Saturday, January 29, 2022

Urban Forests

What's a way to improve biodiversity and stockpile some carbon?

Create compact mini-forests in urban areas by planting native species close together in a dense area. These  mega, mini forests can have a way of packing a punch and taking a solid impact on climate change.

Video from, Image created at

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Ken Burns In the Classroom

Ken Burns has become synonymous with historical documentaries. No wonder, given he's been writing, directing, producing, and filming them for over 40 years. During his tenure and along with his collaborators, he has produced 36 films, most of which have aired on PBS, where you can also access them to stream online.

For teachers, this is a goldmine given he is the master of weaving together primary sources and archival footage.

PBS has set up a whole website dedicated to Ken Burns in the Classroom. There, you can search by film, era, topic, grade level, subject, and keyword to build your lesson plans.  Filtered searches can then lead you to videos, interactive, interactive lessons, lesson plans, audio, images, documents, webpages, and resource galleries that integrate with all of PBS's resources. 

The Ken Burns in the Classroom website also links you to the Ken Burns UNUM website, an extension digital world curated by Ken Burns in 2018 to build further connections. "Unum" comes from the United States motto: "E Pluribus Unum" which means "out of many One." His reasoning for both the name and the website--to create a visual history of a united shared history, even in divisive times. 
The goal is to remain impartial while layering together clips from past histories with the present day conceptual stories to see the greater meaning. Likewise, the intent is to help us return to civics education and civility.

UNUM is arranged by Featured content*, UNUM Shorts, Themes, Events, UNUM Voices, People, AP US History Themes, War, Places, Times, Conversations, and Opportunities from their Partners. Likewise there is a section for educators.

If ever you are looking for historical online resources, you may want to tuck this bookmarked page where you can find it!

*At time of writing, the Featured content includes his Facebook Live conversations in December 2021 with political historian, author, and professor Heather Cox Richardson.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Ryan Reynolds: The Environmentalist

My mom loves Ryan Reynolds. Not in a weird way, but in a cute, her-grandkids-like-to-tease-her way, where she could possibly watch "The Proposal" every day. Especially with Betty White, it's a complete classic. Not to mention, he IS pretty darn cute.

More importantly, he was green long before 2011 when he appeared in Green Lantern (long before his Deadpool & Red Notice days). Being an environmental lover and activist has been part of his core for well over half of his lifetime.

He also is the voice of Canadian's January 2022 The Nature of Things "Curb Your Carbon" series (where curses! as an American, I can not view this! Argh!). [You can learn more about that series here.] Here's a trailer (and you'll get why I'm upset to miss it, as it brings that iconic, engaging Ryan Reynolds humor to the screen):

It sort of makes sense why Canada (and fellow Canadian Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies) wrote a love song to him, especially after he won the Governor General's Art Award for his work, entrepreneurship, and activism. May we all follow in his environmental endeavors and carbon footprints!

Infographic created at credits on infographic, video from and

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

TED's Think Like A Coder Series

I've been working on some coding activities with my younger elementary students at school. For my very youngest students, we use Bee-bots as a way to introduce the concept of programming. Then and their CS Fundamentals courses are the perfect introduction to block coding for young students. From there I always like to bounce into Scratch Jr on the iPad.

The students love it and always beg for more.

Coding and computational thinking are definitely key literacy skills for today's students.

That's why, TED-Ed's "Think Like a Coder" Series is brilliant! Partnering with YouTube Learning Playlist, TED-Ed has created these ten short animated adventures teach the principles of coding through videos challenging you to think them through. To learn more about the series, go here. With names like Prison Break, The Resistance, and more, they will capture the interest of students of all ages!

Here's the trailer:

Episode 1: Prison Break

Episode 2: The Resistance

Episode 3: The Furnace Bots

Episode 4: The Train Heist

Episode 5: The Artists

Episode 6: The Chasm

Episode 7: The Tower of Epiphany

Episode 8: The Gauntlet

Episode 9: The Factory

Episode 10: The Finale: The World Machine

Video from :, Image from

Saturday, January 15, 2022

If Trash Could Talk

We all want a voice, because in having one, then we can be heard.

Archaeologists have long since been the historical voice through their archaeologist digs. You can learn a lot through the remains, and that remains true for both ancient and modern day trash. In that way, archaeologists are trashologists or garbologists!

Just like the Lorax spoke for the trees, these resources below speak for the trash. The video (๐ŸŽฅ) may bring a smile, the book (๐Ÿ“™) of poems might bring some enjoyment, and the experiments (๐Ÿงช) might bring some hands on science... but more than that, hopefully they cause you to pause and rethink what you are using in order to go forward making different choices.

๐Ÿ“™ If Trash Could Talk: Poems, Stories, and Musings (2018) by Jacquelyn A. Ottman

๐Ÿงช If Trash Could Talk experiment from the American Museum of Natural History 

๐Ÿงช Trash Talks from AIA Education Department

๐Ÿงช Trash Experiments from KonnectHQ

๐ŸŽฅ  If Trash Could Talk from Buzzfeed Videos:  

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Phenology & The 4 Seasons

As we are hitting the "wintery mix" days of weather here in early January where I live, I'm looking outside at "the muck and stuff" that's coming down on the snow that gave us a beloved snow day last week. Not being a winter girl, it has me longing for the signs of spring.

When we pay attention to those seasonal signs, we are following phenology.

To learn a little bit more about phenology and how it is tied to what is happening with climate change, check out this TED-Ed video:

If you can't get enough about Phenology, check out The Roving Naturalist's video on it!

It all reminded me of this video by Charles Germaine. I had the honor of sitting on a maritime foundation board with Charles over the past few years prior to the dissolving of the organization. Even prior to that, I'd been a fan of his videos and YouTube Channel. The video below is a phenology video of the "4 Seasons of Magothy River." The Magothy used to be the view outside my window at a school I taught at for 7 years (years ago). 

Here as we are making our way into January, if you are needing a little visual meditation to carry you through your current weather through the other seasons, take a phenology trip to visit them through Charles Germaine's 3:41 minute movie.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Cheering on the Changemakers

As I was catching up on TED Countdown and the many environmental talks from the end of October 2021, I ran across this talk from Melati Wijsen. That name sounded familiar. Of course it did! I'd written about her and her sister Isabel in 2018 and their TED talk about their push to make Bali plastic free. They were changemakers then, and as Melati describes in this TED Talk, making change doesn't happen over night, but it does happen!

Looking for a little inspiration here at the beginning of 2022? 

Start here: 10 years after Melati and Isabel Wijsen have been working hard to make a difference in their community. Then see where it is you can begin to make a difference as a changemaker in your own ways.

Looking for more about Changemakers? Check out the Changemaker podcast by Jackie Biederman.

A Treasure Trove of Wisdom & Wonderment with SciShow & More

I've talked before of my love of Crash Course videos. Brothers Hank and John Green (yes, "Fault in Our Stars" and other young adult books, author John Green) do a sharp-witted, quick pace deep dive into all sorts of topics of such as history, science, technology, engineering, psychology, business, sociology, film study, ecology, and more. They've revamped their website and have 32 themed courses and the knowledge base in there is exponential.

Hank Green is at it again--and has been since 2212. Hank, along with the help of a team of others including Michael Aranda, Olivia Gordon, Stefan Chin, Caitlin Hofmeister, Reid Reimers, Brit Garner, and Anthony Brown have created SciShow, which has now branched into the following 4 YouTube channels of wonderment and answers: 

  • SciShow -- tackling science discoveries and more to tweak your curiosities.
    • Spinoff: SciShow Tangents, which began in 2018, and gives you loads of random tangents and tidbits.
  • SciShow Psych -- sharing brain-based research and diving into what makes you "you!"
  • SciShow Kids -- bringing it down a notch to be right and ready to share information with the elementary set.
This post from edtech guru Richard Byrne on his Free Technology For Teachers details 3 elementary aged SciShow Kids' engineering--great if you are doing a digging into the design process. At 4-6 minutes long, these animated shorts are the perfect bite sized bits to energize your students.
You'll find other great engineering topics at a slightly higher level for students on the SciShow channel too. And the environment.... And math... And music..... the list goes on!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

52 Weeks Ahead

Last year, in February, I wrote about "52 Weeks Challenges." In it, I described my own personal pursuit to reading 52 books to correlate with the 52 weeks of the year. I kept a running list in my Artful Agenda digital calendar, and I did indeed hit 52 books... by August 11th. I also hit my stretch goal of 75 books, hitting 76 by the year's end. With a mix of fiction and non-fiction, sometimes it was a campy light read, and sometimes it was a book with deeper meaning. But it definitely was a year of a lot of reading... and escape... and new ideas.  

My book list for 2021 is below. Stars indicate my favorites. I'm going to go for another 52 books for 2022.

My hiking friend also met her goal on her #52HikeChallenge, hitting a grand total of 58 hikes during the year. Impressive!

What's your plan for the next 52 weeks? Where will you be a year from now? What changes do you hope to conquer, and what will it take to get you there. Whatever your plan is, take note of it, keep track and go for it!

*  *  *  *

MY GOAL: Read 52 books this year!

Achieved August 11th, 2021

Stretch Goal 75--Super Stretch goal 80

Stretch goal met December 26th, 2021

Total: 76 books 47 Fiction titles 29 Non-fiction titles

January = 5

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Leviathan

**Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho

Sam & Isla's Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn & David Leviathan

Dawn's Early Light by Elswyth Thane

You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness & Live an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

February = 4

Eat Smarter by Shawn Stevenson

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

**Your Perfect Year by Charlotte Lucas

March = 10

Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

**Bright Side of Going Dark by Kelly Harms

Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui

Woman Last Seen in Her 30s by Camile Pagan

Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger by Sonoya Chemaly

**The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson

The Home Place: Memories of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Latham

The World Becomes What We Teach: Educating a Generation of Solutionaries by Zoe Weil

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobosky

April = 6

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

There's No Planet B: Teen Vogue's Book on Climate Crisis Edited by Lucy Diavalo

**Immigrant Innovators: 30 Entrepreneurs who Made A Difference by Samantha Chagolian

Promise Cove by Vicki McKeehan

Kid Activists: True Tales of Childhood from Champions of Change by Robin Stevenson

Kid Innovators: True Tales of Chuldhood from Inventors and Trailblazers by Robin Stevenson

May = 8

**The 3 Mrs. Wrights by Linda Keir

My First Little Book of Intersectional Activism by Titania McGrath

Woke: A Guide to Social Justice by Titania McGrath

Wildernes: Gateway to the Soul by Scott Stillman

**Teaching When the World is On Fire edited by Lisa Delpit

The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury by Marc Levy

The Cafe on the Edge of the World: A Story About the Meaning of Life by John Strelecky

Your Turn: How to Be an Adult by Julie Lythcott Haims

June = 5

The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human Centered Planet by John Green

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universes by Benjamin Saenz

The President Is Missing by James Patterson & Bill Clinton

**Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do by Wallace J. Nichols

Stealing Home (The Sweet Magnolias Book 1) by Sherryl Woods

July = 11

A Slice of Heaven (The Sweet Magnolias Book 2) by Sherryl Woods

Duck: An Outer Banks Village by Judith D. Mercier

Coastal Wild: Among the Untamed Outer Banks Photography by Steve Altman and Mark Buckler

Feels Like Family (The Sweet Magnolias Book 3) by Sherryl Woods

Booked For Trouble: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates

Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students by Zaretta Hammond

**Park & Eleanor by Rainbow Rowell

The Culture Code : The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

Beach Read--Emily Henry

**Squeeze Me—Carl Hiasson

Songs of a Confederate Raven--Kathleen Thomas -- Robyn Hill (Illustrator)

August = 7

Sorry I Missed You—Suzy Lrause

The Proposal—Jasmine Guilleroy

The Truth and Other Hidden Things: A Novel—Lea Geller

The Restarting Point—Marci Bolden

**Teach Boldly: Using Edtech for Social Good—Jennifer Williams

**How the Word Is Passed: A Recogning With the History of Slavery Across America—Clint Smith

The Inn At Eagle Point (Chesapeake Shores Book 1)—Sherryl Woods

September = 4

Trophy Life—Lea Geller

For Once in My Life—Colleen Coleman

Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle For a Better World and a Meaningful Life—Zoe Weil

Party of Two—Jasmine Guillory

October = 4

Life Unscheduled—Kristen Rockaway

**Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World—Katharine Hayhoe

The Meetinng Point — Olivia Lara

Less—Andrew Sean Greer

November = 5

**Seven Perfect Things—Catherine Ryan Hyde

One Hit Wonder: A Samantha True Novel — Kristi Rose

When Life Gives You Lemons — Fiona Gibson

The Pride Guide: A Guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth — Jo Langford

The Comfort Book-Matt Haig

December =7

If the Fates Allow-Rainbow Rowell

The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily—David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

**Twelve Days of Christmas—Debbie Macomber

The Christmas Blanket--Kandi Steiner

A Christmas Message—Debbie Macomber

**Hope Is a Verb: Six Steps to Radical Optimism When the World Seems Broken—Emily Ehlers

The Bette Davis Club—Jane Lotter

TOTAL = 76 books

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Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Years 2022

When the clock strikes midnight, separating December 31 to January 1, it traditionally has brought on great times of reflection for me. I have a history of long mysteries as my parents often stayed at a wonderful old world German flair hotel with friends of the family over New Years. It was not only beautiful in its regular decor, but down right magical at Christmastime. My brother and I and our friends' children who were there with us had run of the hotel as our playground. We were safe and secure and it was a trusted spot where you couldn't get lost--yet it was ripe with its many hidden corners that were perfect for cozying in and finding time to reflect in these wonderful nooks and crannies. My journal and I would curl up together and I'd often think back on the year that had passed and the year that was ahead.

Thinking back to the past of not just this year, but the last couple, the past few years have been full with so many things we never thought would or could ever happen. In my modern time lifetime of technology and advanced medicine, a global pandemic was not on my radar of things I thought I'd ever experience. Nor did I think they'd be a two-year experience. 2020 was radically altered from the arrival of Covid-19. I remember being flabbergasted at one point when I heard Dr. Fauci or an epidemiologist on the news state mid-2020 that this could go to 2021. And now we enter 2022. 

I will admit, given the last few, I feel tentative as I toe dip into this new year. Who knows what's ahead given the craziness of all that we've endured. I feel the heavy weight of trepidation!

However, the more times you go around the sun, the more wisdom you gain with that experience. I'm certainly old enough to know that you never know what the future holds, but you also can't sit and stew about it. Here on the cusp of 2022, we haven't a clue what's ahead. Insert global issues, politics, innovation, economics, society, and more--there most certainly is no certainty! 

But, we are at the cusp of the year, what we can control is in our hands. What's in store for you, and what are you willing to do to get yourself where you want to be?

Every year, I do an exercise of determining one word for the year. We had to do this at the start of the school year this year as well. Given that, I'm going to stick with that one. My word: Buoyancy. Keeping myself up, keeping others up and supporting them. Gaining my strength in the peace, serenity, and calm in the same way I feel when buoyant on the water. 

May you land on your word this year as you reflect over where you have been and where you are going... and may your 2022 be rewarding in so many ways. Cheers to the new year!

Images from