Google AdSense for Tech Tuesday

Alright, I have no idea how this all perfectly works.  But, since I've been blogging for a year and never have monetized Upcycled Education through advertisements, I thought I would give it a try.  I'm going to make a jump - in the next few weeks - and activate AdSense from Google. 

This is how AdSense reportedly works....

We - yes, you and I, super blog reader - can then voice our thoughts about ads on blogs.

Wish Upcycled Education luck.  Luck for what?  Luck that the ads don't take over the blog?  Luck that the ads are not drop-dead ugly?  Luck that Upcycled Education makes millions and then Jen can world school Lil O and Mr. UpCyclist can buy whichever bike he desires and you, fabulous blog reader, can earn a scholarship from Upcycled Education or an all expense paid trip to an Upcycled Education retreat somewhere fantastic!

We are going to need luck indeed.

Oh my,

Candy Heart Wreath

I don't like the consumption of food in preK-12 classrooms except for students eating lunch.  You'll remember my food rant from this post.  However, I really don't mind decorating with food.  Lil O and I made this wreath last year in under two hours; it was fun and easy to make with only a modest amount of hot glue burns.  Our family liked it so much, it literally hung in our foyer until May!

No lie.

If you'd like to make one for your home, classroom or as a gift, follow the easy instructions here.

Happy weekend, Upcyclists!


Glow Sticks in the Classroom? Yay!

Blogging must be in my blood.  Look, my cousin blogs, too.  And she is soooo creative.  I remember growing up and thinking she was so smart and creative and pretty.  She still is all those things.....

You've got to head over to her blog, Creative Party Ideas by Cheryl, to see the gift she left me - make that us!  A clever way to use glow sticks in the classroom - not candy or sweets.  And it is perfect for Valentine's Day or just showing students you care (or anyone for that matter).

Thanks, Cousin Cheryl. 

My heart is a glowin'.


Cousin Jen

Attitude of gratitude

Let's play truth or dare.  Dare!  I dare you to make someone else's day today.  Write that person a note, leave something sweet for them, send them a random "you're awesome" text or just give them a hug for no reason.

Just embrace an attitude of gratitude.

Feels awesome, huh?  Post your random acts of gratitude below in the comments section - you might inspire others to follow in your footsteps.  Then, if you really want to shout out your random act of gratitude to the world, visit 365 Give to "share your give." 

I love that.  Give your share, share your give.

With gratitude, fabulous blog reader,  you rule.


School Rocks

Since I literally have the most creative, brightest, college students in the world, I've asked them to join Upcycled Education and blog with me.  Please welcome, our newest student blogger:  Kim!

About Kim:
I am a parent, educator-in-training, COG Kids Contributor, recycler of almost everything, self-proclaimed artist, craver of all things hot, really awful singer, & very loyal friend.  I'd like to add, Kim is an amazing student. A-MA-ZING.
Kim, take it away...

I wanted to offer an idea related to classroom rules.  Actually, they are more like life rules; they can effectively be applied to any situation.   One of my favorite aspects about these rules is that they call on the student to take total responsibility over his or her learning experience (offering a bit of autonomy….one of Daniel Pink’s crucial factors of motivation). These rules ask the student to be, as opposed to do or don’t do, something.

Further, because I am a total fan of deep, layered meanings, as well as acronyms, my rules spell out ROCK.  ROCK is the perfect word, obviously, because school rocks, students rock, teachers rock!  And (here is the deeper, layered meaning) these rules are the foundation, or ROCK, for students' education, which will in turn be the foundation, or ROCK, for their future….ahhhhh.....layers.

So, without further ado, I present my 4 classroom rules:


Be Respectful…to one another, yourself, and our learning environment (classroom, desks, books, etc.).


Be Orderly …class will be fun and edugaging, but lab sciences do require things are done in a particular order.


Be Curious …ask questions; become actively engaged in your learning. 


Be Kind…the golden rule:  treat others the way you want to be treated.

Although Alfie Kohn may not approve, I will give out ROCK awards at the end of the semester to the students who best exemplify and adhere to our classroom rules (and mantra).  The award will consist of a certificate and a letter of recognition for their academic portfolio.  I know these awards will not motivate the students to follow the rules, but I do believe that genuinely acknowledging a student who has consistently exemplified these "rules" is a nice thing to do; my way of saying "thank you" (and that’s just good manners).

Here is a sample ROCK award certificate, customized with the recipient’s name, that I made using Tagxedo.  This could also be personalized with the shape of the school's mascot.

Do you see what I mean?  Such amazing students like Kim.  Thank you, Kim.  You ROCK, too.



Bottle Cap Mirror and Football

This will probably not surprise anyone, but I am not a huge football fan.  I can watch the Tour de France with the best of 'em, but NFL football?  Not so much.  Today, though, I have a burning desire to see the Ravens playoff game.  I'm sort of feeling very Maryland lately.  I'd even dawn a purple and black outfit if I did purple. 

Which brings me to the mirror above, after the game, when you are done with all your soda caps (or any bottle for that matter), do save them and either a) send them to me or b) make your own bottle cap mirror like the one above.  My kind college students who bartend, Mr. UpCyclist and our friend, Molly, all contributed their caps to the mirror above.  Then, Molly and I armed with hot glue guns went to town gluing the caps down to the frame of the mirror.

Voila!  A bottle cap mirror!  It looks great with soda, beer or any ole' caps you have around.  We discovered it is best to put the "ugly" dented caps on the bottom layer and save the pretty, colorful caps for the top layer.  Yep, we are professionals now and are offering advice ;)  It is a combination of trash chic and coolness.

Go Ravens!


PS - If you want to see the above mirror in person, you'll have to take a trip to Breckenridge, Colorado.  It is the newest addition to our ski condo there.

Paint Swatch Bookmarks

I know, I know....two paint swatch posts in a row.  Forgive me.  What can I say?  I'm addicted to free things that are colorful....and pretty....and entertaining....and free.  Ok, I'll stop.

Right before the holidays, lil O and I made these easy peasy bookmarks for friends and family.  Here's the skinny if you need a winter project (and yes, one day I will blog about something completely unrelated to free paint swatches).  Today is not that day.  Obviously.

1.  Take as many free, large-sized paint swatches as you can from Home Depot, Lowe's or similar.  I generally stop when I begin questioning my moral development.  For my ed psych students, you know I will never be a sixer in the eyes of Kohlberg if I keep up this kind of behavior.  Have your Sharpie markers handy.
2.  Cut off any excess paint swatch you don't need for your bookmark.

3.  The cut paint swatch now takes shape.
4.  Grab your favorite friend or munchkin and let the decorating begin.  Word to the wise:  Use permanent markers to draw on the paint swatches, like Sharpies, as most other markers smear.
5.  Punch a hole, string some ribbon and make someone's day. 

Guess whose day was made with this one?

Mr. UpCyclist was very pleased.  Lil O proud.  And me?  Pining for more free paint swatches.

Do you need more, too?  Find other swatch ideas here, here and here.  And yes, next week, I promise not to post about anything with the initials FPS.  Free paint swatches.


PS - Huge thank you to my Saturday students who stuck by me during our six hours class! 

Paint Swatch Garland

This weekend, the weather report is calling for mixed snow and rain.  I'm all about the winter, as many of you know, remember this collage post here?  But, mixed snow and rain?  That is not my favorite combo from Mama Nature herself.  Good thing, my mama is visiting from TN and brings sunshine with her by just being....her.

Now, it's time to lighten things up myself....I think some paint swatch garland will do the trick.

Join me?  Free paint swatches + punched out shapes + holes + string + an industrious six-year-old who likes to faux sew = happiness and a whole lot of color!

If you are looking for more paint swatch ideas that are classroom specific, do check out this one:


PS - Welcome new college students who are just reading Upcycled Education for the first time.  Thanks for joining!  Remember when we spoke about "Think Pair Share?"  You can read that short post here.

Helping with the jitters

For those of you starting a new semester or with a new group of students, this blog post on "First Day Jitters" is a great read.

Plus, my lovely friend, Dawn, wrote it on her well-titled blog, Courage to Pause. 

Courageously yours,

Wunderlist for Tech Tuesday

I love a good list.  Yep, I do.  This app seems to be the perfect one for creating and managing to-do lists - especially from one device to another.  I've tried other to-do list apps, but nothing holds a candle to Wunderlist

Now, I can check off "Sharing Wunderlist" from my blog to-do list :)


Ideas to pair up students

(Photo by Sporkist; Picniked by Jen)
Just to entertain myself (and my students, sometimes), I pair up partners (or small groups) in the following ways.
  • Decide if you are peanut butter or jelly.  Then, go find a partner who is the other.
  • Put 0-5 fingers in the air.  Find a partner that gives you an odd (or even) total.
  • Find someone who has the same (or close) thumb size as you.  Have you seen my thumbs before?  My friends say they look like toes.  Proof below.
  • Find someone who has a different number of siblings than you.
  • Decide if you are a dog person or a cat person.  Then, go find a partner who is the other.
  • Stand on your left or right foot.  Then, go find a partner who is standing on the opposite foot.
  • Think of your favorite number.  Find a partner so that when you add your numbers together you get an even (or odd) number.
  • Of course, paint swatch partnerships are jazzy and colorful.
OK, now I have something slightly embarrassing to admit.  I was Picniking my thumb to remove some of its flaws.  Vain, no?

Next time I will Picnik in a manicure.  Geez!  Can I get some help here?  From a partner?


Think Pair Share: An oldie, but a goodie

There are certain activities in the classroom I completely take for granted.  Think Pair Share probably tops the list along with K-W-Ls.  Who knew the Think Pair Share strategy (although, some of the literature calls the trio a "routine") was developed by Frank Lyman in 1981 in Maryland.  Yep, proud to be a Marylander.

With that said, if you are just getting into teaching/education or perhaps you came to Upcycled Education from another professional field, then the Think Pair Share strategy might be fresh and new to you.  Thus, let's review....

Think:  This first step in the trio encourages students to think independently about a question posed, a situation, an upcoming topic, etc.  Generally this step is done individually and often times, students write down their ideas.

Pair:  For this second step of the trio, students get together in pairs with another classmate.  Sometimes, I use ranges instead of pairs like "Alright....please get together with 1-2 other people."  That way no one feels left out or is scurrying for a partner. 

By the way, if you check back this coming week, I promise to have nifty ideas how to pair up students.....

Share:  In this final step of the trio, students share their thoughts with their partner(s).  This is an important part of the trio as students have a chance to broaden their perspective and obtain feedback from their peers.

If you think your students need training with sharing ideas and partner work, consider this post on SSLANT - a communication strategy - or T-charts.  I am an uber fan of both.

Now that I've blogged about Think Pair Share, I'm excited to use it again next week with my college students.  It's our first week of spring semester!

Did I tell you I dislike the first week of school?  I'll blog about that another day.


Happy 2012 with an infographic to boot!

This infographic just made my 2012 a little brighter.  Yay, for teachers!

How are you, Upcyclists?  What have you been doing?