Saturday, April 25, 2015

TWIC: mixed bag

Why creativity in the classroom doesn't matter:

I have never entertained the idea of creativity in my classroom because to do so would mean judging my students as opposed to assessing them. Judging my students would be like saying...
  • Mary, you sure are creative.
  • Mike, you produced a creative brochure, video, etc.
  • Monica, your group worked creatively on that project.

In all cases, I am labeling my students dichotomously as being either "good" or "bad". In formal education, the feedback students receive needs to go beyond good/bad, pass/fail, etc. It needs to be more nuanced. This is where the alternative, assessment, becomes more important than creativity.
Stewart's discussion of creativity in the classroom is more about semantics than discouraging the idea.  I think I see his point; as an ESL educator, I need to judge and critique the grammar not, for example, the truthfulness of my student's responses.  A mundane answer is as valuable as an imaginative one outside of class.
At age 47 I began to listen to more classical music.  I still don't listen to much but I am paying a little more attention to it than I did in my youth.  I recently watched/listened to a Youtube clip that explained what 'variations' and creativity mean in the performance of classical music first made by men who are long dead.
David Ogilvy's memo on writing.  Here are five tips from his list:
  1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
  2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
  3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
  4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification,attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
  5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
The Hugos are a group of prizes for science fiction and fantasy writing. There is some controversy about how the candidates for the awards are being chosen this year with two groups following the edge of the rules but still appearing to be gaming the system.  Twitter has been active with possible new awards.

Fighting procrastination with software:

Patterson’s report, written last November but released this month, examines the effects of different types of antidistraction software. His study looked at 657 students enrolled in a statistics MOOC offered by Stanford University. The students, all of whom agreed to download software that would track their activity online, were then separated into three groups, plus a control group.
Students in the group that tested a commitment tool set their own daily allotments for time they could spend on distracting websites such as BuzzFeed, ESPN and Facebook. If the students hit the cap during the course of a day, the software blocked them from the distracting sites, forcing students to give a new reason every time they wanted to unblock one.
On average, students allotted 2.7 hours per day to spend on distracting websites and went over that limit four times during the nine-week MOOC. Even though the software sent them a daily email at 6:45 a.m. reminding them of that limit and asking if they wanted to reset it, the average student only did so once.
The whole article is interesting but I particularly like this bit of self-reflection:
“One of the things I noticed with this software is that there were things I thought I was spending a lot of time on that I wasn’t, and other things I thought I was spending a couple of minutes on that was sucking up a lot of time.”
Learning what you are actually doing with your day rather than what you think you are doing is interesting.  It's obvious that one should do so with money to see how much is spent on venti-cappa-frappa-cinos in a week but investigating recreational web surfing clearly has some value too.  And this approach would work on projects away from the computer.  This reminds me that I should get back to carving.

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