Useful Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Great First lines

There have been some great and/or provocative opening lines to stories. There are opening lines that set the scene or atmosphere, that challenge/encourage the reader to go on. Some of these lines have begun fantastic stories, other stories never quite live up to that opening.

This past week a number of classes have come into the library to allow the students to choose books that they will read over the fortnight school holiday that starts this weekend. We have been challenging the boys to read out of their comfort zone and even to try some of the classics. Many of the boys always read the same type of book  (0r even the same few books again and again.) The boys had to scan and skim through several books during the period and choose one by the end of the session.

 We also had a bit of a discussion about what might make a “classic”. What elements are needed to keep readers interested many years after the books were first written? What are some books remembered

 This got me thinking about the opening lines to some of the stories. There have been some great ones. I started to think about the ones I know from the books we have at our library.

The teacher responsible for these classes is also working on writing tasks with his students.  The lines below give such great examples of writing. Next I think my nest task will be to find some of the great endings.

Examples from the Classics:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ……
A tale of two cities Charles Dickens
It was a pleasure to burn.
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind……..
The outsiders S.E. Hinton
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended. Here on the Equator, in the continent which would one day be known as Africa, the battle for existence had reached a new climax of ferocity, and the victor was not yet in sight.
2001: A space odyssey Arthur C. Clarke

Examples from current popular titles:
I found him in the garage on a Sunday afternoon.
Skellig David Almond
Joseph fixed his eyes on the coffin and thought of silkworms.
The running manMichael Gerards Bauer
We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.
Feed M.T. Anderson
The boy with the dreadlocks had two lines of business: (cars and the patio trade).
Exposure Mal Peet
Henry got up early on the day that changed his life.
Faerie Wars Herbie Brennan
I was five when I first saw the future. (Now I am seventeen.)
The foreshadowing Marcus Sedgwick
It is a relatively little-known fact, that, over the course of a single year, about twenty million letters are delivered to the dead.
The Lollypop shoes Joanne Harris
The worst night of my life? My first – and last – date with Angela O’Bannon.
Son of the mob Gordon Korman
We are all around you. (You don’t think about us much because we are invisible.)
So yesterdayScott Westerfeld

Any other suggestions would be welcomed.

There are sites that you can go to for lists of first lines that could also be useful. These include:

EyePlorer – beta visual search engine

eyePlorer2I have been looking at other visual search engine alternatives to SearchMe. Beta visual search engine EyePlorer is a reference search engine that takes your initial keyword search term and displays related terms in a color wheel of information based around that term. When you hover over the different areas of the color wheel or click on a topic, information (from Wikipedia) is revealed about that term in the default eyePlorer facts window that opens up. If the information is useful and you want to save for later use, you can drag it  onto the EyePlorer notebook at the side. These facts you put into the notebook can be rearranged as needed. Once you have your notes, you can either save, copy or email them.You also have the option of choosing websearch view, that offers links to other sites or an images window (results from Bing). The images are also linked to their sites of origin.eyePlorer-images

These short explanations from Wikipedia could help give students an overview of the topic without having to read the whole article. They could then go on to do a more indepth search with a better understanding of the topic. All students I know understand about checking the data for accuracy.

Other options for EyePlorer users include:

  • “i” button under the search box. Click on this to get a quick summary of the topic
  • “+” button to add search parameters
  • the paper button to go to a Google search.

Class use:

This is a an interesting way for students to think about research and explore for new information.  Students very easily create a visual guide to their inquiry. It is then a very easy step to drag and drop what they find out into a notebook. This can form the basis for more in-depth research. The brief notes could enable students to see note making as a way taking down main points and important ideas, rather than copying whole slabs of text. The way that the information in the notebook can be rearranged could  also help them to go on to think about or work on organising ideas into some sort of order to form the basis of some structure for an argument, conjecture or essay.

It could also be used on a class wide basis.  When a teacher wants to introduce a new concept/idea. Using a data projector, so the whole class can watch, the teacher could type the subject into the search and then the whole class could work together to decide which information they want/need to save in the (class)notebook for later. It would also allow the whole class to work on the above ideas.

eyePlorer was created in Germany so you can choose to search in German or English. I had heard that you need to manually choose English but I typed in search terms with English spelling and it automatically searched for results in English for me

Useful Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Google Lit Trips

google_lit_tripsAnother practical use for Google Earth has been found in these interesting lessons that utilize this application.  On the website named Google Lit Trips  you will find a list of lessons using various texts in which a virtual “trip” has been planned for use in describing events, settings, etc. of a story. 

2 interesting videos as an introduction to Google Lit Trips are presented by Kate Reavey (Peninsula College). Part 1

Part 2


This has the potential to be an excellent resource for teachers who are looking for ways to introduce literature in a different format into their classrooms.  The lessons seem good enough to be used with a class via a teacher’s computer that is hooked up to data projector or it could be used by students at individual computers.

site map
site map

I had a look at the Lit Trips for Elizabeth Honey’s book Remote ManHana’s suitcase by Karen Levine and they also have one for Macbeth. googleLitTrip-remotemangoogleLitTrip-remoteman2

  Looking at the above and, based on my knowledge of how reasonably user friendly Google tends to make the applications I have already used, it leads me to believe that creating your own lit trip would not prove to be too difficult a task.  There is a pdf “how-to” for creating your own lit trip ad it does not look to difficult. I have a small group of students working with me at the moment, reading e-books from DailyLit. One of the titles is Around the world in eighty days. I thought that this would make an interesting project for us to expand on the journey through the book whilst learning about creating something new with GoogleLitTrips. 

In general, this site seems to be an extremely valuable resource with downloadable materials complete with discussion questions and other class activities. I believe that this could be a great tool to help students visualize and learn about the places they encounter in various stories. 

To get started on your Lit Trip journey with characters from famous children’s novels you will have to :

  • Download Google Earth
  • Return to Google Lit Trips
  • Click on one of the grade level links at the top of the page
  • Find a Lit Trip that meets your interest 
  • Start exploring

On-line Exhibition – Ansel Adams at 100

I have always liked photography and have been to many exhibitions, with B&W photographs being my favourites. Ansel Adams is one photographer in whom I have always been interested. From a tweet, I was put onto the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art‘s recent exhibition of works by Ansel Adams.


You can still see some the great Ansel Adams content on the museum’s website, just look for Ansel Adams at 100. This is an interactive exploration of the work by Adams’s. You can click on any image in the display to learn about the processes he used in capturing the image and sharing the image with the world. There are also a number of  instances that you can hear audio recordings of Adams talking about a particular photograph. 

For an added bonus on the site are the  eight short videos (7 with Ansel Adams himself talking about his work.)

For anyone interested in photography, especially teaching it, this make a great resource.

Useful Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.