Post-Its in mind

Happy October and welcome back, Guest Upcyclist, Dr. G.  Who's ready for a review activity?  Take it away, the uber-engaging, Dr. G.....

Steps for the student:
  1. Get three, blank small Post-it notes.
  2. Choose any three terms you remember from the lesson and write one term on each of the three Post-it notes.  Do not let other classmates see which terms you have chosen.  Make sure you know what the terms you chose mean.
  3. Find three people in your surrounding area, introduce yourself by name, and put one Post-it note on each of their foreheads without letting them see the term (so each person will eventually have three notes on their forehead).
  4. Next, find three new people, introduce yourself by name, and without using the terms on their forehead, explain each term until they guess each Post-it note’s term.
  5. Have fun and review those terms!
I think Dr. G could have a new sponsor - Post-it Brand!  Click here to see Post-it's teacher resource page.  It is pretty fabulous.  Who knew?

Thanks, Dr. G....


Duck pond activity

I am fortunate.  I am surrounded by talented colleagues at my college.  Case in point, Professor KP.  I've been begging her - literally - to guest post on Upcycled Education as she has been an avid reader of our sweet blog since the inception.  Finally, eight months later, my begging has paid off.

Please welcome, a lovely, bright and creative colleague/educator, Prof. KP....

Hi Jen, loving Upcycled Education, as always. I wanted to share a spin off on one of your ideas.
Don’t we as teachers love to borrow ideas and make them our own? Anyway, having my own little helper at home, we tried your Mod Podge activity. We made the wooden cutouts with the reflection questions on back and I brought them to class one day. When they were spread out on the desk and students were looking them over and picking one, it suddenly reminded me of the duck pond game at carnivals. You remember that game where the kids pick a duck floating in the water and get a prize according to what is marked on the bottom? So I went home and Goggled images of the “Duck Pond Game," printed those out, put the questions on the back, laminated and cut them out. They turned out like the ones pictured above.

I took them to class and they were a big hit. One of my students suggested that wouldn’t it be fun to use the actual plastic ducks and float them in the water (we happen to have a sink in that classroom which would make this easy).  A quick search on Amazon shows them available for $0.59 apiece.

I do think having the plastic ducks would be fun, though I haven’t quite figured how to get waterproof questions on the bottom (probably a Sharpie marker).  While it is not quite my style, that just may float someone else’s boat (like the pun?). Would love to hear how that goes if a fellow teacher out there wants to give it a try. Happy educating ~KP
PS. Just like in the game, one of the ducks is a “winner”.  It is a “free pass” that says you do not need to answer a question today, just sit back and enjoy the responses of your classmates. 
Thanks so much, Prof. KP.  This does float my boat.  Ha!

Wallwisher for Tech Tuesday

I have three grad school friends who are my faaaavorite.  Ms. Cheston (if I can be so formal) is one of the awesome three.  She is also a tech-savvy educator and for years, has been the laptop coordinator at a school. 

Look how edugaged her students were in this lesson about culture.  Ms. C used a free web-tool called Wallwisher to have students share their findings about cultural customs. Wallwisher reminds me of multimedia sticky notes.

(My apologies about the blurry screenshot.  If you click on the image, it will hyperlink to the actual wall.)

Here's is another example from Ms. Cheston and her class.  This time the topic is word origins.

If you haven't played with Wallwisher, consider doing so - it's free, edugaging and requires no log-in.  You can even make a "private" wall if you wanted just you and your students (or colleagues) to see your thoughts.

Thanks, Ms. Cheston, for sharing (and for being part of my awesome three favs).

Besides sharing research, in what other ways could you use Wallwisher?


Spooky {& cool} calendars - Free Printable

You know how I feel about food in the classroom.  So, why not make cool stuff for Halloween instead?

These free, printable calendars are both useful and fun.  Added bonus: your kinesthetic learners will love putting them together.



Conference, anyone?

My college is generally A-MA-ZING about sending faculty to conferences.  In light of the economy, however, this year it looks like I will be staying closer to home and maybe attending a conference.  IF, however, a magical conference genie gave me three wishes, I would attend the following:
  1. EDUCAUSE Annual Conference, October 18-21, 2011, Philadelphia, PA:  EDUCAUSE, in case you are unfamiliar, is an organization that promotes effective use of technology in higher education.  Of course, most of what you can do in higher education, you could do in preK-12 classrooms, so the information to me has much mileage.  Plus, you know how much I adore our Tech Tuesdays together and all the free web-based resources we uncover.
  2. TESOL International Conference (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), March 28-31, 2012, Philadelphia, PA:  I've been to this conference before and wow, do these folks pack it in!  Literally, the conference has "early bird" workshops that start at 6-7am and workshops that go into the later evening hours.  I've never been more invigorated and exhausted at the same time, then when I attended this conference years ago. Of course, since the conference centers on English Language Learners, you kind-of-sort-of need to be in sync with that theme.
  3. Expeditionary Learning National Conference, May 3-5, 2012, Denver, CO:  Let me be clear, any event in Colorado you know I'd want to attend.  Past that, I just adore this organization, which is an off-shoot from my outdoor education days including a stint with Outward Bound.  I've attended this conference before and it was incredible!  I still remember attending a session on teaching mathematics experientially.  The presenters who attend this conference are masters of experiential and constructivist teaching & learning.  Seeing is believing at this conference.
OK, magical conference genie, where are you?  Fabulous blog reader, what conferences are on your wish list?


Desktop wallpapers by Fossil

Mid-fall spruce up....

I want your computer screen to be engaging for teacher/parent conferences.  By the way, I love when  conferences include students:  teacher/parent/student conferences.  Those are always the hippest schools.

Go to Fossil to find just the right wallpaper for your computer screen.  Be sure to scroll down to the "Wallpaper" section on the right side.

Happy conferences!  You Your computer looks marvelous!


Fiverr for Tech Tuesday

Maybe my sense of humor is a little off lately, but I am thoroughly entertained by  The tag line for Fiverr is, "The place for people to share things they're willing to do for $5."  Hilarious!

Case in point #1:  Happy fingers. For $5, this gal will take a picture of "three happy fingers" holding any sign you specify.  I imagine this would make a great sign for your classroom door, "Welcome to First Grade!"

Case in point #2:  Breakfast with a pug.  Need I say more?  Of course, this clever unique idea is accomplished via Skype.  Cute pug, no?  (I like the shoe in the background).  Perhaps, your class can have lunch with cutie pie pug, too?!

Case in point #3:  Leaf messages.  Being a craftucator, I am jazzed about this offering.  Who doesn't want a cut out message in a leaf? Isn't "Upcycled Education" leaf worthy?

Check out and let me know what you think.  There are many services offered that I do think have a place in education.  I just went with more zany entertainment value today.



Mr. UpCyclist and Lil O - Summertime Photos

I realized the other day, you've heard of Mr. UpCyclist and lil O, but rarely do you see photos of the two.  No problem.  I needed an excuse to play with Photoshop Elements and these awesome, free doodles I downloaded from Lil Blue Boo.

Here are my two loves in Crested Butte, Colorado.  Seriously, could this town be any cuter?

Mr. UC (Mr. UpCyclist) loves to that obvious by his new blog name?  At any rate, that is a lot of mud on his legs.  Here Mr. UC just finished a mountain bike race.  This summer, he had a lifetime highlight; he competed in a race with Lance Armstrong.  Rad, no?  (PS - Lance won the race; Mr. UC came in 41st and was way happy).

Lil O, aka: Munchkin Seed, is a pretty wicked cyclist, too.  Here she is on a pump track in Colorado with Groovy Girls in tow.  Notice how Mr. UC waits patiently.  He has to do that a bunch for lil O and I....

When we are at our place in Colorado, we rarely drive our car.  Instead, we bike and walk everywhere.  This is how we grocery shop.  We looooove this contraption - the Burley Travoy.  Did I mention we rent our place there?  It is sooooo perfect for couples, friends and families.  And yes, I did draw those "doodles" myself; I thought lil O would make a lovely butterfly.

I know, no photos of's one to hold you for a while.  We three are looking a little too orange in this shot, but elegant, no?  Here we are out our cousin's wedding in the great state of Florida. 

Yep, that's the UpCyclist 3. 

What's your family like?


Label jars, not people - Rosa's Law

Today's guest blogger/guest Upcyclist is a best friend and colleague, Dr. I.  I've been begging Dr. I to join me on Upcycled Education and she finally took me up on it.  Dr. I is clever, humorous and calls it like she sees it.  My kind of person.
Take it away, Dr. I.

The tides are changing, and I’m thrilled.  The use of the “r-word” has been a thorn in my side for over ten years.  I’m an educator who teaches about special education but I also have a family member who has an intellectual disability.  My Uncle Bob, who just turned 58, was born with hydrocephalus (water on the brain).  At the time of his birth, there was a movement afoot in the United States to close institutions for those with intellectual disabilities so that these individuals could remain with their families and better integrate into society.  A very progressive idea for the time; however, I wish the term “mentally retarded” would have been shut down along with the institutions. 
What started as clinical term, the term “mentally retarded” and its pejorative cousin “retard” have been used to degrade people with intellectual disabilities.  What is even more abhorrent, in my humble opinion, is the use of the r-word as slang.  I can’t tell you how many well-educated friends and family members of mine still use this word, often to refer to something silly they did.  I take every chance I can to correct them (even in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner!).  When I teach a college course on special education, I begin the first day by writing the r-word on the board in a large circle.  I then cross it out with a red marker and an excessive amount of vehemence!  I hope I’ve made an impression.

Image from Daylife; Text by Jen
What has made a significant impression is the passage of Rosa’s Law (S.2781), signed into federal law by President Obama on October 5, 2010.  The law removes the terms “mentally retarded” and “mental retardation” from federal health, education, and labor policies and replaces them with the term “individual with an intellectual disability” or “intellectual disability”.  This change in terms evokes the kind of change in thinking we need.  Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics, Dr. Timothy P. Shriver remarked:  “Respect, value, and dignity – everyone deserves to be treated this way, including people with intellectual disabilities.”
Rosa’s Law was initiated in 2009 by a family in Maryland who has four children one of whom, Rosa, has Down syndrome.  Rosa’s mother Nina was discouraged to find that Rosa’s school referred to her as retarded (a term that was not allowed in their home).  Nina joined forces with other parents and her state delegate to first introduce the bill to the Maryland General Assembly.  A hearing was held to discuss the implications of changing the term.  Several people gave testimony, but the most significant words came from Rosa’s 11-year-old brother when he said, “What you call people is how you treat them.”
I urge you to put a stop to the r-word.  If television networks like FOX, F/X, and MTV are now bleeping out the word, we all can.  Visit to join the movement and “spread the word to end the word” …. or you might just see me at your next  Thanksgiving dinner!

Thanks, Dr. I.  I'd love to have you over for Thanksgiving;  you'll never  hear the r-word from me or my family!

Paint swatch love notes

Remember my love of paint swatches?  I saw something similar on another blog (for the life of me, I can't remember which blog), so I decided to tweak it a bit and make lunch love notes for lil O and P - whom I will now call Mr. UpCyclist (because of his love of all things cycling).  I bet you can tell which lunch love note is for Mr. U.

Anyway, they are made. They are kind of cute.  Tell me, art majors and art educators of the world, how do I keep the stamped ink from smearing?  Please leave a comment below, email me at jen at or post info on Upcycled Education's Facebook page (the link is to the right).