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TV's Novel Challenge: Literature on the Screen

TV's Novel Challenge: Literature on the Screen | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
The new series Parade's End is testing viewers' appetites for highbrow fare at a time when HBO and other networks are snapping up literary rights.
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I don't know why the thought had never crossed my mind before. One of our favorite past times is to wait until a TV series with big buzz has released the most recent season's episodes on Netflix streaming and then we do a Boardwalk Empire marathon watching the entire series 5-6 episodes at a time over the course of 2-3 days. Though we're always a season behind, the advantages are many. There are no commericials, no worrying about whether or not our schedules clash with the "first run" viewing schedule (yes, we have DVR, though we don't have HBO or other premium stations), and best of all we don't have to wait a week to see the outcome of those "every-episode-has-a-cliff-hanger-ending" endings that have been perfected by the producers of these well-written series. I'm not a fan of TV cliff hanger endings, finding them generally an annoying practice designed not so much to create a "can't-put-it-down" forward momentum as they do in books, but to create some sort of week long addiction-widthdrawal like agitation between fixes. 


When chapters in a book end in a cliff-hanger, I want to know! immediately! and I keep reading. No one is withholding the next chapter for a week. Imagine if while reading you weren't allowed to read the next chapter after a cliff-hanging preceding chapter really ramped up your interest in the story's plot line. That's not exciting. It's aggravating. 


But, of course with a book, I've paid the full price ahead of time. It's mine. The publishing industry's business plan does not require that I subscribe to the story in order to generate ongoing income for the book's sponsors. The very purpose of cliff-hangers in books is to get us to NOT put the book down, while the same cliff-hangers between episodes of a telvision series are designed to create that addiction draw ensuring the sponsors that I'll be back next week to see their ads or to ensure HBO that I'll continue my Level-300 subscription.


It only works for me though because I've never really cared much for how up to date my contributions to "the next day's water cooler conversations"would be. What I've cared about was the depth and breadth and the ins and outs and... well, in the quality of a well-crafted story. You, know, like reading a book you just can't put down.


But, not being current at the cooler aside, the story telling in many of the more notable series and mini-series on the cable stations has become pretty darned incredible. And, telling stories that take 8-12 episodes provides a venue for depth and character and theme development that can create a rich experience similar to that of reading a well-written book. These stories become, like books, experiences deep enough to enjoy dwelling within for days.


Unlike their predecessors they are more than sophisticated nighttime soap operas because they are, or at least are perceived as, a single story with a continuous plotline and themes that weave themselves through a "longer story."


Sure, we each do need to decide where our current story telling comfort boundaries are since many of these series include language of concern and have significantly more graphic sexual or violent content than the traditional network offerings. I can't and don't particularly believe it is my place to impose my viewing or reading tastes upon other adults. I'm happy to share opinions, but because I don't happen to draw my line regarding tolerable violence-levels or other traditionally at-the-edge/over-the-edge" content where others do doesn't mean that my lesser-tolerance for extremely visual violence is "the rubric" by which other adults should determine their interest in a series' value. 


So, anyway, my point is that some extremely well-done story telling is happening in television land, much of which is truly competitive in quality to some of the best storytelling in print, paper-based or otherwise. And, now that there is an adequate audience for the well-written visual story teller, we see better and better writers, even many of our revered authors, turning towards that appreciative audience.


Is it all great? Of course not. But, the trajectory is clearly on an upward curve worthy of either reconsidering our views about TV drama or at least our keeping one ear tuned to the buzz lest we miss an opportunity to appreciate great story telling presented in a venue for which we may have not recently enough revisited our opinions.


Well, I began by directing my comments towards the downside of that forced break in the story as the broadcast scheduled series are released in weekly doses. I'm tuning in to the new paradigm being offered by NetFlix in its first series, Lilyhammer starring Steven van Zandt, famous to some for his role as Silvio Dante in The Sopranos and more famous to others as looooong-time guitar-playing band member alongside Bruce Springsteen all the way back to before the e-street band days.


Both Lilyhammer and Netflix's new House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey were released in a new "entire season all at once" paradigm. And viewing them in as small or large a bite as you wish, just as is the case when we read an enthralling book seriously closes the gap between chapter cliff-hangers' "can't put it down" enjoyment and episode cliff-hangers' "forced put it down" annoyance. 


I dunno... I love to read. I love to listen to great literature on my iPhone while doing the dreaded yardwork. I just love great story telling. And, there's some pretty great story telling going on out there right now.


No, it's not all great, but has it ever been all great or all trash for that matter in any story telling medium?



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On The Timelessness Of 'The Grapes Of Wrath'

On The Timelessness Of 'The Grapes Of Wrath' | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
The following is an excerpt from On Reading The Grapes of Wrath [Penguin Books, $14.00] by Susan Shillinglaw.

Deliberate reading is as cleansing as deliberate movement. To enter a yoga studio is to cross a boundary into a place of serenity. To op...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

16 April 2014


My first thought in reading the title of this article was "What happens when we don't have time to read the timeless in times when time is money?"


We certainly do live in fast times don't we? But, are we making a terrible mistake by assuming that "faster is better"? Are we sacrificing an element of a TRULY great education if we assume that the only criteria for such an education are college and career readiness? Though I do not criticize the true value of college and career readiness, if we simplistically allow those criteria to dominate curricular planning and if we allow, oh, I dunno, say literary reading to be demoted as either being too impossible to measure beyond the elements of advanced literacy and vocabulary skills then what happens to a deep focus upon the timelessness of literary wisdom?


AND BEFORE you jump on me for suggesting that literary reading has been demoted, let me  say that I do understand that a close reading of the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts implies that literary reading has NOT  been demoted since the expectations are to be spread across the curriculum. This clarification  suggests that the amount of literary reading in English Literature classes will essentially be unchanged given the amount of informational reading expected in non ELA courses. I know that. But, I also know that de facto forces place incredible pressure on course syllabi to focus on the "power standards;" those standards most tested and those having the greatest impact upon a school's overall scores.


So, timeless articulations of wisdom, those that take time, that could be "better spent" on score boosting "learning" experiences, will inevitably get the squeeze. My guess is long reads and slow reads  may  give way to shorter and faster reads in order to get as many literary titles into play as possible. 


This article, one of many dozens of articles I've read on Steinbeck's THE GRAPES OF WRATH, stands among the most interesting in it's focus upon the need to slow down in order to  truly connect and develop an appreciation for the circumstances the Joads and so in which so many others find themselves.


Susan Shillinglaw builds an exquisite case for the inner chapters with particular emphasis upon the inner chapter about the slow yet determined turtle caught up in a fast world of Lincoln Zephyrs flying by completely oblivious to the turtle's situation. Of course it's a metaphor for the "forces of progress" whizzing by the displaced victims of progress. Empathy and compassion for the downtrodden? No time to care about that. 


Faster does not make for better reading. Nor does it always make for better living. 


So, you're probably an English teacher. You probably get my point and will enjoy Shillinglaw's  appreciation for THE GRAPES OF WRATH. But, I've saved something for last that might be a great lesson for your "irony" collection.


Have you seen those commercials for AT&T promoting "faster is better?"


I'd only seen one, but in hoping to find a link to the commercial, I was surprised to discover one I hadn't seen before.  It's the one about turtles!


Check it out here: 



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A Life Changing Trip by Hannah Ryder

A Life Changing Trip by Hannah Ryder | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's curator insight, April 9, 12:57 PM

9 April 2014


If you like Google Lit Trips, you just might love GLT Personal Journeys!


Hannah Ryder shares her story of a life changing journey she made to Washington D.C. as one of her state's two chosen representatives to the 2009 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Children's Congress.




Google Lit Trips is now encouraging students to tell their own significant Personal Journey Stories. If you would like to have them considered for publication on the Google Lit Trips website ( contact us at: for more information.



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Teresa Pombo's curator insight, April 9, 1:11 PM

Um exemplo em Português em

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13 Poetry Collections For People Who Think They Don't Like Poetry

13 Poetry Collections For People Who Think They Don't Like Poetry | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
When I was first asked to make a list of poetry collections for people who think they don't like poetry, my first thought was, "Well, isn't that just about everyone?" Not quite--I do have nearly 2,000 friends on Facebook, of whom the majori...
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2 April 2014

It's no secret that poetry's audience is,... well, know, um, let's just say small. There were few teachers in my own education who managed to crack my own resistant wall to poetry; at least the poetry that they felt had to be read in the obstacle course of crossing the diploma line.


I'm not saying that I welcomed the opportunity to become enlightened by the, whatever it was that poetry brought to one's quality of life. Truthfully, my personal appraisal of poetry as a way to expend one's remaining minutes of existence wasn't worth listening to.


But immaturity and adamant ignorance, high volume buffoonery absolute confidence that popularity gained via a sort of daring, yet charming class clownishness are real variables affecting one's young judgment in many cases.


Poetry may have been ready for me to wake up. But, I just wasn't ready to wake up for poetry.


That is until  in the meanderings of my day to day obliviousness I was found myself occasionally  in the right place at the right time with a good reason to let my guard down. 


Do I regret my Metrophobic resistance? I don't know. There are so many roads taken and not taken; perhaps as many missed opportunities as those that were serendipitous.



OKAY, my relationship with poetry aside, I must admit that I'm a big fan of digression ala Holden Caufield chapter 24. While writing that last paragraph, the original phrasing in the first sentence was "Do I regret my poetry-phobic resistance?" And, then I thought, "Geez, probably most people reading this are English teachers, maybe I shouldn't embarrass myself anymore than I do anyway and check to see if there actually is a fear of poetry phobia." So, off on a serendipitous digression I went. Not only is there a word, "metro phobia," but the first website I went to ( had this to say about it in it's opening paragraph.


"Metrophobia, or the fear of poetry, is surprisingly common. Many people first develop this phobia in school, when overzealous teachers encourage them to rank poems according to artificial scales, break them down and search for esoteric meanings. Others simply feel that poetry is somehow “beyond” them, belonging only to the realm of the pretentious and highly educated."


Something to think about as we do our best to promote  Poetry month.



And with that digression the intended trajectory of these comments shifted....


What if I revisited my own perceptions of my early lack of interest in poetry based upon that first paragraph about Metrophobia quoted above.Maybe, I had actually liked poetry given my fairly early enjoyment of Dr. Seuss (except for the inevitable scary pages). Maybe I found those early and risqué encounters with limericks quite interesting. Maybe it was that Pelican poem my father taught me....You know the one that goes...


A wonderful bird is the pelican,

His bill will hold more than his belican

He can take in his beak

Enough food for a week

But I'm damned if I see how the helican!


Oh it was my dad telling me a funny poem that actually used references to the words "damn" and "hell." And, it was so clever in rhyming "pelican" with "belly can" and "hell it can." 


Long before the phrase even existed, this brand of "out of the box thinking" captivated my imagination.


And maybe it was the assumption of accepted practice in teaching literary analysis, like frog dissection, was the obvious way to get kids to appreciate poetry rather than one very effective way to take the inherent wonderfulness out of poetry and kill it as dead as that frog we were dissecting in biology class.


But, as I look back on my own oscillating interest in poetry, there are recollections (some perhaps embarrassing others not) of key experiences that brought me out of the fog where instant rejection reigned supreme. And, the list made it very clear to me that everyone's journey to literary appreciation varies. What "did it" for me was a unique experience. The specific literary pieces that worked for me worked because of a complex interaction between the works themselves, the readiness I  had for being receptive, the influences of my own personal experiences' and perceptions of those experiences on my zone of proximal development and the artistry of those educators, friends, and real or imagined girl friends.


For what it's worth... among the most paradigm-altering experiences with poetry in my own journey were the following:

The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby

John Denver

Bob Dylan

Woody Guthrie


Shel Silverstein

Dr. Seuss

Joe Cocker's You are so Beautiful

"Stories and Prose Poems" by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Langston Hughes' "Harlem" (A Dream Deferred)

LeRoi Jones (I don't even remember the specific poem, but I do remember that it slammed up against the wall and made me think about things)

Gordon Parks

Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken

and even Rod McKuen


And, now, curiously, I find myself remembering more and more as I look for a spot to stop adding to the list. But, you can probably see what I'm seeing.


It was the 60's  And, I'm convinced that it was because the bridge between where I was and the poetry I"m remembering was a short bridge. I found that bridge "crossable." And, I found that in crossing that bridge, that nearby slightly longer bridges were more interesting than I'd previously thought they might be. 


e.e. cummings, Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, limericks, and that Pelican poem my dad used to ask me if I'd ever heard every time we saw a pelican and I asked my own children every time we saw a pelican.all intrigued me in their "at the edge" of word play and out of the box thinking.


Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie led me to Woody Guthrie, Alan Lomax, and T.S.Eliot. Mark Twain's War Prayer.


But, the question is, "Is my particular journey from poetry-resistant to poetry-interest a prescription as in here-are-the-poems-that-got-me-so-they're-the-poems-I-should-teach?"


Of course not. But, they do suggest that for many, the journey to appreciation for the unappreciative might have some remarkable similarities to my journey if we find a way to begin with lyrics, and poetry, and word play, and childhood memories and experiences to which they already have a welcoming receptiveness.


And, what I can say is that although I am not a believer in the infallibility of data-driven decision making, I can't help but suggest that IF POETRY is worth teaching, then the data seems to be indicating that we are having a disturbingly low success rate for our efforts in promoting poetry as a welcome addition to our students' life-long reading practice.


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In Search of Beowulf

In Search of Beowulf | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
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21 March 2014


Though true that Beowulf is undoubtedly not a true story, there is reason to believe that elements of the story are based upon historical places and events common to the legends of many of our oldest stories.

This Google Lit Trip is based upon the archeological work of Tom Christensen published under the title “Lejere: Beyond the Legend- the archeaological evidence.” Christensen’s work led to what may have been the model for the descriptions of The Long Hall” in Beowulf.

As you explore this Lit Trip, you can virtually travel to the archaeological site, view the locations mentioned, and read about the evidence upon which Christensen builds a rather convincing case.

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Text from Classic Books Recycled Into Charming Brooches

Text from Classic Books Recycled Into Charming Brooches | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Lovers of literature will enjoy these beautiful, handmade brooches created by London-based artist Sarah of House of Ismay. The decorative pins are constructed…
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

19 March 2014

Such a simple idea! Elegantly presented.

How cool would it be if these because a rage?


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10 Hilariously Wrong Student Test Answers (NEW BOOK)

10 Hilariously Wrong Student Test Answers (NEW BOOK) | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

19 MarchAh, Robinson Crusoe. What's not to love about Daniel Defoe's classic adventure novel, in which a dude named Robinson goes on a cruise? The only story to come close to achieving such a profound impact on the English literary canon has to be Robert Lou...

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

19 March 2014

Hilariously Wrong while revealing a horrible truth.

enjoy ?



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The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage

The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
American students need to improve in math and science—but not because there's a surplus of jobs in those fields.
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19 March 2014

Get ready. Do we really want to hear what we really do not want to hear?


Why is it that articles like this one calling into serious question the attention being given to STEM education, are essentially "off the mainstream radar"? 


The article's premise? A quote..


(referring to the belief that the US has a serious shortage of properly STEM educated graduates)


"Such claims are now well established as conventional wisdom. There is almost no debate in the mainstream. They echo from corporate CEO to corporate CEO, from lobbyist to lobbyist, from editorial writer to editorial writer. But what if what everyone knows is wrong? What if this conventional wisdom is just the same claims ricocheting in an echo chamber?

The truth is that there is little credible evidence of the claimed widespread shortages in the U.S. science and engineering workforce. How can the conventional wisdom be so different from the empirical evidence?"



Not far into the article, this  "apple cart upsetting" information.



A compelling body of research is now available, from many leading academic researchers and from respected research organizations such as theNational Bureau of Economic Research, the RAND Corporation, and the Urban Institute. No one has been able to find any evidence indicating current widespread labor market shortages or hiring difficulties in science and engineering occupations that require bachelors degrees or higher, although some are forecasting high growth in occupations that require post-high school training but not a bachelors degree.


The article proves the importance of informational reading. while at the same time proving that informational reading is more than reading itself. It's a form of gaining information upon which very opinions are based, that requires a  skill set exceeding the information gathering skills of many of those who write informational materials. And if the information we read is "too thinly" gathered and read by massive audiences too thinly able to synthesize that information, then  maybe there really is "trouble in River City." 


So if our focus in designing a better education system is on preparing our students for college and career, and our unquestioned premise is that STEM education is the key, Then how do informational articles such as this one play into our calculations about how to slice up the educational budget pie?


The article does not discredit the importance of STEM Education. It's intent is to call into question the decisions being driven by a less than well-informed citizenry that does not question the depth and thoroughness of those who provide information to us. 


My personal take-away from this article might focus more upon one of the most important skills required for information literacy. And, that is, can we really be information literate if we do not know what the most well-informed people holding opposing views to our own have contributed to the public discourse? 


That is, do we or our students practice discerning the reliability of the information from both sides of issues of public concern? Or, do we believe thatcherry-picking evidence in support of what we want to believe or are being told to believe, while paying inadequate attention to the best thinking being done on the other side and the questionable thinking being done on "our side."


Yes! Insist upon defending Literary Reading where you may be among the minority of those with a budget vote. But, do not do so without also recognizing that informational reading is not the "bad guy" in curricular discourse; it is of critical importance and like literary reading, it probably deserves more attention than it is getting too. 


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Quality Over Quantity: The Case Against Essay Length Requirements

Quality Over Quantity: The Case Against Essay Length Requirements | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
By demanding a number of pages or words, the thinking goes, teachers force their students to move beyond superficial observations into deeper analysis. Unfortunately, I believe that length minimums do not achieve that goal. Quite the opposite, in fac...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

15 March 2014

"How long does the essay need to be?"

"How far does a rabbit run?" I'd respond?


Well, a rabbit gets out of his hole and runs until he gets where he's going.? That how long your essay should be, and not one word longer."


The emphasis is upon the quality of the paper not the length. And, leading students to misperceive the intent of establishing a minimum length for their essays is the primary criteria upon which their writing is to be assessed is length is fraught with serious misdirection leading to missing the point of the point of learning to be articulate and succinct in expressing one's thoughts in words.


In fact, if we are to limit our perspective of what makes for an excellent education being limited to what will best prepare students for college and career, at least on the career front, being articulate and succinct are among the most valuable skills we can encourage. That is, unless "Bulls**tting and bluffing" are in fact valuable skills in college and career.


Although I have paid much attention to my very mixed feelings about how the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, specifically in the area of literary reading, among the attributes of the Common Core efforts that I admire very much is the attempt to keep the focus of assessment upon the actual skills at the heart of each element of the curricular areas elements. And, when the subject is Informational Reading and Writing, I'm quite supportive because the margin of error for the skills in those areas is less than the existing margin of error for current literary reading assessments. That being said, keeping the focus of "grading" upon the appropriate skills is critical and I do believe at the heart of the best of what the Common Core brings to public education.


An arbitrary requirement for the number of pages in an essay is a false focus. It is essentially equivalent to the impact on a student grade of extra-credit when used as behavior management. It pollutes the data and therefore pollutes the "data-driven" conclusions that are drawn.


Even very common practice of failing students for turning work in late pollutes the data if one is interested in measuring the curricular skill achievement. There is some justification for some penalizing for late work. But, losing 100% of the possible points for a late essay skews the overall measure of whether or not the student can actually write an articulate and succinct essay  attending to mechanics, usage, grammar, and organization.


What we do in the area of managing student learning AND behavior affects our students' perception of what is valued in essay writing or literary reading. And, we ought to wonder about every parameter we put around student performance and whether it is enhancing their focus and our ability to assess their performance.


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Roving Literary Death Match Aims To Breathe Life Into Literature

Roving Literary Death Match Aims To Breathe Life Into Literature | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Transcript ARUN RATH, HOST: It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath. Picture this, a group of writers - quiet, bookish, solitary
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

7 March 2014


What a great, out of the box way to promote literary reading!

Listen to the audio / Read the Transcript. Marinate in the possibilities.


And, of course this particular scoop provides an opportunity to revisit other attempts to inspire the masses about the "absolute coolness" of literary reading!


For example,...Check out 

and of course the tongue in cheek Novel Writing ( 



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A New Global Power: Girls With Books | A World At School

A New Global Power: Girls With Books | A World At School | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

7 March 2014

Tomorrow is International Women's Day.


A prediction...

If we can not find a reason to care about this issue today, all too soon there will be plenty of reasons to wish we had.


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Google | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Search the world's information, including webpages, images, videos and more. Google has many special features to help you find exactly what you're looking for.
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27 February 2014

Well this Scoop is only good for one day!


Google's celebrating John Steinbeck's 112th birthday  with a totally cool animation. 


Don't click the play button too soon. Then click it and then see what happens and then keep clicking it until you reach the end.


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Paula Silva's comment, March 4, 6:35 AM
Will you check this scoop? Thank you so much.
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These 11 Apps Will Help You Finally Finish Your Novel

These 11 Apps Will Help You Finally Finish Your Novel | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Jonathan Franzen, everyone's favorite literary grump, once said, "It's doubtful that anyone with an Internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction." We understand what he's getting at: If you're embarking on the daunting and t...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

26 February 2014

Okay, so it was pretty crappy poetry. But, when you're a15 year old boy who wore glasses back then, when the hormones were whipping me around like King Kong, poetry, seemed like it might be an effective "chick magnet." I didn't even know what that term meant, I'd just heard it from the older guy who lived down the street. 


But, a funny thing happened as I was writing that "DA" (dumb-ass) Poetry. I didn't get any "girl friends." By the way, I blamed that on the glasses not the poetry. But, I did notice that I was getting a noticeably different kind of attention from a few of the girls who wondered what I was scribbling so much about lately. 


My previous attention getting strategy had served me well in that it got me attention. But, it was the attention most class clowns get. It was the "You made me laugh, but ..." kind of attention. "But, there's no connection between your being entertaining when class gets boring and my interest in making new friends."


Damn those glasses!


But, those "sweet smiles" from girls who found my attempts to capture "prettiness" in girls "kinda nice." 


It wasn't a deep dive and it took several years of casual on and offf interest, but as that interest developed, still competing with baseball and "guy stuff," I kind of liked writing bits and pieces of ideas most of which just remained valuable to me because I had impressed myself with a turn of phrase.


Truthfully, I don't actually remember the chronology, but I want to remember that my own  earliest interest in "personal writing" coincided  with my interest in the cleverness I'd noticed in bumper stickers and the edgy cleverness I'd discovered in Mad Magazine; particularly their parodies of famous movies.. The bottom line, in any case was that I "noticed" that my interest in reading fed my interest in writing and my interest in writing fed my interest in reading. 


Contrary to the popular mantra regarding the following of one's passions, it wasn't that. I wasn't passionate about reading or writing, it was just something among the many things that I casually added to the "sometimes I kind of like doing this or that list.


So with an interest in exploring fresh ideas about how to encourage our students to embrace reading as "one of the things they sometimes kind of like doing," I found this article of interest in that it does not take the standard, "I'm a teacher and I know what's good for students" position. (Though of course I do believe that teachers do know a heck of a lot about what's good for students)


There's a nice blend of serious (as in studious) and intriguing (as in that's kinda cool" apps here.


For example, recommend a dictionary app is kind of a yawner of a suggestion. Most devices have a sort of built in dictionary that can define any word instantly with a clever click on the word. On Macs, hovering over words in many apps and websites and then using a three finger click can bring the built-in dictionary to the screen with the word defined.  Or, a single "right click" on a word reveals a popup window where either the dictionary or a Google search can be instantly accessed.


But, apps such as the free Poetreat (which i had not previously discovered are "sort of cool." It provides multiple ways of exploring writing possibilities . My guess would be that there is a percentage of students in every class that might find this app an engaging way of motivating themselves to care about their writing.


The Hemingway app intrigued me as it utilizes colored coded editing strategies. (That is it will when it actually is ready) It's apparently going to be a desktop application rather than a mobile device; which attracts me because writing on mobile devices still has a few inconveniences, especially when one is writing lengthy pieces. I'd suggest clicking the link to at least see the promotional information. You will be asked if you might be interested in paying $5.00 for such an app. The choices are only "yes" or "no" which omits the idea that I might be willing to pay $5, but I'd have to "see" what I'm getting for that $5 before making a commitment. But, I found it intriguing enough to say "yes" which generated a popup window saying I'd be notified by email when the app was ready.


Maybe it's just me, but as I began this post, I was really thinking about the last two apps; Write or Die and SelfControl.

Write or Die caught my attention immediately because of the "threat." The first paragraph on the website says...


"Write or Die is an application for Windows, Mac and Linux which aims to eliminate writer's block by providing consequences for procrastination and, new to this version, rewards for accomplishment. Historically Write or Die has specialized in being the stick in the carrot/stick motivation continuum, but it's time to experiment with encouragement.""


And what's cool is the user gets to pick his or her preferred "motivation" including choices for those who prefer "carrots" and those who prefer "sticks" as motivators. There's even a very cool option to disable quitting. But it's the user who builds his or her own environment for engaging in writing.'

The large graphic at the top is interactive though for the most part it only shows options, but does not actually employ them in a working mock up. Be sure to look for the easy-to-overlook gray on black text explaining each option as you click on it.

By the way, it was that gray on black text that I missed for awhile that indicated that the list price is $20 which is sort of a lot given software prices nowadays. And there is also gray text that offers a discount to teachers that brings the price down to $15. A price that I determined I might be willing to pay after I'd later discovered the TRY button. It's actually pretty cool.


SelfControl puts control in the hands of the user; rather than in the hands of a parent, teacher, or overly-protective IT "support" person.


It's a simple concept. I need to temporarily remove distractions that I know very well that I have trouble resisting while working on a computer. I can temporarily block sites such as Twitter or Facebook, when I want to and for as long as I want to. Imagine letting students learn the art and value of self-control rather than letting the develop a resentment for someone else who imposes parent-control restrictions upon them.


My guess is that many of these tools will engage first and then provide a gold mine of motivation to explore and discover interests in both writing and reading that might pay greater dividends than those paid by imposed learning of what we think they should care about (even when, as is usually the case, we're right!)


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7 Famous Authors Who Made It Okay To Commit Grammar No-No's

7 Famous Authors Who Made It Okay To Commit Grammar No-No's | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
You have to learn the rules before you can break them. At least that's what our English teachers told us when we cited Dickens as a defense for our use of run-on sentences.

It's true that not all grammar violations are created equally. Some indic...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

21 February 2014

Well, it looks like it's grammar day on Reading About Reading!

Grammar rules are grammar rules and for the most part, they do serve a valuable purpose, ... I suppose.


But, it's good to remember that genius frequently is spawned by rule breakers.


And, it's even better to remember that breaking rules is not by definition an act of genius. Sometimes it's just ignorance and often embarrassingly ignorant. 


As educators how do we handle the upside of following rules, while leaving the door open to the creative power of exploring what is beyond the fences "to which" we are so dedicated. (Now doesn't that sound just a bit pretentious, really?



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Worst Wheel Of Fortune Fail Ever

Worst Wheel Of Fortune Fail Ever | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Talk about bad luck.

On "Wheel of Fortune" last week, Indiana University honors student Julian Batts had three chances to solve puzzles -- including one in which every single letter had been turned and all he had to do was correctly rea...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

14 April 2014


Just one $1 million reason to read literature!


This is a classic fail well worth sharing with your students!


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Why Writers Are The Heroes Of Our Time

Why Writers Are The Heroes Of Our Time | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
That is my perfect definition of a writer; someone who dedicates his or her life to searching for the meaning of that life and the lives of others through the marvelous and mysterious gift of storytelling....
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:
3 April 2014 I've written in the past about my concern regarding a fairly recent practice of authors publishing articles that ride the gray line between sharing insights about literature and self-serving promotions of their latest book.

References to an article's author's own published works, if mentioned at all, used to be mentioned in a very brief italicized about the author bio at the end of the article.

HOWEVER, I also must admit that this particular article, in spite of its embedded self-promotion, hits a home run or two and maybe a few two and three-baggers. 
Gotta love ...
"The reason being, a storyteller is the keeper of the flame of a culture, the moral compass for a community, the one who sacrifices their own safety in anonymity by putting themselves out there.

Perhaps not a home run but maybe a solid double or triple...
"Writers are born and spend their formative years learning the craft with an apprenticeship at the canvas of experience. Science is all about trial and error and never examines what things mean where writers do the opposite - they strive to answer that question by telling the story of a character."

Again, not a home run perhaps, but maybe a solid double or triple...
"In the end, yes, we do know some statesmen, scientist and money makers of the past but when you really dig deep in the annals of human existence, it's the poets who we know. The writers who told us about the people they were and who their people were. We read them to know about ourselves. That is why they are as relevant as if they wrote today."

I must admit, however, that I still have a serious discomfort in the shift from "afterword" to "embedded self-promotion."  It is similar to the serious discomfort I've felt since the news media transitioned from making a clear distinction between what is to be perceived as news and what is to be understood to be editorial opinion.

btw... I might well decide to share this article with students as an example of the kind of informational reading worth examining in terms of practicing the skills associated with informational literacy.

Just one example. Vetere attempts to distinguish the power of literature with the shortcomings of smartphones. Is that a fair comparison?

I don't really think so. And, more so, the comparison relies upon the reader not having ";close reading"; skills.

My reasoning? The value of reading literature depends upon the literature selected to be read. Yes. the best writers reach for the truths Vetere suggests merit them the title of hero. But, as there are the greats in literary history, there are also the "pretty goods," the "okays," the "shameless panderers," the "dubious," and those who reach for the lowest levels of endeavors in pursuit of low-hanging profitability 

While at the same time, our smart phones are capable of bringing us the same very wide spectrum of possibilities.

To cherry-pick the most admirable levels of benefits of literature while cherry-picking only the features of smartphones that do not address the kinds of benefits that literature is capable of bringing is a false comparison.

And the ability to recognize false comparisons whether we are accessing what is put forward in commercials, political debates, five-paragraph essays or any means by which opinion and fact are mashed together is a skill more critical than ever in the current era of talking points and choreographed "staying on "OUR" message" regardless of attempt to challenge that message with significant and valid counter arguments.


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The 9 Most Mischievous Literary Pranksters, Ranked

The 9 Most Mischievous Literary Pranksters, Ranked | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

atesIf you're looking for April Fools' inspiration, the Internet is a treasure trove of ideas, with digital pranksters constantly one-upping each other to win viral fame....

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

1 April 2014

I've not found  April Fools Day "pranks" funny for some time now. And, in spite of my "terribly sophisticated sense of humor" (?), I find them particularly unfunny when perpetrated by adults.


Some of my most shameful memories resulted from either "perpetrating or playing along without objection to" pranks (regardless of the date), that had only one goal and that was to get laughs by embarrassing someone publicly.


There is a gray line between "Ah c'mon! Can't you take a joke?" and cruelty.


I'd be interested in the reaction to the the literary pranksters mentioned in this scooped article.I'd suggest that you pay particular attention to the "hilarity" ratings. 


Can you get through all 9 examples without wondering when pranks cross the line into disgusting?


I suppose after 30+ years teaching a very popular Satire class, I can't deny that I find the foolish to be the source of significant chagrin; not only in the extent of harm they bring to the human condition (think blonde, gay, Polish, racist  etc. "jokes" and serious behaviors). But they also attract all the snake oil sales persons, scam artists, the "legitimate thieves" on Wall Street, main street, and their illegitimate counterparts in back alleys, in Government, and businesses who know where the easy pickings are and have no qualms about exploiting those who are either misinformed, ill-informed, disinformed or just plain fools.


No. I did not say that everyone on Wall Street, Main Street, in back alleys, government or business are evil.  I only suggested that those who would serve themselves by crossing lines of ethics and decency can be found everywhere. And, that they are too often smart enough to know who the easiest to exploit are.




Some quotes from other authors on the subject.

They'd be funny if they weren't so tragically true.



According to Mark Twain...

"The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year."


According to Ambrose Bierce...

"April fool, n. The March fool with another month added to his folly."


According to Douglas Adams...

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."


According to Charles Lamb...

Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever. 


According to an Irish Proverb...

Don't give cherries to pigs or advice to fools.

According to a Spanish Proverb...

It is better to weep with wise men than to laugh with fools.  


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GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

20 March 2014


There is so much happening behind the scenes at Google Lit Trips that we can't wait to be able to let you in on it all.


But, we can share this exciting news...

We are now encouraging educators and students to explore Tour Builder (, Google’s new mapping tool specifically designed for place-based storytelling. 


It’s still in BETA. However, if you’ve got  just a little pioneering spirit and even a small bit of that “want to be on the cutting edge passion,” Tour Builder is incredibly easy to use. 


We  invite you to explore the following pioneering efforts already underway. Links are on the home page.


Tour Builder Lit Trips

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl


Tour Builder Personal Stories

West Coast Adventure (Student Created)


Stay tuned. 


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My Advice Is to Ignore My Advice

My Advice Is to Ignore My Advice | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
If you're struggling, it isn't because you're doing this wrong, because there isn't a wrong way to do it. If you're struggling, it might be because writing a novel is difficult....
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

19 March 2014


Ahhh! How refreshing!  


In how many areas in the curriculum should the words "the rules" be replaced with the words "possible considerations."


Just asking...


And, of course, the counter-question..


In how many areas of the curriculum should the rules be the absolute last word on the subject. (Think chemistry class for example)


Wondering if it should be a "rule" or a "possible consideration" to keep in mind that rules both restrict our behaviors and protect our freedoms. And, that is the source of a very important and eternal tug-of-war in human history.


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Turns out most engaged library users are also biggest tech users | The Rundown | PBS NewsHour | PBS

Turns out most engaged library users are also biggest tech users | The Rundown | PBS NewsHour | PBS | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
A new study from the Pew Research Center found that more than two-thirds of Americans are actively engaged with public libraries. The report examines the relationship Americans have with their libraries and technology. Dusty, worn books versus sleek new computers, tablets or smartphones may seem like unlikely companions, but it’s really all about information. Continue reading →
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

19 March 2014

Here we go again! A theme is rising to the top as I explore articles for this blog this morning.


That theme is, simply put...


The common narrative in public discourse is more often than we'd like to believe, inaccurate or misleading or embarrassingly accepted with no more sense of serious contemplation than we ridicule lemmings for not having..


OUCH! That was a bitter pill to swallow.


Why do so many of us involve ourselves in the heated debate regarding paper-based reading vs. digital reading?


Some prefer paper; some prefer digital. And, according to this PEW Research, many prefer information in whatever form it is available.


My concern is that if we assume that our preferences represent the best choice for our students, too many of whom simply have no preference for reading at all, then which ever medium provides the possibility for bridging our students' reluctance for reading is the best one to promote as we encourage them to care about reading as a valuable life-long practice. And, for our enthusiastic readers? Just get out of their way when it comes to what medium serves their curiosity. Just focus upon encouraging and extending their curiosity. Perhaps that is our more important responsibility.



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Study: Reading Literary Fiction Can Make You Less Racist

Study: Reading Literary Fiction Can Make You Less Racist | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
New research finds a compelling narrative can help us sidestep stereotypes.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

16 March 2014


An intriguing article about a study that "...suggests there’s something about well-written, sensitive fiction that draws us in and lets us identify with the characters—even if they’re from a foreign culture. This, in turn, short-circuits our tendency to stereotype."

The essence of the study revolves around the  variable controls in two recent studies summarized as follows:



"Johnson and his colleagues describe two experiments that incorporated a 3,000-word extract from Shaila Abdullah’s 2009 novel Saffron Dreams. It revolves around “an educated and strong-willed Muslim woman, Arissa, who is assaulted in a New York City subway station,” the researchers write. The excerpt features “significant inner monologue that accentuates the protagonist’s strength of character while providing exposure to Muslim culture.”

Participants in the first experiment (68 Americans recruited online) read either the aforementioned excerpt, or a 500-word synopsis of the same scene. In the synopsis, “the descriptive language, monologue, and dialogue were removed to reduce the narrative quality,” 


What is it about the removal or inclusion of descriptive language, monologue and dialogue that explains the difference between what readers absorb and contemplate and thereby "take-away" from a reading experience? 

It is implied, or at least I inferred, that there might be a tendency while reading literature to read with both our minds and our hearts, that is with our capabilities for logic and for empathy, causing what I have often referred to as the "3-Dimensionalization" of reading.

Fiction gently, but insistently, forces us to determine which characters we care about and what causes us to care or not care about them. It's a constant engagement with point and counter-point behaviors expressed by pro- and antagonist behaviors. We begin to  see examples of behaviors that exemplify a "character's Character" through his or her expressions of values, motives, and choices made when confronted by challenges to those values, motives, and choices made. And, we see them as expressed through the values, motives, an choices made by the peripheral characters all of whom bring additional dimensions to the reader's perceptions of the various plot intrigues that readers know is a fictional representation of the "truths" of human behaviors mirrored by those characters.


In fiction we become omnipotent yet caring spectators privy to more than just our own sense of right and wrong and levels of caring, but to multiple characters' senses of right and wrong and levels of caring. And in doing so, if the story is written well enough to maintain our engaged suspension of disbelief, we are constantly seeing our own values in light of the great and complex diversity of human behaviors that are driven by an equally great and complex diversity of forces driving not just our own but "all human value-driven behaviors."


It is the best of literature that is so engaging that it actually engages us in a sort of willing receptiveness to revisiting our own existing values, motives, and behaviors.And, in doing so, we become potentially more willing to adjust our receptiveness to the differences between ourselves and others.


Our attention then turns more towards whether or not we can appreciate  and consider adopting or rejecting the adoption of those differences once we have opened our receptiveness to revisiting the depth of our understanding of those who we had previously not given sufficient open-minded attention. We open ourselves to the vast gray areas distinguishing individuals within any group from the simplistic assumptions that come from the shallowness of black and white group defines the -driven behaviors.


We become open to the possibilities that human behaviors and values are better "judged" at the individual rather than group level and that it is that it is too simplistic to assume the individual's allegiance or patriotism, or alignment with large groups beliefs and values will drive that individual's behaviors in exactly the same direction as every other member of that group. Though peer pressure to not break ranks can be intense, we can come to appreciate that the individual is more than the group and group alignments are not the entirety of the individual. We con come to understand that there are those in the "other groups" with whom we have more in common than the differences defining the parameters of our group alignment.


Fiction can engage us in considering the myriad shades of gray in human behavior; behaviors that like it or not, are the sum total of our individual perceptions of what we believe to to be reasonable and our inevitable imperfection in balancing our selfish and selfless values-driven behaviors.


In spite of my moderate positions regarding portions of the Common Core Standards.for English Language Arts, I am a very strong proponent of the importance of both the skills associated with Informational reading and the benefits of engaged literary reading.


It IS important, no it is ESSENTIAL to appreciate the value of informational literacy. The entire human community can no longer run the risk of the anti-factual. Nor can we afford the damage caused by the well-intended but ill-informed; or the disinterested. or the superficially interested.


But spreadsheets and fact sheets alone can not tell the whole story. 

And, storytelling can not include all the facts. Each "adds" what the other can not do alone to one's "more complete" understanding of the human condition. 


Let's not allow the one to "trump" the other in importance. Facts without the synthesis of how the facts play out in the real world are as potentially dangerous as they are potentially beneficial.  Storytelling's strength is the ability to engage readers in an "entertaining" involvement in caring about how those facts play out in the real world. 


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15 Great Douglas Adams Quotes

15 Great Douglas Adams Quotes | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
The late, great Douglas Adams would have been 62 today - not that we need an excuse to remind ourselves of his wit and wisdom.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

15 March 2014


I don't recall which author it was, but I remember one of the very earliest disappointments I had in relationship to existing assessment structures for Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts came as a result of reading a sample question based upon an example of literary reading that was not literary reading at all. It was a excerpt from a piece of writing that was a moderately eloquent biography of a literary author.


"Reading biographies, even moderately eloquent biographies, is informational reading isn't it?" I wondered; annoyed at the pretense that existing capabilities of assessing literary reading is even doable within an acceptable margin of error. Aggravated that informational reading was being passed off as literary reading and that the best the developers of assessment tools could do is a masked attempt to measure advanced literacy skills. 


Though I actually am a proponent of assessment as a means of holding students AND educators accountable, I can't help but find what I have seen specifically in regards to literary reading, to be efforts standing upon wobbly legs at best. I still wonder if the well-intended efforts to assess literary reading by assessing literacy skills rather than measuring the value-gain that literary appreciation can bring to one's life, most of which is probably much more significant in the narrower realm beyond college and career preparation, (as though authors actually write to those pragmatic goals) are responsible for unintended damage to literature as a palatable and inviting source of developing wisdom.


When I came across this article it reminded me that I used to raise conversations in my classes about the Venn diagram resulting from two words; "Facts" and "Truth." 


Somewhere along the line, I came to realize that when I was teaching essay writing (sometimes referred to as "Robot Writing" by college professors who often cringe at the Five-Paragraph Essay) that Facts are the trump card because Facts assure Truth. Yet, when teaching literature Truth trumps Facts. Think Grapes of Wrath for example. Think Candide for example. Think A Modest Proposal for example. Think Death of a Salesman for example.


It is the very "FACT" that "FICTION" isn't true that makes "FICTION a palatable mode of increasing reader receptiveness to the TRUTHS that FICTION brings "between its lines" to contemplative readers. And, I would be so presumptuous as to suggest that this is a "FACT."


So, when I came across this article, though I've only read a couple of Douglas Adams' books, that my crazy mind thought that it might prove quite a valuable learning experience in, not literary reading but informational reading.


What might happen is students were asked to read the preface and 15 featured quotes from Adams' work as an exercise in Informational reading?


After all, if biographies can be considered Literary Reading, why can't fiction be considered Informational Reading? 


My thought is this. What if students were asked to read the 15 quotes in pairs or groups of no more than three and asked to discuss whether the quotes were "Facts" or "Truths"?


What do you think? A few examples with which one might practice...



"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."


(Any similarity to concerns about margin of error in existing literary reading assessment practice is purely unintentional)



"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."


(Reminds me of the counter-argument to the reason for studying history, "The only lesson we learn from history is that we don't learn from history." And, anyone who has studied history knows that the failure to have learned from history is a fairly common theme)



"A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.'"


There are others, some more easily dismissed as just not being true primarily because the truth being exposed is not 100% true 100% of the time. And, yet most can not be dismissed as Not True (double negative intended) because they are true to such a degree that they represent very true realities of significant and truly negative impact in the real world.


Once the small groups had come to some judgement about the factuality or truth of each statement, I might even extend the exercise to require the groups to attempt to articulate a considered concession to those who would have judged the quotes with the opposing conclusion.


And, perhaps I might even take the conversation to a consideration of when it might be extremely important to premise decisions upon fact and when it might be extremely important to premise decisions upon truth. 


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Writes of Passage | World Book Day

Writes of Passage | World Book Day | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

7 March 2014

Though I'm hesitant to endorse the belief that any book is capable of guaranteeing it WILL change YOUR life, though I would surely agree that any of these books "COULD change your life depending upon your receptiveness to it.


Nevertheless, I really like the information available under this slightly hyperbolic headline.

Directly to the right of the headline you'll find links to two downloadable pdf files that may well be worth downloading and sharing with your students. (My preference if for the first as it includes all 50 of the books being promoted and provides a delightful graphic that sorts those fifty titles into categories defining various reasons that students might find them particularly engaging.


Then, a thought about the value to we who teach....


How many of these titles have made it to the "required reading materials" in our classrooms?


How many of us have designed our curriculum in such a way as to make these titles available for independent reading credit in our classrooms?


Would it be fair to say that the "best book" for any individual student with an opportunity to read it for credit will never be the best book for an entire class to be required to read?


And an even more edgy question...

Would it be fair to say that any book that is a required book for credit will always be a really lousy book for individuals students in a class who just are not in a place where they are ready to be receptive to that book...yet? 


just a self-assigned meta-cognitive contemplation...


No real conclusions other than I would probably find some way to incorporate this list into at least a classroom discussion.


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How To Read Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible

How To Read Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Soon you could read all 309 pages of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in under 77 minutes. Yes, you.

To get through it that quickly (a pace of 1,000 words a minute) you'll have to use an about-to-be released app and forgo the ide...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

28 February 2014

I took an Evelyn Woods speed reading course some 40 years ago. I don't know if it was a result of my having inherited Strabismus (the fancy word for being cross-eyed) or not. but it sort of worked, for awhile anyway.


Though it could have been what I've come to know as symptoms associated with ADHD. I've always had a "wandering mind" which  in those days was generally wrapped in the indefensible "Jerome has trouble paying attention."


Ironically, I've come to the realization that although I always accepted the "wrongness" of my alternate attentiveness, it was and continues to be more of a "hyper attentiveness." A teacher might say something in passing that caught my attention in such a way that I'd lock onto the comment and automatically start thinking about it and rolling the idea around in my mind sort of like a little kid intrigued by a rolly polly bug. Time would "stop" as I simply tinkered with whatever it was that I had found intriguing and then where ever it was that that intrigue took me. 


And then, usually, moments or minutes later in the back of my consciousness a sort of "distant echoey sound" snapped me out of that pleasant mental meandering.


"Jerome! are you paying attention!" and I'd shake my head In a fashion very similar to the way kids try to shake the sleepy bugs out of their minds upon first awakening from a pleasant dream and realize that for however long the contemplation had been, it had been wrapped in a body that appeared to be sitting in some sort of glazed posture appearing to be staring out of the window.instead of "sitting up straight and concentrating on what the teacher was saying as I should have been."


I was a reader early on. My parents attempted to be diligent about what I wasn't allowed to read (aka comic books). it wasn't confrontational. I accepted their judgment, but did enjoy reading my friends' comic books when the chance arose. 


I was a "good"  reader, but a slow reader. The family had driven the 20 mile round trip to the library  once or twice a week  for as long as I could remember. I'd come home with as many as six or seven chapter books and be eager to decide which one I'd start first. Yet I was a slow reader, not hesitant; not reluctant, not struggling. Just slow as in eating a delicious meal slowly to postpone the inevitability of sooner or later reaching the last bite of a good meal or a delicious story.


The only pacing guide in my personal reading was the "DUE DATE" card the library placed in checked out books. But even that did not force me to read fast as I was perfectly aware of the fact that any book I'd checked out but not gotten around to reading could simply be re-checked out on our next trip to the library. 


Eventually the pressure at school to "get through" the reading assignment, engaging or not, led me to the discovery of skimming, and in history, now a favorite subject but not so much then, to discovering that reading the bold text and first sentence following the bold text was generally sufficient to be able to appear as though I'd read the assignment during the next day's class discussion.


And, though I never shared it with friends, I knew this was "cheating" so I would often make the attempt to "really do the reading." And, I kept it a secret that I would often find myself in the middle of a paragraph realizing that though I had actually read every page to that point, that I would "wake up" in much the same fashion as I had when a teacher snapped me out of my "staring out the window" days in earlier grades, and I'd realize that I had read, but in some bizarre way also not paid any attention to what I was reading. I'd re-read the paragraph and wonder what it was about and find myself flipping backwards in pages looking for the last thing I remembered having read. Sometimes it was several pages. 


It wasn't until much later that I discovered that this is not an uncommon phenomenon among my students.


You may have suspected for awhile, that this blog itself seems to only have a distant connection to the scooped article. But, that's sort of how it has always been. Reading "A" does not always lead to reading "B" then "C" and so on. Reading "A" often leads to discovering some sort of connection in an interest in thinking about "B" and "infinity" and "$%$#^"  and a "vacation memory." 


So, back to the article. we've all contemplated the distinctions between paper-based reading and digital reading. My position has been to suggest that this is a false issue in many ways and the tug-o-war between the opposing proponents can be much more harmful than helpful. 


As I read this article, being fairly-pro technology, my mind began meandering around the "other" reading issues.


Would this be good for getting through important reading when time is short and important reading is much and a must?


Would this be good for keeping up with pacing guides accepted as being by default a good thing whether or not they also have a down side?


Would this be good when broad attentiveness to important and trivial issues and trends of the day "require" that we live faster even if that causes us to read less deeply? 


Would this allow us to attend to more (as in quantity) important issues than we might have been able to attend to in the past?


And, what about the "slow movement" ( see this TED Talk: and this website: that has become a counter movement to today's faster and faster "self=imposed pacing guide requirements that we often feel necessary for a successful life?


There is without a (current) doubt,  a need to get more done and to clear one's obligation plate more efficiently. We can not expect to live successfully in the 21st century without getting more accomplished more often on more fronts.


Yet there is also a need to allow more time to discover, to appreciate, to marinate in contemplation and consideration. 


So I'm neither condemning nor endorsing the technological "advance" offered by this article.


But, I'd like to turn this comment into a rhetorical or real request.


I have to assume that the length of this comment probably triggered at least a few immediate "Interesting maybe, but I don't have time to read this comment" abandonments; some immediate; others somewhere into the comments.


So I'm placing this request at the end of the article as a data/opinion collection effort.


If you choose to accept the requests, please leave a comment regarding...


REQUEST ONE: What benefits and drawbacks might there be in using this technology in education, particularly in the area of effective efforts to meet "the standards"?


REQUEST TWO: Try to go out of your way, now or very soon to watch the TED Talk linked to above.It is nineteen minutes long, but well worth watching.


By the way, if you haven't discovered this yet. TED Talks not only can show the transcript (think Informational Reading!) but while reading the transcript, clicking on any phrase automatically jumps to that point in the video above.


Now, I'll probably get back to the ton of work I was supposed to get done today because I didn't get it done yesterday, knowing full well that I'll probably be checking the Facebook, Scoop-it, Twitter, and LinkedIn sites where links to this post have been published  every 5 minutes or so just to see if there are any comments!



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Jim Harmon's comment, March 3, 9:01 PM
I think, or maybe I hope, that technology like this helps the struggling readers in a way that supports what we like to believe about technology in education, but sometimes don't always have more than a feeling to go on.
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Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

Major upgrade and refresh for The Kite Runner Google Lit Trip just released.

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

26 February 2014


Have you noticed the subtle changes going on at Google Lit Trips? We've been updating and refreshing a lot of the existing library over the last few months.


We're very proud to announce the just published major refresh for The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. This very popular Lit Trip has been updated with fresh media links, the relatively new "REPORT BROKEN LINKS" button, many updated discussion starters, more focus upon building opportunities for students to discover the thematic relevance to their own lives, and lots of Informational reading links relating to real world relevance of the story's literary themes. We've also begun to identify Lit Trips by a version number so you can compare the version number you have with the version currently available  on the website.


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12 Smart Reads For Teens

12 Smart Reads For Teens | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Originally posted on Kirkus

Who are we kidding? There may be more adults reading the recently published books on this week’s list than teens. These books wrestle with all the big questions: identity, race, sexuality, war. We hope teens read ...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

21 February 2014

I've seen many variations of the following idea attributed to Voltaire...


"Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien"

There are equally many disputes over its translation. Is it..

"Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

"The Best is the enemy of the Good."

"Good is often Good enough"

Good enough is not good enough"


So... what about YA Lit?

Good enough? Not good enough?


Does your attitude shift depending upon the student? Or is it as fixed as the grammar rules referenced in my previous two scoops today?


If we forget about "Literary Reading" just long enough to remember that storytelling's essential quality is its ability to engage reader interest. And, it is that engaged interest that positions readers to be receptive to the many levels of "literary value" that we've come to recognize as among the greatest values to be taken from encouraging our students to be readers.


It's an extremely delicate tightrope we must walk when faced with having to advise and encourage our students about reading.


I appreciate articles like this one that remind us that good can be really good; good need not be competitive with Shakespeare and the rest of the canon (modernized or not) in order to be "perfect" for the time and place and moment at hand for each individual student. 


And, if the good and really good are potentially perfect given the complex variables that every one of our students brings to our classrooms, perhaps the "perfect" may not be a good choice for every one of our students "at the moment" in their lives when we have determined that the best book to teach "all sophomores" is "_____ by _____"


Everyone of us knows that no book is the same book the second time around because every book is a Venn--like intersection between everything the book can be and everything the reader is ready to perceive.


Perhaps, it is worth considering that the "perfect" books may be "perfecter" at a different time in each readers life. Let's not assume that the pacing guides even have a clue as to when that might be.


I imagine a rubric that has not merely accepted some academic set of criteria, but also has a required criteria that somehow rated a book on its "I just couldn't put it down" quality. 


Oh, and lest it be misunderstood that I'm assuming the books mentioned in this article are "good" but by definition not classics-quality. I'm not saying that by any means. I haven't read a single one of the books. But, I do know that among the very best books in the canon (modernized or not) an incredibly overwhelming percentage of them were scorned by the literary elite upon their arrival.


What about this oddball idea?


Why not give students the opportunity to create reading assignments for us?


Yeah, I know. How in the heck could we pull that off?


Don't worry. It was a rhetorical question.



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brought to you by GLT Global ED an educational nonprofit




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