Your Fonts can Affect Your Grades

June 26, 2013

Inside Chris Gayomali’s interesting article on, “How typeface influences the way we read and think” is a bit about an undergraduate student who found that the font he used affected the grades he got on his papers. Turns out that some fonts, Georgia for example, are better than others.

Grades vs. Fonts. Image from Gayomali, 2013.

P.S. As the article points out: don’t use Comic Sans.

The Dish

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Your Fonts can Affect Your Grades, Retrieved January 17th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
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Common Errors in English Usage

May 29, 2013

Paul Brians’ excellent reference, Common Errors in English Usage, is available online.

An example:

LOSE/LOOSE

This confusion can easily be avoided if you pronounce the word intended aloud. If it has a voiced Z sound, then it’s “lose.” If it has a hissy S sound, then it’s “loose.” Here are examples of correct usage: “He tends to lose his keys.” “She lets her dog run loose.” Note that when “lose” turns into “losing” it loses its “E.”

Brians, 2008. Common Errors in English Usage

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Common Errors in English Usage, Retrieved January 17th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Some Rules for Writing

March 8, 2013

Aerogramme Writers’ Studio has compiled Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling as well as Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing.

Both sets of rules focus on the search for perfection, which, like the horizon, you have to learn to deal with the fact that you’ll never reach to your ideal satisfaction.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Some Rules for Writing, Retrieved January 17th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

A Writing Process

October 3, 2012

Sitting around the campfire and telling stories on the Current River.

Writing is a process. There might not be one single, best, process, but breaking the process into steps is often useful for new writers trying to find their voice. The following steps come from my Middle School Montessori Training a few years back. While I’m not teaching language at the moment, I would like to get my students to write up their experience in the thunderstorm on the river using at least parts of this process.

  • Step 1: Collect Seeds
    • Collect ideas for topics to write about. This is why we keep a writer’s journal with us at all times. Anything can be a seed: quotes from books you’ve read; overheard snatches of conversation; ticket stubs; artifacts; rocks; notes about profound experiences (which is what I count the canoe trip in the storm as).
  • Step 2: Develop ideas
    • Take a seed idea and write about it. Write fast, write rough. You can fix it later. Write to surprise yourself.
  • Step 3: First Draft
    • Use the ideas from your rough writing to make a first draft. This does not mean editing the rough writing, in fact, you should probably put away the rough writing and start your draft from scratch.
  • Step 4: Revision (the hardest part)
    • Revision is making the big changes to your writing. Even if you liked your first draft a lot, making big changes helps you see your work in new, interesting ways. Try:
      • Rewrite in a new genre: convert your memoir, for example into a play, or change the perspective from first person to third person.
      • Physically cut and paste your story. Maybe the conclusion actually works better as an introduction? Rearrange your paragraphs, rearrange the sentences in your paragraphs. See what works and what does not.
      • Read out loud, or have someone read to you. As you read you can rearrange the paragraphs (read the last paragraph first, for example).
  • Step 5: Edit
    • Now that you have a draft that you like, edit it for spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization etc.
  • Step 6: Polish and Publish
    • Make your story look pretty. Format your text how you want it, or how it needs to be in your word processing program. Remember, simpler is better. Fancy fonts and colors tend to distract from your story.
    • Remember that there’s no final version of your story. Writers are always making changes (or wanting to make changes). You can always make changes and, if you don’t like them, revert to the original.

Notes

As an example of how revision can change a story, I have my two versions of our thunderstorm adventure here and here. They’re aimed at different audiences, but you can see that they came from the same source.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. A Writing Process, Retrieved January 17th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Outdoor Education in Eminence, Missouri

October 2, 2012

The Tempest Simulation.

The middle school has been studying The Tempest over the last quarter. In order to give students a deeper connection with this Shakespearean play, we arranged for students to experience the titular meteorological phenomenon on our outdoor education trip last week. Since we’re located in the mid-continent, replicating the precise maritime conditions and acquiring the appropriate vessel would have been cost prohibitive. Instead, taking advantage of the local geography and socio-cultural predilections, we improvised by arranging for a series of thunderstorms during a canoe trip in the Ozarks.

In truth, the main purpose of our outdoor education trip was to integrate the upcoming 7th graders and new students into the middle school class. The key advantage of the multi-aged classroom is the opportunity for older students to mentor the younger students, and propagate the appropriate classroom culture and expectations from year to year. But for this to work well requires students to develop strong working relationships and communication skills. The isolation of the trip (no technology) and the coordination required for the tasks we perform (such as paddling a 2-person canoe) greatly facilitate this process.

Despite being drenched, chilled, and a little scared, the group’s performance was remarkable. They endured the worst of the storms, looking out for each other with encouraging words and heartening smiles. They found the strength within themselves as individuals and as a group to keep morale high while on the river. And, when we pulled over, were able to bask in the giddy relief that a good group feels after stressful situations. By the end, they had developed a genuine camaraderie forged by a shared, intense challenge.

P.S. We also did some rock climbing, caving, spent a night on a sandbar, journaled, and learned a bit about geology, hydrogeology, fish surveys, the rock cycle, and some vocabulary (“hubris” was a term, new to many, that was ably demonstrated by the pair who flipped their canoe).

Rock climbing.

Spelunking.

P.P.S. Our excellent, invaluable guides on the trip were from Discovery Ministries, which is a religious organization, but they do non-religious programs for groups like ours.


View Outdoor Ed. in Eminence MO. in a larger map

(From our Eminence Immersion)

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. Outdoor Education in Eminence, Missouri, Retrieved January 17th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

There’s no Becoming a Writer

May 27, 2012

If … you had asked, “Should I become a professional writer?” the answer would have been No. And why not? The answer would have been that if you were destined to become a professional writer, you wouldn’t have asked the question; you would have known the answer for yourself and to hell with what anybody told you.

— Malcolm Cowley in a letter to Richard Max Rebecca Davis O’Brien (2012): Malcolm Cowley, Life Coach, in the Paris Review of Books.

Advice from a writer to a potential writer. A career in writing is a difficult choice: “the rewards come late”; “most writers are failures”. You need to want to write. Intrinsic motivation.

Rebecca Davis O’Brien (2012): Malcolm Cowley, Life Coach The Dish.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2012. There's no Becoming a Writer, Retrieved January 17th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

A Guide to Better Blogging

December 14, 2011

Dan Frommer has posted a guide called, “10 steps to better blogging“. His rules are aimed at commercial bloggers/journalists, but even for the hobbyist/student there are some noteworthy points (certainly ones I try to follow):

  • 1. Accuracy is essential: Be forthright about errors and fix them.
  • 4. Cite your sources: It’s honest, and honorable to give credit where it’s due.
  • 7. Grammar and spelling are important: You don’t necessarily have to use the Queen’s English but use language intentionally.
  • 10. Try new things: It’s a new medium so there are lots of areas for discovery.

Most of these are just the basic elements of good writing.

I’d also suggest that it’s important to include your perspective wherever you can. There are a number of great places that aggregate a lot of good information, but for the aspiring writer, adding your unique point of view should help find your voice.

(found via The Dish).

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2011. A Guide to Better Blogging, Retrieved January 17th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

How do Writers get Symbolism into their Writing?

December 8, 2011

A “symbol” grows in its own way, out of the facts

— Saul Bellow (1963). (via Butler, 2011 in The Paris Review).

Bruce McAllister wrote 150 authors asking if they intentionally put symbolism in their writing. The year was 1963 and McAllister was 16 at the time. Sarah Butler has posted some of the 75 responses McAllister received.

The responses are quite facinating and quite diverse. One common theme, though, was well expressed in the answers to the question, “Do you feel you consciously plan and place symbolism in your writing?”

  • Ralph Ellison:
    • “Symbolism arises out of action and functions best in fiction when it does so. Once a writer is conscious of the implicit symbolisms which arise in the course of a narrative, he may take advantage of them and manipulate them consciously as a further resource of his art. Symbols which are imposed upon fiction from the outside tend to leave the reader dissatisfied by making him aware that something extraneous has been added.”

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2011. How do Writers get Symbolism into their Writing?, Retrieved January 17th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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