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. 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'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

Looking for more ways to take part beyond the 60 minutes? Check out go'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 and, video from

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 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, Hope image from

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, Image from

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