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Don’t Help Your Kids With Their Homework

Greater parental involvement in school (serving on committees, checking the kids’ homework) does not correlate with greater academic achievement. I wonder how these findings would relate to homeschooling. The theory was that more active and invested mothers and fathers could help close the test-score gap between middle-class and poor students. Yet until the new study, nobody had used the available data to test the assumption that close relationships between parents…

Digital Storytelling
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Digital Storytelling: an Efficient and Engaging Learning Activity

A digital story is essentially any combination of a spoken narrative and a number of visuals, perhaps with a soundtrack – along with new technologies to edit and share the story. Although the concept of digital storytelling is closely linked to the use of new technology, we shouldn’t forget that it is always the story and not the technology that teachers should focus on. We should merge the digital skills…

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The Real Reason Why You Can’t Write

Have you ever stopped to think about what you believe about yourself as a writer? Have you ever considered what you believe about the work you produce? Your beliefs run the show, usually subconsciously. And if they’re limiting or negative beliefs, they’ll stop that show dead in its tracks. You believe certain theories about why you suffer from wanting desperately to write but are unable to. Each writer has their…

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Code is not literature

A literate programmer describes his attempts to get fellow programmers to “read” code the way writers read literature. (He concludes that the deep study of code requires a different analogy.) Preparing for the talk I’m going to give to the Girls who Code cohort, I started thinking about what to tell them about code reading and code they should read. And once again it struck me that for all the…

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This Is What It Is Like To Be Deaf From Birth

Ultimately, I got sick and tired of both groups trying to tell me how to live my life. The deaf culture advocates tell me I should fling away my [cochlear implant (CI)] and make my home within the community. The CI advocates tell me that I should give up using [American Sign Langauge] and become fully immersed in the hearing world. My experience in the firestorm of the culture wars…

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What to Do With a B.A. in English?

Some good tips on what to say about your English major during a job interview, and some realistic advice about English grad school. English majors choose a major that not only challenges them intellectually but gives them pleasure. They love to read and think that reading matters. Or they hope to be writers and have taken courses in creative writing to test their potential as poets, fiction writers, and dramatists.…

Transmedia Storytelling 101

Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story. So, for example, in The Matrix franchise, key bits of information are conveyed through three live action films, a series of animated shorts, two collections of comic…

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Why Our Brains Make Us Click on Lists

The article-as-numbered-list has several features that make it inherently captivating: the headline catches our eye in a stream of content; it positions its subject within a preëxisting category and classification system, like “talented animals”; it spatially organizes the information; and it promises a story that’s finite, whose length has been quantified upfront. Together, these create an easy reading experience, in which the mental heavy lifting of conceptualization, categorization, and analysis…

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Modern Masterpieces of Comedic Genius: The Art of the Humorous Amazon Review, Part Deux

I love me a good Amazon mock review. Here are several. From scientific miracles to literary criticism, by way of bodily functions and failures of common sense. Many moons ago, I wrote about the art of the humorous Amazon review as a modern masterpiece of parodic genius, embodying Arthur Koestler’s seminal “bisociation” theory of how humor and creativity work. It turns out this peculiar micro-genre of satire is surprisingly expansive…