Friday, June 21, 2019

2002 Library Project: Afton Volunteers

Took a walk down memory lane today; watched our 2002 video documentation of our 10-week Art/Library project. In many ways, I think those 10-week project anticipated very closely the type of skills-based learning opportunities we look to create today.

(This was the opening ice-breaker team-building bridge-building session to get the  juices flowing)

Porch Poems

Just finished uploading my 13th book of poems to be printed. Always glad to have a legible version of what I've written.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Packing-up poems

Starting to pack away all the school-day things around the library for Summer storage. How nice to find fresh magnet poems on the window sill!

The Times Teaches

Didn't want to loose this.

A Times Insider article about how reporters increasing rely on fluency in using datasets and spreadsheet in their research and reporting linked to further information about the Times training program.

Looked like good stuff to pass along ... act on.

Some cool datasets.

Thursday, June 13, 2019


An innovative key-chain design by a 7th grade maker: a detachable model.

ACS Library Links

We reopened of nine-hole golf course these last few days of school to give students and staff a venue to bond at their leisure as part of our upcoming Fun Day.

A good opportunity also for some product-placement: our Summer Reading program!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Filling in the gaps

The NYRB is always such a wealth of diverse and wonderfully esoteric scholarship. And often it supplements or unseats an understanding I need to modify or discard.

An example is Howard French’s review of several books about the African Middle Ages. His thesis sentence sets the tone:
‘It may remain a little-known fact, but Africa has never lacked civilizations, nor has it ever been as cut off from world events as it has been routinely portrayed. Some remarkable new books make this case in scholarly but accessible terms, and they admirably complicate our understanding of Africa’s past and present.”
In the course of his discussion, he introduces the fabulously wealthy Malian ruler Mansa Musa who in the early 14th century journeyed to Mecca by way of Cairo with “13 to 18 tons” of pure gold and thousands of slaves and attendants. Beyond the legends of this entourage, it is the fact that only a few years later (1375) he earned an illustrated spot on the Catalan Atlas, spurring fortune-seekers and ultimately the competition of the slave trade between Portugal and Spain which “ was crucial to the creation of the modern nation-state and of what became modern European nationalism;” certainly a supplement to my understanding of that phenomenon.

He also highlights the observation of Herman L. Bennett “that the Sahara has long been miscast as a barrier separating a notional black Africa from an equally notional white or Arab one. In reality, it argues, the desert has always been not just permeable but heavily trafficked, much like the ocean, with trade as well as religious and cultural influences traveling back and forth, and with world-shaping effects.” Discard and update.

Reading the NYRB is a little more intense than browsing a magazine. I find myself underlining text, looking up books and references to research, and adding snippets to this bog so that I will remember how and when my understanding of the world changed and grew.

Monday, June 10, 2019

IMAX of the 1890s

I have been reading Martin Gilbert's biography of Winston Churchill and have been immersed for several weeks in Victorian England. When this short video became available from the MoMA it really was a perfect supplement to my reading. It is a sampling of restored film clips from the 1890s shot in 68mm at 30 frames per second by the British arm Biograph film company. The images are startlingly crisp, fluid, and clear. For me, they affirm the reality and humanity of that time like no other medium.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Celestial currency

This was neat article in Discover magazine; ancient coinage commemorating solar eclipses! I like how it ends; encouraging readers to document other occurrences in this "wide-open" field.

Sound bite for Danny D.

So I got my sound bite in 3D Printing: An Introduction by Stephanie Torta (full disclosure: Stephanie is the daughter of one of our ACS teachers; hence, my invitation to participate!)

I am proud of what I said in the interview because I believe every word of it.

Thanks again to all the Tortas for the opportunity.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Emailed this to colleagues

    Load Up with books for the Summer:
     a reason for faculty participation

            My guess is that you are a life-long learner - just like we expect our students to be. I also guess that you continually challenge yourself, within your discipline and without, with reading widely and deeply - especially during the Summer when short-term freedom from routine and long-term guilt over reading-procrastination is ripest.

    So along with the Summer books that you intend to buy or borrow or download from your usual sources, I invite you to borrow or download some from the MS/HS Library. Whether you are delightfully surprised or disappointed-as-expected by our holdings, it would be a powerful incentive to our students next Fall when you casually mention in a class discussion having “read something about that this Summer from a book I borrowed from the ACS Library. You should check it out, too.”

    Although you and I may be day-in/day-out near-strangers, I am, like all librarians everywhere, delighted and non-judgmental when a new face appears to borrow a book. Whether it’s a bucket-list classic, a binge-read of a favorite series, sci-fi or science essays, historical perspectives in fiction or in fact, new Young Adult fiction to help you better inhabit the teenage experiences of gender issues, multi-culturalism, and family problems, or titles for your own children to enjoy…the MS/HS Library has something for you.

    I would be glad to curate a list of books for you to choose from based on your interests, or, by all means, stop by to browse the table-top displays in the library foyer or explore the stacks.

    Being explicit about the fact that we read on our own for meaning and for recreation is part of “walking the walk” as we raise that expectation for our students. Being seen in the MS/Library, or letting it be known that you are reading a book or ebook from our collection is a concrete way to mentor that life-long discipline.

    Thanks for your help,

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Leveraging technology

We have been learning how to leverage technology while designing in Tinkercad.
Students have been using app functions like Duplicate/Group/Ungroup, to make iterations of designs we have critiqued; learning not to settle for the first idea when the program allows modifications so easily. Importantly, we keep ALL the designs so that we can see the decisions and alternatives we have tried.
Our daily routine also involves learning to take and file screen capture images, exporting STL files, and sharing these with me as email attachments (just as you would with a co-worker across the country); using a suite of tools to create, explain, and share their work.
Our analysis of work includes functionality, attention to detail, and further possibilities. For instance moving from lower-case to upper-case letters for legibility.
Practicing the process of what tech tools can do, using them in concert with each other, and sharing ideas with them have been as important as the actual printed product. We have been working on and assessing the skills of "getting there",  not just on the destination.
BTW, the project we decided on was to design medallions for our school's Crimson Crest recognition program.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019


Indispensable and bustling neighborhood centers

This NYT article reinforces the premise of Eric Klinenberg's Palaces for the People. It cites housing projects underway in Chicago that incorporate a branch library; which agrees with Klinenberg's "social infrastucture" emphasis. Indeed the Times says:
In cities across the country, branch libraries, which futurologists not long ago predicted would be made obsolete by technology, have instead morphed into indispensable and bustling neighborhood centers and cultural incubators, offering music lessons, employment advice, citizenship training, entrepreneurship classes and English-as-a-second-language instruction. They are places with computers and free broadband access. (One in three Chicagoans lacks ready access to high-speed internet.)
New York Times /The children’s area of the Little Italy Branch Library
has open spaces and flexible furniture.
CreditTom Harris/SOM

Nurturing poetry

I collaborated with a colleague on a poetry unit where the students were creating concrete poems, black-out poems, and paint-chip poems. I suggested that they teach us how. The results of their creativity (posters, board games,slide shows, and...well concrete) are on flanking displays in our library foyer as well as having been exhibited in yesterday's Student Fair.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Inspired by questions

Our Tinkercad use got me questioning if 2D designs can be converted to 3D use in Tinkercad. They can!  Found a helpful video that led me here for easy conversions.


Starting out the Tech 7 students with some TinkerCad basics. Having them make multiple "versions" on the same workplane to encourage them to use previous designs as stepping stones to new ones.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


    So, over 40 years ago, when we were just married, the first book my wife gave me to read was was Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek - published just a few years before.

    I had grown up in the suburbs. My life was basketball on driveway courts, Star Trek on TV, boats and go-carts in the Summer, and college at a 5-year old brick campus. It’s not that I was necessarily shallow or self-referential - it was just the normal 1970s blinders.

    And then this book exploded on me. In fact, every sentence exploded on me; a sustained succession of sentences to take one’s breath away. It was what Dillard said and the rapture with which she said it. Explosion after explosion - and the new silences that she left me to fill. Every experience was one I had not had, although all were in my reach.

    I am reading it again - the same paperback; the pages dusty on the top and mushroom brown under the type. The sentences still explode. And I see how it has framed so much of how we decided to live, what we decided to value and what defends the core of me when I battle the encroaching doubts of retrospect.

    Annie Dillard’s 275 pages of epiphanies are about being open to the miraculous, to the particular, and to the present; that there is nourishment not only in knowledge, but in allowing ourselves to experience the world around us not just as a metaphor, but as worthy in its incremental journies as we are. The book is not a rationale to escape the banality or crises of our constructed culture, rather it is a call to recognize what was here first, what endures and might pass through us, and to not miss what is ours, if we only will.
(Among the humbling range of scientific and literary references she quotes along the way, this one by poet Michael Goldman is one of my favorites, "When the Muse comes She doesn't tell you what to write / She says get up for minute, I've something to show you, stand here.")

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Annual student art show preparation

Photographing artwork for posters, flat screen, etc.
Pretty hard to make a weak poster with such strong artwork.

Going to try laying out some of the actual display virtually to save time, actually!
This will also serve as a demonstration for my Tech students of using a PowerPoint
to"figure stuff out and make decisions."

Finding simple machines around ACS

Post -Easter Posting

Loved this "Easter Bug" item from the Sunday New York Times (4/21/19). Perfect for that back-to-school Monday.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Home libraries

Nice idea for our ELA Celebration Week at ACS. Can you spot Danny D's shelf?