Working through COVID with fresh batch of creativity each morning.

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Tony Arkani, a sprightly junior has the gift of biting repartee that cuts through a slab of high school cynicism. Tony, by the way, isn’t his real name. (I mistakenly called him that on the first day of class; he didn’t mind.) His other essential ingredient is a self-deprecating humor which comes handy when he weighs in on issues where he expects push-back: racism, face masks, privacy. Each morning Tony sits propped up against my classroom wall waiting for me to open the door. It’s barely 6:30 am. He’s on a roll. His gangly feet protrude into the hallway, but…

Break things. Try things. Everything is figureoutable.

Ten years ago when I began teaching, the onslaught of personal tech had already begun. The iPod arrived on the scene in January 2001. That same month teachers were looking cross-eyed over the ‘encyclopedia anyone could edit’ — Wikipedia. Remember that time?

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‘Ed-Tech’ was the buzzword du jour in schools alongside teaching and learning acronyms for such as PLEs and MOOCs. Smart boards nudged their way into our classes. There was also another tiny little device many of us teachers latched onto — smart phones. …

Of course we can teach when we’re forced off the grid.

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There’s a palpable buzz in a high school, the week leading up to prom. Posters for Spirit week line the hallways. That week, students came dressed as Disney characters. Seniors were whispering indiscreetly about their upcoming prank. But that morning, the Internet died.

Life goes into a holding pattern when this sort of thing happens, especially in a computer lab. However I take such moments as an opportunity and turn to the next best thing, a Socratic discussion. Being forced off the grid is a teachable moment, to talk…

The kids are reading and writing again. The question is why?

Please inform the authorities — there’s an outbreak of writing in school. I suspect it’s contagious. Even those language deniers are catching it. I’ve tried separating them — the non-fiction types who write about pets, planets and Photoshop, from those writing about murder mysteries and sci-fi. But it’s not working. They’re huddled in the student union during lunch break breathing in the same particles of plot and narrative. The writers’ disease, also known as storytelling, is spreading.

Full disclosure: I work in a lab and one of the specimens…

How does Stanley Milgram’s ‘obedience to authority’ experiment inform Classical Education?

Yale University Manuscripts and Archives

We learn so much from our students, though we seldom give them credit for it. Just today, while reviewing their eBook assignment, which required using fonts with ‘personality’ I noticed one of them had figured out how to apply a gradient to a font. I never knew this was possible.

Over the past ten years of teaching, I have come to appreciate even more the idea of how knowledge is not something one pours into people’s minds, but something we transact. The classical education model that places Truth, Beauty and Goodness needs to be probed and unpacked every minute of…

Finding that lede amid the scramble for a story.

She worked in the belly of the beast as a reporter— in Washington DC — covering the Trump White House; a short internship that made Theresa Smith, now a teacher, privy to the frenetic competition for stories amid the clamor in the James Brady briefing room.

Podcast from Benjamin Franklin High School

In this interview, and podcast I asked her what she learned from such an experience — what lessons could I pass on to my students in writing and publishing? After all, she was the proverbial fly-on-the-wall! (Standing by the door, right of the person holding up a camera…

Research links his family right to the man behind the Mayflower

Picture: Kenneth C. Zirkel, Wikimedia Commons

Ancestral research has vastly benefited from our access to databases around the world. Even if there is no database on one’s family line, the Internet helps us connect the dots.

In this podcast, I talk to a Steve DesGeorges, an indefatigable researcher who’s been digging up the past because of a conversation he overheard as a child. His grandfather in a heated moment at the dinner table told his dad, “Don’t you forget we were the first people to set foot on American soil.” To which his dad, who had a Pueblo bloodline retorted, “And we were her to…

We become vectors of a new disease we also loathe.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

D o you find yourself yelling at the evening news on TV because it’s packed with filler stories? I’m sure the bias we have also learned to spot also triggers a similar response. But non-news? A few days ago NBC Nightly News featured a story about an eight-year old girl who broke a record for — get this — selling Girl Scout cookies. …

You never know the unintended consequences of installing a ‘Little Free Library.’ If you’ve never heard of this it’s a tiny box shaped like a little birdhouse outside homes and on street corners, with books for the taking — no library card needed.

The idea was born in a class discussion on reading and research, in 2019. I mentioned the idea and two students took up the gauntlet and said they’d like to start one. Of course I agreed, and so did my school. Let’s face it. A library in schools is not as frequented as, say, the gym…

The US continues to call the country Burma, even while the Associated Press uses the name Myanmar. Why the hesitance? One theory is that the name change from Burma was a change of the nameplate so-to-speak; a linguistic sleight of hand since internally it means the same thing. The other is that it’s inconvenient to acknowledge the name that was changed by a group that isn’t playing by the rules.

Take this bland statement by the US Department of State:

The United States supports a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Burma that respects the human rights of all its people. …

Angelo Fernando

Computer and Technology teacher, author, tech columnist, workshop facilitator, marketing strategist, podcaster, robotics coach.

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