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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Follow The Frog

Rainforest Alliance draws you in with a tree frog (who doesn't love a tree frog), takes you down the road of paradoxical urban environmentalist, and brings you back again with the idea that you can do a lot without going to extremes.

This one is an oldie (back from 2012) but a goodie.  Go forth and follow the frog!!



Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iIkOi3srLo

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How My Sandy-Bottomed Pool Led Me to the Ocean

Today, in that "last weekend before school starts" sort of way, I spent a large chunk of the day in my backyard pool.

(Disclaimer:  Yes, I know there are environmentalists out there who would crank up the noise on the amount of water that is used in an above-ground, backyard pool.  That water would be seen as "wasted."   However, for me, the pool is my beacon of balance in the summer.  It's where I go to relax, rejuvenate, re-energize and exercise, and hang out with my peeps.  It's my way of restoring my year's worth of workaholic-ness.  But I digress.) 

Some of my pool time was me as a "party of one," and some of that was hanging with my son.  But most of it was hanging with my dog.  He's a Portuguese Water Dog just over a year old, with far too much energy.  The pool satisfies his need for water, and my need to get him to wear himself out!  Two great tastes that taste great together!!!

However, the problem comes when a very wet dog runs like mad in a yard that has just removed a shed. In its place now stands the 8 foot by 8 foot square foundation of dirt where the shed once was.  A dog does what a dog does, and voila!  Sandy dog meets water wonderland. And vice versa and back again. The dog doesn't care that a week ago I spent time and a half vacuuming to de-dirt the pool.  Likewise, he's perfectly fine to swim in it when it's atrociously dirty.  Which it now is.

So, I was in the pool, looking around and growling. I began stirring up the bottom dirt with my foot, feeling the sandy earth on the pool bottom, and it got me thinking. Dirt and water make mud.  Yet my pool is not muddy nor is it murky.  Why isn't it?  Why does the dirt settle to the bottom, more like sediment and less like mud?  Being a swimming scientist, I stirred the bottom grit around, only to watch it all settle again, sediment again.

It got me thinking--this is much like what happens in the ocean with marine debris:  aka, plastic (or sometimes it is called microplastic).  In my pool, fallen leaves (much like big plastic-landing oceanic items) break down, but never disappear.  The grit stays until I stir it up, then it swirls in the water, then settles down again.  It never fully combines.  Never the 'twain shall they meet.  In the ocean, the marine debris photodegrades (or gets broken down by the sun), yet it leaves behind nurdles--these plastic pellets--that never fully break apart.  They are left as floaters in the ocean, mistaken as plankton and sometimes eaten, and they never fully dissipate and disappear.

So now I look at my dirty pool a tad differently than I did a day ago.  I no longer look at it just "in desperate need of a cleaning" and how we need a gate to keep the dog out.  It now connects something as simple (and literal) as the "dirt under our feet" to a bigger, broader, more global issue.  Environmental issues that so many don't see--or choose not to look at.  People have tried for years to shout it from roof tops, and many still are missing the message.  Maybe the view from the pool might make a difference in making the message heard.


Images:  The 4 pool pics are my from my backyard pool, text enhanced with the Skitch app..  Microplastic pic from http://images.nationalgeographic.com/wpf/media-live/photos/000/783/cache/ocean-trash-malaysian-airlines-1_78393_990x742.jpg

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I'll Have Some Ice With That: #IceBucketChallenge

Displaying photo.JPG
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Videos are careening all over Facebook, Instagram, and more, challenging one person then the next to drench themself with ice-infused water.  Oprah's done it.  Jimmy Fallon's done it.  Kerry Washington has done it.  Entire sports teams have done it.  It's the gift that keeps giving.

ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a degenerative disease which attacks the brain's nerve cells and the spine.  Eventually, the weakening of muscle cells (& the brain's control over it) leads to paralysis and then ultimately death.

Some people compare the challenge to a chain letter, but the results are paying off.  In a comparable time period from this year to last, ALS donations and donors have exponentially surpassed what they were last year.  There's a big difference from $5.5+ million to $32,000 last year.

So the videos and challenges continue on.

When I did mine, I challenged anyone who watched to take part.  Go forth, be brave, battle the goosebumps, and donate anyway. I'd love to hear about it here. To donate to the ALS Foundation, go to www.alsa.org.

As with most things, it goes to show the difference that one person can make, when multiplied out by thousands.

    
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge -- August 2014 from Vicki Dabrowka on Vimeo.


Pic from my camera, as is the movie.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What'cha Gonna Do With that Plastic Bottle?

A little ingenuity goes a long way.  Take a soda bottle, for instance.  You buy it, you drink it, you're done with it in 20 minutes or so (given the size).  You've got 2 choices.  Trash it or recycle it.  Hopefully by now, we all know the latter one is the better option!!

But wait!  Do you only have 2 choices?  Last time I checked, there were 3 R's. Reduce, reuse, and recycle.  Now if you're like me, you're not going to be able to go very long reducing the caffeine intake.  I need me my Diet Coke, I'm tellin' ya!

(By the way, sideline commentary:  an aluminum can can be back on the shelf in six weeks, making it a better recyclable option than plastic.  But I digress!!)

So "reducing" might not be your "R" of choice--especially in this case.  We've already talked about "recycling."  So what does that leave?  "Reusing."

Now, you could head over to Pinterest and go nuts on the DIY sites, or one link could get you to a plethora of plastic plans from decorative, to functional, to just plain cool.  MetaPicture posted this article August 4th:  "Some People Just Throw Plastic Bottles Away, Others Make This..."

Here's just a sampling of the cool things on the MetaPicture site.  Definitely take time to check out more!! The napkin rings, lake boat, and spoon lamp were also pretty darn nifty!

cool-bottles-recycling-wall-hanging

cool-bottles-recycling-lamp

cool-bottles-recycling-flowers-paint

cool-bottles-recycling-Christmas-tree

And my favorite:  Rocket Blaster!
cool-bottles-recycling-children-toys-playing

Diet Coke image from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7f/Diet_Coke_Mentos.jpg/220px-Diet_Coke_Mentos.jpg; All other Images from http://themetapicture.com/some-people-just-throw-plastic-bottles-away-others-make-this/ 

Special thanks to my West Coast Partner-In-Green for sending this my way!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Marveling at Mount Trashmore: Part 2

Because a picture or two didn't seem to do it justice, here's a little movie trailer tribute to Virginia Beach's Mount Trashmore.  To read all about it, check out "Marveling at Mount Trashmore:  Part 1."




Video from https://vimeo.com/103057302 and created with my pictures from camera & a little help from iMovie trailers!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Marveling at Mount Trashmore: Part 1

Ahhh....We've been knee-deep in a beach vacation down in Virginia Beach. A hotel with a great indoor pool, plus an outdoor pool (with water slide), gorgeous garden & lake views, and even a hot tub. We didn't even take the opportunity to take advantage of the resident day spa. Between trips to the actual beach (spending the day wave jumping) and nearby Busch Gardens Williamsburg, there was no time.


But there was one particular highlight for this eco-blogging girl. Much like Dan Gutman's Coke and Pepsi from his "Genius Files" series, my family (just like Gutman's McDonald's family) got dragged around to see the sights of Mom's weird-but-true landmark whims. The Yoyo Museum? Nope. The National Mustard Museum? Nah... We went to Mount Trashmore. Yep, you heard right--just like it sounds! Apparently one of the most visited parks in the area and the state (with over a million visitors per year).

Built in 1974, Mount Trashmore is a public park site built on an abandoned landfill that was properly covered and sealed. The park consists of two mountains, a lake, miles of hiking/biking trails, a fairly snazzy skate park, and two playgrounds. The night we got there, a group of street musicians were playing their rhythmic sounds, and a jazz concert was scheduled shortly before dusk. Kites were flying, both playgrounds were filled, and there were dog walkers, laughing picnickers, swing pushers, jogging climbers, and mountain roller-downers (including my kids). There might even have been some fisherfolk, hanging out by the lake. According to our GPS when we arrived at the park, we were near sea level (elevation-ly speaking)...so the 73-step climb felt impressive, with its mountaintop view (though I'd be more apt to say "hilltop" view) of the buildings of downtown Virginia Beach to one side, and Lake Trashmore on the other.

   
According to the wonderful world of Wikipedia (and we all know how sketchily reliable that can be), there are two other Mount Trashmores out there.  One of which is currently used landfill in Florida, but the other is a similar park site built on a post-existing landfill. It is located in Evanston, Illinois.  It brings to mind those 3 R’s (which I always debate there are more than a mere 3). "Reuse" would sum up what you'd call it, but I like to think of it as "reclaim." They reclaimed the land and made it something new and useful, that positively promotes nature and the outdoors.  The very heart of turning lemons into lemonade!


Post Script:  I got a little creative with my visit to Mount Trashmore.  Click here to see "Marveling at Mount Trashmore:  Part 2" & my video trailer tribute!


Dan Gutman Genius Files pic from http://www.amazon.com/The-Genius-Files-Mission-Unstoppable/dp/0061827665;  all other pics from my camera.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Blast From the Past: Back To School Green Team Gazette Newsletters

'Tis the season...things (including nerves & lesson planning) are gearing up, getting ready for that whole "back to school business!"  Here are some good ole days from the Green Team Gazette Print era:



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ECS Re-Greening 2014

In the spring (and months leading up to that), my school partner in "green" and I finalized what we had started over Christmas break:  The "re-greening" of Eagle Cove School.  Since 2006 when ECS (formerly "Gibson Island Country School") became an official Maryland "Green" School, every 4 years we need to go through a re-certification process.  This process is necessary in order to ensure that the school is continuing forth with its environmental initiatives.  So after 2010, 2014 was our 2nd time for us to go forth to do that.  Of course, the "Green Team" of the two of us started the undertaking of re-greening long before our January 8th announcement that Eagle Cove was closing.

And, as I wrote about in my June 8th post "A Great School Lives in its Students Forever," we achieved that re-greening goal.  We became re-certified... even as our doors were closing.  Despite the fact that the school was closing, the re-greening has to do with the eco-accomplishments of the four previous years.  During those past 4 years (from 2010--2014), we all went from being an already-great environmental school to strengthening it--making it an even stronger and "greener" curriculum.  We ended at the height of our curricular career and the height of our environmentalism.  For that reason, we felt it was necessary to pay final tribute.

Interestingly enough, we were only one 4-year term away from becoming a Sustained Maryland Green School (which is the result of a successful third re-certification).

What I hadn't done though was to share that tribute with the GTG community.  Until now.  Here is the link that takes you to website that we created to showcase our triumphs at ECS over the last 4 years.


To see the complete list of Maryland "Green" Schools as of May 2014, click here.

To learn more about Maryland "Green" Schools or becoming one yourself, check out the Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education website.


Screenshots from http://ecsgreen.weebly.com/ and my own camera.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

7 Things About Nature That Kids (of All Ages) Must Know

Here's a little philosophical journey I put together to get kids of all ages to consider when thinking about Nature.

This presentation was created over at Haiku Deck, and it was inspired by the general thoughts Ratnesh Mathur's thealternative.in article.  I have paraphrased the key points here, and put in some of my own two-cents inside the "Notes" portion.  May it inspire you to get a little philosophical and environmental as well!


7 Things ABout Nature... 
Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Inspiration and article of Ratnesh Mathur from http://www.thealternative.in/lifestyle/7-things-nature-kids-must-know

Monday, July 14, 2014

What Do You Love?

What do you love?  The United Kingdom's Climate Coalition wants to know, because there is a very strong possibility that many of the things you love (beaches, chocolate, coffee, your children, a sustainable planet) could be in jeopardy the more climate change begins to affect us.  They are inviting you to not only watch their "For the Love of..." video, but also to visit their website and "add your love story."   By doing so, the Climate Coalition hopes you'll take a vested interest and look beyond the hype of doubt, and fight for what you love.  As their website "About" page states:  "Our love for these things is stronger.  Stronger than fear.  Stronger than apathy.  Strong enough to make action happen."

Another place to learn more after watching the video:  Check out The Climate Coalition.



Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ka_kQUvojeI&app=desktop
Image from http://fortheloveof.org.uk/about/ 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Gregg Segal's "7 Days of Garbage"

Garbage can tend to gross out most people... except maybe garbagologists.  Even the most avid of recyclers or composters can tend to get a lost of waste at the end of the day...not to mention the end of the week!

2_7 Days of Garbage_Si#9C36A0

Artist Gregg Segal takes a photo-approach to analyzing a week's worth of waste.  Given the average American makes approximately 4 pounds of trash per day, multiply that out by 7 days, and the number of people in your family.  That's a lot of landfill-fodder.  His visuals are certainly eye-opening... and for anyone with an active imagination, you can't help but wonder about the odor!

11_7 Days of Garbage_Ha#9C3688

But I think for me, who is always analyzing the overuse of plastic that abounds in our society, the pictures make an interesting survey of how much disposable plastic there is.  Much like the hotel plastic-wrapped plastic cups or the plastic-wrapped apples I've seen.  Is all of this even necessary?  And, is it all even recyclable?  Is this a good use for our depleting petroleum supply?  I think visuals like this really can make you sit and wonder about the whys, ponder about the pollution, and rethink what it is we are all doing.  Clearly, from Gregg Segal's photos, what we are doing is trashing the planet.

4_7_Days_Garbage_Chow Family 66189

Kudos to Mr. Segal for helping us look at things in a new way and puzzle about why we are doing this to ourselves!!  To view his whole collection, visit it at the 2014 Fence Website (& there, learn more about the 1,000 foot outdoor photo installation in Boston, the Brooklyn Bridge Park, & Atlanta through October 2014).


Photos from the Slate article "Mesmerizing Photos of People Lying in a Week's Worth of Their Trash" by Jordan G. Teicher. http://www.slate.com/blogs/behold/2014/07/08/gregg_segal_photographs_people_with_a_week_s_worth_of_their_trash_in_his.html

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How Eating & Health Go Hand in Hand

It's no surprise that eating and health go hand in hand.  Or hand in fork.  Or belt around belly.

This summer I took a class for my teaching certificate (ahh, continuing education and required credit hours).  The class was EDU 135:  Children's Health, Nutrition, & Safety.  As part of the class, I had to do up a PowerPoint on 5 related issues that affect children's health.  So, given I'm paying attention to my own health & nutrition this summer (always trying to lose a few pesky pounds), I went with the topic of "Health Problems Relating to Eating Habits."  The 5 in question:  dental caries (or tooth decay), hypertension (or high blood pressure), obesity, cardiovascular disease (or  heart disease), and diabetes.  The latter four are definitely hotbeds of health topics these days, especially in America.

May a little viewing help you bring around your own prevention!!


Dabrowka power point edu 135 for slideshare from Vicki Dabrowka

Each of the 5 has a video embedded in the presentation.  If it doesn't come up, just click the link per slide and it will open in another window.


Image from http://www.healthyezrecipes.com/healthy-eating-guide.html 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Breaking Down the Ins and Outs of Compost


Composting 101 Infographic
Last week (or so) I wrote about my conundrum on at-home composting, so this seemed like the perfect infographic follow-up.  I have yet to make a decision on what at-home composter I'm going with, but the research continues on.  In the meantime, study up on Composting 101.  Click this link for the original infographic to see it in a more readable size!


Image from Hometown Dumpster Rental

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Blast From the Past: Summer Green Team Gazette Newsletters

Recycling at it's finest....Here's the "Throw back Thursday" from 2009 & 2010, GTG's newsletter days



Monday, June 23, 2014

Fishing... Or Cutting Bait... in CompostLandia

I have been making soil for 6 years.

It all started back after my first year at Eagle Cove School.  I spent that year training my students what goes in paper recycling, what goes in co-mingled recycling, and what goes into composting. .As a Maryland "Green" School--that's what you do.  That's what we did.  You educated the youth--that younger population. With all of that (plus the extras like juice pouches that we upcycled with Terracycle), there wasn't much left for any kind in our class of "real trash."  I came home that summer, making salads galore, intent to live a healthy lifestyle of good food choices, and I was struck with a bit of an ethical/environmental dilemma.  I've composted at school--what the heck do I do with that green pepper innard?  I found myself incapable of throwing away "garbage" that was no longer garbage.  It was now compost.  Hence, "the dreaded Dabrowka bucket" (as it became known as at ECS) was born.

So.... for 6 years, I brought my li'l green camo bucket to school every Friday, to be weighed and emptied by some poor 5th grader (who probably got the short straw in the draw).  Being a home compost (that regularly carried the remnants of a newly-cleaned-out-fridge), it always surpassed the class composts of apple cores, napkins, and sandwich crusts.  Along those lines, it even surpassed the coffee-grounds & grown up lunches of the Teacher's Lounge compost bucket in weight, volume, stench, and sometimes even grosser things.  Many years, there was the educational discussion on the merits of garbage-ology (and all that you can learn) from just the Dabrowka Bucket.  It basically was urban legend 6 years in--and even sometimes the topic of 5th grade graduation speeches.

So.... here I am now.  My classroom is empty, my school is closed, the Fort Knox of compost lies awaiting the ability to make soil, without any kind of invitation to me to really come back and visit--as it is in the middle of changing guards & arms. I cannot make soil there, nor is my compost welcome anymore.  Fort Knox is mine no longer.  And yet, I have a 5 gallon bucket that's ready for delivery!

So.... what the heck do I do now?  I think I am at that proverbial crossroads called "fish or cut bait."  To compost or not to compost--that is the question.  In the interim, 6 years of habits die hard.  I have a very full compost bucket of 2 weeks' worth of food waste.  My 5-pound bucket keeps moving a little further on our patio, away from our back door.  Flies are hovering, wanting desperately to get in.  So I either need to go back to the idea of dumping food waste in our trash, leading to the dumping of post-dated leftovers in the landfill....or, I need to come up with a backyard composting plan.  Moving toward methane-production in the landfill isn't making this girl happy.  I'm starting to survey Amazon.com to see what might be worth the purchase.  No definitive decisions yet.  However, if you are an individual that holds some inside info on this subject, I'd be glad to learn more--so send forth any die-hard details & good ideas in the composting department!!

Until then, I am "mushing" food deeper into my 5-gallon compost bucket, making room for more & more....thinking longingly of Eagle Cove's School's Fort Knox composting heap while I try to figure out where to go from here.



Sunday, June 15, 2014

School's Out For Summer!

Here is my disclaimer:

I have been on summer break for 2 weeks.  After a week of packing up my classroom in my now-closed-for-good school-I-love (and filling up garage with a bounty of boxes and double stacking my bookshelves in my house with chapter books), I'm officially on summer vacation.

Whoo hoo!!


Given that, I've been having a summer--well, sorta. We're still in the early stages over here.  I'm facing a house that's been largely been neglected the last 4 months while job searching. I'm finishing up a graduate level class for reinstating my teaching certificate. I taught a Professional Development half day on iPads at one of my old schools.  I'm starting to attend new teacher summer workshops for my new school this fall. Then too, there's the regular mom stuff.  But, I've also gotten the chance to hang out in my pool, and visit with one of my favorite colleagues I've ever taught with.  What a great way to share & exchange ideas--while catching up with a dear, old friend!!

Ergo...I've been Green Team absent as of late. Hence the disclaimer.

But luckily, I can back-post!

So... to all those teachers out there---here's a little note for you.  Hope you're eating it up!!  We earned it, and have deserved it!  Take advantage of it--each and every day!!  Cheers!


Image from http://nwamotherlode.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/schools-out-for-summer.jpg

Image #2 from http://static.someecards.com/someecards/usercards/1338776063923_5400305.png

Quote image from http://i1068.photobucket.com/albums/u457/searchq7/AuthorPhotos/Section%20F/funnysummerquotes.jpg 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Eco Schools Infomercial

I'm still riding the highs of our honor award of the Eco-School award at Eagle Cove School.  (I wrote about this in my June 8th post "A Great School Lives in It's Students Forever.")


Here are 2 videos that tell a little bit more about the Eco-Schools Program:








Photo from my camera at ECS's graduation! 

Eco School's Program video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYnTmgnUmmo

Eco-Schools USA video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ONnIkERO1s

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Great School Lives In Its Students Forever

This week has been a big environmental week--both near and far, and far and wide within my heart:
  • Thursday, June 5th was World Environment Day. This is an annual United Nations Day to globally promote the importance of tending our planet.  They have a long history of spreading the message that every little action adds up to create world-wide waves that lead to change.  This year's theme is "Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level."  Check out the link to learn more about World Environment Day 2014.
  • Friday, June 6th was our last day of school at Eagle Cove School--complete with 5th grade graduation.  Typically there is glee in the hearts of students, teachers, and maybe even parents to "bring on summer!"  Yet, this year was a tad different, because it was THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL.  EVER!  The final graduation.  The end of an era.  The closing of a super, amazing, phenomenal environmental school. The Baltimore Sun wrote a very nice article about it Friday morning.   I've written about the upcoming closing many-a-times here.  The closing of a 58 year institution in our community...that time has finally arrived.  It was a beautiful day, which only added to the bittersweet-ness of the entire event.  We've had many special celebrations, both on a large & even small-scale family-front [we went canoeing off-shore of the school yesterday as a family].  We've had (& will have a few more) meals & gatherings as a staff, and a community gala event of alumni, board members, current and past families, friends, faculty, and students of the school.  The tears and tissues and memories have been many.  We will deeply miss this photogenic and authentic li'l Maryland "Green School" campus and community of ours.
  • Friday, June 6th also held another important environmental event.  Our Head of School, during the graduation ceremony, announced that yes, although our doors our closing, we not only received our 2nd four-year re-certification as a Maryland "Green School" this year, but we also were the recipients of another honor.  We also received the highest level--the international level--award issued from World Wildlife Fund/National Wildlife Federation's Eco-Schools.  62 other schools worldwide fly the flag that my "partner in green" and I are holding here.  It's definitely an odd sensation to be held in such environmental high esteem, yet to be a school that is ceasing to exist.  Such a high compliment to our program, our curriculum, and the entire culture of the school.  We could do all of that, yet despite all of that, the one thing we couldn't quite capture was financial sustainability to keep the school going forth.  Big sigh.  

As one of the graduating fifth graders wrote in his speech that he delivered on Friday:   "Do not cry for the loss, but smile because it happened." (Quote by Dr. Seuss.)  Thank you Eagle Cove School (formerly Gibson Island Country School) for happening, and for 7 amazing years of memories.  I will hold those memories of my students, my own children, and my crew of incredible ECS colleagues always dear to my heart.  May we all go forth to our new schools, spreading our wings like the eagles we're named after, and spreading what's in our hearts like 100 or so little "green" minions!  In many ways, it circles right back to the heart of the mission of World Environment Day.



World Environment Day Logo from http://www.eeaa.gov.eg/english/main/wed2014.asp

ECS School sign picture taken by Josh Hubbell

ECS Eco School Flag pic from my camera.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Goodbyes are Hard

Today in my 3rd grade class, we watched "Big Miracle"--Drew Barrymore's 2012 flick set in 1988 about 3 whales trapped in ice in Barrow, Alaska.  My kids in my class voiced yesterday that they were bummed we never watched that when we read the book "A Symphony of Whales" by Steve Schuch earlier in the year as the two are loosely related.  So today, we watched it and cheered for Fred, Wilma, and BamBam.

[Spoiler alert--both the book and the movie are phenomenal.]

Yesterday we did a scenic route walk around campus on the way to Spanish, via the greenhouse & the nature trail. We snacked on the wholesome goodness of sugar snap peas in the greenhouse. Why did we do all this? Because we could.  Because soon, we won't be able to.

Monday, the 5th graders went out on the Magothy River via canoes and spent the day, paddling away, learning about the sights and sounds they saw along the way.  Now THAT is a science class!


 Monday too, we had a graduation of sorts.  Not "the real" graduation, as that is yet ahead for our 5th graders, just a few days away.  But a commencement for the PreK--4th graders, a celebration (completee with certificates) of their years they spent at Eagle Cove School, here in our last week prior to closing after 58 years. During that semi-commencement, our Head of School spoke of our mission statement--how Eagle Cove School has been and IS a triumvirate of academic excellence, community involvement, and environmental stewardship.  She related us to "the 'greenest' school in Maryland."  It's hard to fathom, after that, that we only have 3 more days of school...ever.  It continues to beg the question over the last 5 months--how can something so good be closing??  Yet, numbers of kids and lack of enough tuition payments, over time, don't answer that question.




On Monday, smack dab in the middle of the commencement the Parents' Association whisked in to pay tribute to the teachers (all well and good if I didn't know I was still yet to give a surprise presentation to our Head.  Insert tears and "incoherent speech amidst tears" here!).  To each teacher the PA gave a print of the tree at the center of the school's driveway, with a fingerprint from each current child being a leaf on the tree.  Add in, they included a misty-eyed note on the back of a postcard with my daughter's artistic gift to our head when she learned of our closing.  There's a point when misty eyes turn into a true and total teary era, and it's somewhere between!!  It's hard to be so touched, so proud, so sad, and so feeling the loss all simultaneously.  Nowhere in my mind's eye did I think Monday would begin that way!!

So the countdown continues with Field Day and another day being the only things standing between now and graduation.  The 5th graders were mine 2 years ago.  Their speeches, no doubt, will make me both laugh and cry.

It's hard saying goodbye to someone and something you love.  Something so true and so good, and will be so missed.


Pics from:  my camera & ECS art work from Delaney  Dabrowka & Board of Trustee 
"Big Miracle" from http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMjEzNTg5MjA5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjk0MTk5Ng@@._V1_SX214_AL_.jpg

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Be Out There, Get Out There! Nature, That Is!

The window is closing over at Eagle Cove School...we are in single digits counting down the school's closing.
 Every day closer we get to our last day (which is swiftly approaching), another layer of sadness falls.  Add in, we've now had almost exactly 5 months of sadness, knowing since the first week of January that it is coming.

I am a tech teacher, and my new job for the fall is largely related to how to incorporate technology in the classroom. I am going to love it, love teaching the kids with iPads, and love how to encourage teachers how to use technology in the classroom.  I am a major fan of my iPad, smartphone, laptop, and learning on all 3.  They all are vital tools for me in becoming a lifelong learner.

And yet....

As I mentioned the other day, I've been doing a lot of homework as of late, and of course I started with those eco things that are near and dear to my heart--which sometimes counter other things that are near and dear to my heart.  One of my first articles to review was “The Whole Child: Developing Mind, Body, & Spirit through Outdoor Play”--a 12-page “fact sheet” embedded here & sponsored by the “Be Out There” Campaign of National Wildlife Federation. As the United States becomes a more “tech-centric” society, the information will only continue to be current.



By perusing the embedded document, you can see that the article begins by painting a picture of a typical day-in-the-life of the 2010 child: TV with breakfast, school with little/no recess, homework in front of the TV, texting or computer time squeezed in between activities, followed up with a less-than-healthy drive-thru dinner on the way to organized sports. Screen time (and planned time) has taken over childhood. Overtly missing are bike rides, dandelion picking, and dirt digging. Statistics from the article include:

  • “Children devote only 4-7 minutes a day of unstructured outdoor play.”
  •  “Only ¼ of children play outside daily compared to ¾ a generation ago.”
  • “Most [children] log an excess of 32 hours per week of TV time.”
  • “By the time most children attend kindergarten, they have watched more than 5, 000 hours of television.”
  • “In the last 20 years, childhood obesity rates have more than doubled.”
  • The CDC now estimates that 4.5 million children aged 5-17 have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.”

Given these statistics and the fact that children are highly out of shape, organizations such as the NWF, the Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” program are trying to pair children more with nature (in an unstructured way) in order to increase children’s overall physical activity. This becomes increasingly important as more and more schools are reducing recess time (or eliminating it all together). Additionally, “indoor-only” kids have a higher risk of serious health problems including obesity, vision problems (more cases of myopia), vitamin D deficiency, and diabetes. By spending time outdoors, there are significant mind, body, and spirit benefits for children. By taking advantage of nature, children: have increased imagination, are better able to problem solve (and do better on standardized tests), more calm and able to cope with stress, have stronger social bonds, are more compassionate (and possibly happier), have stronger bones and immunity due to greater levels of Vitamin D, and overall healthier!

Of course, it does make me sad, as we at Eagle Cove School embody the page 5 quote by Sheila Franklin.  And yet, we're closing.

All that aside, tis Fact Sheet does an excellent job of providing some eye opening statistics (with too many to list here). Educators and parents should walk away from this article knowing what needs to be done—turn off the tech, and kick the kids outside!! Part of what makes a child ready for learning is a healthy mind brought about by a healthy body. Kids who don’t move (and particularly, it would seem, boys) end up having a higher percentage of behavior problems in school because they haven’t gotten their wiggles out enough to concentrate. Getting outdoors would help them have much higher level of achievement. Additionally, “outdoor kids” tend to see things differently than “indoor kids.” They suffer less incidences of nearsightedness (which has been on the rise over time, due perhaps to up-close screen reading. The other benefits are strong (see above). Additionally, with antidepressant medication on the rise for not only adults but also children (even preschool kids aged 0-5!), one could argue that getting outdoors and having access to free time could also help counter mental health problems. Two of the 12 pages of the Fact Sheet list ideas for caregivers, health care providers, community leaders, and educators as to how to incorporate outdoor activities into the lives of children. In addition to these resources, there are also listings of the numbers of calories burned for approximately 50 outdoor activities.

The Fact Sheet was ripe with a bounty of information for educators and parents, and it falls in the category of “Things Everyone In America Should Read!” There is no argument that there are many benefits in education with both television and technology, yet one should not overlook the ability to learn by what surrounds outdoors. Children today need to be trained how to find the balance. As parents and educators, it is our jobs to help show them how.

Back to me:  My new job ahead has a lot of potential and it will be a great organization to be a part of.  Yet, it has yet to become a Maryland "Green" School...almost hard to imagine when I am leaving an 8 year MD "Green" School.  I think I see some of my homework ahead--not only planning some amazing iPad activities for students & teachers alike, but I see a "Green" School certification needed for the future!!  And I refocus my vision, and "re-see" my own and my children's need to turn off the tech and get ourselves outsides!!

Images from 
Blue boat picture of our campus from my campus, my phone, & InstaFramePro
MD Green School:  http://www.maeoe.org/images/green_school_badge.gif
NWF logo from  http://www.nwf.org/~/media/Content/Logos/NWF/download/web/NWF_Logo_VERTICAL-Green_275x300.ashx
Let's Move logo:  http://www.letsmove.gov/sites/all/themes/letsmove/images/letsmovelogo.gif