On my back in bed with a non-lethal but debilitating back-of-the-throat crud that is now migrating to my nose, I have a moment to make a few notes, put up a few links and serve some tiramisu to my writing colleagues.
Dido has a cold, so Aeneas tells her a story to make her feel better.
By age eight, Artie Royal knows that for a few minutes he can escape his parents' conflicts through exhilarating rides on his hand-me-down bike. At age seventeen, the bike now an outgrown shambles, he takes comfort in girlfriend Sandy. With the loss of great-grandfather, Merle Jongleur, Artie's ties to his family and the blue bike seem to be severed, and he seeks refuge in a naval career. But this choice proves problematic. Back home in North Carolina, he finally seems settled in a mundane career and a comfortable life with wife Katie - until Sandy calls. Once again seeking emotional relief, he jumps at an offer of a trip to Nova Scotia to meet Merle's Acadian relatives and settle a family estate. There, events bring unexpected results and new family ties.
The old bike traces a continuous thread though Artie's life as it passes to him, then to others, but in the end this is a tale of the individual spirit's ability to renew itself through solitary hope and ever-changing human relationships.
"The Kindle software," Bob notes, "can be downloaded for free on any desktop or laptop, and with that in place, you can also download a rather lengthy sample of the text for free. And the complete text is available on Amazon for $6.95."
Next, Lyn Hawks, an exceptionally talented curriculum writer in addition to her other editorial and literary gifts, has published Teaching Julius Caesar: A Differentiated Approach, with the publishing arm of the National Council of the Teachers of English.
Differentiated learning is a happy new educational trend. In a classroom with students of varying ability and exposure to a subject, the teacher best serves her students by "differentiating" her assignment, or offering it in various incarnations, according to the ability and motivation of the student. The key here is not necessarily to make the "gifted" or "honors" students do more and the others less, but to emphasize what each student is ready and interested to do.
My Duke Talent Identification Program learn-on-your-own course in Greek Mythology uses this approach, and I learned what I know about it through Lyn. A typical assignment in that course might ask everyone to annotate and answer questions about a text such as the delightful Homeric Hymn to Hermes, while those who want a further challenge would be asked to use their notes to create a 50-word version of the Hymn, while those who wanted still more could perform the 50-word version in front of the class with appropriate stage directions added in.
Teachers have a lot to do without having to design a lesson in three or more different tiers, so kudos to Lyn for giving teachers of Shakespeare a little break from all that they have to do.
This is not Lyn's first publication in the realm of curriculum: she has also done a NCTE handbook on Romeo and Juliet.
Finally, editor and decorated journalist J. Peder Zane has revived a website of his that is sure to be a hit among those of us with short attention spans. It includes 125 lists of top ten books of all time from many of our brightest literary lights.
I blogged about local bestselling author Haven Kimmel's list, because it includes the Aeneid and the Gospel of Mark, and all the other ones were infested with 19th century snoozefests such as War and Peace. With all apologies to Leo.
So now I am done, and my crud has magically transferred itself mostly to my nose. You can find me under my mountain of used tissues.