Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Greenhushing, Greenlighting, and More Eco-Vocab

I ran across a new-to-me term the other day, scrolling through some of my newsfeeds: greenhushing.

I know what "greenwashing" is. It's when companies tell us their products (or their company itself) is more environmentally friendly than they actually are. It's a misleading marketing ploy, leading us as consumers to feel proud we are shopping greener or doing a great job of "recycling."  Additionally, it can lull us to think we are doing the right thing for the environment, when really, we continue to be part of the problem.

But what is greenhushing? Upon looking, it led me down the rabbit hole of wondering about more new terms. What about greenshifting, greendcrowding, greenlighting, greenlabeling, and greenrinsing?

As you can imagine, they all fall under the larger propaganda umbrella of greenwashing.

According to Euronews' August 14, 2023 article "What is Greenhushing? How to Spot the Sophisticated Greenwashing Tactics Being Used in 2023," by Angela Symons, the non-profit financial think tank Planet Tracker has broken greenwashing into 6 different types, all leading to my new vocabulary. The Euronews article has a lot of details and specific examples worth reading. Here is a quick highlight of the 6 types of greenwashing. Think of it as the hierarchy of "environmental fake news" and all different types of misrepresentation & misinformation about a company's "green-ness" and sustainability practices.
  • Greencrowding--This is overcrowding the industry and hoping that your sustainability practices will be lost in the sea of numbers, preferably at a nice and slow pace.
  • Greenlighting--Much like gaslighting, the product or company highlights one green feature (which may be small) and drawing attention away from their more non-sustainable, anti-eco practices.
  • Greenshifting--This is when companies shift the blame from themselves and pushing it onto the fault of the consumer. Like the consumer should be recycling more, versus the company should be having a turn-in or buy-back center to make it easier for the consumer to do just that.
  • Greenlabeling--This practice is when marketers mislead consumers with labels (either via text, imagery or both), indicating that something is green, sustainable, or organic, when maybe this isn't fully accurate.
  • Greenrinsing--When companies reduce, delay, or change their environmental standards or targets, making it look like their overall recycling or sustainability initiatives are closer than they really are. Bringing the finish line closer does not mean you have achieved full environmental wins. 
  • Greenhushing--This is when companies under-report their sustainability information to avoid investor/public scrutiny.
In the category of "the more you know, the more you know," let's all go forward being critical consumers, keeping our eyes open to being more eco-informed about the products we buy, so that our green consumerism can help shape a greener economy--for both our pockets and our planet!

Image created on

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Nutty About National Parks

Yes, it is back to school season, but just because the books are out and the classes are filled, that doesn't mean we are at the end of outdoor adventures.

Perfect time to plan ahead for local and state parks near you, and maybe even make some longer adventures to nearby National Parks.
Timing is definitely ideal if you have a 4th grader living in your hours, or if you want to share it with a few of your favorite fourth grade classes!

The Every Kid Outdoors Program started in 2015. It grants outdoor passes for free entry to all US National parks, starting September 1 and remains valid through August 31st the following year. The purpose it to stir up excitement and enthusiasm for our public lands. The only way to be a true steward of the Earth is to learn to love it. Through some research, it was found that 4th grade is the optimal time for that stewardship to grow and blossom. Additionally, the program counters the digital draw of devices and the fact that kids younger and younger are getting sucked into the seductiveness of them. Getting them to unplug and get outside exploring has wins on every front.

Some resources affiliated with Every Kids Outdoors:
  • Get your pass here. You can also find educator and parent resources there too. Passes cover all entry and day-use fees/charges and will cover up to 4 adults in the car. (Kids under 15 have free entry to public lands.)
  • Additional resources can be found at Teacher Goal's article.
Other websites regarding the bounty and benefits of National Parks:

Quote image from and Every Kid Outdoors logo from, Nautty about National Parks squirrel image created at Adobe Firefly using thus prompt: cute cartoon squirrel with nut in front of sign that says "national park" advertising the importance of going to national parks with kids.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Contemplating the Complicated Emotions That Come With Back to School Season

Back to School season always hits me with such a myriad of emotions. 

I love teaching and I love my job (especially as it has evolved over the years). I adore my fellow colleagues and always learn so much from them and appreciate how teachers have a wonderfully wicked sense of humor. I thrive on those "ah-ha" moments that my students have when they learn something new or that connection finally clicks for them. I do a silent "yes" (arm & fist "yes" gesture included) when I see student struggle coalesce into confidence and complete understandings. In my role as Tech Specialist, I get the opportunity to experience that with my teachers learners too when they also acquire new tech skills I have taught them. I have a true love of learning, soaking up new trends and seeking to continually becoming wiser within my field.  

BUT...I love my summers!!! They are so hard to say goodbye to. Teachers are blessed with having this 6-12 week block off in the summer to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate between school years. Time to "BE"--off schedule, outside, at the pool, napping, reading, less stressed! In my 30+ years of teaching, I've seen the people who see "teacher summer" as decadent and perhaps like to laugh at the concept of "easy living." But then there are the people I know, love, and live with who see how vital that summer block is for decompressing, reflecting, and reinvigorating to prepare for all the demands that teachers face during the 9-10 month school year. Even moreso, here in the post-Covid world of 2020 and 2021, Many of us still are in recovery mode, warding of the PTSD of pandemic teaching, given the demands of that era of education seems to be the gifts that keep giving.

So now, here we are, at the front end of another school year. 

I have been experimenting a lot lately with ChatGPT. while playing around with it, I fed it the prompt "back to school season" and it spit out 5 paragraphs about what all that 4 word phrase entails. I then typed in the following prompt: 

"Using the information listed above, write a lighthearted, positive welcome back poem to teachers, elevating them for the school year ahead, and paying tribute to all of the things they do for their students and students' families all year long. Honor them as unsung heroes and wish them good tiding for a super year ahead. "

ChatGPT responded with a 7 stanza poem (in less than 60 seconds, of course), showcasing its power and prowess. As one should do when using generative artificial intelligence, I read through it, generated a few versions through the AI, merged a few, then made it my own by sprinkling in a bit of me. Full disclosure, it was a combined work, with ChatGPT getting a bulk of credit for it. (Demonstrating good practice, I've credited it below.). Here's the outcome:

Ode to Back-to-School Season & Our Teachers

Goodbye dear summer and our teacher delight,
The time has come for school to resume its flight.
Adventures lie ahead within classrooms we'll share,
With backpacks and supplies, all readily prepare.

Unsung champions, mentors so true,
Through challenges faced, teachers help us breakthrough.
From numbers and words, to wisdom's embrace, 
Teachers light every paths with knowledge and grace.

Teaching so much more than mere words on a page, 
Cultivating wisdom and hearts that engage,
Teachers do it with patience and care each day,
Providing students a chance to learn, laugh, and play.

So here's to you, Teachers, with hearts of gold, 
As the new school year's story starts to unfold. 
May your classrooms resound with joy and with cheer,
As we wish you super success for a very good year.

Just as each new year is unique and different, teachers need to embrace the changes and challenges that lie ahead. With the growing questions and curiosities and concerns and celebrations of AI, this quote spoke to me. I found in the public AI Classroom Facebook Group. The quote is by author Amanda Fox, coauthor of The AI Classroom: The Ultimate Guide to Artificial Intelligence in Education (and co-written by Dan Fitzpatrick and Brad Weinstein). I like the focus on collaboration and the importance of mixing human intelligence (HI) and artificial intelligence (AI) together to make something better than before. [Vicki Davis, known as "Cool Cat Teacher" and the creator of "The 10 Minute Teacher" podcast has written a lot about the combination of HI + AI.]

Teachers, may your upcoming school year greet you with good energy and adventure for what is ahead. May we all serve as inspiration to each other, lift each other up on the hard days, and make amazing memories during the year ahead.

Poem above modified and shortened from 3 generated poems by Chat GPT on August 19th, 2023 using the prompt listed above, quote image from; back to school image created at and

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Maui's Fires and the Climate Tie-In

Once again, we are seeing devastating news of natural disasters with the wildfires of Maui, where approximately 1/5 of the island is in severe drought. In part, this is due to decreased amounts of rainfall in Hawaii over the last 100 years--90% less, in fact, according to scientists' calculations.

The Maui fires are coming on the heels of the March-Summer 2023 Canadian wildfires which were impacting the air quality with their particulate matter in much of the Eastern US and at times the upper Midwest as well

Just as the Australian wildfires of 2019-2020 caught global headlines, here we are again. Before that in 2018, the Carr & Mendocino fires of California were ripping through headlines. Wildfires and drought conditions are becoming more and more prevalent.

This isn't just a freak of nature--there is a cause. That cause is climate change and the effects of extreme weather. Especially in a year that is proving to be the hottest on record. After 8 of the last 10 years of maintaining this same record-"winning"-title, we keep heating up--landing with the same "Hottest Year Yet" headline. The cause itself isn't climate change, but rather with raised temperatures and an overabundance of heat, everything dries out, intensifying the fire, and ultimately the devastation.

This information from climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe helps shed some light on just how climate change and massive wildfires are related:

The devastation to communities, landmarks, wildlife, and individuals is immense, horrific, and heartbreaking. To learn more about how to help the people of Maui, learn more at this PBS News Hour article about ways to donate.

One can only hope that out of this tragedy, there can come the tiniest sliver of a silver lining. As more global natural events like wildfires, droughts, or hurricanes happen, mainstream media is FINALLY starting to focus more news time on climate news and our human impact. As more and more people get educated about what is happening in the world, human change hopefully will follow. Through more open dialogue and detailed, science-based information, perhaps legislation and policy will also take place--leading to a global community committed to takinge care of our planet and ultimately each other.

Video from, image from

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Barbie Movie & Girls In STEM

If you follow any Hollywood news or social media, you may have heard of a little movie called Barbie, which (at this writing) has made over $1.03 billion in the three weeks since it's July 21st released. For anyone who is unsure--that's a solid win and record breaking indeed.

I have not seen the Barbie movie yet (though we finally made it to Oppenheimer--fantastic!) As for the Barbie movie, I definitely have plans to see it at least once with a friend (who loved it), and hopefully too with my family. My 20-something daughter, who's been pretty anti-pink her entire life, even liked it, so that's strong reviews indeed.

As a product of the '8os, I played Barbies a lot. I had a wooden built Barbie house that friends of the family made (which was way cooler than the more plastic, more expensive variety), and I also had the camper and the corvette. [Also, as a product of the '80s, I also have yet to see Indiana Jones...which is a travesty given the first part of the sentence, but that is indeed another story.]

Given being a Barbie fan growing up, and a female and an elementary tech teacher, I was really drawn to Shannon Buckle's recent blog post on her DT with Mrs. B entitled "Girls Can Code - Barbie Says So!" She too is a an edtech teacher, though she is in New Zealand. She highlighted a lot of her adoration with the movie, and also the importance of needing more women in both coding and technology. I like her lens of looking at the movie with this vantage point, and am eager to do so myself when watching.

It also got me wondering about the tech statistics. I landed at Exploding Topics & Jessica Hubbert's April 25, 2023 post entitled "70+ Women In Tech Statistics (2023)." A very good read, but these highlights stood out:

With 47.7% women in the global work force (which is higher in the US at 57.4%--though even that number is lower than the US high of 60% in 1999), only 26.7% of women are in tech-related fields/jobs. Yes, women are under-represented. And no surprise, women in software engineering still report unequal pay. (Although, I was surprised by how close it was at 93 cents for every dollar men make.) 

So how do you get -- and then keep --girls and women in STEM fields? Here are two good reads with a lot of great answers:

In the meantime, looks like I've got two jobs:

1. Go see the Barbie movie.

2. Serve as a positive role model for the gals in my tech classes, encourage their interest, and provide them with a lot of opportunities to innovate and love it!

Images from and

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Benefits of Blue & Green Spaces

Summer. This time of the year for teachers, it feels like it is dwindling!

It takes purposeful reminders to realize that yes, the back to school season may be getting busier, but it is still summer.

And maybe it's because we are teachers--who tend to jump both feet first into "busy" and who's job it is to educate others--that we really do need to pay attention to the fact that it IS still summer.

That we need to get outdoors.

That we need to get our kids outdoors.

That we need to refresh, restore, recharge, and rejuvenate--especially in the busy season. Especially in a season that can bring anxiety to kids, adults, and teachers alike as our schedules switch and new expectations and levels of busy-ness sets in. 

We all need our blue (water-related) and green (outdoor) spaces. Kids of all ages! We need to get out, near, around, and in water and nature! And here's some proof:
  • Edutopia's Dec. 6, 2022 article by Alissa Alteri Shea: Nature Learning in All Seasons-- here you'll learn some ways to integrate nature into your lessons
Get outside here, even in this busy season. Your mental health will thank you.

Art created at

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Threads for Educators

Threaducators unite!

Have you jumped on the Threads bandwagon yet? 

Threads, Meta's Intstagram-related social media alternative to Elon Musk's X (formerly Twitter), hit the world just over a month ago on July 5th, 2023. Since it's roll out, Threads hit record-breaking highs for initial users only 2 days after coming out. Its user numbers surpass 100 million here, a month later. Given those numbers, Threads has a lot of potential as a PLN (Personal Learning Network), which is how many professions have used social media. I've learned a lot by following educators and environmentalists. 

So it's no surprise that "Threaducators" is an actual thing! Merge Threads + educators, and that's what you have. Now all you have to do is find your people.

Lucky for you, Eric Curts from Control Alt Achieve has made that easy for you. Right after Threads release, he created a Google form to collect educator information then published the growing list of educators. At this writing, nearly 1,100 teachers have added themselves to the list (including yours truly). Will you want to follow everyone. Probably not. But you can search the fields to find like-minded educators to find good fits for you and your interests. Let your personal learning begin! Just in time for the new school year to begin!

Image from

Saturday, August 5, 2023

AI Resources For Educators

As a follow up to my last post....

AI is here to stay. Teachers can benefit in a lot of ways...even if it feels a little like opening Pandora's Box sometimes. Change and "new" is scary. But, change--just like AI--also can open new doors, new ideas, new spaces, more time, more energy, and more creativity. 

Along those lines, click here or the picture below to find my Wakelet of a dozen websites I've curated to bring together a slew of AI resources for educators.

Image created at; Wakelet link:

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

The Ever Growing AI

The explosion of both AI (artificial intelligence) tools and AI counterpoints comes daily like a firestorm. 

This summer I did a one day professional development day, led by a colleague, I've read a book for educators, on it, I've read some articles (and stockpiled some resources), I've written about it a few times, and I've experimented with ChatGPT and Canva's Magic Write

Even after using ChatGPT a bit, every time I go in an play around with prompts, I'm shocked at how freaking fast it is able to compile the response. Even with a prompt as meaty as this:
Create a 40 week technology curriculum for fifth grade using the ISTE standard. Classes run once a week. Lessons should be minutes 45 minutes long. Each lesson will begin with a 10 minute warm up using typing exercises in Please do not create any stand-alone keyboarding lessons in the 40 lessons. Each curricular item can take place over multiple sessions (no more than 4) and can include coding using, 3D printing activities including Tinkercad, high/low/no tech maker activities and design thinking, the Google Suite of tools, LittleBits, Canva, and digital citizenship. Lessons should be hands-on and engaging for fifth graders. Please include any age-appropriate 1-5 minute videos that could be included in the mini lesson presented to the students before individual or group work time. With videos, include the link or the reference where the video titles can be found. 
What it spit out (in record time) was highly impressive. Will I use it exactly like that? No. Not at all. But it gave me a bountiful brainstorm and a good foundation of ideas from which to start creating my 5th grade Tech/Maker Lab lesson flow. Along with some other pointed questions around Tinkercad or LittleBit activity ideas, it has given me a wealth of ideas to pull from. Ideas that are more pointedly directed than a mere Google search or finds over on Pinterest boards. It saved me a huge amount of time here this summer as I did what we teachers do in the summer!

But, I will say, I'm definitely glad I teach at the elementary level. Ramifications for me as a teacher of younger students are certainly different than it is for middle and upper school kids. 

From my reading and self-education, here are some of the biggest take-aways:
  • Explicitly teach students both the merits/downfalls of using AI and how to use it while looking at the response with a critical eye.
  • Highlight to students that AI programs are designed to collect data
  • Provide students opportunities to practice double check sources, identify misinformation, and see bias that may be built into 
  • Discuss ethics & detail what plagiarism looks like in your classroom.
  • Set clear expectations on how to research and cite your sources.
  • Redesign assignments to be more challenging, handwritten, or performance based assessments.
  • Know that tools to identify cheating have mixed success, can be biased against certain cultures, and can be accessed by students as well.
  • Create activities & formative assessments along the way so that you are able to know the voice of your student.
  • Create questions tied to class discussions (no AI can replicate your classroom conversations, nor were "they there.").
  • Check revision history on shared word document assignments (like Google Docs) that have been shared with you--if multiple paragraphs appear all at once, that could be a "cut and paste" copying situation.
Artificial intelligence & websites such as ChatGPT are tools our students may potentially need to know how to use in future jobs. At the end of the day, AI is a tool--just like calculators, encyclopedias, computers, and the internet are tools. You need to know when to use each one and how to use each one appropriately. It is a powerful productivity tool that can jumpstart thinking and potentially free up intellectual space for greater creativity through the extension. For that reason, it is important for educators to teach students how to think critically, to research and cross-check internet "facts," to consider perspective, and to use empathy. These skills also need to be explicitly taught--and those are skills that you can't pop into a search and simply acquire that way.