TED Talks Education {for Tech Tuesday}

Thanks to the amazing, Amy from HOPE, we can all enjoy (or set our DVRs) to tape the newest offering from TED - TED Talks Education - a one-hour special airing on May 7th, 2013 at 10pm (EST).

The line-up of speakers' videos looks fantastic and according to their website, they will also air two award-winning-produced, short films.

Let's just boil this down to the bottom line here.  Anything TED produces is top-notch.  Read more about TED Talks Education if you are interested.

And because I couldn't help myself armed with PicMonkey, I had to redo the TED Talks Education logo for Tech Tuesday.



Since I am a Faux Designer Now....

What do you think?  Should I start designing my own duvet and sheet sets at DENY or stick to rubber stamps?


Don't dare me....I'm on a creation roll lately.


How We Keep Busy {The Cup Song}

Dear Students -

In case you are waiting on a paper I'm supposed to be grading, I promise it will be returned soon.

Lil O and I are busy with our Cup Song practice.  In the 21st century, we think this is a true resume builder and demonstrates our 21st century skills - tenacity and collaboration.

Don't you agree?

If you want to see the real Cup Song, click here.



PS - If you are viewing this blog post in an email and can't see the video above, click here to get to Upcycled Education.

Now, that's a welcome home

After traveling for a week, I returned home to these two at the airport.  Lil O was at school.

Gosh, I adore Mr. UpCyclist and Pup Jedi.

After the greeting Jedi gave me - running up to me, making dog-talking sounds, licking me, doing his best play-bow and wanting to stand on his legs and be eye-to-eye, several strangers in the airport commented, "Your dog sure loves you."

The feeling is mutual and even though, Mr. UpCyclist's welcome-back-greeting was more civilized, we are elated to be in the same state.  Make that the same continent.  Did I mention Mr. UpCyclist was in Finland last week and me in California?  Big thank you to my sweet sister, BIL and cousins for loving on Lil O while her parents jet-setted away.

Now, the four of us are back together.  Cuddles abound!

And apparently, we've become that family.  You know, the family who takes their dog everywhere.

Proud and loved,


PS - I'm curious.  Where is the strangest place you've taken your pet?  I might need some new ideas.

LIfe Updated {Sans Tech Tuesday}

Enjoy this Instagram collage - instead of Tech Tuesday this week - as I start traveling home after attending a convention in San Francisco, CA.  Which, by the way, San Fran might just be my favorite big city.

I'll be back on the blog in a few days.....


Today I Learned in Action

When I first designed the rubber stamp line for educators, I thought the feedback stamps would be my favorite -  Glows & Grows, Pluses & Deltas and the Feedback for You arrow stamp.  Now, that I've played with all the stamps for a couple of weeks, my favorite stamps are actually the ones that encourage student reflection.  I need to design more of those.

Right now, Today I Learned is my favorite stamp and for the students who shared their input with me, their favorite, too.

I like that stamp because it isn't overwhelming in size and it is so direct:  What did you learn today?  I also think that particular stamp has a plethora of uses - within students' notes, as a prompt for an exit ticket (maybe stamped on an index card or Post-it note that students can hand in to you), as a "check for understanding" or informal assessment of learning, as a conversation starter for students....

....I'm certain your creative mind will dream up another 5-10 uses.

If you haven't purchased Today I learned and want to, click here to access the online stamp shop.  A big thank you to my college students pictured above, S and H.  Thank you for letting me barge in on your Today I Learned conversation.



Washi Tape Cheer Up

With such a busy (and emotional) week, this just makes me happy and love two things even more.

My shiny Mac laptop and washi tape. 

For this easy peasy tutorial, click here.  All images from the same blog.


PS - If you haven't liked Washi Tape Crafts on Facebook, you really should.  Soooo many lovely washi tape projects delivered daily.  

Gun {Common} Sense, Domestic Terrorism, What?

Such power in this image and text from Moms Demand Action.

Oh, World, what is going on with you?

There is no perfect solution to gun policy or domestic terrorism in the US.  Since I said good bye to perfect in September, I'm happy to let perfect policy fall to the wayside.

All of this new vocabulary and incidents are complex and multifaceted.  One change isn't going to solve the woes of society.  But, one change (or two, three, four, or one hundred changes) will get us closer to a normal we can all live with and feel relatively safe experiencing.

Come on, World, let's pull this together......


PS - Here's what it looks like when moms ban together.  Loving, caring, thoughtful, amazing, forward-thinking moms.  ...I think I just described the moms I admire most....

The #skinny on Hashtags {for Tech Tuesday}

I am in the midst of developing a hashtag stamp for Upcycled Education's new stamp shop.  I see hashtag items everywhere - besides the obvious Twitter and Instagram.  For example, if I didn't elope with Mr. UpCyclist, I think this would be fun on a simple cake.  I love clever greeting cards like these.  And this onesie is soooo funny.  Hashtag madness, I tell ya.

Here is the skinny on hashtags for Tech Tuesday (or should I say #techtuesday?):

  • Though the use of hashtags date back to 1988, the popularity of hashtags started with an innovator, Chris Messina, on Twitter in 2007.  He proposed using hashtags to corral a group of people he was communicating with; If everyone used the same hashtag, they could easily find each other's tweets.
  • Hashtags work best on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Google+.  Facebook just announced it will support hashtags and Pinterest has said "perhaps, in the future" - which is why I require my students to add hashtags to their pinning projects.  We will be ready!
  • Hashtags are actual metadata tags that use keywords and phrases to summarize a main idea.
  • Hashtags make searching for information easier.  With the size of the Internet and the World Wide Web, I say three cheers for easier searching.  Hip, Hip, Hurray!
  • Hashtagging is a test of creative thinking, in my opinion.  Say a baby is born....you could hashtag #newbaby or #birth or #firstborn.  OR to be abstractly creative, you could hashtag that same experience with #life or #bestday or #theregoessleep - see what I mean?  Hashtags creatively summarize an experience.
Which is exactly why we need a hashtag stamp for educators.  Students could summarize what they know or learned using a clever hashtag stamp.



PS - If you want to see what's trending in the world of hashtags, click here.  I would just keel over if I saw #upcyclededucation listed.  I don't know about you, but spelling out that hashtag takes too much time.  #lazyme


Graduation Subway Art 2013


Because I am certain you know someone who is graduating.....

I think it looks great framed in a 5 x 7 size; you could also try 8 x 10.  Click on the image above to download the print for free.  My favorite price ;)




Mind Maps

An activity I like to use with just about any age group - kindergarten to college students - is Mind Maps.  A Mind Maps is a graphic representation of a student's understanding of a specific topic.  Mind Maps always include text, color and images - as the mind experiences things multi-sensorially.

Above and below you can see my college students' maps on special education topics.  Any topic under the sun (and including the sun) and be made into a Mind Map.  There is so much mileage with this activity, which is probably why it is so effective for learning.

I usually create my own map first and share it with students - that way they get a sense of what a Mind  Map is and looks like.  Then, I set them free with supplies - plain paper, crayons, markers, and/or colored pencils.  Always, like magic, students are thoroughly engaged while creating their maps.  It is what I call the Mind Map hum.  Students rarely converse, but instead get right down to business creating their maps; I have never had a student be unengaged.  Never (knock on wood).

For added bonus, I sometimes have students give each other feedback on their maps using a feedback tool like these.

How about this?  If you create Mind Maps with your students, could you post a photo to our Facebook page?  Then, we all can ooh and ahh over them.  Of course. be sure to ask your students' permission first.  My college students are an agreeable bunch!


Call me a Prius

Photo from here.  PicMonkeyed by Jen

Yesterday morning, I had a coaching session with Sue.  I know I haven't blogged about all of our coaching sessions lately like I did in the beginning; I've been consistently enjoying the sessions since the first time I blogged about them here in September.  I've realized I need many days/weeks to process what Sue and I discuss and also, some of the topics are personal and not blog-shareable.

Sue was asking me about the new stamp shop and some of the other happenings in my life.  I told her I feel like a Prius lately.  The more I create and do, the more energy I have.  Just like the more you drive a Prius, the more the battery recharges.  My battery gets recharged every time I do something new and challenging like launch a cycling team, open a stamp shop, design business cards, understand Photoshop Elements 5% more, try a new strategy in class, or parent Lil O in a new way.

Oddly, all of those things are enticing me to take another look at how I parent.  I pride myself on being a thoughtful, nurturing parent.  Who knew my recent successes (the cycling team, the stamp shop, etc.) could help me improve my parenting?

I must confess, without Sue, I do not think I would have connected the dots.  That woman is worth her weight in gold.

Vroom, vroom,

Jen, the Prius

PS - Sue is offering an amazing coaching package right now for 12 sessions, plus the discovery session - you pay half now, and half later.  I am soooo hooked on coaching that I am signing up for the full package.  Yay!   If you want to just 'try' coaching, do take up Sue on her sample session.  It literally doesn't cost you a thing, there is absolutely no pressure to sign up for more, and Sue is just such a good person to wrap-out with....trust me.  #lifechanging

You can email Sue here.

Beep, beep :)

Autism Gets a Makeover

Photo from Photo Pin/Flickr; Text added by Jen

As many of my students already know, autism and its cousins are about to get a make-over when the new DSM-V rolls out in May.

If you want to be in the "know" about the revisions, read this press release here.



LIfe Updated: Spring edition

Instagram Collage Upcycled Education

Though you can't tell from the center photo and the leaf-less trees, spring is here!  This week....

  • I swear we went from winter to spring in one second.  How about you?  Which season are you in temperature-wise?
  • Jedi had the best morning today.  He spent time with SR, a former student. He loves her and vice versa.  Thanks, SR, for loving on sweet Jedi.
  • I am obsessed with Roll Up n Dye.  I love that place and Erin.  What do you think of my handcrafted tie dye pictured above?  No, not the undies, but the tee?  I wonder if Mr. UpCyclist would like the undies.  Ha!  I'm certain his face just turned beet red to match them.
  • The stamp store opened! Yahoo!  My students just used the "Today I Learned" stamp in their notebooks to reflect on autism.   I loved how simple the stamp was to incorporate.  I also just sent a new design to the stamp maker this morning.  I dream in stamps lately.
  • Lil O - my budding fashion designer - is in love with Paris right now.  Oh, and poodles!  That Paris-poodle fabric is perfect for her (it is from Joann Fabric).  Unfortunately, the only item my sewing machine sews right now is juice pouch wallets.
  • After many renditions, I finally ordered Upcycled Education business cards.  Poor Susan from Crafterhours had to see each and every draft of my card...and my mother.....I owe those two for putting up with me for 36 hours and my "what do you think of this version?" deluge.  Thanks, Mom & Susan!  I heart you both.
  • Since it is feeling like spring - or more like summer with the heat - Lil O and I have taken our playing outside.  Her Groovy Girls outnumber us 4:1.
  • I am already thinking about which books I want to read this summer.  Any favorites on our hit list?
Happy spring - or late winter - or early summer!  I can't believe I am in shorts and tank and the city of Denver - which NEVER cancels school - called a snow day today.

Oh, Mother Nature, you cra cra.


PS - I almost forgot.  My mom was concerned that my business cards didn't have my phone number or address on them.  I had to set her straight that this is the 21st century; no calls or creepy visitors, please.  Email only!....and Instagram :)

3Doodler {for Tech Tuesday}

All you doodlers, artists, design folk and kids & adults with ADHD, please pre-order your 3Doodler now.  Really, at $99, this 3-D printing pen is a complete steal.  Lil O and Mr. UpCyclist would love this.  Actually, I can't think of a single person who wouldn't.

Don't believe me? Watch this incredible two-minute video about the 3Doodler.

It is finally starting to feel like we live in the Jetsons.


Rubber Stamps in Action

Seeing is believing.  I am loving how easy the stamps are to use, meld into my grading & feedback giving and also, a simple way to let my students know how much I appreciate them.

You can purchase any or all of the rubber stamps at Upcycled Education's new online stamp shop.  I think they are marvelous - wink, wink.

More stamps in action.....

Visit here to shop.

My absolute best,

PS - Curious about how this stamp shop came to be?  Read here for the full story.

And I Opened a Stamp Shop

Look above. Do you see anything new?

Yep, I opened an online stamp shop.

Right now, you might be semi-confused or not with the whole stamp shop grand opening.  It depends if you've been in my presence lately how confused you might be feeling.  My students, who see me weekly, are not confused at all. I've been talking about stamps and asking them questions about stamps for a month now.

Here's the skinny on how the online stamp shop came to be.....

#1:  I love stamps. 

I literally collected rubber stamps in my 20s.  I used to go to stamp shows (like conferences) when I lived in Denver in the 1990s.  My creative friend, Colleen, used to go with me.  We would buy a gaggle of stamps and then spend an entire day making greeting cards.  In fact, this year was the first time I can remember that I bought a pre-made greeting card.   My mother was shocked.  I still have the majority of my stamp collection as evidenced by this photo below.  I don't take care of the stamps nearly as well as I used to.

#2:  Most teacher stamps aren't my style.

We all have our own style.  Most teacher or classroom stamps don't resonate with me.  Plus, most teacher stamps fit in the "Good Job" category.  You know how I feel about good jobs.  Good bye is how I feel.  Upcycled Education's stamps are here to change that.  The stamps I offer all encourage reflection and thoughtful feedback.   No good-jobs-empty-feedback here.

#3:  I like to shake up the snow globe.

Almost every year at my annual review, my department chair says something to the effect, You always are looking for ways to improve.  It is true.  I love the feel of growth, the challenge of doing something new and since I've been involved in teaching for almost 20+ years, it is time to shake up the snow globe again.  These stamps are helping me improve giving feedback to my students and increase the amount of student reflection within my lessons.  Total wins.

#4:  I dream 85% of the time and do 5% of the time.  The other 10%, I'm sleeping.

I am a huge dreamer and believe it or not, a rarely doer.  For 2013, that is changing.  My inspiration comes from one of my favorite blogs, Enjoy It.  I can't put my finger on the exact blog post, but one post Elise mentioned how she finds it more stressful to think about an idea over a long period of time than actually do or execute an idea.  That 100% spoke to me.  Take the cycling team, as an example.  I literally thought about launching a cycling team for two years before actually doing anything about it.    Two years!  Why did I wait?  Because I never thought it was the right time.  I didn't think I had the right skills to lure sponsors, blah, blah, blah.  For the exorbitant amount of time I dreamt about the cycling team, I could have launched ten teams by now.  Plus, look at this incredible jersey and our 17 sponsors.  Pinch me.

#5:  I'm going full circle

Since I love stamps.  I love teaching.  I am inspired by the stamp line at Enjoy It, which aren't teaching related, but absolutely lovely AND I'm a doer for 2013, I proudly introduce to you Upcycled Education's new stamp shop.  Cue curtains opening.  Ta-da!

Come look around.  Please tell all your friends about the stamps.  Buy one or more stamps for your favorite teachers - especially since Teacher Appreciation Week is in early May.  Or, purchase a stamp to use at home with your kiddos after a museum outing.  You can see the stamps in action here.

So thrilled,



PS - I can't thank you enough for all your support of Upcycled Education.  This Dear Abby quote really speaks to this whole process.  This is not work at all, but pure joy.

Giving Feedback: The Feedback Grid

After Lil O and I completed the Creativity MOOC at Stanford (MOOC = massive open online course) - you remember, it was the course that landed Lil O her first job offer.  Anyway, after the course was complete, I went back through the MOOC to look for interesting teaching items I could recycle within my own courses.  Here is one of the gems that caught my eye:  The Feedback Grid.  

In online courses especially, instructors are always asking students to give feedback to their peers.  Sometimes this happens within an online discussion board or via a wiki or email.  From my experience, students struggle with this; they do not know how to give feedback to each other nor package it appropriately for tender ears to hear.  The Feedback Grid pictured above solves that dilemma.


I just started teaching a new course that is totally online (as I mentioned a week or so ago).  Dear Students, if you are reading this blog post, get ready to embrace the Feedback Grid.  We will use it to critique each other's assignments and make our discussion boards more meaningful.  We will also use these three other ways to give feedback, so you leave our course as the kings and queens of feedback.


Your royal highness, ha!


PS - Click here to resize, use and reuse the feedback grid to your liking!

MOOCs {for Tech Tuesday}

MOOCs are Massive, Open, Online Courses.  Our trusty wikipedian friend can explain the whole concept to you here.  Many four-year universities and colleges are experimenting with offering MOOCs for free.  Imagine 40,000 students from around the globe in one online course.  Oh my!

For some students, completing a MOOC is the ticket to a lucrative job as this NPR article explains.  In the 21st century, we can't underestimate the power of any type of learning, in my humble opinion.  

Lil O and I completed a MOOC about creativity from Stanford this past fall.  On Thursday, this week, I will talk a touch about it.

If you have some free time and want to grow & learn, here are some MOOCs to try....
  • Stanford's free offerings - Just saying you are enrolled in a course at Stanford sounds fantastic, doesn't it?  Of course, if you already attend Stanford you are thinking, no big deal.
  • This cool collaboration of 50+ universities and colleges offers an array of MOOCs.  The Creativity, Innovation and Change course sponsored by Penn State University looks like my cup of tea.
  • Class Central aggregates MOOCs into one place.  There are sooooo many courses listed there.  Which to choose?
  • Udacity offers a wide selection of free MOOCs, you can even pay for some of them and receive real college credit.
  • The team of universities at edX makes this MOOC collection look unstoppable.  Come on Harvard, MIT and UCBerkeley?  Are you kidding me?  
And, you know how I like thoughtful homeschooling and world schooling, right?  MOOCs could take both of those to a new level, especially for high schoolers.  My dream of world schooling Lil O as a teenager is this closer to a reality with MOOCs in my back pocket.

MOOC it out and see what you think.