Today I’m delighted to welcome Erica Francis, who is providing a valuable guest article for us. – Doc Meek
5 Ideas for Boosting Your Creative Side
Photo credit: Unsplash
Getting yourself out of a creative rut can be an exhausting endeavor. Maybe you’re stuck on a design or plan for work and can’t seem to make any progress on it, or maybe you want to start a new project but are struggling to find any inspiration. Don’t force the creativity, but instead, try a few of these tips to get the juices flowing again.
Physical exercise is actually very helpful in encouraging creativity. The brain creates new neurons in the brain’s memory center while we’re engaged in physical activity and can stimulate new thought patterns. Simply put, it helps your brain clear out the clutter and get a better perspective. Go for a run, swim, bike ride, or jog to clear your head and burn off some steam. At the very least, take a brisk walk.
Many people don’t realize that nature can be incredibly healing—even just being around it can ease stress and increase your overall wellbeing. Find a comfortable, scenic spot somewhere near your home or office that you can escape to when you’re in need of a break. Often the mere change of scenery can give you new perspective. Take a moment to step outside, breathe deeply, and clear your head. Enjoy the simplicity and beauty of nature. If possible, take regular breaks like this as often as you can to get nature boosts throughout your busy week.
Look to the past
Sometimes answers for the present can be found in the past, and you never know when your project could benefit from going a little retro. Try looking at completed projects, favorite pieces of art you’ve completed, or the objects that inspired you to create those works in the first place. Was it a technique you adapted to your own needs? An idea? You can even look back at decades-old works of art, advertisements, or even architectural designs and see what ideas you may discover.
Focus on a fun challenge
It’s more than possible that what your brain really needs is a bit of a break, but you also don’t want to lose momentum. Find the happy medium by playing a quick game of cards or do a puzzle like sudoku, a crossword, or a word search. Taking on a low-pressure challenge can ease your tension, but you’ll still be getting mental exercise that can help you work out the problem. You won’t lose the pace you’ve been working at, and you might not even have to play an entire match or finish the puzzle before you’ve found a new perspective.
Avoid drugs and alcohol
Many legendary writers and artists abused drugs and alcohol. As a result, a lot of people believe that substances like drugs and alcohol can enhance creativity. Don’t give in to this myth. Your best ideas will come to you when you’re well-rested and clear-minded. Abusing drugs and alcohol will only lead to problems down the road that could seriously derail your creative pursuits. If you think you may have an addiction, get help right away.
Try something completely new
It’s been shown that students who study abroad tend to be more creative problem solvers because they get exposure to foreign cultures, customs, and practices. But the truth is, you don’t have to go abroad to reap these kinds of benefits! Throwing yourself out of your comfort zone is the quickest way to get a new perspective, so find an easy way to broaden your horizons. Even going for a walk at the local Korean market or heading to the Italian sandwich shop for lunch can stimulate new sights, smells, and sounds that could generate new ideas. If you can’t travel too far, reflect on an exotic place you’ve been to, or look up photos and videos of locations you hope to visit someday.
Hitting a creative block is frustrating, but it can be easier to overcome if you have a strategy. Figure out which of these ideas works best for you, and adapt them as you need to. Soon you’ll be able to power right past those pesky creative blocks!
Author: Erica Francis
Thank you, Erica!
I’ve often said that one of the best problem-busters is DSD!
DSD = Do Something Different
Doc Meek, South Jordan, Utah,USA, April 25, 2017
13 Health Benefits of Pumpkin,
According to Science
(+8 Pumpkin Recipes)
A solid foundation for overcoming learning problems is good mental and bodily health. Here is a guest article about the extensive health benefits of the “lowly” pumpkin (not just at Halloween, but year round), courtesy of Jesse Miller:
Pumpkin offers major health benefits that go beyond those of other superfoods I’ve come across. Even though pumpkins are seasonal foods, they’re full on flavor and nutrition. You can make pumpkin puree, serve mashed pumpkins with chicken recipes, or add them in your soups. There’s so much to gain from pumpkin as a superfood for a healthier lifestyle.
Pumpkins are characterized by high amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, dietary fiber, thiamin, and folate. They also contain a good amount of dietary zinc and manganese that reduces inflammation and lowers level of neurological damage in healthy individuals. They’re good for heart health, healthy vision, anti-cancer benefits, and for the treatment of high blood pressure conditions.
Other than a Thanksgiving treat, pumpkins are popularly cooked for low-calorie meals. Looking at the way pumpkin benefits the human body, it’s a surprise why you haven’t gotten the most out of it, yet.
See the 13 Health Benefits of Pumpkin (+ 18 Pumpkin Recipes) at this link:
- Thanks to Jesse Miller of JenReviews.com for this great guest article!
- Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, March 18, 2017
4 Teachers Share Why
They Love Their Work
A rising demand for teachers and a decreased supply is creating a teacher shortage in the U.S. At ReadyJob, we wanted to do something about that. So, in an effort to inspire today’s young people to consider becoming teachers, we decided to highlight the best aspects of the profession. We reached out to teachers and asked them what they found most rewarding about teaching. Below are some of the reasons they gave:
Teachers prepare students for the future
If you’re not in education, you might think a teacher’s job is about sticking to the books–teaching students the “3 Rs” curriculum used to prepare them for end of grade testing. And that’s certainly part of what they do, but as Doc Meek of DocMeek.com notes they often do much more than that. He wrote in to share why he loves teaching and said it’s because the work gives him “the potential of helping students thrive long-term.” And really, isn’t that exactly what our teachers do? Whether they’re teaching physics or history or a broader life lesson on avoiding drugs or developing conflict resolution skills, our teachers impact their students’ lives long after they leave the classroom.
Teachers help students find their voice
Teachers are in a unique position to guide students as they grow and learn. And Vanessa Lasdon of Word-Ink.net reminds us that students aren’t just learning about the subjects being taught to them, they’re also learning about themselves.
“While there are countless rewarding aspects to teaching–not the least of which is the incredible education I receive in return each day–above all as an English teacher, I love encouraging my students to find their voice and share it with the world,” says Lasdon. “Learning—like writing—starts with great daring.”
Teachers get to teach students new things
If you’ve never seen a child grasp a new concept for the first time, you’re missing out. Teachers show children the world, opening doors for them that were previously closed. For Jennifer Greenleaf of JenniferGreenleaf.com, opening those doors is one of the things she loves most about her profession.
“The most rewarding aspect of teaching is watching the children around me during their most transformative years learning new skills and applying them,” says Greenleaf. “It’s exciting because, under most circumstances, they’re enjoying what they’re doing and it’s fun coming back to encourage the lessons to continue.”
Teachers help students develop a passion for learning
Learning shouldn’t stop when you graduate from high school (or even college, for that matter!). Learning should be a lifelong practice, and as Amy Loring of TwoTeachersontheEdge.com notes, teachers are central to helping students develop that appetite.
“To reach every student by connecting and encouraging them daily should be an educator’s goal,” says Loring. “Teaching is not just standing in front of the class spewing information and lecturing, it is to inspire the desire to want to learn and discover even more. Inspiring the love of learning and finding the hidden gifts of each of your students is life altering for both the student and for the teacher. When you show a child what they can be, you really are changing the world. This passion must show, this love of the child and learning has to be your daily purpose.”
As you can see, teachers are asked to do a lot. But through their interactions with students, they get a lot in return. If you’re considering education for your profession, rest assured that there are students out there who need you.
- Thanks to Erica Francis of ReadyJob.org for this great guest article!
- Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, the 17th of Ireland, 2017 :O)
Merry Christmas to all
our friends and family
Enjoy our goofy short video:
We are decorating our home
outdoors for this great season!
Kindness, Collins (Doc) and Jeannette Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, December 25, 2016
A single hour a day, steadily given to the
study of some interesting subject, brings
unexpected accumulations of knowledge.
William Ellery Channing – 1780-1842, Preacher
Knowledge is Power
I’m a lifelong learner and Irish storyteller that is fond of saying, “Knowledge is Power.”
“Not if you don’t apply it,” says his practical businesswoman wife, Jeannette Meek.
- Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, Sunday, November 13, 2016
Thank you, Jose Alvarez-Cornett!
In this world of ours, so obsessed with intellectual content, logic, intellectual reasoning, hard science, and so on, it is refreshing to find someone (Jose Alvarez-Cornett, above) who knows it is also important for all students to think with their heart, to seek peace within as a proven means for more effective learning.
Want to study easier and remember longer?
If you wish fervently to study easier and remember longer, know that your emotional state of mind is a “priming pump for the best flow of water” you can experience as a living, loving lifelong learner!
Peace within = peace without (including important learning tasks).
Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, Sat, Oct 22, 2016
P.S. People who say that “contemplative pedagogy” or “mindfulness meditation” are a religion and have no place in public institutions of learning know neither the learning capability of the human mind, nor what religion is.
on four 24″ roundpilings and features a
retractable stair for security.
Ray C. Freeman III, Seattle. freeman-wetzel.com
Think and Do! – Doc Meek
I’ve been planning to build a “safe” house for many years.
By “safe” I mean free of radon and man-made chemicals.
This is not easy to do in our culture (Canada & USA).
My wife Jeannette says, “Stop planning and researching
and start building!”
“I could have built the house and torn it down and re-built
it better 3 times while you are still planning and researching!” :O)
Learning by Doing
Academics in public education and universities would
Do well to heed my wife Jeannette!
This reminds me of my credo: “True education connects
the “4-H’s” of Learning: HEAD/HEART/HANDS/HOPE.
Read Taylor Halverson’s article in the Deseret News:
“Learning by doing, not just by reading and listening.”
The irony comes if you just read Taylor Halverson and
don’t think of a way to do some actual doing with your
kids (“hands on” and with “heart”), say with their
homework, in contrast to just reading.
Some call it “experiential learning,” a great way to
actually really learn (and remember the learning!).
Mesa, Arizona, actually does it
Because “learning by doing” tends to be underdone in
high schools, my dear friend Dr Keith Crandell helped
Arizona build specialty larger-area school districts which
overlay a group of high schools so that the students can
have great access to highly-developed “learning by doing”
Recognized by TIME Magazine as “learning that works.”
- Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada
Friday, Sept 2, 2016
Much has been written recently (2010-2016) about bullying. Of which, more later.
Here I want to raise the importance of the supposed “opposite” of bullying.
It turns out that ignoring is not so “opposite” of bullying.
Think about it.
If someone you care about (or even a casual acquaintance) gives you the “silent treatment” for some unknown reason, it is very disconcerting to say the least.
It can be devastating!
If everybody is ignoring me (which happens in public schools and other settings regularly), then–holy cow!–what’s the matter with me!?
Much work needs to be done to find specific ways to include those who aren’t just on the sidelines–they are being ostracized by zero contact.
They are being bullied by the “silent treatment”–by being ignored.
What can you do?
Think about it.
What could you do (as a teacher or a parent) to find pathways of inclusion for those who are isolated (for whatever reason).
What can I do?
Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, Sunday, July 10, 2016
I am always reminding teachers and students (and parents) that the brain requires movement of the body to thrive and learn better.
REMINDER: “FREEZE THE BODY, FREEZE THE MIND”
I read of an unusual fun exercise program in South Africa.
Photo from www.123RF
Doc Meek thanks Susan Lee for her helpful guest article here!
4 Inexpensive, Engaging Lessons for
Middle school teachers spend a great deal of time designing lessons that are engaging, yet easy on their wallets. As states cut education funding and schools struggle to provide supplies and materials other than the most basic essentials, teachers are left to find inexpensive activities for their classrooms. To make the process a little easier, here are three inexpensive, engaging lessons for middle schoolers that are sure to make both the students and the teachers happy.
PHOTO CREDIT: Image via Pixabay by wilhei
Going to Great Lengths – Middle School Math Lesson
Measurement and estimation are two important concepts in middle school math. To make it more engaging than having students measure using worksheets, or even measuring predetermined objects, send students on a scavenger hunt around the classroom or school.
To begin, group students evenly int0o teams. Place three objects of varying length in the front of the classroom and ask each team to estimate the length of each object. Don’t give them the unit of measurement, so that you can formatively assess their ability to use correct measurement units. (*Hint: Choose objects that would require different units, such as inches, feet, and yards.) Then, ask for volunteers to come up front and measure the objects to s0ee which team’s estimate was closest to being accurate. (*Hint: If you don’t have enough rulers or yard sticks for each team, cut string to the length of a ruler and yard stick and use a marker to mark off the inches/feet.)
Then, instruct the teams to leave their measuring tools at their seats while they scour the classroom or designated school areas for items that correspond to your measurement specifications. Teams will have to estimate the lengths of the objects when choosing them, and then return to their tables to measure the objects’ actual length. The team with the objects that are closest to your requested measurements wins.
Vocabulary Hot Potato – Middle School Language Arts or Social Studies Lesson
Whether you are teaching academic vocabulary or vocabulary specific to a text or spelling lesson, you can teach it and have students practice it in a more engaging way with Hot Potato Vocabulary. This inexpensive, engaging vocabulary lesson requires a small foam ball or tennis ball, a source of music (radio, iPod, CD player, etc.), your students, and a list of the vocabulary terms. By the way, you may be a little leery of playing a physical game in your classroom, but don’t fret: there are strategies for classroom management during gameplay that are very effective.
Instruct students to stand in a circle. They should have their vocabulary lists on the floor at their feet, or you can direct them to a large poster of the vocabulary lists hanging on the wall near them somewhere. You will begin playing the music at a minimal volume, and you will toss the ball to a student while the music plays. Students continue to toss the ball to one another until you stop the music, a la musical chairs.
When you stop the music, give a definition or example of one of the vocabulary words to the student who was caught holding the ball when the music stopped. If the student answers correctly, he remains in the game. If he answers incorrectly, he returns to his seat and completes a vocabulary activity that you have prepared ahead of time. The game continues until you run out of vocabulary words, or until there is only one student left in the game.
Pirates – Middle School History Unit
Middle schoolers respond best to lessons that are fun and engaging, and few historical topics meet those requirements better than the study of pirates. To kick off your unit on pirates, you might surprise the kids by showing up in a pirate costume. It’s a great way to get the lesson off to a fun start and it’s sure to get their attention right off the bat.
Then, get rolling with a few of the activities offered by the New England Pirate Museum. For example, have your students research a well-known pirate and then write a few entries in that pirate’s diary. You could also have students research and sketch the different types of ships that were used by pirates. Another great option is to have students research pirate vocabulary and choose the provided definition that would have been most applicable to a pirate’s way of life. Finally, you might end the unit with a scavenger hunt using pirate-fact inspired clues.
Levitating Orbs – Middle School Science Lesson
Static electricity is one of the most fun concepts to teach to middle schoolers, especially because many of them have had personal experience with being zapped by it at some point. For this inexpensive, engaging lesson on Levitating Orbs, you will need PVC pipe, about one inch wide by 24 inches long. If you don’t have any pipe, a regular balloon will work as well. You also will need mylar tinsel [not metallic tinsel] left over from Christmas, but make sure that you find the thinnest and narrowest possible. There’s a good chance you will be able to find some in a clearance bin at a discount store or craft store, no matter the time of year you look. You’ll also need one head of clean, dry hair and scissors.
Photo from: www.ScienceBob.com
Tie six strands of tinsel together at one end, and then tie another knot about six inches from the first knot. Cut off the loose strands. Charge the pipe (or balloon) by rubbing it back and forth on your head for about 10 seconds. Then, hold the mylar orb by the knot above the pipe (or balloon) and let it drop to touch the charged object. The orb should repel and begin to float. (*Note, you should try this before doing it with the class, because if the mylar sticks it is more than likely too thick and not going to work.)
Students should then experiment by making orbs with more or fewer strands of tinsel, trying to create static electricity with other materials, such as their clothes, especially if some are wearing wool sweaters or furry boots, and timing to see how long the charge lasts. Can they do anything to make the charge last longer? Give students time to conduct their own investigations and experiments and then report their results.
Nearly any lesson can become an inexpensive, engaging activity when you share your enthusiasm and love of learning with students. Don’t be afraid to substitute materials to save money, or to approach local businesses for donations or discounts when you show your teacher ID.
Susan Lee may be a former teacher, but she is a lifetime educator. As a mother to three college-age children, she knows how difficult paying for college can be. And that’s why she finds her work with OutsideScholarships.org so rewarding. As a writer and researcher, she loves being able to connect students in need with the scholarships that help make achieving their dreams possible. In her spare time, she loves camping with her husband and volunteering at a local animal shelter.