Container Store - Organized Teacher Discount Program {Yay!}

Tomorrow starts a month long series called "Craftucation Nation."  It is where crafting and education intersect.  In order to prepare for your projects, you will need some organizational help.  Voila, the Container Store.  Have you been?  There is a Container Store near me and when I am there, I imagine it is what my heaven looks and feels like - tidy and organized.

If you are an educator (or college student in training to become an educator; remember college students - own it!  It is time to start calling yourself an educator), you can apply online for their "Organized Teacher Discount Program." Automatically, you will be emailed a card for 15% off your entire purchase at the lovely, amazing Container Store.

Now, you are ready for Craftucation Nation - a series by Upcycled Education - to begin tomorrow.

Happy (and organized),


Embedding YouTubes into PowerPoint

Are you one of those folks who hyperlinks from PowerPoint to YouTube when you want to share a video with your class?  And do not say, you are one of those schools that disallows YouTube.  If the Smithsonian can have its own YouTube channel, certainly you should be able to access it, right?  I think that is in the United States Bill of Rights.  Or, it should be.

Anywho, this 4+ minute video will teach you (or your students or colleagues) how to embed YouTubes right into PowerPoint 2007 so you look uber-professional (if you have PowerPoint 2010, try one of these tutorials).  Can you believe this particular tutorial above has over a million views!  Most of those views came from my amazing college students. Yep, future tech-savvy educators.


A Thankful Thanksgiving

This was my busiest Thanksgiving, yet.  Busy, in a good way.  Ever since I finished my training for the TTCT (The Torrance Test of Creative Thinking; more on that another day), I've shifted how I see things.  Even how I parent.  I can't quite put my finger on what has changed, but I know the TTCT training and understanding creative thinking more has inspired me, which is why I think we jammed-packed our long holiday weekend with so much fun.

Here's a peek at the weekend.....

Polka dancing with Mr. Upcyclist and lil O.  We all go to bed so early that we literally were home from polka dancing by 8:30pm and were exhausted.  Our family loves to dance.  Did you know Mr. Upcyclist and I met salsa dancing?  Sounds steamy, no?

A very yummy cranberry apple cake (for the recipe, scan the QR code from this post).  I adore that wavy chopper lil O is using.  It was the best buy from this Montessori catalog a few years ago.  Yes, I just snuck Montessori in a post!  Sneaky me.

Don't you adore dear friends?  Here is lil O with two friends who happen to be brothers.  Their mom and I are super friends from grad school.  That day, my gradfriend and I talked and talked and talked and talked while the kids played and played and played and played.  It was sooo nice to see them; it had been a while.

And let's not forget a good craft session.  You know I adore craftucation.  Wait to you see the posts for December.  Some of you may think I've lost my mind.  This is a gift in progress.

Mr. Upcyclist rarely gets involved in crafts, but lil O and I finally brought him to the dark awesome side.  He pays so much attention to detail, we've offered him an open invite to craft with us at anytime.  What a natural crafter!

Lastly, what is a long weekend without some fresh air guessed it....cycling!  I mean, the name of this blog is UpCYCLED Education - for more than one reason.  Lil O is working on her mountain bike skills.  Me?  I'm just trying to keep up and get in shape for ski season which is right around the corner.

Oh. I. Loved. This. Holiday. Weekend.

Grateful and happy,

Printable Artwork {for your classroom and home}

I don't know about you, but I appreciate easy.  Easy day.  Easy dinner.  Easy gift.  Easy artwork.

Last time I blogged about easy, printable artwork, I ended up printing off a bunch of cool artwork for myself - though I really did plan to frame some of the artwork and give 'em away as gifts.

Anywho, enough of me blabbing on a Saturday, why don't you check out Laura Winslow's Memorable Words Monday - lots of great, free printables for your classroom or home.  I mean, great printables to give away as gifts, geez.

Happy Saturday, Upcyclists,

Dedicate your work {Flashback}

Remember this post about dedicating your work?  Today seems like the perfect day to revisit this idea.  For my USAmerican readers, it is Thanksgiving after all, yes?

Thus to you, fabulous blog reader, I am grateful.  Thank you for coming back to Upcycled Education, reading our sweet blog, and inspiring & encouraging me - with your comments and emails - to stay the course.

This blog post is dedicated to you (and Mr. UpCyclist and Lil O who never give me a hard time when I retreat to our studio to blog).  Who is your day dedicated to?


Are QR codes too much for desserts?

Since you know I love QR codes, I was it too much to label the two desserts we're bringing to my in-laws house for Thanksgiving?  Just in case someone wanted to have the recipes, the QR codes would make it easier to share.  My hand model (lil O) and I think the codes are nifty.



PS - In case you want the QR codes for the desserts.  This one is for Ina Garten's Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake.  Yum!

This next one is breaking most Thanksgiving traditions - a Dulce de Leche Flan.  It is a-ma-zing and worth being a T-giving rebel.

Gobble, gobble..... for Tech Tuesday

We are in an age of incredible desktop publishing feats and access to an exorbitant amount of data and information. There is a new 21st century equation necessary to understand:

Leading the infographic revolution is - both in content and quality.  Not to mention soon (when exactly soon I'm unsure as hasn't announced it as of November 2011), but soon, will offer a web-based tool so you can create your own infographic.  Yippee.  You know, I adore web-based tools.

(Infographics from

However....until offers the DIY infographic tool, you can still play with  Here Upcycled Education's tweets are being compared infographically (new word, by the way) to the powerhouse educational resource, EdutopiaYou can see I have much room to grow and I am a poor example of tweeting.

How will you use infographics with your students or colleagues?  Do you imagine students will need to become infographically literate?



Food, again - Infographic

Yes, yes,'s me again.  You know how I despise food in the classroom.  I'm surprised I survived Halloween.  Anyway, since I am on an infographic kick lately, this infographic spoke to me.  Seriously, we can't all agree upon stem cell research, but you want to genetically modify the food I eat and feed to my family and not tell me which ingredients have been altered?  How come 40 other countries either ban or demand their food be properly labeled if it has been genetically modified?

(Infographic from Fast Company)

Very uncool, Business-that-manufacturers-genetically-modified-food-and-sneakily-sells-them-to-families-and-children.

I've got my eye on you.


PS - If the infographic is too small for you, just click on the image above to see a close-up.

Homeschooling - Infographic

Since this tremendously popular blog post about homeschooling (by my dear friend and homeschooler, Mariah), I've been keeping my eye-out for other homeschool-related tidbits.

I am wildly obsessed enamored with infographics lately.  According to this infographic, homeschooled children are out-performing their public school peers.  It seems wise Mariah is correct again.

(Infographic from Cool Infographics)
If the infographic is too small for you, just click on the Cool Infographics link to see a close-up.


Montessori and 321 Fast Draw

If you'd like another take on Montessori education, here is Montessori parent, Trevor Eissler from 321 Fast Draw, explaining Montessori education via cartoon.  I love Eissler's creativity and message....



PS - If you'd like to refresh your mind, "What is Montessori Education?"  Click here.

{Free} Self-inking custom stamp

Remember when we all ordered our free business cards from this post?  Here is another free treat - a self-inking custom stamp!  These stamps are perfect for address labels or to mark your books or to promote your blog -  Ha!

The only cost is shipping and handling - which is a mere $6.50.  If you do an online search for the same product, prices start at $12 and up.  Consider this free stamp a bargain.  Plus, if you order now (because it takes Vistaprint about three weeks to make/send your stamp), it would make a useful holiday gift for a friend, colleague or family member.

Plus, it really is simple to order......

See, I'm looking out for you!



Tech Tuesdays of the Future

After my technology conference yesterday, I am looking forward to blogging about the following Tech Tools.  If anyone wants to beat me to them and guest blog post, I'd love to have you :)  And I'm serious.

Here's what I learned.....
  • What?  I can create my own radio talk show?!?!  Are you kidding me?  Blog Talk Radio.  Wouldn't it be fun to have students create a talk show?  And guess what?  People can even call in!
  • Have students debate sides of an issue online at Helium.
  • Need more time then a traditional Jing video allows?  Try capturing classroom lectures or screencast at Tegrity
  • You know I adore Fiverr, but maybe I need Crowdspring to help me design an Upcycled Education logo.  Don't you think we need one?   A logo that is uber-unique.
My mind is racing with new ideas.  Conferences fuel my professional soul.


PS - A huge thank you to all of you who attended the session on blogging yesterday that I hosted.  I was so  happy to share Upcycled Education and lessons learned with you.

What makes a great blog post?

Today, I am presenting at a local technology conference that focuses on distance learning.  I am presenting a session on "Connecting Content to Student Learning:  Blogs 101."

Here's what I think makes a great blog post for Upcycled Education:

What do you think makes a great blog post?  Tell me in the comments section below, yes?

All the best,

Dear Santa

Dear Santa - Could you please bring my college students a present they so desperately need. 

I'd be grateful,


PS - Lil O already has one of these, but she said to tell you she'd like an Easy Bake Oven this year, please.  You know how I feel about food, but at least it is not in the classroom.

Play or lack thereof......

About a year ago, I took lil O and my niece, AB to AB's school's playground when her school was closed.  AB was soooo excited to play on her school's playground because she could runRun?  "What are you talking about AB?  You can't run on your playground during school hours?"  Indeed, that was accurate.  AB and the other 400 elementary school students were banned from running on the playground during school hours. 

At the moment, I wanted to cry.  The epidemic of non-physical activity on playgrounds  - like running, jumping and climbing - was hitting too close to home.  Why build playgrounds if children cannot play?  Oh wait, they can play - it's just "restrictive" play.  Ugh.

There is a troubling issue in the United States. Outside play time, recess and physical education in the majority of public K-12 schools is diminishing.  On top of that fact, the quality of those play experiences is decreasing. 

According to this report, the average elementary school student is allotted 24-30 minutes of recess a day down from an average 37 minutes reported in 2008.  Sure seven minutes doesn't sound like a lot, but 7 minutes x 5 school days a week = Our children just lost an entire period of recess (1 lost day a week x 36 weeks of school = A month-lose of recess).  By the way, the statistics get more dismal in urban, high minority and high poverty school.  In fact, a large percentage of children in those schools do not get recess at all! 

What is the "right" amount of physical activity for our kids in our schools?  The National Association for Sport and Physical Education recommends roughly 30 minutes of day of PE for elementary-aged students and 20 minutes a day of recess.  Are the children you know getting that daily - 50 minutes of physical activity and play?  All my soccer mom readers are shaking their heads, yes.  What about the rest of you?

More important, however, than the amount of minutes for recess/PE/play is the quality of these experiences.  If a child cannot run, jump or climb during recess or on a playground, what can they do?

Here are some simple strategies to help children obtain more quality, physical activity both in-school and at home:
  • Make it enjoyable and welcoming.  This article has several good examples including turning a high school weight room into a "fitness club."
  • Encourage parents and families to supplement recess and PE by providing more outdoor play opportunities at home.
  • For educators, provide the highest "duty of care" when out on the playground to prevent unreasonable risk of injury.
  • This study found that children's physical activity increased when game equipment was also available during play.
Though I appreciate one university's unique tactic of withholding the diploma of an overweight student until the (overweight) student completes a one-credit college course, "Fitness for Life,"  I just don't want to wait until our preK-12 students are obese to begin encouraging them to be active.

Let's start now and reintroduce quality, play opportunities for kids.

What do you think?


Picnik for Tech Tuesday


Shhh...don't tell my Photoshop Elements.  I have a confession to make.  I am having an affair with Picnik

How can I live with my disgust and insincerity, yet feel so happy and productive and creative and alive?  If I wasn't so inspired by Picnik, I would loathe myself, but instead, I'm typing this blog post with a cat-that-just-ate-the-canary grin.

Picnik is a free, web-based tool that allows you to manipulate photos and create your own images - like logos.  If you go back to my post here, the collage was made with Picnik.  These photos:  created on Picnik.  For an upcoming post on Thanksgiving day, the photo was manipulated (recolored and text added) with Picnik.  Wait until you see my new series coming in December - Craftucation Nation (sneak peek below).  The banner for Craftucation Nation was created with Picnik.  Yep, I am loving all the creative font choices on Picnik and the plethora of stickers, frames, and effects.  Having this affair with Picnik is bliss.

Look at this other cool Picnik feature - Cloning.  I took one picture and cloned out Lil O:

This is the same photo remember, I just took out Lil O!

Crazy, huh? I plan to work on my facial wrinkles next :)

Two tips:

1.  You can upgrade to a premium Picnik account, but I don't think that's necessary for beginners.  There is sooo much to explore in the free option and you don't even need to sign-up for Picnik to use it; no log-ins are required!  However, since I am having a mad, passionate love affair with Picnik, I did upgrade for $24.95 for the year; it is worth every penny, in my artistic opinion.
2.  To make your own logos and designs (like I did way above), you will need to create a blank jpeg file that can act like a blank canvas.  You can easily do this in PowerPoint or another program.  To do so in PowerPoint, just open PowerPoint, make a blank slide with nothing on it and then save the blank slide as a "jpeg" file.  Here is a screenshot for my visual blog readers....(if you have difficulty doing this, email me and I will send you a blank file).

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner for many of you, fabulous blog readers, why not start a new Thanksgiving tradition and gather around a computer and enjoy PicnikYou might fall madly in love like I have.  And shhh, remember our little secret.


PS - Here is a super clear tutorial on how to use the premium package of Picnik to make collages.  If you type "Picnik" into YouTube, you will also see more tutorials to explore.


(Typography added in Picnik; Frame from Photoshop Express App for iPhone;
Trader Joe Nation - a work in progress)

Picnik fun

Lil O and her cousins are having a great time on Picnik.

Each kid/teen, made their own photo creation; as you can see, the "Neon" effect was a crowd pleaser.

Here is Cousin AK's (and yes, she did collect that much candy on Halloween!  Many items were full-sized):

Lil O's - I love how each person gets to pick their own neon color and font style:

And J's - a sassy and fun design - just like her:

Join me on Tech Tuesday, it is time to tackle Picnik!

Happy weekend,


Picnik is coming soon for Tech Tuesday

Did you know I have a second job?  Just kidding, but managing the rentals of our ski condo in Colorado sometimes feels like a second job.  But, isn't it cute?  And soooo cozy!  Mr. UpCyclist and I agree - if more children and families skied or snowboarded, the world would be a better place.

Anyway, it is time to increase my marketing reach and book some winter rentals.  I thought this nifty photo collage could be sent out to friends and family to spread the word.  I used Picnik to create it.  I am falling in love with Picnik.  In fact, I feel a blog post coming up in the next couple of weeks highlighting Picnik's coolness.

Don't believe me? I even spent $24.99 and upgraded to the premium package of Picnik for the year!  You know I never do that; I am a girl who almost always embraces free.


Guerrilla Educating - A follow-up to One Student Day anyone watching you read this?  PS - If you are a dean, director or chair at my college, stop reading this immediately.

Now that the coast is clear.....

On November 1, 2011 - with the clever date of 11.1.11 - my students and I embarked on a mission and teamed up with One Student to address sexual assault. Our mission was clear: guerrilla educate about preventing sexual assault and supporting survivors. 

Guerrilla education is just as it sounds; it is unusual and unconventional.  It is good friends with other art forms like graffiti, yet, guerrilla education aims to teach or create awareness.  Like most things guerrilla, it uses minimal resources, tends to take place in public venues, and embraces the essence of "grassroots."

This was my first foray into guerrilla education.  I think I have a future in this style of teaching.

Inspired by this video from Kind Over Matter, my students and I took to the mission.  See what you think in our Animoto produced video.  It is easier to view the video in fullscreen; just click on the fullscreen icon in the bottom right of the video window to do so.

Shhhh....mums the word.


PS - To my college students:  As if I didn't adore you to pieces before our mission....  I am now in uber-awe of you and look forward to many more missions together.

11/1/11 One Student Day

If I haven't made this clear, let me.  I adore my college students.  I do.  They are awesome, bright, passionate and care.  Want to hear the best thing?  They are all future teachers.  Yep, amazing, creative, clever, future teachers coming to educate our youth.

Pinch me that I get to work with them daily.

I feel like their teacher, mentor, confidant, and guide.  Many times, I even feel like their mom or big sister.  I would do just about anything to shield them from hurt, pain and all the other nonsense the world likes to dish out.  You can imagine how heartbroken I felt when I read this recent statistic:

What?  1 in 5?  Not my students.  Not these amazing-future-educator-women who will change the world and guide our youth.

No, not them.

Today, I stand in unison with One Student - an organization committed to addressing the issue of sexual violence.  One Student provides the most useful resources - designed to help survivors, their friends and families.  One Student encourages all of us to take a stand against sexual violence and look out for one another.

One of One Student's neatest programs is called "No Woman Left Behind."  From an educator's point-of-view, the take on the national No Child Left Behind law title is ingenious, but from a gal who cares deeply about my fellow gals, I vow to leave no woman behind. 

Sisters, I've got your back.  Student-sisters, your wing gal - me - has arrived.

Today One Student is celebrating their successes and looking towards the future.  Today is 11/1/11 day and Upcycled Education is joining forces with One Student to be the ONE.

Won't you join me and One Student?  One easy way to get started is right here - be the ONE and sign the One Student pledge.


PS - Since Upcycled Education couldn't attend the 11/1/11 event in Florida in person, my college students and I are virtually celebrating.  Check back later in the week when we share our covert One Student mission.  We are calling our efforts, guerrilla educating.