Posted: A Nature Poem

Posted

I sit. I Listen.
I allow silence to surround.

With winter fading and spring awaiting,
no leaves on tree or ground.

With little wind the forest rests,
and invites me to do the same.

I close my eyes and rest as well,
and let the woods reclaim.

With mother nature all around it’s easy to let go.
Of all my stress and worry, right now I do not know.

And as I sit and listen to the stillness of the breeze,
my focus shifts to “Posted” signs, stapled to the trees.

They rustle and they rattle and break the peaceful quiet.
We have broken nature, though society denies it.

Nature is the great inventor of what was and is to come.
While we continue to abuse her, we become more numb.

What can a single soul like me do to help amend?
Certainly not turn away, ignore, or just pretend.

Nature needs us more than ever, this I truly know.
Our gifts alone can help or harm, destroy or let regrow.

Remove the “Posted” from the land, and also from your mind.
Nature is here to be protected, not destroyed by humankind.

I sit. I listen. I think of what could be.
For nature has already given all needs for you and me.

Back to Basics Entertainment

Last week in The Grand Rapids Press I found it interesting to find two articles which seem to pivot around the same idea. Article #1 titled “These toys can help kids have healthier minds, bodies” was written by a Harvard Health doctor and the list of toys to help a child’s mind includes: Blocks, drawing materials, dollhouses, cars, play kitchen, dress-up clothes.

For those of you who read this list and said “yeah right, any child would get bored with these.” you are not alone. Dr. McCarthy admits boredom might be the result of some of these toys, but she also points out that boredom might be a key piece to breeding creativity. “If they are constantly entertained, they will never learn to entertain themselves, and they will miss out on important opportunities to create and explore.”

Now just a few pages later in the same edition of The Grand Rapids Press is the article titled ” ‘Fortnite’ addiction is forcing kids into video-game rehab”. Whoa. In this article Jef Feeley and Christopher Palmeri give a laundry list of issues with kids being hooked into gaming, specifically Fortnite.

  • A divorce service in the United Kingdom cited ‘Fortnite’ as the reason in 200 petitions for divorce.
  • The Vancouver Canucks banned Fortnite after players were consistently missing meetings and team dinners.
  • David Price, the star pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, was scratched from a start after wrist issues similar to carpal tunnel were heightened due to excessive Fortnite play.
  • Kids have been tricking parents into credit card purchases for the game, sometimes racking up hundreds of dollars in unplanned bills.
  • In June 2018 the World Health Organization designated “gaming disorder” as a disease for the first time.

“This game is like heroin. Once you are hooked, it’s hard to get unhooked.” In 2013 psychologists began using the term Nomophobia to describe the irrational fear of being without your mobile phone or being unable to use your phone for some reason. Withdraw symptoms are similar to other addictive substances like alcohol or drugs. Shakes, headache, anxiety, and nausea are physical manifestations of this addiction to electronics.

Potentially the worst part of this growing issue is that there is a consensus that gaming addiction is going to continue to grow as a problem. Electronic device addiction has simply run amok!

Electronic technology has run amok!

The sad irony in my reading last week was that the research-based, tried and true toys for helping develop young minds are incredibly simplistic. Blocks. Cars. Kitchen. The piece that makes something unique and special is the creativity a kid puts with the toy to entertain themselves. When comparing the extremes of the toy technology spectrum it is a bit baffling how research continues to show that simple toys create more mental growth than the latest “greatest” technology.

As 2018 comes to a close I hope and pray the future holds an emphasis on getting back to the basics. Michio Kaku has given his prediction of what the future of jobs will hold, and I completely agree. The ability to create, to process, and to collaborate will be much more important than the ability to complete repetitive tasks. Gaming is in many ways the pinnacle of becoming fluent at a repetitive task. Since a gaming platform is encoded, users are confined to carrying out functions that have a pre-determined result.

Now whether or not their is an argument about gaming being necessary to stay relevant in digital society might carry some weight, but that is a a topic for another time. Peace.

The Great Lakes: Keeping Them Clear and Keeping Them Here

Growing up in western Michigan I traveled to Lake Michigan with my family before I can even remember. Photographs of being at the beach is my only evidence for how young I was when I first experienced one of Michigan’s greatest natural resources, fresh water. I have also felt the lakes presence both directly and indirectly due to the lakes great effect on the local climate and its affect on the ecosystem. The Great Lakes contain 95 percent of the United States fresh water supply, and only trail the polar ice caps and Lake Baikal in Siberia in total volume of freshwater globally. Without the Great Lakes, the entire region surrounding Michigan would be much different, including the types of jobs and natural life in and around the state. Continue reading

iNaturalist

Have you ever come across an odd spider, insect, or plant and thought, “Hmm, what is this thing?!” Enter iNaturalist.

iNaturalist is available for Android and for Apple and is completely free to download and use.

After downloading the app you can ‘Make an Observation’ by uploading a picture of the organism in question and the iNaturalist database will give you closely matched options. If the app does not automatically find a perfect match, the community of citizen scientists can suggest species information and help identify your unknown sample. Continue reading

Are You Listening?

A soft, steady click. Not more than the light click of a spacebar.

This little click is all it took to cause a week-long headache of a recurring battery failure on our Ford Explorer. A headache that peaked when the dead battery caused our son to be late for his first day of pre-school.

The issue in diagnosing the problem was the battery was fine to drive from Grand Rapids to North of Detroit, then the next morning it was dead. After recharging it was fine for a day. Then dead again. After recharging again we drove back to Grand Rapids with no trouble. Finally, another full day later the battery was dead on pre-school day #1. Continue reading

These 6 Things

This post is geared to the educators out there, so if you know a teacher pass this along! I have been blessed to teach with some great educators. Not just people good at their job, but individuals who are constantly pushing themselves to be even better. One of these individuals is Mr. Dave Stuart.

Several times a year students will comment about how great Mr. Stuart is and stir up a little bit of teacher envy inside my teacher soul. To a high school student some teachers are “great” because they allow cell phones, or give open note tests, or don’t keep track of tardies. The more I have gotten to know Mr. Stuart, and how his class functions, the more I have realized he probably expects more from his students than the average teacher.

During the second year at my current school I became more interested in finding out what makes Mr. Stuart such a great teacher in the minds of so many students. I asked students, positioned our instructional rounds group so we would see Mr. Stuart in action, asked colleagues, and even asked Dave for bit of advice.

Through these observations and conversations I learned a lot about things Mr. Stuart’s class does but I was missing the real difference that helps students key in to his instruction. It is not some trendy pedagogy that helps students enjoy Mr. Stuart’s class. Sure, students frequently share about a good Pop-Up Debate, or how the Article of the Week is relevant in their life.  What underscores all of these activities is a set of beliefs students share in that class.

The Five Beliefs are:

  1. Credibility: I believe in my teacher.
  2. Belonging: I belong in this classroom.
  3. Effort: I can improve through my effort.
  4. Efficacy: I can succeed at this.
  5. Value: This work has value for me.

Image result for these six things dave stuart

I have the benefit of being in the same building as Dave and can pick his brain if I am looking to try something from his class in my own room. I have even tried resources on his website. If you are anything like me, I like to have a physical copy as a guide when trying something new that has some type of format involved. As a college student I remember having Harry Wong’s First Days of School, and once I started my current assignment a colleague handed me Teach Like a Champion 2.0. Both of these were great resources to help build a skill-set as a teacher.

Lucky for anyone looking to build classroom culture, Long-Term Flourishing in their students, or looking for a guide to using Pop-Up Debates Dave has just published his second book. This one is simply title These 6 Things.

I know my copy will be nearby as I plan throughout the year. I am sure it will be a much loved resource as I continue to build my skill-set and get students more involved with reading, writing, and using meaningful argument.

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So aren’t Reading, Writing, and Speaking things that should be left to ELA and the Social Studies departments? Not at all, especially with the Next Gen Science Standards and the increased emphasis on students modeling their understanding of science concepts.

A key piece of developing science-minded students revolves around what NGSS refers to as the Science and Engineering Practices. There are eight practices, but let’s connect dots between three of these standards and These 6 Things.

  1. Analyzing and Interpreting Data- Reading
  2. Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information- Reading, Writing, Speaking
  3. Engaging in Argument from Evidence- Speaking/Listening

Our biology classes have dabbled with using news articles as source documents. We have also increased the amount of modeling as part of our investigations. Having These 6 Things as a guide for Pop-Up Debate is the piece I am most excited about having this physical copy.

There are so many topics in science that will lend themselves nicely to Pop-Up Debate. Climate Change, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s), safe dieting, stem cell research, and how about the granddaddy of them all, Evolution.

Dave’s writing is conversational, yet informative. He is authentic and it comes through in his teaching and in his book. Whether on a personal, department, building, or district level there is value in getting this book into teacher’s hands. Almost all of us who are teachers chose this career to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others. Not just to help boost standardized test scores or get into a college, but to really help students become successful individuals as they head out into life after school.

This book helps focus on 6 things to streamline meaningful instruction. This helps students flourish in the long-term and will help teachers find balance between school and life. I know this book will be a great resource for Professional Development. I am curious to see how long it will be before this book is on a college syllabus for new teachers. First Days of School was a good preview to essential classroom management. These 6 Things will be a great resource for helping develop meaningful, life-long skills in our students. I hope you have a great year! Peace.

 

 

PFAS Aren’t the Problem

Anyone who has been paying any attention to local news in west Michigan knows that PFAS are a group of chemicals that have contaminated local water sources. PFAS are a known carcinogen and the area of PFAS contamination seems to just keep growing. Initially, Wolverine World Wide in Rockford was being singled out as the source of all the local contamination from poor storage of waste product. The scenario in Rockford is not playing out very well. Home values have dropped, complex filtration systems need to be installed, and local fishing now has a “Do Not Eat” designation. Upon further testing it appears PFAS are found throughout the state.

PFAS are a problem, but I contend that PFAS are not THE problem.

The problem is a disregard for nature and the human desire for quick results rather than using sustainable practices. Continue reading

Learning to Fly

Last week my son was riding his bike on the sidewalk and shouted “Dad! A baby bird!”. The week prior we had come across a dead baby robin on the sidewalk and had to have an impromptu “circle of life” conversation, so I was fearing another little bird had met the same fate. Moving closer to the small brown pile of feathers we could see its little body rising and falling with each quick breathe. A few moments after approaching the little bird, it fluttered through the air a few feet and came crashing down. While it fluttered away I noticed small pockets of red under its wings.

baby cardinal

My attention was also drawn to a nearby rooftop where a male cardinal was keeping watch. Cardinals are one of the most beautiful birds we get here in Michigan, so to see a baby cardinal fresh out of the nest was exciting! At the same time I grew quite worried since this small flightless bird was sure to become a quick meal in its current condition. Continue reading