I know that this post has been a long time coming as I took a break from the March is reading month series almost two weeks ago, but this penultimate online reading post has arrived at last. These are just a few resources that I think would work very effectively at the secondary level, both for leisure reading and academic reading.
I mentioned this site on the forum at the beginning of the month to answer a request by a teacher looking for a way to get several copies of a book into the hands of a large number of students. They all had access to their own laptops, but no books to read. While you don’t have to use laptops in the classroom (a small computer center or single machine would work), ReadPrint contains thousands of free classics (unabridged) online in an easy to read format. Everything from Austen to Wells can be found on this site, providing an excellent resource for those classrooms in which old class sets of books are falling apart, or for teachers that want to provide easy, no excuse (I left my copy of 1984 at home) access to classics. Their Author Index provides easy searching, or you can do a simple Title Search at the top of any page on the site. Each chapter of the books is a separate page, and there’s even a neat “search within the book” feature to help find those memorable quotes, or pick up where you left off reading last time.
This beautifully written and well maintained blog (yes, reading blogs is an acceptable exercise in the classroom) is quite an interesting read from the viewpoint of an individual most high school students would be surprised to discover. Sometimes political, often reflective, and occasionally philosophical, this 80 year old retired journalist offers readers a glimpse of American life from the post-World War II era to today. While the author does often take sides on political topics (inlcuding his stance on the Iraq war), his writing is always highly polished, expertly crafted, and his positions well defended, offering high school students prime examples of editorial writing, as well as persuasive writing.
While he does spend more than a few posts discussing his Jewish heritage and pronouncing his pro-Israel viewpoints (which may be a bone of contention for some public educators to share in their classroom), he always does so in a very professional manner, not as a rant. I’ve often found that many students are more willing to connect with a writer when they write about something personal that defines them as a human being. One of the best posts on the blog is a memoir about how the author’s father was deemed a Jewish folk hero in his Bronx neighborhood after cursing the Nazi dirigible, Hindenburg, as it flew overhead, just hours before the airship had its fatal accident. The rest of the blog is populated with well crafted and timely posts on American life. While most adults might not be surprised with the level of professionalism that this blog is written with (the author is a former editor for Business Week and Forbes), I know that many high school students might be surprised to find the views and opinions of someone their grandparent’s age to be pertinent, highly articulated, and thoughtful.
To save on your eyes and my fingers, I’m going to continue this post later in the week as I have more to write about. Especially for those of you that don’t think your students will be turned on by classic literature or the musings of an 80 year old journalist.