10 tips to save energy!

October is Energy Awareness Month! That’s an awareness we can get behind! 🙂 Here is 10 easy ways to cut your energy use in half…courtesy of greenamerica.org
1. Turn off the lights! – shut off lights while not using a room.
2. Install ceiling fans! In the summer keep them rotating counter-clockwise and in the winter clockwise to circulate the warm air rising.
3. Show your fridge some love! – clean the coils every 6 months to keep it running efficiently! Take up unused space with jugs full of water, these will hold in the cold rather than your fridge cooling blank space.
4. Wash clothes in cold water & air dry! – washing in cold gets your clothes just as clean & cuts your washer’s energy use in half!
5. Upgrade appliances! – many newer appliances now are more energy efficient, especially if built after 1993. It’s worth the investment.
6. Give your water heater a blanket! – seriously! an insulated heater can reduce heat loss by 24-45%!
7. Plug air leaks! – seal air leaks around doors and windows with caulk & weatherstripping…also curtains, films, and plastic covers over windows help keep the heat in during the winter!
8.Use your programmable thermostat! – learn how to use the settings on your thermostat to maximize the efficiency of your heating & cooling systems.
9. Air dry dishes! – ignore the drying option on your dishwasher!
10. Eliminate Phantom Load! – unplug your electronics when not using them to save energy they may be still using
#EnergyAwarenessMonth #Tips #EarthDayShirtsene

Is Texting Bad for your Health?

Before you pick up your cell phone to send your next text, read this article. Texting may be harming your health in some surprising ways. We all know that texting while driving is not safe, and may cause unnecessary accidents as drivers are completely distracted by their phones, even those who say they can still react fast enough in an emergency. But there are other ways texting is negatively effecting your health, and some of them may surprise you. If you are curious, keep reading. There are things you can do to mitigate these problems.

 

Text Neck

Many people, when texting, bring their faces down toward the device in their hands. Leaning their heads forward, they round their shoulders. This is very poor posture and may result in text neck. If you have ever had a stiff, achy neck or upper back pain after an extended text conversation, then you know the condition. The human head weighs ten to twelve pounds. When you have good posture, your spine can carry that much weight. Leaning down to look at your phone puts sixty pounds of pressure on your spine and the base of your neck. This pressure can, if it goes on long enough, lead to pinched nerves in your spine. Pinched nerves cause numbness and tingling down your arms and in your hands. To avoid this problem, bring your phone to your eyes. Be aware of your posture and sit straight, with your shoulders back.

 

Cell Phone Slumber

Cell phones may be causing your sleep problems. Not only do they emit radiation which may cause insomnia in some people, but they also emit blue light. This color of light tells your brain it is time to wake up. If you text in the dark, use a blue light filter on your phone. This does not interfere with your ability to see the device but it does dim the light intensity. To avoid the sleeplessness, ban your phone from the bedroom. If you have no choice and need your phone beside your bed, cut out screen time an hour before sleeping. This will allow you to sleep much better overall.

 

Repetitive Strain Injuries

People who spend a lot of time texting each day and looking down at their phones are prone to sprains and strains of the joints in their upper body. These repetitive motion injuries are caused by texting excessively, sometimes for hours on end and by bad posture and can be quite painful. Try to limit the amount of time you text each day. If you have to make a lot of texts at a time, make sure to keep good posture. Look up often and take breaks to move around. Also, most phones tend to have dictation services which will allow you to dictate texts to your friends and family. That way, you can still keep in touch.

 

Texting can be very bad for your health in surprising ways. It can cause injuries, eye strain and car accidents. But with a little prudence these dangers can be avoided and you can still keep in touch with the people you care about.

Ways to Relax

Let’s face it, life is busy. Sometimes it catches up with us, leaving us feeling stressed and overwhelmed. When this happens, you need a way to fight back.

Fortunately, even just a few minutes can be enough to help you recharge. Here are 26 ways to relax.

  1. Breathe
    Take 5 deep breathes, give it your full attention, notice the pause but in and out.
  2. Write
    Journaling about your feelings can help relieve them.
  3. Be grateful
    Write a list of what you’re grateful for—nothing is too small.
  4. Make a plan
    Knowing what you need to do today (and what you don’t) can help relieve the stress.
  5. Play
    Adults can sometimes forget how to play, but anything that is purposeless and pleasurable and help us unwind.
  1. Use visualization
    Whether you’re really standing at the ocean or just imagining it, your brain responds the same way.
  1. Talk to someone
    One of your best tools for coping with stress are social connections.
  2. Go green
    Immersing yourself in nature can help you unwind. Go for a walk along the river or find a good bench under a tree.
  3. Sleep on it
    It may feel counterintuitive, but take 20 minutes and catch some zzz’s. It can refresh your mind, while the brief time frame keeps you from getting groggy.
  4. Change the tunes
    Listening to upbeat or calming music can quickly shirt your mood.
  5. Meditate
    Even a few minutes can ease anxiety, especially when practiced daily.
  6. Be present
    Stop your thoughts and take a minute to be present in your body to be aware of it.
  7. Warm up
    Place a warm compress over your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes, lean back, and close your eyes to relax those tense muscles in your face, neck, and back.
  8. Laugh out loud
    Reduce your levels of stress hormone cortisol and increase feel-good endorphins with a good laugh.
  9. Stare at the ceiling
    Tilting your head up lowers blood pressure and slows your breath. Count down slowly from 60 while doing this to help still your mind.
  10. Set your worries aside
    Write down all of the things that are causing you stress, then put them aside to deal with tomorrow.
  11. Sip green tea
    Green tea has L-Theanine in it, which helps relieve anger.
  12. Go dark
    With some dark chocolate. A single square (1.4 oz) can regulate your cortisol levels.
  13. Chew gum
    The repetitive and thoughtless nature of chewing gum can reduce anxiety within just a few minutes.
  14. Count down
    This simple action demands enough attention to stifle the sources of your stress.
  15. DIY a hand massage
    Hands carry a lot of tension, so stop wringing your hands and massage them instead.
  16. Grab a golf ball
    But forget the irons. Instead, roll it against the bottom of your feet to release tension.
  17. Squeeze it out
    On a stress ball. They didn’t become a common desk tchotchke by accident.
  18. Get some sun
    Take a quick walk outside and soak up some rays to lift your spirits.
  19. Practice yoga
    The smooth deliberate motion of yoga is great for calming and re-centering.
  1. Cuddle with a pet
    A good snuggle with a furry friend is a proven way to de-stress.

School Libraries: Adapting to the Digital World

Libraries may be traditionally thought of as buildings were books are kept, but in a digital world, libraries are changing to become much more. As libraries evolve to the Information Age, they are taking on completely new models that focus on different kinds of resources and spaces.

However, the goals of libraries—especially school libraries—remain the same: to support students to learn, discover and become critical thinkers throughout their lives. In this goal, libraries are becoming even more relevant than ever.

A New Kind of Collection

Many believe that, with such an abundance of free information now available online, library collections are becoming irrelevant. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Libraries have always collected books, but the modern library is about more than paperbacks. Print books continue to be important, but collections of resources in alternative formats are becoming popular, too. Much more than just ebooks, these collections may include anything from infographics, to tweets, to digital images. These are important for students to learn who to use and interpret in today’s society.

But books still matter, too. In fact, a diverse and engaging collection of books is a top differentiator for helping children to read more frequently, enjoy reading more, and develop better literacy skills.

More Collaborative Spaces

The student spaces inside libraries are looking differently these days, too.

Libraries are incorporating new methods like Learning Commons (mixed-use spaces for research, study and collaboration) and Makerspace models

(areas within libraries focused on production and production tools like 3D printers and graphics software). Sometimes they even include brainstorming areas and café-style configurations with flexible furniture and devices.

In a world where students often study together, learn from each other, and must complete projects together, these new spaces are designed to encourage collaborative learning.

Critical Researching Skills

The most important thing in a library isn’t the books—it’s the librarians.

Librarians are an invaluable resource for both students and teachers—they are the all-important connection between people and information. Librarians are advocates for reading, learning and critical research practices.

Understanding how to be a critical researcher has become more important than ever in the digital age—while it’s easy to look up anything we can imagine on search engines, their algorithms are designed to provide links based on what we have searched in the past, which reaffirms our existing biases.

Librarians play a very important role in teaching students how to discern the quality of the information they find, and how to ensure their research is balanced. As Common Core puts an emphasis on research skills, learning these complexities about the content we engage with has become closely tied to student success.

An Emphasis on Flexibility

Internet access has become increasingly important for student success. And yet, 25.6 percent of American households do not have Internet access at home (according to the 2013 U.S. Census).

School libraries play an important role in bridging the gap. The traditional, fixed library scheduling approach offers students library time as part of a pre-scheduled block of class time. However, more libraries are starting to use flexible scheduling options that open the library to students to come use its resources any time they want. When libraries can be flexible and creative to offer students greater access to its resources, student success increases.

Creating Strong Creators

Students have been consumers of information in libraries for as long as they’ve existed; but in the digital age, it’s increasingly important for students to become creators of content, too. Libraries can play an important role in helping students learn how to use important tools for creation, as well as how to think as a content creator.

A Vital, Evolving Resource

Although libraries’ collections, schedules and physical spaces are evolving significantly, one thing remains the same: Libraries are a vital resource for students and our communities at large. Libraries continue to offer students important resources and play a major role in shaping growing minds.

Making the Library a Space Children Want to Be

Libraries can play an important role in children’s lives. They are a safe place to spend time and discover the joy of reading.

Libraries are also spaces for community—places to play and discover, imagine and inspire, learn and study, and even take some much-needed quiet time.

But children won’t flock to the library just because it’s good for them—like any space for children, a library needs to be inviting, engaging and fun.

How can libraries rise to the challenge? Here are some tips to create library spaces that will have children excited to explore:

Organize the space into zones

Libraries are pretty big spaces, especially from a child’s perspective. To make them more inviting, break it into smaller “zones” of space focused around different functions and activities.

This can create the illusion of smaller spaces while introducing more variety, which will engage children better. Remember, cultivating the right environment within a library can be just as important as cultivating its collection—so be sure to give it the consideration and forethought to make the space useful and inviting.

Think interactive

For children, play time is a highly engaged learning opportunity. The more stimulating the activity is, the more their minds develop.

Help kids get the most out of their play by creating engaging, multi-sensory experiences for them. Look for ways to enhance play experiences within the library with ways to stimulate kids’ sense of sight, smell, touch and sound.

Design for many different needs

In addition to having several zoned spaces available with multi-sensory experiences, it’s also important for those spaces to meet a variety of needs. Children need spaces where it’s safe to be highly active as much as they need spaces for quiet time. They need spaces for interaction as much as they need spaces to be alone in. Create a variety of spaces that meet these varied needs for different age groups.

Consider making spaces flexible with furniture that is easy to move around, so kids can create their own spaces, too.

Get on their level

This tip applies both literally and figuratively.

On a practical level, a children’s section of the library should be accessible to children—that means keeping shelves lower so that kids can find and look at books on their own. It also means providing furniture and spaces that are made specifically for children of various age groups, so they are comfortable as they enjoy the library.

But it also means thinking creatively to find fresh ways to engage young imaginations. Be playful and whimsical with how you decorate the walls, arrange the shelves and set up displays!

Start small

For libraries just starting to modify its space to better engage children, don’t worry about trying to do everything at once. Start small, and focus on the quality of experiences rather than how extensive they are.

As a starting place, consider identifying a need that could be addressed with the creation of a space zone, or an bring in a local expert for an activity.