Thursday, April 20, 2017

April is National Poetry Month

Write something that is entirely yours to keep and share.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hometown cool!

So my principal, who has been down to see our WWI exhibit (see earlier posts), sent me this link to the NYS Museum' s own WWI exhibit that opened April 15th : A Spirit of Sacrifice: New York State in the First World War.

Imagine my delight when I clicked on their link to images of selected artifacts and found several that are on exhibit in our school library courtesy of our Afton Historical Society! Cool!
New York State Museum,

Our exhibit samples:


Monday, April 10, 2017

WWI Exhibit

Installed our WWI Exhibit from the Afton Historical Society today. Here are few sneak previews of the April 17-21 show.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The bald truth

“Netflix tells its shareholders that it is not in the movie business or in the television business, but in the attention business, and that its competition is not CBS or NBC Universal or YouTube, but everything: every video game, online lecture, book, football game, advertisement, poem, sermon, or daydream. We who produce knowledge are also in the attention business — competing against everything else for time and place on the screens that we carry around and shuttle to and from every few minutes. To direct attention to the real knowledge that we produce, publishing our material online for free use and reuse is the first step.”

In the Post-Truth Era, Colleges Must Share Their Knowledge
By Peter B. Kaufman April 02, 2017
The Chronicle Review

Thursday, April 6, 2017

April 6th email to ACS staff

   At 1:38 this afternoon, 100 years ago, the United States entered the World War I. It seems both a long time ago, and not very long ago at all, yes?

    As part of this centennial, the MS/HS Library will be hosting WWI artifacts from the collection of the Afton Historical Society from April 17-21. This loan from the historical society marks an important precedent for the Society and for our school.

    The holdings of the society at the Afton Museum are rich local teaching resources for technology, physical science, culture, media, communication, history, agriculture, and problem-solving. That the society is willing to loan many of these items, and that this library will gladly curate exhibits, opens a trove primary source documents and artifacts that not only “connect” our community to your instruction, but that also afford a “museum visit” on your own terms: extended-multiple visits, your selection of artifacts, and a level of interaction & participation that enhances engagement.

    I encourage you to consider a visit to the museum (perhaps an in-service day field trip together?) and to the MS/HS Library to open yourself to possibilities of their collection in supporting your units of instruction. Not only do your students stand to benefit, but the Society stands to benefit from this collaboration; with opportunities for students to enhance their mission through digitizing artifacts, creating multi-media displays, and providing context for items through student research projects.

    I hope we will acknowledge this helping hand that has so graciously been extended to our students by working together to bring a calendar of exhibits to our school in the next academic year.

Thank you,


Pre-exhibit images

My library-lobby display-screen features some of these images in anticipation of our WWI artifact exhibit April 17-21.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April is ...

Even if my April poems aren't iambic or rhymed, I think they sort of gambol along as posted.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Two or three ideas

I visited the Milton Glaser art exhibit this weekend at Binghamton University. It featured several of his pieces as huge wall-sized graphics adhered to the walls. This morning I overheard a student in our lobby trying to convince a friend that they should paint one of the lobby columns with one of their past designs.

So I made up some of these overlays to share and move their ideas along.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

First step

Beginning our Spring issue of our Arts at ACS publication. First step is printing out contact sheets of all the artwork, then curating which will go next to which on double-page spreads. I paste them into a little mock-up book, then use that as I build the pages using InDesign.

Pre-War preparations

Getting together our advertising for our World War I exhibit in the April: handbills, tabletops, postcards.

A vehicle for engaging students

In support of our library's after-school teen center activities, our principal brought in his cool 1/5 scale, gas-powered RC car for display. Turning heads already.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Historical Perspective from the State Department

Some concise pieces on the Milestones of U.S. Foreign Relations from the Office of the Historian at the U.S. State Department.

More about them from their web site:

"The Office of the Historian is staffed by professional historians who are experts in the history of U.S. foreign policy and the Department of State and possess unparalleled research experience in classified and unclassified government records. The Office’s historians work closely with other federal government history offices, the academic historical community, and specialists across the globe.
The Office of the Historian is responsible, under law, for the preparation and publication of the official documentary history of U.S. foreign policy in the Foreign Relations of the United States series.
In addition, the Office prepares policy-supportive historical studies for Department principals and other agencies. These studies provide essential background information, evaluate how and why policies evolved, identify precedents, and derive lessons learned. Department officers rely on institutional memory, collective wisdom, and personal experience to make decisions; rigorous historical analysis can sharpen, focus, and inform their choices. The Office of the Historian conducts an array of initiatives, ranging from briefing memos to multi-year research projects.
The Office of the Historian also promotes the declassification of documents to ensure a complete and accurate understanding of the past."

*Wanted to add some italics of my own, but I figure you had your red pencil out too.

Encore performance

Still one of the best and most chilling data-driven animations I have seen:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


A good article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a professor at Tufts University who is applying her understanding of 'metric geometry' to the issue of gerrymandering; specifically using it to help develop a more objective definition of "compactness" that might clarify that meaning in the courts.

She has taken the initiative to create  5-day summer course that focuses hoe mathematicians can better prepare to be expert witnesses. "The first three days of the program will be open to the public and available online, with lessons that put redistricting in legal, historical, civil-rights, and mathematical contexts. Attendees of the program’s final two days will participate in one of three specialized tracks on giving expert testimony, teaching, and working with geographic-information systems."

I think this article is a powerful instrument to share with students to illustrate the "real world" application of school subjects and the value of overlapping disciplines, so am sharing it with our math and Social Studies departments.

Monday, March 6, 2017

I am not the webmaster

Today I designed or modified and posted four graphics for the school site banner:
Also, posted gallery photos for Read Across America and the Father/Daughter Dance, as well as updating the content of two home page articles. Just sayin'.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

In our own back yard

Went to the Binghamton Civic Association Chinese dinner as part of First Friday festivities in Binghamton. To our surprise and delight we were entertained and educated by students and staff from Binghanton University's Confucius Institute of Chinese Opera. The tradition and beauty of this cultural art form is being faithfully performed and shared with the community in all its detail, history, and rigor. The costumes were breath-taking, the performances were intricate and genuine, and the performers were wonderfully approachable and humble. We look forward to the dinner and performances next month when the BCA celebrates community members from India.

Friday, March 3, 2017

One thousand one hundred fifty-four

I have scanned and added the remaining 109 missing Afton Historical Minutes articles to the searchable file at the Internet Archive. It now stands at 1154 articles. Many thanks to the society members who did the hard work of identifying the missing articles from the database and locating copies for us to use.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

ATCI Redux: a letter

    You may or may not remember the student project back in 2013 when Abby E. and Dominic S. worked through the year to propose the Afton Teen Center Initiative (ATCI). It remains, for me, the most complete demonstration of students applying classroom skills that I have ever witnessed at ACS. Their idea was to leverage our school facilities and community involvement to create a place where teens might go to teens-together; safe, engaging, fun.

    Despite their surveys, their award winning video, community donations, and their meeting with community leaders - we (and that includes many) failed to find, follow-through on, or create an umbrella structure for a good idea to survive within.

    In the second half of last year, the library began hosting a half-dozen students who wanted to play “trading card games.” They met on Wednesdays from 2:20 until the elementary bus run. They were consistent in their attendance and courteous about the opportunity.

    This year as our back room has slowly become a place for remote-control cars, quad-copters, and builders, those students have also been turning up on Wednesdays. Yesterday we had thirteen boys here playing trading cards, foosball, RC cars, quad-copters, building with erector sets, straws & paper clips, and hot-gluing their car modifications. And it occurred to me that it is much less a MakerSpace than an ATCI center.

    For many it is the place to just be a teen, to be the one who knows something more than an adult: to be part of something. And it strikes me that we are fulfilling, in a way, the vision of Abby and Dominic. They were right. Kids rise to the opportunity; they are courteous, happy, learning from each other, and engaged. It is that oasis that they envisioned.

    I have spoken to both Abby and Dominic about these Wednesdays and they were radiant.

    Perhaps the only miss of the ATCI idea was assuming it needed to function in the evening to be beneficial. Although that remains a best-case scenario, I want you to know that the spirit of their hard work survives and is making a difference in the lives of the following ACS students.

Follow-through on a prototype

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Date check: March

March by John Lewis, 3 volumes.

Think. Speak.

Designed this handbill for a colleague, based on her text.

Flamingo, again

I posted these two look-alikes (flamingo & teapot) because noticing them was so much like coming up with a suitable rhyme or simile for a poem.

 If you think about it, a rhyme doesn’t necessary “match” the content of of the word it rhymes with; it is connected to that word by another dimension of its usefulness: its color, its music: its sound.

And when one reaches for a simile or metaphor, I think we depend, once again, on the malleability of the word to retain its meaning even as we mold it to a new purpose.

So a teapot, amazingly, can have something to do with raising our experience of a pink flamingo.

Three cheers for words and images.
Three cheers for writers and artists.

Monday, February 27, 2017


Today we officially launched the arrival of the Winter issue of our student Art & Literature publication: The Dark Side of Flashlights.

I designed the 88 page document using InDesign on the library’s iMac.

Earlier in the year I had photographed the student artwork when hosting it at a library exhibition. These images were cropped, edited, and labeled. I followed the same procedure for images that provided the inspiration for the writing portion of the publication; holding all images in a pool folder recognized by InDesign.

Subsequently, I captured the student Word files through our shared folders as provided by the participating teacher. Once placed on the page, these were uniformly formatted using style-sheets.

The only hunt-and-peck processes involved creating the Table of Contents after jockeying page order several times.

After a reasonably scrupulous proof-read, I submitted a proof copy to Upon it’s arrival, we made a few modifications and I then ordered three copies to donate to the library at $12.50 each.

The publication features the work of over three dozen ACS students. Proud.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


I wish I had better news.

Reading The True Flag, about the American debacle of "expansionism" that we consecrated with the name Spanish-American War, I lose some of the resolve that I am hoping will sustain me in my own era of yellow journalism, "bully"ing leadership, and heavy-handed international "aspirations."

The trench between 19th and 20th century America reflected a total loss of common ground. Prodded by big business looking for new markets to match an industrial glut of production, exacerbated by a flood of cut-throat newspapers competing (at any cost) in a more literate America, and goaded by a core of savvy manipulators, the US became something else; something other than what many believed we could ever become: empire-builders. In that trench, in that vacuum as the Spanish Empire folded, the US, promising independence to both Cuba and the Philippines, instead annexed Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii, and, at a sickeningly human cost, the Philippines.

Stephen Kinser paints a noble picture of the anti-expansionists and a hard-edged portrait of the empire-builders, who ultimately succeeded. It is the story of one group relying on the precepts of the constitution as their only weapon, versus another with the position, power, and insider-manipulation as theirs. Dialogue was sabotaged by a press that was as unreliable as it was abundant. Driving the vision of America as world power was the behind-scenes Henry Cabot Lodge who found his chess piece in Teddy Roosevelt: charismatic, shallow, aggressive.

What it led to; more than strategic territory, new markets, and economic dominance, was a loss of innocence, a betrayal really, of the original promise of the nation; that we were the good guys who played fair in a world of aggressors. Who paid the price were native citizens anticipating their own try at independence who at best became indentured to the US and at worst lost their lives to us; more in the Philippines than were killed by the Spanish in over three centuries of empire.

In all, this book was a lesson in hard-ball history. And I fear it is a cautionary tale for the present; where open-minded thoughts of equality and hope look to have their hands full with a compromised fifth estate, and a vision of constricting walls replacing one of expanding ones.

P.S. I thought, perhaps, my tone in this post was less than neutral, but in reading Paul A Kramer's piece in the today's Chronicle Review, History in a Time of Crisis, he asked what is the role of historians in a time of authoritarian politics? He suggested three roles: "disrupting inevitabilities, digging out lost alternatives, and widening horizons of empathy." I am not exactly a historian, but I will dip-in under his umbrella reasoning for drawing the similarities that I do.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

My day

I began by hanging my latest poster; celebrating one of my awesome colleagues.

I shared a site on co-teaching (shared with me by a library colleague)with our Special Ed Director in support of her upcoming professional development presentation. She responded by asking me to print copies for distribution.

Noticed the president of the Afton Historical Society in our lobby and invited her for a conversation about our collaborative effort to bring artifacts from their collection into our school library.

Followed up on a Twitter feed to explore the LOC WWI site.

Received a shining thank you note from a colleague (distributed to the entire staff) for my efforts with her social studies class last week. Very nice.

Hunted up some past yearbooks for our sports-alumni group for team research.

Asked by a special ed teacher to collaborate on a poetry unit after February break. Set to meet tomorrow.

Our proof copy of Winter art/lit magazine arrived! Shared with our two collaborators. Fixed some typos. Ordered three copies for the library.
Asked by two MS teachers if i would consider teaching a elective course.

Shared information I had found and printed for student interested in sword-making.

Received a donation of wooden wheels and axles for our MakerSpace.

Toted cartons from our backroom to the reception desk a few times for the ACS food distribution program.

Processed an ILL to the Ithaca school district.

Thank you note

My colleague sent me this email and copied it to the school staff. Hey, its always nice to be appreciated, yes?

I wanted to thank Mr. DeVona for hosting 7th grade Social Studies classes late last week! He led a lesson on being a skeptical reader using a variety of materials! In a time when all sorts of information is being thrown at students through the media, it is important for them to be able to evaluate that information. Using Woods’ Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, Mr. DeVona led a fascinating discussion using a variety of sources including Google Earth and scientific articles to help students to paint the picture of what that night was like so long ago! Students were engaged the entire time and the went on to do higher level thinking BECAUSE of it! Thank you, Mr. DeVona for your knowledge, your thirst for learning and the time and effort you spent pulling information together for us!  Thank you!