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Literacy: Secondary School Literature

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12 Old Words That Survived by Getting Fossilized in Idioms
"Here are a few lucky words that have been preserved in common English expressions."
Kith, dint, fro, eke, wend, and seven more.


English Thief.jpg


New Site
"What an astonishing thing a book is.
It's a flat object made from a tree
with flexible parts on which are imprinted
lots of funny dark squiggles. But one
glance at it and you're inside the mind of
another person, maybe somebody dead for
thousands of years. Across the millennia,
an author is speaking clearly and silently
inside your head, directly to you. Writing
is perhaps the greatest of human
inventions, binding together people who
never knew each other, citizens of distant
epochs. Books break the shackles of time.
A book is proof that humans are capable
of working magic."
Carl Sagan


Authors Who Skype with Classes & Book Clubs (for free!) "Welcome to the Authors Who Skype with Classes & Book Clubs List! I’m Kate Messner, the children’s author and educator who maintains this site. I started it because I’ve found that virtual author visits are a great way to connect authors and readers, and I realize that many schools facing budget troubles don’t have the option of paid author visits. With that in mind, this is a list of authors who offer free 15-20-minute Q and A sessions with classes and book clubs that have finished reading one of their books." Long author lists (with links) for younger kids, middle school and high school, and adults. Learn much more at the site!



Canterbury Tales Rap 1:52 video as shown on Getting Medieval "Oh yes. You heard me. If Geoffrey Chaucer lived today--and since he is my homeboy--he would surely be rapping his tales instead of putting them on parchment. Yo yo verily! Check it out! It is soooo great!" It's the first 27 lines of the General Prologue. Here's an Interlinear Translation, Middle English and Modern English.



Hidden Messages in Spirituals This is a complete lesson plan with pdf printables and a video. You can download the (608.2 KB) Lesson Plan (PDF).

Lesson Plan unit from the NYS Core Curriculum - Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects, 6 - 12. Covers:
  • Craft and Structure (meaning of words).
  • Writing
  • Test Types and Purposes (organize ideas, develop topic with facts)
  • Production and Distribution of Writing (develop, organize appropriate to task)
  • Research to Build and Present Knowledge (short research project, using term effectively)
  • This could also be used for history.




    The Cask of Amontillado "A lesson plan for grades 9–10 English Language Arts and English Language Development. The short story "The Cask of Amontillado," by Edgar Allan Poe is an effective venue for teaching English I literary terms. The following lesson plan is designed to engage the reader in a deeper than superficial reading of the text. It is also designed to elicit discussion and written critical-thinking responses. This lesson assumes that the literary terms have already been introduced. However, if they have not, the teacher may use this lesson to introduce these terms in the context of the literature." From Learn NC.


    William Shakespeare section AKA The Bard



    New Site

    "... one of the greatest allegorists in
    the history of literature."
    - Shakespeare’s Transfiguration of Allegory
    Sigmund Méndez

    "Shakespeare is rich in wonderful tropes which
    arise from personified concepts, ... (and) are
    entirely in place, because in his time all art
    was dominated by allegory."
    - Goethe



    Anatomy of a Scene from PBS's Shakespeare Uncovered. "It’s Shakespeare like your High School English teacher never taught you." This web page has three sections (the links lead to amazing WOW posters that are part of the lesson):

    (1) Death and Dying in Hamlet and Macbeth "Hamlet and Macbeth are about a lot of things. Power and revenge. Madness and the otherworldly. But, when you get right down to it, these are plays about death and dying and murder: so that you know evil when it crosses your path."

    (2) Shakespeare’s Game of the Hollow Crown "Using Shakespeare’s Richard II, Henry IV, Part One and Henry IV, Part Two as your map, follow the history of rebellion in turn of the 15th century England and the successive stories of three kings: Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V.



    (3) Shakespeare’s Enchanted Forest "Look at Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and As You Like It. They take place in a wood and a forest respectively. Dust off your old Elizabethan English dictionary and you’ll see that “wood” meant “mad” back in Shakespeare’s day. So, it makes sense that these are settings of enchantment and escape, but also of confusion–even madness. Since when do lions roam French forests? Since when do fairy queens fall in love with ass-headed (literally) common folk? These are places where you don’t even know if you’re sleeping or awake; or that the woman you love and lost is actually the guy right next to you in drag."

    The graphics that go with this page are simply astoundingly good! They could be used on an overhead. PBS really ought to make posters of them that you could hang in your classroom!

    Additionally, there's a whole page of free Shakespeare lesson plans!


    The Complete Works of William Shakespeare "Welcome to the Web's first edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. This site has offered Shakespeare's plays and poetry to the Internet community since 1993." All his works are in here, organized by Comedy, History, Tragedy, and Poetry. Read them online, copy, and convert for your ereader. From MIT.


    concordance + keyword search + advanced search + statistics
    by genre + by number of words + by number of speeches + character list + character search
    Sonnets and Poems
    individual sonnets + sonnets compared side-by-side + all sonnets + all poems
    Open Source Shakespeare attempts to be the best free Web site containing Shakespeare's complete works.
    It is intended for scholars, thespians, and Shakespeare lovers of every kind.
    Use Mobile Open Source Shakespeare on your mobile device.


    shakespeare online Like an Information Please for the Bard. Trivia, facts, Shakespearean theatre, Entertainment in Elizabethan England, Why is King Leir Important?, Clothing in Elizabethan England, etc. For school work, there are study guides, practice quizzes, and these:

  • How to Analyze a Shakespearean Sonnet (Sonnet 73 is done for you)
  • Shakespearean Sonnet Basics
  • How to Study Shakespeare: Five steps to success reading a Shakespeare play
  • Shakespeare's Metaphors and Similes
  • Shakespeare's Influence on Other Artists
  • Shakespeare Study Guides and Essays
  • Top Questions About Shakespeare
  • Curriki has study guides, lesson plans, printables, and the complete plays in e-text, for four of Shakespeare's' plays:

    Teaching Shakespeare: Julius Caesar

    Teaching Shakespeare: Macbeth

    Teaching Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

    Teaching Shakespeare: Othello



    What Shakespeare Sounded Like to Shakespeare: Reconstructing the Bard’s Original Pronunciation from Open Culture. Includes a video to demonstrate OP (Original Pronunciation) and modern pronunciation, and goes on to "demonstrate to us what certain Shakespearean passages would have sounded like to their first audiences, and in so doing draw out some subtle wordplay that gets lost on modern tongues." Shakespeare has puns and rhymes that don't work in Modern English, because the words are not pronounced the same way! The site has a good, involved discussion of all this, including "how can they tell" what Early Modern English sounded like. (Shakespeare, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I Virginia, and the Elizabethans did NOT speak "Old English", more on that another time.) Do check out Open Culture, it's full of "wonderful things" and they're free!



    Below is Bernard Levin's famous passage about quoting Shakespeare, which is found in erudite places all over the internet and elsewhere:

    Shakespeare_slangIf you cannot understand my argument, and declare " 'It's Greek to me' '', you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger; if your wish is father to the thought; if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool's paradise -why, be that as it may, the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then - to give the devil his due - if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I was dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then - by Jove! O Lord! Tut tut! For goodness' sake! What the dickens! But me no buts! - it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare. - Bernard Levin "The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource" Here is a list of everything Shakespeare ever wrote.
    List of all Shakespeare's worksEach play has a full description, as shown here.

    Yes, there's an app for that :)

    There are discussion forums and much more. Thanks to Shakeela Waseem at PlayShakespeare for the email.




    In the same vein, Curriki has the same type items for the following:

  • The Literature of Mark Twain including the complete e-texts of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn
  • Literature of Edgar Allan Poe including the complete text of The Raven, and many of Poe's short stories
  • Resources for The Call of the Wild including the complete e-text of the novel.
  • Resources for The Giver
  • Resources for To Kill A Mockingbird
  • General Resources for Approaches to Literary Analysis
  • Resources for Teaching Satire and Parody


    ninegreatnovels in "Welcome to a place to find teaching ideas and lesson plans for novels!...Our nine novels include the following:"

    Novel and Author:

  • 1) The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
  • 2) Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • 3) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • 4) Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
  • 5) The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  • 6) The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
  • 7) Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
  • 8) The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  • 9) Buried Onions by Gary Soto
  • There are several (maybe six or more) lesson plans for each novel. Some cover the whole work, others only cover certain chapters. Each novel has links to its Wikipedia entry and a link to this site's novel page (where the lessons are).




    New Site Dystopias: Definition and Characteristics (pdf file) Lists everything you need to know about the anti-utopias:

  • Characteristics of a Dystopian Society
  • Types of Dystopian Controls, and
  • The Dystopian Protagonist
  • brought to you by read write think



    New SiteIf you can correctly pronounce every word in this poem... This fairly long poem by G. Nolst Trenité, a.k.a. "Charivarius", is around 100 years old (1922). It is "designed to demonstrate the irregularity of English spelling and pronunciation." (quote is from The Poke) English is a hard language to learn, in part because of the inconsistency of pronounciations. Try this and see how well you do!



    The Internet Classics Archive from MIT. "Bringing the wisdom of the classics to the Internet since 1994. Select from a list of 441 works of classical literature by 59 different authors, including user-driven commentary and "reader's choice" Web sites. Mainly Greco-Roman works (some Chinese and Persian), all in English translation. Construct powerful queries to search the texts provided locally and remotely. Search by work and author, as well as the entire archive." Search for words or terms, too. Read works such as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey online, for example, and/or download the entire work in plain text format (.txt).
    Example: Search for the term "Myrmidon"
    Search results shown below:

    Myrmidon search results



    spinning gold starI Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate A Spoken Word video from Suli Breaks, British recording artist. Over half a million people worldwide have viewed this video. Looks like maybe half of them left comments! A protest against standardized, one-size-fits-all education systems. It's a pretty gripping video. (Warning: This video will make you THINK!) Also an advocacy of finding a career that you enjoy, following your dream instead of being a wage slave. Don't want to put any more words in his mouth, out of respect. GSFK agrees with the plug: You Have To Watch This!! Choose your own POV and discuss this with other viewers.


    spinning gold starMr. Murray's Virtual Classroom Online high school English classes for grades 9 - 12! Includes composition, literature, poetry, and journalism. You want grade 9 - 12 course descriptions, including course content, homework assignments, and expectations? He's got them! Also covers short stories and novels; 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-person point of view, big poetry sections.


    Poetry Through the Ages From ancient Sumer to the 21st century, this site covers the subject in unique fashion using SpicyWeb, with nodes branching off into different concept areas. Covers various forms with examples for all of them. Learn about rondeaus, haiku, limericks, sonnets, and the rest - their structure, history, and poets; and how to make your own. The webs, if you use them, carry you off in whatever direction you want to go, it's all interlinked! Great art and lots of great poetry! One of many sites at WebExhibits.


    Prewriting about "The Hunger Games" "Prewriting strategies help generate new ideas or help us better understand the ideas we already have. This lesson will introduce students to methods of prewriting to help them brainstorm for a paper about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, yet this lesson could also work with any other text." Thanks to Joshua Ray, who posted this lesson plan on Curriki.



    Project Gutenberg "Free eBooks from Project Gutenberg, the first producer of free ebooks. Project Gutenberg offers over 40,000 free ebooks: choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online. We carry high quality ebooks: All our ebooks were previously published by bona fide publishers. We digitized and diligently proofread them with the help of thousands of volunteers. Project Gutenberg offers 40,000 free ebooks to download." The original is still the greatest! We like to just browse by Author or Title. Now they have self-publishing to the cloud! "From Project Gutenberg, the first producer of free eBooks, now comes the free Authors Community Cloud Library, a social network Self-Publishing Portal. This Portal allows authors to share their works with readers as well as allows readers to provide comments, reviews and feedback to the authors. Every eBook has its own Details Page, Star Ratings, and Reader Comment area." Simply stunning. It's free, go get it!


    Reading Indeed.


    Sumer Is Icumen In Here is an example of the evolution of the language. On the left, the original song from the mid-13th century (about 1250, give or take). On the right, modern English. "The title translates approximately to "Summer Has Come In" or "Summer Has Arrived". The song is composed in the Wessex dialect of Middle English. " (Wikipedia) Also, þ = th sound: "Groweth seed and groweth meadow"

    Sumer is icumin in Cuckoo Summer is



    SlimeKids logoSlimeKids is primarily for Children's and Young Adult Literature. We like it intensely. They have book listings - very many of them, about all the "kid lit" and YA books you ever heard about, and more. This section has Book Trailers, which include a video about the book with a written description beneath. There's a page of child-safe search engines. There's a long list of the children's and YA authors, from Adler to Yolen, with brief lists of their works and links to their web homes. The Reference section has lists of well-known online dictionaries, encyclopedias, even atlases (impressive). There's a page of sites that do book reviews, an excellent resource. Finally, there is a section of educational games for kids, from all over the web. SlimeKids is a remarkable site! Thank you to Mr. Andy Fine of SlimeKids. Without his email we may not have found this excellent site.



    DownloadsBreaking Down Story Steps handoutStorytelling Arc, FREE Handout to Use With ANY Short Story, Novel, or Play. "This 2-page PDF file includes a blank form and a completed sample to serve as a model for students. The sample is from my students’ study of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story 'The Cask of Amontillado,' but you could use the blank worksheet with ANY book or short story. This activity is designed to work with fifth graders through high school seniors." To see a BIG version of this graphic, click on this little one. This free download is from Laura Randazzo's TPT site and is rated 4 out of 4 by 57 teacher reviewers.



    Divergent cover #2Teaching Divergent: YA Lit Ideas and Research Projects A high school English unit by K. Ashley Dickson-Ellison, who "is a high school English teacher interested in exploring the integration of trending young adult literature into the English classroom experience." This blog page is from an experienced high school English teacher who taught a Divergent unit to 9th grade English students (14 y.o.). This page is a breakdown of how she did it, with examples. Great discussion here. To find out about obtaining the materials for this unit, contact her using the button at the top right corner of her site, or here. "Above all else, I judge teen lit by how much excitement it generates in my students."




    New SiteTo Build a Fire by Jack London Shmoop's lists of questions to use with this story, for different grade levels.


    UT Literature Center: Great Books for Kids to Read during Holiday Season from the University of Tennessee - Knoxville. Reviews of 23 children's and young adult (YA) books for holiday season reading. Selections are reviewed and sorted into age-appropriate groups. Educators looking for good "kid lit" should examine this listing.


    New SiteBone series logo Using Graphic Novels in the Classroom A Guide for Teachers and Librarians
    "... graphic novels have emerged as a growing segment of book publishing, and have become accepted by librarians and educators as mainstream literature for children and young adults — literature that powerfully motivates kids to read. How might graphic novels fit into your curriculum and your classroom? What are some specific ideas for how to do this, using Scholastic’s new editions of Bone by Jeff Smith?
    Want to know more? If so, this guide — co-written by a school librarian and a public librarian who are both well-known experts in the field — is for you!"
    The Bone series is wonderful. "Problem" kids read them. Kids keep coming back to the series. They'll discuss them if prompted. This pdf gives guidance and example questions.





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