Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Library Home Pages

ACSLIB / 2003
ACSLIB /2006

ACSLIB / 2018
Interesting to have a conversation about the technology and teaching initiatives over 15 years that moved my library site from a content rich vetted portal of resources to one that cedes that curation to 24/7 sites-for-hire; leaving me the age-old parent-to-adolescent challenge of convincing pseudo-sophisticated student tech-users that there is a realm of their kingdom were nimbleness and spontaneity must yield to the old ways of analysis, perseverance and character if truth is to be valued and found.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Into the Wayback Machine

I have been into some of the DDD archives. Yikes! This is 1989 when I worked at the BCC Bookstore. The college hosted a childrens book conference for area teachers/librarians and I did the book display in the atrium of the science building. We did large tempera "reproductions" of kids' drawings for the big back drops.
Were any of you there?

A New South Wales connection

Had a great start to my day! An ACS colleague now living and teaching in Australia emailed me to COLLABORATE on a task, "New South Wales is implementing a new English syllabus. One of the main concepts is "Reading to Write", and how we need to introduce various texts on writing and styles of writing.  I immediately thought I would pick your brain as to some different books you might be able to suggest about authors and the craft of writing."

Cool. Collaborating at day-away to the southern hemisphere. 

BTW, I reponded with:

Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau. It's a classic from the 1940s. Queneau tells the same short anecdote in 99 different writing styles! I think it would be very accessible for students.

And The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers by John Gardner. Both of these are from my days working at Broome College. Gardner, of course, was the revered guru of teaching writing at Binghamton University.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Back in business

Our Printrbot Simple is back in business after a restorative visit to a friend of the library who is our go-to person for all things 3D. Right out of the box we installed the config settings and are getting a swell first print on a Bezier vase. Cool beans.

Hope to be printing some custom wheels for the Engineering class in the near future.

Book talk


    The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, is a special kind of fiction; perhaps ‘topical fiction’ would fit or, even better, ‘urgent fiction.’ The urgency of the social issues it deals with make it a critical tool for experiencing and understanding a perspective we might not otherwise appreciate or inhabit. Thomas does it with an inspired voice, ingenious balance, and constant compassion; raising an inflammatory event within a devolving racial environment from a chronicle of violence to a window into human complexity. The complexities she portrays is what makes her novel so authentic and heart-rending.

     It is the story of an imperfect, but loved young black man killed by a policeman; as witnessed by, endured by, and told by his childhood friend. It is a story of shattered families, gang allegiances, brutal revenges, daily violence, parental frailties, harsh language, inter-racial tension, burdens of profiling, entrapment of poverty, and a legacy of prejudice … but equally of family love, mending allegiances, personal redemptions, parental strengths, loving language, inter-racial respect, opportunities of trust, power of perseverance, and a legacy of community.

     Although you would think it is a novel that contrasts black and white, what it did for me was reveal the shared humaneness we all possess and to consider that we are all painted in shades of gray.

     That the author portrays violence as a tragedy for all involved, that placing a blame slowly cedes to individuals confronting their own biases and embracing healing new directions is what will move this novel from topical to enduring.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Main Street

Kindergarten students have created buildings from our home town. So I made some "resident" images.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Its all about fish

Closing in on completing the first part of the NYS fish identification collaboration in our swimming pool hallway; a venue for some pre- and post-class instruction for elementary students. I have printed labeled and unlabeled images of fish species, taped the backs for strength, then cut them out (all those little fin-barbs! )Tomorrow, I will meet with the pool instructor to get them posted to her specifications. Cool.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Soldering station

On Friday, one of my HS makers showed up with his soldering kit. I found and asked our technology what safety standards I should employ (safety glasses, heat-resistant surface). Over the weekend I picked up a cookie sheet and a nifty clamp unit. They were very excited when they came in on Monday.

Prior knowledge

Made a poster linking some observations from a recent book I read (Tarawa: The Story of a Battle)to our home town.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Got me a flower from a student today

Good day.

Throwback Thursday

From the ACSLIB archives:

In the late 1990s, Middle School students studying the Middle Ages made a life-size gargoyle (of rolled newspaper and duct tape) and set it atop the school to glare down at people entering ACS!

Collaboration: what I can bring to the table

We have some happening people in our P.E. department. One of them asked me as I was passing in the hallway if I might be able to make a boat they could use for instruction before and after pool class for their elementary students; looking to fill that time with some related instruction...and fun.

So I had great fun in the afternoon working out a large drawing of a rowboat that I thought they might adhere to the wall or that I might be able to render on the tile floor with tape; using it to teach port/starboard, etc.
Then I got thinking about other cross-curricular images that might be appropriate for that age group while waiting for pool in that hallway. How about fish? In particular fish that they might catch in our area. I found some wonderful images at a NYSDEC Flickr page.

I made a Keynote slide show of about 20 of them.
Then I took some images of the pool hallway, and made a mock-up of what it might look like using the reduced fish images with the backgrounds removed (hurray Instant Alpha!).
I used these images when I talked to the P.E. staff; suggesting they might focus on fish identification (same & different, attention to detail) as well as measurement and estimating (I incorporated a ruler in one image).

We decided we would try images taped to the wall as a starter, and consider images more permanently modge-podged to the wall if the idea has merit.

Whether the idea flies or not, what IS instructive about this is the "no-harm-in-asking" a colleague about collaboration; it's not - do my work for me, it's - lets leverage our vision and talents to make something special for kids.

How trust, discovery, and proto-typing works

"Mr. DeVona, do you have an X-acto and cutting board?"
"Here you go. Here's a straight edge, too...and a bigger board.

"Mr. DeVona, do you have a piece of foam core board?"
"Will this half-piece do?"

"Mr. DeVona, do you have a hot-glue gun?"
"Here's a new one just out of the box."

"Mr. DeVona, Do you have any electrical tape?"
"Will duct tape do you?

"Mr. DeVona, what to you think my box fan?"
"Cool. Can I use it by my computer ?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Space Flight Chronology

This 30-foot tape/chart appeared in the science hallway this morning. I just had to get it on video to share. Nice job Mr. B.!

Also visited their class to congratulate them on their effort and to drop off two library books of interest: The Space Shuttle Operator's Manual and Leaving Orbit: notes from the last days of American spaceflight.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Libraries as Academic Innovation Centers

     Every time I read “academic innovation center” (AIC) in this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, I saw “librarian.” While the piece discusses the role of AICs at the college level, the problems they seek to solve, the technology and instructional innovation they cultivate, and the collaboration that is their hallmark, seems a role for librarians at our level to assume, if they don’t already.

      An AIC (at least the one reviewed at Michigan State) “blends interdepartmental collaboration, academic technology, and new forms of pedagogy” to analyze instructional practice and design improved ones. It is not necessarily supposed to lead change, but to be the catalyst. It is in the business of convening stakeholders, encouraging open-minded proposals rooted in scholarship, and most importantly being a real agent for helping to improve student engagement and success.

      As I think of our district; the number of students on academic support and the degree of their classroom engagement, the idea of an in-house AIC with a librarian as the hub, holds out the promise of being a workable vehicle, however modest, to broker the expectations of administration, the frustrations of teachers, and the possibilities of instructional design.

    Perhaps no other professional on staff is better positioned to integrate collaboration, instruction, technology, and innovation than the school librarian. Plus, I think we are viewed/respected as being not exclusively allied with any of those factions; giving us agency to facilitate discussion, expect professionalism, and represent the high road to student opportunity.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Exhibit Curator

My exhibit remarks for a wonderful student art show in our library.

The path/web/adventure of reading

I'm pushing it with this long excerpt from an interview with author Philip Roth from this weekend's New York Time's Book Review, but it is such a wonderful illustration of an engaging, hungry, tolerant mind following the intellectual links revealed in the course of reading, reading, reading.

"I seem to have veered off course lately and read a heterogeneous collection of books. I’ve read three books by Ta-Nehisi Coates, the most telling from a literary point of view, “The Beautiful Struggle,” his memoir of the boyhood challenge from his father. From reading Coates I learned about Nell Irvin Painter’s provocatively titled compendium “The History of White People.” Painter sent me back to American history, to Edmund Morgan’s “American Slavery, American Freedom,” a big scholarly history of what Morgan calls “the marriage of slavery and freedom” as it existed in early Virginia. Reading Morgan led me circuitously to reading the essays of Teju Cole, though not before my making a major swerve by reading Stephen Greenblatt’s “The Swerve,” about the circumstances of the 15th-century discovery of the manuscript of Lucretius’ subversive “On the Nature of Things.” This led to my tackling some of Lucretius’ long poem, written sometime in the first century B.C.E., in a prose translation by A. E. Stallings. From there I went on to read Greenblatt’s book about “how Shakespeare became Shakespeare,” “Will in the World.” How in the midst of all this I came to read and enjoy Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, “Born to Run,” I can’t explain other than to say that part of the pleasure of now having so much time at my disposal to read whatever comes my way invites unpremeditated surprises."


The over-the-weekend analytics for my Smore newsletter (last post) illustrate how long viewers spent on the site and where they logged in from (had one from Seattle and a handful from France also). Cool. Unfortunately, out of 47 "hits," none from A-town, yet.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Thursday, January 18, 2018



The recent School Library Connection mentioned VideoAnt in one of its articles. It is a site that enables you to annotate online videos and share that product with others to view or annotate further. I can imagine several uses for it in the classroom. Here is my test sample to view.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Mash Up

The new issue of School Library Connection had a photo that got me going this morning: a QR code on a book-cover linking to a review.
To pilot  the idea, I grabbed some book trailers from the excellent school library site at Union-Endicott. Then I made up some graphics/bookmarks with QR codes.

I posted it above a display of the books and on a lobby window of our library.
Will see if this generates interest???

Fits in your pocket. Fits in your life.

Hoping to ease high school students "back into the routine of reading" with a selection of 75 Orca Sounding books that I selected for Mrs. Dwyer's reluctant HS readers a year ago. I used the tag line "fits in your pocket, fits in your life" in my email to HS students. I included a bibliography with book summaries in the email.
Also made a Topic Wall Tab on my catalog home page (which I wish I could link directly to; rather than to just the home page, in general) :

Thursday, January 11, 2018

My Day

Paused to read a NYTimes obituary about Eugene V. Thaw whose Thaw Collection anchors the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown.

Emailed a note to HS students with a link to my Martin Luther King Jr. video, encouraging them to reflect on the day (someone came by to borrow the book that I read from!).

Posted a downloadable 2011 Afton Yearbook to the Archive section of our library site after a former student stopped by looking for a copy earlier in the week. Many thanks to ACS Tech Support for getting my scanner up and running yesterday so that I could do the job.

Combined clips in iMovie from footage I took yesterday at our Heart Saver Hero Assembly to create an event video for posting. Forward a link to administration for approval.

Noticed an article in the NYTimes about the health effects of too much device screen time on children. Forwarded a PDF to our Tech Committee along with a link to Alone Together, mentioned in the piece.

Began converting some 1992 VHS tapes of Girls Varsity Basketball games to MP4 format.

Helped a student locate a book she had borrowed and read in the past; using it as the basis for a scholarship essay!