Innovative Leadership in School Libraries
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Innovative Leadership in School Libraries
Maximizing advocacy opportunities and #makinganimpact
Curated by Sue Kowalski
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Rescooped by Sue Kowalski from Google Lit Trips: Reading About Reading!

Ten Well-Travelled Ed Sites for Google Earth Field Trips and Tours

Ten Well-Travelled Ed Sites for Google Earth Field Trips and Tours | Innovative Leadership in School Libraries |

"The (Google Lit Trips) tours are complete with links and facts that can make any reading block a reading block party."

Via GoogleLitTrips Reading List
GoogleLitTrips Reading List's curator insight, December 5, 2014 12:16 PM

5 December 2014


It is quite moving to this retired English teacher to find expressions of appreciation such as this one, knowing that in my own way that after nearly 40 years as a classroom teacher,  I've been able to continue to support teachers and their students from Kindergarten through grad school from over 150 countries with the Google Lit Trips resources they find valuable.


One of the treats for me has been a result of  bloggers who've created comments that capture better than I have done, an essential element of the Google Lit Trips project. 

Mr. Clayton, this blog's author came up with, "The tours are complete with links and facts that can make any reading block a reading block party."

To me, this quote is much more than a wonderful compliment. It actually reflects two of the primary pillars upon which the Google Lit Trips pedagogy rests. The first being, that reading stories whether for personal enjoyment or as a focused learning experience, relies upon engaged enjoyment.


I hadn't thought about comparing reading to a party. In fact, I can even recall, with regret in retrospect, being slightly disappointed when a well-intended student would take the time to thank me for having such a fun class. Yes, I did try to make learning fun. And, yes, I did appreciate that the student was expressing his enjoyment for having taken the class. But somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I wanted to hear the kid say something like, "Mr. Burg, I just want to tell you that I really enjoyed the class because it gave me so many new ideas to think about that I hadn't really thought that much about before." 


My sense of the value of reading fiction was in the enjoyment of the  "on the lines" plot elements and the "ah ha" pleasures of discovering the "between the lines" themes.


My default metaphor was that great stories are like candy-coated medicine. The candy-coating, the "on the lines" plot elements being so enticing that they served to quickly break down resistance to taking in the intellectual medicine that the story's "between the lines " themes provide. From the earliest days of every reader, who didn't love the plot first and THEN gradually begin to discover both subconsciously and consciously, an engaging  burst of enjoyment in the realizing that stories can have thought provoking lessons to think about. From Aesop who gave us the "the moral of the story" to finding them myself, the "ah ha!" moment of realizing there's more to the story, was as fun as it was to actually find Waldo on a page where I had not previously done so. And, then the "fun" was further enhanced by the discovery that there were millions of visual jokes in the Waldo books that I hadn't even thought to look for as I simply scanned the page for red and white stripes. And, oh my gosh. There was even history to be found. 


To me, the metaphor of candy-coated medicine worked...sort of.. But, in a sense, once the discovery of the joys associated with the candy coating's ability to successfully disguise the "unpleasant taste" of the medicine itself, the metaphor began to break down as I began to come to believe that the "moral of the story" ONCE DISCOVERED was perhaps even more "delicious" as the candy-coating itself.


Hopefully, the metaphor ought to transition to comparing the natural attractiveness of plot (the candy-coating) and the medicinal value of the unpleasant taste of the medicine (the themes) to a metaphor more like a lollipop! Though it's actually still medicine under the candy coating, the desire to get past the plot to  "really good stuff" in the story's themes becomes pretty darn motivating.


Yes. Reading fiction engages first, then teaches. It is as "fun" a party of sorts. And, in classrooms, if managed (choreographed?) elegantly enough that engagement can become contagious engagement from plot through the discovery of the themes. It's more than a party, it's a block party. Each student's engagement is enhanced by the sharing of the many reasons why it is enjoyable to learn via well-written fiction. 



The other nine sites in Mr. Clayton's list, also are built upon place-based instruction. Google Earth is so much more than a geography resource. Placing history, math, science, or pretty much any subject (really!) in the context of it's place in the "real world," the same world our students are spending their days learning more and more about, acts as a Vygotskian bridge of sorts. Kids know about the world they live in. Reading place-based stories enhanced by visual connections to real places, adds to their understandings of their own world. And that like plot, has its own motivating engagement. Bring the two together and kids are "pre-connected" on some level that invites the kind of engagement we want all students to love about learning.


 ~ ~

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Rescooped by Sue Kowalski from School libraries and learning!

School Libraries: Excellence in Practice at Amesbury School

Carolyn Knight, Teacher in the Library and colleagues at Amesbury School, a new Year 1-6 school in Churton Park, Wellington talk about how their school libra...

Via L2_S2S
L2_S2S's curator insight, April 4, 2013 6:55 PM
L2_S2S's insight:

Our latest Excellence in Practice Video -  Amesbury School - a wonderful new school in Wellington New Zealand.  The leadership team at this school made a priority of creating a library that is a fantastic modern learning environment, staffed by highly qualified educators and totally integrated into their new school