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

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 and clipart from

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 

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 and

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 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 as set for October 17th; quote image created on

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 and screenshots from

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, image from

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, image from

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!