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Shmoop Poetry - Shmoop University Inc.

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As a companion piece to the Shmoop literature site, reviewed here, this is a wonderful addition if you teach poetry. Shmoop provides students (and...more
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As a companion piece to the Shmoop literature site, reviewed here, this is a wonderful addition if you teach poetry. Shmoop provides students (and teachers) with so much more than summaries. This is a great site with a unique voice. It is written by Ph.D. and Masters students at top universities (such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc.). While the list of poems is always growing, it includes many of the poems and/or poets commonly studied in high school. These include some of Shakespeare's sonnets, Whitman, Coleridge, Shelley, Dickinson, Browning, Rich, Yeats, and others. Especially appealing are the "Intro" sections, which tell the background of the poem. These should interest students as it places a very human "face" on the poem and sets it in context for them. Besides summaries, techniques, quotes, and study questions, this site also gives a "did you know?" page. It includes random trivia about the poet, poem, or topic, as well as a "sex rating" ("Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is rated "G"). This in itself will amuse students-- and amused students are likely to stay focused!

In addition to the literary content, some poems also have a photo slideshow that accompanies the poem and their authors. The slideshows would be great for readers who may need some assistance in comprehension or may just need something to sell the content and heighten their interest. While actually signing up (which is free) gives you the ability to "clip" files and keep them in a folder, you can access the majority of the information without signing up. Registration does require an email address. If you plan to have students register individually, you may want to create your own Gmail account with up to 20 subaccounts for each group of students (by code name or number) within your classes. Here is a blog post that tells how to set up GMail subaccounts to use for any online membership service.

tag(s): poetry (221)

In the Classroom

There are many possibilities at this website. Use it for reference, share the highlights on your interactive whiteboard or projector, or talk about the constructive use of a site like this without plagiarizing. One activity after reviewing a poem through Shmoop's process might be to have students use a poem not included on Shmoop and make their own entry for it, following the Shmoop template as an example. Try augmenting classroom technology use by using a simple slideshow tool like Sharalike, reviewed here, or use Slidestory, reviewed here, and use voice narration and images. Why not make your own wiki to include some of the same features for other poems? Not comfortable with wikis? Check out the TeachersFirst Wiki Walk-Through. Note: one popular poem on Shmoop is Poe's "The Raven." Be sure to have students explore TeachersFirst's interactive Raven as yet another rich way to experience the poem along with Shmoop.

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