Archives for Writing


Why Vocabulary and Facts Are So Important

How do you know all the words without looking at the back of the cards? 

A fifth grade student was amazed that I knew every word on the American Heritage Dictionary's Top 100 Words Every Middle Schooler Should Know  list. She only recognized five.

I assured her that soon she would also know these words, because we were about to begin learning them now.The authors explain why knowing these words is so important:
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So I Got My Test Back; Now What?

Dear Friends,

It's such a shame that in our culture testing has such a bad name.

The dad of one of my students is a physician; he recalls that:
Medical school is all about being tested. We were constantly quizzing, taking tests, and flipping flash cards (each flash card is a tiny test). We were tested multiple times every day. All that testing made our minds sharp, plus it kept us aware of the areas we still needed to work on. It was a powerful way to learn.
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Can Writing The College Essay Have Mental Health Benefits?

The new Common Application prompts were revealed on Aug 1, and forward-thinking high school seniors are already brainstorming for what to write and attempting some rough drafts.

The prompts are listed below; notice how they are all designed to get students writing about their unique identities, character strengths and core values.

Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
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Can Limiting Choice Make Writing Flow?

Do we need other people in order to understand ourselves better?

Take just a few seconds to consider this question.

OK, now: unless you were too rushed or distracted to actually invest those few seconds, you found that your mind automatically began forming a reply.

Questions can be great for kicking the brain into a productive mode, because:

Questions stimulate thinking, and...
Questions provide focus.

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Wonderful Word Problems

[I'm going to devote my Thursday blog posts to the topic of All Things Academic: reading, writing, 'rithmetic and the other school subjects.]

Last week I said that I see value in having kids (and all learners) memorize a certain amount of factual information.

I also said that I'm not a fan of rote memorization of multiplication "facts." Kids should also be learning when and how to apply all of the four operations to various situations.
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The Next 15 Minutes

Do you practice mindfulness? I try to live "in the moment" as much as possible, every day. There's something about focusing on the present that keeps me feeling stronger, more grounded, happier, more able to cope. Yet, a big part of being human involves being aware of the past with all its traumas, and the future with all its worries.

In her memoir,
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Emotions and Feelings

Mental Fatigue at the End of Summer

Summer's lease hath all too short a date.

-Shakespeare, Sonnet 18

This post is about projection and self-acceptance and those nagging feelings of fatigue.

In this part of the country, kids still have two or three weeks before they start back to school.

Yesterday I sat with one student, Alex, who has been respectfully and dutifully schlogging through his SAT prep work all summer. Alex understands the benefits of all this studying, but his heart's not in it. He wishes he was doing "something else."
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Emotions and Feelings

Capture Summertime in A Gratitude Journal

Summer is such a magical time, and it passes too quickly.

It's the perfect time to start, or renew, your gratitude journal.

The concept is simple: There's beauty and pleasure all around us, but we often don't notice it or get enough enjoyment out of it, because we're focused on all our pressures and problems.

Keeping a gratitude journal gets us to:

Change our focus and scan our environment for pleasures, not problems.
Notice and savor the good things, spend more time enjoying them.
Indulge in their details by describing them in writing.
Hold on to them by recording them.

I began actively retraining my focus in this manner many years ago, so that by now I automatically notice simple pleasures I dare say most people do not.
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