Friday, October 18, 2019

Virtual/Actual shelf-browse, sort of

Figure I'll email HS students images of selected shelves to encourage some virtual-to-actual shelf browsing. Here is my SciFi stack!
Or maybe bookmarks:

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Engaging history with Portraits

I followed up on a Syracuse Stage postcard I received; leading me to Robert Shetterly's portrait project, Americans Who tell the Truth. Although he is basically looking to sell us something, the concept of rendering a portrait, that close reading, as a first step in discovering and investigating an "historic" person holds real promise for a classroom project. I see there are some lesson plans posted. I look forward to brainstorming on this a bit more, maybe even doing some of our own "historic" students, alumni, etc.

From reading

Every couple of months, my wife's friend gives us a small pile of New Yorker magazines. They make a fine nice night's browsing and reading; cartoons, poems, book reviews, articles.

A few weeks ago, I was going through a recent stack and read a poem by an author I did not know. The poem was, Claude Monet, "The Artist's Garden at Vetheuil, 1880", by Ciaran Carson. I really liked it. In fact, I hopped on Thriftbooks and ordered two of his books, blindly.

I have been reading his prose book, Fishing for Amber; alternating essay/chapters of pub myths and Annie Dillard-like esoteric dives into nuggets of the world. Frankly, I have been skipping the pub stories and deeply enjoying, and quoting, the others - all of them loosely connected like Nabakov coincidences.

So he's writing at length about marigolds, Genus calendula in Latin: colors, medicinal properties, etc. And that word, the sound of it, rings a bell. It was my Aunt Clara's "real" name, her Italian name, Calendula. So she was Marigold. Which, poignantly, was the affectionate name my caretaker/brother called my Mom, Marijane, when they were joshing - Marigold.

And then yesterday in the Sunday New York Times an obituary for Ciaran Carson. Of course, his words and books remain, but there is something of the passing serendipitous stranger in this (perhaps one you might meet in a pub), one who you meet once, but who somehow touches you deeply, changes you in an intimate way.

And so, I keep reading.

Monday, October 7, 2019

This is News for you. I mean it.

My video introducing ad-free unlimited access to the New York Times from our school network!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

A physics-based look at the Johnstown Flood

Some one had been reading about the Johnstown Flood and left David McCullough's fine book on one of our library tables. I remember being enthralled as I read it years ago. It prompted me to see if there were any 3D geographic renderings of it online.
I was delighted to find this "physics-based simulation of it:

Monday, September 30, 2019

Spirit Week

Began making some sport photo-collages for my Spirit Week bulletin board.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

New York Times access for ACS

I have forwarded the particulars of this NYT/Verizon offer to our Tech Team. If it passes muster there and with administration, it will provide a powerful resource for teaching and learning at ACS. Exciting news.

In conversation

"We should all take a Hardship Class where we learn about hardships all over the world."

Getting into it, for $200

Doing my Alex Trebek for PBIS Jeopardy today period K!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


I don’t know about you, but I expect, at least occasionally, to gain some insights into my world; either through people I meet, experiences I have, or by allowing myself time for reflection.

For me, all three can happen when I read a book. Sometimes it happens when I read two in a row that I thought had nothing to do with each other. That happened this Summer.

After 40 years, I re-read Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. It is a book my wife shared with my soon after we were married and it hit me like few others have. Not only is it gorgeously written, and intellectually rich, but the author’s curiosity and profound awakening to what was miraculously transpiring in the natural world at her feet inspired my life-long awareness of the incremental and particular world that is mine - right here in Afton, even.

It was her wonderment at the unimaginable inventiveness, immense complexity, and sheer fecundity of nature’s engine at work that awed her and transformed me.

Transformed me.

After re-reading that, I turned to a bucket-list book; Ovid’s The Metamorphoses - written 2000 years ago ( I have enduring weak spot for reading “first stories.’) It is a series of linked story/myths rooted in the appetites, foibles, and indifference of the gods as they muck around with human lives and their own eternal ones transforming, through confrontations and kindnesses, the world into its myriad varieties. The metamorphoses.

Like Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, it is rich with the serendipitous, unbelievable, and often heartless “change” that is our world. Not only seeking to “explain” how that variety came to be (mostly through vengeful wrath) , but by sobering us to how unplanned, accidental, and out-of-our-hands this tumultuous but beautiful life of ours is.

Two writers. Two eras. Both trying to get a handle on why beauty and purpose emerge in a world that seems both indifferent and incidental, yet persistently dear and our own.


Switched out my key fob today.  Made 'em both.

"I don't know what to write."

A colleague shared this rich resource from the New York Times: hundreds of themed writing prompts for personal and narrative writing. A great tool for those who think they are uninspired.
Screenshot from The New York Times:

Monday, September 23, 2019

Reacting to the Past

I was led to this site by an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. "Reacting" is a role-playing curriculum at the college level to promote engagement with big ideas, employ collaborative skills, and inhabit the historical moment in all its context. Although it might not fly at the HS level, the idea of immersing students in the dynamics of an historical moment by having them be historical characters in it sounds awfully good. Perhaps a good PD visit for one of our staff.

What the poets know

This article in the NYT takes a look at the earning of STEM majors versus Liberal Arts majors over time. It states that out of the gate STEM students earn more, but that by the 40-year mark,  LA students show faster growth; nearly matching or surpassing computer and engineering majors. This is attributed to the Liberal Arts fostering "soft skills" like problem-solving, written communication, critical thinking, and the ability to work in a team; which have long-run value as workers move into higher-paying management and administrative roles.

This is an important perspective to keep in mind as we sometimes leap at the latest teaching/learning trend that appears to pipeline our students to "success."

Friday, September 20, 2019

Blue & Gold

Forgot to wear my Homecoming gold/yellow shirt, so ...

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Leveraging rocks

The identity rocks that our K-12 painted together are looking great at the school entrance.
I made a composite David Hockney-esque long poster from their image and am using it to support some school initiatives; like attendance.

Installed outside the Elementary Office!
Cutting out a bunch of individual rock messages to post also.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Math challenge

Can I find a way to "display" math? Going to try some end-cap questions.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


I was flipping through our Picturing America posters and started reading about artist Jacob Lawrence’s series recounting the northward migration of blacks in the 1920s. He and his family were themselves part of that migration.

This Phillips Collection site hosts images of all 60 captioned panels that he painted. (He wrote the captions before he painted the works.) I believe the progression of captioned images might be a valuable teaching aid illustrating first-hand perspective of that moment in history or as a comparison to current migration issues. It might also inspire some alternative examples for students to demonstrate their understanding/perspective on history and current events.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Friday, September 13, 2019

Rockin' the Garden

Going to try to extend the lesson of our school-wide rock-painting experience by incorporating them into some hallway posters.

Where am I?

Starting out the first week with some orientation, as they say. The two enter maps are part of our archives, but do the job better than any other I can find for New York counties and Chenango County townships. I remember my mother-in-law (Afton Class of '35) telling how they had to know and be able recite the townships of Chenango County.

How can you contribute to the world if you don't know where you, in fact, are?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Opening displays

Our 9/11 display of original print news coverage.
Our foyer flat-screen featuring a slide show of some of our new arrivals (and a link to our ACS ebooks).
We moved our growing Graphic Novel collection to a primo spot by our entrance!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Spreading the word(s)

My PBIS group really got into during our 20-minute end-of-the-day session. They worked in spontaneous small teams to tape some meaningful words to the library floor for all students to reflect on. We think it should be as easy to act on these words as it was to slap them on the floor!

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)