Tag Archives: creative writing

Art’s Importance to Education

Blog Inspired Tweet: @agoscinski

On December 1, 2014, CBS Chicago’s news website posted an article titled “Teacher, CEO Advocates Arts Education In Chicago.” In the article the “Chicago Sun Times,” and Shakila Stewart are quoted defining and defending art teachers. The Chicago Sun Times states, “Arts teachers who were rescued from layoffs aren’t always spread out enough for students from diverse neighborhoods to utilize.” Therefore, there are many students in an educational system lacking an art program. With all of the new applications of art, there are certainly resources available to the students. As a college student studying education, I was able to observe a class in a low-income neighborhood. Though they had an art program, the other surroundings schools that did not. However, the surrounding schools still maintained a computer program, and because of new technologies and art applications the teachers could use the computers to implement an art program. “The internet links millions of people in new spaces that are changing the way we think and the way we form our communities.” (Turkle, page 3). So could our computers introduce art in a new way?

“My degree in theater and dance led to my desire to invest in the lives of children who had the gift of performance but whose parents just couldn’t afford to put them in a performing arts program,” explains Shakila Grigler Stewart, an art instructor. An art program gives students the ability to discover wha they enjoy, and what they are passionate about. Creativity, Imagination, and Artistic Abilities are not subjects in school. However, they can positively influence a student’s education. Just as student’s are taught to find their favorite books or subjects, they should also find their favorite type of art. Music, drawing, painting, acting, singing, they are interests that derive passion, and isn’t that what we want for our student’s?

“When they come to school they cannot focus on learning if these emotions aren’t let out in a positive way. Theater allows them to do that. Dancing allows them to be heard, and it gives them a way to express themselves in a way that maybe when they’re taking a test it might not.” (Stewart). Academic curriculums are constructed around producing well rounded and developed students. Art programs should also be viewed as an important step to the students educational career. “When they’re reading the scripts they’re learning literacy. It helps them with their comprehension skills and vocabulary words. I believe education and creativity make [students] become inventors for the future.” (Stewart). Can art be used as a new literary technology? “Students’ writing will be published writing, and it will be produced in genres and by processes that depart radically from the traditional ways writing has been practiced and taught.” (Porter, DeVoss, page 195). Though art is not the traditional way to teach student’s, it very well could be. With proper introduction and implementation art can become a new technology to education.

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iWrite Words: The Handwriting App

As a iwritefuture educator, I am always on the lookout for creative ways to make learning fun for    my future students. With the Common Core‘s heavy presence in the classroom, various forms  of  writing instruction are crucial. Today, technology is so natural to children and is becoming  more popular  in the classroom, so being able to incorporate technology into writing  instruction will be extremely beneficial for the students while making learning fun.

In preschool and kindergarten classrooms, it is important to have the students practice forming uppercase and lowercase letters. Understanding that children must begin to write letters and numbers by tracing them first is key.

The app iWrite Words is something that can be used to do just this! iWrite Words is available on iPads, iPhones and iPods, and is an excellent way to get children interested and involved with the early stages of the writing process both inside and outside of the classroom.

iWrite Words helps to teach kids how to write the letters of the alphabet, numbers up to 20, and simple words using tracing. While it does help if kids already know how to count and read numbers up to 10 in order to play this game, this app can teach children the basics of letters. This app is available in English, French and Italian, making it a great for dual language learners, too.  After the child traces the letter or number, they hear a cheer, then see their actual handwriting appear based off of how they traced the letter.

This app has received rave reviews which include, “The whole app is delightful to behold. Bright background colors are juxtaposed against equally bright and scribbly child-like artwork that convey the word being spelled. You and your child will enjoy tracing your finger along those necessary building blocks of language. With its memorable artwork and way cool physics engine, it is sure to entertain and teach your child,” and many more.

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The next time you are searching for the perfect new app to introduce or reinforce the basics of writing, keep iWrite Words in mind for your preschool and kindergartners.

*This app is available on iTunes for $2.99.

RU Stuck in a Writing Rut? Do U Need Traction?

Fellow blogger, Samantha Catlett, tweeted an article from Zite titled “How to Get Out of a Writing Rut” by Amber Lea Starfire.

We have all been there before… sitting at your desk staring at the computer screen, trying to come up with something creative to write about. This task doesn’t seem too difficult, but when you can’t seem come up with a catchy enough topic, the supposed ‘simple writing process’ turns into quite the daunting task.

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Being stuck in a writing rut doesn’t only happen to newbie writers, it happens to the best writers out there, and when it happens, it stinks! I am not saying that I am the ‘best’ writer out there, but as a college student, I have had my fair share of seemingly endless nights sitting at a desk in the corner of the library wishing it was socially acceptable to slam my head against the wall.

As a future teacher, I definitely can relate to Starfire in the sense that she feels as if her writing needs to be on the top of its game at all times. Often enough, this is a reason to get stuck in a deep writing rut;  after all, you can’t have your students thinking you sound absolutely ridiculous or grammatically incorrect! In an article I read for class titled What is a Blog?, Rettberg states that “following a blog is like getting to know someone, or like watching a television series.”

If people start to actually follow my blog posts, I need to sound decent and hopefully creative, and being stuck in a writing rut is not the place  I want to be. I want my blogs to be creative and intuitive, not dull and lackluster.

Starfire listed some great tips that could be done to help shovel our ways out of writing ruts and will hopefully give some traction. For one, if you’re in a writing rut, think outside the box! Not only should you think outside the box, but you should also literally get outside of the boxlike room you are sitting in and allow yourself to be silly. Hopefully acting like a child will give you a new perspective on something and will trigger a creative idea to write about.

As writers, I feel it is important to shake things up and allow yourself to be a over the top for a while. After all, life is too short to be serious all the time!

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Starfire also suggests practicing being someone else. Hmmm, this could be interesting! She suggests that writers should “pick a passage by an author you admire and whose style is not like yours, then write a short piece copying that author’s sentence structure, cadence, and pace exactly (or as exactly as you can).”

I really like this idea, and would love to try it in my next post. Maybe instead of a college student, I will pretend to be a successful adult who has four cats and can afford to pay for my own groceries…

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!

Get your creativity on…

We all want to be creative, right?  Okay, maybe I’m a bit ahead of myself.  Some of us, myself included, enjoy and thrive on being creative in many different aspects.  Creative writing, creative arts, creative design; the list goes on and on.  During the creative process road blocks can occur, throwing us off and causing us to reach a standstill.  Very similar to writer’s block, creativity block keeps us from moving forward in the process.

My fellow blogger @ashmcmichael tweeted the article Excellent Tips to Stimulate Creativity, outlining simple ideas to give your brain a break and get the creative juices flowing:

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1)  Engage in physical activity;  go for a walk, jog, shoot some hoops, dance, or just get outside and get some fresh air.  This will get your mind off of the task at hand and give you the ability to start fresh when you return to your project.

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2)  A simple break is all that’s needed sometimes.  Spend some time with friends, family, pets, etc.; watch TV, listen to music, scan the internet, stop by social media (which I am usually doing anyway), or read a book, newspaper or magazine.  These are all excellent ways to engage our minds in other topics and off of our current project.

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3)  Change up your routine.  If you normally begin a project late at night, try getting up early and starting right away.  If your routine is already set that way, trying flipping it around. If you normally work in your room on your bed, try sitting in the kitchen at the table, and vice versa.  A change of scenery may inspire something new.  Make small, simple changes at first and see if that sparks your creativity.

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4)  Jot it down!  When an idea strikes you, write it down.  No pen or paper? Send yourself an email!  These days most people have a smartphone that allows internet connection, so send yourself an email or a text.  Refer back to it later when you need it.  Don’t be that person that says “I don’t need to write it down, I’ll remember.”  You won’t.

So when your creativity level is waning and you need a jump-start, try one of these four ideas to get back on track.  Good luck!

While coming up with my thoughts/ideas on how to go about creating this blog, Michael Wesch’s video The Machine is Us/Using Us came to mind.  I had to rethink the way I was going to showcase these ideas and the means in which I would present them to you, the audience.  I hope it was enjoyable 🙂

 

Creative Writing: How to get your characters to move along…

As writers, we have the job of creating, developing, and exploring the characters in our stories.  By stories, I am referring to fiction pieces where characters are made up.  While writing a short fiction piece recently I was stuck in a rut of how to further develop my character in the setting and conflict I had carefully placed her.  What direction would she take, what qualities would she display, and  furthermore, how was her story going to end?

A few weeks after struggling through the 10-page fiction story, which is no comparison to the novels that most authors write, I came across the article Creative Writing:  When Characters are Difficult to Get On With by Charlotte Seager.

As it turns out even the great writers like Stephen King and one of my personal favorites, Roald Dahl,  have difficulty from time to time with their characters.

The problem isn’t with the characters though, it is with the writer, according to Seager.  Those problems are greatest when the writer is removed from the situation the character is in or facing.  If the character being created or developed is a child, the writer will struggle with it if they are not around or observing children.  Stephen King noted that when he was writing about blue-collar workers he was  “one step away from manual labor”.  Being closely related or having experience in a job or profession enabled him to successfully craft his characters.  Having been out of the profession for so long at this point, he stated that “It is definitely harder”.

However, difficult characters don’t always have to be a bad thing.  Another author, Neel Mukherjee commented on these challenges stating that “a troublesome character is far from an unwelcome guest”.  These characters force the author to be creative, explore traits and behaviors that they might not have otherwise considered.  The result of this creativity may lead to a better story line, as well as a deeper and more relatable character altogether.  So while the frustration and aggravation that writers endure when faced with a difficult character is not ideal, it may ultimately be beneficial in the long run.

Tips for character development?  I thought you’d never ask!  Think about the people you already know;  how do they act?  What difficulties have they faced?  What makes them unique?  What is the purpose of your character in the story?  Those are great places to start and then move on to research and observation.  However, if that doesn’t help, perhaps this article from Writer’s Digest will:  The 9 Ingredients of Character Development

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Which direction will your character take?

The Technologically Inspired Classroom

I feel as though teachers used to dread  introducing and involving  computers with daily lessons in their class for fear of it not working properly or taking too long to load, or even be too complicated. I remember sitting in class as a little girl and constantly wondering when we were going to get the chance to finally use the computers that were collecting dust in the back corner of the classroom. I always wanted the chance to use the computers, and was disappointed when the only chance we got to used them was during our “specials” period when we learned to type the right way.

Today, teachers are not only incorporating computers into their daily classroom instruction, but also using iPads, SMART boards, and social media to get their class more involved and interested in the lesson materials and topics. In an article from the World Economic Forum titled How Online Learning Prepares Teens for Higher Education, “there is a growing interest in the possibilities that different forms of virtual schooling can offer,” (Oliver). Teachers are becoming more creative  with how they incorporate technology into the classroom, and is proving to be very beneficial in the long run.intro1

A study was performed by the Institute of Education, which took a look at experiences of current university students who had completed the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). These students took a series of online classes, and the ages of the participants ranged from 17 to 23 (Oliver). The results of the study are pretty interesting and exciting for technology; “Of the students interviewed, 94% said finding academic resources on the internet was important to their success and 78% said being able to plan group tasks using online calendars, scheduling tools and discussion applications mattered. Another 71% found social networks useful for building relationships with other learners,” (Oliver). Essential parts of university life, such as virtual learning environments, discussion forums, Google tools, and audio-visual learning resources such as YouTube were all a major part of online classes, and gave the students  confidence with using the web, as stated in How Online Learning Prepares Teens for Higher Education.

“One student described how this experience online had helped them develop valuable skills and approaches: ‘I often use Google Docs and other Google tools to collaborate on group projects, including working with teams that are in different locations and time zones,'” (Oliver). Technology, both inside and outside of the classroom promotes independent learning, which is a really important skill for students to develop. Instead of having the information handed to them in a presentation and lecture form, students could be given instruction before class, then investigate further during class, like in a flipped classroom for example. Having the teacher present in class to answer any questions about the lecture/material from the previous night is really beneficial. Instead of sitting through a boring lecture in class then going home to complete the assignments, the students can talk to their professor about any issues and get them squared away before the end of class.

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Online learning and technology infused into the classroom is proving to be very beneficial to students, and teaches them various styles of learning. For students who do not have computers at home, the chance to use various forms of technology is wonderful! Technology is going to play a major role in our lives inside and outside of the classroom, so it only makes sense to get accommodated with that it has to offer when whenever possible!