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.

Making the Jump to Elearning Due to COVID-19 and Don’t Know Where to Begin? Start Here!

To Secondary and Higher Education friends in the midst of a quick transition to elearning due to COVID-19: If you find yourself at a loss as to where to even begin with the transition, allow me to offer a starting … Continue reading

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eLearning Content Trends

Link to post: A short list of some key trends for elearning content development. I would add (and perhaps this goes without saying by this point in time) that it all needs to work well on mobile devices to … Continue reading

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New: Google Drive Priority Workspaces

See video demonstration at the end of this post:

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Discussion: Best Bluetooth Earpiece for Computer and Phone

I’m looking for a bluetooth earpiece (preferably single ear, but stereo possibly if the second earpiece can be left out / hanging) to use for both virtual teaching on a Windows 10 computer and with an Android phone. The bluetooth … Continue reading

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Temporarily Free on Amazon: “Michael Payne (A Squirrel Hill High Short Story)”

This is a tie in to Mister Teacher Person that explores the backstory of one of that novel’s key characters.

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A Virtual Teaching Goal for the 2019-2020 School Year

This school year, in my virtual classroom, I would like to incorporate more student screen sharing into live class sessions. When I’ve had students share their screens in the past years, it went a long way toward replicating that feeling … Continue reading

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Virtual Classroom Routine for Teaching Creative Writing

One successful routine I use at the beginning of my live Creative Writing virtual class sessions is centered around the following graphic: The key point of the graphic is, in essence, ‘To write better, write more.’ Toward the beginning of … Continue reading

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Method developed to ‘predict people’s personalities’ using phone accelorometers – ZDNet

“There are applications for this technology in social media with friend recommendations, online dating matches, and targeted advertising, but I think the most exciting part is what we can learn about ourselves,” lead study author and RMIT PhD student Nan … Continue reading

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Facebook lost control of our data and is paying a record $5 billion fine – CNET

The settlement also imposes other privacy requirements, including greater oversight over third-party apps and “clear and conspicuous notice” of its use of facial recognition. Facebook must also encrypt user passwords and regularly check for any passwords stored in plain text. … Continue reading

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It’s not that hard to unmask real people in anonymous data, researchers warn – CNET

By using just 15 demographic attributes and a bit of machine learning, researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Louvain said “99.98% of Americans would be correctly re-identified in any dataset.” The researchers said their work shows that … Continue reading

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