"High-intensity noise that exceeds 95 decibels disrupts performance on complex tasks but improves it on simple, boring tasks — noise tends to raise arousal level, which can be useful when trying to stay alert during mindless and monotonous work, but can agitate you out of creative flow when immersed in the kind of work that requires deliberate, reflective thought… These effects, of course, are relative to one’s psychological constitution… Writers more afflicted with anxiety tend to be more disconcerted by noisy environments. Proust and Carlyle appear to have been among those writers — the former wrote in a cork-lined room to eliminate obtrusive sounds and the latter in a noiseproof chamber to ensure absolute silence — whereas Allen Ginsberg was known for being able to write anywhere, from trains to planes to parks."

The psychology of how daily routine and work environment affect writing and creative flow (via explore-blog)

This is worthy of note. I plan to give this to the Creative Writing students within the week in order to have them annotate the article, and start finding their own routine in the classroom.



My favorite picture/piece of artwork by far.

I love this so damn much

This is really good stuff. I love the graffiti. I love the patience of the narrative. I hope that this doesn’t turn out to be fake.

(via libby-lynn)

Handwritten notes by Ira Glass for his This American Life episodes. The interview can be seen here.

"Don’t wait for permission to make something that’s interesting or amusing to you. Just do it now. Don’t wait. Find a story idea, start making it, give yourself a deadline, show it to people who’ll give you notes to make it better. Don’t wait till you’re older, or in some better job than you have now. Don’t wait for anything. Don’t wait till some magical story idea drops into your lap. That’s not where ideas come from. Go looking for an idea and it’ll show up. Begin now. Be a fucking soldier about it and be tough."

Ira Glass to Lifehacker. I’m Ira Glass, Host of This American Life, and This Is How I Work.

Quick tip for things to do immediately post-interview:

When I come out of an interview, I jot down the things I remember as being my favorite moments. For an hour-long interview usually it’s just four or five moments, but if out I’m reporting all day, I’ll spend over an hour at night typing out every favorite thing that happened. This is handier than you might think. Often this short list of favorite things will provide the backbone to the structure to my story.

Read through for the gear This American Life uses and its editing process.

(via fastcompany)

Great tidbits about writing, structure, drafting, and the gear. A good read for anybody who is into podcasting of any sort.

(Source: futurejournalismproject, via fastcompany)

An excerpt

I vanished in the hollow of black-ash crosses adorning my forehead that shrank as I aged. Were my sins getting bigger or was my faith shrinking? And on good days I uncurled the copper wire catacombs in my limbs that I used as a black site to hold four dandelions I kept incarcerated because I have a habit of recycling wishes.

Tags: writing

"When I graduate, I will be…"

A colleague came up with the idea of taking the “Before I die I want to…” TED talk by Candy Chang and changing it to “When I graduate, I will be….” So, we went up to school, painted a wall with the chalkboard paint and stenciled the words on there, just like the Ted Talk.

After doing so, we let the kids have at it. It was such an interesting progression. Some classes prepped the kids before writing on the wall with journal topics, some teachers just let the kids go, some let them write on the wall and then journal, and some teachers used the wall as the journal topic itself.

It was incredible to see the wall develop over the course of the year. And yes, we did have some students write inappropriate things, but we just erased them and went about our days.

Each day the students would slow their pace down and examine the new material on the wall. Each day something new would pop up. It might be a new idea, or a phonetic spelling, or something out of left field.

As a graffiti connoisseur, I was amazed at the way students adorned their letters with hearts over the “I”, or made bubbles around their phrases. They knew the wall was going to get crowded so they decided to try and make their text stand out. This lead both students and faculty to discuss the notion of text and how one’s voice stands out when the typography is standardized. What are you saying that nobody else can say? How does a “common” writing space affect how you approach the text? How does a massive, but relatively faceless audience impact your pre-writing? How much of your writing do you think is permanent?

Outside of content, the students were allowed to write almost anything in any form they wanted. The above picture was about as crowded as things got.

The wall stayed up for a majority of the year and then we wiped it clean.

The next project was in the making.


Bloom MCT - Graffiti is ageless

While I, under no circumstances, encourage illegal behavior, I think it’s interesting that the need to write is a vibrant and illuminating desire.

The Rosters are Posted

Well, the numbers and class schedule for this year are posted. And as it looks right now, I’ve got about 130 students spread out over 6 classes (four sections of AP and 2 creative writing). I’m afraid of burning out. Last year was a hard year and going into my 15th year, I’m wondering how long I can keep up the pace.

It’s funny because I made mention of my burnout to the department chair and she listened with due diligence. As the time set in for next year (this year), the creative writing question came up and I said yes. I would like to build a program and get something really special going. To do so would be a challenge and I’m up for it, I’m just afraid of burning out.

When I started teaching, I would complain to my father about how I was surrounded by teachers who were burned out and complained all the time. I would talk about how passion is necessary and how fatigue can be overcome, etc…. My dad’s response was that most of those teachers started out just like me but had been chewed up and spit out by the system. At 23, I believed it, but didn’t understand it. Vygotsky would say I had a pseudo-concept of burnout. Well, I’m moving through the zone of proximal development and, 15 years on, am seeing and feeling what it really looks like.

Working with four new teachers (three officially and one unofficially) this past year was a pleasure. Each of them posses their own unique voice and vision as educators. And each of them are very dynamic in their own right. As such, working with them, I saw various aspects of myself across the personalities as they were discovering their voice, tempo, and aesthetic as teachers and pedagogues. It was through moments with them as a collective and in one on one conferences that I realized how far I’d come. 14 years is a long time and much changes. Part of the journey has been a concerted effort to not become cynical, not to burn out, not to jade. I hope I was successful modeling how beautifully challenging the journey can be. In doing so, I didn’t gloss over the frustrations or the complications of our charge. However, I hope I didn’t come across as a cynic.

I don’t want to feel like I’ve lost to the machine, that hope has been blown out by numbers and stoic administrators.





George R. R. Martin everyone.

My favourite thing about this gifset is that George R. R. Martin acknowledges both of these methods without insulting or dismissing the other. He is a fantastic writer and I know that some other fantastic writers swear by their methods and discount the others, which can be really disheartening as a young writer. Hearing him describe both of these methods without dismissing the other makes me very, very happy, as I am very much an architect and I always get so sad when every writer I look up to is like “NO PLANNING. PLANNING BAD. WRITERS DONT PLAN.”

So thank you, Mr. Martin.

how can there be any ideal but to work somewhere between the two extremes

I love Gurm

Crushed it.

(via little-miss-student-teacher)


New research by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer demonstrates that students who write out their notes on paper actually learn more. Across three experiments, Mueller and Oppenheimer had students take notes in a classroom setting and then tested students on their memory for factual detail, their conceptual understanding of the material, and their ability to synthesize and generalize the information. Half of the students were instructed to take notes with a laptop, and the other half were instructed to write the notes out by hand. As in other studies, students who used laptops took more notes. In each study, however, those who wrote out their notes by hand had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material than those who used took notes with their laptops.

What drives this paradoxical finding? Mueller and Oppenheimer postulate that taking notes by hand requires different types of cognitive processing than taking notes on a laptop, and these different processes have consequences for learning. Writing by hand is slower and more cumbersome than typing, and students cannot possibly write down every word in a lecture. Instead, they listen, digest, and summarize so that they can succinctly capture the essence of the information. Thus, taking notes by hand forces the brain to engage in some heavy “mental lifting,” and these efforts foster comprehension and retention. By contrast, when typing students can easily produce a written record of the lecture without processing its meaning, as faster typing speeds allow students to transcribe a lecture word for word without devoting much thought to the content.


Study finds writing by hand helps learning. It also boosts creativity. (via explore-blog)

Great read. It is well worth reading the whole article. This will be part of my first week of class in the fall.

(Source: explore-blog)