Tag Archives: creativity

The Early Bird DOES in fact, get the worm

For years and years I thought I was a night owl.  I loved to stay up and out late, either having fun or working on projects.  More recently I discovered that I am not a night owl, but in fact a morning person.  Even though I was up late, I wasn’t being productive on my projects.  I was working on them well into the evening due to my procrastination.  I began to get up early to complete my projects and felt significantly more ambitions, focused and productive.

Last week I saw this article and tweeted it to share with my fellow #tfwf14 classmates:

My first reponse:  Does Hazma Kahn know me?  Is he watching me?  This is my life!

Kahn’s article “Don’t Waste Your Two Golden Hours of Productivity” him home for me.   I fall into the category that Kahn gives data on, that “80 percent of 18- to 44-year-olds who check their smartphones” as soon as they get up.  My smartphone has replaced my alarm clock, so it is the first thing I touch in the morning.apple-iphone-5-white-all-sides

First I check Facebook, followed by Instagram, then Twitter and finally email.  All before my feet have hit the floor and I have to agree with Kahn that we need to avoid this habit.  He states that “the problem with jumping right into our inboxes and notifications is that it steers your morning off-course”.  I get very distracted and behind in my morning routine when I pick up my phone.  So I decided to give it a try, to leave my phone on the night stand when I got out of bed.

I spent the 90 minutes of my morning feeling as though I was missing something, but I was more focused on the tasks that needed to be completed and able to successfully complete them all.  I found my morning flowing along smoothly without having to rush because I was behind on the time.  I could get used to this!

Now, I wish I could say that I was able to keep this routine and I’ve been tremendously successful in being on time and maintaining my easy-flowing mornings.  If I did, I’d be lying.  What I have done, is limited my time on my phone in the morning.  I check social media and then put the phone down.  Emails are put off until I arrive at work.  I couldn’t quit cold turkey, I’m not a quitter.

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So from now on, if I don’t like what I see, I’ll just go back to bed!

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How Important is a Creative Culture?

My fellow blogger Adam Goscinski tweeted a blog entry titled “It’s a creative culture that counts – time schools and teachers created such a learning culture” from the blog Leading and Learning.

This blog brings up an excellent point regarding the curriculum taught in schools in relation to the standardized testing that is now required of children.  “Developing diverse gifts and talents of many students is lost in such procedures and is not helped by the inevitable narrowing of the curriculum by teaching to the standards” according to the blog.  Not only are teachers forced to teach to the test, most times that results in their need to exclude subjects such as art and music, where children are most prone to show their creative side.  However, creativity is not just for the arts, creativity is relevant to any and all subjects when children are able to express themselves.

The blog goes on to state that “it is a creative culture, not obsessive testing and formulaic teaching that is the answer – culture counts”.  Bruce, the author of this blog even includes the lyrics to the popular Pink Floyd song Another Brick in the Wall, “teacher leave that kid alone – we don’t need your mind control”.   Is it really the teachers who are controlling the kids, or are they merely acting on direction from the government?  (I’ll save that argument for another time, another blog post.)

Painted child hands By creating a creative culture, teachers and students alike are able face learning in a way that works best for them, not the general population.  Teachers need the freedom to teach their students the way they are able to learn.  Students need to be able to express their interests and pursue subjects creatively, and not just the subjects that are required for testing.  Both of these ideas will foster a creative learning environment where both students and teachers benefit.

Once we create this culture, a new attitude toward learning will be formed.  The lack of pressure applied to students will allow them to relax and engage in the learning environment rather than feeling rushed to get through massive amounts of material in a short period of time.  Teachers will not feel as though they have been through the wringer at the end of the year from running the marathon of instruction prior to test season.  Call me crazy, but if teachers are happy and students are happy, won’t great things come of it?

Disney Creatively Inspires Learning

On December 4, 2014, Brooks Barnes of The New York Times, posted an article titled “Disney to Introduce New Apps Focused on Learning.” To a college student studying new technologies influence on writing, learning, and education, this title jumped off the page, and captivated my attention. However, due to my current use of new literary technologies, this metaphor is relatively obsolete. Now I have to say, jumped off the “screen,” because the article by Barnes was not posted in The New York Times newspaper. It was posted on The New York Times website, with no subscription or purchase necessary. If this is not supporting evidence of technologies influence on writing, than what is?

The New York Times website is an evident example of technological remediation. Defined by Bolter, “Remediation involves both homage and rivalry, for the new medium, but also makes an implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (page 23). Do The New York Times’ online articles improve their newspaper? If I were to answer this question I would say absolutely. The networking capabilities of the Internet created an efficient and accessible news station. Ask my grandfather the same question and he won’t dignify a response. Though there are assets and complications to both sides of the news publishing processes, the importance lies with The New York Times “implicit or explicit claim to improve the older one.” (Bolter, page 23).

As well as The New York Times, Disney has had an essential influence on the public for multiple generations. Disney’s’ intentions to implement positive learning applications are similar to the progressional effort of The New York Times, and the creation of their website. They should not be viewed negatively, and according to Barnes, “Disney Publishing Worldwide unveiled a technology-driven learning initiative called Disney Imagicademy. Aimed at families with children aged 3 to 8.” The use of technology has substantially increased in children, and Disney is taking a positive advantage by providing a “learning” resource. “The media conglomerate is being careful to describe the initiative as learning and not educational,” due to “harshly criticized marketing claims tied to its Baby Einstein line.” (Barnes). Porter and DeVoss offer some support for Disney’s effort. “New economies of writing are emerging that promise to carry writing practices in directions that are not yet clear but which will have significant impact on basic literacy.” (page 195).

Disney’s application’s “significant impact on basic literacy” is yet to be defined. Though there intentions are clearly positive and progressional. Barnes explains, “Disney developed Imagicademy in conjunction with advisers like Douglas H. Clements, an expert on early childhood mathematics from the State University of New York at Buffalo.” “Imagicademy will include more than 30 app-based “experiences” centered on various subjects – math, science, language arts, emotional and social skills.” (Barnes).There are a vast variety of applications available to children, and Disney is trying to provide an app. that derives a learning process from it’s users. An unsurmountable amount of applications need parents to consciously consider the hindering interference they have on their child’s education and ability to learn. Bolter explains that the effort of improvement is the important property (page 23). “This is a substantial commitment,” Bob Chapek, president of Disney Consumer Products, said in an interview.” (Barnes). Disney’s conscious effort and commitment is clear. Imagicademy, was developed based on “learning,” and should be the last application ridiculed, as well as, accused of deceit.

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.”

Coping With Cancer the Creative Way

“More than 1.6-million Americans will be told they have some form of cancer this year.” What a heart-stopping, eerie, concerning fact. To think that over one million people will be diagnosed with such a deadly disease is mind boggling to me. Fellow blogger, Samantha Catlett, tweeted an article from Zite titled “Patients Use Creativity to Cope with Cancer” by ABC News.

Having a family who has been effected with cancer more than we would like, hearing a number like 1.6 million is very alarming to me. Watching family members suffer from this vicious disease is sickening, and I will forever be an advocate for cancer research. Living with cancer is a daily, draining task. Days are filled with pain and exhaustion. Chemotherapy is nauseating and weakening, and for many people, they feel that there is no end in sight for their cancer.intro pic2

During long painful days, it is utterly important to keep a positive outlook on life. I live by the saying “positive thoughts bring positive outcomes.” I used to tell my aunts and cousin this during treatment, and it seemed to brighten up their days and gave them something to focus on other than pain. They often told me that they needed something bright and comforting. “Patients Use Creativity to Cope with Cancer” sounds like something my family members and others should read.

Moffitt Cancer Center Doctor, Jacob Gardinier Scott, says finding ways to cope can be helpful for patients.  “I find that the people who are able to divert the focus back to something else, something important to them are the ones who even do better,” Scott said.

Studies show having a hobby or creative outlet can improve overall health and well-being. Coping ideas include “gardening, dancing, comedy, blog-writing or even exercise.”

A brain cancer patient’s coping canvas is her skin. “Stamping my arm was something I could control. There were so many things outside of my control” she said. Another patient uses painting and music to cope with his lung cancer. He titled is “My Sarcoma” and shows the progression of his cancer’s journey on each canvas.

What better way to let frustration out and distract yourself from cancer and treatments? For anyone effected by cancer, this is an empowering article to read.

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Happiness is…a Colon and a Right Parenthesis

h3y wutz good 4 2nite?

Although that sentence should read as a strange compilation of letters and numbers, most Internet users will interpret that sentence as “hey, what’s good for tonight”, which can translate even farther to, “Hey, what are we doing tonight?” Somewhere along the line, it become hideously uncool to utilize proper grammar and spelling on the web; a user was categorized as a “nerd” for simply asking about plans in a grammatically correct fashion.

In an article that I tweeted called “I think, Therefore IM” by Jennifer Lee, it is reported that teachers have seen an increasing amount of students using slang such as “im” “ur” and “wut” in academic works. For many students, using Internet slang has become a lot more comfortable than using proper English. In many cases, such as “wuz” and “was”, the slang is the same length as the proper word; students are not replacing proper words with slang due to convenience. The 2000s generation, students who are now 12-17, grew up on the Internet. While many generations are struggling to accustom themselves with the Internet, the 2000s generation only knows life with a power button. In the article, a teacher named Ms. Harding comments, ”It’s acceptable because it’s in their culture. It’s hard enough to teach them the art of formal writing. Now we’ve got to overcome this new instant-messaging language.” Ms. Harding acknowledges the struggle many students have today with balancing comfort with properness. Students are constantly surrounded by text- speak but are expected to forget all about the language as soon as the first school bell rings.

Not only are students becoming more and more reliant on text-speak, but our entire culture is becoming screen dominant. In an article called “Becoming Screen Literate” by Kevin Kelly, Kelly explains the shift our culture is experiencing. He comments on our culture’s shift, “from book fluency to screen fluency, from literacy to visuality.” While books and libraries were once the future, it has slowly morphed into the past. The future is now and it is a world in which screens take over. The extreme want for visuals coincides with the newest obsession of “fast and easy.”

Just like fast food restaurants, literacy has become a matter of culture and popularity. Vegetables are to hamburgers as textbooks are to internet slang. The world is constantly evolving for both better and worse. While some Internet users are still struggling to turn a computer on, others are struggling to turn it off. At this point, it is all about perspective. While schools have started incorporating technology into the curriculum, it is about time schools go a step further and acknowledge the world that is the Internet.  Each generation offers something new, as a culture we must embrace all the new features in order to broaden perspectives and enhance creativity.

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.

The Six Seconds Heard from Around the World

Vine is a phenomenon that is both fast and funny, two characteristics that our culture has grown to become extremely fond of.

If you have not yet experienced the whirlwind that is Vine, let me expose it to you: click here for 6 seconds of entertainment

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See? Wasn’t that fun? It was fast so you can get back to your hectic life and it also produced a little chuckle. You’re not the only one who thinks it was fun; an article called “Six Seconds of Loopy Creativity and Millions of Fans” by the New York Times praises Vine and comments on how it is taking over the public’s feeds. Instead of going to Instagram or Twitter, users are choosing Vine for a multitude of reasons. First of all, Vine combines YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter in a more user-friendly way. Instead of watching a 5 minute video on YouTube, users are getting the punchline 10x faster. Instead of sifting through tweets, users are getting the main idea immediately. Instead of seeing a picture, users are experiencing the action.

The article by the New York Times describes Vine as “the early web- low stakes, raw, and full of reckless abandon”  and the author is exactly right. Vine users will complete any task, no matter how ridiculous, in order to entertain viewers. In fact, the phrase “do it for the Vine” has become popular due to the Vine’s infamous actions.

Vine is just an example of how apps are in competition to gain titles such as craziest, most creative, or wildest. Notice, however, that has been a competition amongst apps. The Web, on the other hand, is slowly losing its following. It is a common mistake for users to believe spending hours on Vine, Instagram, or Pandora is considered “surfing the Web”; in an article I tweeted called “The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet” by Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff, the authors describe how Apps not only differentiate from the Web, but they are also are taking over. Although the switch from Web to Internet is not conscious or aggressive, it is surely happening. It’s not the Web’s fault, apps are just becoming more and more prominent in today’s society.

I mean, look at the difference between using Google and using Instagram:

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In a world where apps such as Vine literally thrive off fun and entertainment, Google.com simply can’t compete.

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…