Friday, August 29, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

New Nonprofit Will Review Common Core Materials

 This may be a bit of public relations management, or it could be really helpful.  Time will tell. 
A new nonprofit organization called has announced that it will provide free, web-based reviews of instructional materials series (including technology-enabled products). Reviews will focus on alignment to the Common Core and other indicators of high quality as recommended by educators, including usability, teacher support, and differentiation. 

Funded by the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will release its first round of Consumer Reports-like reviews later this year or early in 2015, focusing on K-8 mathematics materials. Subsequent reviews will include high school mathematics and K-12 English Language Arts. For further information, including a list of the 21 K-8 math instructional materials to be reviewed in the first round, read this article from Education Week.

You can sign up to get email updates on the project by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Are you thinking about teaching "The Giver" by Lois Lowry? students will love reading about a utopian society that seems perfect to outsiders but actually contains many flaws, but they may have problems with the book's open-ended, ambiguous ending.

For a complete Teacher's Guide to The Giver visit

Robin Williams' Hilarious Shakespeare Improvisation, Johnny Carson's Ton...

Monday, August 11, 2014

In honor of Ernest Hemingway...make this week absurdly manly


On this day in 1937, Ernest Hemingway bared his hairy chest,  then pulled open the shirt of critic,  Max Eastman, to expose his unhairy one.  Hemingway demanded "What do you mean accusing me of impotence?" and then wrestled Eastman to the floor in the Scribner's office of their mutual editor, Max Perkins.  Being a gentleman, Perkins then exposed his chest as well. 

But wait. You don't have to beat anyone up to get 30 copies of The Old Man and the Sea complete with teaching materials, you only need to visit

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

When a person, event or literary genre makes it to 'The Onion' you know it has arrived

In its own way, 'The Onion' is our paper of record.

Groundbreaking Young Adult Novel Features Protagonist Who’s A Bit Of A Loner

BEND, OR—Poised to shake up the genre with its daring choice of protagonist, a groundbreaking young adult novel released this week by author Joan Berman reportedly makes the bold choice of following a moody, independently minded high school student who could be described as something of a loner. “Rather than focusing on a popular member of the in-crowd, Happy Nowhere challenges readers’ expectations by telling the outcast’s story,” said book critic Anna Meier, noting that the work’s convention-defying heroine, 16-year-old Shelby Sartell, doesn’t particularly fit in with her classmates, sometimes gets teased and bullied, and even has a rather unusual family life.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Are you thinking about teaching 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett?

Help, The

Your Students will love the hopeful tone and ambitious nature of the main characters, but may have some problems understanding the context of the time period. Go to Prestwick House for a complete teacher's guide to The Help.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Kids Explain Shakespeare's Hamlet

This is great.

Thanks for that Great River Shakespeare Festival!

Coleridge died on this day 180 years ago

On this day in 1834 Samuel Taylor Coleridge died of heart disease at the age of sixty-one. Decades removed from his masterworks, Coleridge seems to have turned himself into a bit of a literary curiosity in his last years entertaining up and coming literary types like a young Thomas Carlyle who found Coleridge "a kind good soul, full of religion and affection and poetry and animal magnetism," but "a great and useless genius" who in conversation "wanders like a man sailing on many currents."

Although I'm not a fan of the Romantics, you have to hand it to Coleridge for coining the term "willing suspension of disbelief" because, seriously, where would we be without that? 

Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !
A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover !
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced :
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war !
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves ;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.