Free, Fun Literature Guides & Essay Tools!

January 23rd, 2013 by ClickSchooling Leave a reply »

Hi!  It’s Wednesday, January 23, 2013 and time for Language Arts at Clickschooling!

Recommended Website:

Age Range: 10-18  (Grades 5-12, with parental supervision)

This ad-supported website offers free, web-based reference guides for studying literature, poetry, and U.S. history to make learning and writing more fun and relevant for students in the digital age.

The content is written primarily by Ph.D. and Masters students from top universities including Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, and Yale who specialize in “everything from Shakespeare to Victorian literature to African literature to 1800s American politics to the history of hip-hop.” Shmoop’s laid back and often humorous approach to the material is really engaging.

When you get to the website, you’ll see a featured literature guide, and a menu of literary works (in alphabetical order) that includes authors such as Jane Austen, Albert Camus, Ernest Hemmingway, Jack London, George Orwell, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Tennessee Williams, and more.

Click on any one and a new page opens with a tab menu that includes:

*Intro – Includes, “In A Nutshell”  that provides a short description of the work, and “Why Should I Care?” that explains why the work is relevant.

*Summary – A brief overview of the work and a chapter-by-chapter summary.

*Themes – A run-down of the main topics addressed in the literature.

*Characters – A description of the characters and their roles in the work.

*Analysis – Includes symbolism, imagery, setting, narrator point of view, genre, tone, writing style, plot analysis, trivia, and my personal favorite, “What’s Up with the Title?”  Oh, and there’s a “Steaminess Rating” too (very helpful to parents/educators).

*Questions – An assortment of study and discussion questions.

*Quizzes – Test your knowledge of the material.

*Best of the Web – This section links directly to Photos, Pictures, Books, Movies, TV, Documents, Video and Audio on other websites that relate to the literary work!  They’ve done the research for you – and the links include a one-line description that will help you determine if you want to click on it or not. What a time saver! 

Access to all of this rich content is free, without obligation. However, if you want to use their tools such as “Write a Paper”  that includes guides to writing essays, you must create an account and log in (it’s free).

NOTE: Because this site links to exterior websites that I have not reviewed, PARENTS SHOULD PREVIEW THE CONTENT TO DETERMINE SUITABILITY.

Finally, I’d like to reiterate that one of the best aspects of this site is the way humor is used to engage students. Students will find the captivating banter irresistible. Just browsing the site can ignite interest in literature, so bookmark it to return often.


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