Tag Archives: previewing

60 Second Recap

If you haven’t checked out 60 Second Recap, you’re in for a treat. 60 Second Recap is a collection of video clips covering the plots, characters, symbolism, and more of favorite classic literature for teens. But it’s not a dry, overly-academic examination. It’s a lively conversation hosted by a real-life, somewhat zany hostess named Jenny (you can find her on Twitter).

The site’s overview gives you a sense of the tongue-in-cheek humor that’s behind this great site:

“Eat your lima beans,” Mom used to say.

And now that you’re out on your own, honestly, are lima beans a staple of your culinary repertoire?

There, in a lima bean, lies the problem confronting the great works of literature. We’re all forced to read them in school so we can get good grades so we can go to a good college so we can get a good job so we can forget all about that literature they used to force us to read so we could get good grades.

The 60second Recap™ aims to break this cycle of canonical irrelevance. We want to help teens (yes, teens of all ages!) engage with literature. We want to help them see it not as some chore to be endured, but as — dare we say it? — the gift of a lifetime. How? Through the language of our time — the language of video. Video that’s focused, engaging, informative … and short enough to hold just about anyone’s attention.

Smirk if you must. Consider this yet another mile-marker on civilization’s road to perdition. But here’s the fact: You won’t get non-readers to read by forcing them to read more. You’ll get them to read by opening their eyes to the marvels awaiting them between the covers of that homework assignment.

With the 60second Recap™, teens finally have an alternative to the boring, text-based study guides that have burdened them for generations. And — who knows? — maybe that’s just what they’ll need to begin a love affair with literature, one that will last a lifetime.

In addition to the videos on classics such as Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men, Frankenstein, Lord of the Flies, and Hamlet, users will find a section called Recap Resource which includes a Dictionary of Terms (allegory, motifs, subtext, protagonist, etc.) and How to Write a Paper (that Won’t Put your Teacher to Sleep).  Again, these are presented in video form, which them much less intimidating for the average high school user.

The site also features an area for video responses from users, and another for users to request titles for recapping.

I highly recommend you visit the site and give it a look! I’m curious to see how it will change as it grows.

Know another great site for teachers working with novels? Find me on Twitter!

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The Power of the Preview

I recently read how one teacher provides her students with the entire plot of a new novel before beginning a study. Her thinking? If her students understand the basic story line, they”ll better be able to focus upon deeper aspects of the novel.swindle

Not a crazy idea. Think about the last movie preview you saw. Did it really leave you wondering about the film’s outcome? On the contrary. It presented you with enough bits and pieces that you could likely cobble together a reasonable summary of the entire film. So why bother seeing the movie?

To that question, a multitude of answers. Me, personally? Nothing beats watching a movie on the big screen with a big tub of buttered popcorn warming my lap. 95% of the time I know exactly what will happen (especially if the plot line follows the universally popular Hero Myth). What I’m there to see is how the pieces fall into place. I’m there to see what lies between them.

With this in mind, I took a different approach to introducing a new novel recently. Rather than share thematically related picture books, or draw out prior experiences relating to the book’s topic, I showed them a preview. And you know what? It really got them psyched. More importantly, just as my colleague hypothesized earlier, it helped my students to relax and focus on elements beyond the basic plot.

See Scholastic’s preview of Swindle for yourself. See if it doesn’t create some excitement for the reading experience. (This book trailer is just one of sixty-five book video previews available at the Scholastic site).

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