Inquiry into SDGs: Affordable & Clean Energy

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. For more, click here

Affordable and Clean Energy is a goal intended not only to ensure access to electricity for all, but to seek for renewable, clean sources. Use these resources to help your students inquire into this goal, and how they might contribute!

Resource #1: Small World Energy by Niles Heckman (see also the thought-provoking sequel, World Energy Crisis)

Resource #2: Go Beyond Oil by Greenpeace via The Kid Should See This

Resource #3: Energy Defined by Nova via The Kid Should See This

Resource #4: The Solar Do-Nothing Machine via The Kid Should See This

Resource #5: Don’t Worry, Drive On: Fossil Fuels & Fracking Lies by Alex Perry

Resource #6: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

Provocation Questions:

  • What is energy?
  • How do humans harness energy for our benefit?
  • What is our responsibility to work toward cleaner energy?
  • What are the different perspectives on energy use that involves fossil fuels vs energy use that involves renewable sources?

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On Feeling Like We Can’t Nurture It All… #TeacherMom

On a given day, a parent might come across lists of ways they should be nurturing their children’s…

…creativity

…resilience

…confidence

…problem solving

…empathy

…assertiveness

…fine & gross motor skills

…communication skills

The list goes on. And meanwhile, we have days where just getting dinner on the table feels like someone should be giving us a medal.

While it is true that all of these require individual, concerted effort from time to time, the truth is that trying to tend to all this nurturing on an individual basis each day would be like drinking from a fire hose! When we try, we’ll quickly find ourselves under a crushing weight of what I’m going to call “nurture-overload.”

Instead, here are ways we might avoid that overload and feeling of hustle:

  • Follow the child’s lead. Allow their questions or daily tasks to drive the discussions and inform how you help them connect to various skills and traits.
  • Read together regularly. If it is a regular part of your time together, you can depend on a healthy exposure to many different concepts.
  • Trust your child’s independence. As we allow kids to have responsibilities as they grow (and not allow media hysteria to color what we view as age-appropriate), many of these skills will strengthen naturally. See if you can count how many skills and qualities might be cultivated in this Sesame Street example below (from one of my favorite websites, LetGrow.org)

We want our children to grow up to have all the skills and traits they’ll need to be caring, capable adults. If we step away from worry about getting it right and step toward more trust, we may find that these things come more naturally than we might anticipate!

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry into SDGs: Life Below Water

This is a series of provocations designed to provide resources for students to inquire into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. For more, click here

The global goal of Life Below Water looks the way humans are treating our oceans, targeting issues such as marine pollution, over-exploited fish populations, and acidification of our oceans. And given the fact that 3 billion depend on the marine industry for their livelihoods, we need to find more sustainable use of these resources. Share these videos and books with your students to help them think about how these issues impact them!

Resource #1: Plastics Watch by BBC (see more clips here)

Resource #2: Henry – Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Resource #3: The Ocean Cleanup Technology, Explained via The Kid Should See This

Resource #4: Where Did the Oil Go? by NRDC via The Kid Should See This

Resource #5: Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne & Éric Puybaret; The Brilliant Deep by Kate Messner & Matthew Forsythe; Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola

Provocation Questions:

  • What resources do the oceans provide that humans use?
  • What is the relationship like between our oceans and humans?
  • How might that relationship improve to help both our oceans and humans, and what is our responsibility to do so?
  • What obstacles stand in the way of improving the way we care for our oceans?

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Best Inquiry Picture Books: Sustainable Development Goals Round-Up

This is the last installment in a 3-part series. View the other two:

Here is the last installment in a series of picture book round-ups from my inquiry posts! It’s a great feeling to know that so many of my favorite picture books are organized in one place. As with the other two posts, the links to the original inquiries (which include other resource like videos and photo series) are hyperlinked throughout; keep in mind that while I have included picture books for all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals, a few of those inquiries are not yet finished. I hope you can find some new reads to help spark thinking and wonder with your students.

Inquiry into SDG’s (introduction): If the World Were a Village by David J. Smith & Shelagh Armstrong

#1: No Poverty: Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting & Ronald Himler

#2: Zero Hunger: The Good Garden: How One Family Went From Hunger to Having Enough by Katie Smith Milway & Sylvie Daigneault

#3: Good Health & Well-Being: The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

#4: Quality Education: Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

#5: Gender Equality: Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai & Kerascoet

#6: Clean Water & Sanitation: The Water Princess by Susan Verde & Peter H. Reynolds

#7: Affordable & Clean Energy: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer, & Elizabeth Zunon

#8: Decent Work & Economic Growth: One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway & Eugenie Fernandes

#9: Industry, Innovation, & Infrastructure: If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson; The Red Bicycle: An Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle by Jude Isabella and Simone Shin

#10: Reduced inequalities: It’s Mine! by Leo Lionni

#11: Sustainable Cities & Communities: The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton; The Promise by Nicola Davies & Laura Carlin

#12: Responsible Production & Consumption: The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss

#13: Climate Action: What Can A Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers & Shawn Harris

#14: Life Below Water: Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne & Éric Puybaret; The Brilliant Deep by Kate Messner & Matthew Forsythe

#15: Life on Land: The Tree Lady by Joseph Hopkins & Jill McElmurry; A Boy & A Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz & CaTia Chien

#16: Peace, Justice, & Strong Institutions: The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! By Carmen Agra Deedy & Eugene Yelchin

#17: Inquiry into Partnerships for the Goals: Be Kind By Pat Zietlow Miller & Jen Hill

featured image: Dara or

Hair Care & Respect Books: Why We’re Loving Them #TeacherMom

Last year was a veritable cascade of picture books relating to hair. Specifically, how to care for and respect natural black hair. And I couldn’t be more thankful when it comes to teaching my daughter to care for and respect her own and others’ hair.

First, we came across Cozbi A. Cabrera’s “My Hair Is a Garden.” Though my daughter’s hair isn’t natural black hair, it is curly and wild. As such, it has produced a lot of frustration at the amount of care it requires. As we read Mackenzie’s story, I observed the way my daughter was able to relate. She felt relieved to find that she isn’t the only one who needs to give her hair more nurturing (and to realize that there is nothing wrong with that)! I love the way this gorgeous book normalizes black hair (since of course all hair is normal), while also validating the fact that differences do require different kinds of care.


Next we read, “Don’t Touch My Hair,” by Sharee Miller. This hilarious read got us laughing as it gently but firmly asserts essential principles of boundaries and respect. I think the page of even mermaids trying to touch Aria’s hair was my personal favorite!

One other read we loved last year was Princess Hair, also by Sharee Miller. My daughter loved learning all the different names for hairstyles, and seeing the way all of the girls loved and rocked what they had!

Picture books are such a marvel, aren’t they? The way they validate, teach, assure, entertain, and enlighten. These hair-care and respect books have definitely done all of this and more! Thank you, authors!

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Best Inquiry Picture Books: Learner Identities & Subjects Round-Up

This is part of a 3-part series. See also:

PYP inquiry picture books round-up, which includes learner attitudes and mindsets.

Sustainable Development Goals picture books round-up, which includes the global goals such as responsible production & consumption.

I’m continuing my picture book round-up today by drawing from my inquiry posts regarding learner identities, specific subjects, and social/emotional skills. I hope you can find some valuable new reads for your classroom, and I would love if you could share your own recommendations, too!

Being a Writer: Brave Jane Austen by Lisa Pliscou & Jen Corace; The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds

Being a Reader: A Child Of Books by Oliver Jeffers; How to Read A Story by Kate Messner & Mark Siegel

Being a Mathematician & Numbers inquiry (and other inquiry into large numbers): Infinity & Me by Gabi Swiatkowska & Kate Hosford; A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman & Isabel Greenberg; 1+1=5 by David LaRochelle, Brenda Sexton

Being a Scientist: tiny, perfect things by M. H. Clark & Madeline Kloepper; Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Design in Nature, & Color: Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin & Rosana Faria; Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman & Beth Krommes

Music: The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering & Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle & Rafael Lopez

Friendship & Bullying: The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig; Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson & E.B. Lewis; One by Kathryn Otoshi

Feelings & Goal-Making: The Heart & the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers; We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen; The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld; What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada & Mae Besom

Stay tuned for one more of these compilations!

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Tolerance of Messy in Favor of Learning #TeacherMom

I like tidiness. I find myself struggling to think straight when my environment gets too chaotic.

And yet for the last several months, our family room inevitably returns to some version of this:

Not too bad, but when it happens every day, several times a day, and across every room and even his bed — it starts to wear down this parent’s sanity.

Lately, however, I have started to try and shift my perspective. I realize that the repetitive scattering of books can look like a mess…or it can look like rich early literacy development.

After all, my 2 year-old is not just yanking them out just to make a mess. He is just devouring them, sometimes flipping through the pictures, other times approximating the story out loud for himself.

When we’re in the classroom, the reality is that we can’t always handle the volume of messy learning — especially when there are 30+ students! That’s why it’s important to spend time talking about our shared responsibilities for our shared learning space, and making room for students to express how they feel about their environment.

We are currently working on learning to put the books back on the shelves, as well. But through this process, both with my very small student at home, and with our classroom students, it’s important to always hold aloft what matters most: the learning. It reminds me of a quote I’ve often heard:

One might similarly state, never let a problem to be solved become more important than learning to be gained.

What are ways a shift in your perspective has helped you navigate the complexities of teaching?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto