Category Archives: > Literature and the Arts

+ Study Tips from

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From eNotes, study tips. 

Read the syllabus!  Knowing when assignments are due is the primary reason you want to refer to your syllabus early and often.  But there are other reasons as well.

  • Attendance: Attendance policies can vary widely, especially in college courses.  But most professors will assess penalties for missed classes.  Make sure you know how many classes — if any — you can miss before your grade is affected.
  • Late Work: Accepting late work is typically at the discretion of your teacher.  Some won’t accept late work, period.  Others may have substantial penalties associated with accepting late assignments.  Be sure you know where each instructor stands.
  • Extra Credit:  Again — each instructor is different.  Some teachers offer modest “extra credit” points.  Some may increase your grade a great deal for putting in extra effort.  Others may not offer extra credit at all.
  • Contacting Your Instructor: Most professors and teachers will list their office phone numbers (and even sometimes a personal number) as well as their email address.  Most will also tell you their preferred method of contact.  Use the method they prefer first.

About this resource:   eNotes is a web site for students and teachers, with resources and study guides, teachers who will answer questions and lots more.  There is even a Facebook app.  Subscribe for a short period, or for a year.  Check it out.

Orton-gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021  or email


+ Writing Exercise

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From The Writers Almanac, a bonus.

Favorite Writing Exercise:  “I like to read a poem to my students (one easy to take in by ear, one that I think is rich with possibility, one not too long but long enough for everyone to find a word or phrase or something that catches imagination) and I tell them to jot down something from or about the poem. After that, we write for ten minutes or so and see what happens.”

– Joyce Sutphen

tutoring in columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email

+ Chinese Poets to Read in Six Cities

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A reading tour of young Chinese poets celebrates “Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry from China” (Copper Canyon Press. The book is a bilingual anthology that features over one hundred poems by some of China’s finest poets born after 1945.

The poets are Xi Chuan, Zhou Zan, Li-Young Lee, Maurice Kilwein Guevara, Marilyn Chin.   Forrest Gander and Michael Wiegers will host at two events.  Not all poets will be at every venue.

  • September 29, Seattle WA.  Seattle Asian Art Museum,   7:00 p.m.
  • October 1, Port Townsend WA.  Wheeler Theater, Fort Worden, 7:00 p.m.
  • October 4, Chicago IL.  Poetry Foundation, 7:00. Reading with Li-Young Lee and Maurice Kilwein Guevara.
  • October 6, Iowa City IA.  Prairie Lights, 15 Dubuque St. 7:00 p.m.
  • October 10, New York NY.  Unterberg Poetry Center, 92nd St Y.  8:15 p.m. Reading with Marilyn Chin and Li-Young Lee; hosted by Forrest Gander.
  • October 12, Washington DC.  Library of Congress, 8:15 p.m.  Reading followed by discussion with Michael Wiegers.

Xi Chuan has published five collections of poetry and serves as editor of Dangdai Gouji Shitan (Contemporary Poetry International).

Zhou Zan edits Wings, a journal of contemporary Chinese poetry written by women.

Visit The preeminent non-profit independent publisher of poetry in the US, Copper Canyon Press connects the works of emerging, established, and world-renowned poets with diverse and expanding audiences.

tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021  or email

+ From Scroll to Codex to Screen

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From the New York Times, an article by Lev Grossman, who writes that something “very important and very weird” is happening to the book right now.

It’s shedding its papery corpus and transmigrating into a bodiless digital form, right before our eyes.  we’re witnessing the bibliographical equivalent of the rapture.  If anything, we may be lowballing the weirdness of it all.

 However a change of this magnitude took place around  1450, when movable type was invented.  And — a truer equivalency to what’s happening today — beginning in the first century AD, western readers gave up the scroll in favor of the codex — the bound book as we know it today.

To the Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Romans, the book format of choice was the scroll.  It was the state of the art technology for dissemination of information.

To read a scroll you gradually unrolled it, exposing a bit at a time.  Afterward (remember VHS?) you had to re-roll it back to start the “right way” for the next reader.

Writes Grossman

English is still littered with words left over from the scroll age.  The first page of a scroll, which listed information about where it was made, was called the “protocol.”  The reason books are sometimes called volumes is that the root of “volume” is volvere, to roll: to read a scroll, you revolved it.

This prestige format was used for important works only: sacred texts, legal documents, history, literature.

To do lists or algebra, the daily method for clerks and students was to scribble on wax-covered wooden “tablets” with a stylus.  The stylus had a pointy end — for writing — and also a flat end, to scrape and push the wax flat again after use.

Eventually someone thought of stringing a few tablets together into a bundle, and then replacing the tablets with papyrus.  Thus, perhaps, was born the “codex.” 

But nobody felt it was the best way to do things until a bunch of radicals adopted it and chose it for their own purpose.  They used the codex as a way of distributing the Bible.

The codex helped differentiate the Christians from the Jews, who kept (and still keep) their sacred text in scroll form.  But in addition, some alert Christians must have recognized that the codex was a powerful form in information technology — compact, highly portable and easily concealable.  (Christians were, after all, criminals and living “underground” in many places.)

The codex was cheap since you could write on both sides of the page.  And it held more words than a scroll (the Bible was a long book).

It also provided a unique reading experience because, for the first time, you could jump to any point in a text instantly, non-linearly.   You could flip back and forth between two pages to study them both at once. 

Cross-checking, comparing and bookmarking were easy.  A bored reader could skim, or jump back to read the “good parts.”

It was the paper equivalent of random-access-memory, and it must have been almost supernaturally empowering.  With a scroll you could only trudge through texts the long way, linearly.

Right now, says Grossman, we’re road-testing the new digital format, and we’re  doing it at an astounding rate.  But unlike the last time, he feels, it’s not a clear-cut case of an inferior technology being replaced by a superior technology. 

What’s happening today is more complex; it’s more about trade-off.

On the one hand, the  e-book is far more compact and portable than the codex, almost absurdly.  E-books are also searchable, and they’re green, or greenish anyway (if you want to give yourself nightmares, look up the ecological cost of building a single Kindle).  On the other hand the codex requires no batteries, and no electronic display has yet matched the elegance, clarity and cool matte comfort of a printed page.

While digital technology is associated with nonlinearity, and the forking paths through underbrush from link to link, Grossman asserts that e-books and nonlinearity are not truly compatible.

On a digital reader, try to jump from place to place in a long document like a novel.  It’s “like trying to play the piano with numb fingers.”  Readers are only able to creep through  page by page, leap wildly from point to point or search-term to search- term.

It’s no wonder that e-books have resurrected classical-era terminology like “scroll” and “tablet.”

On the other hand, according to Grossman

The codex is built for nonlinear reading — not the way a Web surfer  does it, aimlessly questing from document to document, but the way a deep reader does it, navigating the network of internal connections that exists within a single rich document like a novel.

Indeed, the codex isn’t just another format, it’s the one for which the novel is optimized.  The contemporary novel’s dense, layered language took root and grew in the codex, and it demands the kind of navigation that only the codex provides. 

Imagine trying to negotiate the nested, echoing labyrinth of David Mitchell”s “Cloud Atlas” if it were transcribed onto a scroll.  It couldn’t be done.

Read Grossman’s article at

Lev Grossman is the author of the novels “The Magicians” and “The Magician King.”  He is also the book critic at Time magazine.

tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email

+ Three Days of Poetry This October in Manhattan

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The Academy of American Poets is holding their Poets Forum on October 20-22, 2011 in New York City.  You may purchase tickets online at or by calling 212-274-0343.

The Poets Forum gives this most intimate of art form as a public context in which it can shine.  [–Mark Wunderlich]

The Pass price is $120 (before September 15, $95).  A limited number of Saturday-only tickets for the discussion sessions are available for $60.

Poets Reading or Participating in Discussions

  • Victor Hernandez-Cruz
  • Mark Doty
  • Rita Dove
  • Marilyn Hacker
  • Lyn Hejinian
  • Juan Felipe Herrera
  • Edwards Hirsch
  • Naomi Shihab Nye
  • Ron Padgett
  • Carl Phillips
  • Marie Ponsot
  • Kay Ryan
  • Gerald Stern
  • Anne Waldman
  • Susan Howe
  • Yusef Komunyakaa
  • Joan Larkin
  • Carol Muske-Dukes
  • Gabrielle Calvocoressi
  • Matthew Dickman
  • Cathy Park Hong
  • Ilya Kaminsky
  • Cate Marvin
  • Matthew Rohrer
  • Evie Shockley
  • Tracy K Smith
  • “and many others”

The Poets Forum is a true assembly of minds, a market-place of ideas.  You’ll find no posturing or pronouncements, no peacocks or princesses — just poetry poetry poetry.  [–Rita Dove]

Thursday, October 20 

7:00 pm:  Readings.  An unforgettable evening — on one stage — by some of the most acclaimed poets of our day reading from their latest work.  New York  University Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

Friday October 21

10:30 am and 2:00 pm: Poetry Walking Tours through the same streets traveled by Walt Whitman, Marianne Moore, EE Cummings, Langston Hughes and countless others.  The tours will explore the literary history of Harlem, the West Village, the Museum of Modern Art and SoHo.

12:30 pm and 2:00 pm: Discussions on Contemporary Poetry: two panels of younger poets examine imaginative uses of language and how ideas of place and travel operate in their work and in the poems that have influenced them.  New York University School of Law, Greenberg Lounge.

Vision & Innovation in Contemporary Poetry” with Hong, Kaminsky and Shockley

Regional Aesthetics & Sensibility in American Poems” with Calvocoressi, Dickman and Marvin

3:30 pm: The Blaney Lecture on the topic of poetry and telepathy, by Susan Howe, winner of the 2011 Bollingen Prize in poetry.  NYU School of Law, Greenberg Lounge.

7:00 pm: Poets Awards Ceremony to celebrate recipients of the premier collection of awards for poetry in the United States.  Reception will follow.  The New School, Tishman Auditorium.

Saturday October 22

10 am to 4 pm: NYU School of Law Tishman Auditorium 

  • Getting Away With It: Risk in Poems” with Hacker, Komunyakaa, Stern
  • Humans & Others” with Herrera, Ryan and Waldman
  • Breaking the Line, Breaking the Narrative” with Dove, Olds and Padgett
  • Suffering Through Joy” with Doty, Hirsch and Shihab Nye
  • Repetition and Refrain” with Hernandez Cruz, Phillips and Ponsot. 

 Says Edward Hirsch:

Poetry is an ancient art that is ever new, which is proved each fall by the Poets Forum — a splendid gathering, a rambunctious and diverse chorus, a forum of spirited solitaries.  As John Berryman put it, “We are on each other’s hands / who care.”

The Academy of American Poets is located at 75 Maiden Lane, Suite 901, New York, NY 10038.  Ph: 212-274-0343; FAX 212-274-9427.

tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021  or email

+ Bait the Reading Hook…

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ASCD’s publication Educational Leadership offered an article by Jennifer McCarty Plucker,  a reading coordinator and literacy specialist at Eastview High School in Apple Valley Minnesota.

She writes that research  indicates high-achieving students read more than low achievers. 

In Plucker’s suburban high school, she and her colleagues decided to narrow the discrepancy by “providing a double dose of literacy instruction” in an academic literary class required in addition to their 9th grade English class.

In the 2008-9 and 2009-10 school years, Eastview High School had four class periods of the course.  Each was taught by one of three highly trained and licensed reading teachers.

Classes were kept small (no more than 10 students per teacher).  Students were selected on the basis of standardized reading tests, informal reading assessments, and recommendations from the middle school reading specialist.  These were students typically whose scores on standardized tests were in the 10th-30th percentiles.

A minimum of 25 minutes of the 50-minute daily class were “held  sacred” for silent reading-for-enjoyment.

Once students have started reading for fun, the class brainstorms and sets goals for stealing minutes outside the school day for reading.

Developing the Materials

Eastview High School did not purchase a commercial reading program.  Instead, they created their own. 

They looked at their resources, considered students’ needs, and read widely in recent research on adolescent literacy.  Then they used their funds to build a classroom library with high-interest young adult novels, create an appealing and comfortable environment for teens — and also provide professional development for teachers.

Developing and maintaining a classroom library of high-interest young adult novels can be a challenge.  However, daily access to engaging books is imperative for the success of growing readers.  Yes, we lose books.  No, our classroom isn’t organized like our media center.  We tend to organize books by theme or likely audience, so we might have a table of sports books or of teen romances instead of books organized by authors whose names may be unfamiliar to struggling readers.

They work continually to find books that give students the right level of challenge.  A book can’t be so easy that students won’t grow, and it can’t be so difficult that the students won’t understand it.

Instructors help students figure out what books are just right for them.  By February of the school year, most students can  independently choose books that will accelerate their literary growth.


Plucker writes that instead of teaching “strategies for strategies’ sake,” they take a reflective approach.

Teachers begin by helping students share their thinking as they read. Once they learn what “comes naturally” for each reader, they focus on honing skills in other areas.

When a student, for example, is reading difficult text with lots of description, he is encouraged to make a “mental movie” as he reads. 

If a student is reading an article about current events, she is advised to ask questions.  Rather than get discouraged, she gets help using metacognitive strategies to clear up confusion as it happens.

Ultimately, we want our students thinking as they read, recognizing that reading is a complex process.  One student shared his newfound thinking skills when he came into my room last winter, saying “Dr. McCarty, I can’t listen to my iPod when I read anymore.  My metacognition voice is too loud!”

The instructors try to give students opportunities for choice and collaboration, as research suggests.  When more difficult texts require scaffolding, choices are more limited, but still there are choices. 

For example, if they are teaching students to annotate a text — to write their thoughts in the margin — they might offer them three current events articles, so they can choose the one that appeals to them most.

Then a student is asked to choose a purpose for reading: does he want (for example) to understand the author’s reasoning, or develop an argument against the author, or look for holes in the author’s logic?

At Eastview, they don’t make the classroom an electronics-free zone; rather they work with students to develop goals for taking control of distractions.

They also determine which literacy skills students use outside school, and then link these skills to academic tasks.  They have used online discussion forums, videos, digital posters, podcasts, texting and classroom social networking sites in order to engage students and allow them to use skills they already have for academic purposes.

Fluency Development

Just like elementary students, adolescents need to hear highly fluent readers.  These students won’t listen to read-alouds they consider “lame,” and so Plucker and her colleagues try for shared reading experiences that students think are really great.

Plucker says that her students enjoyed Skeleton Creek, by Patrick Carmen (Scholastic, 2009) — a novel written as a journal by a high school student named Ryan.   Ryan’s friend Sarah sends him videos via email, and these videos are available online at

Plucker writes

Last winter, I knew we needed to incorporate small-group reading instruction.  But how was I going to make guided reading cool?  When in doubt, try an acronym.  We implemented CREW (Collaborative Reading Enhanced Work) Time.  Simply calling it CREW Time made it cool.

We adjusted our crews depending on what strategy or minilesson we felt the small group needed.  One minilesson we used with our crews was explicitly teaching students to take their reader response journal entries from lower-level thinking (making connections) to higher level thinking (making judgements).

Students need to practice reading aloud, but they resist vehemently.  So they were asked to create unrehearsed reading podcasts of a children’s story of their choice.  Nobody said no to reading into a microphone!

After a week of fun fluency activities disguised as games, students  then re-recorded the stories and compared the podcasts.  They were able to compare the difference and reflect on what they heard.

Then they experimented with readers’ theater.  Students made a field trip to a neighboring elementary school and performed stories for first grader.

Plucker and her colleagues feel that after three years, they have found an effective way to lure students into reading.  And the students evaluate the experience with words like fun, comfortable, a place to feel smart, my favorite class.

sole source: article in Educational Leadership, ASCD’s monthly publication, October 2010.  Author Jennifer McCarty Plucker can be reached at

tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email

+ Magic Tree House Web Site for Readers & Teachers

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Student readers of the Magic Tree House series from Random House can visit this Website to find extra information and games relating to each book topic.


  • Website  Teachers Guide
  • Welcome Kit
  • Reading Certificate
  • The Facts Behind the Fiction
  • My Book Bag Report
  • Reporting Live with Jack and Annie
  • Magic Tree House Trivia

All Titles are provided with a Teacher’s Guide. But students can enjoy related activities.

 For example, the “Knight at Dawn” and “Knights and Castles” books are associated with  “Knight Word Lists.” 

The two Mummies titles offer a God and Goddess Match Game, a Mummy crossword and a recipe for papyrus.

Learn and enjoy! 


tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email