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Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading
An Educator's Reading List of Contemporary Literature, Literacy, and Reading Issues.
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enra " pleiades " - YouTube

enra " pleiades " - YouTube | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Performamce & Choreography :Saya Watatani , Maki Yokoyama Director : Nobuyuki Hanabusa Animator : Seiya Ishii , Nobuyuki Hanabusa Music : Nobuyuki Hanabusa h...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

7 January 2013


Sometimes one stumbles across  a five-minute experience that creates such a n undefinably joyful moment that it just has to be shared.  Watch this video for a truly inspiring experience with what the fine arts brings to a well-lived existance. Worry about what it has to do with "Reading About Reading" some other time if you must. 


Be sure to click the Full Screen icon in the lower right corner of the video window. 


By the way... Could STEM education without the ARTS have produced this?


And, Could the ARTS without STEM Education have produced this?


Neither is "enough" without the others.


Let's hear it for STEAM education.


 ~ ~

Google Lit Trips is the fictitous business name of GLT Global ED, a 501c3 tax-exempt educational nonprofit bringing wisdom to the Information age



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20 Excellent Websites That Make Your Children Smarter | Hemant Parikh

20 Excellent Websites That Make Your Children Smarter  | Hemant Parikh | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

Work smarter, not harder” is an annoying cliché that works for obvious reasons. In the same respect, it’s crucial for us to make sure we’re learning smarter too, especially when it comes to our kids.


Luckily, the Internet exists. And using online resources for learning is considered to be one of the best ways to prepare your kids for college, but picking the right websites that help children learn can be a real challenge.


After all, there are countless tools, platforms and websites that are being marketed to parents with the promise of turning your child into the next Sheldon Cooper (though some of us will settle for a functioning adult).


So if what you’re looking for includes top-notch websites that will make your kids smart enough to win college scholarships, then consider these awesome resources.

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

18 December 2013

Google Lit Trips is proud to have "made the cut" on this list of 20 Excellent Websites That Make Your Children Smarter!"



10. Google Lit TripsVirtual field trips are great ways to capture the visual and experiential minds of our kids, and you have a lot of great trips to pick from if you search online. One of the best I have ever come across is Google Lit Trips, a completely free service that allows you to walk the shoes of famous literature characters in a virtual world. You’ll see what they saw in these awesome “trips,” ensuring a learning experience that actually sticks with your child.



What an honor to have been selected!


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Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name for GLT Global ED, a 501c3 tax-exempt educational nonprofit.

宮西 咲's curator insight, December 25, 2013 5:30 PM


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Yes, This Is Actually A Word

Yes, This Is Actually A Word | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
My last post, "12 Mistakes Nearly Everyone Who Writes about Grammar Mistakes Makes," drew a lot of comments, some supportive and some critical. But no point drew as much ire as my claim that irregardless is a word.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

13 December 2013

I refuse to use the word IRREGARDLESS of the argument presented in this intriguing  article!


BUT, I would certainly use this article in my efforts to meet CCSS expectations for informational reading.


Jonathon Owen makes a solid case for his argument that "irregardless" is a word; like it or not. And, in doing so he presents a fine example of every element of an excellent persuasive argument that models what we hope our students will absorb in learning to write persuasive arguments. It has a respectful and thoughtful concession, a clear thesis, many solid examples and reasoned commentary requiring readers to consider arguments that may be at variance from their existing opinions on the matter, and in his conclusion walks readers through palatable reasons for coming to terms with the possibility of the necessity to adjust their opinions. In doing so, Owen relies upon a calm, unemotional discussion of the kind of higher-level critical thinking skills that we profess to promote.


Yet, for so many of us, when we teach persuasive writing, students too often see the task as figuring out how to present some sort of trump card that knocks out counter-arguments and implies the writer has the right do take a victory lap while the losers hang their heads in shameful defeat.


We can certainly look to the concept of assuming argument should result in a black OR white, winner or loser outcome. Our judicial system is based upon an effort to determine guilt or innocense. Those of us who follow trials of note are often disappointed when one side or the other does not walk away having "won." A hung jury is almost always disappointing to both sides and thereby resented by many. We don't like games that end in a tie or a draw. This is not to be criticized. There ARE subjects where expecting a clear "winner" and clear "loser" can be expected.


We even try to encourage students to employ tricks to influence those judging our arguments that truthfully can be used to misdirect attention in hopes of influencing the critically inattentive.


"Appeal to emotion!"  as in...


I'm thinking "I want you to let me slip in this questionable statement  without thinking too much about it."...

...when I say, "The American People don't want ___________.(fill in the blank with a proposal made by the "other side's candidate")


Or, other emotional appeals based upon overgeneralization and misdirection such as...


, "Anyone who cares about children would want this book removed from the curriculum regardless of the foolishness of some silly literary society having given it an award so Mr. _________ has to be fired for imposing it on our children in his AP English course."


Where is the critical thinking when the implication of a persuasive argument is that anyone who professes an opposing view to his or her own opinion is to be thought of as:







or (whatever other emotional word can be counted upon to trigger a desired Pavlovian response from the less critically thoughtful)?


OH MY! Did you catch that? I could have used a much more neutral term to describe the misdirective influence of appealing to emotion rather than logic, than using a term loaded with negative connotation like "Pavlovian response," and thereby implying that responding to emotional appeals without question is the sign of an unthinking person; a characteristic upon which those with the weaker argument can hope to garner support from the undecided.


Okay, I've been playing a sort of game in the last couple of paragraphs. If I ended my comments at the end of the preceding paragraph leaving readers to assume that my position is that emotional appeals are always bad, I would be guilty of the same "uncritical thinking" I appear to be condemning. There are reasons to use emotional appeal that are not malicious and misdirecting. Emotional appeals can amplify and clarify the facts so that they can or will be considered more thoroughly.


But I had something else in mind when I scooped this article.


In terms of exemplifying and encouraging higher-level critical thinking, Owen's article provides an interesting example of how persuasive argument might provide satisfactory outcomes even when intelligent people disagree. Compromise where neither side gets a complete victory over the other, frequently leaving both sides dissatisfied and/or put on the spot in having to explain to their various supporters why they "flip-flopped" WHILE ALSO supplying their opposition with devastating opportunities via targeted talking points to "prove the other side's inconsistent position statements. Persuasive argument need not always be seen as a winner take all by any means game.  


Owen's argument neither calls for a winner or lose judgment call. Nor does it ask proponents of either side of the controversy to sacrifice strongly held positions for the mere sake of compromise.


Owen's argument offers both sides some satisfaction without calling for either side to "sacrifice" strongly held beliefs. He does this by shining a new light on the subject. He accomplishes this by recognizing that there are TWO facets to the controversy rather than one. The first being whether "irregardless" is a word or not? The second being "If it is a word do I have to give in and allow my students to use it?


The outcome is more satisfying to both sides when there's a real and clear win for everyone. Those who come to recognize that there are excellent reasons why "irregardless" does qualify as a being a word, yet there are still good reasons to maintain that its use ought to be discouraged as nonstandard English. While those who are already in agreement that the word is a word, can also accept that there are good reasons to discourage its use.


Everybody wins AND we can put the argument to rest. 


Ain't that great?


 ~ ~

Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name for GLT Global ED, a 501c3 tax-exempt educational nonprofit



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Flesh & Blood So Cheap by Albert Marrin

Flesh & Blood So Cheap by Albert Marrin | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City burst into flames.  The factory was crowded.  The doors were locked to ensure workers stay inside.  One hundred forty-six people—mostly women—perished; it was one of the most lethal workplace fires in American history until September 11, 2001.

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

10 December 2013

Google Lit Trips is proud to announce the addition of the Flesh & Blood So Cheap Google Lit Trip. This Lit Trip was co-developed by Library Media Specialist Anne Brusca, who is also the developer of the popular Google Lit Trip for A Family Apart by Joan Lowery Nixon. and her English Teacher Scott Colvin.  Anne and Scott are colleagues at New Hyde Park Memorial High School in New Hyde Park, New York.


This story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of March 25, 1911 caused the death of 146 garment workers;123 of whom were women.


The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.


Those educators responsible for addressing Common Core State Standards for both literary reading and Informational reading and particularly those interested in cross-curricular studies will find this a valueable addition to your curriculum.


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Google Lit Trips is the legal Fictitious business name of GLT Global ED, a 501c3 tax-exempt educational nonprofit.

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String, Orchestral, and Technology Music Education: Google Lit Trips Used for Music, Too!!

String, Orchestral, and Technology Music Education: Google Lit Trips Used for Music, Too!! | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

It's a stellar day for Google Lit Trips mentions. Among the rewards of having provided the Google Lit Trips resources over the years has been the joy I've experienced as other educators have taken inspiration to bring the concept to other curricular areas. 


Two of my favorites being Carol LaRow's Google Historical Voyages and Events ( and Thomas Petra's Real World Math (


I love the idea of taking the concept to the world of musical education! 


GoogleLitTrips Reading List's curator insight, December 9, 2013 12:42 PM

It's a stellar day for Google Lit Trips mentions. Among the rewards of having provided the Google Lit Trips resources over the years has been the joy I've experienced as other educators have taken inspiration to bring the concept to other curricular areas. 


Two of my favorites being Carol LaRow's Google Historical Voyages and Events ( and Thomas Petra's Real World Math (


I love the idea of taking the concept to the world of musical education! 

Rescooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List from What They're Saying About Google Lit Trips!

Google Lit Trips- try it you'll like it

Google Lit Trips- try it you'll like it | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
How can you make Macbeth interesting or relevant to teenagers without having the go-to classroom play or calling on students to read-a-loud (always a classic favorite)? Google Lit Trips combines li...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

Always brightens my day to find another kind mention of the Google Lit Trips project posted online!

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's curator insight, December 9, 2013 12:13 PM

Always brightens my day to find another kind mention of the Google Lit Trips project posted online!


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WATCH: What All Great Leaders Have In Common

WATCH: What All Great Leaders Have In Common | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
In one of the most popular TEDTalks of all time, Simon Sinek vividly illustrates the communication style that history's most influential people and organizations share.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

7 December 2013


Of the following, what might be the most important life lesson to teach and learn?

A. Knowing WHAT we do with our lives?

B. Knowing HOW we do what we do with our lives?

C. Knowing WHY we do what we do with our lives?




This TED Talk from 2009 may give us some insight about educational reform  from a quite different point of view than we are currently viewing educational reform.


And, I'm just wondering, given the premise of this speech, WHY in the world would we ever want to increase attention to literary reading in our schools?


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Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name for GLT Global ED, a 501c3 educational nonprofit

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It Seemed Like A Useless Little Closet. Then This Creative Guy Took Over And Now I Want It.

It Seemed Like A Useless Little Closet. Then This Creative Guy Took Over And Now I Want It. | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
You don't need much space to make big things happen.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

4 Dec 2013

Saw this on my Facebook page posted by two Apple Distinguished friends of mine, Sharon Eilts and Helen Mowers, two always inspiring educators.


It's a story in images of the evolution of a plain closet into an extremely cool space where author Noah JD Chinn wrote several of his published novels.


Don't quit at the second picture. Anybody could turn an empty closet into a cramped writing space. But as you scroll through the images of the transition from closet to plain old dinky space with a desk to a super incredible place to do some serious writing, you'll be amazed.


And just wait until you see what he actually uses as a keyboard! (check out the links for pics of what that process looked like.)


Now, what does that have to do with Reading About Reading besides the fact that it's about an author's very creative space where he does his "authoring"?


How many of those of us who love literary reading so much that we  teach it have an idea floating around our brains for the great novel we might write some day? And, how many of us have resigned ourselves to, " Yeah, but maybe some day because right now I just don't have __________"?


Don't know about you, but I'm guilty of "giving up on dreams because right now I just don't have ________ or _________." And as soon as I identify why I don't do something, I fall prey to accepting that as the WHY and sadly go off to do what I usually do with my time.


But, maybe the truth is I haven't wanted some of those dreams quite as passionately as I might have.


Last night, I saw Steve Wozniack speak at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, CA. At the core of his hour and a half on stage was his repeated theme that it was the depth of his passion to figure things out for himself and the motivation that provided him to just start finding ways to learn more about what he really found interesting AND FUN (the middle "F" in his three "Fs of happiness).The other two Fs in case you're wondering? 


Friends and Family.


It really gave me pause for thought. What if we truly undervalue the engaging potential of fun to motivate curiosity  and exploration into areas beyond our existing interests and understandings? 


I can't help but wonder whether it is the "fun" in storytelling and story listening and story reading that engages us in the more scholarly depths of the themes and wisdom of literary reading.


And, yet at the same time it is the "fun" of literary reading that is often at the source of dismissing literature as having little more than "recreational" value doing little other than allowing us to "escape" momentarily the more important things in life that we really ought to be doing like shopping or mowing the lawn or ......... 




If we know we would really enjoy spending time doing  ________,  but we just "don't have _______" maybe we just don't quite care enough yet to make it happen..


Our "Yes, buts..." can add up to a whole bunch of "Yes, and  I made it happens." if we don't allow all those "buts" to pre-emptively slam doors on our dreams. 


You wanna write? Do it. 

(It's the advise we've given our students repeatedly isn't it?)


 ~ ~

Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name for GLT Global ED, a 501c3 educational nonprofit

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The Twelve Best Facts from a Year of Interesting Literature

The Twelve Best Facts from a Year of Interesting Literature | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Here at Interesting Literature we're celebrating our one-year anniversary this weekend. With that in mind, we wanted to offer the twelve most interesting facts that we've uncovered over the last ye...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

2 Dec 2013

Interesting indeed!


Lots of ways to use these tidbits as bridges from our students' existing interests to literature we hope to engage them in.


I used the Life is a Journey metaphor throughout my teaching career. The metaphor is so interestingly capable of extending a theme to students' personal journeys and in particular to the unexpected encounters that often change the course of our travels. 


Think of travel metaphors that can or have been made from phrases such as...


at a crossroads

brief encounters

taking a side trip

roads not taken

along the way


Well, there are many. Of the 12 interesting facts presented here, I think I had only been aware of Vonnegut's being the owner of the first Saab dealership in the United States. And, that it was a failure within a year. 


What was it about the life journeys of Ian fleming and Sting that had they do some of their great writing at the same desk?


Were there additional interesting facts connecting Ray Bradbury and one of the Salem witches that made some sort of difference in what we take away from reading Bradbury? Was there a "force" transferred somehow from the experience of the one to the other?


What is the role of coincidence? Whether it was coidincidence or meant to be, what might be the impact upon ourselves if we decided not to argue whether there are forces behind what appear to be coincidences, but rather took every experience and the contemplations regarding fate vs. free will  as an opportunity to be introspective and/or as opportunties to contemplate the nature of humankind, human kindness, and inhumanity?


What difference do these amusing tidbits make anyway? 


Or perhaps, what difference can we make of these amusing tidbits?



 ~ ~

Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name of GLT Global ED, an educational nonprofit




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Our Centennial - Books that Shaped Work in America

Our Centennial - Books that Shaped Work in America | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

In honor of its Centennial in 2013, DOL, in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is developing a list of Books that Shaped Work in America.To get started, we've asked members of the DOL family, as well as many other esteemed individuals, for suggestions. That includes you! Suggest a book to add to the list.

Of course, this list is a work in progress, and essentially always will be, since — like America itself — work is constantly changing and evolving.

Read more about this initiative.

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

This is intriguing. I don't recall that in all of my research attempting to find "doable" measurable outcomes (quantitative data), that I've run across data detailing a fairly direct connection between literary reading and it's "practical" outcomes; in this case the influence that literary reading might have on career choices.


Though the survey conducted by the United States Department of Labor in partnership with the Library of Congress' Center for the Book, does not limit the questionaire to fiction, it is good to see so many works of fiction being claimed by Notable Contributors to the data collection.


If it is not too presumptuous, I would suggest that every teacher of literary fiction consider tapping their particular expertise in literary reading to add titles from the literary side of reading to the database. And, to encourage every teacher of literary fiction to do the same.


This is not, of course, intended to sway the outcome in favor of literary reading, but simply to make sure that the extent of the impact of reading fiction on young people's developing interest in potential career choices is adequately documented for those who must rely upon data to defend grants and curriculum design decisions.


The survey is very short and can be found here:


And, certainlly, in light of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, there is certainly great value in pointing to the nonfiction titles mentioned as part of the students' informational reading studies.



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Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious busniess name for GLT Global ED, an educational nonprofit

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New science says literary fiction helps us understand one another

New science says literary fiction helps us understand one another | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
“Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies.” - David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, “Reading Literary ...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:


This particular article picks up on one of the more common threads in those commentaries, namely that science is providing data-based evidence of what those of us who love and teach literary fiction have known in their guts for a long time in spite of the fact that so many of our literary friends have articulated that point quite clearly. Atticus Finch said it out loud, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."


Isn't that a familiar message? How many echoes from great literary fiction come to mind? Until you climb into that old jalopy with Tom Joad and head out for California hoping against hope? Until you get kicked out of the Castle of Thunder-ten-Tronckh as take that bumpy ride with Candide? Or travel alongside Gulliver to insanely unfamiliar places that seem sooo familiar?


So as I read this third or fourth followup article to the original research, my question was what does its author Andrea Badgley bring to the conversation. The answer is plenty!


For  example, I did not know that "there is an entire journal, Scientific Study of Literature dedicated to pursuit of this research." If you're like me, you'll have to take Badgley's word for it that this journal is of the quality one expects from journals that are peer reviewed since a quick Google search revealed that the journal itself is probably well out of most of our budget limitations.


Badgley also references the conversation of how literary fiction relates to  the "Theory of Mind" (ToM) which she defines (quoting from the original study)  as " 'the capacity to identify and understand others' subjective states,' allowing us to detect and infer others' emotions, beliefs, and intentions."  


It seems to me that there are several, okay way too many, examples to be found in the black and white polarization of public discourse that has caused extensive gridlocking  of public opinion and government response to public opinion, that too many of us no longer are even capable of detecting and inferring others' emotions, beliefs and intentions well-enough to take those emotions, beliefs, and intentions that are not our own into consideration as sometimes being valid, but diffeent concerns.


As a result, compromise has almost become a "dirty word" of sorts. And, "for the common good" has devolved into a tug of war where too many believe and even profess that those "on the opposing side of the rope"  are either idiots or unpatriotic. This black and white "tug of war" does not bode well.


So if the Theory of Mind has merit then perhaps literary reading ought to be given an increased presence in the classroom or at the very least, an increased presence in the assessment of literary reading which has been reduced significantly since assessing the "skill set" associated with literary reading is so difficult to accomplish. 


Let me pause and clarify that last statement. The ELA Common Core State Standards for literary reading have been quite controversial in that there has been much concern expressed regarding the  PERCEIVED decreasing percentage of literary reading in relationship to informational reading. This is technically a misperception in that the Common Core State Standards suggest that the reading standards are to be applied across the campus so that in effect, the percentages of each type of reading may well be about the same as they have been given the amount of informational reading that has always been done in "other curricular areas."


However, that being said, one need only read up on the percentages of assessment questions  for each type of reading on the Smarter Balance tests, particularly in the area of numbers and quality of the literary reading questions, to see that even if the percentages established in the standards are actually reasonable, given the emphasis on the assessment of the standards achievement there are clear indications that smart money would bet that improving informational reading would be a much quicker way to raise a school's performance stats than improving literary reading would.


And, history is fairly full of evidence that teaching to the "power standards" (those that are more likely to raise a school's scores) will have a de facto influence on whether or not literary reading continues to receive its due attention at staff and budget meetings. 


This brings me to what is, in my mind, the most significant contribution that this article brings to the conversation. That is that although "literary fiction is not (easily) quantifiable or, frankly, definable," what is it that literary fiction brings to the curriculum that separates it from the much less defendable "pop fiction"?


What does literary fiction do "for us" that may well be a solid source for developing incredibly critical skill sets in the a flat world so that our students will find themselves better prepared to succeed in a global world if they can work together with people of different "emotions, beliefs, and intentions"  in considerate respectful  (kind) and civilized ways? 


The biggest nugget in this goldmine of well-considered ideas for me was the bulleted list that appears about half-way through the article. By listing the distinctions between literary reading and pop literature, it becomes quite clear that the former causes us to exercise our minds in ways that are absolutely critical and yet seriously under appreciated in most classrooms.


Finally, the article ends with what is almost a sidetrip into the author's personal regrets for not having been really clear on the value of literary reading while in college where she still thought of reading as primarily a source of great pleasure rather than a pleasurable way of absorbing great wisdom. 


I was intrigued by her confession that her choice to pursue what she believed was her passion for science was a bit misdirected. She mistook her passion for learning about science for a passion about doing science. A distinction that a great many people recognize as an important element of the Common Core State Standards in its refocusing attention on assessing what they can do and will able to do with knowledge over merely what knowledge they have accumulated.


 I had not previously realized that the slight hesitation I'd felt ever since the concept of encouraging students to pursue their passions became a "THE mantra" thrown around department meeting and educaitonal conference presentations as though it was an unquestionable trump card in educational reform conversations.  


Of course, motivation and intellectual engagement is greatly enhanced when students are allowed to pursue their existing perceptions of their "passions." But, the downside as I have always perceived my "slight hesitation" was that truthfully, if I had focused only upon my existing passions during my high school years, I' would probably have wound up in jail rather than in college. It was only by chance that my experience in high school pursuing a relationship with a girl I had never even spoken to who I nevertheless believed I was madly in love with, that got me motivated to talk my way into an advanced English class that I knew she was going to be in. And, it was in that English class where a "god" of a teacher found a way to plant the seed of a new interest that I don't believe I would ever have explored if I hadn't been required to, found a way to engage me in literary reading to such a degree that I chose to completely revise my own understandings of what I really wanted to do with my life as an adult.


As a result, much in the same way that the author of this article discovered that some of her early passions turned out to be regrets later in life, I came to actually regret that in my senior yearbook where I was featured as being the male student with the best personality had become a source of embarrassment  as I had by the time the yearbook was distributed,  discovered that much of the personality for which I had been selected for that recognition was based upon my having mastered the art of being a friendly class clown much more interested in the attention  I'd received by my classmates as a result of my sometimes thoughtless sense of what might amuse my classmates.


I'll just leave it at that. I live with regrets about the unrecognized cruelty of sexist, racist, and homophobic "I was just joking" humor upon which I too often relied upon to get laughs.


So, yes! Encourage a pursuit of existing passion, but enourage a constant contemplation of the depth of understanding of those early passions. And, find engaging ways to help students explore the possibilities that teenage passions may be much less important to them as they transition from teens to actual adults.


And, that's where depth of character may rest upon the discovery of one's unrecognized areas of shallowness of character. It's a delicate art this business of ours. It is not easy to make suggestions about refiining one's passions without sounding like we're discouraging them from pursuing those passions.


But thankfully, storytelling has long been an engaging and pleasureable way of coaxing ourselves into paying attention to ideas to which we'd not previously given enough thought. 



25 Nov 2013

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Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name for GLT Global ED, an educational nonprofit

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Hana’s Suitcase: Unpacking Engaging Response Activities |

Hana’s Suitcase: Unpacking Engaging Response Activities | | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Unpack engaging reading response activities for the award-winning text, Hana’s Suitcase.

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

For those incorporating literatures about the Holocaust, this is interesting article on Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine. 


There are links to several resources useful for the teaching of this award winning story.


And... there's also a Google Lit Trip developed by Kevin Amboe available on the Google Lit Trips site at:


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Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name of GLT Global ED, an educational nonprofit

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How Does Electronic Reading Affect Comprehension? | DMLcentral

How Does Electronic Reading Affect Comprehension? | DMLcentral | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Although electronic texts have been with us for many decades, in the past few years electronic reading has become increasingly popular.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

An interesting take on the paper vs. digital reading conversation. John Jones author of this article references a Scientific American article by Ferris Jabr who argues that there are four distinct advantages that prove paper reading is superior to digital reading.


Followers of this Scoop-it blog, know that I've long emphasized that it is the text not the means of accessing the text that should be at the center of that particular discussion regarding literary reading. And, that educators who voice their own preferences for one over the other may be inadvertently alienating student readers who have established preferences for "the other" means of accessing literary reading text.


There being a long list of perceived advantages and disadvantages for both paper and digital reading, my question has always been, "Which is the most welcome format for the student REGARDLESS of my own particular preference? And by the way, though I do lean a bit towards preferring  digital over paper, particularly when I am reading with an academic intention, I feel equally at home with paper-based literary reading. 


So, when I began reading this article and discovered that it referenced an article from a respectable periodical and that that article took a very clear stand in favor of paper, I was quite interested in the possibility of discovering previously unconsidered advantages of paper-based reading. And, with that in mind, rather than assume that I might let my slight preference for digital reading bias my receptiveness to solid evidence that ought to be conceded to paper, I actually began to wonder about the possibility that IF there is merit in the argument for paper and against digital reading, that this might be more significant than my "let them access the text in their preferred media and concentrate on the text" stance.


Why? Because whether students prefer one or the other, the assessment structures for the English Language Arts Common Core Standards specifically require digital reading.


Could this requirement to take the assessment testing via computer which is not the same experience  to those who prefer paper's  advantages and who are more bothered by their perceived disadvantages of digital reading, cause an unrecognized significant increase in the test's margin of error considerations?


And, ironically, after having spent some time exploring the Smarter Balance" practice tests, I became quite concerned that the reading experience presented by Smarter Balance was significantly unlike the digital reading experience that I've come to appreciate a bit more than the paper reading experience. 


The "Smarter Balance" reading paridigm includes none of the advantages and many incredibly, ... well, I'll just say it, many really irritating disadvantages for attentive reading.


It is a reading experience that isn't an authentic representation of any reading experience at all. Nor does it employ technology in a way that reflects the best features of digital reading, those being features that streamline attentiveness via immediate definition access, those that integrate highlighting and note taking seamlessly, and those that make reviewing notes and highlights instantly accessible whether one is accessing them while reading or after reading while studying for an exam or reviewing the entirety of the story while constructing knowledge via project-based building, essay writing, and other demonstrations of understanding.


Jones' critque of Jabr's "conclusions" rest upon pointing out the narrowness of Jabr's scope of consideration. Admittedly I was pleased therefore to see that Jabr's blanket conclusions were being challenged and that Jones' critique was based upon legitimate questions of Jabr's analysis.


Yet, at the same time, I could not help but wonder if students who prefer paper-based reading and who have then not exerted the effort to go through the process of developing a comfort level sufficient to getting past the universal "temporary fall back" that occurs when the comfortable old modes of operation are replaced with the uncomfortableness of the new mode's "different way of doing things." 


This is not a new phenomenon.  It's called the "S-curve" effect. Productivity declines temporarily when one has to learn a new way of doing something that is replacing what appears to be a perfectily satisfactory way one had always done that task. 


We may not recall Mark Twain's turnaround regarding the invention of the typewriter. By the way, it is interesting to note that Mark Twain happened to have been quite intrigued with "new" technologies having been the first person to have a telephone in a personal residence and the first person to submit a typewritten manuscript to his publisher and who happened to go bankrupt investing in what he'd hope would be a revolution in printing industry technology.


Nevertheless, his early adoption was fraught with irritation at the typewriter's initial setback in his comfort, efficiency, and productivity.


As he put it,...


"The machine is at Bliss's, grimly pursuing its appointed mission, slowly & implacably rotting away at another man's chances for salvation.


I have sent Bliss word not to donate it to a charity (though it is a pity to fool away a chance to do a charity an ill turn), but to let me know when he has got his dose, because I've got another candidate for damnation. You just wait a couple of weeks & if you don't see the TypeWriter coming tilting along toward Cambridge with the raging hell of an unsatisfied appetite in its eye, I lose my guess."

- Letter to William Dean Howells, 25 June 1875



 Yet in the spirit of a true pioneer, undeterred by the inconvenience caused by the inevitable setback to his productivity and efficiency  caused by having to master a completely new skill set for writing, he did recognize  the typewriter's significant POTENTIAL advantages over handwriting early on when he had not yet mastered the typewriter. 


He demonstrated the kind of openess to the "new fangled" ideas that we might well hope our students adopt in the rapidly changing times they must be prepared for and the kind of openess to the "new fangled" ideas that we as educators ought to be receptive to in spite of their required discomforting "learning curves," when he wrote... 


I am trying to get the hang of this new fangled writing machine, but I am not making a shining success of it. However, this is the first attempt I have ever made & yet I perceive I shall soon & easily acquire a fine facility in its use...The machine has several virtues. I believe it will print faster than I can write. One may lean back in his chair & work it. It piles an awful stack of words on one page. Id don't muss things or scatter ink blots around. Of course it saves paper.



Of course, he did master the new fangled technology. He far surpassed his initial concept of the value-add that typewriters would bring to his writing once he made the transition. And, from that vantage point he was able to look back at pen and paper and see that in the long run the potential of pen and paper was far more limited than the new possibilities brought about via his surviving the transition to the typewriter.


In a later letter to Howells, his enthusiasm for typewriters was, ah, let's say great. He wrote, ...



...[children] what are they in the world for I don't know, for they are of no practical value as far as I can see. If I could beget a typewriter--- but no, our fertile days are over."



Now that's enthusiasm after an initial expression of serious dislike for typewriters. 


Though forever condemned by an overly simplistic understanding of their motives, the Luddites are often cited as the poster-persons for resistance to technology. In truth, their concern was about their concerns regarding the impact on unions and laborers brought about by more efficient productivity that technology might bring. There's room for empathy there.I would suggest that there are in fact many people today who understand the Luddites concern. It was not that the technology wasn't more efficient in time and cost, but that many people today are finding their skill sets just no longer viable in a world that changes so quickly. 


It's not unusual. Remember the discomfort expressed by many when word processors didn't make clicking sounds when the keys were hit?


Remember the discomfort when Apple stopped putting modems in their computers?


Inconvenience, some worthy of sympathy and some merely signaling a resistance to having to learn something new, often comes before the increased value-add made possible by change.


And, as long as this particular commentary has been, my point has been not to focus upon the legitmacy of the arguments made by Jabr in his assertion that paper beats rock,  ...oops, ....I mean paper beats digital.


My point was, without assuming that one is better than the other, what if there IS an important difference between the two modes of reading that is particularly prevalent during times when disruptive paradigm shifts are making radical changes in the way we do things? And, if there is, might those differences extend the margin of error in the  standardized testing results into the unacceptable range given the transition in place between the traditional paper-based skill set and the extremely varying degrees of achieving a level of comfort with the very different skill set of reading as a digital process?


I really hadn't thought about this in spite of the fact that I'm old enough to remember how microwaves were welcomed and unwelcome during the early days of microwave ovens and the discomfort and advantages of VCRs when they were new and with DVR when it disrupted VCRs, all of which brought new options to the exisiting modes of doing what it was that they did. Yet, they also brought a discomfort level that was for many such a challenge that they never did achieve the required new skills for reaping the benefit. 


The pace at which people adjust to new paradigms is incredibly personal. There are folks who never did learn to program their VCRs. And there are people who just don't feel a need to jump on every unproven band wagon that happens along; some until the "bugs have been worked out, and others because they've seen too many Edsels and Beta-max flops. And, as successful as Apple has always been some remember the Apple Newton a "not-yet-ready-for-primetime" predecessor to the iPod and today's smart phones and tablets.


Even some of us who are educators remember the resistance to spellcheckers and calculators. Some still are; others insist that students be held responsible for perfect spelling since it is so much easier to spell perfectly when spellcheckers can catch the first 98% of spelling issues. Today no employer will tolerate labor expenses involved with employees who do math "the old inefficent way." Is there an educator reading this commentary who does not know a veteran teacher who to this day still has a significant discomfort with searching for ways to integrate the powers of the internet into his or her classroom even though there are others who signficantly enhance and engage students in the same content at the same school? The problem is not that the old ways "ain't broken" but that like it or not they are obsoleting.


I have a hard time leaving my paper books behind and I doubt that the day will come soon that I'd even think about doing so. But, I also do not deny the inevitability of an ongoing digital disruption on every front far into the future.


But that's okay. I still have a deep love and appreciation for the experience of driving my wife's 5-speed manual transmission  Prelude "rocket ship". While at the same time appreciating my Nissan Pathfinder's automatic transmission, especially in the crazy traffic in the area where I do my driving. And, I am also perfectly aware of the fact that although I generally keep cars for 10-15 years, the next time I am in the market for a new car, my criteria won't be blazing speed and exquisite handling like the Prelude or comfort in traffic like the Pathfinder. My criteria will be dominated by my concern for sustainability of resources and room for my three adorable grandsons. 


 ~  ~

Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name of GLT Global ED, an educational nonprofit

Marty Roddy's curator insight, November 22, 2013 11:17 PM

Interesting thoughts on reading.

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BOOK RIOT - Always books. Never boring.

BOOK RIOT - Always books. Never boring. | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

"While we at the Riot take some time off to rest and catch up on our reading, we’re re-running some of our favorite posts from the last several months. Enjoy our highlight reel, and we’ll be back with new stuff on Monday, January 6th"

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

28 December 2013
I've counted on Book Riot to provide thought-provoking articles dedicated to finding interesting and intriguing takes on Reading About Reading

And, as they take a holiday respite, they've taken the opportunity to "re-post" some of their favorite posts; the Cremé; de la Cremé so to speak.

Rather than commenting upon them individually, I'll just tease you with a quick list of some of the titles. I know many of you are enjoying the last days of your winter breaks, but as that day approaches, I also know that many of you will turn your attention towards a  growing excitement about getting back to working with your students.


It might be quite worth the time to ramp up your enthusiasm by sampling a few of the following posts. The titles alone should give you an idea of how intriguingly engaging the Book Riot posts typically are!


Life Lessons from Winnie the Pooh

Not All People Who Read Books Are Book People

30 One-Sentence Lessons from Literature

3 Steps to Reading Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Reading Outside Your Comfort Zone

Let’s Put James Franco on All the Book Covers!

QUIZ: Guess These Books by Their Catalog Cards

A Guide to Neil Gaiman for Kids!

A Beginner’s Guide to Oscar Wilde

Lost and Bound: Adventures in Found Books 


Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name for GLT Global ED, a 501c3 tax-exempt educational nonprofit

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7 Delightful Forgotten English Words

7 Delightful Forgotten English Words | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
If you're looking to boost your Scrabble game or make your friends feel like blunkerkins, you might want to check out The Horologicon, language- obsessed blogger Mark Forsyth's witty compendium of words long forgotten by most speakers of English.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

15 December 2013

Amusing though short list of lost words. I can think of three words on the list that ought to be more popular than ever!


~ ~

Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name of GLT Global ED, a 501c3 tax-exempt educational nonprofit

Patty Kennedy's curator insight, January 3, 10:53 AM

This is excellent.   I can completely see a use for words #1, #3 & #6.  :)

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9 Movies You Didn't Know Were Based On Shakespeare Stories

9 Movies You Didn't Know Were Based On Shakespeare Stories | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
John Madden's "Shakespeare in Love" was released on Dec. 11, 1998.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

12 December 2013

What is literary reading's value if it is not perceived to be relevant by those whose zones of proximal development we've been entrusted to nourish?


There are reasons why Shakespeare is still relevant. And, most English majors/English teachers have, over the trajectories of their lives come to know that Shakespeare is relevant. 


But, "relevance" only becomes relevant once the "Ah Ha"ppens. 

<<ASIDE: Okay, I don't know if "Ah Ha"ppens works. But I am stuck with a mind that comes up with stuff like that>>


How might these parallel versions of the classics be embraced as resources as we encourage students to "discover" the relevance of Shakespeare? 


If we teach Shakespeare (or any author) as if the goal was to deify the author rather than to encourage discovery of relevance then we may be missing the target more often than hitting the bullseye. 


There is an indescribable joy when we "discover for ourselves" the significance of the great themes. 


And there is great frustration when we "just don't get" what someone else is so excited about. 


Whether we acknowledge it when asked or conveyed indirectly via body language, the truth is that many of our students let us know that they are not really as engaged as we'd like to believe they are. The message we may or may not be aware of is...


"What's this old story got to do with anything I care about?"


or the more receptive...

"What's this old story got to do with anything I should care about?"


It's that "opportunity space" between "not caring yet" and "actually caring." 


These Hollywood adaptations may be just the bridge between the "why should I care?" and the personal realization that "I really ought to care" moment.


I'm convinced that we can not tell others to care, but we can create an opportunity for them to experience the discovery of something worth caring about that had not been cared about before. 


It's some sort of choreography, some sort of "designing the sequence of events," that make up a learning experience in which the student is the discoverer of relevance rather than the note taker who either does or doesn't really care about passing the test.


So when do we do our end zone dance?


When they send the message "I know this one!" or when they send the message "I Get it!"


"Ah Ha"ppiness Happens!


 ~ ~

Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name for GLT Global ED, a 501c3 tax-exempt educational nonprofit



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10 Children's Books You Didn't Know Were Racist

10 Children's Books You Didn't Know Were Racist Maybe these aren't the best books to teach your child to read with, check out why in 10 surprisingly racist c...
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

10 December 2013

I seriously debated whether or not I would scoop this video. I certainly do not want to endorse any literature that even remotely promotes racism. And this is particularly true in the case of "Children's Books."


I won't defend any of the stories because my recollection of them is vague at best. The evidence condemning them in 17.3 seconds certainly doesn't paint them in a good light. 


Truthfully, I really have only limited recollection of most of the stories condemned. I remember "Little Black Sambo" and even the Sambos Restaurants that eventually closed because the restaurant, though actually named after founders SAM Battistone, Sr. and Newell BOhnett, chose to emphasize the assumed relationship to the story in their decor decisions. The book did seem racist to me as I recall. Though, I won't defend the story, I did Google it and discovered a complete copy of the book on Project Guttenberg and came to realize that I had not really remembered the story so much as the controversy. I don't think as  a child that I ever realized that the story was set in India not Africa. Nor did I recall that Sambo was a victim throughout the story.



But, I will come to the defense of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And, in doing so I hope to at least suggest that there may well be a variation of racism in the form of stereotyping via cherry picking evidence in the video maker's .17.3 second condemnations that do a great disservice to at least one of the titles if not many of those mentioned in the video.


My challenge...

How in the world could a video proclaiming The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to be racist ever generate 1,779,378 views and gather nearly three times as many "thumbs ups" as "thumbs down"?


Oh, I know the controversy regarding Huck Finn. It is a story to which I have probably devoted more attention than any other book I've read. For the record, I taught a Mark Twain course for three years. That course evolved into a Satire course that I taught for over 30 years where there was always at least one work by Mark Twain in the syllabus.. I've actually held the hand-written pages of the original manuscript that are housed in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. I've been invited to the Green Room backstage to meet Hal Holbrook after a performance of "Mark Twain Tonight." (Hal Holbrook actually called me at school to let me know he'd arranged for two tickets and personally invited me to come back stage after the performance).


But back to, the video...So, I've done a bit of math. the producers of this video condemn 10 famous "Children's Books" in 2 minutes 53 seconds. That means the case against each book averaged 17.3 seconds. Not a lot of time for evidence. And, certainly no time for the defense to present its case.


I'll only present a defense of Huckleberry  Finn, a book commonly criticized unfairly as being racist on lists like this one. The criticism is of course based upon Mark Twain's having Huckleberry Finn and many others, use the despicable N-Word way too many times for sensibile readers to ignore.


It's pretty easy to hate Pap for using the word. He's clearly an antagonist. But, it does challenge readers' sensibilities and comfort levels when Mark Twain puts those words in Huck's mouth, the character we so much want to consider as the story's primary protagonist.


What a position to put the reader in! "We want to like Huck, but how can we if he's a racist?" And, we squirm at the frequency of the word's appearance.


I would suggest that at worst Huck was a "racist in training." He WAS A CHILD whose biggest drawback was that he believed his teachers, guardians, preachers, and judges as most children would.


The only possible acceptable resolution for the reader's predicament is if The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is actually the story of one boy's coming to realize that what he has been taught was wrong. And, this is exactly what Mark Twain does.


The story is actually attacked for TWO reasons. The lesser known criticism is of a scholarly nature. The story is criticized by many for the "much too long" concluding episodes where Tom Sawyer who had NOT YET had the eye-opening experiences regarding the injustices of racial relationships that Huck had had, returns bringing his limited sensibilities about what is okay in terms of childhood play with him. This leads to another excruciating challenge to readers. As Tom thinks nothing of the cruelty of his tormenting Jim we just don't find Tom all that amusing as he was in his own book.And, after awhile, because the torment goes on for so long, readers become quite anxious for a happy ending that does not come as quickly as we'd like. Huck is pretty darned silent during that long and painful-to-read series of unrelentingly cruel ending chapters.The criticism? Why did Mark Twain go on for so long? He could have ended the story much sooner!"


Could he have? Really? Why relieve the reader quickly? Why not drive the point home to Huck AND to the readers that there are reasons why we need to stare at serious social issues squarely in the face and face whatever our own responsibilities my be as participants in those injustices?


Mark Twain has accomplished a remarkable feat in that criticized ending. He forces us to accept a not very satisfying "happy ending." We're happy to see that Huck gets fed up with Tom and when the time comes to go home again he can't. 


It's happy on one hand as Huck ends the story...


"I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can't stand it. I been there before."


If "sivilized" people act the way Huck has come to understand their parameters of civilized behavior. He chooses not to return as a participant.


YEAH! we can love Huck and forgive him his trespasses.


But, Mark Twain also withholds the most important element required by stories that readers want to believe end "happily ever after." Huck may be off in hopes of finding a better place, but those he leaves behind are left where they are and have always been and history has shown were to be slow in coming to the same realizations that Huck has come to. Mark Twain offers little indication that Aunt Sally or Tom or so many of the others whose behaviors we found despicable had learned any lessons worthy of contemplation of self-righteous doubt.. Well, there is one glimmer of hope. Old Miss Watson does set Jim free as a result of her shame resulting from her nearly choosing to cash in on Jim by selling him down the river.


But, of course, Twain kills her off too. 


The second and far more common reason that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is attacked is of course, the extreme irritation caused by the use of the N-word.


Unfortunately, too many defenders of the book address this by suggesting that the N-word was a common word in those days so we have to "excuse" Huck for using it.


NO we don't have to excuse Huck unless we base that excuse upon his childhood naivete. The word was not an acceptable term in those days by thinking people. It was an intended irritant to the sensibilities of readers of the day and a constant irritant even today as it reminds us that racism is still rampant among large elements of our society.


All Muslims are _______.

All Mexicans are _______..

All gays are _________.

All Jews are ________.

All Liberals are _________.

All Conservatives are ________.

All blondes are _________.


Let's not kid ourselves. Mark Twain put it in our faces. Stereotyping is the seed of racism, sexism, and Xenophobia.


Huck Finn was the bravest writing Mark Twain had done at the time. 


One of the finest presentations I've ever seen was made by Jocelyn Chadwick, a Harvard Graduate School of Education assistant professor and Twain scholar who authored, "The Jim Dilemma: Reading Race in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."


A must read article for anyone who teaches The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn AND for anyone who criticizes the teaching of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is this article published in the Harvard University Gazette by Alvin Powell.. (


The article begins...


"Mark Twain knew darn well what he was doing when he wrote "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn": he was pokin' at a beehive.


And for more than one hundred years, the bees have obliged, swarming out with criticism of the tale of the friendship between a poor white boy, Huckleberry Finn, and an escaped slave, Jim."



According to Chadwick,  "Twain's writings stopped being just stories and began to reflect his social conscience."


They weren't necessarily racist before Huck Finn. One need only take a close look at the shift in Mark Twain's focus between the publishing of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. In the earlier works the focus was upon children's antics and not on the deeper themes that he introduced in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. 


One can not read The Prince and the Pauper or Pudd'nhead Wilson parallel books to see Twain's focus upon issues of social conscience. The first focuses upon the inequality of the rich and the poor; the later upon the inequality between whites and blacks both sharing the basic plot structure of having one character from each side wind up swapping places with the other to see how the other group lives.


Read The Mysterious Stranger, Letters From Earth, and The War Prayer and then make a case that Mark Twain was a racist.


As the maker of this video relies on cherry-picked evidence and does not bother to consider overwhelming evidence to the contrary, at least in the case of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and I suspect in the cases of the other books he condemns in 17.3 seconds or less. He or she or they are ironically guilty of the same stereotyping and maligning as he, she, or they condemn the stories as being.




So why isn't there a Google Lit Trip for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? 

It is a notoriously difficult story for identifying specific locations other than a very few obvious ones.


BUT, I'm happy to announce that the Google Lit Trip IS underdevelopment nevertheless. I don't know how soon it will be ready, but there will be an announcement right here as soon as it is.


 ~ ~

Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name for GLT Global ED, a 501c3 tax exempt educational nonprofit.

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Expand Your Classroom Boundaries through Virtual Field Trips

Expand Your Classroom Boundaries through Virtual Field Trips | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Your source for news from the world of literacy
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

Oh my! Another nice mention of the Google Lit Trips project on the International Reading Association "Reading Today Online" site.


Thank you thank you...

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Caution: Reading Can Be Hazardous

Caution: Reading Can Be Hazardous | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

This year, I was a judge for the National Book Awards. A day when I got through only a single book felt like a day of delinquency.

GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

9 December 2013

So, I'll start with my favorite paragraph from this article by Charles McGrath. It has little to do with the article's title, at least when taken out of context. But, it does strike at the  heart of my beliefs about what we can and occasionally do learn from fiction.



"... And during the summer doldrums I sometime found myself thinking that I was paying the price for an overly bookish life: that I already knew what little there really was for fiction to teach us. Human beings are flawed and do foolish things, especially when love and money are involved. O.K., I think I’ve got that."


It's a bit overstated, or should I say understated(?), and to give the author credit, the line was delivered in what must have been an extreme moment of exhaustion in his attempt to judge over 400 books that had been nominated for the National Book Awards.

I flashed back to my "Ah Ha!" moment in my freshman year of college, when I raised my hand in a lecture hall with 149 other freshman enrolled in a unique five trimester Humanities program and asked, "Am I crazy or is every book we're going to read going to be about why we should and how we can be good people?"

I immediately felt that my "Ah Ha!" moment had provided the five professor team and probably a good proportion of my fellow classmates to have a "No Duh!" moment; that I had publicized my having been one of the last people on earth to have "discovered" the common denominator of all great literature.

Though the article does not actually keep the promise made in its title, It does build a steadily increasing momentum towards what I think is its greatest pearl of wisdom. Choosing a single title to be recognized as the best work of fiction is almost a ludicrous endeavor. Starting with the idea of what criteria one can agree to apply evenly across some 400+ titles to a recognition that sometimes the "new" break the pre-existing paradigms in such a way that they often are misjudged rather than honored for having gone where no one else had gone before.

Bob Dylan's Voice...

e.e. cummings' punctuation

Picasso's Cubism

Galileo's "eyes"

Apple computers

Flipped classrooms

photography as art

Ghandhi, Martin Luther King jr, and Nelson Mandela


How often is it that it is the disruption of the status quo that moves us forward? And, how often are those disruptions dismissed by the contemporary keepers of the faith only to eventually become the defining moments of progress?


This is not to say, as is often the case with disruptive innovation, that the new unseats the classics, but rather that the new often finds it quite a challenge to be invited to the table in its early days.


 ~ ~

"Google Lit Trips" is the legal fictitious business name for GLT Global ED, a 501c3 tax-exempt educational nonprofit

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How to Analyze Literature Better by Watching Football

How to Analyze Literature Better by Watching Football | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Learning about literature by watching football.
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

5 Dec 2013

Well there you go!

Your thoughts? Can this unexpected take on ways to support students in their study of literature expand the paradigms within which we seek more and more effective ways to engage our students in pursuing the treasures with which Literary reading can enrich our lives?


Heck, I think I'll even be a more thoughtful football fan too.


 ~ ~

Google Lit Trips is the legal fictitious business name for GLT Global ED, a 501c3 educational nonprofit.

Cindy Riley Klages's curator insight, December 6, 2013 12:09 AM

War Eagle!  (Sorry, but I had to say it.)

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A Huge Announcement RE: Google Lit Trips!

A Huge Announcement RE: Google Lit Trips! | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:



After five years of providing Google Lit Trips resources without cost to educators and students around the globe and a 2 and a half year process establishing Google Lit Trips as an official 501c3 nonprofit corporation WITH tax-exempt status. The day is here!


Nothing has changed as far as the management of the project. However, it's official nonprofit corporate name is now GLT Global ED with the legal fictional business name of Google Lit Trips.


And now, since the tax exempt status has been conferred we will be able to provide tax-exempt receipts for any donations made to GLT Global ED.


Though we haven't yet established an easy method for accepting donations, those who have benefited from the project can actually make a "no cost to you" donation by simply choosing to use the Amazon link on the front page of the Google Lit Trips site ( as an entry point to Amazon when you do some holiday shopping. Your purchases will be tagged with an indicator that you entered  Amazon via the link on our website. Though we will have no way of knowing who had chosen to help out in this way, a small percentage of what you spend will come back to Google Lit Trips as a referral fee.


It has certainly been an honor to have made the Google Lit Trips resources available to the nearly 2 million visitors who have visited the site since we started the project.


A great big huge thanks to all who have taken advantage of the resources, to all who have contributed to the resources, and to all who have shared their enthusiasm for the project through their blogs and other websites  and workshops, college courses, and Institutes around the world.


And, a HUGE welcome to all newcomers who are yet to become benefactors.


You each have given significant meaning to my life as a retired educator paying forward the gratitude I have for an educator who turned my life trajectory towards becoming a member of the noblest profession of all.


Thank you so much,



 ~ ~

Google Lit Trips is the official fictitious business name for GLT Global ED, an educational nonprofit.

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Bob Dylan "Like A Rolling Stone" - Official Interactive Video!

Bob Dylan "Like A Rolling Stone" - Official Interactive Video! | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Revolutionary technology sparks first official video for Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone"
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's insight:

1 December 2013

I've written extensively and repeatedly about the turnaround moment in my personal career contemplations that resulted from my senior high school English teacher, Mr. Kay's taking out class to see Bob Dylan in Berkeley, CA in 1966. Just at the outer edge of my Vygotskyian Zone of Proximal Development, Dylan captured my attention by somehow being intriguing while at the same time being nearly incomprensibly obtuse. When I tell this story, the climax is that upon our return to class, Mr. Kay built an incredible intriguing bridge from where our musical tastes lay at the time to that on the edge place where Dylan was inviting us to explore. And, then after finding our way across that bridge, Mr. Kay built another bridge for us from our new-found excitement at having discovered something in Dylan's new lyrical and musical place to seeing the possibility that we might be able to apply our new appreciation to T. S. Eliot's poetry.


It wasn't a secret to Mr. Kay, though it seemed to be to too many of my other teachers. Connect the distant to the near starting from the near; rather than from the distant. 


In other words, as a fairly typical teenage boy, my openess to distant "back in my grandparents' day stuff" was limited to whatever" polite pretending that I cared about those days" that I could muster. And, in general I could pretend to be listening as though I cared most of the time, but I realize in hindsight that I probably had not yet realized the importance of not rolling one's eyes while attempting to pass myself off as actually caring about whatever it was that happened back in those distant days that old people thought I should care about.


My question though I didn't really care enough to search for the answer to that question was something to the effect of, "What's that old thing got to do with anything I care about?"  


In my mind, it was a rhetorical question and my assumption was that the obvious answer was, "Nothing. That's my point."


And, I rarely gave it another thought. That was the problem. As is true for many young people, I was pretty full of myself for what turned out to be very few, if any, good reasons.


Today, Dylan is someone from the distant to most young people, with a small percentage of exceptions. Yet, unlike T.S. Eliot who wasn't still around at the time I was in high school, Dylan is still around. His core fans still remember. And, unlike other aging rockers who are just too old to be singing their old hits about teenage angst (oh how painful it was to see Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, probably in his late 50s at the time, singing "In My Room" to an audience of equal vintage including the couple who sat in front of us with their teenage son who spent the entire concert squirming in his seat), Dylan is still exploring new musical territory. And, has long been his custom, even when he does offer up one of his oldies but goodies, he generally gives it an entirely fresh take. 


So... this video by Dylan now in his 70s, is SO Dylan. He's still out there on the edge with this completely new take on one of his oldest hits, "Like a Rolling Stone." And, instead of creating a fresh take by "rocking" it up or adding more instruments or a complete new arrangement, he relied entirely upon a vintage recording of the original version of the classic.


This time however, he gets out to the edge with an experimental interactive video that the viewer controls via the up/down arrows on computer. And, what do you get? by switching the video from one image set to others?


You get the answer to the question, "What's that old thing got to do with anything I care about?"


Dylan may have become the Mr. Kay in the minds of contemporary music and media fans, by bringing his "old" themes to the edges of today's youths' zone of proximal development.


And, thereby not merely gaining potential new fans, but doing so by building a bridge of relevance from the near world events of today to the distant universal truths that his "old stuff"  spoke of.


It is good to be reminded that we are in the business of providing eye opening experiences to our students.



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Literature in Lexile | Opinion | The Harvard Crimson

Literature in Lexile | Opinion | The Harvard Crimson | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |

... The goal of the [Common Core] initiative is to increase curricular rigor, and an easy way to do this is to quantify textual difficulty and assign tougher books to young students. But the adoption of lexiles breeds contradictions. Consider: The new lexile range for grade 10 is 1080-1305 lexiles, but the example text for grades 9-10 is Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath—680 lexiles only! Again, any reasonably well-read person could tell you what lexiles can’t: The difficulty of a text is more than the sum of its syntax...

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Though my wife's Masters degree focused upon Reading education, I spent my teaching career in high schools where Lexile measurements were only at the distant edges of my peripheral awareness. I was definitely not in the least bit aware of the controversial nature of their value in doing precisely what they are intended to do.


As I've read much about the controversy of late and the degree to which the Common Core State Standards methodologies. This article by Harvard student Michael Thorbjørn Feelhly gives credit to the CCSS's methodology where  " 'quantitative dimensions of text complexity' are only one third of the CCSS methodology of text evaluation."

Though I must first admit that although I've done a ton of reading about the Lexile controversy and the controversy regarding professional understandings and misunderstandings of the quality of the Common Core State Standards' work specifically in the area of literary reading, my reading about the Lexile measurement controversy seems to recognize that there is a declining scale of value as they are applied to readers at the middle school grades and particularly when applied at the high school level primarily because as students move on to higher grades reading education moves away from emphasizing the data-measurable reading literacy skills of decoding toward the difficult to measure skills associated with making value of complex thematic goals and the value of exploring the human condition. 

This is not to say that there that literacy education (the HOW of reading) does not exist in the middle and upper grades. There are of course some very complex levels of literacy. But, literary reading serves a more complex purpose over and above a student's ability to recognize aphorism, anthropomorphism and Asyndetons. Recognition of these literary devices is essentially a skill set of advanced LITERACY SKILLS that may or may not be useful in developing LITERARY appreciation. It's a subtle distinction between the HOW of reading and the WHY of reading. The complexities associated with thematic interpretation and the perception of the value of the power of fiction to shed clarifying light upon the Universal Truths of the human condition are very different outcomes. And, the Lexile measurement accuracy for LITERACY-SIDE skills is at least more reliable than it is for measuring LITERARY appreciation; so much so that applying Lexile measurement for literature selection at the higher grades may be significantly more destructive than constructive when designing curriculm focused upon literary reading.

And if this is the case, then giving Lexile measurements one third of the weight in determining the methodology procedures of text evaluation may be valid at lower grades and should be significantly reduced in weight at the middle and high school levels, at least beyond courses devoted to reading remediation.

Though not in support of some potential conspiracy theory, I was intrigued by the author's suggestion that the very clear decline in hiring certificated librarians as having significantly reduced the influence of those with particular authority on the subject while vastly increasing the influence of for profit corporations in the decisions, de facto or directly, regarding what is taught in the upper grades.

The author's conclusion regarding the declining influence of librarians and the rising influence of data-driven conclusions based to varying degrees upon the actual value of the data utilized, was good news but maybe not so good news for those of us concerned about the quality of measurement of literary reading...


"What’s important is to inspire a lifelong love of reading, and especially reading drama, poetry, and fiction. Currently, the CCSS heavily favors the reading of non-fiction and technical texts. I think it should not ignore literature, though; studies show that reading literary fiction can increase students’ empathy—a quality some people value, even if they are unable to practice it.

What you can’t accomplish with numbers, you might achieve with a human being who cares about books and the students who read them, and a viable space in which books are available and valued. 



Yes, we might have a strong positive response to the suggestion that there are values in literary reading that can better be determined by appropriately educated human beings than by spreadsheet experts.

Yet, there is a bitter pill to swallow in the penultimate paragraph that suggests, or perhaps "confesses" is a better word, that


"...studies show that reading literary fiction can increase students’ empathy—a quality some people value, even if they are unable to practice it."



"...even if they are unable to practice it." There is the rub. Are we willing to accept that this truth flies in the face of one of the most admirable  paradigm shift goals encouraged by the Common Core State Standards? What good is it if they know but can't (or won't) do?


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50 Books That Define the Past Five Years in Literature

50 Books That Define the Past Five Years in Literature | Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading |
Five years ago this month saw the publication of Roberto Bolaño's 2666 in English. The book topped almost every year-end list and signaled a shift in literary tastes, creating larger audiences for ...
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Oh Oh! My bucket list of "Got to get around to reading __________ just got a whole lot longer!


A great article for educators whose familiarity with the "curriculum classics" far exceeds their familiarity of the contemporary literary scene. 


As I read the very brief justifications for each title's inclusion on this list I could not help but be inspired to do a bit of catching up.


And, as is usually the case, my mind could not help but generate a whole bunch of ideas about literature and learning about literature.


One of the first thoughts had to do with a recollection of my disappointment back in my college days when I was just shy of the days when I was going to begin to understand that I did NOT know it all AT ALL and I signed up for a contemporary literature course that did not include a single work that had been written after I was born. And, worse (in my mind at least) about a third of the works had been written before my parents had been born! The professor's explanation? Anything written in the 20th century is considered contemporary." End of discussion.


As it happened, perhaps "as it was meant to happen" Bokonon would say, it was somewhere around the time that I began to care enough about the distinction between great literature and popular literature. And, to my surprise, I began to discover an interesting pattern that suggested that many of the great works weren't perceived as great writing in their own times, and many were not perceived as great writing in their author's lifetimes. I always thought this was sort of sad for the authors who'd written books that had gone on to sell millions of copies to "someone else's financial benefit."


Another thought I had while reading this article was the irony that my work for the Google Lit Trips focused on books that are most commonly taught in schools  has left me little time for reading much of the current literature that inevitably contains titles destined to be among the most remembered and taught works in some future times.


This is not to say that many of these works are not already considered acceptable reading for course work. But, those that are, are more likely to be "credit-worthy" in classes where "outside reading projects" are add-ons to a standardized "required reading" focus. And, let me clarify that I think that in core courses this is a fine arrangement, particularly in light of the concern  regarding the perceived declining attention to literary reading as students climb the grade level ladder. 


This list might be a good starting place to add or revise and existing outside reading program to your ELA Literary Reading units.


Besides the benefits of students being allowed to design at least a portion of their own curriculum based upon an established "real" contemporary reading list and perhaps their existing interest in reading the kinds of books not quite yet on the radar of their teachers, it also offers the teacher an opportunity to let the students inform the teacher who can then model an interest in learning more about the kinds of reading with which he or she is not yet familiar. 


Imagine the opportunity to model the kind of receptiveness to reading books that we have less experience with than our students might have. Or put slightly differently, Imagine the opportunity to model the kind of receptiveness to reading books that we expect our students to have for books they have less experience with than their teachers.


I'd start by asking my students to read this article and make a list of the top three books that they personally might find potentially interesting. 


I might follow this with a casual "just for the heck of it" class survey to see if any of the titles were particularly popular across the entire class. (hoping that each title was selected by at least someone so that the class could see that interests vary among their friends and classmates.



24 Nov 2013

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Journey Videos: The Journey Begins... (1 of 4)

Follow our Journey at: This video covers the first 3 days of the Steinbeck Center's Journey from Oklahoma to California. The video wa...
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If you teach Grapes of Wrath or just love the story, you'll appreciate this recent project conducted by The National Steinbeck Center.



On Oct. 4, three esteemed, award-winning artists -- playwright Octavio Solis, visual artist Patricia Wakida and filmmaker P.J. Palmer -- set out on the road with the National Steinbeck Center to retrace the journey that The Grapes of Wrath's Joad family took along America's Route 66. The artists and the center are travelling through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, just as the Joads did at the height of the Dust Bowl—toward California and their hopes of a better life. 

The artists are blogging throughout the Journey at They are inviting public collaboration and feedback through multiple social media channels. This entire trip is being documented by a film crew and shared as part of the 75th Anniversary celebration in 2014."


As the journey continues, they'll be adding more videos to this site.

You can also download the recently updated version of the Grapes of Wrath Google Lit Trips by clicking the  "Download 9-12 Titles" link on this page:

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