Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading
42.2K views | +1 today
Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading
An Educator's Reading List of Contemporary Literature, Literacy, and Reading Issues. Visit us at
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

Common Core Literacy Standards: Portrait of College & Career Readiness or Habits of Mind

Common Core Literacy Standards: Portrait of College & Career Readiness or Habits of Mind | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
I am an idealist. I am an optimist. I credit my optimism for carrying me in times of trial and grief. I look for the best in people and in situations. I believe positivism generates enthusiasm and ...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

An interesting read for teachers of reading who find themselves "pounding tables" during faculty and department meetings devoted to the Common Core Standards. 


When we find ourselved either literally or metaphorically table pounding about the pros or cons associated with the Common Core Standards, we might find ourselves so locked into our position that we might have great difficulty identifying the elements of the opposing argument that are worth considering and conceding as having merit not particularly well addressed by our own positions.


The first task in taking a thoughtful position is to inform ourselves regarding the defenses and critiques being put forward  by the intelligent and well-informed on both sides. Actually I suppose this means to weed out the loud and less well informed white noise. 


Is the 70% informational reading /30% literary reading controversy a demotion of literary reading or a spreading of the responsibility for all reading instruction across the curriculum?


Does the stated goal of college and career readiness include or overlook the other literary benefits to life beyond college and career such as being good parents and neighbors, responsible and understanding members of our various communities, and being open to at least an appreciation and respect for the perspectives, cultures, points-of-view, histories and traditions of others?


This article is a thoughtul endorsement of the Common Core Reading Standards. Though it is clear that the author has not addressed some major concerns such as whether or not the Common Core is a sufficiently funded mandate or whether assessment structures for literary reading are done in authentic conditions capable of adequately limiting the margin of error factor caused by a cold reading of an excerpt under the pressure of high stakes testing, are capable of measuring whether the student takes value from reading or has only gained the advanced literary skills useful for scholarly analysis, whether or not the benefits of being able to do so are indicators of whether the benefits of liteary reading are even received. 


But, raising and intelligently addressing counterarguments one way or the other is a necessary obligation of those entrusted with the education of any society. To pick a side and expect those with opposing points of view to be open to respectful consideration of those points of view while being open to reconsidering or refining their own points of view without being willing to do so ourselves is folly. 


In reading this article, I found myself at times in agreement with some positions and defenses and  disagreeing with some positions and defenses at other times. 


It seemed like a perfect opportunity to employ my standby practice of color-coding my initial reactions whereby I'd pull out my three different colored highlighters and highlight parts of the article that I had a strong positive reaction to in green, parts that I had an initial strong negative reaction to in red, and partis that I had quite mixed feelings about in yellow. 


And then after a day or two, I'd go back and revisit my initial "gut reactions" and challenge myself to understand the thinking behind intelligent and informed people who might well have a very different distribution of green, red, and yellow highlights than I had. And, rather than take the position that my only obligation at that point was to fiercely defend my positions as "trump cards" in a winner take all debate, to take the position that the debate is too important to not constantly be reconsidering my own opinions in light of any thought provoking influences that respect for and openness to the thoughts and concerns of other points of view might bring.







No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

If Dr. Seuss books were titled according to their subtexts

If Dr. Seuss books were titled according to their subtexts | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

(from Buzzfeed)

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

Who didn't love Dr. Seuss?


What a great introduction to an accessible learning experience of "reading between the lines." It's a classic frustration point that all too frequently leads to annoyance and reliance upon a "I'll never get it, but I can learn to fake it Thanks to Spark Notes Plan B" attitude for many students.


Having probably liked Dr. Seuss in childhood and gained a bit more understanding of the world by the time students reach high school, it might be quite a bit easier to only have to stretch one's Vygotsky borders by exploring the real-world references made in these retitled Dr. Seuss books. A bit of understanding of what the titles reference added to an existing recollection of fondness for these classic stories, might provide a pre-engaged interest in rereading the stories with more "grown-up" eyes.


A follow up exercise might be to employ the opposite strategy. Have students start with a different personal favorite childhood story and have them create retitled versions of the covers for those stories. 


Or have them choose a book they more recently enjoyed and have them create a retitled book cover. I would probably ask them to choose a book that they had chosen themselves rather than one that had been required reading.


I think the key is that they start with a book that they read and enjoyed rather than one they did not choose, may have had to struggle through because of a lack of pre-existing interest, challenging vocabulary, or plotline of no particularly attractive nature.


For example, a student may be a skateboarder who happened to read a book about Tony Hawk simply because the student thinks Hawk is pretty cool. That student might in retrospect see that the book might easily be retitled "Perseverance Pays Off" or "Fun Ain't Always Easy And Easy Ain't Always Fun."


It wouldn't need to be a time consuming experience, but maybe a single period early in the semester might be an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.


An alternative followup might be for students to be invited and then scheduled to bring in one or two or more of their favorite childhood books on the same day. And, then students are given a chance to  blind draw one of the books brought in that day. I'd probably have a list of the titles they brought in so that those titles would be unacceptable for this single experience. So if they did happen to blind draw a title that matches one of the books they brought in they would get to draw again until they had drawn a book other than the one they'd brought in. They might then read the book cold and then try to draw a retitled cover.


 ~ ~



No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

Google Nose BETA

Google Nose BETA | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

You may have noticed a pause in my recent scoop-it activities. I've been on the road the last few weeks have taken me to conference presentations in such diverse locations as Palm Springs, CA (95°), Ottawa, Canada (35°) and Northbrook, IL (34°). BRR!!!


But, I had to take a moment to feature this incredible new development in the world of reading. Google has managed, though still only in BETA, to bring the digital reading experience not only a bit closer to the paper-based reading experience with "Google Nose" providing readers with the actual smells of reading, previously only available while reading a finely aged old paper book. And not only have they managed to bring the smell of old books to the reading experience, they've also brought the smells of the 15M+ scentibytes of its Google Aromabase to the entire computing and searching experience.


Be sure to watch the "Introducing Google Nose" video to see how this amazing advancement works. And be sure to read the press release linked to in the "Scratch and Sniff" books link below the video.



Google has established itself as the "go to" search engine, not only because "Google Knows"but now because "Google Nose!"


It's almost to fantastic to believe! 



 ~ ~

    April 1, 20013



No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

Who Needs Anne Frank?

Who Needs Anne Frank? | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
My son's connection to World War II in 2010 was very different from mine in 1975 or my parents' in the 1950s. Jesse's Anne Frank is not my Anne Frank, and my Anne Frank is not my parents'.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

I almost chose to pass this one by...for several reasons.


Having been raised in a family that only celebrated the keynote holidays of the Jewish faith; having never been bar mitzvahed, having had no ancestory left in Europe by the time the holocaust took place, and living in a California suburb 5 towns away from the nearest synagogue, I never really connected much to my religious heritage. Though I did dutifully attend Sunday School until I was "confirmed" in the 10th grade. So, I wasn't without a bit of knowledge about the faith and the holocaust. 


When I was in elementary school, a "best friend" of mine who lived on my street came up to me one morning and told me that he had some bad news. He was really uncomfortable. It took him awhile to drum up the courage. And then he said, "We can't be friends anymore."


I had no idea where this came from. We were best buddies. Our friendship had never had had even the slightest friction. "How come?" I asked, completely baffled.


"My mom says we can't be friends because you're going to hell."


"What?" Though I'd heard of the horrors of hell, I hadn't yet discovered that hell pretty much is not a concept even mentioned in the Torah.


 I've only read the diary 1.5 times.  I did read it in school, probably middle school, or Junior High School as it was known in those days. 


In high school, I remember a couple of incidents that reminded me that anti-semitism was live and thriving in my own little neighborhood when I found myself chatting with a few not-very-close-friends during a break and one of the guys, who I didn't know too well but had never had reason to dislike, pulled out what looked like some kind of pre-xerox-like copy of a homemade newsletter specifically focused upon stirring up hatred for Jews. It was really pretty ugly stuff.


He had no reason to suspect that the small group of guys included anyone who wouldn't be interested in finding out the "truth" about "those Jew bast----." I was really in shock and in that moment of shock I chose NOT to do the right thing. I chose to quietly hide behind my Jewish anonymity. I didn't "look" Jewish. In fact, in that community with a large population of Mexican families, my dark hair and olive complexion I was more often assumed to be Mexican than a semite.


At the time I didn't regret having said nothing; a lack of action that I regret in hindsight. But, truly, I think the shock of the reality of that ratty antisemetic newsletter was so shocking that I was simply stunned into silence. That moment hit me very hard; incredibly harder than the Sunday School lectures about the terrible thing the Germans did to the Jewish people "way back then."


I visited the Annex in 1978 and was quite moved by the experience probably because I had read the book. It too made a much deeper impact on me than either the Sunday School lectures or the middle school reading of the diary. 



As I continue to explore the introspection caused by having read this scooped article, I've decided to make certain that these thoughts are more like a confession than a professing of some well-considered opinions. They weren't well-considered at all. They just were just the experiences and my perceptions of those experiences as they were when I had not gone terribly deep about ANY opinions I held.



This article did present an idea to which I have since given considerable thought. The holocaust IS an important historical event. Though it is a degree of distance removed from the direct relationship to its horrors with every new generation. That generational distance does make a difference in the difference that books like The Diary of Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel's Night make in generations with fewer and fewer "real" or "direct" connections to those events. 


No kid should be considered educated even at a minimal level without being exposed to "Man's inhumanity to Man." But, to assume that kid's are lazy or too distracted by less "challenging" literature or by their digital toys, is a fairly simplistic version of the old "kids these days" condemnation.


The bridge to engaged relevance for today's youth, is much longer  span than it was for my generation or my parents generation. This is not to excuse a disinterest in an important element of the human condition. 


To be frustrated because they don't easily find relevance in experiences that were pivitol in our own lives, is understandable. They may be being moved by more contemporary encounters with experiences of Man's Inhumanity to Man; perhaps in the lyrics of music that they listen to that ironically may generate a parallel scoffing at on our part since if we only have a passing awareness of the most contemporary musical scene. Who knows?


Should we abandon the reading of literary texts with extreme cultural, historical, or generational distance from our students. Of course not. But the real challenge is can we sell the relevance? Of course it's relevant. But the real question is do the "see" the relevance. Because, if they don't see it, it isn't there "for them." As, it may not have been there for us when asked to appreciate the importance of relevant learning experience our teachers and parents "knew" was there, but we did not have the same "shorter bridge" to that relevance as they did.


If interested in how I'm using Google Lit Trips to attempt to shorten the distance to "seeing" the relevance of The Diary of Anne Frank, see the Literary Location Lit Trip about the annex itself. see: 


it virtually flies to the very street where the annex is in Google Earth. There are only two popup windows, the first has the only known footage of Anne Frank. The second placemark changes the view to an overhead where the annex itself is visible. Then the second popup has an embedded image of the famous bookcase open with the secret annex showing. But, that image is really a link to a complete virtual walk through of the annex filled with images, audio, video and tons of background about the lives of the people who were there.


In a sense, it shortens the bridge to relevance by putting the reader right there in the very place where the tragic story happened.


 ~ http://www/ ~

Mara Ofengender's curator insight, July 16, 2013 11:06 AM

A look into how the way people read Anne Frank's Diary has changed over time and why students need to continue to learn about the Holocaust and reading this amazing book. 

Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

These 'Google Poems' Are Hauntingly Beautiful

These 'Google Poems' Are Hauntingly Beautiful | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
It has been said that computers can do everything that humans can do, except write poetry. But the users of the Reddit page "googlepoems" are out to chip away at that theory.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

Don't let the excerpt annoy you. This really isn't an argument professing that Google has automated the poetry writing process. But, I'd suggest that it is, however, an argument in favor of the kind of "creative thinking" that we generally profess is a 21st century skill.


To "see" the serendipitous "poetry" as Google attempts to save us time by guessing what we might be searching for is not acclaim for the poetry, but rather for the openness and readiness of the "seer" to see more than the literal list of guesses as being thought provoking when read as if the list were a contemplated poem.


I'd be willing to turn over 15 minutes of a class period to having kids see what they might come up with. I can imagine that with a bit of creative thinking up front, students could actually up their odds of having Google suggest a few search options than might actually read well.


What 1-2 words would you use as a starter search?



 ~ ~

No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

IMAGES: 9 Awesome Posters For Book Lovers

IMAGES: 9 Awesome Posters For Book Lovers | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
We love Grant Snider's book, writing, reading themed posters! You can check out the prints to buy here, and check out Snider's other work here.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

Just for fun...

If you're an "experienced" reader as I am, click the full screen button while viewing these pretty funny posters. 

Much more comfortable on the eyes.

No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

The Country That Stopped Reading

The Country That Stopped Reading | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Nowadays more children attend school than ever before, but they learn much less.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

Well, the title says it all. 


Though the story is about Mexico, as I read it aloud (It is National Read Aloud Day you know), I kept hearing an echo.


Perhaps if wisdom is a primary value of literary reading, then we who have accumulated some degree of wisdom might read this article listening for the same echo wondering if it is some sort of omen.



 ~ ~

No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

7 Sentences that Sound Crazy but are Still Grammatical

7 Sentences that Sound Crazy but are Still Grammatical | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
This Grammar Day, let's not look at grammar as a cold, harsh mistress. She can also be a fun, kooky aunt. Here are some tricks you can do to make crazy sounding sentences that are still grammatical.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

You may find this amusing or of potential value as a piece of "informational reading" for your students.


WARNING: This may even challenge the pride that even the most serious grammar police might take in their expertise.



I have to admit that I have not been a big fan of most traditional approaches to dealing with the issues that grammar targets. The complicated vocabulary of grammar just amplified my annoyance regarding what I perceived in my disinterested early youth as completely unengaging complex explanations that seemed to have more exceptions anyway than value, had me locking doors to any potential receptiveness to the potential value of grammar rules. Being annoyed rather than receptive was not a wise reaction, but the purpose it served in permitting my distain to guide my reaction, completely trumped any perceived value in caring about grammar.


Later, but not much later, a few teachers took my attitude which was actually never even impolite, as a cue to imply that I was stupid. Perhaps that wasn't their intention, but in my unsophisticated comprehension, that's how I took their "encouragement." I wasn't actually stupid; I just didn't have a perceived reason to care. 


My appreciation for the rules of grammar did not take a radical change until I was a senior in high school. Though like many (partially) disengaged students, by that time I had learned to hide disengagement behind a minimal effort to learn just enough to not draw attention to my disinterest. My actual sense of the value of grammar itself hadn't changed much, but my sense of the value of pretending to be engaged in order to avoid negative attention had blossomed. 


But, something completely unanticipated changed all that. I fell madly in like with a girl who I had come to find out had a bit of a crush on me. So Plan A became, "Try to get in as many classes with S_____ during my senior year as possible." The problem being she was "smart." Very smart. Her crush on me had nothing to do with my intellectual curiousity. It was based entirely upon the fact that she found me "kind of cute" and very funny. 


The bottom line was, the only class where there was any chance of being in the same class with her was English! And, she'd already distinguished herself enough to be "invited" to take what was at that time the equivalent of an Advanced Placement course.


So I found myself, too clueless to consider the odds, making my case to Mr. Kay, the teacher, for letting me in the class in spite of my less than stellar previous performance record. He was well-known to be a cool teacher. And, I did like to read. So when he asked me why I wanted to be in the class. I emphasized how much I loved reading and how much my junior English teacher had begun to get through to me that grammar did actually have some value worth more consideration than I'd previously given it. 


Then Mr. Kay asked me if I was being forthright, a word I wasn't actually quite sure I ever had come across before.


I responded a bit more passionately than might have been expected, "Mr. Kay I've got to get into this class. I'll do every single assignment and work harder than I've ever worked before in an English class. I promise. Really. You can kick me out if I don't."


And he smiled, paused a moment and quietly said, "Okay, I'll hold you to that, but I've got one more question."


"Anything Mr. Kay!"


"So what's her name?" he grinned. He knew. 


"S________," I replied sheepishly. "But really, I meant it when I said I'd do every assignment and work hard. I wasn't lying about that. I just want you to know that."


"I'm convinced you will," he replied smiling.


I did. S________ and I wound up dating for a couple of years. S_______ gave me so many reasons to grow up intellectually.


And, Mr. Kay's well-deserved reputation as a cool teacher turned out to be based upon the simple fact that he made every one of his students feel as though he cared about them personally and I was one of those kids who just couldn't allow myself to let down anyone who cared about me as a person. 


She and Mr. Kay sort of double teamed me and seriously, by the end of my senior year, I had set my course on becoming an English teacher just like Mr. Kay. 


And that's how I came to care about grammar.




  ~ ~


No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

University of Virginia Library Online Exhibits

University of Virginia Library Online Exhibits | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

Books, films, music, and works of art have been suppressed, altered, expurgated, bleeped, blackened, cut, burned, or bowdlerized. Writers and artists have been imprisoned, fined, fired, or silenced. Wearing many masks, censorship has appeared in our living rooms under the names "national security," "classification," and "selective inclusion."

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

If you're serious about literary reading, this is an incredible site if you're looking for associated informational reading.


I'd love to have a literature class spend a day or two jigsawing the wealth of censorship information and then sharing.


I tend to do both jigsawing and group work in a multiple step process.


I'd begin with about a 10-15 minute "private write" where students were asked to respond to a few probing but open-ended questions regarding their feelings regarding censorship in books, movies, TV, video games, the Internet, etc. I'd try to come up with a simple unbiased version of the most intelligent expressions of anti-censorship arguments, the most intelligent expressions of pro-censorship arguments, and the most intelligent expressions of the gray area arguments between the pro- and anti- arguments. You know, "I'm (against / for) censorship, however, I do believe that access to some material  for people (over / under) the age of _____  might be a (good /bad) idea."


Then I'd have students seal their responses in envelopes with one of those Avery Address Label-sized stickers crossing the envelope flap and have them autograph the sticker or if anonymity concerns are high, I'd have them draw or scribble anything they'd like so that they'd know which envelope is theirs. I would then use my private rubber stamp to stamp each of the labels and envelopes so that the stamp also crossed from the envelope flap to the rest of the envelope.


The point being, that students could feel secure that their envelopes would not be tampered with; not even by the teacher. I'd let them hold on to their envelopes throughout the exploration of this site and perhaps even offer a small point value to their ability to show me the sealed envelope at the end of the unit. I'd tell them up front that after showing me their envelope while they watched me enter the promised points into the gradebook, they would be welcome to keep the envelope if they wished or run it through a paper shredder I'd make available.


Why? The signed and sealed and then destroyed envelopes assure a basic trust that the student's baseline opinions would not be held against them. And, that while doing the jigsaw exercise, not even the students themselves would be tempted to change their baseline opinions should they discover that a deeper probe of the issue of censorship causes them to consider "cheating at solitaire."


I would probably ask students to work independently so that their initial opinions and their considerations of the material could be done without the influence of the voices of their friends and/or "the smart kids."


But to reduce the task a bit, I would have them randomly draw 2-3 slips of paper from a collection of slips with the names of the various sections of the exhibit (found on the "Walk Through The Exhibit" page). This way every student would only have to "study" a few elements of the exhibit, but all elements of the exhibit would have been "studied" by a few students. And, in the end, there would be two sets of groups of three. That is, my first slip might match that of students A & H, while my second slip might match that of student L and Q.


I would probably use the brief introduction on the Exhibit Home page as a quick whole group kick off. Then have students spend an appropriate amount of time focused upon the sections they've drawn looking for INFORMATION about the topic. I'd have them do a three part note taking assignment. Part 1 being limited to the FACTUAL INFORMATION they found important. Part 2 being a separate section where they would jot down their personal reactions to that information. And, Part 3 being reserved for any notes they might write that connects anything they remember writing in the sealed envelope pre-write directly to the specific focus of the section they just read, paying particular attention to whether or not the connections influence their original sealed opinions one way or the other.


After spending sufficient time with each of their selected areas of the site, I would end this portion of the experience by having them "discover" who else worked on each of their sections and give them an opportunity to discuss each section with their other "group members."  In each of these two small group discussions, I'd ask them to be ready to share in five minutes or less the essence of the group's discussion with the rest of the class. This may or may not be an expression of consensus or division. It may well be a simple sharing of the essential information one ought to consider before taking a position. 


This concept, much more difficult to describe briefly than it is to actually orchestrate, relies upon a couple of lessons I learned about helping students effectively process information and their associated opinions.


First, giving students an opportunity to pre-contemplate their baseline thoughts free from the influence of the more vocal voices in the class while at the same time attempting to protect those "raw" thoughts through a process that assures them anonymity even from the teacher, frequently frees them to actually contemplate those thoughts rather than spending that time wondering what "the right answers" might be. In fact, in order to establish trust in this process which I used in variations frequently throughout a course, I always tried to create a similar experience early on in a semester on a subject fairly free of controversy, yet one where multiple opinions can be supported intelligently. For example, "Is it better to have a school day schedule that starts very early and ends earlier in the day or a schedule that starts a bit later and ends a little later in the day?" or "Are bowlers athletes?" (a wonderful essay topic with which a math teacher friend of mine used to begin every math course. He was using essay writing to set the stage for algebraic and geometry proofs.)


Another lesson I learned is that "cold group work" (group work where there is no real opportunity to pre-consider one's ideas before a group discussion, rarely lead to contemplation of others' opinions, more often being conversations where everyone simply expresses what they think they believe. And, those conversations are frequently dominated by the students who typically dominate most class conversations. This inevitably leads the less vocal students to not even attempt to share their thoughts for fear of being wrong and even more disturbing, to frequently just assume that whatever the "smart kids" say must be right.


A related lesson has to do with the randomizing of groups. Many kids feel quite comfortable if they get to choose their own groups because they can "work with their friends." However, the tendency for friendship to narrow the potential array of opinions is high since similar beliefs often are the core of friendships.


I also came to realize that the typical process for writing essays has students begin with their opinion and then work the paragraphs to provide evidence for the correctness of their opinion. This implants a subtle bias at the start that encourages "cherry picking" evidence rather than examining evidence first and then synthesizing that evidence into an "informed opinion."


Whether or not exercises like this end in an essay assignment, I also like to at least get students to a point where they realize the difference between an informed opinion and an uninformed opinion and how the difference between the two often drives the quality of the evidence they rely upon to defend those opinions.


And, perhaps my personal favorite outcome of this process is bringing students to an appreciation for educated differences of opinion. Unlike the typical multiple choice mentality that suggests that in life there is always a right answer to be chosen over all of the wrong answers.


So, at the very end of these kinds of experiences, after students have captured their own baseline thoughts uninfluenced by friendships and assumptions that the smart kids are always right, then informing themselves without those same influences, followed by sharing those deeper insights with a small group and perhaps coming to a more informed and articulated refinement of their baseline thoughts, I ask them to consider the best evidence to support "the other point of view;" the evidence that in their own minds, might have given them pause before deciding to cast their vote for the "opposing point of view, while at the same time causing them to develop a sincere respect for an intelligent opposing position. 


We all know the problems caused by investing our egos in our opinions before informing our minds. It's a lesson to be learned from such wonderful literary reading as "The Emperor's New Clothes."



You of course remember the folly of the Emperor deciding to continue walking in the parade in spite of his recognition that he was in fact naked. But, do you remember the original promise made by the "two swindlers"? They promised to create a suit of clothes that would be "invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, or who was unusually stupid."


Can we really call them "swindlers" if they did in fact, deliver what they promised to deliver?


When ego is invested publicly, it's often difficult to retreat to a more reasonable position based upon the actual facts and we often do display our lack of fitness or unusual..., hmm, shall we say our "adamant ignorance"?




 ~ ~

No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

Geneticists Try to Figure Out When the Illiad Was Published

Geneticists Try to Figure Out When the Illiad Was Published | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
When was The Iliad actually written? To answer that question, you might turn to a historian or a literary scholar. But geneticists wanted a crack at it, too
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

I hesitate to begin with a question that may reveal more about my own ignorance than anything else.


Having for so long been a story passed down through generations strictly in an oral tradition, I can't imagine that there weren't many, versions of the story being told, all more or less similar at the core, but ranging in specific vocabulary used; sort of like what used to happen when we played the game called telephone. One listener, might remember the story fairly well, but memory might cause a blip or two when that listener retold the story. When the second listener retold the story more blips... and so on. And two listeners in that "first audience" might tell two slightly different blipped versions to four listeners each of whom might have told four different audiences four different blipped versions.


Recognizing that the original storytellers were far more attentive than 8 year old boys nervous about whispering into the ears of 8 year old girls, I'll assume that the source materials used in this intriguing story are "relatively" stable versions of the words that found their way into the earliest published versions of the story.


I'm actually more interested in the fact that those with non-literary educational backgrounds are bringing their talents to the study of literature. In previous scoops I've appreciated the work being done in neuroscience related to tracking brain functions when reading literature.


The vocabulary lesson described in this article as it was used by geneticists attempting to determine a possible date of the publication of the Illiad might be more interesting to a significant percentage of our students than merely looking at vocabulary as a study of prefixes, roots, and suffixes.


Anyone who has tried to maintain an interest in older literature in spite of its antiquated vocabulary knows that constant interruptions of the engaging momentum of the suspension of disbelief is not always as successful as it is annoying to many students. 


Great literature does not stand alone in the real world. It is influenced and reflects history, psychology, culture, cartography, philosophy, sociology, politics, marketing, intellectual perception,... all sorts of elements beyond the siloed English Department. 


As those of us who focus upon the value of literature in the 21st century valiantly come to its defense, it is essential that we not fight that good fight alone. It is too easy to dismiss literature educators as being biased in times when "practical" is a trump card in budget discussions among colleagues whose understanding of the practical impacts of the difficult to measure outcomes of literary reading is less well informed. 


To be able to reference more informed views of allies coming to the defense of literary reading from beyond the English department; from the sciences and the business departments ((see: This is Your Brain on Jane Austin, The Neuroscience of Your Brain on Fiction, and "If You Want to Lead, Read") is an invaluable asset to offset assumptions of bias when we tilt at the budgetary windmills alone.


And, in gratitude, we ought to also be careful in our own contributions to the conversations when they turn to the value of supporting other curricular areas that we may find ourselves less well informed about. 



 ~ ~




Aaronee's curator insight, February 18, 2014 6:57 PM

They traced the words on the lliad like you would do genes. They used a database of concepts and words. the word database is named Swadesh word list, and its has about 200 words that exist in everyone language and culture, like water and dog.


Gabriel Rodriguez's curator insight, February 21, 2014 11:09 PM

Very different approach on trying to date something back to it's original creation.  Can genetics be used to date back other historical treasure's also?

Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

WATCH: The Moment Alice Walker Became A Writer

WATCH: The Moment Alice Walker Became A Writer | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Despite the extreme poverty and racism she experienced as the daughter of sharecroppers, Pulitizer-Prize winning novelist Alice Walker remembers her childhood fondly in her appearance on Makers, a new video initiative profiling inspirational women...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

What a wonderfully personal few moments listening to Alice Walker sharing her early reasons for becoming a writer.


Aren't we blessed that she chose to share the kinds of stories that she had never seen written about the people who just never had appeared in books before.


Make sure you watch to the very end and then consider exploring the collection of other clips from the Makers appearance.


 ~ ~

No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

8 New Punctuation Marks We Desperately Need

8 New Punctuation Marks We Desperately Need | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Because you're typing all the time and emoticons are dumb. Read "8 New Punctuation Marks We Desperately Need" and more funny articles on CollegeHumor
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

Didn't I post a punctuation pieces just a few days ago?


Someone needs to put all of these into a font so we can really use them! Doesn't seem like it would be that difficult.


 ~ ~

No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

Books Meet The Movies With These Oscar-Winning Tomes

Books Meet The Movies With These Oscar-Winning Tomes | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
It’s that time of year again, as the Oscars are upon us and red carpets, long speeches and tears of joy (and disappointment) await. For book lovers, it also is a night of seeing how their favourite tomes fare in the bright lights of Hollywood.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

I feel like I'm in training for watching the Oscars tonight! 

No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

Study Finds Less Anger, Disgust and Surprise in 20th Century Books

Study Finds Less Anger, Disgust and Surprise in 20th Century Books | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
A study from the University of Bristol finds mentions of anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise decrease in English books of the 20th century.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

This is an article I'll probably be contemplating for several days. And, I suspect it will join the legion of previously read thought-provoking articles that pop back into my consideration for some time.


I'm not sure if this logic holds since the article references books written over the entire 20th century. But, it did occur to me that at least for the last several years, maybe decades, publishers have used market demand more than literary excellence as a prime short listing technique when deciding what book to invest in publishing. 


Yes there have been great works published. And yes, market demand has influenced who or what has been published for centuries. But the recent "advances" in data mining have raised the "Trump Value" of market demand seriously. I suppose this may partially explain the success made recently in alternative publishing possibilities. So many well-written books have been rejected by the traditional publishing houses, yet have found tremendous popularity among readers open to the kinds of writing not so easily identified as "marketable to large enough audiences to justify the cost of publishing."


I really don't normally like to speculate based upon my immediate thoughts until I've really had a chance to reflect on them a bit. So these, "first thoughts" may be entirely off the mark.


However, the first thought that stimulated my decision to scoop and comment on this article had to do with the suggestion that for the last 100 years or so there has apparently been a fairly consistent trend away from stories tending to focus upon anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise. If this is because the market for those themes (4 of the 6 being fairly negative) then wouldn't it be interesting to run the same analysis on the most commonly taught books in classrooms?


What if we discovered that 4 out of 6 of the books we teach focus heavily upon negative emotions?


I know, I know. We need to get students to begin to understand and form personal belief systems related to how to deal with the harsh realities of life; to see the Atticus Finches showing us that good people can do good in bad societies; that Huck Finns can come to realize the evil in unexamined status quo social norms and decide to "lilght out for the Territory" because they'd come to understand that they "can't go back" to the not so civilized "sivilized" beliefs of the Aunt Sallys of the world.


Sometimes I wonder if we might balance the "harsh reality" lessons a bit more with some "life inspiring" examples of communities rather than just the individual hero or heroine rising above the forces of evil.


It's early and only a first thought, but what if there is some truth in suggesting that...


If we're not selling what they're buying, then we should not be surprised that they're not buying what we're selling.



 ~ ~





No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

The Well-Read Redhead: So how are those challenges going? *squirm*

The Well-Read Redhead: So how are those challenges going? *squirm* | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

I've been doing a lot of reading about reading and have noticed an underlying theme. About half of those in the 18-24 year old range, who graduated from high school, including those who go on to college, stop choosing to engage in literary reading. And among those 18-24 year olds who graduated from high school and did not go on to any higher education the percentage of  those who pretty much stop choosing to engage in literary reading approaches 70%!


I've previously referenced this data collected by the National Endowment for the Arts 2008 report specifically addressing literary reading and, videos such as "Why Kids Don't Read What is Assigned in Class"


It seems like we address literacy issue if students can't read or we teach literary reading primarily as a training ground for future English majors, assuming that a heavy emphasis upon practicing literary analysis is the logical next phase. Truth be told, I too spent the vast majority of my own career leaning heavily on deep reading as a valuable skill for college readiness. And, I took great pride whenever I discovered that a former student had been inspired to become an English major or even and English teacher as a result of some life changing pivotal experience he or she had had while exploring this or that piece of literature in my class. 


But I can't help but wonder about how many students, whose interest in reading fiction had never really taken root or had begun to fade in middle schoo, found themselves becoming more interested rather than less interested in personal reading as a result of the experiences they had in high school English classes. 


It's easy to excuse ourselves from revisitng the actual effectiveness of "allowing our students" to do a bit of personal reading in addition to the required reading or to attempt to make reading of the canon "fun" via various opportunities to do related projects, posters, book trailers, and other "more enjoyable" assignments. I did plenty of those as well. And, there's no doubt that interest and enthusiasm for doing those kinds of assignments is significantly higher than are the typical levels of engaged interest in doing traditional literary analysis essays. And I did plenty of those too.


Now don't get me wrong, I became an English teacher as a result of discovering, via a couple of exceptional English teachers, the treasures that great literature and deep analysis brought into my life. And, the value of forcing my brain to practice the articulate expression of my understandings via the strict attention to logic demanded by the robot essay, oops, I mean through the five paragraph essay structure.


But, I went into high school liking to read. I read mostly what my high school teachers told me was "junk," but I did like to read. Romeo and Juliet? Not so much, at least not until someone tuned me into the bawdy Nurse. And, I found the nurse's bawdiness not so interesting as I found Shakespeare's cleverness in phrasing those "naughty jokes." He could be almost as funny as Mad Magazine's Mort Drucker, Dave Berg, and Don Martin. The cleverness of Shakespeare's bawdiness was reminiscent of the intriguing edginess I'd discovered in Shel Silverstein and Charles Addams.


It's a delicate balance moving kids from a wide range of interest and disinterest in literary reading to a deeper personal engagement and appreciation for literary reading. The challenge is to develop or move forward their existing relationship with reading without killing it. It's dangerous to assume that those who do well in our classes because they do well on quizzes, essays, class discussion, and projects are the "good readers" and that those who don't are not. The difference is more about their personal engagement with and appreciation for reading. And truth be told, many of them find much of what is done in the name of promoting literary reading to be disengaging. I actually wonder how many pubescent 14 year old boys actually find all that romance in Romeo and Juliet interesting. And I wonder whether how well or how poorly those boys do on the associated quizzes, projects, class discussions, essays and project-based learning experiences is any real indication of whether they enjoyed or found real value in reading the play. Or, whether the quality of their effort had more to do with their interest in getting good grades whether they benefited from the story or not. 


I didn't get horrible grades, but I really didn't care much about getting good grades either. As a freshman and sophomore, I went through a phase of reading baseball stories both fiction and non fiction. I found myself in those days discovering a book called Fear Strikes Out by Jimmy Piersall. At the time, my understanding of his struggles with bipolar issues was thin at best. He was just a famous baseball player who was acting crazy. But, I was so engaged with that seemingly impossible combination that I couldn't put that book down. Whether I recognized it or not, I really enjoyed that book because I found myself caring deeply about whether Piersall would win his personal battle or not AND seeds of very valuable empathy for others who struggled with "normalcy" took root. And, that enjoyment based in my interest in baseball led me not too long thereafter to read books about Satchell Page and Jackie Robinson. They weren't in the canon, but they were about baseball and in learning more about the backside of the sport's history that I had had no previous idea about. More empathy. And because I'd begun to appreciate empathy, even though I had absolutely no interest in track and field in later years when history classes brought Jesse Owens and Babe Didrikson Zaharias came up in class, I found myself open to their stories not merely as great athletes but as major figures in the progress of race and gender history.


So what's this all have to do with this scooped article? Even more important than tending to the next crop of English majors is cultivating a next generation of young people who leave our care loving to read for the intrinsic value they have come to believe is the reward for life long reading. 


I've been hearing a lot about teachers integrating a version of Google's "20% Time" into their classrooms. For an excellent overview of this concept see my friend Lisa Thumann's overview here: 


Some may think devoting a full day or period a week to a personal project is beyond doable and start with pilot program implementations such a "10% Time" where a full day or period every other week is tried. Others often have pilots that are more like units than full year or semester long committments. 


But this article posing personal reading as challenges to be selected or developed by the students themselves either as individual projects or perhaps as small group projects seems like a potential structure for giving students the opportunity to start from a personal interest that can be fed by reading and designed to lead to serendipitous deeper appreciation for reading beyond any initial anticipated rewards.


I'd suggest that we consider making life long literary reading our number 1 goal and development of future English majors and English teachers also a very important but perhaps a secondary goal.


 ~ ~





No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

The mystery of Scotland's secret sculptor

The mystery of Scotland's secret sculptor | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
In Edinburgh, delicate sculptures made from books have been appearing in cultural establishments across the city.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

I love stories like this.


There's actually no in this text story, but click the video for a quite pleasant bibliophilic 4 minutes.


There's just something about the spirit of this "mystery" that warms my heart.





 ~ ~

No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

Six Postcards From Famous Writers: Hemingway, Kafka, Kerouac & More

Six Postcards From Famous Writers: Hemingway, Kafka, Kerouac & More | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
F Scott Fitzgerald to himself, c. 1937:

Today we've gathered together a group of postcards from six of the most famous writers of the 20th century.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

Worth a look at the informal but personal writing style of several of our favorite writers.


Do we "see" something here that we don't in their well-known writings?


 ~ ~

No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

How does Fiction Reading Influence Empathy?

An incredible study of the shortcomings of previous studies to accurately determine the influence of Fiction Reading on empathy, And, an interesting case for the role of "emotional transport" in achieving that result.

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

My first experience with a gold mine website that would not allow me to scoop it.


I'll just give some info that hopefully will stimulate a serious interest in goting to the site to read the entire study.


Should I succeed in peeking your interest, you'll want to go to this URL:


I was able to save the entire article as a PDF. And, it's GREAT!!!




So, just a couple of quotes...




"The current study investigated whether fiction experiences change empathy of the reader. Based on transportation theory, it was predicted that when people read fiction, and they are emotionally transported into the story, they become more empathic. Two experiments showed that empathy was influenced over a period of one week for people who read a fictional story, but only when they were emotionally transported into the story. No transportation led to lower empathy in both studies, while study 1 showed that high transportation led to higher empathy among fiction readers. These effects were not found for people in the control condition where people read non-fiction. The study showed that fiction influences empathy of the reader, but only under the condition of low or high emotional transportation into the story."




New concepts to me... "Transportation Theory" the power of being emotionally transported. Seeems like a no-brainer in retrospect, but an excellent concept that distinguished "literary reading" from "informational reading" by clearly distinguishing the "experience" itself as being a virtual simulation of real experiences, leading to a very similar emotional experience as if we were there.


Another quote that really dug deep... Though speaking of the limitations of previous studies of fiction's affect on empathy, the following might well be the elephant in the room regarding the quality or even the ability to accurately assess literary reading "skills or benefits" received.



" there have been no studies where effects of fiction reading on empathy are investigated using real existing stories. Until now, research designs have been based on either proxies of experience of fiction (e.g., knowledge of fiction authors) [6]–[7] or on very short texts that participants in experiments have to read [9], [10], limiting the ecological validity of studies on the effects of fiction on empathy. Therefore, it is imperative that the effects of fiction reading on empathy are investigated under realistic conditions in an experimental design,"



I've long been concerned about the margin of error in assessing literary reading in classroom conditions that go far to create secure testing environments, but at the same time those environments are completely incompatible with actual ideal literary reading conditions.


That is... first of course, testing conditions bring all sorts of distance incompatible with literary reading. The pressure, generally terrible selections, assumptions that the appreciation for the literature sinks in immediately in a cold, high pressure, excerpt read not long enough to actually let the "emotional transport" become active. Even the "test taking tricks" we teach so that the ability to present oneself as knowing more than one really does know through clever skimming tricks, prioritizing questions answered to maximize odds of knowing or guessing right answers, though a fairly useful skill set for informational reading, it is simply not the way the value of literary reading can be acheived. The quote above is well-known in research, why would it be plausible that literary reading assessment would not be compromised by the, "proxies of experience of fiction (e.g., knowledge of fiction authors) [6]–[7] or on very short texts that participants in experiments have to read [9], [10], limiting the ecological validity of studies on the effects of fiction on empathy"?


So rather than actually assess levels of benefit achieved, we tend to assess their knowledge of literary devices or at least their ability to make good guesses about "advanced literacy" skills.


I'm going to leave this point alone and hope that as you read the study, you consider the arguments the research team present on past attempts to measure the impact of literary reading, the arguments they present regarding the very different experience when one is emotionally transported AND when one is not. I mention this because, it might give rise to revisiting how we teach literary reading and what practices encourage the emotional transport effect and what practices discourage it.


Lastly, I am NOT OPPOSED to assessment. I've always felt a strong personal and professional need to "somehow" assess student learning as well as teacher effectiveness. But, it is not a black and white situation. 


I'm reminded of the old saying regarding data and data evaluation; "Garbage in: Garbage out."


I don't think the assessment data collected is garbage, but it may be too polluted to not be concerned about the margin of error in measuring the "true value achieved" by students taking literary reading assessment tests.


The other old saying regarding assessment that comes to mind has to do with the assessment tool. 


If you want to know how fast someone can run you might do well to use a stop watch. If you want to know how high a person's temperature is, you might do well to use a thermometer. But, if you want to find out how fast someone can run, a thermometer is the wrong assessment tool. And, the realization that this is "true, but it's the best tool we have" really doesn't make it a good measure.


Let us not give up on measurement. but now that we've at least come to understand that literary reading is different than informational reading, perhaps we are at an opportune moment to explore refining the literary reading assessment structures to assure a better " ecological validity" to the testing environment and to the data analysis and conclusions drawn from such assessments.



 ~ ~


No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

The Lighted Books of Airan Kang

The Lighted Books of Airan Kang | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
 Luminous Words South Korean artist Airan Kang takes an illuminated approach to her art.  Her striking digitally lighted books, along with her new LED paintings, are currently on view in her second solo show at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in New York. ...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

This is very cool! Quite enlightening one might suggest.


I've always liked the use of lightbulbs above a cartoon character's head to signify a "bright idea." This is certainly a bright idea; not just in the silly pun mode, but also in the sort of joyous feeling to use light to illuminate so many illuminating ideas.


With a piece of artwork like this perpetually in my pheripheral view while going about my various other home-based duties, I think I'd always have some appreciation for the beauty that concern for enlightenment in one's life brings. 


How many puns, metaphors, and connections come to mind with connecting books and light?


I dunno, just a few thoughts that jumped into my mind....


listening to ghost stories by camp fire light...


keeping the flame alive...


isn't it ironic that we use the term "light reading" to describe a book with very little that is enlightening or illuminating?... 


and what about the word "delight"? If there is joy in being enlightened, does "delight" suggest taking away joy rather than causing joy?...


And, though I happen to be an iPad guy, I don't think I've ever really given much thought to the cleverness of the naming of the Kindle reader. Obvious of course, but I just never gave it much thought.


And, one thing led to another and believe it or not, I had never even considered the "light" metaphor in Google LIT Trips! I have for years been quite amused by the intended play on the fact that "Google Lit" is pronounced exactly the same as "Google It." So overwhelmed by my own silly cleverness, it has taken me five years (really!) to even stumble across the thought that "Lit" is not only a popular verbal abbreviation for literature, but that it also is a pun of sorts as it is also a verb at the heart of lighting a flame that brings Light. LITerally speaking. 


And yet, quite, truthfully, also unanticipated, I woke up this morning thinking about whether or not we are at some stage of an early version of Fahrenheit 451. Is the simplistic but overheated controversy regarding whether literary wisdom should be accessed via paper media or electronic media, more destructive in our pursuit of encouraging a love of literary wisdom than constructive? Emotions run rather high over one's media preference for accessing identical wisdom.


My plea? Don't play this game. Don't add fuel to the fire inflaming those whose preference for one over the other to inadvertently "dis" the joy of reading by putting too much attention on what you don't like about how others are accessing that wisdom. 


So my crazy mind was ablaze with those kinds of thoughts as I slowly came to conciousness a couple of hours ago at about 4am, and thinking of Fahrenheit 451, led me to remembering my experience in Berlin at the site of the famous book burning in Bebelplatz. The painful irony of using fire not to light but to destroy the light of books, in a city that had only a very short time before been a noted intellectual book-loving cultural center, was almost too excruciating to bear....


ARGH!!! I have to stop! I can't even use a word like "excruciating" in a sentence about the pain of book burning, without my crazy brain jumping to "The Crucible;" not that we actually burned witches in Salem, as they did in Europe but that fire in pursuit of light, and fire in order to reduce to ashes just seems like a too spooky irony at this moment. So, I'm calling it quits for this commentary having now spent nearly two hours watching my mind meander around the thoughts generated by this article.



A happier ending...

While contemplating the images in this article here since 4:30 am, an unexpected serendipity happened to be this completely unanticipated morning sidetrip to thinking about light. And, I decided that at least for today, I'm going to replace the use of the word "delightful" with a new word.


What a "relightful" serendipity every morning can surprise us with!


If you're teaching a piece of literature today, get out there and keep the flame alive!


 ~ ~

No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

Literature may benefit from a scientific analysis

Literature may benefit from a scientific analysis | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
U of T prof Adam Hammond bridges gaps between computer modeling and English in new course
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

In times when many are pressed to defend the value of literary reading and/or budgetary allotments in support of literary reading, it is often useful to NOT rely solely upon the expertise of English teachers. Unlike other curricular areas where the information or skills have fairly easily determined practical potential, literary reading's value is less well-known by our colleagues who, perhaps have made quite fine lives for themselves without having spent more than the required undergraduate   commitment to literature courses.


And, unfortunately, for too many of them, the instructors of those required courses, often felt the need to focus quite heavily upon the scholarly side of literary study rather than upon the character building, intellectual sensitizing side of contemplating the great questions at the center of the value of literary reading. And, when the focus is upon literary scholarship, and by chance that is of less interest than other, "also important" options for the focused attention demanded by higher education, literary reading begins to take a back seat to alternatives when selecting one's major field of study, most of which do also include career paths that wind up being represented in a comprehensive school curriculum. 


The problem then becomes how to defend the budget allocations affecting literary reading programs when many of the stakeholders in the budget are only minimal stakeholders in literary reading's "practical" social value. Literary Reading then, like art classes and other elective courses not necessarily required for graduation, may have insufficient appreciation among our colleagues, when these programs against the ax in times when strained budgets just don't cover a truly comprehensive curriculum. The perception being that the arts and literary reading are "nice" past times, but not perceived as being all that important in the areas of "college and career readiness."


btw... why put "nice" in quotations? 


"Five hundred years ago, when nice was first used in English, it meant "foolish or stupid." This is not as surprising as it may seem, since it came through early French from the Latin nescius, meaning "ignorant."

Mirriam Webster online 


Ironically, many still use the word, believing they're being polite or sarcastic when a mediocre performance of a skill is rewarded with a pat on the head (or honorable mention ribbon) and a, "nice try."  Or, the more sarcastic comment made by one person to another wearing a grandma-knitted sweater with no visible connection to current fashion, "Oh, NICE sweater!" (snicker, snicker)



Okay digression past...

My real point being that when English teachers alone defend the value of literary reading, there are those among our professional colleagues  who think literary reading is "nice," but disposable when budgets are tight. 


What really helps is when we who teach literary reading can also rely upon those who have chosen very different career paths come to our defense because they have come to recognize the value of literary reading from a more accessible point of view, its measurable practical value.


We are seeing this kind of support coming from neuroscience. See...

Your Brain on Fiction 


This is your brain on Jane Austen, and Stanford researchers are taking notes 


We're also seeing this kind of support coming from Business. See this article from the Harvard Business School...


For Those Who Want to Lead, Read 



What I particulary appreciate about today's scooped article is the consideration of what computer sciences can provide as a means to  critically examine literature with quantitative analysis, using computer technology.


One "discovery" in the attempt is the realization that “Computer science assumes there’s one truth. English [does] not.”


And, rather than dismiss one as being the correct assumption and the other as being an incorrect assumption, it becomes potentially comprehensible that the non literary scholar portion of society can perhaps come to accept that both assumptions have merit in the process of helping our students construct a deeper understanding of the many facets required for a more complete understanding of the "real world."


This may well be the foundation for reframing the case for literary reading in such a way that the emphasis upon practicality is presented in the jargon, NOT of literary scholarship, but rather in the language of 

the non-literary reading listeners.


A not-trivial aside...

It is fairly well-accepted that in the United States the adult population literacy rate is above 99%. This is a tribute to our colleagues working with literacy education. My guess is that although the students they work with in grades pre-K through 12 may not be anywhere near 99% literate upon entry into  literacy programs, that the vast majority of the eventual 99% adult literacy rate is achieved because of the percentage of literacy that is reached by 12th grade.


But, did you know that according to the National Endowment for the Arts survey of 2002 and the update of 2008 that once students leave 12th grade, those in the 18-24 year old range who are considered to be literary readers falls to only 51.7%. And, yes that includes those who actually go on to higher education. To be truly depressed, if we remove those who do get a high school diploma but do not go on to any higher education experiences, the rate falls to a mere 39.1%. That is 60.9% (about 17.5 million in real numbers) pretty much stop reading literature once it is no longer required. 


And to make things even worse, the bar distinguishing literary readers from non-literary readers is extremely low. To be considered a literary reader, a surveyed 18-24 year old, need only be able to confirm that he or she had read as little as a single unrequired poem, short story, play, or novel in the preceding 12 months! There was no "literary quality" check. ANY poem, short story, play or novel would do. 




We may need to take advantage of our friends outside of literary scholarship who are articulating the value of literary reading to the greater audience as we "market" our case in the budget allocation conversations. 


And, we may also need to reflect upon how we "market" the case for literary reading in our classrooms to our primary clientele. 



 ~ ~



No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

If You're Going to Deface Your School Books, Do It Well. Like This.

If You're Going to Deface Your School Books, Do It Well. Like This. | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Doodling in your text books is bad! I do not recommend it. At all. However, let's say you have to doodle in your text—like, if you don't, you get in trouble.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

Okay, sometimes I just can't pass up scooping articles that are a little bit on the odd side just for their entertainment value. And this one is pretty darned entertaining if you temporarily put aside any abhorrence of the practice of students doodling in textbooks. 


And, I'd suggest that there is much of value to think about by teachers who themselves are life-long learners.


A few of these are no more interesting than the common drivel that some students believe is incredibly sublime. Fortunately, none approach the obscene or scatalogically disgusting levels that are also occasionally found.


BUT, in a time when education reform focuses heavily upon encouraging our students to be creative thinkers, there are several in this collection that truly are amazingly creative.


Personally, I'm a marginalia guy. I love to scribble notes and ideas in the margins of loved books (EXCEPT OF COURSE MY COLLECTABLES!). I love highlighting passages, and even have a color-coding system for my highlights. For example, when I'm building a Google Lit Trip, I use GREEN to highlight any indications of locations that I might be able to find on Google Earth. It's kind of a mnemonic device since green is a really common color of places on Google Earth. Similarly, when I come across a passage that references a topic  that I think might be one where a website link might provide enhancing information, I use BLUE highlights; the mnemonic being that most website links are blue. I use YELLOW for any passages that I thought might make for interesting discussion starters, since YELLOW highlighters seem to be the default for "this is important." And I use PURPLE for any other spots of potential inclusion such as vocabulary words that might be actually perceived by students as being particularly interesting or useful.  In this regard, I always prefer that a Lit Trip placemark's limited content be as focused on promoting interest in the story and in reading, so when I do include vocabulary, I want it to be perceived as a cool new word rather than as a new word not perceived as interesting but only as something "I might be tested on."


Remember The Velveteen Rabbit? I had never read the story until I was well into my teaching career. But, I couldn't help but love the concept that as the stuffed rabbit began to deteriorate over the years of being loved that the deterioration itself was the measure of how much the rabbit AND the story had been loved. I kind of feel this way about my favorite books. Marginalia personalizes my relationship with loved books. And, over the years, okay, over the decades when I occasionally pull an older book off the shelf and discover marginalia I'd written way back in college, or much earlier in my teaching career, there's a bit of nostalgia and introspection regarding who I was back then, what I thought was eye-opening, beautiful, poignant, or significant at that time and how I might currently feel given the wisdom-refining influences of the aging-process.


But, of course, we need to discourage the defacing of school books in order to assure their suitability for repeated use. So, I had two methods for addressing the need or desire to doodle or write in the margins. One is that I encouraged students to buy a package of the tiniest size post-its. I pointed them to the small single packets with one pad of each of several colors, though I kept a large supply to give to students.


I wanted the smallest size post-its so they didn't block too much of the page text. I taught the kids to remember to write whatever notes they wanted with the sticky edge at the top. This way they could stick the post-it on the page in such a position that they could let just a thin edge of the color stick out beyond the page. This way they could see the various colors sprinkled throughout the book but not have so much showing when the book was closed to cause problems when thrown into a backpack.


Two advantages became quite apparent to the kids. First, by jotting a quick note about an important passage, it caused the kids to pause for just a short moment which gave them time to contemplate the notion and reasons they were marking the passage. Traditional note taking of course does this, but not "in location." And, that makes a subtle but incredible difference. My notes aren't distant from the source, they are AT the source making it so easy to connect peripheral storyline, to the quick note. The second advantage was that after finishing the story, they have a book with color-coded post-its peeking out of the book. This was considered a great advantage when they then engaged in the post reading closure assignment such as an essay or other project. They realized that finding evidence of "something they sort of remembered" from the story was easier if they could scan that rainbow of post-its peeking out for the color they knew represented a theme or a good quote or whatever.


The only deal I made with the kids was that they had to remove all of the post-its before turning in their books. 


I must tell you that there were several students who really wished they could keep those books. And I had a simple solution for that problem. I told them "to lose the book." Then, the policy was of course, that if they lost a book they had to pay for it. And, it wasn't long before some kids were planning to lose their books ahead of time which gave them permission to write in them too.


As to doodling in books, I was a doodler myself as a kid. Though I always doodled on paper. In those days, it was fairly common for me to get reprimanded by my teachers for not paying attention. I was basically a good kid so I tried to stop because I wanted to be good. But, I often found the urge to doodle trumping my attempts to not doodle. 


I always remembered this when later in my career, some of my colleagues would express a bit of distain for the teachers who felt that it was okay to pull out their knitting during a faculty meeting.  


Yet, some years into my career I stumbled across some research indicating that rather than being a distraction, doodling actually worked quite a bit like white noise in its ability to block out distractions.


Doodling actually was discovered to have an ability to enhance attention; as I came to realize knitting probably had done at faculty meetings.



Of course, this is not a black and white conclusion. Doodling and knitting can certainly also distract one's attention. But, what is distracting for one might well be focusing for another. 


Ironically, there is evidence to suggest that traditional note taking can be quite distracting as one races to scribble down a thorough set of notes during a lecture only to be distracted from the new points being made in the lecture during the time consumed completing the notes on a previous point. (see


So the other method I employed for doodlers was to invite them, if they had to doodle, to do it on a post-it and when that post-it had no more doodling space, they were to simply stick it in the middle of the page of the book where they were when the post-it had no more space. It wasn't to stick out like the other post-its. It acted more like a bookmark they could flip through the pages to find. Why? Because if they had actually distracted themselves rather than focused themselves while doodling, they had a very easy way to find out where they may have missed something worth reviewing.


It also gave individual students a very clear indicator whether they actually were being distracted or focused by the doodling.


So, we all know about individualized, personalized, and differentiated, Instruction. It might be good to keep in mind that what is worst practice for one student, may well be best practice for another.




 ~ ~

No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

Target Online Daily Deals: Save up to 53% on Dr. Suess Books | Target Savers

Target Online Daily Deals: Save up to 53% on Dr. Suess Books | Target Savers | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Target Online Daily Deals: Today only, save up to 53% on Dr. Suess books, movies, clothing, games, and a crib set.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:


Not the kind of "article" I'd normally scoop, BUT what Lit Lovin' parent or teacher wouldn't want to know about Dr. Suess Books on sale!



 ~ ~

No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

February 2013 News From California Geographic Alliance

February 2013 News From California Geographic Alliance | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

Just a quickie. Proud to have been asked to write an article for this month's " Geographic Connection" the news letter of the California Geographic Alliance, a member of the National Geographic Network of Aliances for Geographic Education.


It's a different take on what I generally speal about when discussing the Google Lit Trips Project. 




 ~ ~

Seth Dixon's comment, March 16, 2013 7:23 PM
This Alliance coordinator from Rhode Island appreciates you linking in with you local Alliance! I just posted about's fantastic!
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

Twitter / iyingchui: Literature. Hahaha! So much ...

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

Oh it hurts! And the rudeness with which the sentiment is expressed cuts deep. It's too rude to share with students, though they too often share the same sentiment among themselves.


So although there is no question that the comment is phrased indelicately, the rudeness aside, my question is...


"Is it a rude awakening of sorts?"


Could the teacher's interpretation have been suggested in a way that wasn't so annoying to students who don't really get it but still believe that "It seems stupid to me, but it might be on the test?" 


If this "might be" their simplistic reaction, then have we done them any favors in thinking we have given them welcome insights into the joys of deeper reading?


Or...have we missed an opportunity to make a valuable insight palatable and thereby welcome?



 ~ ~

No comment yet.
Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List!

Friday Book Design Blog: Penguin Popular Classics | Jonathan Gibbs | Independent Arts Blogs

Friday Book Design Blog: Penguin Popular Classics | Jonathan Gibbs | Independent Arts Blogs | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
What happened when a David Pearson was sent away to make his series redesign for Penguin Popular Classics worse?
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

I guess I'm just in a be brief mode at 3am in the morning. 


The big question is, "Is it actually possible to judge a book by its cover?"


Apparently so!


Dare I say, you be the judge!


 ~ ~

No comment yet.