Overcoming writer’s block: three tips


A common thread in conversations about how difficult academic writing can be is the persistent feeling of not being ready to write. Or not being good enough to write. While academics and PhD students might not call this writer’s block, they talk a lot about procrastination and perfectionism. They list displacement activities checking email, Facebook, references, doing the laundry, cleaning the room, mowing the grass, watching it grow – and they know that all of these involve not writing.

It’s a recognised problem. In his book Understanding Writing Block, Keith Hjortshoj says: “Writing blocks are most common among advanced undergraduates, graduate students, scholars, and other professional writers who are not supposed to need help with writing and do not need the kinds of writing instruction offered in the typical composition class.”

But why is writer’s block so common among academics? Is talking about procrastination just denying the need for help or instruction? Academics and PhD students are supposed to know all they need to know, aren’t they?

Would a request for help be seen as a critical weakness? Or is writer’s block caused by writing-related anxiety?

MyCollegeSuccessStory.com: Empowering Academic, College, and Career Success

10 Expert Tips for Improving Your Grades and Achieving Academic Success

Are you a college student looking to make a real difference in your grades? If you’re searching for more academic success in college, this article is for you. We’ll review 10 great tips on how you can take your academic performance up one or more notches — to feel better about yourself, to learn and grow more as a person, and, yes, to get better grades. Be careful about setting too lofty a goal to begin with — you want a goal that is a stretch for you, but not so much of a stretch that it’s impossible to reach.

    1. Understand Yourself. A big part of academic success is having the right mindset. You have to not only believe in yourself, but also know enough about yourself to know how to achieve that success. Take the time to examine your academic strengths and weaknesses and find ways to capitalize on your strengths while overcoming or minimizing your weaknesses. Finally, understand how you learn things best — your learning style — and try and find classes and study methods that best utilize the way you learn.
    1. Manage Your Courses. Many students struggle academically,

The Metrics: Measuring the effectiveness of training

You’re a training manager at a mid- to large-sized organization that’s recently lost its competitive edge. You know part of the problem is employee training. The staff is overworked and uninterested in missing “valuable” work time sitting in another workshop or training event. You know what you should be doing, but how can you convince management? You recognize that investing in training and development is necessary if your organization wants to retain employees and secure its position as an industry leader, but inevitably you know the m-word will be mentioned. METRICS. How do you plan on measuring the effectiveness of your new and improved (and costly) training program?

Mindflash has recently released a new analytics tool for online training. The cloud-based software, powered by GoodData, will provide trainers with insightful information such as material comprehension and course satisfaction. By arming oneself with this data, trainers can better gauge student needs and tailor the course while training is happening, not afterward. Reports can be easily generated as they are needed.

Mindflash offers its employee and customer training solutions to more than 1,000 clients via an online platform. One of those clients is Efinancial, a life insurance company. We spoke with Andy Wiggins, Retail Sales

How an innovative educator became interested in mobile devices for learning

In September 2005 the decision to ban cell phones in New York City public schools was enacted. At the time policy makers saw cell phones as nothing more than a distraction and tool for academic dishonesty while parents viewed these devices as a lifeline to their children.

The “No Cell Phones” rule was strictly enforced with the help of the New York City Police Department, which was enlisted to conduct random sweeps, complete with metal detectors, and to confiscate technology from kids, many of whom were reduced to tears. There were educators on both sides of the issue.  Some were relieved by the policy but others not only trusted their students to behave responsibly, but also understood that cell phones could serve as powerful learning tools.  My friend and thought-leader, Marc Prensky was outspoken on the issue, explaining in his presentations and writing, “What Can You Learn from A Cell Phone? Almost Anything!”
In his blog, Weblogg-ed, my friend and mentor Will Richardson shares some important lessons students learned as a result of the ban.  

“First, the cell phone ban teaches students they don’t deserve to be empowered with technology the same way adults are. Second, the tools

How to Build Interactivity into eLearning

We all know adding meaningful interactivity into eLearning courses allows learners to participate in the learning process, thus creating an enhanced learning environment. But building interactivities can be challenging if you don’t have the right resources, time, or money. In general, there are two ways to build interactions: 1) use a skill-based team, or 2) use a rapid interactivity builder with your authoring tool. Each method has tradeoffs and what you choose depends largely on the type of training you are developing and how important interactivity is in your course.

How to Build Interactions

The traditional, skill-based approach

Traditionally, companies have used the skill-based, team approach to build complex, custom eLearning scenarios. A skill-based team consists of an instructional designer, a graphic artist, and a programmer/ developer who all work together to create eLearning courses and interactions. Let’s look at an example of how the team approach is applied when building a course with interactive animations.

An organization needs a new course to teach employees the importance of security. The instructional designer designs the course; the team then comes together and identifies content areas where they would like to build some interactivity. The instructional designer wants a series of simulated situations with

How To Improve Academic Performance

  1. Repeat any courses in which you received a grade of “F” (note: courses with a grade of “C-” or below may also be repeated for grade replacement).
  2. Utilize the services offered in the Academic Support Center. The Center includes a math and writing lab, as well as individual tutoring, supplemental instruction and satellite tutoring.
  3. Reduce working and/or student activity hours.
  4. Develop a weekly study schedule with two hours spent outside the classroom for every hour in the classroom. Use the ‘Schedule of Classes Worksheet’ to write in your class schedule and other weekly commitments and then schedule in one hour of quiet study (Library or Academic Support Center) for every hour in the classroom and work in an additional hour of study time for every hour in the classroom on the weekends or at night.
  5. Utilize a daily planner to keep track of due dates for assignments, projects, presentations, events, quizzes and exams. You should keep contact information for all of your instructors in this as well.
  6. Have a consistent sleep schedule. Get 8-10 hours of sleep each night and try to get to bed by 11pm.
  7. Attend and be on time to every class. Sit in the front row and avoid

Top 6 Ways to Use Tech to Boost Student Achievement

Successfully integrating technology into the classroom so that it genuinely advances student achievement—this is the Holy Grail of anyone with a stake in America’s educational system. A recent study on successful tech integration conducted by the American Institutes for Research offers eye-opening data and thought-provoking recommendations. Here are EducationWorld’s best takeaways from the findings.

#6 Not All Tech is the Same – Each technology is likely to play a different role in students’ learning. Rather than trying to describe the impact of all technologies as if they were the same, researchers need to think about what kind of technologies are being used in the classroom and for what purposes. Two general distinctions can be made. Students can learn “from” computers—where technology is used essentially as a tutor and serves to increase students’ basic skills and knowledge. They also can learn “with” computers—where technology is applied to a variety of goals in the learning process and serves to develop higher-order thinking, creativity and research skills.

#5 Use Tech That Will Help Your Students – Before technology is purchased

10 Ways to Increase Student Engagement

Veteran and new teachers alike recognize the fact that if their students are not engaged and fully participating in the learning process then it is highly unlikely that they will comprehend what is being taught and demonstrate mastery of the learning objectives for the lesson. Engaging every student has been a perennial challenge for educators. However, research in this area has revealed much about how teachers can design learning experiences that interest students and maintain their engagement.

This substantive engagement in the learning process drives them to become invested in evaluating and reflecting upon their academic growth.  Students need to be engaged in rigorous assignments and mentally committed to their assignments.  Lessons must move beyond rote learning and superficial understanding to the development of higher order thinking skills and application of knowledge to new and novel situations.

10 Ways to Increase Student Engagement:

  1. Create an emotionally safe classroom
    Emotionally safe classroom settings encourage respectful interactions where children feel they can express themselves without fear.  Failure is a normal part of the learning curve and does not mean that a child who experiences it is actually a failure.  Children who feel that they are in an emotionally safe classroom feel free to explore, debate,

How to Improve Concentration and Focus: 7 Tips

I’ve written about a range of habits related to learning, but one I have not yet covered is concentration – perhaps because I find it among the hardest of habits to truly master.

I’m as apt as anybody to have my working memory hijacked by the temptations of multi-tasking,

….or simply to become distracted by the shiny new learning objects that I encounter on a daily basis,

…or to start writing about one thing and find myself wandering to other topics as new thoughts occur to me,

…or….uh, right – concentration. Here are some of the approaches to it that I find helpful:

1. Be conscious and intentional

I keep coming back to “consciousness” as the cornerstone of most effective learning habits. Before you are likely to be successful at concentrating you have to make a clear, conscious decision to focus your attention. Sounds simple enough, but more often than not we move from one experience to the next without any real consciousness, and certainly without a decision to concentrate.

2. Set clear goals – and victories

I’ve lamented my own lack of goal setting before. To concentrate effectively, it really helps to have specific outcomes in mind.  Break down longer term goals – like mastering a new

Rounding up pre-K kids, parents

Inviting parents and pre-kindergartners to meet teachers and see their schools six months before school opens can noticeably reduce first-day jitters — for everyone. Called kindergarten round-ups, these events also let teachers meet their incoming charges. Included: Tips for staging a kindergarten round-up.

At first mention, a kindergarten round-up sounds like an all-hands effort to corral children at a recess gone awry.

In fact, round-ups are an increasingly popular orientation program for pre-kindergarteners and their parents. The events bring families to school to see classrooms, meet teachers, and experience a kindergarten day. Most schools hold the events in late April or early May.

“We see it as a win-win situation,” said Dr. Robert Kreifels, executive director of school administration for the Blue Valley School District in Overland Park, Kansas. “The sooner you can start the transition process, the better it is for everyone. This lets everyone know, wherever they will be, they will be okay. Children — and parents — are much less anxious.”

Reaching out early

Whether round-ups last a whole day or a few hours, they can go a long way toward helping children and parents prepare for the start of school. The Portland (Oregon) Public Schools have had some

Three Big Ideas for Addressing Preschool Language and Literacy Learning

Focusing on oral language, reading aloud, and language play puts young children on the track to literacy.

The challenges of preschool are growing. To help us meet those challenges, especially in the world of language and literacy learning, we can turn to such trusted voices as Dr. Catherine Snow of Harvard University. She reminds us that the best way to grow language and literacy skills in young children is through “activities that are integrated across different developmental areas.” Focusing on the following three essentials, instead of structured sit down lessons, flashcard drills, and worksheets, will keep you (and your children) on the right track.


Begin with a foundation of oral language development. Conversations are a powerhouse for learning. Carefully guided, conversations can impact children’s vocabulary, help them learn patience and empathy, and progress toward unlocking the alphabetic code. They can expand thinking and knowledge. Conversation stimulates core brain cells, which later become a foundation for the more complex connections needed to read.

  • Carve out time each day for interesting, extended conversations using lots of different (and complex) words. Carefully place objects in centers to spark such discussions.
  • Use talk to help young children explore and understand their world. Encourage the inquisitive.

Strategies to Improve Classroom Behavior and Academic Outcomes

Taking measures to improve academic performance and outcome starts with improving the behavior of students in the classroom. Although it can seem challenging, teachers play a large role in creating an environment that encourages learning, improve student behavior and create better academic performance at every level of education. Teachers can accomplish amazing feats when the appropriate strategies are implemented to improve the behavior in the classroom.

Relationship between behavior and academic performance

The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support program, a teaching and training organization for professional educators, cites numerous studies on its website that suggest students with poor classroom behavior often struggle with academic skills.

Behavior academic outcomes refer to the changes that student actions can have on the ability to maintain good performance in the classroom. As behavior academic outcomes relate to negative situations and poor actions by students, the classroom environment becomes less positive and teachers can struggle to provide the best education to the entire class. Positive changes to the behavior of students can improve the academic outcomes at any grade level.

Offering rewards

When it comes to motivational strategies that can help students maintain better behavior, offering rewards is a useful tool. According to SuccessfulSchools.org, teachers can impact student motivation and make improvements

Jumpstart Charges Kids Up for Learning!

After Aaron Lieberman spent a summer break as a camp counselor, he returned to his studies at Yale University with a desire to provide individual attention for at-risk preschool students. With the help of others, he founded Jumpstart, an organization that matches college students and youngsters in one-to-one sessions that help the kids charge up for learning. The Jumpstart mission is “to engage young people in service to work toward the day every child in America enters school prepared to succeed.” Since its inception, Jumpstart has served more than 8,000 children. Included: Assessments that show the program is working plus comments from participants in the program!

“Jumpstart’s greatest accomplishment is that we’ve engaged nearly 2,000 college students in one-to-one service to more than 8,000 children over the past seven years,” Aaron Lieberman tells Education World. “As we’ve grown from a local program serving 15 children in our first year to a national program serving 2,500 children this year, Jumpstart has not only maintained but also improved the quality of the program to achieve higher impact and proven results.”

Lieberman is the president and CEO of Jumpstart, a volunteer program that matches college students with preschoolers who need their time. Founded by

Top 10 Ways to Improve Student Achievement and Create Learners

Top 10 Ways to Improve Student Achievement and Create Learners Disclaimer: This is by no means all that schools should be doing. Note that these are broad actions; there are many more detailed actions that need to be taken.

1. Share a Vision — Review your school’s Mission Statement. Your new vision should be tied to your district’s Mission Statement, but build up on it. The vision should describe why it is important to achieve your mission statement while looking to the future. It should portray what will be achieved if the school is successful in achieving its goals. Everyone should be invested in the vision with a total buy-in from the entire school. You have to keep your eye on the prize and never veer from your vision.

2. Your School Should Be a Change Agent — Change agents are passionate and driven about their vision. They make the tough decisions keeping what’s best for the students in focus. When complaints about change and improvement come rolling in, and they will, pay close attention to your leadership and their decisions. If the leaders of a district do not want to upset the teachers or parents by moving forward, then your district’s