turning stones

taking for a spin: tools for The Five 8s

FREE Learning Guides and Teacher Resources

Image courtesy of shmoop.com

Whoa! I stumbled upon a great resource for study and teaching guides. And it’s all for free. Although there is a premium version if you want the whole package, but the free version is such a rich resource already. Shmoop includes a whole lot of materials covering Literature, Poetry, the Bestsellers, Shakespeare, US History, Civics, Economics, Music, Biography, and Pre-Algebra. Let’s say I am teaching Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter, I will find an overview, a summary, themes, quotes, the characters, an analysis of the work, probe questions, even photos, a link to related resources on the web and a corner for teachers with ideas for assignments and activities. You can even copy HTML and paste it on your class website, like this:

Shmoop learning guides The Scarlet Letter Assignments & Activities

Let’s face it — sometimes when you’re studying a work of literature intensely, you tend to lose track of the plot (who-did-what-to-whom-where-and-when). Sometimes it’s good to back up and just look at the bare bones of the story. Possibly understanding plot would be a lot easier if each character in the text you’re reading had a Facebook page and could simply update his or her status after each major event.

Here’s an example of William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet turned into a Facebook Newsfeed. This piece was written by Sarah Schmelling for McSweeney’s. (This link leads to the original document. This link leads to a mock Facebook page that makes Schmelling’s piece look exactly like it might look if it truly were posted on Facebook.)

Now it’s your turn to turn your text into a Facebook Wall. Check out Shmoop’s The Scarlet Letter summary, The Scarlet Letter plot analysis and The Scarlet Letter characters. Now try to reduce or summarize the plot of your text into 10-15 Facebook status updates, using at least five different characters.
Unlike Wikipedia, Shmoop is a credible academic resource written by educators and experts from America’s top universities, including Stanford, Harvard, and UC Berkeley. There are no individual authors named as Shmoop is a ‘corporate publisher’. And yes, Shmoop can be cited as a legitimate resource.
Try it out. Find your lessons. Shmoop it!
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