people impact our planet, check out these sites:

  • "How Big Is a Billion" benchmarks from Population Education so you can begin to wrap your head around just how big IS 8 billion??!
  • Click this GTG archived link from back in February of 2015 (way back when there were only 7.3 billion people) to see Population Education's 7 minute map-animated video of population over time from 0 to current day and projected to 2050
  • Also from February 2015 and my "Framing Education Around Population" post about Population Education, find the map of what countries would look like if their land mass matched their population.
  • Population Riddles you can use in class with to get your students math minds bending around these really big numbers.

Intro image from https://thelatch.com.au/current-world-population/Population graph from https://populationconnection.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/1800-2100.png; chart created from data on https://populationconnection.org/blog/world-population-milestones-throughout-history/, video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vL1_kCX6qg



Saturday, November 12, 2022

Mighty Leaf Mosaics

The winds and rain whirled powerfully around the last 2 nights from the aftermath of Hurricane Nicole making her way up the Atlantic Coast. Watching as the leaves whipped by my window, it reminded me of something beautiful I saw earlier in the week on social media.

Every year, it's a welcome surprise how beautiful leaves are as they light our landscape on fire with their changing reds, oranges, yellows, browns, and purples. Yet, Nikola Faller has shown how those leaves can be repurposed again into a different kind of art. Annually and autumnly Nikola Faller, an academic sculptor and land artist from Osijek, Croatia creates amazing works of art that are perfect for drone photography. Designing a pattern then raking leaves into shape, Faller creates colorful, amazing, earthy mosaics. Leaves and rakes (and perhaps even a well-placed leaf blower) serve as the medium he uses to create these mosaics. The grassy ground acts as his green canvas. His museums are local parks nearby, and he showcases his work on his Slama.Land.Art Instagram page.

Off-season, with no leaves in sight, his canvases are beaches with his art meticulously drawn in the sand... or straw-based art after harvest. To find more images that are specifically fall-focused, check out AmazingPlaces.com's article entitled "Artist Creates Art from Falling Leaves."

Saturday, November 5, 2022

The Begley-Cohen Test

The word "test" is one of those words that instinctively ramps up the anxiety levels and beads of sweat.

Luckily, the Begley-Cohen Test isn't that kind of test. Instead, it is patterned off of the Bechdel-Wallace Test which measures female representation in film and television. 

The Begley and Cohen of test namesake are environmentalist and actor Ed Begley Jr. and Dianna Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition. The point of the Begley-Cohen Test is to analyze media for their use of single-use plastic. A movie or show passes the test if no single-use plastics are shown OR if they are shown, they are portrayed as problematic and discuss the environmental matter. 


Not only is their goal to "flip the script on plastics," but there is another section of the Plastic Pollution Coalition website with their media blitz campaign entitled "Flip the Script on Plastics." They want to normalize that plastics don't just magically disappear into the abyss, but that it's a real overuse on fossil fuels and petroleum to make plastic that then endangers our wildlife. 

On this website, members of the entertainment industry are invited and encouraged to sign the pledge to rethink both their usage and the use of plastics on the sets and in storylines. 

Also on the site are resources about plastic pollution and real world solutions.

The Begley-Cohen Test was introduced on social media and on the Plastic Pollution Coalition blog on October 6, 2022. With it being a new investigation just a month old, following these hashtags are the ones to follow: 

Video from https://youtu.be/JTgy7gl2x2s and image from https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/blog/2022/10/6/the-begley-cohen-test-for-film-and-tv and https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/flipthescript

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Maps, Maps, and More Maps

As an elementary teacher, sometimes a good map to use in the classroom is about as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster or the Abominable Snowman. The world of Google is great, but the billions of possibilities when searching is like trying to land that needle in that haystack.

Therefore, landing on the following tweet by Brendan O'Sullivan was like finding the Holy Grail of maps as he pointed to Laura Pellegrino's curated Google file of well over 100 mapping blackline masters.


This is a must-have for anyone who teaches or anyone who ever needs a map! 🌍

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Happy Halloween Weekend

'Tis that season for all things wickedly wonderful this Halloween weekend. May yours be safe, fun, and memorable!

Image created on www.canva.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Plastic-Free Fall

As a follow-up to my last post, here in the glory, color-filled days of fall, here is a poignant little video I ran across on Instagram. Created by the Plastic Pollution Coalition, this video reminds you how some of the best things of fall are both financially free AND plastic free. How many can you cross off your list as autumnally-accomplished this fall?

Instagram post from from https://www.instagram.com/plasticpollutes/channel/ and clipart from http://clipart-library.com/free/leaf-clipart-transparent.html

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Halloween's Ahead


This year for Halloween I'm going as a hospital patient, Patients gown. Surgical mask. Hospital bed included. It's my second-needed surgery of 2022, and I'm eager to get it on the backside of me so that the days ahead can be back to being mine!

There's a lot of reuse in my costume (though I get it's not for everyone)! This is always a great goal in this often-time consumer-meets-consumables Halloween holiday.

As you are plotting and planning your Halloween ahead, these two articles from GreenCitizen may be just what you need to help you reduce and reuse, and get yourself a new-to-you look for this spooky season:

Art created at www.canva.com 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Libby ~ The Library Reading App

I've posted time and again about being an avid and voracious reader. [As of right now, I'm on book #48, well-poised to hit #52 books for the year.] Fiction, nonfiction, it doesn't matter. It's all part of my day and who I am.

One little app has become a game-changer in not only saving me money, but it's also upgraded the books that I am am reading. For years I've been almost exclusively been reading books on my phone's Kindle app. It leaves me always having a book in hand, able to travel light and read wherever I might be. Additionally, it's there, easy to hold, and no need for turning on a light if I wake up at 2 am and need to quiet my overthinking "mom/daughter/spouse/teacher" brain.

For a lion-share of this past year, I've been using the Libby app. Libby ties with your local library through your library card to let you borrow ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and more. Sometimes you have to wait a few weeks by placing your request on hold until a copy is available for the 2-week download. Upon retrieving your book, you have some choices as to how you would like to read it. It funnels seamlessly into your Kindle app, and best part: your reading streaks continue on. [As of this writing, I'm at 123 weeks in a row and 205 days in a row... as my husband would say, I'm governed by these and my my Apple Watch fitness circles! Yes, I am Pavlovian!]

Another transformational part for me is that I'm no longer buying the free to $5.99 books over at Kindle. I'm actually reading the best sellers and award winning books that I don't want to buy for $13.99 a pop, unless it's a really special or important title for me. I was reading some good books--now I'm reading some great books! That right there has me diving into more books too. Plus, my reading budgetary expenses have dropped significantly!

Plus, as a person who was always good at getting books from the library (but never great at getting them back TO the library), this is perfect because I can either ask to digitally renew it, or it just disappears from my phone or iPad. Only once did they not let me renew a book due to the waiting line. So, I just put it back on the list and I will grab it once it comes back available.

Another perk for my Kindle friends is the fact that you can still highlight notes in the book, and those will be saved in your Kindle app, even once the book moves on.

For my digital reading friends out there, if you haven't found Libby yet, it's time. It'll open up both your Apple and Android devices in new ways for a varied assortment of reading material.

Libby images from https://www.baldwinlib.org/updates-to-overdrives-libby-app/ and https://resources.overdrive.com/libby/

October Colors Surround

During the fall, it almost seems like every day of October, the colors shift so subtly yet significantly--sometimes changing right before your eyes day by day.

Due to that, I love the visualization on the Fall Foliage Prediction map created by SmokeyMountains.com. By using the sliders on the bottom of the map, you can plan your leaf peeping.

Here's what is predicted nationwide for the week ahead:


Additionally on the website below the interactive map are details as to why leaves turn the colors that they do. It showcases the science and chemistry behind the colors that we see on our leafy trees... and why those same leaves fall to the ground.

Makes you want to get out there to go see them while you can!

Image from https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/ as set for October 17th; quote image created on Canva.com

Saturday, October 15, 2022

The Power of Purpose at Patagonia

Almost exactly a month ago on September 14th, outdoor-apparel company Patagonia released new of their new, one and only shareholder: Mother Earth.

Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, has long been donating 1% of Patagonia's profits to environmental causes. Not only previously green in their donations, but Patagonia is known to be green with their other company efforts as well, including their nature-centric vision and emphasis on repairing items. But in September of this year, Chouinard decided 1% was not near enough, and raised the bar another 99%, stating "the Earth is now our only shareholder." All money not going back into the business are profits that will be spend donating to tackle the climate crisis. 

[Psst...Patagonia is worth $3 billion!]

In honor of Patagonia's 50th year since he found it, Chouinard wanted to make a move to make a statement. Not wanting to sell the company in order to donate the money to the environment [and not wanting take the company public], he decided that he'd "go purpose" versus "going public." The company stocks are managed by the following two entities: Patagonia Purpose Trust and Holdfast Collective. The former gains the voting stocks with the plan to protect the company's core values. The latter is the nonprofit fighting against environmental hazards and fighting for nature. The Holdfast Collective also gets the non-voting stock worth $3,000,000,000. 1% will continue to go to grassroots environmental activists, just as before.

It's a bold and innovative way to do business. May more companies continue to follow suit, thinking of a world bigger than themselves and their own personal profits.





Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Honoring Indigenous Peoples' Day

A friend of mine does a lot of hiking throughout the year. It's always wonderful to see her scenic adventures on social media. When she posts her pictures and talks about each hike, she always posts as her final line something to the effect of this: "___ is located on the stolen ancestral lands of the Piscataway and Susquehannock people." It always gets me thinking.

On Monday, in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, the college I attended posted this on Facebook: "rests on land once cared for by native nations including the Kiikaapoi/Kickapoo, Peoria, Očhéthi Šakówiŋ/Sioux, and Myaamia/Miami." I was impressed with their attention to whom the land originally belonged.

I grew up knowing the second Monday of October as Columbus Day. The whole "In 14 hundred, ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue" mantra burned on my brain from being a kid in elementary school in the '70s. Since being a teacher and getting my Master's degree in Education in the mid 1990s, the emphasis was on multiculturalism and multiple perspectives. It governs a lot of my own perspective in life, knowing that there are a variety of people out there with different views and vantage points of my own. It's why I take a great interest in Intersectionalism and how it relates to many things, including the environment and social justice. I've long-used Jane Yolen's book Encounter to teach about Columbus Day, and while the age of exploration opened up a lot of the globe to people, it often came at the expense of the native people who lived there. 

All of this came back to me on Monday, October 10th, 2022 as I encountered my midwestern alma mater paying tribute to the lost ancestral land on both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples' Day. I loved that my former university linked to the Native Digital Land website. [Additionally there are Apple & Android apps so you can have this information with you on your phone to use while you are on the move.] The goal of this interactive website is "to help map Indigenous territories, treaties, and languages." I love that they have a page on their website detailing "Why It Matters." Because it does matter. Words matter. Meaning matters. Representation matters. History matters. Land matters--and so does its sacredness to each of us. Acknowledging all of this matters. 

Using the Native Digital Land map search engine, you can zoom in and find the territories, languages, or treaties for anywhere in the United States to determine the native people that lived there before colonialism took over. You can also click to turn on or off the "settler labels" (aka: street names when zoomed in, city and state names when zoomed out). You can also click here for their Teacher's Guide to learn what else you can do with this website in your classroom. 

Signing off....while writing and contemplating all of this from land that originally were those of the Piscataway and Susquehannock people.


Title image created at www.canva.com and screenshots from https://native-land.ca.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Humble Media Genius with Ruff Ruffman

Who do you call when you need some inside information on media and technology? Why Ruff Ruffman, of course! Who is Ruff Ruffman, you ask? He's the animatronic cartoon dog host from PBS Kids show Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman which aired from 2006-2010. This show served as the spinoff on several other digital shows and shorts from 2014-2022, including Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius Humble Media Genius has Ruff Ruffman, front and center, and tackles many of the important conversations centered around internet safety, tech balance, texting, sharing photos, online searches and more. These media literacy shorts are geared for children aged 6-11.

Here's his short on Green Technology--click here to find 3 more Green Tech shorts:

Other topics in the Humble Media Genius suite include the following, with videos, games, information, and more:

They have also united with the Youth and Media team at Harvard's Berkman Klein Center to compile classroom curricular resources for teachers for grades 1-3.

Ruff Ruffman has the right mix of humor, quirkiness, and information to engage kids and stress the importance of being safe, being respectful, being responsible, and making good decisions both online and off!

Video from https://youtu.be/l6zp8lI2KJE, image from  https://pbskids.org/fetch/ruff/about.html

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Feeling the Hurt After Hurricane Ian

Unless you've been living under a rock this week, you've heard a thing or two about Hurricane Ian. Where I live, we a're getting days worth of dark and dreary, cold rain from it as it stalls here.


Additionally, after living in Florida for 6 years a good decade and a half ago, I've been through a hurricane or two myself. All the familiar vocabulary comes "raining" back: cones of uncertainty, spaghetti models, storm surges, maximum sustained wins, and more. Also, concern for friends and favorite places I still have in Florida brought this particularly close to home for me.

Hurricane Ian made landfall at a high Category 4 storm, doing major damage in Fort Myers with its 7 foot storm surge. [The sustained winds were only two mph short of being a Category 5 storm.]  Ian tied for the 5th strongest hurricane to make landfall. It then crossed Florida, doubled back over sea gaining strength and hit South Carolina as a Category 1 storm. In Florida, more than 2.3 million lost power. Areas of Florida got 12 to 28 inches of rain. Hundreds of flights were canceled in the domino effect of airfare cancellations. It has become the 6th deadliest US Hurricane since 1980 with just over 100 deaths, and it is Florida's biggest storm since 1935. Financially, the total damages range in the neighborhood of $68-100 BILLION. Capital B. Capital "all" letters. 

Climate change gets credit for intensifying the rainfall, making Hurricane Ian's rain 10% worse due to greenhouse gas pollution, thanks to life beyond the Industrial Revolution. Climate change often also gets credit for warming the oceans which only serves to intensify the growth and power of the storm.

This video from NOAA SciJinks shows how hurricanes form.  It's the perfect informative video for both young and old.

If you are in a position to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, here are some resources:

Video from https://youtu.be/wPDoIrGUrEc, image from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/live-map-track-the-path-of-hurricane-ian

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Building Leaders Through Outdoor Education

I ran into this quote the other day and it really spoke to me.


It took me back a few schools ago (probably to the tune of 20 years or so), and I am reminded of a former 3rd grader of mine. (Let's call him Trey.) 

Trey was a struggling student in my class. A medicated ADHD student who's impulsivity got him in a thick of trouble every time he turned around. His parents were frequent fliers for parent conferences with me. Trey had a strong ability to think outside the box, he made great connections, and you could see he had an incredible entrepreneurial spirit. But he struggled. Somewhat academically, but mostly behaviorally. He just had to get from 3rd through 12 grade of school without falling victim to his own demise.

In the spring that year, our 2 third grade classes decided as a grade level to build a butterfly garden on campus. Administration gave us a plot of land that we needed to clear and a budget for some pollinator plants and milkweed. Here is where Trey came to life. It bears repeating--here is where he really thrived! He did the work of 3-4 people and got right down to business. He was a master with the shovel. He was the leader of that butterfly garden. My partner teacher and I talked a lot about Trey in this role and the other couple of kids that really shined during this project. What if we could have them out there every day for a half hour before school doing something like this!? It was completely their wheelhouse and it was leadership in action. 

Getting kids outside more in our classroom requires a bit of thinking outside the box. National Geographic has an excellent post on "backward planning." A big perk in planning and teaching this way: it gives students more agency and control in their own learning. Author and educator Alison Katzko gives four tips on how to achieve your best through backward planning in this article entitled ""How to Get Students Outside? Try Backward Planning" By making outdoor excursions part of your regular routine, and looking for curricular connections, you can meet the standards in ways that truly impact your kids! 

She has a second article in the series called "Why Abi Henneberry Takes Her Class Outside Each Day". Not only does this activity bring hands-on learning and engagement, but it also builds empathy, community, and helps broaden perspectives. Again--all key features in leadership!!

Think of the leaders we as teachers can help shape and create!


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Science 101: Plastics

As I was perusing my way through the National Geographics Resource Library, I found myself tumbling through so many amazing finds. I think of it much like the stereotypical story I tell my 5th graders about getting lost in the YouTube sea of crazy cat videos when we discuss digital citizenship and prepare them for their 1-to-1 iPads in Middle School. We've all done it. But NatGeo's are definitely more fascinating.

One I happened upon that really spoke to me is their Science 101: Plastics learning video. To watch, you'll need to click the link

In it you get a history of plastics, its merits and obvious overuse, but it also gives you some amazing graphics on how much plastic has shown up since its inception in the 1950s. (Spoiler alert: WOW!) Also, it takes about some new takes on plastic-eating microbes and bioplastics. It's 5 minutes and 45 seconds worth of watching to remind you to rethink your plastic usage.


Image screenshot from https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/science-101-plastics

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Lazy Person's Guide to Saving the World

"Lazy" often times gets a bad wrap. It comes with a negative connotation and it makes us feel sub-par, like we're not doing all that we "should." 

However, we all feel a little lazy sometimes. And sometimes we NEED to be a little lazy. We can't be on the go all the time. We need time spent lounging in a hammock, taking an afternoon nap, reading a good book, watching entertaining shows, or just being a couch potato. 

What if there was a way to work on saving the planet while being a little bit lazy? It's an enticing thought. We can't all be 24-7 activists. And even those out there who are busy changing the world, they need time to sleep.

I think that's why the United Nations "Lazy Person's Guide to Saving the World"appeals to me so much! It leaves me thinking, "Hey! I can do this!" Sometimes big things (like saving the planet or addressing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals) just feel too big!

The United Nations has created a fabulous website that creates a "can do" approach to help tack global issues. In the "Lazy Person's Guide to Saving the World," the UN has broken action items of things you can do into 4 levels. Smaller always feels more doable than a huge monumental task. With bite-sized bits, we can begin to make a true difference. 


Here's an overview, but be sure to check out there website!
  • Level 1: Sofa Superstar - Things you can do from your couch
    • Ideas here include online versus paper statements, staying informed of the issues (and staying away from "alternative facts"), turning off lights that aren't in use, and more!
  • Level 2: Household Hero - Things You Can Do From Home
    • Ideas here include taking shorter showers, eat less meat, turning down your thermostat, and more!
  • Level 3: Neighborhood Nice Guy - Things You Can Do Outside Your Home
    • Ideas here include avoiding impulse buys, bringing a refillable water bottle, getting vaccinations, and more!
  • Level 4: Exceptional Employee - Things You Can Do at Work
    • Ideas here include mentoring younger folks in your field, carpooling when possible or take public transportation, reducing waste, and more!