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Thoughtful Learning Blog

The Thoughtful Learning blog features articles about English language arts, 21st century skills, and social-emotional learning. Insights come from the teachers, writers, and developers at Thoughtful Learning, who have been creating top-notch instructional materials for more than 40 years.

Making the Grade

Yesterday I stumbled across an article about college students getting miffed when they didn’t get an “A for Effort”: “Student Expectations Seen as Causing Grade Disputes.” I find it a difficult attitude to understand; it breaks down as soon as it’s applied to the working world. A building doesn’t care whether an architect tried her hardest—the design either stands or falls. A gall bladder doesn’t care that a surgeon did his best—the cholecystectomy is either a success or a failure.

“To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything.”

—Anatole France

Creativity is the metaphoric power of a nine-year-old who calls her unkempt Shih Tzu a “dirty ol’ dust mop.” It’s the vision of a photographer who sees Easter Island sculptures in a series of back-alley shadows. And it is the inventiveness of a gardener who feels the stirrings of a story after digging up an arrowhead.

In Writers INC, writer Randall VanderMey captures the essence of creativity in the following scenarios:

As the person who usually answers questions (both in-house and out) regarding documenting research reports, let me second Dave Kemper’s most recent post about breathing life into the research process. Dave summarized Ken Macrorie’s I-Search approach to research writing. I’d like to parallel that with a digital-era view of what research is really all about.

The first step is to back away from a fixation on whether our references are punctuated correctly. The second is to unlearn the word plagiarism.

Library 2.0

My oldest daughter called the other day to say that she is reading Of Human Bondage. She picked up a copy at a sale because her best friend in high school had said it was her favorite book, and my daughter figured any novel that could so impress a 17-year-old girl must be worth reading. Upon hearing this, I started reading the ebook copy which has resided on my pda ever since the title caught my attention on a search for something else some years ago.

Recently one of my novelist friends and I were out to dinner, discussing writing. He happened to mention being stuck at a spot in his most recent story and having called another novelist to talk it through. My first reaction was surprise, to think that one professional novel writer needed to confer with another. It jarred with my image of both these people as masters of their craft, each sitting in a solitary tower, quietly capturing words on paper.