Thursday, June 18, 2009


If you haven't yet heard of SHMOOP--Listen up! is an awesome resource for teachers, especially for Language Arts and Social Studies.  It is chock full of information and reference materials to make it useful for both the casual user and the deep thinker.  Earlier today, I had the good fortune of sharing ways that I'm using Shmoop with teachers with a member of the Shmoop team and wanted to post part of my conversation here.

The following represents several of the ways that I've approached using Shmoop with teachers for Professional Development purposes to help enhance their teaching and improve student learning:

  • I ask them to look at all of the ancillary items (tabs across the top) to help them familiarize themselves with books that students may be reading but they themselves have not read. This provides a common ground for discussions in the classroom, and emphasizes the ease with which teachers can promote choice selections to their students, which in turns breeds engagement and motivation to read.
  • If teachers are reading a "class" novel, I ask them to incorporate all that Shmoop might have surrounding that novel, and to consider it against similar sites such as Sparknotes or other places (including textual) that they could get critical analysis type materials. Rather than a blanket ban on such materials, I encourage teachers to bring them to the forefront and make them the cornerstone of discussion or critical analysis, trying to figure out common threads among the analyses and think critically about the value systems behind the reviews, summaries, etc. (In an effort to understand bias, and to help students form a deeper meaning and comprehension level around the literature/text they are reading.)
  • Shmoop also brings up discussion topics already that make class planning easier for teachers, such as the sections "Why Should I Care?" This helps students frame the learning around their own experiences and helps them to make connections to other texts they've read, events happening in the read world, or events that have happened to them that may be related to the reading...
  • I usually point out the "Jump Start A Paper" section as well, and show teachers how to redirect students back to the Shmoop resources so that students can write about their reading, but do so with an arsenal of tools to write in a way that leads to deeper comprehension and a deeper love of the written word.
 Check back as I add to this list.  The more I work with teachers that find Shmoop useful, the more ways I discover to integrate it and maximize student achievement!  (Thanks again, Shmoop team!)

P.S.  Shmoop also has a section specifically for teachers!  CLICK HERE!

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