World Wetland Day

Celebrated on February 2nd, World Wetland Day has been recognized each year since 1971. This day marks the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands, based out of Ramsar which is located on the shores of the Caspian Sea between Europe and Asia. The goal for this day is to raise awareness on the importance of wetlands, including coastal wetlands and wetland conservation.


Fajardo, Puerto Rico 2018


On a more local focus, in the devastating wake of both Hurricanes Irma and Maria, coastal and other environmental conservation efforts have taken a blow in the Caribbean. With the anthropocentric warming of the earth’s atmosphere from greenhouse gas emissions, the atmosphere captures more solar radiation, therefore warming the Earth. With the warming of average global temperatures, warmer air can hold more water than colder air can, giving power to stronger tropical storms like hurricanes(1). Such storms are what crashed into the Caribbean and southeastern U.S. mid-September 2017. Global climate change is one reason we can expect future devastating tropical storms, which is why it is important for us to learn about conservation efforts now.

Co-author of 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Sustainability: Connecting the Environment, the Economy and Society, Renee Harmon speaks to changes we may be able to make to try to reduce our carbon footprint to get one step ahead of these storms and why it may pose a challenge for so many of us:

“I believe for most people, once they learn about a sustainable behavior, they try to correct an unsustainable behavior… I always say that while we are addressing sustainability, we have to remember that self-sustainability is important too. As we consider the needs of society, we also have to compare those against personal needs. It boils down to choices and what a person considers is most important to them. This may change over time, or it may not. The most important thing is that a person has the education so they can make a logical choice, whatever that may be.”


One U.S. Caribbean island in particular has faced heavy impacts from the hurricanes and has been a headline for the past two months: Puerto Rico. Because of the very few, small wetlands left on the islands, there are few natural “sponges” to retain the stormwater when hurricanes hit. This water in turn, flooded and flowed everywhere else it could, which meant heavy damage to property including large appliances, vehicles, infrastructure, and landscapes. Water that flows off of the island is not as filtered as it otherwise could be. Natural coastal vegetation isn’t as abundant, and pollution runs off into the ocean, as agricultural processes lack sustainable practices and coastal vegetation is removed to accommodate tourists for their beaches. People have been living in poor conditions with intermittent electricity and water for the past 4 months.

When questioned about people living in an area where a particular land feature was lost (like mangroves on the coast or riparian areas near wetlands) due to human encroachment and expansion, why do you think we continue that behavior? Renee Harmon responded with:

“I would question if people know where they are moving to. If someone is new to the area they may not be aware of the history of the land (e.g., I’ve heard of many people buying houses built on former landfills). Another consideration is that the price of the homes built on this land, such as the wetlands of northern Illinois. Are these homes more affordable? Are people buying them due to location of work? Schools? Obviously living in a flooded area is not a selling point, so I would try to figure out what the selling points are and that would help me determine why people are willing to live on the land. I always try to analyze an issue using the Triple Bottom Line (economic, environmental, and social dimensions).”


A research field station in El Yunque is actively trying to raise money for rebuilding facilities after hurricanes Irma and Maria since federal efforts have failed to successfully assist in recovery(2). As federal funding for conservation efforts have worn thin and the US failed to sign the UN Paris Climate Change Agreement, we may see recovery efforts at an all time low, just as natural disasters may only worsen. Thankfully, there are organizations like The Nature Conservancy and the Resilient Islands Program, along with the Caribbean Challenge Initiative which strive to lessen the impact of climate change (4,3). The Caribbean Challenge Initiative through the Nature Conservancy teamed up with local governments to establish protection of at least 20% of their near shore environments by 2020. Efforts began in 2008 with the aid of corporations funding the initiative for the betterment of coastal management and the Caribbean’s resources (4,5).

As we try our hardest to remain proactive, it can be difficult to truly understand how our actions are causing harm. Renee Harmon offers her advice:

“I suggest communities look at how they are educating their citizens on conservation and sustainability topics (such as the need for wetlands). How are initiatives being promoted? Are school systems involved? Colleges? Businesses and other private organizations? What is the culture and perception of the community members? Once you know that you can work on new approaches to education and marketing.”


Squirrel Appreciation Day

As Atwood Publishing continues its focus on sustainability, we’re putting a spotlight on squirrels for Squirrel Appreciation Day which is celebrated January 21. Sciurus carolinensis, otherwise known as the eastern gray squirrel, is one of the charismatic squirrel species deserving of our attention on that day.


A native to North America, this rodent and other squirrel species of North America have been known to hoard or cache their food supplies, we often observe them scurrying about, burying nuts or chasing one another. But Squirrel Appreciation Day isn’t just about acknowledging their cuteness (which is also very important), but also learning about them as they fit into our ecosystem. Because of their hoarding nature they are an ecologically important species, aiding in seed dispersal.

Since many squirrels cache in the ground, they subsequently aid in tree recruitment which means more trees! Many kinds of tree species owe their regeneration success to squirrels, most notably, the oak trees. Sustainable forest management practices are also necessary for forest resource sustainability, and if executed properly, can encourage natural tree regeneration as well as squirrel activity. (Squirrels are also an important part of the food web, as they provide prey for larger predators like gray foxes, bobcats and weasels which are all equally important creatures.)

How are you going to observe Squirrel Appreciation Day? If you’re always the passenger in the car to yell “squirrel” when you see a squirrel, Squirrel Appreciation Day is the perfect day to keep your eyes peeled for them all! Other ways of observing the day include: Learning about the specific species in your area — North America is home to 5 different species. Feed them — they may face hard times during winter months when food sources are scarce, so throw them some peanuts or peanut butter covered pine cones. Finally, you could  shoot them — with your camera of course!

Cut your energy costs

Happy New Year from Atwood Publishing!

As you all start new year’s resolutions, we’d like to encourage one that is eco-friendly, energy saving and sustainable! Join us in celebrating Cut Your Energy Costs Day on January 10th and extend it to the rest of your daily practices to be sustainable and save you money. Atwood Publishing’s line of books on sustainability are suitable for those educators looking to teach about new complex sustainability topics. One such way to start these conversations is by observing Cut Your Energy Costs Day and purchasing our 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Sustainability: Connecting the Environment, the Economy and Society.



Here are a few ways you could cut your energy costs:
1. Unplug things that aren’t being used, like microwaves, coffee pots, toasters etc.
2. Shorten your shower by a couple minutes, could save you gallons of water each time you shower.
3. Turn the temperature down in your home when you’re out and/or at night when you’re in bed.
4. Line dry your washed clothes when possible, hang outdoors or inside. If it’s too cold outside you can provide humidity to your home during dry winter months by hanging indoors.
5. Shut off lights when you leave a room, especially when you leave your home.
6. Unplug electronic devices once charged, rather than letting them sit all night.
7. Check your appliances/electronics for energy-saving modes, some newer laptops and phones have them!
8. Turn off running water while brushing your teeth, imagine all the water you could be saving 2x a day

Start changing the way you consume energy today, your wallet will thank you. Your community and the welfare of the natural world you live in will be grateful of these small, easily manageable sacrifices you made to cut your energy costs.

Happy International Mountain Day!

Since 1992, the UN has recognized the celebration of Mountain Day on December 11th. Last year the UN celebrated Mountain Culture, this year Atwood Publishing is celebrating under the theme of Sustainability.  The word “sustainability” means different things to everyone, however there is one thing all definitions have in common; the resource must be maintained for future generations. An important concept in all of ecology and more specifically, sustainability is to understand that it is an interconnected, complicated system of biology that interacts with biotic as well as abiotic factors. 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Sustainability: Connecting the Environment, the Economy and Society  defines sustainability by theTriple Bottom Line definition for sustainability, i.e., the interconnected health of the environment, society and the economy. This book provides unique situations in which discussion of sustainability is essential to our worldly knowledge.


Glacier National Park 2017

International Mountain Day with regards to sustainability is becoming increasingly important as the valuable resources on mountainscapes become scarce.  Mountains house unique ecosystems across the globe providing niches for endemic species. They also provide a place of solace, grandeur, peace, diversity and uniqueness.  As each of these mountainscapes are unique in different parts of the world, each are home to a suite of varying adapted species, all of which provide very specific ecological functions which are essential to the productivity and recycling of the resources available to other organisms.


As sustainability continues to be a growing topic of interest and research, Atwood Publishing’s line of books on sustainability are suitable for those educators looking to teach about new complex sustainability topics. Topics such as “The Politics and Sustainability of Teaching” and “Engaging Learners in the Complexity of Climate Change” can be found in our other book, Controversial Case Studies.

One of the authors of our line of sustainability books, Bill Timpson, from Colorado State University, was asked about International Mountain Day and asked to contribute his thoughts on the topic:

“In Colorado many of us are very aware of the importance of the mountains for our clean water that is a lifeline for people east and west of here on rivers that run to the sea. More recently, fires have alerted us to concerns for the health of the forests that populate the mountains. Tourists replenish their love of nature here. Hunters and fishermen regularly ply these lands for recreation and healthy food. Mountains, of course, often dictate weather and we in Fort Collins benefit from a ‘banana belt’ effect that has the mountains pushing colder Arctic winds to the east. A history of the planet is written in these mountains.”


In continuation of our sustainability theme, we are pleased to announce that Center for Green Schools at US Green Building Council, which promotes sustainable schools that have a low impact on their environment, and encourage sustainability literacy, is hosting the Green Schools Conference & Expo. This event gathers green school leaders in Denver, CO to discuss topics related to green practices in the education field.  The conference is open for registration starting in February and the event is May 3 & 4. For more information  about the conference and registration please follow the link:

Tips from Angela Provitera McGlynn

As an expert in and prolific writer on college teaching, Angela Provitera McGlynn stands easily as one of our favorite returning authors here at Atwood Publishing. So today we’d like to present a sampling of hidden gems of wisdom from her books for our latest Tips post.


From Teaching Today’s College Students, Chapter 3: Preventing and Dealing with Disruptive Classroom Behavior

“In the first lectures of the term, I tell students that, considering the size of the class, it’s very important to me that they pay attention and not engage in side conversations. I acknowledge that it’s understandable for them to be tempted to talk to a friend in the next seat, but that this behavior cannot be tolerated. I tell them I find side conversations extremely distracting, and that students have complained to me over the years that they too are very distracted by people who talk in class. I remind the students that they are all paying tuition to hear these lectures, and that it’s part of my role to protect everyone’s right to avoid unnecessary distractions.”


From Successful Beginnings for College Teaching, Chapter 3: Creating a Welcoming Classroom Environment

“When you walk into class the first day, and every day, greet the class as a whole or greet students individually. This can be as simple as smiling and saying ‘Hi!’ Students are reinforced when you greet them as if you’re pleased to see them. It’s a simple task, yet it goes very far in establishing warmth in the classroom.”


From Envisioning Equity, Chapter 2: Improving Graduation Rates through Effective Teaching

“A grading rubric helps instructors clearly communicate to students the specific requirements and acceptable performance standards of an assignment. When rubrics are given to students with the assignment description, they can help students monitor and assess their progress as they work toward clearly indicated goals. When assignments are scored and returned with the rubric, students can more easily recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their work and direct their efforts accordingly.”

Earth Day Tips!

Welcome back, Educators and Book Lovers!

Today is Earth Day, a time when people all across the nation can join in both celebrating the bountiful beauty of our planet and raising awareness of its precious, finite resources. We at Atwood want to take this occasion to share with you a handful of helpful hints on sustainability and how to teach it from 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Sustainability: Connecting the Environment, the Economy, and Society.

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Sustainability

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Sustainability

18. Assign a Voice for the Future

In a discussion or debate, assign one individual to be the “advocate” or “watchdog” for future generations, offering perspectives and insights that might otherwise be missed.

Accountability is an essential component of any discussion about sustainability. As a business, program, or organization, it is tempting to grow too fast or too big. That growth can have adverse economic, social, and ecological impacts. Putting someone in the role of “defender of future generations” gives the future a voice for asking about the impact of various decisions on our economy, and natural environment years from now. When someone is given the license to look ahead and serve as a spokesperson for the planet, the insights that arise are often remarkable. For example, in a discussion about a proposed commercial development, designate someone to “speak for the watershed” or be a “spokesperson for the migratory birds.”

24. Show How Sustainability Contributes to Staying “In the Black”

The key to running a successful business is staying profitable. When presenting sustainability-minded projects, lead off with return on investment and economical feasibility.

Traditional business is run with an eye on a single bottom line (financial) as opposed to the “triple bottom line” idea that sustainability presents. Because any good business person realizes the value of staying in the black, anyone presenting sustainability innovations must address the dollars aspect, and is wise to do so first. Simply put, sustainability is about running a profitable business for a long time in an environmentally friendly and socially balanced manner. Ask students to interview local business owners regarding their single and triple bottom lines.

108. Make It Worthy of Media Attention

Get your sustainability news in the news. Whether it is an issue of urgency or a story of success, the general public needs to see it. Raising these issues on the media agenda will ultimately raise them on the public agenda.

For those with a message of sustainability to share, create a public relations campaign. Make contact with media outlets and maintain a positive connection with reporters and others in a position to broadcast your message. Turn your information into materials (such as news releases) the media can use. Make them prewritten and packaged in a way that the media won’t have to do much extra work to reproduce them as stories. Make sure that when you are sharing information through a media outlet, such as newspapers, television, and the internet, the information you produce is easy for everyone to understand.

Tips for a New Year and New Semester!

Happy New Year!

Christmas has come and gone, and the New Year is upon us, ushering out the old and bringing in a new semester full of both challenges and opportunities.

In short, now is the perfect time to brush up on introductions and prepare for starting new classes with these tips!

From Elements of College Teaching, by David K. Irving, comes this tip about the first day of class:

Set the tone

Creating an atmosphere conducive to learning is the teacher’s responsibility. How you conduct your first class speaks volumes about the nature of the course. Here are some questions you should ask yourself beforehand:

  • Will I start on time?
  • When will I administer a brief background questionnaire?
  • How should I react to latecomers?
  • Am I interested in setting a casual or formal tone?
  • How do I want students to address me?
  • What will I wear?
Elements of College Teaching

Elements of College Teaching

From 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Professors by Robert Magnan:

9. Start class by telling your students where you’re going.

Give them a preview, a sort of map. Some teachers like to write the main points of their outline on the board, off to the side. Sometimes, especially when we feel really organized, we forget our students cannot sense this organization. A preview may not be necessary if you give your students a detailed syllabus and you follow it scrupulously. But remember: the best leaders are not always those with the best plans, bot those who best communicate their plans.

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Professors

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Professors

And finally, a tip from 147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students, also by Robert Magnan, explores tone and practicality in icebreakers:

3. Balance fun and function.

Depending on your students, the subject, and the level of anxiety you expect, the icebreakers that you use might be heavily functional or more on the fun side. Keep that balance in mind as you read this book.

147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students

147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students

Halloween Week Tips and Links!

Happy Halloween!

Here at Atwood Publishing, we’re always looking to scare up more useful, fun-sized teaching tips from our 147 Tips series. Today we’ve sampled some fine examples centered around things that might frighten teachers or learners, whatever the season.

In 147 Publishing Tips for Professors, Danny R. Arnold addresses the inevitable and at times intimidating need for professors to publish in the academic world. His book is full of thoughtful and practical examples and ideas, such as this tip:

Tip 139: Optimize the number of hours devoted to research and writing.

As you settle in to your faculty role, you will have many competing demands on your timeteaching, service, and domestic obligations. You must balance these demands successfully to optimize your productivity in all of the roles. TIME is one of your most important assetsdo not waste it! Just like you may tell your students, “work when it is time to work, play when it is time to play, and do not get the time periods mixed up!”

147 Publishing Tips

147 Publishing Tips

The following tip from 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Diversity, by William M. Timpson, Raymond Yang, Evelinn Borrayo, and Silvia Sara Canetto, also deals with fearin this case, the perceived threat or risk associated with speaking, and possibly misspeaking, about diversity and identity.

70. Reduce perceived threat.

      Students may feel uncomfortable discussing sensitive issues related to diversity. Instructors should be attentive to their feelings and reduce any feelings of risk.

      You reduce perceived threat when, for example, you don’t chide a student who makes a clearly ignorant or insensitive comment; instead, you find some positive aspect of it and consider only that part as the contribution. If a student makes a comment that seems beyond redemption, simply thank him or her for at least being willing to say something (e.g., to “break the ice”) and move on.

      Identify three or so incidents from previous classes when students said things related to diversity that created some tension or led to a misunderstanding. Evaluate how you handled each situation. Make plans for handling similar situations in future classes.

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Diversity

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Diversity

Finally, from Robert Magnan’s 147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students, comes this empathetic advice:

1. Understand the anxiety that some students feel.

      Occasionally, it’s even fear. Some instructors believe that the anxiety and the fear are of them, the instructors. That’s not quite itnot completely. Students are also anxious and fearful of each other. Many don’t want to stand out in classespecially for saying things, giving answers, and asking questions that might cause others to consider them stupid or uncool. So, an icebreaker that you feel will be fun for all may not turn out that way for some students. Think back to when you were a student beginning a course. Or just think as far back as attending your first faculty meeting. Even though you probably knew at least some of your colleagues and knew that they had to treat you at least civilly in meetings, you may have been anxious about not looking like a fool. So, let any memories of anxiety and fear guide you in choosing and using icebreakers to ensure a comfortable environment for all your students. If in doubt, pick an activity that’s simple and avoids personal issues or physical activity.

147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students

147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students

Distance Learning Tips

Distance education makes up a huge part of modern higher education, impacting students, teachers, and administrators alike, and transforming the way we as a society think about how we teach and learn, how we share and process information. Online classrooms are virtually omnipresent. 64% of full-time faculty at community colleges teach distance ed courses. (Source) Even faculty who teach in traditional classrooms now use many online media or other technological tools to enhance their students’ learning experience in and beyond the classroom setting.

Distance education is also a huge part of the subject matter of our books here at Atwood Publishing. We have a whole section of our online bookshelf devoted to titles dealing with online learning and teaching, synchronous technology, and how best to design, manage, and teach a distance education course. Now to whet your appetite for this fascinating and pivotal topic, we present some timely tips culled from some of our favorite of those books:

From Essential Elements: Prepare, Design, and Teach Your Online Course, by Bonnie Elbaum, Cynthia McIntyre, and Alese Smith:

Essential Element 8: Design a learning community that is collaborative, engaging, and inclusive.

      A community is a necessary and integral part of a functional learning group. Students need to bond in a community in order to have a sense of trust with each other and respect each other’s ideas. With this level of common trust and value—so that students openly share their thoughts and feelings with each other and respect the viewpoints of their peers—students construct knowledge together as a group. This is where real learning happens.

      Achieving a strong community doesn’t just happen, however; instructors need to build in the structure and activities to offer this “coming together” opportunity to the students. Here, we explore ways to help build community online.

Essential Elements

Essential Elements

From 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups, by Donald E. Hanna, Michelle Glowacki-Dudka, and Simone Conceição-Runlee:


26. Expect learners to be present online and to avoid passively observing.

      One of the great advantages of online learning, especially in an asynchronous mode, is that there is no competition for “airtime” during the class. Each learner can contribute his or her ideas at a comfortable pace. Some learners are more comfortable communicating verbally; others communicate more easily in writing. You, as the teacher, should discuss these preferences at the beginning of the course and indicate your initial expectations for participation, which may include logging in to the class, reading what others have said during discussion, and responding to those ideas. After a week or two, you might revisit your expectations during class briefly, and ask for agreement with or modification of your initial expectations.

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups

147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups

And from 147 Practical Tips for Synchronous and Blended Technology Teaching and Learning, by Rosemary M. Lehman and Richard A. Berg:

142. Evaluate the technology.

      Evaluation of the technology used for the course is critical. In the ideal situation, technology should be transparent. Knowing that we do not live in an ideal world, we need to identify and troubleshoot any problems that arose during the course. This assessment should be a regular part of the ongoing feedback and also a part of the overall evaluation at the end of the course. You will want to know: Was there an adequate orientation to the use of the technology? Was the audio/visual quality clear? Were there any technical problems at the site? Were there any technical problems on the bridge? Was there an immediate response from the Help Desk? Was there followup on the problems? How were the problems resolved?

147 Practical Tips for Synchronous and Blended Technology Teaching and Learning

147 Practical Tips for Synchronous and Blended Technology Teaching and Learning

Instructional Technology Council. 2010. Distance Education Survey Results. Trends in eLearning: Tracking the Impact of eLearning at Community Colleges.

Dodge the Mid-Semester Doldrums

As the school year marches forward, educators everywhere find themselves facing the age-old dilemma of how to sustain the momentum and excitement of the beginning of the semester.

Any given course will develop a rhythm unique to its circumstancesthe classroom environment, the content, the students, and of course, the instructorand that can be a good thing. A sense of consistency can ground students and make them more likely to feel comfortable participating. But if that rhythm becomes too uniform, making the entire class predictable,  boredom and apathy can set in.

As Donna Killian Duffy and Janet Wright Jones ponder in their book Teaching within the Rhythms of the Semester, “What can be done to improve this situation? Need we professors confront such periods of low motivation? Yes, we must, for it is these flagging energies and this failing motivation that feed the doldrums. And it is at this period that a number of students drop out of classes” (163).

Below we’ve selected a few excerpts from some of our favorite books offered here at Atwood Publishing, all examining inventive ways to shake up the rhythm of your class and keep students engaged and learning.

In Classroom Communication: Collected Readings for Effective discussion and Questioning, edited by Rose Ann Neff and Maryellen Weimer, contributing author John H. Clarke proposes structuring a discussion as a cycle of inquiry, maximizing participation and engagement with the issue(s) at hand:

“Every good discussion is an investigation, conducted by a group of people who see the importance of seeking answers to an important problem. For a discussion to work, students must become aware of some unresolved difficulty in the content. They must feel the pressure of their own need to know. They must have access to the conceptual tools of the discipline, the terminology, the methodology, and the logical framework used to solve problems. They must agree on the sources of factual information related to the issue. Most of all, they must be led to see that their own management of the issues, concepts, facts, and interpretations is the real work of learning at the college level.”

Classroom Communication

Classroom Communication

In The Dynamic Classroom: Engaging Students in Higher Education, edited by Catherine Black, contributing author Kathy Cawsey advocates for the strategic use of silence in discussions, varying rhythm and drawing out student participation with the pause:

“The timing of the pause is its most crucial aspect, and there is a rhythm to it. You ask, you wait, you rephrase, you wait, you narrow down, you wait, you explain.

The waits are crucial. This is the chance for students to think about the question, to formulate their response, to see if anyone else will answer, and to test you to see if they can get away with not answeringif you will answer your own questions. . . .

If the silence stretches, you can break it by rephrasing the questionand then wait again. If no one answers at this point, then narrow down the question to make it easier to answer. At no point in this process do you answer the question yourself: each rephrasing or narrowing down of the question should move the class closer to the answer you are aiming for.”

The Dynamic Classroom

The Dynamic Classroom

Last but not least, in Teaching and Performing: Ideas for Energizing Your Classes, authors William M. Timpson and Suzanne Burgoyne explore the use of performance skills to enliven lectures and discussions. One possibility to change up the rhythm of a class is the use of props:

“Props can definitely enhance student engagement and learning in class. If you’re discussing the burdens of power for one of Shakespeare’s characters, for example, borrowing a crown from the theatre department can add a wonderful visual touch. As students respond, each can try on the crown. . . . When discussing some aspect of molecular structure, a three-dimensional model can be invaluable. In particular, students who are new to a subject may benefit from having these kinds of concrete representations available. Trying to clarify complex ideas with words alone can be difficult in any discipline. As simple as these props might seem to you, they can be memorable for your students.”

Teaching and Performing

Teaching and Performing


Duffy, Donna Killian, and Janet Wright Jones. 1995. Teaching within the rhythms of the semester. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.