Author Archives: JMVarnerBooks

About JMVarnerBooks

With the days of international travel behind him, J. M. Varner now exercises his language skills in his English classroom and on the page. A second life as an author affords him another way to encourage his students and fans to read, write, and think independently. Borrowing terms from noted media critic Neil Postman, Mr. Varner summarizes his 'Philosophy of Fiction': "Writing a novel is a creative process of World Building and Word Weaving. Authors build worlds in our minds; these can be fantastical worlds or fictionalized variations of our own reality. By writing and rewriting, we weave these worlds into words on the page." Mr. Varner is currently writing the next novel in the "Squirrel Hill High" series, a series launched with the debut novel, "Digital Me". Set in a fictional high school located in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at Squirrel Hill High students and teachers live through true-to-life drama in the emotionally charged environment of the American high school.

Squirrel Hill Magazine Interview

My interview with Meg Cummings for Squirrel Hill Magazine has been published: Author J.M. Varner Sets High School Novels in Squirrel Hill [PDF]   Advertisements

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Blended Learning: 2 Week Reflection

After reading Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools this summer for professional development, I decided to expand on 1.5 years of experimentation in my English classroom with edtech and Google Apps for Education (GAFE) and take a more structured approach to … Continue reading

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Recommended Reading: Modern China

Three excellent books for understanding modern China: The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man’s Fight for Justice and Freedom in China, by Chen GuangCheng — A very accessible and engaging first-person autobiographical novel that tells the story of a blind man from … Continue reading

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Learning Chinese 301: Vocabulary Building

It’s time to work on building up some Chinese vocabulary.  A very nice set of Chinese vocabulary lists grouped by word/phrase complexity (and prepared as study lists for the HSK exam) can be found HERE.  Individual lists with definitions, ordered in increasing … Continue reading

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Learning Chinese 201: Repetition and Dialogue

Two helpful practices in getting an ear for the sound of a new language are Repetition and Dialogue. Repetition: One great way to practice listening Repetition is by listening to music in the target language.  While listening to music in … Continue reading

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Learning Chinese 101: Word Sounds (BoPoMoFo)

When learning Mandarin Chinese, it’s helpful to start by learning the set of sounds used in the language.  The set of sounds used in Mandarin Chinese is often referred to as BoPoMoFo for the four initial sounds in this standard sequence. … Continue reading

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Tech Tips: YouTube, Distraction-free

Have you ever wanted to play YouTube videos without all of the clutter that appears around and beneath the video on a standard YouTube video playback page?  Well, YouTube actually makes it possible to do this with only a little … Continue reading

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