“I want to make a poem of my life.”


“I want to make a poem of my life.”

Mishima knew that life should not be “poetry written with a splash of blood,” but an anthology of verse–and a collaborative work.

“I want to make an anthology of my life,” lacks ring, but rings true. A life well-led is a collection of sonnets, senryu, cinquains, haiku, free-verse, rap, ballads, limericks and many, many elegies and odes. Many elegies and odes.

A cursory inspection of Mishima’s works will tell you that he disagreed. He decried our age as one that lacked heroic death and, in writing, scorned characters who are “…guaranteed a long life…[…]..suited for coupon clipping. Nothing more.” But a closer look reveals that only his characters yearned “to die young—and if possible free of all pain [,…for…] a graceful death—as a richly patterned kimono, thrown carelessly across a polished table, slides unobtrusively down into the darkness of the floor beneath. A death marked by elegance.”

Mishima the man, on the other hand, understood the attraction of the mundane, if not the mediocre, and when of himself, revealed its appeal to him:

“The highest point at which human life and art meet is in the ordinary. To look down on the ordinary is to despise what you can’t have. Show me a man who fears being ordinary, and I’ll show you a man who is not yet a man.”

In his most autobiographical work (although I would argue that the Sea of Fertility rivals Confessions of a Mask in this regard) he reveals quite clearly, and tragic-comedically, that:

“What I wanted was to die among strangers, untroubled, beneath a cloudless sky….my desire differed from the sentiments of that ancient Greek who wanted to die under the brilliant sun. What I wanted was some natural, spontaneous suicide. I wanted a death like that of a fox, not yet well versed in cunning, that walks carelessly along a mountain path and is shot by a hunter because of its own stupidity…”

Mishima was not heroic or ordinary: he walked the sword’s edge between the two, and the pain of being neither, of being unable to choose either, bled him for forty-five years. He was simultaneously “critically ill for the sake of love” and “preparing himself for the grave demands of reality.”

He was, a perfect distiller of the poignance of existence. He possessed what he called the special quality of Hell: “to see everything to its last detail.”To wit: life filtered through the lens of his pen is etched in shadows of the “bright disk of the sun soaring up and exploding behind our eyelids.”

“One of the snowflakes blew in and lodged itself on Kiyoaki’s eyebrow. It made Satoko cry out, and without thinking it made Kiyoaki turn toward her as he felt a cold trickle on his eyelid. She closed her eyes abruptly. Kiyoaki stared at the face with its closed lids; only the subdued crimson of her lips glowed in the shadows, and because of the swaying of the rickshaw, her features, like a flower held between trembling fingertips, were softly blurred.

…Kiyoaki now realized that a fanatical insistence on total independence was a disease, not of the flesh, but of the mind.”

Like many of us, what he realized through his work, he was unable to effect in his life. It seems that to himself as audience, his words “like inscriptions cut into stone exposed to the weather, fell from his mind, flake by flake.”

Perhaps we will meet him again, beneath the falls.

Mishima Study

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine. –Farewell Seamus Heaney

seamus_heaney-cropSeamus Heaney died today, burdening my thoughts with a coherent if distant misery. “Whatever you say, say nothing” is my favorite poem by Heaney, dense like musty strata in peat, a reliquary of troubled unknowns unearthed in a reading of its layers.

“Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine,” is an Irish saying that translates literally as “People live in each other’s shadows.” Meaning, we are shielded from the sun by each other, we rely on each other for shelter. People need each other. Heaney’s work resonates with this notion–although various images (peat, bogs, farms, birds, heards/herds) from various “Norths” provide the backdrop for his work, his work was fixed upon the journalists and the naturalists, the farmers and the politicians, the Prods and the Papes and all the wily Greeks whispering morse and more, aere perennius. 

I have also added videos in which Heaney and others addressed life, death and rebirth through his work. I hope it brings newcomers to rest beneath his shadow. 

Whatever you say, say nothing


I’m writing just after an encounter
With an English journalist in search of ‘views
On the Irish thing’.
I’m back in winter quarters where bad news is no longer news,
Where media-men and stringers sniff and point,
Where zoom lenses, recorders and coiled leads
Litter the hotels. The times are out of joint
But I incline as much to rosary beads
As to the jottings and analyses
Of politicians and newspapermen
Who’ve scribbled down the long campaign from gas
And protest to gelignite and sten,
Who proved upon their pulses ‘escalate’,
‘Backlash’ and ‘crack down’, ‘the provisional wing’,
‘Polarization’ and ‘long-standing hate’?
Yet I live here, I live here too, I sing,
Expertly civil tongued with civil neighbours
On the high wires of first wireless reports,
Sucking the fake taste, the stony flavours
Of those sanctioned, old, elaborate retorts:
‘Oh, it’s disgraceful, surely, I agree,’
‘Where’s it going to end?’ ‘It’s getting worse.’ ‘
They’re murderers.’ ‘Internment, understandably. .
The ‘voice of sanity’ is getting hoarse.

“I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives–
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.”


Men die at hand. In blasted street and home
The gelignite’s a common sound effect:
As the man said when Celtic won, ‘The Pope of Rome’s
a happy man this night.’ His flock suspect
In their deepest heart of hearts the heretic
Has come at last to heel and to the stake.
We tremble near the flames but want no truck
With the actual firing. We’re on the make
As ever. Long sucking the hind tit
Cold as a witch’s and as hard to swallow
Still leaves us fork-tongued on the border bit:
The liberal papist note sounds hollow
When amplified and mixed in with the bangs
That shake all hearts and windows day and night.
(It’s tempting here to rhyme on ‘labour pangs’
And diagnose a rebirth in our plight
But that would be to ignore other symptoms.
Last night you didn’t need a stethoscope
To hear the eructation of Orange drums
Allergic equally to Pearse and Pope.)
On all sides ‘little platoons’ are mustering-
The phrase is Cruise O’Brien’s via that great
Backlash, Burke-while I sit here with a pestering
Drouth for words at once both gaff and bait
To lure the tribal shoals to epigram
And order. I believe any of us
Could draw the line through bigotry and sham
Given the right line, aere perennius.

“Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.”


‘Religion’s never mentioned here,’ of course.
‘You know them by their eyes,’ and hold your tongue.
‘One side’s as bad as the other,’ never worse.
Christ, it’s near time that some small leak was sprung
In the great dykes the Dutchman made
To dam the dangerous tide that followed Seamus.
Yet for all this art and sedentary trade
I am incapable. The famous
Northern reticence, the tight gag of place
And times: yes, yes. Of the ‘wee six’ I sing
Where to be saved you only must save face
And whatever you say, you say nothing.
Smoke-signals are loud-mouthed compared with us:
Manoeuvrings to find out name and school,
Subtle discrimination by addresses
With hardly an exception to the rule
That Norman, Ken and Sidney signalled Prod
And Seamus (call me Sean) was sure-fire Pape.
O land of password, handgrip, wink and nod,
Of open minds as open as a trap,
Where tongues lie coiled, as under flames lie wicks,
Where half of us, as in a wooden horse
Were cabin’d and confined like wily Greeks,
Besieged within the siege, whispering morse.

“So my friends and neighbours, let it flow:
You’ll be stood no rounds in eternity.”

Heaney’s English translation. “An bonnán buí” (Irish).


This morning from a dewy motorway
I saw the new camp for the internees:
A bomb had left a crater of fresh clay
In the roadside, and over in the trees
Machine-gun posts defined a real stockade.
There was that white mist you get on a low ground
And it was deja -vu, some film made
Of Stalag 17, a bad dream with no sound.
Is there a life before death? That’s chalked up
In Ballymurphy. Competence with pain,
Coherent miseries, a bit and sup,
We hug our little destiny again.

Poem title: “Beacons at Bealtaine”

Wendy Davis, 25 June 2013

Wendy Davis

“Lawmakers, either get out of the vagina business or go to medical school.”

Wendy Davis25 June 2013

A slide show of the day, courtesy of the Texas Tribune.


Mindsets for Modern Learning

Technology in education must be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary and invisible.

– Chris Lehman

What’s the challenge? 

As educators in the 21st Century, we want to synthesize and manage the best practices of effective traditional learning models, contemporary learning design and “oxygenated” technology use. Our ultimate goal? To create creators, inventors and discoverers: the kind of men and women who, like the student above, will explain the historico-economical theory of the world system through the metaphor of a calculus formula.

The principal goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered.

–Jean Piaget

Not every learning environment is conducive to such creative endeavors.

Our desire to create contemporary learning environments (what is commonly referred to as 21st Century Learning and what Will Richardson calls “modern learning”) is often dramatically different from our own educational experiences, at odds with student and parental visions of formal education and unsupported by our schools, boards and districts. When schools and stakeholders do encourage modern learning environments, it is too often by ill-conceived mandate with little attention paid to planning and training–and achieving informed buy-in from the teachers expected to metamorphose overnight. (For our best effort at a thoughtful process, please see our site: Instructional Technology Integration: A Comprehensive Approach). Hasty and poorly planned implementation generates skepticism and reluctance among teachers further hindering buy-in and transformation.

These challenges and their impact on the development of contemporary learning environments, skills and habits notwithstanding, many educators recognize the value of modern learning approaches and embrace them. Let’s review some of the objective benefits and obstacles to transforming teacher practice, habits, mindsets and environments to enhance student learning and foster creative growth.


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The belief that all genuine education comes about through experience does not mean that all experiences are genuinely or equally educative.

– John Dewey

Basic Understandings and Essential Questions

  • Students, and let’s be honest, all of us, have daydreamed, doodled, or otherwise not paid full attention in class or meetings long before iPads were around. However, most instructors feel that “iPad doodling” is different, more of a problem.
    • Why?
  • Many teachers feel that taking a photo of lecture notes or recording classes is not as effective as handwriting the notes.
    • Is this true? Do the benefits of handwriting outweigh the benefits of digital storage, sharing, interactivity and access?
  • Many teachers feel that students can’t learn unless they are paying attention or otherwise engaged in direct instruction. iPads and cell phones compete with teachers for students’ attention in class.
    • Is this an accurate assessment? 
  • The presence of iPads creates a physical barrier between students and the instructor. The instructor usually can’t see what the student is doing on the iPad.
    • Is this also true? If so, how do we resolve this issue?

Here are lists of additional potential benefits and obstacles to learning created within the contemporary learning environment.


When you bow to the universe, the universe bows back

– Morihei Ueshiba

Mindsets for Modern Classroom Management

We recommend positions that establish growth mindsets (and we use the term purposefully) for managing the contemporary learning environment. The mindset of the teacher must provide a model for the creative, growth mindset we want to foster in our students. Inventive interpretation, design and use of the learning environment creates a space that fosters further creativity.  A fixed learning environment results in fixed learning.

Mindset #1: See and Show the Stars

Two men look out through the same bars, 
One sees the mud, and one the stars. 
–Frederick Langbridge

Far and above the most important position teachers and learners in the modern learning environment must take is one of positive curiosity, collaboration and challenge. We recommend that teachers embrace the characteristics of Carol Dweck’s “growth mindset” profile and model that profile to their students.


Teachers who avoid the challenge of learning new technology tools and classroom interaction systems…; teachers who give up the first time Evernote erases one of their notebooks…; teachers who feel the effort they expend on learning how to screencast will be wasted or unrecognized…; teachers who get tetchy and refuse to listen when someone shows them a better way to organize their iPad screens or why Google Apps provides solutions that Managebac cannot…; teachers who grow hostile to comments about how well a colleague is running her classroom with the new technology, or annoyed by students who ask to photograph the lecture notes and add them to Evernote, “like on Ms. Smith’s class…” …are teachers who pave the way–who lay the concrete, really–for fixed mindsets among their students. As young people, our students often resist change, preferring the comfort of the familiar and lacking long-view notions of change and growth over time. Any educator who gives them an excuse to do so by refusing to adapt their practice, learn new technologies and techniques or by making statements like, “Oh, I don’t have time to learn that,” is a teacher spreading a picnic on a plateau.

On the other hand, teachers who embrace the growth mindset for the modern learning environment, exemplify confidence, free-will and continuous improvement and achievement. This is not to say that such teachers become exemplars due to their expertise and perpetual success, but that in maintaining a positive attitude in a challenging environment they motivate their students to persist in a modern world of flummox and flux.

Mindset #2 You are the Architect of your Classroom Anthropology

Getting the tech in the room is only a small step for modern-learning-kind. In fact, adding technology to a classroom without considering adapting environmental and management policies is like adding oil to water. The term “classroom anthropology” conveys that how you mold your classroom impacts the human culture within it.

  • Consider and reconsider your classroom design: Start by reflecting on how you and your students interact with the environment via your seating arrangements. Let the activities and goals determine how the students sit and how you move in the classroom.
  • Visible rules and symbols that establish the classroom as a learning environment: One of the key techniques employed at our school is the use of the Aditi Rao’s traffic signal system for grades 6-8.
    • Read a full description here.

Mindset #3: “Do As I Say & Do As I Do”

The rules you set should be the law of the class, but you should abide by them too! Also, students respect teachers who recruit them in devising the classroom social contract.

  • Set the tone & model appropriate behavior and use: If you want your students to use technology professionally, use it professionally yourself. Don’t browse when others are speaking (not even to coordinate the lesson!), make sure your device is always charged and use your device positively all the time by photographing and recording student work, conducting research on reliable websites when appropriate and using the same apps you require your students to use, like Evernote.
  • Establish accountability measures: Whenever possible, use progressive and co-created discipline plans. Students appreciate being consulted on what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate behavior, and the rewards and consequences for both. They are also far more likely to remember accountability measures that they help write. (You may note that the example grade-level goal statements I have posted here do not directly refer to technology–that harks back to the Lehman quote at the beginning of this post and the agreed-upon notion that these rules apply to all situations in class, whether devices are in use or not.)
  • Document student behavior rigorously (using technology!): At our school we use the log function on Jupitergrades to keep track of student behavior. Whenever a student exhibits inappropriate behavior, I mark it in the corresponding infraction category and briefly describe the circumstances surrounding the event. Then, at the end of the week, I send a quick automated email, which automatically highlights all of the infractions, to the student’s home. This often results in an immediate and thorough response and is one of the best ways to use the extended community to the teacher’s advantage.

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Mindset #4: Manage Mobility with Mobility

The contemporary learning environment must be dynamic and fluid both to maintain the needed level of order and to foster the desired levels of interaction, innovation and invention. Establishing order through movement may seem counterintuitive to those of us educated in an environment that attempted to achieve stability by being static, but compelling arguments have been made that encourage the use of movement, even exercise, as a learning stimulant in the classroom. (Also see this Ted-Talk on exercise and learning by Dr. John J. Ratey.)

  • Move, move, move!
    • Always keep students moving between individual work, pairwork, groupwork and whole class discussions. Have them moving between stations. Have them teaching each other at their stations at the front of the room and from their desks (oh, the joys of AppleTV if you can get it).
  • “Lids on”/”Lids off”
    • Be clear when you want your students to be working with devices and when you don’t. This simple command has gained traction at our school and students with laptops know it applies to them as well.
  • Leave or take mobile devices
    • Also be clear when you are moving your students whether you want them to take their devices with them or not. Most often you will want them to have them to take notes, photos and recordings, but when I need a few minutes of clear, focused direct instruction time, I tell everyone to leave their devices at their tables and come to the center of the room. It won’t hold their attention forever, but you guarantee their primary source of distraction is nowhere near them for a while.
  • Team-juggling (counting off)
    • Every few classes or so I move around the room and have the students count off in 3s, 4s or 5s. I then reassign the stations that day based off the numbers (always be ready to make adjustments for the usual suspects and partners in crime). It adds variety to the teamwork and ensures everyone gets to know and work with each other.
  • “Screens center”
    • A useful technique during assessments. “Screens center” tells students to sit with their backs to the center of the room. In conjunction with the appropriate seating arrangement (it works well with stations) the teacher can easily monitor the students’ screens while patrolling from the center.
  • “Hand the worksheet out first, stupid”
    • This self-directed quote stems from my student teaching days in East Harlem when my cooperating teacher (now a good friend) reminded me to always hand out the worksheet I wanted the students to work on before going over the instructions rather than waiting until after the instructions to hand out the work. One day, having neglected this golden rule, my class descended into chaos as fully informed students had nothing but time on their hands while they waited for me to walk around the room and hand them their work. The class was unsalvageable and we developed that useful mantra. In the 21st Century we may have moved beyond worksheets, but the spirit of the rule remains: if you leave your students with unstructured time on their hands, you can assume they will be Facebooking or Angry-birding before long.
  • Bonus tip: “Times not lines”
    • This is how I remind myself not to assign word counts anymore. Students type and text faster than you think. Mentally, many of them still see their mobile devices more as tools of entertainment and interaction than professional work resources. Thus, in some cases, “Write on *BLANK* for at least 250 words” is an invitation to bullet out 800 characters or less of meaningless verbiage in order to get back to the riveting material on 9Gag. A better method in the contemporary learning environment is “Answer our essential question for at least 15 minutes in a new post on your blog. After writing for 15 minutes, spend another 15 minutes adding relevant and engaging media to your post.” In this second example, everyone should be occupied for 30 mins: there is no “done” until time is up.

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Any teacher who can be replaced by a computer deserves to be.

–David Thornberg

So what’s the compelling argument?

Any teacher can be plopped into a 21st Century Classroom but those who can properly manage a contemporary learning environment will find themselves safe from digital replacement.

If you look at the various images and videos from a classroom we are developing into a contemporary learning environment, you will notice little evidence of technology although technology was a key element to all of the exercises represented. To us, the technology is ubiquitous, necessary and invisible–and it also takes a back seat to any form of creation. This explains why the technology at work in the classroom (iPhone photography and videography, this blog, etc.) depicted in this article is invisible and ubiquitous–oxygenating the instruction as much as the learning.

At another time and in another place a book was the height of technology, but invention was still the goal. Are you willing to create an environment in which students can be creative? If your answer is yes, then you have already adopted a mindset that will serve you well in the modern world.



Juno in the Classroom (Português)

In English


Verifique que você digite “Junoed” em sua busca online (e não apenas “Juno”), ou você vai encontrar  fotos de Ellen Page e Michael Cera, antes de encontrar o que você quer …



O Que É JunoEd?

Direto do site:

Juno é uma plataforma livre para desenvolver e implantar livros on-line, tutoriais e exercícios. Envie seu texto, perguntas, imagens e vídeos para criar conteúdo interativo sem programação!

Use Juno para criar avaliações e planilhas on-line. Os alunos podem acessar o conteúdo em computadores, tablets ou smartphones. Em seguida, suas notas podem ser submetidas diretamente a qualquer livro de notas compatível! Professores também podem imprimir seus materiais quando os computadores não estão disponíveis. Crie uma biblioteca com seus arquivos para toda a escola compartilhar.

Na realidade, a funcionalidade de livros didáticos de Junoed ainda é limitada em comparação com plataformas como o Google Sites, o iTunes U ou iBooks, e a maioria dos professores que utilizam Juno continuam a implantá-lo primariamente como uma ferramenta de avaliação. No entanto, existem alguns recursos úteis que o tornam mais do que simplesmente uma máquina de avaliações.


1. Uma vez que você se familiariza com a interface do Juno, a criação de avaliações é simples.  (E aprender sobre a interface é fácil através das instruções minuciosas de Joyce Pereira.)

2. Você pode criar vários tipos de questões de avaliação, tais como:

  • Múltipla escolha

  • Respostas múltiplas

  • Verdadeiro ou falso

  • Respostas correspondentes

  • Sequência (ótimo para perguntas linha do tempo, cronológica, alfabética)

  • Resposta curta (cuidado ao configurar Juno para fazer as correções. As respostas que você aceita, o Juno, talvez não)

  • Resposta longa ou dissertativa (ótimo para a prática de redação e escrita)

3. Tipos de perguntas básicas podem ser definidas para auto-correção, o que economiza tempo e fornece feedback em tempo útil para os alunos.

4. Você pode optar por imprimir uma cópia da avaliação, apenas no caso de haver um problema de tecnologia. Você também pode criar várias versões da avaliação para prevenir que os alunos colam as respostas.

5. Você pode escolher quais os alunos que farão determinadas avaliações, e você ainda pode fazer várias versões sobre o mesmo assunto ao vivo ao mesmo tempo. Mais uma vez, evitando possível trapaça.

6. As provas podem ser criadas a partir do desktop e laptop. Se você tiver um aluno que precisa refazer a prova, mas você não pode estar presente, você pode colocar a prova online para ser completada (com supervisão) a distância.

7. O mesmo vale, naturalmente, para os alunos, eles podem responder aos questionários em praticamente qualquer dispositivo móvel.

8. Não há necessidade para o professor ficar atento para encerrar a prova: você pode definir um limite de tempo e o teste ficará off-line (indisponível) quando o tempo esgotar.

9. Com a função de análise (que se encontra em “Scores” quando você está revendo uma avaliação) você pode rever o trabalho dos alunos em diversas maneiras:  a média da classe por questão, aluno por aluno, etc .

10. Os alunos com mais de um professor usando JunoEd só precisa de um nome de usuário e senha. Para as escolas, como a nossa, que usam Jupitergrades, os alunos podem acessar diretamente através do Júpiter. Códigos temporários são fornecidos para os professores cujos alunos perderam suas senhas.

11. Para as escolas que utilizam Jupitergrades (como o nosso) há integração automática das notas para o livro de notas: as notas podem ser automaticamente submetidos a Júpiter e calculado diretamente com as outras notas do aluno.

12. E, claro, todo o processo é gloriosamente sem papel!




  1. A interface não é auto-explicativo e a ajuda do glossário é subdesenvolvido. Pessoas que não tem medo de “fuçar” vão se dar bem. Professores facilmente intimidados ou frustrados pela tecnologia terão mais dificuldades.
    Recomendação: providenciar sessões para desenvolvimento profissional no uso do Juno. Chame professores com facilidade no uso de tecnologia para oferecer suporte e orientação aos novatos.

  2. Lockdown sempre bloqueia o Wi-fi. O procedimento fica mais lento quando o recurso Lockdown está ativado. Isso pode resultar na perda do trabalho do aluno. Eu mesmo vou monitorando os alunos durante a prova, em vez de correr o risco do trabalho do aluno que ser comprometido por problemas de bloqueio.

  3. Alguns navegadores funcionam melhor que outras. O Firefox tem sido  mais confiável, mas o Chrome tornou-se constante também. Verifique qual que lhe dará o mínimo de problemas e diga aos alunos para utilizá-lo.

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  1. Faça uso da função de “textbook ”(livro didático), pois é muito útil. Textos e revisão de materiais, referentes à avaliação podem ser anexados para a revisão antes da avaliação. “Livros didáticos” também servem como pastas para seus cursos e unidades.

  2. Livros didáticos também proporcionam muito potencial para adicionar exercícios e leitura no Juno, tanto para análise e prática.

  3. Faça a decisão se deseja que os alunos sejam capazes de rever as suas avaliações. Às vezes, isso será a coisa certa a fazer, mas se você pretende repetir o teste para outras turmas.

  4. Dá trabalho, mas eu crio duas avaliações para o conteúdo que estou avaliando para que os alunos ausentes não podem beneficiar por estarem ausentes.

  5. Slides são excelentes para adicionar lembretes necessários e conselhos- eu tenho slides com rúbricas diretamente embutidos em cada avaliação para que os alunos sabem exatamente o que lhes é exigido.

  6. A grande característica do Junoed é a facilidade com a qual multimídia pode ser adicionada.
    Fotos, imagens, MP3, gifs, vídeos do YouTube, podem ser integrados sem problemas.

  7. Lembre-se de exigir que os alunos têm fones de ouvido se você estiver utilizando vídeos ou música em suas avaliações. Uma  sala de aula com 28 iPads tocando o discurso “Eu tenho um sonho” pode ficar barulhento.

Junoed pode não ser a solução certa para todas as situações, mas é uma ferramenta brilhante e gratuito que deve ser explorada por todos os educadores modernos que defendem a aprendizagem.

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