Friday, March 15, 2019

My compression/tension bridge/book display

Plus, I really like this bridge resource from the National Building Museum: especially the critical-thinking exercise/scenarios for justifying which bridge-type might be best for a certain circumstance.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Not the cloud. The ocean.

Very cool NY Times photo-essay about trans-oceanic cabling that enables our demand for Internet bandwidth. And notably, how four corporate content-providers now lease or control over half of that bandwidth. Some very gritty technology too!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Art/Library Redux

The cover article in the February 15th Chronicle of Higher Education is about a pilot curriculum at James Madison University that reads and reminds me very much of our 10-week Art/Library classes in years past when middle school students determined and scheduled a group project (ex. - contact and survey all the Aftons in the US, created designs to supplement a school building project, etc.), researched information through interviews, articles, and surveys, and ultimately presented their findings/prototypes in a public forum. Basically, content was "the excuse" to dicover and apply a host of skills. It was like allowing and guiding a start-up corporation; learning and practicing skills as they became necessary, coming together to report-out and assess progress and dead-ends, and practicing "how to get things done" in the real world.

In practical terms, JMU students are expected to read widely and interview extensively — as many as 50 people over the course of the semester, including those from the groups they’re helping and from related organizations, fields, and industries. That exploration will, ideally, equip them to clearly define the problem they want to tackle, come up with possible solutions, then create prototypes and test them out. Throughout the semester they will also take detailed notes on their readings and their ideas so that the information can be turned over to their community partners at the end of the semester.

Becoming a facilitator, ceding classroom direction but maintaining expectations, recognizing incremental creativity and initiative, and keeping it real are the challenges at JMU as they were at ACS. It takes practice to foment an atmosphere where failure and misdirection begin to be recognized as pathways to understanding and growth.

Nice to know it is happening somewhere ... and with the same bottom line:

"It wasn’t so much about the grade you’re getting, but it’s about being able to think in a whole new way," says McLucas, who plans to continue her work after graduation with the nonprofit in Virginia Beach where she was a volunteer. "There was no right answer. Some of them were bad and some of them were good. The main thing was there wasn’t an answer the professor was trying to lead me to."

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Everyone is invited

I have enjoyed my morning on this "snow day" from school by slowly reading my way through The Best American Poetry 2018, Dana Gioia, editor. It is a thoughtful birthday gift and and an inspiring read. As always, I underline poignant passages and circle page numbers in the Table of Contents of my favorites ( this time through).

And as always, I only read the Foreward and Introducrion, if at all, when I am done. Glad I did.

Gioia' s essay tried to get a handle on the state of poetry in our culture in this time. His observations on its variety, it's avenues of outreach, the rebirth of spoken poetry through performance and video, and the democratization of its voice and residencies was so encouraging to me; even as I think of our own "coffee houses" at ACS. His words are good kick in the pants as I urge myself to stand up more for reading and literature.

"All styles are possible, all approaches open, and everyone is invited."

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Student orientation

What more

Before the first bell this morning, a high school student returned a book that he had borrowed yesterday on my recommendation and read overnight. He said it was the first book in a long time that had brought him to tears.

I am golden for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

DDD: a history

About reading

Inspired by our Reading Counts campaign; especially after interview some amazing readers for a video this morning! I posted this bulletin board soon after. The "list" is my 10-year Recent Reads from the sidebar on the right of this blog.

Monday, February 4, 2019

February Coffee House

Working up my stuff for our February Coffee House:
* Let me know about typos!

Or maybe this:

Thursday, January 31, 2019


A brittle January sun
streams in the window
striking the limp tea bag
atop the ash log
standing by the firebox, like me.
It glows and steams,
seeping weak red
into dry white.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019



     We have several volumes from the Library of America in our school library collection. I also have some in my personal library; namely, the multi-volume set about the Civil War. It was that introduction to the Library of America that humbled me with its breadth of authors, diaries, official correspondence, and every other literary form to paint for myself the enormous canvas of that historical moment; charging me to sort out bias, awakening me to intimate and enormous revelations, and challenging me to distill some perspective and wisdom from its great complexity. After reading it, I felt a more worthy citizen of my country.

    Now, thanks to the book exchange at our recent Winter Coffeehouse, I have been reading World War I and America from the same publisher. And again, I am in the thick of America 100 years ago; measuring the motives and heartbreak of eye-witnesses, listening to familiar bombast from orators, and being humbled and carried away by voices I have never heard speak before.

    I was moved by the unforgiving poetry of Mary Borden, by the sense of helplessness of consul Leslie Davis unable to stem the extermination of Armenians, by Jane Addams, Carrie Chapman Carr, and Jessie Redmon Fauset, dissenting voices, reminding our citizens of human right short-comings at home. And Edith Wharton, touring the battlefields and open country, caught between the horrors of battle and the “beauty” of the amassed regimental machinery, as only a literary author can bring to life.

    Hope was hard to come by in that world of disillusionment. The sheer variety of texts illustrate the great knot of perspectives and agendas that they all struggled within and that they watched unravel before their eyes.

Reading counts

I enjoyed meeting with our Elementary Librarian yesterday and brainstorming on some school projects that we can collaborate on: Seuss Day, Poetry Month, (and this morning) Reading Counts*! So excited I got right to drafting some materials for it. We hope to create some video or other digital record of the responses.
* A kick in the pants by Maria Popova helped too!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Medallion: a reader/maker connection

A prototype off our 3D Printrbot; a customized medallion for Elementary Library reading recognition later in the year.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Power of Reading

(Thank you, RAD!)

Friday morning

So my every-day sixth grader who walks to school and stops by the library every morning in his boots and snowpants to borrow his daily ration of four Manga books (he has read my collection through at least three times!) borrowed also yesterday this new Alexander Hamilton graphic novel.

So I say to him this morning," Did you get to the Hamilton book?"

Whereupon he begins to spills every fact and nuance of Hamilton's life: banks, court battles, war battles, the duel, his son's duel, his wounds, his age at death , his wife's life beyond his ... everything; even to the regret and pathos in his voice. Our discussion and exchange of "did you know(s)" was lively and mutual and authentic.

If one ever needed a testimonial to the legitimacy of nonfiction graphic novels (do YOU?) to engage, transport, and inspire young readers, this was it.

Thanks AH.

Thursday, January 24, 2019


Made some bookmarks/shelfmarkers with #hashtags. Will give it a go.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Public pride

Tickled to see that one of few menu links at the Afton Free Library home page is for Afton Historical Minutes; the database of weekly articles by Charles J. Decker that our library curated, scanned and posted at the Internet Archive. Proud.

P.S. Learned from one of their board members at our coffeehouse last night that they recently had part of their Afton Yearbook collection digitized! Cool.

Our Winter Coffeehouse

Had a swell turnout at our Winter Coffeehouse last night; teachers, non-instructional staff, community members, retirees, alumni, and walk-ins from Open Pool Night! It ran from 6:30 to 8;30, but we were still talking at 9:30. Plan to do it again in February and March.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Snow trek

So I'm closing in on the climax of Dan Simmons's arctic novel, The Terror. I am sharing the exhaustion, hunger, and perseverance of their four year ordeal for survival against the elements and "terror" of that desperate world; in the pit of our own January, no less.

It was with some relief that I stumbled an article in WIRED magazine about an upcoming Antarctic expedition featuring a nifty 3D built and solar powered vehicle, the Solar Voyager. Plus, I like the one of their text subtitles:

Test. Fail. Learn.

Monday, January 14, 2019

My Day

Printed, cut, and displayed two 17x20 posters for Thursday's library coffeehouse.

Sent an email reminder to HS students, staff, and non-instuctional employee about the coffeehouse; with a link to my video about it.

Curated a selection of student artwork; exhibiting them on endcaps and our foyer bulletin board.

Shared a NYT article about "reading the classics" with a HS ELA teacher.

Posted a notice from our Adult Education director to the school's home page.

Helped 7th grade Tech students manipulate their poster designs to PDFs, move them to a share folder, and trim them for taping.

Hosted the Anime Club the last period of the day; leading a discussion to help them determine a focus and purpose. Shared a NYT article with them about a famous Anime director.

Moved Poetry magazines, Yearbooks, and magnetic word bookends to display venues for Thursday night.

Analyzed a student's TinkerCad design: enjoyed his on-the-fly changes and willingness to to adapt his design multiple times.

Listened to a HS student's insightful and questioning discussion of Neal Shusterman's Scythe.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


Although this event will be only one small (warm) ripple in school events, I cannot help but think that the thought and skills behind my campaign to #getthewordout would provide a fine internship for an upper level student inasmuch as it leverages writing, design, and the flexibility of digital resources to a purpose; in this case a casual event, but a also perfect fit for sharing a research project.

First, I designed a poster that went through 3 or 4 versions. Once created as a document, I made image and PDF versions of it that became handbills, postcards, email graphics and tabletop displays.

Next, I composed a signed invitation letter to for staff mailboxes. This also went through several edits to get the tone and purpose focused. I composed two versions; one for MS/HS, one for Elementary.
I then created a more contemporary version of the information as Keynote slides, which I exported as images. These became tabletop displays, posters and mini-posters, as well as my screensaver, and foyer flatscreen display.

Then I wrote a script for a short video about what a coffeehouse is. I posted on our website so that I can email the link to students.

In all, it has been an exercise in determining who my audiences are, creating prideful initial documents that I can then output in a variety of formats to become digital and print resourcs that help build engagement for the event.

Imagine a student preparing a research project to share and not just settling for one format, but flexing the digital possibilities with a few extra keystrokes to become so much more.

battle-sweat and bone-houses

Enjoyed this NYT Magazine article on the virtues and possibilities of Old English; especially the of kenning; the mashing of two nouns to create a new one (blood / bodies). It reminds me of Robert Penn Warren inventing words when he need one.

1/10/19 P.S. Cool beans! I dropped off a copy of this article to our MS ELA teacher this morning and he said they had just been looking at antique compound words!

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Sketchbook Project

I am so tickled that my children have invited me to participate in the Brooklyn Museum's Sketchbook Project! I received my sketchbook yesterday and can't wait to get started. My completed sketchbook will be added to the museum's collection of over 41,000 sketchbooks!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

"They Shall Not Grow Old"

Got chills watching this trailer. Looks like a well done thing:


A MakerSpace student co-opted the throw-away printer-drum-protector from a photocopier repair the other day into a snowplow blade for his Mindstorm vehicle; seeing in one object the possibility of another. Cool!