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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

National Tree! Christmas Tree! Coding All the Way

A week before Christmas Eve, as I'm watching a recording of the Lighting of the National Christmas Tree, I'm in a singing mood....I think you know the tune (with a touch a variation):

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
To know tech coding is so cool.
O Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree!
These skills are such a current tool.
Not only reading & writing here,
Let's also code computers this school year!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
To know tech coding is so dear!

What I've discovered is this: I'm not only a sap for a good Christmas show, but you totally have me if you throw in an educational component. Especially one with a 21st century skill of creativity, critical thinking, and computer coding! Google's Made W/Code has done an excellent job of pairing with the National Park Service this year with the televised lighting of the National Christmas Tree. Their goal: to help bring girls into the beauty, power, & importance of coding & computer programming. Just check out this video:

To watch the lighting of the National Christmas Tree (which happened December 4th), click here.

To see the state/territory ornaments on the National Pathway of Peace, check out this link..

Click here for Made With Code projects (including the ability to code your choice tree on the Pathway of Peace).  In just playing around, I discovered that I really & truly programmed the Florida state tree for December 22nd at 7:55 pm.  I also used code to make the little green avatar guy below.

For Made With Code Mentor videos, click this link. (Go Girl Power!).  Or, click here for the Code Makers.  (Again, all girls!)

And by all means, don't miss the Resources!

And whatever you do...don't forget to go code the Christmas Tree!!
Then sing it with me (to the tune of "Jingle Bells"):

National Trees, National Trees,
Coding all the lights.
Oh! What fun it is to make
A tree that's quite a sight!
National Trees, National Trees, 
Coding all the lights.
Oh what fun it is to make
A program to delight!

Video from; 
Song parodies & lyrics:  my own invention!
Coding creations made using the website, and saved after creating!

Monday, December 15, 2014

16 Holiday Life Hacks

John Green is one of my new all-time favorites.  Here's his "16 Holiday Life Hacks" from his Mental Floss.  Many of which are quite eco-friendly, putting the 3R's to heavy use!

Video from

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Cornucopia of Commentary on Climate Change

A collection.
A bounty. 
An abundance. 
A cornucopia!

Most certainly, this is it! At least on the subject of Climate Change. In my new job stockpiling of articles these last few months, a major wealth of my finds were on this still-controversial topic. Why it's even still a question, is beyond me. But, perhaps after this wealth, it might open some still-shut/blind eyes.

Debating A Climate Denier:  It's OK to Be Smart
The place to start, no doubt, is here: From PBS Digital Studios' "It's OK to Be Smart" Series: "Climate Science: What You Need to Know".

8 Climate Change Clues for Kids
This article highlights the website:  A Student's Guide to Global Climate Change.  "Student's Guide" is a great student site that encourages students to both think like a scientist, get facts, and also be part of the solution!

10 Failed Climate Change Denial Arguments
This features another great video, this time from Hank Green (brother of John Green--author of "Fault in Our Stars" and the sarcastic Crash Course History videos).  With John Green's sarcasm (family trait, obviously), Hank fights out all of those "typical" arguments that come up in the climate change "debate"

Will Climate Change Make Men Extinct?
An interesting look at fertility and rising global temperatures.

A Warmer Planet Means Boozier Wines.  Trust us, That's Bad
Like species of animals that could become extinct, so too could certain varietals of vino.

Red States More Likely to Be Burned By Climate Change
The Breadbasket of America might be one of the hardest hits, regardless of politics and whether or not the politicians there believe in climate change or not.

Emma Thompson Just Won Our Hearts With Some Straight Talk on Climate Change
It's always good seeing a famous face speak from her heart on issues of importance.

Screenshot from PBS Digital Studios' "It's OK to Be Smart" Series:
 "Climate Science: What You Need to Know"
Jon Steward Reminds Us Its Climate Change That'll Kill Us, Not Ebola or ISIS
Political satire always brings smiles.

This Graphic Novelist Tells the True Story of Climate Change
The story of "Climate Changed:  A Personal Journey Through the Science" by Philippe Squarzoni.

Climate Change Threatens National Security, Pentagon Says
The ills and effects of climate change become "threat multipliers" and "its impacts do not respect national borders."

Paul Ryan Thinks Humans Might Not Be The Cause of Climate Change
Huffington Post Live has a good time with this one.

They Took a Camera to a Remote Area in Greenland & What They Recorded is Simply Terrifying
Glacier watching, and watching the glacier calving.

Robert Reich on the Importance of Putting a Price on Carbon
Makes sense:  hit companies where it counts!  The wallet!

Teaching Kids about Climate Change?  Read them a Classic Story
A list of some great family favorites that put the importance of the environment at their heart

The Inventors of a 'Revolutionary' Climate Solution Just Won a Nobel Prize
Amazing what a Clean LED light can do!

If These 35,000 Walruses Can't Convince You Climate Change is Real, I Don't Know What to Tell You   This is what a crowded house looks like!

Antarctic Ice Melt Causes Small Shift in Gravity
Small, but there. Noticeable. Potentially problematic over time.

Can Farmers Outsmart Climate Change?
Climate Smart Agriculture could be a plan for the future.

How Climate resilient schools Serve Students & Communities
A peek at how green-focused STEM schools can make plans for a more sustainable future

12 Views of a Warming World
Proof indeed that a picture speaks 1000 words!

This Map Shows How Climate Change is Screwing Over Your Immediate Area
Program in your location to see how significant the effect and rise of climate change is over the last century.

Santa/North Pole image from
Video from
Climate denier pic, screenshot from
Invalid Arguments: Climate Change video from
Robert Reich video from
Infographic from

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nurture Yourself By Getting Out More In Nature

As my quest for the #12BloggerDays of Christmas continues, thoughts du jour turn outside. Maybe because one of my crazy canines is barking his bloody head off in a total attempt to show us how "indoor cagey" he feels.  Clearly, an outdoor adventure needs to come...and probably soon!

As the weather turns chillier, we all find ourselves indoors more.  Layers and bundles are needed. That requires effort!  In the Christmas Chaos, maybe time is the key missing feature.  Add in that earlier sunset each night as we careen closer and closer to the week-away winter solstice.  At least after that, the days start getting longer!  

With that in mind, here is a list of the nature-centric finds I've stockpiled the last few weeks:

The Last Generation of Kids that Played Outside
This has got to be one of the most interesting articles I've read in a long time.  Especially as both an environmental and a technology teacher, the base of this article is about how all our current-day tech geniuses (who created the tech gizmos and gadgets of today) may possibly have gotten all that creativity from playing outside as kids, observing how nature works, and putting that natural "education" into creative practice.  With all our indoor tech-head kids these days, what will that mean for the future of innovation and creation?  A superb article in the Huffington Post by Nate Hanson! Definitely, food for thought!

The movie was just too good and needed to be shared here:

  1. You'll burn more calories.
  2. You'll strengthen your heart.
  3. You'll drink more water.
  4. You'll build a tolerance for the freezing elements.
  5. You'll remember the importance of warm-up and cool-down routines.
  6. You'll get a dose of Vitamin D
  7. You'll feel happier and more energized.
The Natural Teacher:  10 Ways You Can Add Vitamin N to Your Classroom & Beyond
From Children & Nature Network guru Richard Louv (who coined the Vitamin N: Nature & Nature Deficit Disorder), 10 practical ways to help create more environmentally connected kids.

Nature Connection Will Be the Next Big Human Trend
More commentary in this Huffington Post article by Daniel Crockett on what's amiss amongst us, in this hurried, frenzied, tech-connected yet isolated world in which we live in. The answer:  finding the wild & the wide open spaces.  Only through that connection to nature can we truly be connected.

Thinking Outside the Lucite Box: A Case for Experiential Education
Ben Klasky's Huffington Post article about how getting dirty and outside the traditional classroom leads to real learning!

All Children Need Nature:  12 Questions About Equity & Capacity
Richard Louv over at Children & Nature Network is at it again, with 12 poignant questions that remind us that when it comes to nature none of these matter:  gender, ethnicity, & socio-economic status.

The Uncommon Core:  Schools, Wilderness, & Supporting the Natural Resilience of Young People
Posted by Mark Phillips on the Children & Nature Network, His final quote sums it up:  "There is something about being in the woods, encountering wildlife, dealing with ice on a mountain climb, feeling rain on a trek through new territories, that can be life changing. Let’s make sure we give our kids that opportunity."

The iNaturalist App
Yes, there's an app for that!  By recording your natural findings, you can become a citizen scientist, and your data will help connect you to other naturalists.

32 Magic Pictures of Kids Playing Around the World
32 amazing pictures collected by Hugo Moreno showing play in action across the globe!  Striking;  the simplicity of the tools and the toys, and the smiles on the faces!!  Most certainly will bring one to your face as well!  My favorite (though there were many) was this one from Indonesia.

Amazing Map Shows Every Tree in the United States
From the folks over at Inhabit, check out the map created from Woods Hole Research Center in conjunction with US leaders in forestry & geology.  It's a pretty cool map that shows the tree density in the United States.

Quote picture from
Video from,
Richard Louv quote pic from
Winter pic from
Fishing picture from

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

One Word: What's Yours?

Earlier in the year, I saw the book "One Word that Will Change Your Life" by Dan Britton.  I bought it for a young friend of mine moving from one stage in her life to the next.  True confessions:  I will admit--I got wrapped in and did some reading before I did some gifting.

It's an interesting concept.  What one word will you choose to define your goals and direct the year ahead?  Well, I must admit:  I don't remember what word I choose.  But, in looking at the year in retrospect, I have determined what my word was:  Change.  2014 brought a lot of change for my family, in terms of the closing of a beloved school, new jobs, new roles within my career, new schools for my children, new friends, and old friends moving away to new jobs or new locales.  Change!

With only a few more weeks left of 2014, and here, midst my #12BloggerDays personal challenge, I still see "change" at play.  Especially midst these very busy days of holiday prep and planning.  I noticed it in the extra long bedtime hugs my kids gave me--showing me some of my timings of things (including making time for writing, and homeworking, and laundry & other "home" work) might also still need some tweaking and changing.  I'm not sure what my 2015 word will be, but I still have those weeks to work on even more "change."

If you are knee-deep in thinking of your "one word," here are some resources from their website.  A good thing to take a peek at it this NBC interview with author Dan Britton's friend Phillip Kelley.  What is your "one word" for either this year, or the next one ahead?

Snowy image from my digital Christmas card created using "Smilebox" and inserting the above quote.  Red image created for my digital Christmas Card, using the iPad app "Scrap It:  Christmas HD"  Video from

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hour of Code 2014

Infographic from
This week (December 8th--14th, 2014) is Computer Science Education Week. [For anyone paying attention, I wrote about it last year.]

A major part of that is computer coding, and the "Hour of Code" (over at is heavily promoting that anyone can learn.  They've been running on on-growing counter of the number of people who have tried coding on the Hour of Code site, as well as a running tally of the number of lines of code written.  Both numbers are astronomical: and growing!

To the left is a super infographic that shows the reasons it's important to teach kids coding.  Of course, it came in either super-sized or teensy, so click on it or this link to see a full size, readable version!

Hour of Code has many resources for Students & Teachers alike, including the statistics image below from last year's Hour of Code.

Additionally, they have a mix of user-friendly tutorials, including some very iconic & familiar ones with Angry Birds, Plants versus Zombies, and even Elsa & Anna from "Frozen."  Some are more complicated than others, but the Hour of Code folks advertise that anyone from 4--104 can do it!  We'll be doing it in Kindergarten Technology this week!

For another wealth of resources, be sure to check out Michelle Green's Hour of Code post, including a Symbaloo webmix of a boatload of coding links.

Stats from

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Blast From the Past: December Green Team Gazette Newsletters

On the 2nd Christmas Blogging Day, GTG brought to me: 3 archived newsletters ...including the first ever from 2008.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The 12 Days of Christmas: BlogStyle

The merriment of Thanksgiving is now officially behind us. So is Black Friday, if that's your thing. I used part of my holiday weekend to get my house in order, some "decking of the halls" in order...and some life in order. With starting a new job this past August, it seems there's a lot of that "order" to be "re-ordering" as I learn new curriculums, new school cultures, new people, and new job expectations. Even more when my own kids started new at this school as well.

Given that, one of the area of "dis-order" this fall has been my blog here.  Green Team Gazette.  It seems to be the last place I get, further down on my priority list than I want it to be. I haven't felt as focused as I'd like, and I have a stockpile of topics just building up, patiently waiting for me to get there... all the while my own patience is rearing its ugly head!

So the best way to combat that is to build a plan and find that focus. Which all got me thinking of Christmas; namely, the twelve days of Christmas.

What if I aspired to write the 12 blog posts of Christmas? GTG style: a dash of self-reflection, a heavy dose of environmental finds and facts, a touch of EdTech, a glimmer of the Christmas seasons, and a bit of nature & health factored in. #12BloggerDays.

In the course of a month, it's a pretty hearty goal. 12 posts, here in this 12th month, before we hit 2015.  This is really a hefty push--especially given the nature of December. If this is a goal that I decide to take on, that means I'll be challenging myself to a post every 2-3 days (given I push it to New Year's Eve).

But... if I try to revolve around he number 12--much like months, hours in the am, hours in the pm, eggs in the dozen, inches in a foot, jurors on a jury, animals on the Chinese calendar, or even signs in the zodiac--then maybe that will help me renew my own focus in my own blogosphere.  What do they say:

And luckily, since I make my own rules, this serves as #1 in my 12.

Only 11 more to go!

I challenge you this month to do 12 things that are important to you. 
I would love to hear about it.

Images from:  Home decorated pics from my camera; 12 Days of Christmas from pic: Days of Blogging from my iPad, a creation using the Scrap It app.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

"Origins: Deep Dive" This Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving weekend is always an interesting twilight zone of a day dedicated to giving thanks and being grateful for what you have as well as a block of unbridled spending frenzy between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and shopping! Shopping! Shopping.  This weekend has you tied between family and gratitude and the world of "gimme" and "buy me."  The commercial side of Christmas goes off with a bang, leaving a poor 1965 Charlie Brown's head spinning with his twiggy Christmas tree as he chimes in about commercialism and the true meaning of the Christmas season we are embarking upon.
And yet, we're still here, nearly 50 years after that first "Charlie Brown Christmas."

Given this shaky-balance-of-imbalance-kind-of-weekend, it might be a good time to carve out some movie time to help you get your head on straight.  No, not "Charlie Brown Christmas," though that would do it too.

The movie I'm suggesting is "Origins:  Deep Dive" movie.  As luck would have it, this is the last weekend of their 10-day free viewing invitation.  With the deposit of an email address alone, you get access to the 1 hour 41 minute which urges you to get back to OUR origins.  A "simpler, cleaner, back-to-the-Earth, get outside and enjoy nature and healthier eating" kind of origin.  It takes a look at how consumerism and fast-paced, plastic-wrapped convenience have really caused us to hurt not only our planet but our own health. The movie discusses our need to use technology and advancement in a sustainable way, to keep us excelling, and to get us to be our best possible self.  It has addresses stress and our obsessive "need" for "stuff"...and how we don't need a fraction of what we think we need.  In fact, we only "need" 4 things on this planet to survive and thrive: shelter, water, fire, food.  Everything else is wants. (I might argue that love is in there, as humans, but that's me!)

Here is the link to my free invitation to "Origins."  By sharing it, I'm not skirting the system, but actually taking up filmmaker Pedram Shojai's offer to spread the film and help bring about healthy wisdom.  The free viewing window goes until midnight of November 30th.  It's my hope you'll take time to view it, and see how that helps you in this twilight zone ThanksChristmasy-kind of weekend to help organize your priorities.  I highly recommend it!

Watch the Global Premiere of Origins the Movie: Until Nov. 30th watch the feature-length movie Origins for FREE from filmmaker Pedram Shojai. #OriginsFilm @Well_Org...Find the movie at:

Images from:
Charlie Brown:;
"Origins:" Deep Dive: and

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving | Gratitude
Today is that annual tradition we Americans call Thanksgiving.
Giving thanks and Thanksgiving mean a lot of different things to different people.
My wish for my Green Team Gazette family is that you is that your heart is filled with thanks, kindness, love, gratitude, memories, and comfort.  I am most certainly thanks for all of you who have traveled along with me for the last 5 years.

grateful for people

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thankgiving is on its Way: Turkey Tech it Up!

We all know that Thanksgiving is just right around the corner.  If you tend to lean a little toward the techie side, here are some TurkeyDay themed interactives and websites to investigate:

From Free Technology for Teachers:  A Round Up of 10 Thanksgiving Lesson Resources:

  • This includes some great ones including John Green's Crash Course on US History (Jamestown & Plymouth Rock with a touch of sarcasm), the History Channel's "History of Thanksgiving," and 8 other fabulous resources from Scholastic, Plimoth Plantation, & more).  

From The QR Queens over at Teachers Pay Teachers:  Thanksgiving & Turkey Fun QR Codes:
Thanksgiving and Turkey Fun using QR Codes
  • For $5, you get 15 links to "all-things Thanksgiving."  Silly, serious, factual, fun, fabulous.  Songs, stories, virtual field trips, drawing tutorials, and the gobble of turkeys.  With a mobile device, a QR reader, and this set, you've got a great station or iPad activity for K-3rd graders (or even beyond)...those are the tried, true, tested ages of the kids at my school who fell in love with them.  All I know is that I'm taking a set of codes with me for my Thanksgiving feast this year.

From iTeachWith Technology's:  Thanksgiving Interactive Games:
  • These have a fun flair to them, perfect for the time between turkey and pie.  Some oldies but goodies from their Thanksgiving post a few years ago, and unfortunately a few links no longer connect, but enough fun surrounding those few, that you or your kids will enjoy a little interactive relaxation time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holiday Spreadsheets: Christmas Prep Points to Thanksgiving Gratitude

The Holiday gift giving spreadsheet came out today in our house today. On Excel, my spreadsheet gets a new tab, revisions are made to the people to shop for & the budget starts coming together.  I can see the number of years this annual tradition of mine has been in the works, and it does bring about the memories of Christmases past.

Yes, I know, it's not even Thanksgiving yet.  But, the spreadsheet usually comes out mid-November, along about the same time as the Christmas list making (and disseminating) begins.  Its the time the request of folks and family (who like to start early) start coming my way...mostly in order for people to take advantage of crazy shopping spree days, coupons, and online specials that are brewing for Black Friday.   It's a holiday tradition (and one that annually causes me to sigh).

Once the spreadsheet comes out, it seems Christmas is unavoidable at this point.  Don't get me wrong.  I like Christmas.  My children love Christmas!! But Christmas means that snow is probably somewhere close.  (But thankfully, not the 70 inches that New York got recently!!)  It's when the Christmas "To Do" list starts spinning on it's own accord at breakneck speed.  It's the "most wonderful time of the year," but a very busy time of the year.  It can take some gearing up, most certainly!

Given that, I was struck today when I ran across this picture on my Facebook feed from Momastery.

I like it.  Of course, given the hours I just put in organizing our family of 4's Christmas list, I see this would have been a far simpler approach indeed.

In looking at my kids' requests (most certainly not "needs"), I'm struck by how fortunate they truly are, and how difficult it becomes in this media-soaked era of gizmos, gadgets, store circulars, and commercials.  We certainly have become a very "commercial" society.  Charlie Brown knew that back in 1965 with his TV Christmas special.  Some messages still hold true, decades later, though I do think more intensified.

I know I'm part-driver in my home and could (and probably should) move more to a 4-point list like this...but I know doting aunts, uncles, generous friends, and grandparents would want more of a list than this.  I know it, because I've experienced it.  And I circle back (after envisioning my totally-toy basement and turkey-esque stuffed garage)--we truly need nothing.  There is a certain sense of gratitude in know we have enough--too much, which might be especially fresh of mind as we are approaching the Thanksgiving holiday.

But it causes me to think.  To slow down.  To reflect.  What are my gifts of which I have that I'm grateful for....and what are the gifts I can give myself (by way of time, patience, and simplification) this holiday season ahead?

Pictures from:
Christmas Spreadsheet from
Thanksgiving Santa image from: 
Momastery Pic from

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Perfect Gift: The Video of the Gift That We All Need!

We have entered that time of year when Halloween candy morphs into candy corn & feasting as Thanksgiving's not far off, which means Christmas will be here before you know it. The stores like to remind us of that, as you are getting those last bits for your Halloween costume in one aisle, while Christmas stockings (or heavens forbid, lighted Christmas trees) are up in the next one.

Given all of that, gift giving gets on your mind.  Well here, is a great tongue-in-cheek video short entitled "The Perfect Gift! Science Revealed."  For anyone who is a fan of "The Story of Stuff" and the need to declutter our lives of our "stuff," this video is for you!  Professor Gauntlett has a way of putting a smile on your face, while having you nod along, saying "yep!"

Image from;  Video from

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Blast From the Past: November Green Team Gazette Newsletters

Here's a harvest of GTG Monthly newsletters from 2009 & 2010.  Is it good or bad that we are still current (with the exception of some new foodie DVD's out there)?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Election Week: Stephen Colbert Takes on Climate Deniers

Political satire might just be at it's finest during election season.  With Tuesday's election, it's not new news that political commentary this week has been a tad topsy turvy.  Should be interesting how some of the political shifts should effect the environment & environmental protection.

But Stephen Colbert this week does what he does well:  He adjusts the "perspective-cles" (think "spectacles that see with perspective") to read between the lines.  To read more on the environmental love affair with Stephen Colbert, check out the Grist's article from Nov. 7th .

"The Colbert Report" clip from; "Professor Not A Scientist" pic from

Friday, November 7, 2014

Nature Is Speaking: Coral Reef

The final installment in our November  "Nature Is Speaking" series is Ian Somerhalder as "Coral Reef."

Click to view past Green Team Gazette posts spotlighting this Conservation International mini movie series
I can't wait to see their upcoming project:  "Flower."  Let's hope all of these messages from nature open eyes, and help people to realize that "Nature doesn't need People.  People need Nature!"

Images & videos from