World Bike {Giving Back}

Mr. UpCyclist will do just about anything that involves biking.  Plus, as my students have heard me describe, he is a complete kind-natured soul and a true 6er - ed psych students, that one was for you!  Hence, Mr. UpCyclist volunteered at the Green Fest event in our county.  For hours, he and puppy Jedi took off the pedals of donated bikes.  Evidently, the donated bikes are headed to Panama and with their pedals off, the bikes fit more nicely in the cargo container.

Yay, for World Bike (the organizer of the bike donations) and nice work, Mr. UpCyclist.  Lil O and I are proud of you and Jedi.

If you want to get involved with World Bike, click here



Elaboration {part of the Be Creative Series}

To solve a problem creatively, an idea must be developed and details considered before an idea is executed and implemented. This attention to detail is called "elaboration." Elaboration is another characteristic - like fluency and originality - that creative thinkers possess.  You (and your students) need strong elaboration skills.  Got it?

Elaboration - Attribute of Creative Thinking
(chalk drawing by Prof. KP and her lovely daughter, G)

Here are some tricks and tips to help you develop elaboration skills for yourself and others.....
  • Experience an activity by incorporating more senses.  What does the setting in a book smell like?   What taste does E=MC2 have?  What tactile feeling does a favorite song possess?
  • Visualize what is read or seen by creating a drawing, flowchart, or sequencing of sounds or movements.
  • Find the balance between having enough details and too many details; too many details can become overwhelming. 
  • Learn the “Rules for Converging” - not now, but in the future.  Converging is what happens once brainstorming has taken place.  I think I will blog about convergence soon.
  • For parents and educators, consider what tools you encourage your children or students to use to  manage details and plan ahead (e.g.: To-do lists, checklists, iPad apps, etc.). What tools does your child see you using? 
  • Like all creative attributes, a nurturing, non-rushed environment that encourages attention to detail and careful planning is preferred, especially in a demanding and busy 21st century.

Did you know elaborative thinking has consistently correlated higher to student achievement (like grades) more than any of the other creative attributes.  This makes sense as learning requires attention to detail and planning. 

Happy elaborating,


Did you miss part of the Be Creative Series?  Click on each link below to catch up.

Animoto {Updated Code} for Tech Tuesday

Are you a fan of Animoto yet? If you missed this post about Animoto, treat yourself. Animoto is the perfect free video making tool for all those upcoming classroom and graduation events.

To register for your free Animoto Plus account (usually $30/year, but free to us, educators, students & allies), use the following code Animoto supplied to me (this code is good for 6 months for the first 50 users): a4elara6f7c43. Choose the "Plus" option to input the code.

Yippee! I heart Animoto.


PS - If you missed my last Animoto video, you can see it here.

Life Updated

Lil O beaded a collar for her kitty

Just when I want to wind down for the night, Lil O notoriously winds up; albeit for about 20 minutes before she goes to bed.  Evidently, she has creative energy to burn.  In this photo, she is fashioning a beaded collar for her kitty.  Meow.

I love her focus in this Instagram photo and adore how colorful and organized her "studio" is.....
Love this kid,

PS - Her studio is not always that organized.  Just being real.

A New Take on Class Meetings

You probably remember Dr. I from her guest post here.  Welcome back, Dr. I!  Explain a new take on class meetings to the Upcycled community, please......(and PS - I miss you since you moved to SD!)

(Graphic from The Graphic Fairy; Picniked by Jen)

Many classrooms hold weekly class meetings to help build a positive classroom environment and for each student to have a voice and feel like part of a learning community.

The class meeting structure at one school in San Diego is called CPR (Concerns, Praises, Responsibilities) and it is used in grades 2-5.  My daughter’s teacher, and I agree starting class meetings on a positive note sets the stage for a successful meeting.
  • Praises (students compliment one another for something great they did that week….like being a good study partner)
  • Responsibilities (students are given the opportunity to take responsibility for something they did, without being prompted … like apologizing for taking someone’s pencil)
  • Concerns (students can raise a concern about another student….but it cannot be something that the student already took responsibility for … also, the teacher does not allow more than two concerns to be raised about the same student)
I LOVE the structure of this class meeting and think that it is developmentally appropriate for 7-10 year olds.  The second graders would need more teacher support to learn how the process works, but by the time the students get to 4th or 5th grade, they could probably run the meeting themselves.  Talk about empowerment!
Dr. I, I love this class meeting line-up, too, as it promotes student ownership and civility.
Thank you for sharing and big thanks to Ms. H and her colleagues at Francis Parker for making this a vital part of students' days.
All the best,

Sign Up Genius for Tech Tuesday

Today's Tech Tuesday feature is g-e-n-i-u-s.  Sign Up Genius is the perfect, free, online solution to the annoying task of organizing people, classroom volunteers, who-is-going-to-bring-snack-to-the-next-soccer-tournament, potluck dishes, you name it!  If my mom is reading today - which I bet she is - Mom, this would be great for your docent work at the zoo.  Oh, and I love you.

One of the moms from Lil O's school used Sign Up Genius recently to organize a potluck-type class gift.  I was thrilled to easily join Sign Up Genius, add our family's contribution to the class gift and any additional comments I thought would be helpful to the organizer.

Just for fun, I created a "test" genius below.  Click on the image to sign-up for a "pretend" Upcycled Education potluck.  What will you bring?



A {Possible} New Museum in DC {The National Museum of the American People}

I don't know about you, but I adore all the mostly free museums in Washington, DC.  Even if you don't live near DC - like my family does - they are still a delight to visit when you are in the DC area. 

Guess what?  There is a possible new museum  that might be added to the line-up: The National Museum of the American People.  The new museum will focus on migration to America (the good ole' USA). Since my family immigrated to the USA in the early 1900s from Russia and Poland, I think the museum is well-needed as it takes tenacity and courage to make the voyage and in many cases, risk it all, to be on USA soil.  It is time to honor and recognize all those amazing, brave people.  Plus, get to know more about each other.

You can imagine launching a museum takes support from many stakeholders.  Want to help?  It's easy.  Choose as many options as you like to get involved.
  1. Sign the petition to support the museum. I just did and it literally took 25 seconds to complete.  You can even link to Facebook to encourage your friends to support this neat museum.
  2. Like the museum on Facebook or follow the museum on Twitter.
  3. Visit the museum's blog I love the Photo Friday feature. 
  4. Subscribe to the museum's up-and-coming YouTube channel.
  5. Write a letter to your representative asking them to support "House Congressional Resolution 63" which will study the establishment of the museum.
  6. Get crafty!  Have all the kids in your neighborhood or classroom make "heritage hands" - with their name, age and heritage(s) on them (example below).  Click here for the template.  Complete the hands and send by April 20th, 2012 to:
Professor Gemma Puglisi
American University
School of Communication
Mary Graydon Center Room 300
4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016

Isn't this fun?  We all can get involved and help procure a new museum in DC.



PS - Thank you, Cousin Kathy, for working so hard with your classmates to support this well-needed museum.

Science I can sink my teeth into.....

You know how I feel about food in the classroom, but for the sake of science, I may have to broaden my perspective.  Thanks to my Cousin Cheryl at Creative Party Ideas by Cheryl, we all can enjoy some edible moon phases.

And for my gluten-, nut- and dairy-free students, you know I've got your back.  Come on.

Lil O and I adore these.  You can buy a six pack of them here in case your local Whole Foods or natural mart doesn't carry them.

Happy Saturday, Upcyclists,


Seek Originality {part of the Be Creative Series}

Originality in terms of creativity means ideas or solutions that are statistically infrequent or in other words, unique or unusual.  I used to swear I had not an original idea to my name (instead I was always borrowing an idea from another person and modifying it).  However, I've learned that I am an original thinker on many occasions and that using the tips below, I find I can be even more original.

Quick tips to increase original thinking:
  • Original thinking typically requires longer amounts of time.  This time is called “incubation.”  Be sure to allot yourself plenty of time when creative problem solving. 
  • Heightened emotional arousal is important in generating original ideas.  Think of the real-life application and importance of the problem being solved.  .  If there is strong emotional connection, more original ideas are likely to be produced.
  • Original thinkers must be comfortable with being different in order to produce such original ideas. 
  • Instead of judging others ideas, try using the Praise-Question-Polish model when working with children and other adults:

  1. Praise – Find something genuinely to praise related to the efforts of the problem-solver, the child or adult.
  2. Question – Ask open-ended questions to help the child or adult clarify an idea, generate alternative solutions (if necessary) or elaborate on an idea.  Examples of questions include:  “Tell me more about….” OR “What made you decide to do…..” OR “How would you improve…..”
  3. Polish – Encourage the child or adult to amplify their idea or solution.  At this stage, the child or adult can refine, restate, redefine or rethink their idea or solution in hopes to “polish” or improve it.
    • The best friend of originality is fluency.  Remember the post on fluency here?  Practicing fluency is a great way to get increase original thinking.  Believe me!

    Onward original Upcyclists!


    Want to start at the beginning of the Be Creative Series?  Click here.


      Skillshare for Tech Tuesday

      I'm a teacher.  Always have been.  From teaching snowboarding for the Aspen Ski Company to teaching inner-city kids how to research topics and make PowerPoint presentations to my now fabulous college students, teaching is what I do.  It is who I am.

      When I stumbled upon Skillshare this past fall, I thought, ingenious.  A teaching and learning hub where anyone can teach just about anything in person to a small community of learners - online learning is not embraced by Skillshare.  Classes range from learning to knit to computer programming and everything in between.

      The teacher - possibly you - creates the class listing, description, and price through Skillshare and determines when, how long, and where the class will meet.  From what I can tell, most classes rent/borrow space in coffee shops, community centers, athletic clubs, etc.  The teacher is responsible for securing the class space, though Skillshare shares many tips on how to do this.  The teacher is mainly the person who promotes the class through whichever social networking avenues they desire while Skillshare includes the class on the Skillshare website.

      When a student enrolls for the class, Skillshare earns 15% of the fees and the teacher keeps all the rest.  I believe Paypal is used for all transactions.

      See what you think of Skillshare.  I bet there is a class you could teach OR one you could take.  As you can see from the above doodle, there are many a few Skillshare classes I could offer and teach besides my regular Educational Psychology, Special Education, and college teachy stuff.


      Graduation Subway Art


      Once again, before goes offline, I whipped up some graduation subway art.  This was made especially for a colleague, but I am ready for all the May and June graduations now, too. 

      After creating the subway art, I used Publisher to enlarge the image and printed it out on cardstock.  Then, using a simple dollar store frame, I framed it.  If you'd like the subway art to use, just right click here for it.


      An easy peasy gift or decoration.

      Yay, graduates!


      PS - My colleague and friend, AB, made the adorable tassel that you see embellishing the frame in the top photo.  She made the faux tassel out of embroider thread.  Clever, huh?


      Textbook Gems - Guest Blogger/Guest Upcyclist Series

      Look at these wonderfully inviting textbook gems Professor KP created and wanted to share with Upcycled Education.

      Professor KP, a regular here at UE, basically followed this tutorial for magnet gems using Mod Podge, but left off the magnet portion.  Of course, she found vocabulary and terms from some of her old textbooks to make the gems lesson ready.  Then, she challenged her college students to dream up clever ways to use the gems.  Look at what they came up with.....

      Aren't her college students clever?  What creative ideas to incorporate textbook gems and upcycle old textbooks and of course, my fav:  Mod Podge.

      Love this!


      PS - Professor KP said she bought her gems at the dollar store.  She said to look for the longest gem-shapes possible.  Notice her gems are elongated, not the typical round shape used for DIY gem magnets.

      PSS - I am laughing that I called Professor KP a "regular" here at Upcycled Education.  It sounds like we are a restaurant or bar.  Ha!

      Grammar Girl for Tech Tuesday

      I need Grammar Girl like I need food and water.  Thankfully, Professor KP introduced her to me this semester.  Grammar Girl, where have you been my whole life?  How did I survive without you? 

      Basically, if you need help with anything grammatical, for example, when to use the subjunctive verb tense, why and when to use a comma, and the big 21st century stumper - is it "email" or "e-mail?"  Grammar Girl is there for you.  Just go to her site and search for whatever help you need.  Plus, Ms. Fogarty (a.k.a.:  Grammar Girl) not only textually explains the rationales, but many explanations are narrated by Grammar Girl herself. 

      Neat, huh? 

      And by the way, I am walking on eggshells hoping to not make any grammatical mistakes while writing this Tech Tuesday blog post.

      Fingers crossed.