Graduation Subway Art 2016


Because on my fourth snow day in a row and just a splash of cabin fever, it is never too early for graduation subway art for 2016.  Thank you, Portia, for requesting.  Here you go.

To copy/save:  Right click on the graphic below, then choose "copy image" or "save image as."  If you have any trouble with that, click here and do the same.

My favorite way to use graduation subway art is framed like here.  You could also use the subway art DIY-ing fun notecards.

Oh, the possibilities!  Enjoy and Happy Graduation to your favorite graduates!



How we designed the logo for Hello, Strategies

Jackie and I needed a logo for all of our new products and ebook at Hello, Strategies.  So, I used what I always use to DIY my own graphics because I think I am a faux graphic designer (what for it...): PicMonkey!

I've blogged about my love for PicMonkey for years now - like my favorite fonts on PM, how to prepare photos for engineering prints, and my favorite, cloning out stuff you don't want in photos.  I love PicMonkey so much that each year when my $25 paid subscription runs out, I email PM and kindly ask, since I blog so much about PM, would you be willing to offer me a free paid subscription? They have said yes twice now.

You can, by the way, use PM for free.  I just like the paid subscription because then I can have access to all of the premium fonts and features.

It was a no-brainer for me, Jackie, and the Hello, Strategies logo. Use PicMonkey!

So, I did.  Plus, I used two of my favorite fonts:  Amatic Small Caps and Thirsty Script Bold.  I could have a love affair with either or both of those fonts.

I also used PicMonkey to layout the colorful card fronts for both decks of cards.  I love that the color palette on PM seems endless for designing and yet, I can be so specific about color choice.

I also created the artwork for our thank you postcard on PM.  When you purchase one or more decks of cards or a wooden nickel bundle, you'll receive this fun postcard-sized artwork to hang on your bulletin board, fridge or computer.  I don't want to give it all away, but there is a message from Jackie and I on the other side of this postcard.

Just when you think I can't make one more thing on PM, voila, all of the website graphics for Hello, Strategies were made on PicMonkey!  Yep. Every. single. one. of. them.  PicMonkey is that versatile.

Do I sound like a PicMonkey cult member?  Yes.  Do I think PicMonkey is easier to use than Photoshop, yet just as awesome for my needs?  Absolutely.  Do I think I will continue to use PicMonkey and evangelize it?  Why, sure!  That is, if you don't mind hearing more about my PM creations.  Ha!

PicMonkey addicted, for sure,


Three must-dos for the first day and week of school

Hello, friends.  It's rare I say something is a must-do, but really, I don't think we can beat around the bush anymore.  Things in society are that urgent these days.  Our students need us to be on point in our classrooms the first day and week of school.  This critical window of time sets the stage for the entire semester.

There are things that either build you up or tear you down.  You decide.

The good news is there are only three must-dos - in my opinion -  you need to carry-out in your classroom during the first day and week of school.  All three can be done on-ground or online (with creative modifications).

Ready for the three?

#1: Mindset training

Do yourself, your students, and society a favor and spend 15-75 minutes leading a lesson or conversation about Dr. Carol Dweck's research on mindset.  For the last three years, I literally won't do anything else on the first day, but spend the entire class period (75 minutes) talking & teaching about mindset only (and honoring the other two must-dos below).  My course syllabus, expectations, upcoming assignments, or delving into course content pails in comparison to the importance of my students understanding mindset and their choice in the mindset matter.

I often use the graphic below in my lesson or mindset conversation, however, this newly released RSA video is so excellent that I plan to use it next time in addition to my regular mindset lesson. Even though the video highlights research related to younger students, I plan to ask my college students:  What does this research mean to you? Even though you are older, how is this research helpful to you as a learner?  What's possible when you embrace a growth mindset?  How will you choose a growth mindset more often this semester? What kind of help or support do you need?

Growth and Fixed Mindset Graphic

For my advanced blog readers and mindset advocates, here's what I do to extend this important lesson: Every 2-3 weeks at the beginning of class, I do a mindset check-in with my students, which generally takes five minutes or less.  I ask my students to share with the class an update regarding their mindset.  Usually, we don't have time for everyone to share, but we get a decent sampling.  I'll ask: Are you being more or less growth minded?  What takes you to a fixed mindset? How do you course correct?  What helps you anchor to a growth mindset? What do you notice about the mindsets around you, your friends and family?  What's possible?

From my experience, dedicating class time to a mindset lesson or conversation is 1000% worth it (Yes!  1,000!).  My students report being more open-minded, honest, willing to try new things and refusing to play the victim anymore. What they overwhelming tell me is how amazed they are they have a choice in the manner.  Isn't that incredible?  They realize they are in charge of their mindset, not life's ups and downs (nor other people) pushing them around.

#2:  Speaking aloud in front of peers

The research from decades ago says you have to have your students talk aloud in front of their peers on the very first day of class in order to set the expectation that you want participation and volunteerism all semester long.  I don't care if you ask students to publicly introduce themselves and share what they did over the summer/winter break (think back to your elementary school days when we all did this).  OR you make speaking-aloud-in-front-of-your-peers more sophisticated.  My solution is to tie speaking-aloud to our class lesson on mindset.  Then, I feed two birds with one feeder, yes?

I typically will introduce the concept of mindset (from above) and ask students to first share with a partner, What do you already know about Dr. Carol Dweck's research? (by the way, hardly any of my students over the past three years know anything about mindset, which is a great indicator they need this lesson!) Then, I will ask students towards the end of our mindset lesson, What did you learn about mindset and your mindset today?  See how easy it is to accomplish #1 and #2?  Let's move onto #3 then.  You can easily include the last must-do in in your mindset lesson.

#3:  Calling each other by first name

Last semester, I overheard a student say, "This is the only class I'm in right now where I know everyone's name."  What?  Out of four classes, this is the only one?  No wonder one of the top reasons college students drop-out of college is because they feel disconnected.  They feel like they are not part of the college, their courses, a peer group, nothing.  Disconnection from others - surprise, surprise - is also one of the top reasons high school students report dropping out of high school.

And guess what?  Feeling disconnected from others is one of the two main profile attributes of terrorists.  Yep.  Disconnection, again.  Spoiler alert:  The other main profile attribute of terrorists is feeling hopeless - sounds like the fixed mindset, doesn't it?  Yep.  The fixed mindset loves to blame others, be the victim, and sees no other alternatives.

Are you picking up what I'm putting down?  These three must-dos are that important.

Bottom line:  Your students need to know each other. They need to feel and be connected.  The easiest way to begin that connection is by knowing each other's names.  Hi, Sarah, I didn't see you in class last week.  Hey there, Tommy, may I borrow your notes?  Hello John, want to form a study group for the midterm exam?


It's so easy to learn each other's names.  My top two strategies in a face-to-face class to have everyone know each other's names include:
  1. I give each student one of those over-sized index cards and a thick marker.  The student folds the index card in half, writes their first name in big letters, and then has a name placard to keep on their desk (and reuse each class) until 3-4 weeks into the course.  By that time, students and I know each other's names from seeing each other's names so consistently.
  2. Every time I ask students to get into pairs or small groups and discuss something, I explicitly instruct them to:  Say hello by first name, then answer the question prompt.  At the end of pairs or small group work, I explicitly say, Thank your partner(s) by first name.  Within 2-3 weeks and different pairings, everyone knows each others's names because they've said each other's names so often and I am explicit about those directions (and expectations).  In a larger class, this will obviously take more time, but it is doable.
Holy moly that was a longer blog post than I intended.  

Important stuff equals a longer blog post, I suppose.

Please let me know if I missed anything or if you have any questions!  I'm so hungry because I was in flow writing this post that I'm about to become fixed minded if I don't feed myself immediately. #hangry

Off I go - It's dinner time, friends!


PS - (I just ate dinner, so I'm back!) I've been using the Coaching Cards Jackie and I developed to help fend off the fixed mindset and anchor me more lately to the growth mindset.  As I mentioned in this blog post, the Coaching Cards are now part of my everyday essentials.

My word for 2016

For the past two years, I've been choosing a word of the year.  I have found having one word (versus a list of resolutions) is a meaningful guide to how I want to be and live for that year.  For 2014, my word was Brave.  In 2015, my word was FUN (which I was not public about, though FUN served me well).   This year, my word is....


I first thought my word would be now.  Not now in that things have to happen immediately, but now like live in the present moment.  After a coaching session with Sue and discussing my word of the year, a new and better word came to mind.  Savor.  Savor the now.  Savor the moment.  Savor all the little and big things happening in my life.  Savor the people.  Savor my surroundings. Savor the struggles. Savor the opportunities.

Savor feels slow and delicious and spacious and unrushed, present, and delightful. Savor feels exactly right for how I want to be and live in 2016.

In fact, I've been savoring all of your email congratulations and social media high fives about our new website, ebook, decks of cards, and wooden nickels at Hello, Strategies.  I'm savoring it all. Thank you!

Do you have a word of the year?  If yes, what is it?  


Big Announcement!

It's been a little quiet lately on Upcycled Education.  I've had a few projects up my sleeve.

One of the biggest projects?  We have a new ebook.  We have a new website.  We have a new brand. We have three new products.  And by we, I mean me and Dr. G - a good friend of Upcycled Education for years from guest blogging.  Dr. G is also a great friend and colleague of mine (and just gave birth to Baby Savannah!).

Say hi to our new brand and website, Hello, Strategies!  Like our new logo?

Hello, Strategies is home to our new 98-page ebook, Hello, Teaching Strategies: 50+ strategies to deepen learning & turn up awesome.  This ebook is perfect for new teachers, college professors, and veteran teachers who want a fresh assortment of teaching strategies. Homeschool parents, you'll dig this ebook, too, as we've taken all of the prep work out for you to free up your time.

Our sister product for the ebook, Hello, Question Cards, is also available.  You are TOTALLY going to want this deck of 40, critical thinking question cards for your classroom or to gift to your favorite educator or homeschool parent.  Plus, the cards are color-coded to facilitate easy pair or small group work. This is the product Dr. G and I wished we had when we started teaching. Now, we have it. Hurrah!

We even created a deck of cards to help destress, be more reflective, and push through life's ups and downs.  This deck is called, Hello, Coaching Cards.  It features a spa palette that is soooo soothing to the eyes and 40 coaching questions to start any day with intention or smooth out a rougher day.  I would say this deck of cards is ideal for busy parents, educators, and other adults or young adults; I'm now thinking it would be fantastic to have a coaching deck of cards for young people - like Miss O's age (note to self:  Create product #4 in our free time; did you hear that Dr. G?).

Here's another shot of the Hello, Coaching Cards.  I now carry this deck of cards in my purse for when I want to break-down what's going on in my head or what's happening around me.  I am carrying the Hello, Question Cards in my school bag since that deck is more for teaching and learning.  Shhh, don't tell my coaching clients, but this deck of cards is their welcome gift!  Isn't that fun?

You might remember I received a wooden nickel that said YOU ARE AWESOME when I was in Portland at a conference.  Since the organization who produced the nickels wasn't selling them, Dr. G and I decided to make our own.  You can buy a bundle of 25 nickels here and join us as we inject more awesome into the world.  Plus, Dr. G and I had a crazy idea, wouldn't it be cool to see where the nickels end up and their impact on others?  So, we created a nickel tracking database.  If/when you receive a nickel, you can go to Hello, Strategies and share your nickel story with us.  I just peeked at the results so far and let me just say, I am moved!  I know how meaningful it was to me to receive a wooden YOU ARE AWESOME nickel from a stranger and now, others are saying the same thing - they are moved, too! Seriously, go buy your bundle of nickels now.  The world needs 'em pronto.

If you could be in the same room with me or Dr. G (let's start calling her by her first name, Jackie), you would 100% feel the energy and enthusiasm we have for Hello, Strategies.  We both are so excited for you to get your hands on our new products and ebook because we know they will move you forward, deepen learning with your students and turn up awesome in just about all facets of your life.  Plus, everything is high quality and priced so reasonably - two of my favorite descriptors for new products.

Please let me know what you think of Hello, Strategies.  And since you've made it to the end of this looooooong blog post, here's a code for 25% off your ebook purchase:  AWESOME2016.

Let's turn up awesome together, ok?  Feel free to forward this blog post to a friend.

With much love and excitement,