A Design-Based Approach to Storytelling

A Design-Based Approach to Storytelling

I’m one of those writers who loves plot for plot’s sake. (Which is probably one reason I’m drawn to genre fiction.) But one thing I’ve found is that outlining a plot is a wretched place to begin. I’ve known since my NaNoWriMo days that I’m not a plotter. But I’m a not a seat-of-my-pantser, either. …

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Today, You Can Take a Poem through Seven Drafts

Today, You Can Take a Poem through Seven Drafts

I want to offer you something that I developed in my sophomore English class last year. I’m always trying to get my students to revise. Revision is where all the creative decision-making happens in writing. I came up with a method for pushing a freewriting through seven drafts, and into a focused, straightforward expression of …

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Five Ways to Jackhammer through Creative Block

Five Ways to Jackhammer through Creative Block

We all get stuck. And waiting around for inspiration to strike is…well, let’s just say it’s not a winning strategy. We know this. So what can we do about creative block? I’m a teacher, but I’m also a creative professional — a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, who’s dabbled in music, theater, cartooning, and other …

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Two Ways to Keep Your Lessons User-Friendly

Two Ways to Keep Your Lessons User-Friendly

In the education profession, you’re trained to approach lesson planning a certain way. Your key question is, “What’s the objective?” You’re supposed to write lessons around learning objectives — what will the student be able to do at the end of the lesson? But I’ve found that, in practice, the exercise of writing lesson objectives …

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Give your Weltanschauung a Workout

Give your Weltanschauung a Workout

The Pegasus and the Pantograph. Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” And if you teach English like me, you’ve seen your fair share of essays that open with Albert Einstein quotes. The guy is just so quotable. Heck, that quote was a favorite of mine in the seventh grade, and I …

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On Essay Rubrics, Why They are Hell, and How to Design Them Better

On Essay Rubrics, Why They are Hell, and How to Design Them Better

Rubrics are Hell. Essay rubrics. Project rubrics. Oral presentation rubrics. As a social constructivist, I’ve always disliked them. But I can’t escape them. We teachers are actually wedged between rubrics on both sides. We use them on our students’ work, to try and streamline the complex and demanding cognitive process of evaluation. And our administrators …

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Low-Cost Logo Design Means Budgeting Failure

Low-Cost Logo Design Means Budgeting Failure

If you’re trying to expand your design portfolio, chances are you’ll consider sites like 99designs or Crowdspring. Sites like that are ultimately bad for freelance designers. These sites force freelancers to work on spec for clients who generally are not seeking to collaborate creatively, and often give little or no feedback. It’s a model with …

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What Binge Watching Means for Us, and What We Can Do Instead

What Binge Watching Means for Us, and What We Can Do Instead

Binge Watching Means You’re Awesome. To media platforms, that is. You’re the perfect customer. I’m a binge watcher myself. But streaming media platforms give me pause. (haha. sigh.) I’m not categorically opposed to media streaming. Platforms like Steam and Bandcamp make room for independent developers and artists to find their audiences. They can be awesome …

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Freewriting Works. So Why is it a Tough Sell?

Freewriting Works. So Why is it a Tough Sell?

I’ve been teaching the technique of freewriting to high school students for a dozen years. Peter Elbow invented it. Buy and read his book, Writing without Teachers. The theory in a nutshell is this: you can more efficiently clarify your thinking, invent thesis statements, or whatever, if you warm up your brain by writing some …

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