All posts by ashmcmichael

Teachers Pay Teachers

Hello, all! I would love to introduce an awesome resource for school teachers called www.teacherpayteachers.com. I was first introduced to this website in an education course as a college sophomore a few years ago. Let me just say–it’s INCREDIBLE! Teachers Pay Teachers has been around since 2006 and has been saving the lives of teachers everyday. The idea is straight forward: teachers upload work that other teachers can buy. When it comes to their craft, teachers trust each other most. Do you need to create a 1st grade unit on ocean animals but lack creativity or just simply have no idea where to start? You are in luck! The average cost for an item on Teachers Pay Teachers is just $3.50, with entire unit plans usually costing less than $10. Ten dollars?! Yes!

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The website is interactive and you are able to contact every teacher/user who shares materials. You can easily find what you are looking for because everything is broken down into grade category, then further broken down by subject matter. Looking for a 3rd grade Common Core reading activity about helping verbs? You are guaranteed to find something that will meet your needs for a small price. My favorite part about Teachers Pay Teachers? So many items are available for free! All you have to do is create an account and get downloading. On Teachers Pay Teachers, a guide that explains how to accommodate a classroom for kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder goes for $2.50. A packet on how to teach parents about guided reading sells for $3.50. Not surprisingly, Common Core workbooks and ready-to-use lesson plans are consistently strong sellers.

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One last note worth mentioning: Aside from buying pre-made materials, teachers can make requests for other teachers to create specific work for them! All you do is give a description of what you want made, set your price, and sit back and wait for all of the offers to roll in! Take a look below.Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 7.14.03 PM.png

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Child Hunger

The video I chose to look into further is a student made PSA about child hunger in Africa. The creator of the video chose to use emtional images of small starving children, facts and statstics of child hunger in Africa, and stories about specific children and families. Becaus the creator focuses in on certain people, it feels like case studies are being done. The video makes the viewer feel somewhat attached to the stories and the children hunger affects. Although this remix video touches on logos and ethos, it reaches the emotional side the most. Instead of narrative leading this video, the creator decided to use music with appropriate lyrics (Michael Jackson’s “We Are The World”.)

#HashtaggingAllDayEveryday

Hashtags are a thing every living human under the age of about…..30 (?) is highly familiar with. Frustration sets in when trying to explain the purpose of #hashtag to the older generation. My parents who are 55+, for example, are clueless when it comes to hashtagging.

“Why is “#TGIT” on the screen while I’m trying to watch tv? What is #PopeInPhilly supposed to mean? Why can’t they just have a normal title without the pound sign? #YOLO????” -Dad

(Sidenote for my own amusement: There was a bar in Philly that served home brewed “YOPO” beer. You Only Pope Once.)

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It is time to face 2015. Hashtags have become a part of our lives. Being online (Especially social media!) for just five minutes, you are guaranteed to see one of these tags at least twice: #WCW, #TBT, #MCM, #WBW, #selfie. What does all of the nonsense mean??? Simply put, hashtags are a way to quickly click the tag to view other user’s pictures and tweets that are similar to yours. If I were to post a picture with the hashtag, “#OceanCity,” I am sure to see posts from others that focus on Ocean City!

Lindsey Weeston explains in her article, “12 Hashtags That Changed The World In 2014,” that hashtags were used to raise social awareness of trending topics and issues in the news. Weston focused on “#BlackLivesMatter”…a hashtag that took over the scene on Twitter. She explains that hashtags can be so powerful because they bring people together while spreading the word.

A hashtag that has been taking over the Twitterverse these days is “IStandWithPP.” This hashtag promotes supporting Planned Parenthood through all of the negative attention the media is showing them. #IStandWithPP tweeters show support for women’s health issues.

Hashtags can be fun, important, useless, or groundbreaking. While there is no doubt that hashtags can mean nothing, they can be a positive force to promote good! #HaveANiceDay! #ThanksForReading!

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Let’s Talk!

Barton and Hamilton discuss literacy and social practices in depth in their article titled, “Literacy Practices.” The authors explain how mout forms of literacy have always had some type of social connection attached. Weather it be literacy connected to verbal communication, or simply reading for pleasure, there is usually a human connection that occurs. The social response tied to literacy can have drastic differences depending on the discourse communities it reaches. For example: a community living in poverty would have a very different reaction to a news story about…oh I don’t know…free Thanksgiving dinners, than a community living in Beverly Hills would.

Dicpscourse communities are a topic I have studied extensively here at Rowan University, and can be broken down into a definition as simply as, “A community of people who share a common interest and use similar language to communicate…which usually only makes sense among the community.”

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To give a further example of discourse communities: I have studied ballet my entire life, and sometimes write for dance blogs, magazines, or forums. There is very highly specialized vocabulary in the ballet world that only dancers would ever understand. If I used the same vocabulary in my everyday life that I use when speaking amongst fellow dancers, people would look at me like I was insane! All ballet dancers have a deep understanding of other dancer’s lives and can therefore speak freely without worrying about not being understood by outsiders.

This article by Barton and Hamilton was fairly eye opening, but I feel like most people already knew social aspect was tied to literacy. Maybe I’m wrong!

Writer’s Block

Let’s face it. Writer’s block is something we have ALL faced at one point or another. It’s irritating, a waste of time, and intruding. What can we do to conquer this evil monster?? The Creativity Post shared a wonderful article written by Elifrustrated_610_300_s_c1_center_centerzabeth Grace Saunders titled, “When You’re Staring Blankly at Your Computer.”

Saunders gives plenty of bullet points in the article to help us with gaining productivity back when we think it’s a lost cause. She says the key is often to step back. Not to just clear your mind of anxiety, but to actually address what’s making you nervowritersblockus–lack of clarity. This can be done by breaking down what you need to get done into the smallest of baby steps. “This is particularly helpful when you need to move a messy project ahead but can also work with more routine tasks where you notice a resistance to getting started.”

The nest time you find yourself thinking you’ll just stay up as late as you need to in order to get the work done, (which leads to wasting time and being sleep deprived), try to get yourself motivated, (which isn’t always necessary and can lead to more procrastination), or stick with the task but having it take waaaaayyyyy longer than it should take……remember to take a deep breath, step away from the task, and break it down into smaller steps! Here’s to happy writing!

Claim Your Inner Creativity

I read an interesting article on The Huffington post titled, “How To Claim Your Inner Creativity,” by author Faisal Hoque. Hoque regularly writes articles, blogs, and papers on Sunday mornings as well as tries to outline a new book idea even-MEDITATION-FLOWERS-large570ry summer. For him, writing is one of those happy discoveries that has helped him to “connect better with my purpose, my world, and myself.”

He writes that we have to start off with being MINDFUL.

“When you become a better observer of your own doings, you naturally develop a more realistic sense of yourself. Maybe you aren’t actually so nice to your colleagues all the time, and maybe you shouldn’t have a guilt spiral because of that.” Being more mindful helps us become an overall better person.

Along with being mindful, we must practice POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS.

Emotions allow us to feel passion, creativity, and happiness. However, our emot1-small-positive-thought-in-the-morning-can-change-your-whole-dayions can also be our downfall. Emotions can prevent us from creating the reality we desire. If we believe we can do a task, the chances of it getting done increase immensely. The mind is a very powerful thing that many of us don’t realize the true potential of positive thought.

LEARN, UNLEARN, & RELEARN

There is a word for not knowing: ignorance. The connotation with the word ignorant isn’t a positive one. We are quick to jump to our defense if someone dares to use the word to describe us. But…what’s so bad about not knowing something? We can’t pretend to know everything. Being ignorant is just being a human being. “We can be skillfully ignorant by acknowledging that this is a complex, maybe even opaque world that we’re working in.”

Werdsmith App

WUnknownerdsmith turns your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into a portable writing studio, so you can write any time, any place. Hundreds of thousands of writers use Werdsmith to capture their ideas, work on their projects and share their writing. It’s the best writing experience on iOS, and we think you’ll love it.”

The interface of Wordsmith is clean and very user friendly. Werdsmith is the perfect for any writer: novice or expert. The best part about this app is that it’s FREE and available to anyone with a smartphone or tablet. The app stresses how convenient is is for users and how it allows you to write freely without being chained to a desk.

Wordsmith is always at your fingertips, and stays in sync between you iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The app lets user share their work with others so they can receive quick feedback from other writers. Since all work is backed up to the Cloud, the fear of losing your writing Werdsmith-for-iPhone-3GS-iPhone-4-iPhone-4S-iPod-touch-3rd-generation-iPod-touch-4th-generation-and-iPad-on-the-iTunes-App-Store-e1327122493247is never an issue!   images

Creative Writing in the Age of Twitter

What is a haiku? If you asked me this question just a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to give you a decent answer. It wasn’t until twitter until I learned about haikus, and started posting them weekly under the then-popular hashtag, “#HaikuMonday.” Twitter is the perfect outlet for tiny samples of creative writing. In fact, one of my favorite accounts to follow is @VeryShortStory. The owner of VeryShortStory tweets out full stories that take place in 140 characters or less! Truly amazing!

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Blogger, Sam Regina, posted an article titled, “Creative Writing in the Age of Twitter,” written by Wendy Donahue of the of the Chicago Tribune. The question of how can parents encourage creativity in children’s writing was raised. Donahue responds with, “Each kid is like an uncut diamond. Pushing them is wrong. They have to discover which facets have to come off and which stay so they can glow.” It is important to pursue creativity for personal growth, not for an end result.

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Children are exposed to words now younger than ever. Take a look around. Just last night, I saw an 8 year old boy ask a diner manager for the Wifi password so he could be hooked online. Phones and tablets are glued to our kid’s hands, causing them to read more now than ever. With all of this reading happening, surely they are likely to type their own creative thoughts!

Myths of Creativity

Fellow blogger, Kylie Trush, tweeted an article titled, “5 Creative Myths You Probably Believe,” written by Christian Jarrett.

Jared states that we often believe that only right brained people have the capability to be creative, and that those left brainers are left thinking they have no chance at creativity. Thinking back, I know I have heard this excuse for lack of creativity in the past! Little comments such as, “My brain doesn’t work that way ” or, “I don’t have the creative gene” are both things commonly said….not just among school students, but adults as well! Are we really creatively stunted because of being left or right brained? Jarrett says “NO.”

“When it comes to creativity, yes, there’s research showing that the right hemisphere is important for problem solving, but there’s also evidence that the left-hemisphere is adept at story-telling.”

This section of the article ends with a point that made me laugh. “Real neuroscience says: if you’re human and you’ve got a brain, you’re capable of being creative.” Love that!

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Another myth Jarrett argues is, “It is Simply Not Possible to Bribe People to be Creative.” It isn’t? Yes it is. Why do we participate in collaborative work at school? What is the point of working together? We share ideas with each other that results in sparking ideas in group members minds. We continuously influence and inspire each other. Of course, it is important to avoid letting someone take charge:

“It’s also important to conduct brainstorming sessions in the right way. Groups need to guard against those dominant characters who shoot down other people’s ideas; and more passive individuals need to be encouraged to share their thoughts without fear of being judged or ridiculed.”

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We all have the power to be creative, and the potential for imagination lies in all of us. Creative writing can be unstoppable just as soon as y discover how you personally can spark creativity! Good luck.

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