Music notes sing a song of pi day

     Pi Day is so exciting for math nerds! It's observed on March 14, connecting to the most common estimation, 3.14. Even if your grade level doesn't have a math standard for pi, students can still have loads of fun learning about this essential math concept. 

     There are tons of ways to celebrate Pi Day. Click here to discover some budget-friendly ways to celebrate pi!  

     One of my favorite ways to prepare for and observe Pi Day is to sing, sing, sing! Over the decades, I've gathered a number of songs, set to familiar tunes. These songs actually teach the concepts of pi. Kids love being on the silly train as they sing, but they're learning some pretty cool concepts, whether they know it or not!

Click here to download your FREE copy of the Pi Day Songbook!

     
Pi Day Songbook Cover



     Each songbook is half-page sized. When you download the songbook, you'll find clear directions for prep. Just print, staple along the side, and cut in half. 
Pi Day Songbook

Fun graphics are included. This whole book can be printed in color or black and white.

Pi Day Songbook

     The last page of the songbook includes some nifty facts about pi. Some of them will definitely amaze your students! For example, did you know:
  • We've calculated pi to 6.4 billion places!
  • Pi is only an approximation.
  • At decimal point #764, there are six 9s in a row. It's known as the Feynman Point.

How To Use Your Free Pi Day Songbook

Once you have printed and prepped your Pi Day Songbook, there are ways to integrate it into many other lessons. For example,
ELA: Read the fun fact on the last page together or independently. This activity can easily fit into a reading and/or math standard during your lessons.
ELA: Pick a song and have kids pull out the math info out of the lyrics. Ask: What does this song tell you about pi? Add it to a running list or anchor chart.

  • ELA: Have kids add new lyrics or re-write some of the existing ones.
  • MATH: Students can sketch and label a circle, its diameter, its radius, and its circumference. As they sing, have them point to the specific parts.
  • MATH: Simply singing the songs several times a day can help cement the concepts for kids. 
  • MATH: Challenge students to find the jokes hidden in some of the songs. We've all giggled or rolled our eyes over the "pi r square" routine. See it they can explain why that's (sort of) funny!
  • MATH: Students can look up the math definitions for transcendental and irrational. Challenge them to explain the terms in simple language.
  • SCIENCE/MATH: Have kids research Einstein, Euclid, Isaac Newton, or Ludolph van Ceulen.
  • MUSIC: Singing is so fun for kids! Adding in content-rich songs is perfect for educational multi-tasking. Challenge kids to pick another simple melody and write lyrics.

     If you're thinking about really diving into a Pi Day celebration this year, remember to start early! January and February are not too soon to begin learning these adorable songs. Who knows? Maybe you can even go "Pi Day Caroling" around your school!

     I'd love to know how the Pi Day Songbook works for you! Remember,
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8 Reasons Book Banning Hurts Our Children

8 Reasons Book Banning Hurts Our Children


     

Book banning is here to stay. It has seasons of more attention and seasons of less. New books addressing new topics bring out detractors fully armed with reasons that specific books should be pulled from library shelves. 

This risky practice must be challenged. It is up to us as teachers, parents, and the community at large to stand against any attempt to ban books. Read on for eight important reasons that book banning hurts children.

Click here for the talking points of this post.

1. Book banning is censorship.   

Censorship is illegal in America. Freedom of speech is the foundation of our country and is protected in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Sharing information is part of our national personality and a pillar of our economy. Any deliberate obstruction to sources of information is, by definition, censorship. The consequences of censorship can be dire: lack of timely, useful knowledge is damaging to us now and in the future. By suppressing ideas and information, book banning is the literary version of cancel culture.

The American Library Association is an excellent resource for guidance. The ALA "resists all efforts to censor library resources". Read their Code of Ethics here.

2. Book banning is elitist.

Book censors believe they are superior in some ways and that others should fall in with their decisions. They believe their ideas and values are right and others are wrong. That’s a very slippery and dangerous slope to start down.

3. Book banning is privileged.  

Book censorship takes away personal choices from the majority of a community and gives them to a few people – or even to one person. It actually gives those in a position to ban books more power than the rest of us. 

Click here to access the American Library Association Guidelines For Reconsideration Committees

4. Book censors have ulterior motives. 

Supporters of banning books like to think they’re concerned for children. But what often drives them are religious, political, and social biases. We should be as concerned about the people who want to ban books as they are concerned about specific books. We need to ask: What is really motivating you? Racism? Homophobia? Politics?

5. Censors have a narrow perspective. 

Book censors impose a narrow perspective on others. They don’t understand the struggles that many children live with. They think the best way to handle these topics is to ignore them. But, when we ignore topics, we ignore the people they affect. It's as if we're telling them, “Your lives are unimportant. Your struggles are repulsive. Don’t share them with us.”

The very fact that book censors' messaging is, "Other people should think like I do", should put us all on alert.

6. The consequences of censorship are dangerous.

  • Censorship threatens our very democracy by violating our free speech. That may be the most crucial reason to reject all attempts at censorship. When we are stifled as to what we can read, watch, and see, we are no longer a democracy, but an authoritarian state.
  • Education can help level the playing field for citizens in different social situations. Horace Mann, a public school pioneer, called education "the great equalizer". 
  • Censorship is a threat to the potential of American public education. If teachers are afraid to teach critical thinking skills within the curriculum, we lose vital opportunities to develop critical thinkers.
  • Censorship breeds ignorance. When even our history lessons are censored, we miss vital opportunities to learn from the past and avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. 
  • Being censored limits information. Without the empowerment of information, citizens cannot challenge the status quo.  

7. Children need guidance, not censure. 

As a teacher and a parent, I found that children will self-regulate. If a book has topics that are too explicit or mature for that child, they will put it down and choose another one.

On the other hand, if a child does choose a book with mature themes, it means they are ready to deal with potentially tough topics. Then they need the adults in their lives – teachers, parents, clergy, and others - to support their choice, maybe read it with them, and help them understand what they’re grappling with. What they don’t need is these same adults taking books out of their hands and denying them the chance to grow.

One book, in particular, is being considered for banning in several states. It’s titled George, by Alex Dino, and is partly autobiographical. The most heartbreaking part is that the main character deals with an important self-discovery issue all alone in the 4th grade. Yes, many children are ready earlier than we think. 

One writer on the subject, Emily Grafton, made it simple: “Ignoring a kid’s reality doesn’t make it go away. It just means the kid gets to suffer alone.”

8. Parents' rights extend only to their own children. 

If parents want to restrict what their own children read, they have the right to do that – and they should. But, no parent has the right to restrict what other children read. Taking books from public school shelves is an attempt to control how other people’s children grow and think. Access to books is a pillar of our education system. Books should be available when students are ready for them.

It should not fall on the taxpaying parent to buy book after book for their children all because people in power are afraid of the topics.

If we really want kids to be “college and career ready”, we have to teach them to listen to others, accept that others have realities that we may not, empathize with them, and learn how to live in a world where everyone is different, but valued.

We should not bend to the will of a few, we should see the broader picture that is education and reject any attempt to ban books. 

If you'd like help starting a book club for kids, click here for an easy method that's budget-friendly.

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Here's how you can have fun with palindromes in your classroom!

What is a palindrome?

A palindrome is a word, phrase, or sentence that is spelled and read the same both forward and backward. Kids love to share simple palindromes like:
  • aha
  • did
  • level
  • noon
  • Anna
 Older students often discover longer words such as:
  • racecar
  • kayak
  • civic
  • repaper
  • solos
Keep working and you'll find phrases such as:
  • My gym
  • Top spot
  • Too hot to hoot.
  • No lemon, no melon
  • Don't nod.
If you've run out of other examples, pull out these mind-blowing sentences:
  • Madam, I'm Adam.
  • A man, a plan, a canal: Panama.
  • Pull up, Eva, we're here, wave, pull up.
  • Was it a car or a cat I saw?
  • Mr. Owl at my metal worm.

Number Palindromes

     Teachers can make a math connection with palindromes. Numbers that are read the same forward and backward count as palindromes. Go as simple as you wish - even a number such as 55 is technically a palindrome. Challenge kids to create palindromic numbers like:
  • 12321
  • 42877824
  • 3434343
     When a day, a week, or even a month contains a forward-backward date, palindrome fans and symmetry lovers are delighted! This year, 2021, contains a few palindromic dates, but you may have to play with the format.

     Now is a great time to introduce or review the concept and set kids up with some fun activities to mark these special dates. Maybe you could text or email your students from last year and remind them to celebrate!

     There are so many fun activities for palindromes in both math and writing! Subscribe here and download a full list of words, phrases, and activities for your classroom!

     Remembering that different places use different date formats, here are the M-D-Y palindromic dates for 2022:


And it's always fun to get a streak of palindromic dates! Look what happens in February 2022!


And, can you imagine the fun you'll have this year on a real "2's" Day?


So, how do you celebrate Palindrome Week? Here are some ideas:



Let me know how you prepare and celebrate Palindrome Week, 2022!  





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7 Things To Know Before You Live Stream Your Classroom

7 Things To Know Before You Live Stream Your Classroom


     If you're thinking about, or even required to, live stream your classroom, there are seven important things you should consider first.

1. Live streaming leaves teachers open to privacy violations.

      Live streaming your classroom puts students and teachers at risk of sharing personally identifiable information. Two federal laws work together to protect students. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) place strict limits on what information a school can collect and share about students. Anything considered personally identifiable information (PII), including images, is on the table. Violations can cause districts to lose funding.

     A loophole is that schools can share "directory information" without a parent's consent, including a child's:
  • name
  • address
  • telephone number
  • date of birth
  • place of birth
  • height
  • weight
  • dates of attendance
  • major field of study
  • participation in sports activities and teams
  • degrees and awards
  • previous schools attended
     That's a lot of personally identifiable information! The safeguard for parents is that schools have to inform them of what directory info they plan to share and give them a reasonable time to opt-out.

     All of this puts parents in the driver's seat, as they should be, when it comes to sharing information about their child. 

    There are countless ways that personally identifiable information can be accidentally shared during a school day. A birthday chart, small groups of students based on an IEP, a SPED teacher coming to the door to pick up a student, even calling a child's name could all be deemed unintended violations. 

     Consider your own privacy as a teacher. Everything you say or do, every private conversation with a child or another adult will be filmed and possibly overheard.

2. There's potential for misuse by viewers.

     Live streaming your classroom into a home opens everything that is said, done, or seen to those who might misuse it, including pedophiles. We were only a couple of weeks into distance learning during the COVID-19 quarantine when several instances of sexual photos, racist comments, and other vulgarities came into virtual classrooms without warning. We even gave it a name: Zoombombing.

     When you live stream your classroom, it is open to anyone who can access the stream. Parents, students, and guests in the home can record you, screenshot you and your students, and then manipulate it for wrong purposes. They can criticize, critique, and share on other social media that you don't even know about. Children's images have even shown up on inappropriate websites. Once it's on the internet, it is there forever.

     The most common distance learning platforms are highly monitored and controlled. Schools vet them very carefully. However, no streaming service is 100% safe. If you can stream it, they can hack it. The more you stream, the more hackable content is available and at risk. 

3. It's not always conducive to teaching K-12.


     Educators are trying hard to make it all work. What I'm hearing from teachers who live stream is that when they're standing so they're always in front of the camera, they are no longer teaching naturally. 

     Most K-12 teachers are not lecturers. We move about, interact with our students, refer to visual aids around the room, and work with small groups. Standing in one spot in a classroom is not natural, comfortable, or helpful to students.

4. Teaching in two different formats is ineffective.

     Teachers are learning new ways to teach. Recording yourself teaching lessons, called asynchronous learning, helps students because they can rewatch the clips multiple times when it's convenient for them. Synchronous learning, interacting in real time with students over a video conferencing platform, supports building relationships - especially important during a pandemic - and a more natural give-and-take like in the classroom. 

     Some districts are allowing - even requiring - teachers to use both formats simultaneously, calling it a "blended" or "hybrid" model. Teachers are reporting that it is frustrating at best, and ineffective at worst. It seems that both groups of students are at a disadvantage.

     Students online at home are bored and unengaged while waiting for classroom tasks to be completed, for recess, or for lunch. There is a good bit of downtime during a typical school day. Imagine being a remote learner and having to watch the stream for the whole day. 

     Students in the classroom must wait for the remote kids to have questions answered, get directions for digital responses, and have their fair share of the teacher's time. 

     To further complicate an already difficult situation, at least one district expects online kids to be brought into small groups. So we'll have small socially-distanced groups of kids around a table with one or more laptops sitting on the table with a child's head onscreen. 

     Teachers are finding it an unrealistic task to track engagement and understanding of their remote students while also having students in front of them.

5. Inadequate technology can create problems.

     It's no secret that many classrooms and students don't have the technology they need. Sometimes students don't have wi-fi available at home or can't afford devices. Classrooms may have to share limited devices with the rest of the school. This alone makes live streaming far more challenging.

     The lack of adequate technology shows up in other ways. If there is a fixed camera in the classroom, the teacher may very well be tethered to one spot during the day. A noisy HVAC system can make serious competition for a teacher who is wearing a mask. 

6. Protocols may be hard to remember during emergencies.

     The best protocols in the world are useless if they're not followed. In a classroom emergency, teachers tend to react immediately to assist the child. It's likely that they will forget to turn off, unplug, or mute technology for privacy's sake. This means that misbehavior will be streamed online, as will medical emergencies, personal embarrassments, and emotional moments.

7.  Teachers will live with the pressure of being observed all day, every day.

     Being observed by an administrator is a judgment on not just your content presentation, but on your dress, your manner with kids, your tone of voice, your content knowledge, and a myriad of other elements. Most workers in any field are observed, of course. But, all day, every day? 

     The stress of being observed nonstop by anyone who is watching, most of whom aren't educators, will be tremendous. It's likely that many teachers won't be able to stand the pressure. Always being on stage, always having to perform at 100% will be overwhelming. 

 Consider carefully.    

     None of these points are to criticize live streaming as a concept. Communicating and collaborating virtually is keeping businesses afloat, giving isolated people a vital window to the outside world, and helping us through an extremely difficult time in our country. 

     It's important that educators consider the risks involved before diving in. If you'd like a one-page quick reference sheet to share with administrators and planning committees, CLICK HERE. 

Remember,


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The 3 Most Important Things To Do If Your School Closes

The 3 Most Important Things To Do If Your School Closes


We are floundering in uncharted territory. Our nation is struggling to make education work as COVID-19 forces schools to close.

Who thought at Back-to-School Night that a global pandemic would affect our health, our future, and our day-to-day?

Bonus: Download free Math Choice Boards here.

What To Do Now

It's too late to go back and be proactive. What we need now are ideas to support kids and their learning when we can't be together in school as usual. Here are 3:

1.  Protect your own family first. People must get to work to support their families, but not at the risk of teachers' lives and their families. Go to school for as long as you believe it's safe. When it's not, stay home.

2.  Plan hard copy and online lessons now, even if you haven't been instructed to. I was expected to prepare a week's worth of substitute plans at the start of each school year. It took a crate to hold them, but OMG, they were a lifesaver! When my kids or I got sick unexpectedly, I just asked my team teacher to pull them out for the sub.

     If you have digital capabilities, start creating lessons now. If you'll do strictly paper lessons, gather materials that support your curriculum. Whether you use digital or paper lessons, keep these parameters in mind:

          A.  Keep assignments simple; many kids will be with babysitters, grandparents - or alone - with no one to ask for help.

          B.  Explain everything; without immediate access to you, kids and parents can get confused easily.

          C.  Know that you won't grade some of the at-home work. You can't know who is getting help or how much.

          D.  Avoid teaching new material, especially for young children. Even with digital tools, the give-and-take of being with our teacher is invaluable.

          E.  Focus on engaging review work, not busy work. We want kids to think, practice, and grow, but not struggle. While it's great for schools that have amazing technology, the reality is many schools aren't set up for that. Much of what teachers send home will be paper-and-pencil.

          F.  Families are stressed now. Being out of school, possibly quarantined, maybe even sick, is tough. Schoolwork may not be a priority. Make the work do-able.

          G.  Depend on fun, creative, low-stress activities. Consider journal entries, reading a book, color-by-code puzzles, and creative writing.

          H.  Avoid overwhelming families. Schedule each day's work for them, plainly marked. If they work ahead, fine.

          I.  Homes aren't always equipped like schools. They may not have 1:1 devices, construction paper, markers, rulers, and other tools we take for granted. Be careful of the requirements for each assignment.

          J.  Give special attention to your students with special needs, accommodations, IEPs, and 504s. It will be impossible to give them a routine school experience at home without you. Reach out to the administration, colleagues, EC specialists, media specialists,...all of the people who can help you prepare appropriate lessons.

          K. Communicate clearly with parents and allow them to communicate with you.

3.  Prepare to spend some time each day devoted to school. Return parent emails, call or email your students, work on plans for your eventual return to school. It'll keep you in a routine and feeling productive.

In A Perfect World

If this happens again - heaven forbid - we'll be ready. We'll:

Be Proactive - Providing safety, health, and remote learning for entire school systems is unprecedented. It's a bigger problem than a single teacher can solve. Before the next school year, policymakers and administrators will carefully set protocols in place. They will address equity for special needs students, children who don't have food or supervision when they don't go to school, students who don't have wi-fi or devices for online lessons, and standardized testing.

Plan - With policies and protocols in place, teachers will work with colleagues to create both online and hard copy activities for at-home learning. We'll revisit assessments and grading. We'll send encouraging messages to our kids. We'll be ready to go if the worst happens.

Prepare - We'll have papers copied, packets packed, and online assignments ready to access. We'll practice with kids for online access and activity completion. On Back-to-School night, we'll tell parents about our plans.

I hope there's not a next time. But if there is, it'll be smoother sailing!

We'd love to have you join our group over at Growing Grade By Grade! You'll have access to my FREE Resource Library with materials that can help you support kids in the classroom.

Subscribe here and join us. You'll receive Math Choice Boards for grades 3-5. 

       
       
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Budget Hacks For The Most Effective Lesson On How Germs Spread

Budget Hacks For The Most Effective Lesson On How Germs Spread


     I'm always looking for elementary science activities that are:
  • easy
  • affordable
  • engaging
  • hands-on
  • pretty much student-led
  • something we can use in real life
     One of the best is to buy that glow-in-the-dark stuff, Glo Germ. You paint it on kids' hands, have them wash, then look at their hands under a black light. They quickly see how hard it can be to get their hands clean. When you connect the Glo Germ to real germs, it makes a lasting impression on them.

     We did this in my science classes until the cost stopped me. I wish I'd known then about these budget hacks. It would have allowed us to benefit from the activity without the budget.  
       

The Experiment

     First, use a cotton swab to spread some of the Glo Germ on each child's hand. Use a clean swab for each child so you're not dipping contaminated swabs back into the bottle.
 


     Next, let kids see their hands under the black light. If you're doing a written piece, have kids record their observations.
     Have kids wash their hands. Don't emphasize washing really well yet. 

     Look at their hands under the black light again. They'll gasp at how much glow is still left! 

     Make the point that the Glo Germ is behaving like germs, not making us sick, but staying on our skin. Send them back to wash their hands and check under the black light again. 

The Extensions

     1. You might want to extend the lesson with hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Do they clean our hands any better or worse?

     2. An even more impactful extension of this experiment is to see how far one person can pass germs.  Start by swabbing one student's hand with Glo Germ. He's student #1. Have student #1 touch student #2. Student #2 touches student #3 and so on. Each child checks their hand under the black light. We were 10 kids in before we had trouble finding the glow!

     Emphasize that germs are passed from person to person in the same way.

The Budget Hacks

     What to do if you have no budget for Glo Germ and a black light? We can still make it happen! 

     You need 2 things: a germ substitute substance and a way to see it on kids' hands.  Consider these pairings:

     We ended by reviewing some ways we've learned to wash hands properly. One suggestion is scrubbing for the length of time it takes to silently sing "Happy Birthday" to yourself. We also had a frank discussion of places we pick up germs: the bathroom, doorknobs, other peoples' possessions. It was a  real learning experience all around!

     I'd love to know how these hacks work for you! Enjoy your science and stay healthy!



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How To Declutter Your Digital Life In 3 Easy Steps

How To Declutter Your Digital Life In 3 Easy Steps


     Clutter suffocates me. Clutter races my heart but saps my energy. Clutter makes life hard.

The Decluttering Trend

     There's been tons of interest recently in decluttering our homes.  As a nation, we are becoming uncomfortably aware of our obsession with acquiring goods and the stress it brings to our lives.  

     Many authors tout different plans, but the KonMari Method, by Marie Kondo, has been one of the most popular.  Briefly, the method instructs you to pick a category, like clothes, and gather all of those belongings in one spot.  Next, you touch each item and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy in me?” The question has become a bit of an icon, but it is a great compass point.  Those items that spark joy, you keep.  Those that don’t, you acknowledge with gratitude and give away.
     I love the KonMari Method of decluttering because it puts a positive spin on a project that can be seen as drudgery. An urge to clean and organize used to send me to my closet.  I’d look around, think of all the “what if” reasons I should keep different items, pull out three things I didn’t like or couldn’t wear, see no improvement, and give up in discouragement.  Kondo’s method is the exact opposite. You start with joy, proceed with gratitude, and end up surrounded by things you love.

     My husband and I “KonMari-ed” our house in 2015 and it really did change our lives.  It left us with fewer items to manage and clean, but it also left us with a sense of lightness, of being more in control.  It feels good to be surrounded only by things you love.

Why I Decluttered My Digital Life

     In the past six months, I’ve applied Kondo’s method to decluttering my digital life and the results have been just as amazing!  I’m a retired teacher, still involved in teaching and tutoring, and I have a store on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Whether it was personal or professional, I realized that I was feeling irritated and distracted by all of the digital stuff coming at me every day, sometimes every hour.  It was creating anxiety and a feeling of always being behind. 

    I was looking at my Instagram account one evening.  At the time, my one IG account served both my business and personal needs.  I know, not a good system.  I saw that I was following over 4,000 accounts!  It dawned on me that there was no possible way I could genuinely connect with so many people.  And it was my own fault!  In an effort to connect with other educators and entrepreneurs, I had created a digital monster.  That was the night I decided to “KonMari” my digital house!  It has given me the same feeling of lightness and control and has de-stressed me significantly. 

     I didn’t delete any page, account, or subscription out of ill will. I originally connected with each entity because we had something in common. I hoped that we could share and collaborate. However, needs and interests change.  I simply saw that I was not giving or receiving value with many of the people I followed and that my digital “budget” could be better spent in other ways. I believe that reflecting on your digital life is a good exercise for any adult to consider.  Look over your digital house and see where you can remove elements that no longer serve you. Here’s how I did it.

     In a nutshell, you'll follow these three steps:

1. Inventory who you follow or connect with. Consider numbers as well as specific accounts.

2. Reflect with questions such as, "Do I immediately know who/what this account represents?  Do I genuinely connect with this person or page? Do I add value to this person or page?  Do they add value to me?"  If the answer is generally "no", unfollow or unsubscribe.  This step is the most time-consuming, but needn't be overwhelming.  Consider batching or spending 10 minutes a day on the task until you're satisfied with your list.

3. Maintain your new, smaller list by carefully considering before you follow or subscribe to a new account.  Be as certain as possible that the person or subscription will add value to your life.  If you make a mistake, don't hesitate to cancel or unfollow quickly.

How I Decluttered My Digital Life

1. Instagram:  I went to my profile page and clicked on the number of accounts I was following.  It was a LOT – over 4,000!  A list generated with a “Following” button to the right of each account.  I clicked on the button to unfollow the majority of accounts.  Be aware: It took me WEEKS!  Instagram only allows you to unfollow a certain number per day.  You can’t do it too quickly, either, or they see it as a bot or hacker.  They’ll warn you that you’re done for the day.  I kept at it and am now following a more manageable 410 accounts.  I also took the step of creating a personal account – better late than never – and followed friends, family, YouTubers, and other personal interests separately. 
2. Facebook and Messenger:  Between my personal page and my business page, I was following a great many pages covering different topics, including education, politics, food, lifestyle, friends, and family.  To declutter, I didn’t unfollow many friends or family – I’m pretty careful about who I accept as friends, to begin with.  Education pages that didn’t serve a specific need for me, even down to a particular grade level, went first.  Almost all lifestyle and food pages went.  I kept my top 4-5 pages on news, politics, and politicians.

     Next, I made a point to unfollow “experimental” pages when posts popped up in my feed.  I call them experimental because we all know that FB’s algorithm can detect when we reach out to a new subject or location.  It takes a few moments, and I find new ones almost every time I’m on FB, but it’s worth it to me. 

     A final way to reduce your Facebook interactions is to turn off notifications for specific posts.  Click on the bell icon on the upper right to see the notifications of posts you’re engaged with.  When you no longer want to see all of the responses to a particular post, click on the three dots to the right.  A shortlist of options will drop down.  Click on the “Turn off notifications about this post” line. 

A bonus:  As you unfollow pages, your Messenger account will not receive messages from them.

3. Twitter:  Although I have both a personal and a business account, Twitter is not a platform that I use extensively.  I generally keep up with a few educators, politicians, and friends.  A quick glance once a day is all I need to stay in control.  I only follow new accounts if they are extremely interesting or necessary for my work.

4. YouTube:  Man, I love YouTube!  I call it YouTube University (YouTube U.) because you can learn almost anything on this platform.  Again, I was following, and receiving notifications, from about 150 YouTubers.  I carefully curated my list down to 73.  Now, any notification actually “sparks joy” because I know it’s a video I really want to watch!

5. Pinterest:  I didn’t need to do a lot of work on Pinterest and actually didn’t unfollow any pinners.  The platform is a search engine, so I don’t feel I’m actually missing out on anything if I don’t follow up on all notifications. I can just search for what I want.  Also, users can opt-out of notifications, so you don’t have little red numbers telling you to check out a new pin.

6. Email Subscriptions, Blogs, and Newsletters: Holy moly, this was as huge as IG!  I have never been good about deleting used or unwanted emails regularly, so I had over 140,000 emails in my inbox.  Two tasks presented themselves: 1) I searched my inbox by name or topic and deleted thousands of unwanted emails; and 2) I unsubscribed from as many as possible as I went.  It has taken several weeks this summer and it’s an ongoing challenge, but I’m down to fewer than 40,000 emails in my inbox.  That’s success!

7. Phone Apps:  OK, this can take a minute!  Between social media, news, games, work, banking, music, tools, personal interests, and retail, our phones load our days with information!  I took this time to delete any apps that were giving me notifications that I was ignoring, which increased my stress level.  I thought carefully about which apps I was actually using regularly.  I also took the time to consolidate many apps into folders, which is more organized and visually more attractive.

     Those are the major digital platforms and categories that I have decluttered in the past six months. Of course, there are thousands more that we can use!  It has been a learning experience, both personally and technologically.  I’ve learned about which platforms I truly enjoy, the types of information I value, and the amount of information I am comfortable dealing with in a day.  Mostly, though, it has been a joy to reduce the amount of digital clutter in my life!

Moving Forward

     I didn’t go through all of this decluttering just to have it pile back up again! I am being very firm with new digital opportunities. New friends, blogs, subscriptions, platforms, and apps must pass the acid test before I sign on: Do they offer me, or allow me to offer significant value? If not, I pass. It doesn’t mean I don’t acquire new digital relationships, but they are few, far between, and full of value when I do.

     Have you decluttered your physical or digital life lately?  I’d love to hear about how it went for you!
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Growing Grade By Grade
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[name=Pat McFadyen] [img=https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WsQ2WGbGKhw/WpNrBnYYvfI/AAAAAAAATcs/Gbqf3hYwwjwX2smDpvLCmtgfWB3ur47mACLcBGAs/s1600/Pat.jpg] [description=My purpose is to support YOU and your students with practical solutions and curriculum materials that teach, play, practice, and assess.] (facebook=https://www.facebook.com/GrowingIn5thGrade/)

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