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While at Sadecky’s Puppets to record the role of Heidi, Carolyn met a new friend.

We spent Sunday afternoon at the Sadecky’s Puppets studio/workshop in Tarentum, Pa. Carolyn recorded an audio track for a musical adaptation of “Heidi,” to be synced with performances of live puppeteers touring across 9 states during the coming school year. Mr. Sadecky, who has been performing with his puppets since the early 80s, was charming but also thorough. He worked patiently with Carolyn to deliver the performance he wanted. “That…

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Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve racked up prizes — and completely misled you about the Middle Ages

Recently on Facebook I made some of my friends go “hmm” when I corrected a meme that suggested the medieval church burned Copernicus at the stake for teaching that the sun is the center of the solar system. (“Contrary to popular belief, the Church accepted Copernicus’ heliocentric theory before a wave of Protestant opposition led the Church to ban Copernican views in the 17th century.” CS Monitor). The label “The…

Your Brain on Books
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What You Read Matters More Than You Might Think

Seton Hill is revamping its freshman writing program, previously implemented as a pair of courses, “Basic Composition” and “Seminar in Thinking and Writing” (STW), and now called “Composition and Culture” (which students can take in one semester or stretch over two). The new design includes more focus on reading, and also seeks to erase what had been a sharp division between an emphasis on the personal essay (in the “Basic”…

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Homage to Poe

Michael Dirda offers a thoughtful assessment of Poe’s career. My initial puzzlement about Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) was hardly surprising. His fiction can seem too rhetorical, too thickly textured, too literary for most young people. Still, Basil Rathbone’s recording did persuade me to give the writer another try—sometime. The opportunity finally arose in high school when I opened my new English textbook and discovered the revenge story “The Cask of…

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As yearbooks die, colleges lose a link to the past

This year, for the first time in decades, graduating seniors won’t have a yearbook to buy. Hopkins and colleges around the state and country are phasing out yearbooks in an age when students who already document their experiences themselves — and can access their memories — on social media are less interested in shelling out $100 or more for the hard copy. —Baltimore Sun

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Education: Teaching teachers how to teach reading

I’m definitely seeing students in my freshman writing class and intro lit classes struggling with complex texts. I have more freedom to address the problem in my lit classes, where the focus is on reading. In the freshman writing class, where the goal is to produce a 10-page research paper by the end of term, students who do have the writing ability are struggling with academic texts (preferring instead to…