The Quick Solution to Tantrums

The Quick Solution to Tantrums came purely by accident. I would love to say I planned and was prepared for it, but I wasn’t. My daughter’s first public meltdown left me scorched, but victorious.

Creating the Tantrum

The first time you bribed your toddler with sweets to head off a tantrum, you handed her a little of your power. She probably didn’t understand she had control over you. At that age she understood screaming and thrashing produced a treat. It might have seemed like a lot of effort, but, hey…it worked. She had discovered your first button…and how to push it.

Work Smarter, Not Harder: Rocking Your Final Exams 2

Work Smarter, Not Harder: Rocking Your Final Exams
Part 2

The end is near. The question is, are you going out in a blaze of glory during your final exams, or are you going to crash and burn?

I vote for the first one. Here’s some ideas how to help yourself finish the school year strong.

Work Smarter, Not Harder: Rocking Your Final Exams

Work Smarter, Not Harder: Rocking Your Final Exams
Part 1

If you are a teenager, your thoughts need to turn towards your Final Exams Prep…Again. Yes, I know April just ended, but it’s time, and who doesn’t love a good strategy for ending the school year strong? (Hey parents, you need to share this article with your kids. You might be able to avert most of that End-Of-The-Year-Stress.)

About that yucky feeling you get in the pit of your stomach at the mere mention of your final exams…Here’s a way to minimize it.

That Is Not What That Meant

Just because they can read it doesn’t mean they can understand it. My daughter and Harry Potter were the same age when the series came out. She insisted that she could read that book, so I got it for her. And like a good mommy, I read it myself so I would know what we were feeding her mind. Then, we had family book talks while driving in the car, and many times we had to tell her, “That is not what that meant.” It did turn out to be a great vehicle for discussing prejudice because, even though we are all Muggles, we are also a mixed family.JK Rowling

That is not what that meant.

Despite my due diligence and our many discussions, a couple of years later my daughter was trying to explain to me how the Dursley family had treated Harry Potter kindly.
What? Are we talking about the same book?
Even though she could read the words, her limited life experiences colored her interpretations of the story events. Her little fourth grade mind had formulated an alternative understanding, which she still believed. And, she had a slew of arguments to defend her position:

  • Bringing Harry along to the zoo with them was a generous gesture by the Dursleys.
  • Dudley was kind to share the rest of his unwanted treat.
  • And, of course, living under the stairs in that really cool room was an enviable privilege!

I was faced with a dilemma. Should I explain the truth to her, or leave it alone because it was so funny? (“Tell your aunt how the Dursleys treated Harry, honey.”) >giggle<  In good conscience, I knew I had to tell her, “That is not what that meant,”

More Examples of Reading Ability Outdistancing Comprehension.

Example 2: One of my favorites is when she plopped down on the couch next to me, beaming. Reaching up, she began tapping on her eyelashes, obviously waiting for me to comment.
“What are you doing?” I asked, grinning back.
Her face fell at my lack of understanding. “Mom! I’m batting my eyelashes!”
Okaaay. That is not what that meant.
Example 3: How about the vocabulary that comes out of a young reader? On her ninth birthday, she announced, “Now that I’m almost a teenager—”
“Hold it!” I had to stop her right there. “You are not almost a teenager. I will tell you when you are almost a teenager.”
“But Mom, I’ll be an add dole lee sent at ten.” At least, that’s what she said. What she was trying to say was ‘I’ll be an adolescent at ten.’ (What in the world was she reading?) I now know never to make fun of a person who mispronounces words, because that means they are a true reader, but at the time I was rolling on the floor laughing. (It’s okay. She still turned out alright.)
Example 4: Don’t think this Reading versus Comprehension phenomenon is just about my brilliant child (objectively speaking, of course). A mother purchased my book, Fairly Certain, for her son, but her second grade daughter insisted she could read the book, too. The child flipped it open, and bless her heart, started correctly reading, and pronouncing, the words.similar to authors like Janet Evanovich

Chris snickered. “Sounds like a bumper sticker.”

The little girl looked up. “What does a bumper sticker sound like?”
I told you it wasn’t just my kid.
How about your kid?

March For Science

Science touches everything we do— including the safety of the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. According to Jonathan Foley and Christine Arena, it affects the kinds of diseases we get and the medicines we use. It dictates what our kids are taught in school, what is discussed in the news, and what is debated in Congress. Science affects the jobs we have, and what powers our economy. It needs our help to remain pure, so join the March for Science.

Teaching Environmental Science in the Inner City

I was teaching Environmental Science in the inner city in Connecticut. Usually, when a high school student is enrolled in an Advanced Placement Environmental Science (APES) class, one would expect it would be by choice. However, when the administration’s goal is to offer the largest variety of AP (Advance Placement) classes in the city, filling the seats becomes the priority, and choice is thrown out the window. The result: raging discontent that makes it a little difficult for

Teaching Environmental Science in the Inner City

Billion Acts of Green


As spring approaches, what better time to reconnect with our planet than to observe March 26’s Earth Hour and April 22’s Earth Day? I sashayed over to to glean some cool Earth Day ideas, and what greeted me?

Billion Acts of Green

Together we’ve reached 2,023,369,464 Acts of Green. Help us reach 3 billion!

Have I not been telling you Small Acts Make for Big Impacts since forever? (That actually was the header on my Environmental Science website back when I taught in Hartford, CT. I set it up so my students could access assignments, and it’s been sitting there ever since.)
It was such an affirmation of my philosophy, now I’m inspired to resurrect this year so I can supply you with ways to connect with our planet (I’ll keep you posted).
But right now, let’s check out what you can do for the planet.
The trick is to start small and work your way up. Make changes that are easy fixes for your lifestyle. It takes 60+ days to make a new habit, so anything you start now won’t be automatic until May. That means if you can hang in there, in May, your change will feel like a normal part of your routine, and not an inconvenience. You’ll do it seamlessly. makes time-intensive suggestions:

  • Join the March For Science
  • Start Composting
  • Reduce Your Ecological Footprint.

But they also make some easy-to-begin suggestions:

  • Trade Re-usable bags for Disposable Plastic or Disposable Paper
  • Eat Less Meat- Enjoy Meatless Mondays
  • Be A Citizen Signer- add your name to a petition

The First 10 in a Billion Acts of Green

Would you like to create a small action that will add up to a large impact? Here are my 10 Start-Up suggestions you can use for your first steps:

  1. Pass this link on to your schools. It provides a toolkit to help educators incorporate Earth Day activities in their lessons.
  2. Send this link to your local government. There is contact information there for setting up a community event. Then attend the event with your family.
  3. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
  4. Put a small plastic bottle in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of clean water wasted through flushing.
  5. Decrease the pressure of your shower, and cut your shower by 1 minute (you’d be surprised how much water is saved over the year.
  6. Take 20 minutes to watch The Story of Stuff with your family, then have a discussion after.
  7. Add another trashcan in bedrooms and bathrooms. One can be used for recyclables, and the other for trash. If you make it easy to separate recyclables, they will.
  8. Turn your refrigerator down a little bit. It will use less electricity.
  9. Don’t wash your clothes on the hot temperature. Use warm instead. It saves energy.
  10. Lower your thermostat when you go out. No sense in heating or cooling an empty house.

You Can Do It!

Each one of these ten suggestions requires very little effort and time. But each one is its own Act of Green, contributing to the goal of 3,000,000,000 Acts of Green. You can go to and register your action, and be officially counted in their three billion acts. Plus, it’s an Act of Green for each member of your family who decides to step up. And if you get your best friend to participate, that doubles your impact. You could become quite the influencer!
Take me, for instance. Every year I change something in my lifestyle to better align myself with the good of our planet. And every chance I get, I try to encourage people to make their own changes, whether I do it in the classroom, or through my writing.

Small Acts Make for Big Impacts.

What’s your next Act of Green going to be? You might give someone else a good idea (That’s The Ripple Effect at its best!)

Earth Hour 2017: Welcome To The Dark Side

Earth Hour is held 20:30-21:30 hours (8:30-9:30 p.m.) in your time zone on the last Saturday of March. This year it will be March 25. This symbolic day is observed in order to conserve energy and draw the world’s attention to the decline of the environment due to human practices. Here are 10 creative Earth Hour Activities, Preparation Suggestions, and Follow Up Ideas. Give Earth Hour a try. You’ll get to save on your electric bill, turn off the TV, and spend some quality time with family, friends, and sometimes strangers.  Earth Hour 2017: Welcome To The Dark Side.