Friday, October 30, 2009

Literary Pumpkin Project

On the last day of school before a holiday it's always a challenge to get students to pay attention, so why not embark on a project that is both fun and constructive?

Teachers across the country are taking time today in their English classes to participate in "The Literary Pumpkin Project — a great way to demonstrate understanding of a character, setting, or major plot development of a novel."

Here's an assignment sheet from San Ysidro High School teacher, Richard Brown, to get you started, along with some tips from teachers across the country:

  • Realistic, artificial pumpkins are perfect for this contest because they are non-perishable and easy to decorate
  • Acrylic paints or permanent markers work best because watercolors tend to run. Yarn, construction paper, pipe cleaners, paste, glue or hot glue also make great additions
  • Have students display the book they are illustrating along with their entry
View videos here and here, visit the Flickr Literary Pumpkin Group for more great ideas, or save yourself the classroom mess and do a virtual version of pumpkin carving here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday Trivia

  1. Which was the first novel ever sold through a vending machine?
  2. The oldest surviving daily newspaper is the Wiener Zeitung of Austria. When was it first printed?
  3. Where does the “Hey Diddle Diddle” nursery rhyme come from?
  4. There are 10 million books in the Russian Public Library in Leningrad — enough to supply every person in the city with two books. If the books housed in the United States Library of Congress were doled out to those living in the city of Washington, D.C., how many books would each person receive?
  5. Why was part of Lewis Carroll's classic, Through the Looking Glass, featuring a giant wasp wearing a wig omitted from the original publication and only made known to the general public 107 years later?
Last Week's Answers

What is the Greek meaning of the word Utopia (the name of the perfect island society created by Sir Thomas More)?

Utopia means "nowhere," from the Greek ou, meaning "not," and topos, meaning "a place".

How long did it take Noah Webster to complete the first “Webster’s English Dictionary”?

The first edition took Noah Webster over thirty-six years to compile and publish.

Which children’s author wrote his first book in 1936 while crossing the Atlantic on a luxury liner?

Dr. Seuss wrote his first book on the luxury liner Kungsholm. The sound of the ship’s engines annoyed him, and his wife suggested that he use their rhythm to help him write a book in rhyme. The book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected by publishers 27 times before Vanguard Publishing took a chance and accepted the manuscript.

What was the inspiration for the title of the long-running TV mystery series Murder, She Wrote starring Angela Lansbury?

The 1961 movie "Murder She Said," which was based on the Agatha Christie mystery 4:50 from Paddington.

Which celebrated British author insisted on facing North as a part of his writing process?

Charles Dickens always slept facing North because he believed it improved his writing ability.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Literary Halloween Costumes — This Year Go As Your Favorite Character!

Like many people, I love any excuse to dress up — especially when it comes to Halloween costumes. Over the years I've been Raggedy Ann, a pumpkin, a cheerleader (my mother's doing), a variety of princesses (Disney and otherwise), a jester, the statue of liberty, and myriad others along the way.

At Prestwick House, I was given the opportunity to dress up as one of the faeries for the
A Midsummer Night's Dream cover. (I mentally dubbed myself Peaseblossom in case you were wondering). All this dressing up for covers around the office got me to thinking — for someone who likes literature so much, how is it that my photo shoot for Prestwick House is the first time I've ever dressed up as a character from literature? There are so many great, influential characters out there that would make phenomenal costumes (and would be sure to win you many a costume contest — or at least the envy of the rest of the English department).

Here's a few of my favorite ideas.

Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter

An easy costume to compile, and easily recognized. The first photo is of Stephanie Polukis as Hester Prynne for the Literary Touchstone Classic cover of The Scarlet Letter. The other is a found photo of a fantastic mother/daughter pair. Baby Pearl is just too cute!

Holden Cauffield from
The Catcher in the Rye

One of the most beloved characters of all time, and all you need is a hat with ear flaps and a suitcase.

Nick Bottom, Faeries, or Puck from
A Midsummer Night's Dream

The first photo is of Paul Arrington, Kathy Nikolson, Jen Mendoza, and Annie Rizzuto (that's me) on the Literary Touchstone Classic cover of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The other is a found photo of a very imaginative rendition of Puck. In all honesty, pretty much any Shakespeare character would make a phenomenal costume.

Edna Pontellier from
The Awakening

Erin Hastings brings out the strength of Edna's character in this great shot from the cover of the SAT Words from Literature edition of The Awakening.

Wouldn't it be fun to make a dramatic entrance dressed as Scarlet O'Hara or Jay Gatsby? Or grab a friend and become the dynamic duo of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? Or, my personal favorite, how about going as Scout — in her ham costume?
The possibilities are endless...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Plagiarism Detection Software and the Bard

Although plagiarism detection software was initially created as a way to help teachers catch students in the act of cheating, it seems that there may be other uses for this popular technology. According to an article at, "the software may have settled a centuries-old mystery over the authorship of an unattributed play from the late 1500s called The Reign of Edward III. "

A literature professor at the University of London, Sir Brian Vickers, has been working with a program called "Pl@giarism" to compare The Reign of Edward III to Shakespeare's entire body of work. Within the play in question, "Vickers detected 200 strings of three or more words in Edward III that matched phrases in Shakespeare's other works. Usually, works by two different authors will only have about 20 matching strings."

Read more about Vicker's findings and upcoming studies of literature in the article
Plagiarism Software Finds a New Shakespeare Play.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thirty days and nights of literary abandon — NaNoWriMo is Coming!

- Douglas Grudzina

NaNoWriMo is Coming!
And this will be the tenth annual NaNoWriMo!
So, what are we going to do about it?

Well, if I were still in the classroom (or if I’d known about it while I was in the classroom), I’d have every one of my students register and participate. Forget Shakespeare for a month. We’ll catch up on weekly vocabulary in February when nobody cares about anything.

It’s November! Let’s write a novel!

NaNoWriMo, officially National Novel Writing Month (although in recent years it’s gone international), is an annual project in which participants attempt to write a novel of 50,000 words in a single month—November.

Well, a first draft...

Maybe the first 50,000 words of a magnum opus...

Anyone can enter. Everyone can play. The goal is to write, write, write, not sweat the “quality” (sort of like a month-long freewrite). The project’s slogan is, “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!”

The rules are really very simple: novels can be on any theme, in any genre, and in any language. Format and structure are completely up to the author. Metafiction, post-modernist chaos, use of trademarked characters—anything goes. As the NaNoWriMo site says, “If you believe you’re writing a novel, we believe you’re writing a novel too.”

The competition starts on midnight November 1. Beginning November 25, participants can submit their manuscripts to the NaNoWriMo site to be verified for length (minimum of 50,000 words). All “successful” participants receive a PDF certificate, a “web badge,” and inclusion on the site’s “Winners Page.” Everyone who writes at least 50,000 words in the month is a “winner.” The final deadline to submit a manuscript for length verification is 11:59:59 p.m. November 30 (local time).

Novels already in progress before November 1 are not eligible to participate. Neither are pairs or teams of writers who want to “co-author” their novel.

Here’s their official site with all the real information about registering, and participating in the forums, and all.

They even have a Young Writers Program especially for writers under the age of 17 and working alone or working in a K-12 classroom setting. It has a special feature that allows students to set their own total-word-goal for the month.

(But I have to admit, I’d want to challenge my high school students to meet the full 50,000 words. With middle-school or elementary-school kids, maybe I’d be a little more lenient—just a little.)

The icing on the cake is that, starting last year, a self-publishing company teamed up with NaNoWriMo and began offering winners a single free, paperback proof copy of their manuscripts. Now how cool is that?

Remember, that a “winner” is anyone who meets the 50,000-word minimum by 1 minute before midnight on December 1.

FYI, according to Wikipedia, 50,000 words is roughly the length of novels like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Brave New World, and The Great Gatsby. (NaNoWriMo makes no claims that any of these was actually written as a NaNoWriMo entry.) To meet that minimum, participants write an average of a little more than 1,666 words a day.

November could be an awesome month in your English class, with your kids really excited about their work, sharing their ideas and progress with you and with each other, chatting with other writers in the NaNoWriMo site’s forums, and actually enjoying writing and writing and writing to meet a deadline. (And then, imagine the party you can have when the winners’ proof-copies arrive!)

As I said, if I were still in the classroom, I’d definitely do it.

You should check it out.

Top Ten Mistakes of First-Year High School Teachers (That I Made Personally)

— Paul Moliken

Being too "friendly." It is always easier to dial back on discipline than to ramp it up. Many students can sense teachers who are reluctant to be strict in class, and they will take advantage of this perceived weakness in an instant. You can be the students’ friend, but not until they respect you. No jokes for at least a week.

Not knowing how to improvise.
The lesson plans so carefully constructed during the weekend to cover what you’re going to teach on Monday is perfect, but if it runs five minutes short, what do you do? Always have some leeway built in so if the lesson takes too much time or too little, you’re prepared. A n important question, a puzzle, or a story that’s relevant to help cover the last extra excruciating minutes is invaluable. Keeping an eye on the clock during the class allows you to go a bit faster if things are slowing down.

Not recognizing problems immediately.
The student who comes into class acting differently than he or she usually does may have had a problem that can disrupt the entire class. Always be on the alert for unusual behavior before class starts. Talk to the student in confidence; it may help.

Issuing too many bathroom passes.
One permanent pass is sufficient for both sexes. Make the pass large and clunky to discourage its use. Having a handy pass also eliminates the need to keep signing your name.

Being too smart.
You don’t need to have the answer every time. Allow your students to know you’re not infallible, and they will respond better than if you make them feel you’re perfect. The smartest student will invariably confront you with the correct answer. However, if students understand that you are willing to do some work to find out the answer, they’ll appreciate it. Your saying, “I just don’t know, but I will find out” can be enormously helpful in the long run.

Having too many rules, especially on the first day.
Students getting oriented to their school year have heard or will hear many, many rules and regulations—from other teachers, administrators, their handbook, and parents. Condense what will make your classroom run smoothly into just a few important rules. BUT stick to them.

Allowing students to sit where they like.
Close friends or couples will inevitably want to talk with each other, so a simple alphabetical seating is preferable. The A’s are in the front all the time, so reverse the alphabet, or seat students alphabetically by first names. It’s also a very handy way to remember allll those names. Of course, take vision and hearing handicaps into consideration when arranging seating.

Not knowing how your writing looks from the back of the room.
This is a skill many new to the profession do not have. Practice! Write large enough for every student to see. A corollary to this one is to speak loud enough to be heard in the back of the room.

Misunderstanding student interest.
Be prepared when the most important detail you want to get across is met with complete indifference or a total lack of understanding. Making information more relevant can make students want to learn it. Repeat, restate, and repeat again.

Allowing students to call you by your first name. Few errors are worse. Few can be so easily avoided. DON’T do it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Trivia

  1. What is the Greek meaning of the word Utopia (the name of the perfect island society created by Sir Thomas More)?
  2. How long did it take Noah Webster to complete the first Webster’s English Dictionary?
  3. Which children’s author wrote his first book in 1936 while crossing the Atlantic on a luxury liner?
  4. What was the inspiration for the title of the long-running TV mystery series "Murder, She Wrote" starring Angela Lansbury?
  5. Which celebrated British author insisted on facing North as a part of his writing process?
Last Week's Answers

What first name did Arthur Conan Doyle give to his famous detective before he came up with Sherlock?

Sherringford. The name was used in a short story Doyle wrote in 1886. Holmes's sidekick in the story was called Ormond Sacker — soon to be renamed Thomas Watson.

Which poet was the first American to have indoor plumbing?
The first American to have indoor plumbing was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1840.

Who is the world’s youngest published author?
The youngest documented author is Dorothy Straight who was first published when she was only 4 years old. She wrote How the World Began, in 1964, for her grandmother.

Where does the phrase “good night, sleep tight” come from?
In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes so that when you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on.

What percentage of all publications sold in Japan are comic books?
20% of all publications sold in Japan are comic books. In the US it is only 3%.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Say No to Poe: Alternative October Short Stories

Halloween. It’s a time when restless spirits pace vacant halls, clanking chains and moaning for their deaths to be avenged. Undead ghouls pry their way out of crypts, motivated by an insatiable thirst for blood and a hunger for human flesh. Witches gather on wild heaths, chanting about “toil and trouble” while putting unholy ingredients into their cauldrons. Teachers travel to forgotten bookshelves, pulling out of their dust- and cobweb-covered anthologies of Edgar Allan Poe.

With due respect to the master of the macabre—who, 160 years after his death, was finally given a proper funeral—any scary short story, no matter how horrifying, loses its ability to shock and thrill when it is read every Halloween. The beating heart under the floorboards becomes a pulse easily ignored, and the ominous raven an annoying parakeet

As a person who would like to preserve the terror of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories, while giving due recognition to some by other authors that often go overlooked, the following are other short stories that are bound to interest, as well as spook:

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner


The story opens with the funeral of Miss Emily Grierson. She was an odd woman who had been a recluse for over thirty years, but was still respected as a remnant of old, Southern high-society. The town took care of and preserved her, even reneging her taxes. She remained sealed within her house like a precious artifact, allowing no one to enter but an African-American servant.

As the story unfolds, Miss Emily’s history is revealed to be a tragic one. She had lived alone with her father for many years, and when he passed away, was so traumatized by the event that she refused to relinquish his corpse for two days. After the loss, she fell into a depression and gradually withdrew from society. She refused several male suitors, and everyone was certain she would end up an old maid; however, when a laborer from the North, Homer Barron, arrived in town, she fell in love with him. The majority of society deemed him unworthy of her affection, and they thought it was improper of Miss Emily to acquaint with someone lower in station. After a local minister intervened and two of her cousins attempted to dissolve the relationship, Miss Emily went to a druggist and purchased some arsenic. However, instead of committing suicide, as most of the townspeople believed she would, it appeared that she became engaged to Barron. When he left her unexpectedly, Emily fell into a second depression, from which she never recovered. Nobody saw Emily for years, and even when a strange smell started to emanate from the house, the townspeople spread lime around her property, but did not disturb her. While a few individuals did visit once or twice, Emily was left primarily alone and isolated in her house.

After the funeral and Emily’s burial, some members of the town go into Emily’s home. When they enter a room above the stairs that nobody had entered for years, they come across a disturbing sight: Emily’s engagement gifts to Mr. Barron and his clothes rest upon her dressing table, covered in dust as if they had not been touched since he “disappeared.” Homer himself lay on her bed, now only a corpse, and aside his body and on another pillow, there lay a single strand of gray hair, the same color as Miss Emily’s.

Essay Questions or Writing Prompts:

1. How does class conflict factor into the story of A Rose for Emily, and what message about social class might Faulkner be attempting to present to the reader?

2. In the beginning of the story, the narrator describes Miss Emily as “a fallen monument,” in addition to “a tradition, a duty, and a care.” In what way is Emily viewed as a historical artifact, and how does this perception of her contribute to the central conflict of the work?

3. Why might the title of this story be “A Rose for Emily”?

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce


On a railroad bridge in rural Alabama, a civilian in his mid-thirties stands with his hands bound and a rope around his neck, apparently awaiting his execution. Federal soldiers—including a sergeant and a captain—stand on guard. As the planks are removed from beneath the condemned man, he closes his eyes and thinks about his wife and children. The only sound he hears is what sounds like a blacksmith hammer hitting an anvil, the beat gradually becoming slower and slower.

The story flashes back to the events leading up to the execution. The man is revealed to be Peyton Farquhar, a respected planter in and a person devoted to the Southern cause. For reasons undisclosed in the story, Farquhar was prohibited from fighting in the Civil War, but as a civilian, did whatever he could to help the Confederacy.

On one evening, a man dressed as a Confederate soldier arrived on his plantation, and after receiving gracious hospitality from Farquhar and his wife, revealed that the Union was repairing the railroads. The army was currently stationed near Owl Creek Bridge and getting ready to advance. The commander had declared that anyone found interfering with any roads, bridges, or railways would be hanged; however, the bridge was guarded by only one sentinel, and there was plenty of dry driftwood near the bridge to set it on fire. Farquhar took the initiative and attempted to destroy the bridge, but he soon discovered that he had been caught in a trap. The soldier was a Federal scout.

Returning to the execution, as the last plank is removed from beneath Farquhar, the rope apparently breaks and he falls to the creek below. After sinking to the bottom and almost drowning, Farquhar manages to reach the surface and swim away. Dodging the bullets of the soldiers, he reaches the other bank and takes a path through the woods toward home. He travels through the night, startled by the strange sound of voices in the woods and pained by the bruise on his neck where the rope had been. He reaches home in the morning and is greeted by his wife.

However, as Farquhar is about to touch her, he feels immense pain on the back of his neck and hears what sounds like a cannon shot. His vision goes black. The narrator reveals Farquhar’s escape and return home was a hallucination; he hangs by a rope beneath the Owl Creek Bridge.

Essay Questions or Writing Prompts:

1. There are several instances in the text where Farquahar’s death is implied. How does Bierce effectively conceal these clues, making the ending surprising to the reader, but not wholly unexpected?

2. What does it mean that Peyton Farquhar is “ardently devoted to the Southern cause”?
How does this statement help the reader understand the text?

3. How does Bierce’s use of flashback, as opposed to a presentation of events in chronological order, enhance the pacing and suspense of the story?

Afterward by Edith Wharton


After spending months looking for a home, Mary and Edward Boyne found one that was perfect: Lyng, an old, Tudor house in Dorsetshire that, with its beautiful landscapes, remoteness from civilization, lack of hot water, and no electric lighting, appealed to their romantic sensibilities. However, the characteristic of the house that was most attractive to the couple was the fact that it was haunted; however, as their friend, Alida Stair, told Mary, the legend of the house states that its inhabitants don’t know they have seen a ghost until “afterward.”

The peaceful monotony of life at Lyng and the Boynes contentment with the home’s beauty distract them from the ghost story. However, a year or so after moving into the house, Mary starts to suspect that something is bothering her husband and that he is keeping a secret from her. The secret, she believes, is that he has seen the ghost. When she reflects back on their time spent at Lyng and when he could have possibly seen the apparition, she recalls a particular instance that occurred the previous October: One day, when she was exploring the house, she discovered a hidden staircase that led to a coign, from which she could see the entire yard. She invited her husband to share the view with her, and as they were looking out at the landscape, a man walked up the drive. Ned thought the man was Peters, a servant on the property, but by the time he went down the stairs and reached the yard, the man had disappeared. Without any reason to be suspicious about the event, Mary had forgotten it.

After talking to her husband about the ghost, he attests to not having seen it, and both he and Mary mutually agree to forget about the ghost entirely. After sitting down to tea and checking the mail, Ned gives Mary a letter addressed to her. When she opens it, she discovers a newspaper article from the Waukesha Sentinel concerning a lawsuit involving her husband and a man named Elwell. Initially, Mary becomes concerned and worried, but Ned informs her that the article is old and, since then, Elwell had dropped the suit.

The next day, Mary decides to take a walk around the gardens of Lyng while waiting for a man from Dorechester to inspect the hot-house boiler. As she is exploring the yard, a gentleman arrives and asks to speak to see her husband. Knowing that Ned spends the morning hours working on his book, she asks the man to come back later. After he disappears, Mary continues her walk, and on returning to the house for lunch, discovers that her husband is missing. Upon extensive inquiry, Mary learns from the servants that a gentleman, most likely the one that she met in the garden, had arrived at house immediately after he left her. The kitchen-maid let him into the house, and when she asked his name, he wrote it on a piece of paper to present to Ned. She did not read the name, and when she went to deliver the note, the man followed her into Ned’s library. Afterward, the two men took a walk together, and Ned has not yet returned.

Ned never returns home, and while authorities launch a search for him, Mary does some investigating of her own. She contacts a lawyer named Mr. Parvis, whom her husband had been writing to about the old lawsuit at the moment the stranger arrived. Mr. Parvis denies knowing anything about Ned’s disappearance, and the case goes unsolved.

However, some time later, Mr. Parvis visits Mary while in the area to find out what she plans to do about Mr. Elwell’s family. The history of Ned’s connection with Elwell is revealed: Ned tricked Elwell out of money in a business deal. Elwell went into debt, and he tried to commit suicide by shooting himself. However, he survived the ordeal, but passed away from his injuries a few months later. His family was left behind in great economic hardship, and how they are appealing for aid. In order to prove the veracity of his tale, Mr. Parvis shows Mary an old article from the Sentinel. In it, she reads about Elwell’s death, and looking at the pictures of him and her husband, recognizes Elwell as both the man she saw from on the coign and the visitor with whom her husband left. At that moment, it all becomes clear. When Elwell was seen on that day in October, he had just committed suicide, “but wasn’t dead enough” to reach Ned. The day he came to speak to Ned was the day he actually died. The legend of the house, then, was true. It did contain a ghost, but Mary was only able to recognize it “afterwards.”

Essay Questions or Writing Prompts:

1. When talking about the house and speculating the reasons why the ghost can only be recognized “afterward,” Ned remarks, “why, amid so much that’s ghostly, it can never affirm its separate existence as THE ghost.” How does Wharton’s description of Lyng help establish the mood of the text? Furthermore, how important is setting in this story?

2. In what ways does Mary Boyne’s anxiety about her marriage become projected into her fascination with Lyng’s ghost?

3. How is “Afterward” an example of the gothic genre?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh, (Levi's Jeans-Wearing) Pioneers!

No doubt in an attempt to sell more jeans, Levi's has decided to link its past with the future through a new digital scavenger hunt that blends the real and virtual worlds. Their site explains:

Although a total marketing ploy, I have to admit that as a young person, I find it pretty effective. A writer at the The Generativity Tribune screams an emphatic, “Yes! Yes! Yes! Within this 30 second advertisement I had become a young person ready to fight. For what I was unsure, but mesmerized I would do whatever Levi’s ‘Go Forth’ was telling me to do.” He or she was referring to the television ad seen here.

But is there something deeper to this commercial? thinks so. “‘Go Forth,’ present[s] an optimistic tone in a time of pessimism in the United States. The online, print, and television elements borrow words and concepts from American poet Walt Whitman to establish a pioneering tone for the ‘New Americans’”

Now here’s the interesting part for all you English teachers out there…

Can Levi’s jeans make Walt Whitman cool again? Can a Walt Whitman poem make
Levis jean fly off the shelves? And most importantly, would the Great Gray Poet approve of his poem being used for this crass commercialization — or did he write the poem to be heard and this is just a new medium for his original message?

Check out a downloadable version of the poem to share with your class — or get a good, old-fashioned hard copy like Uncle Walt would have done.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

September's Top Ten Best-Selling eBooks from Prestwick House

  1. The Crucible Teaching Unit
  2. The Scarlet Letter AP Teaching Unit
  3. Beowulf Teaching Unit
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird Teaching Unit
  5. Ender's Game Teaching Unit
  6. Oedipus Rex AP Teaching Unit
  7. Night Teaching Unit
  8. The Crucible Activity Pack
  9. Hamlet AP Teaching Unit
  10. The Crucible AP Teaching Unit

1000 Years of Beowulf

On Sunday October 25, 2009 in celebration of 1000 years of Beowulf's history, the original manuscript will be on display at the British Library in London, England. The manuscript itself will be accompanied by other items relating to the poem, including Seamus Heaney’s typewritten drafts of his translation of Beowulf and Michael Foreman’s original illustrations of Michael Morpurgo’s children’s version of the poem.

There will also be a four-day celebration that brings Beowulf to life with celebrity appearances by Benjamin Bagby, well known for his performances of the epic work accompanied by Anglo-Saxon harp, Seamus Heaney, celebrated translator, children's author Michael Morpurgo, and historian and television presenter Michael Wood, who recently devoted a BBC2 special to the poem.

To celebrate Beowulf in your own classroom, check out the extensive line of teaching resources that Prestwick House has to offer, including several different versions of the text, posters, a teaching units, an activity pack, a response journal, and LitPlan Teacher Packs and Puzzle Packs from our friends at Teacher's Pet. Click on any of the products below to browse our site.

Versions of the Text
Literary Touchstone Edition
Seamus Heaney Translation
Burton Raffel Translation
Robert Nye Translation
Robert Gordon Translation
Frederick Rebsamen Translation

Resources for Teaching Beowulf
Teaching Unit | PDF
AP Teaching Unit
Activity Pack
Response Journal
Multiple Perspectives
Complete Teacher's Kit
Downloadable Novel Test
Puzzle Pack
LitPlan Teacher Pack

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vocabulary from Latin and Greek Roots is Now on Quizlet!

Back in February, we introduced free, interactive games and quizzes on for use with our Vocabulary Power Plus for the New SAT series. Due to customer demand, this month we've added our entire Vocabulary from Latin and Greek Roots series!

Use a variety of online applications in your classroom to make sure your students are retaining vocabulary from week to week! We've just added games and quizzes for all of our Vocabulary from Latin and Greek Roots books for use in your classroom. This website allows students to:

  • "Familiarize" with a simple flashcard application
  • "Learn" by typing in the correct word when the definition is shown
  • "Test" or fill in the answers on a typical vocabulary test
  • Play fun games called "Scatter" and "Space Race" in order to help them learn vocabulary in a new and creative way
If you are using Vocabulary from Latin and Greek Roots in your classroom, Quizlet applications make a great in-class activity, homework assignment, extra credit assignment, or Smartboard skill builder drill. A Complete list of links to all Vocabulary From Latin and Greek Roots Books available on Quizlet is available in the article section of our website.

Tuesday Trivia

  1. What name did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle give to his famous detective before he came up with Sherlock Holmes?
  2. Which poet was the first American to have indoor plumbing?
  3. Who is the world’s youngest published author?
  4. Where does the phrase “good night, sleep tight” come from?
  5. What percentage of all publications sold in Japan are comic books?
Last Week’s Answers

What was the occupation of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes series of mysteries?

The man responsible for writing the famous Sherlock Holmes mysteries was actually an eye doctor. Because this occupation didn’t pay enough for him to make a decent living, he wrote in his spare time to supplement his income.

Which well-known children’s author was known for wearing outlandish hats to parties?

Theodor Seuss Geisel, or Dr. Seuss, loved to wear crazy hats. He reasoned if he had a hard time coming up with rhymes, he could put on one of his many “thinking caps” for inspiration.

Which 19th century author wrote entire books while standing?

Lewis Carroll wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland standing up, although in the 19th century it was common to write standing up at a writing desk, leaning on a high stool.

If you were to place all of the shelves in the New York Public Library side by side, how far would the span?

They would be eighty miles long.

How many times did Leo Tolstoy’s wife edit the cumbersome, handwritten manuscript for War and Peace?

His wife edited the thick manuscript seven times to make sure it was perfect.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

NCTE's 1st Annual National Day on Writing

— Douglas Grudzina

How are you going to celebrate the nation’s first National Day on Writing?

That’s right, folks, Tuesday, October 20, 2009, has been designated the National Day on Writing. Congress is even considering issuing a resolution officially establishing the day (H.Res.524).

(Hey! Maybe you could have your students write a letter or e-mail to you Representative in support of this resolution!)

ceived of, and sponsored by, the National Council of Teachers of English, the N.D. on W. is intended to “draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in and help make writers from all walks of life aware of their craft.”

On t
hat day—again, its Tuesday, October 20—the much-anticipated National Gallery of Writing will be unveiled.

This months-long project (NCTE began accepting nominations in May) is a digital collection—or actually a series of digital collections—of writing from all across the country, from students, and teachers, and professional writers, and amateur wannabees, and office drones, and adrenaline junkies—in short, from anyone and everyone who writes in the course of his or her life.

Many schools have established their own galleries as a part of the National Gallery, and their students’ and teachers’ work will be unveiled. Many NCTE-State-Affiliates have set up galleries.

It’s a massive effort, and the fruits of the endeavor will be unveiled to the world on the National Day on Writing, October 20, 2009.

So w
hat can you do on October 20?

Of course you want to encourage your students to write, and you want to acknowledge all of the times in their days that they do write. You can also begin to build an exhibit of the vast amount of writing you and your students consume. Even students who think they don’t consume writing (i.e., don’t read) view movies and television shows that somebody writes,listen to radio and podcasts that somebody writes, read blogs, and facebook and myspace updates that somebody writes,and so on.

So, with a little more than a week before the Big Unveiling and the national focus on “how integral writing has become to daily life in the 21st century,” let’s sharpen our pencils, warm up our keyboards, and get ready to celebrate writing!


low NCTE Day on Writing at Twitter
Become a Member of the NCTE Day on Writing Facebook Group
in the National Day on Writing Ning
Stop by the Learning Lab at this year's NCTE Convention in Philadelphia, PA

Friday, October 9, 2009

Happy Customer Service Week!

-Keith Bergstrom

This week is National Customer Service Week, and I was going to write a glowing thank you to our wonderful customer service department, but in looking over our recent customer surveys, I realized that you, our customers, did a better job of saying how great a job than I would ever be able to.

“Always very pleasant and efficient customer service on the telephone. Orders received promptly and are always accurate… the service is personable and helpful.”

“I’m amazed how quickly the entire process goes. I got the books about two weeks before I expected them.”

“The Prestwick House person was so very helpful. That experience was absolutely great… What pleasant personnel… and I receive the material in two days, in time for day one of class!”

“I love PH! Fast, courteous, accurate service.”

“I had a credit on an order that I wasn’t even aware of. They sent me a letter and honored that credit on my next order. Customer service is excellent.” “From the quality of the product to the exceptional customer service… Prestwick House is the company of today with the values and principals of yesteryear.”

“The value for the dollar is unsurpassed, and your personalized service makes it easy to resolve any questions I have. Great staff — good products.”

“I have been very pleased with the products, outstanding service (your emails are actually answered by knowledgeable staff in a VERY small amount of time!!) and the reliability.”

“I have been particularly impressed with the people I have spoken with. They have been extraordinarily friendly and helpful. I had thought that old-style customer service had left the planet. Thank you!”

So, thank you to all of our customer service staff. You really do go above and beyond on a daily basis. And thank you to all of our customers for the nice words. Everyone here at Prestwick House really appreciates the kind words.