When You Get Blocked

19 Mar

“Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most,” says a sorrowful song about the season that is about to begin. (I recommend the Betty Carter version). We might say the same for writer’s block.

A resScreen Shot 2016-03-19 at 2.50.16 PMearcher at the University of Pennsylvania has a nice bit of advice for finding a frame of mind that could help you dig out of the rut.

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ELA Test: A Little Less Cause for Panic

12 Mar
Punxsutawney Phil headshot


In Spring the weather grows nicer, but school becomes meaner. This is no fault of nature’s, though you can’t be blamed for  believing that it is. It is ELA test prep season — without even a prediction from Punxsutawney Phil as to how severe it might be.


This year there’s no clock. 

The learning, such as it is, from here on out will be much devoted to drills on how to take a test. But from a writing standpoint, there is a bit of good news this year: the test will not be timed, and students can take as long to finish as they need. This means they can slow down.

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Tutor Fair at MS 54

12 Feb

Meeting tutors in the gym.

The PTA hosted a tutor fair at MS 54 (Booker T. Washington) on January 12, and we had the pleasure of meeting lots of parents and students at our table. It’s an original fundraising idea.  I know this because if you Google  “Tutor Fair,”  you get listings for a tutoring service by that name with the following address:  1 E Poultry Ave, London EC1A 9PT, United Kingdom.   Continue reading

Which Prompt to Answer: Does It Matter?

30 Jan

common app logo





The Common Application will be keeping the same questions for this fall’s college applicants as it used in 2015-2016. The company says it will review prompts every two years, because that is how long it takes to process all the feedback.  So the announcement was not terribly newsworthy, but it did include some curious statistics on the the proportion of applicants who answered each of the five prompts last year:

Among the more than 800,000 unique applicants who have submitted a Common App so far during the 2015-2016 application cycle, 47 percent have chosen to write about their background, identity, interest, or talent – making it the most frequently selected prompt; 22 percent have chosen to write about an accomplishment, 17 percent about a lesson or failure, 10 percent about a problem solved, and four percent about an idea challenged.

I am not sure why it should matter to any individual writer how many other applicants might be responding to the same question he or she has chosen.

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