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Who Shmoop’s NOT Inviting to Thanksgiving Dinner This Year

Shmoop counts down the 10 most ungrateful literary characters who are persona non grata for this year’s Thanksgiving feast.

Thanksgiving is a time to put aside all of your familial angst in the name of deliciousness, but after a hard day in the kitchen, Shmoop isn’t about to share with anyone who can’t spare a compliment to the chef.

Since Shmoop prefers its dinners to be low-drama and its guests thankful, here is Shmoop’s list of literary characters who will not be getting an invite this year. Shmoop’s ranked them from 10—allowed in if they bring a green bean casserole—to 1—never allowed in, even with a gourmet brined turkey. No offense, guys. It’s just that Peeta Mellark can both bake bread and say, “Thank you.” Maybe next year!

Ron Weasley

10.     Ron Weasley, Harry Potter

 Every year, Ron Weasley got a new sweater for Christmas, and every year he complained about it, ignoring all the hard work his mom put into creating a gift that would protect him from the chill of snow, if not dementors. Ron would be the kid at Thanksgiving dinner feeding his mom’s sweet potato pie to the dog under the table. No wonder Mrs. Weasley seemed to prefer Harry Potter; at least Harry was appreciative of her knitting exploits.

9.     The Trojans, The Aeneid

After years and years of war against the Greeks, the Trojans woke up one morning to see the Greeks gone and in their place, a beautiful wooden statue of a horse outside their walls. The Trojans were ecstatic to finally win, but were still suspicious of the giant wooden horse. Of course, all it took was a little convincing by a Greek spy and the Trojans brought the horse into their city. Once inside the walls, the horse burst open with Greek soldiers who burned Troy to the ground. Needless to say, the Trojans weren’t very thankful for their gift from the Greeks. Maybe one should look a gift horse in the mouth.

8.     Milo, The Phantom Tollbooth

After a hard day in the number mines, the citizens of Digitopolis like to get their fill of Subtraction Soup. The generous people they are, they even shared this delectable dish with total foreigner Milo. Milo, however, was completely unappreciative of this kind gesture and just started complaining that the soup made him hungrier instead of more full. That put the Digitopolians in a tough spot as they had to explain their completely sensical custom of eating until they’re no longer full. Milo should have known better: when in Digitopolis, do as the Digitopolians do.

7. Ender Wiggin, Ender’s Game

Ender spent the entirety of Ender’s Game talking about how he was going to end the war against the Buggers. When he finally did end the war, though, he started crying about how he didn’t end the war in the right way. Hey, Ender, you gotta remember: the ends justify the means. And Buggers certainly can’t be choosers.

 

6.     King Lear, King Lear

First rule of parenting: don’t ask children how much they love their parents. King Lear clearly missed this memo. When he asked his three daughters how much they loved him, his first two (arguably straight-up evil) daughters answered with lavish purple praise, while his youngest (and legit good) daughter tempered her response with reality. King Lear was so incensed by her honesty that he banished her. Talk about being ungrateful for getting what he asked for.

5.     Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye

Holden Caulfield, the original emo teenager, wanted new ice skates, but when his mom finally got them for him, it turned out she bought him hockey skates instead of racing skates. Maybe next time, Holden will be a little clearer about what he wants—although, if the rest of the book is any indication, probably not.

4.     Jason, Medea

So Medea doesn’t quite get a pass here—murdering your kids? Total no-go—but Jason was probably the worst baby daddy known to man. First he seduced Medea to get her to betray her dad and help him succeed in his quest. He promised her that if she helped him secure the golden fleece, he’d marry her and be with her forever. She was so convinced by his charm that she killed her own brother to prevent her dad from capturing her new boyfriend. But what did Jason do to thank Medea? He broke up with her (after they already had kids together!) so he could marry the Princess of Corinth. There’s a reason why Medea is the ultimate woman scorned.

3. Edmund Pevensie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Pre-Aslan Edmund was the worst possible guest you could ever have. He was a jerk to his siblings and made fun of the kindly Professor who took them in. His sister Lucy introduced him to a magical land called Narnia and instead of thanking her, he told everyone she was making it up. When all the siblings were transported to Narnia, he turned against them by siding with the White Witch just so he could stuff his face with more Turkish delight. Pre-Aslan Edmund would basically be the one staying at home eating all the mashed potatoes while his siblings were helping out at a food kitchen.

 2.     Everyone Except Charlie Bucket, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

 Given that there were only five golden tickets to visit the elusive Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, you’d think that the lucky ticket holders would understand how privileged they were to get the inside scoop. Nope! Other than our protagonist Charlie Bucket, they were all entitled snobs who thankfully ended up getting their just desserts.

1. Oliver, Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist is the poster child for ungratefulness. His catchphrase is literally, “Please, sir, I want some more.” Leave a little turkey for everyone else, eh?

Know another literary character who should be stuck out in the cold this Thanksgiving? Share with us in the comments!

Shmoop Launches New Educational Video Platform Called ShmoopTube

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Shmoop, a digital curriculum and test prep company, is launching ShmoopTube, a brand-new, innovative portal for educational and hilarious videos. ShmoopTube improves upon and replaces the gone-but-not-forgotten Shmoopsterpiece Theater.

Shmoop has created a one-of-a-kind video platform for its growing video content. Featuring hundreds of educational videos with a humorous bent on every subject including math, history, literature, and test prep, ShmoopTube helps teachers incite class discussions and students better understand tough concepts.

ShmoopTube

ShmoopTube’s user-friendly design expands and innovates upon the previous video platform, Shmoopsterpiece Theater.

ShmoopTube highlights its entertaining videos in an intuitive user-experience which makes it easier and better to use than ever. New features include:

  • Better Tagging. With videos catalogued by subject (e.g. “English”) and subtopics (e.g. “Elementary Algebra”), it’s a breeze to browse and search for the exact video needed to clarify classroom concepts.

  • Better Search Feature. Shmoop’s new search feature is better than ever. Its recommendation engine matches video titles and keywords to a list of potential videos that viewers might be interested in.

  • Playlists. Shmoop has also put together hand-picked playlists in case teachers and students are looking for a crash course in algebra or get a illuminating immersion in American history.

  • Universal Design for Learning Features. Shmoop is also making great strides with incorporating Universal Design for Learning (UDL) measures in order to accommodate all kinds of learners. Shmoop remains committed to providing the best resources to every type of student. In that vein, ShmoopTube features videos in Spanish for ESL students, and also has transcripts for hearing-impaired students.

  • Related Videos. Just finished learning how to solve equations using addition and subtraction? ShmoopTube is there to help students take learning to the next level with Related Videos, which will suggest similar videos that will help students master any topic.

Shmoop will continue to evolve its ShmoopTube with the speed of the Internet and will soon also launch an even more personalized viewing experience. In the coming months, users should watch for new features, like ways to organize their favorite videos on ShmoopTube.

The new ShmoopTube is available for any screen except sunscreen–including computer, mobile phones, and iPads—and can be viewed by its admirers here.

Shmoop and the State of Utah Offer Free ACT Test Prep to High School Students

This is a re-post from the official blog of the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Office of Education.

(Salt Lake City, UT) Shmoop, a digital curriculum and test prep company, is partnering with Utah to provide the state’s 11th graders with test prep help to successfully prepare for the ACT exam in March.

Utah, already known as reporting one of the highest statewide ACT scores in the country last year, says it was natural to select Shmoop.

“Although we’ve been providing free ACT exams for Utah students for the last two years, we’re proud to say that this is the first time we’re providing an all-inclusive test prep resource for them to build on their strengths,” says State Superintendent of Public Instruction Martell Menlove.

In addition to diagnostic exams, an infinite number of Math Shack drills, and full-length practice exams, Utah schools will also have access to Shmoop’s premium analytics product. Teachers, principals, and district administrators can understand what’s happening at the individual or school-wide level at a glance, and assign extra drills or review sessions based on a student’s strengths or weaknesses.

“We’re thrilled to give all 125 of Utah’s Local Education Agencies (LEA) a chance to continue their momentum as one of the top test scoring regions in the country,” says Ellen Siminoff, CEO and President of Shmoop. “We hope Shmoop can be a tool that students use to become the best that they can possibly be.”

All Utah schools can sign up for Shmoop’s premium ACT and PLAN test prep guides by visiting this link, free of charge. Utah schools can get their unique account registration information by contacting Shmoop representative Allison Arunski at [email protected].

About Shmoop

Shmoop is a digital curriculum and test prep company that makes fun, rigorous learning and teaching materials. Shmoop content is written by master teachers and Ph.D. students from Stanford, Harvard, UC Berkeley, and other top universities. Shmoop Learning Guides, Test Prep, College Resources, and Teacher’s Editions balance a teen-friendly, approachable style with academically rigorous materials to help teachers help students understand how subjects relate to their daily lives. Shmoop sees over 7 million unique visitors a month on its site, and offers more than 7,000 titles across the Web, iPhone, Android devices, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader. The company has been honored twice by the Webby Awards, named “Best in Tech” for 2010 and 2011 by Scholastic Administrator, and awarded with two Annual Education Software Review Awards (EDDIES) in 2013. Launched in 2008, Shmoop is headquartered in a labradoodle-patrolled office in Mountain View, California.

*SAT and AP are registered trademarks of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of and does not endorse this product.

*ACT is a federally registered trademark of ACT, Inc. Shmoop University is not affiliated with or endorsed by ACT, Inc.

10 Spookiest Literary Places to Visit on Halloween

All Hallow’s Eve is the spookiest night,

It’s filled with the scariest feelings of fright.

And what’s it all for with no stories to tell?

Shmoop’s got the goods since they know books so well.

For students who’re looking for candy to eat:

Shmoop’s Top Ten Places to Not Trick-or-Treat.

Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons.

  1. Miss Havisham’s House, Great Expectations. More like Great Exspooktations. Nineteenth-century England is dreary enough as is. Add a crazy lady with coping issues to the mix, and the result is a place meant to be skipped during trick-or-treating.

Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons.

  1. Coraline’s House, Coraline. A world where people have buttons for eyes? Creepy point proven. But what makes Coraline’s house in the “other” world so especially sinister is that it seems nice at first glance. Never trust appearances on Halloween.

Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons.

  1. The Bottomless Pit, The Bible. The Bottomless Pit of the Bible’s final book features smoke, locusts, and an evil angel. In case that’s not enough, the Devil joins the party, too. The Pit is the pits every day of the year, but Halloween is sure to bring out its true stench.

Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons.

  1. The Inferno, Dante’s Inferno. Medieval punishments were the best (read: worst), and Dante sure knew how to dole ‘em out. Unfortunately, those souls experiencing eternal pain aren’t just a cheap Haunted House decoration. Probably best to skip this one in favor of one of Dante’s less horrifying places, such as Paradiso.

  1. One of Coleridge’s Drug Trips, “Kubla Khan“. Shmoop just says no to drugs—but not to trippy literature. Coleridge’s adventures in la-la land are the stuff of ultimate ghost stories.

Source: Universal Pictures

Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons.

  1. The Post-Thneed Truffula Forest, The Lorax. Dr. Seuss’s worlds are usually filled with color and delight, but the decimated Truffula forest is as eerie as they come. The ghosts of trees past are not ones to mess with.

Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons.

  1. A River with Marlow, Heart of Darkness. Floating down a river with Marlow on Halloween is like riding a ship straight into post-colonial hell. The horror! The horror!

Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons.

  1. The Veldt, The Veldt. Dystopian literature presents a world in which every day is spooky. Bradbury’s virtual reality kill-fest definitely makes Shmoop thankful for the other 364 days of normal.

Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons.

  1. Room 101, 1984. For Winston, it’s rats. For Shmoop, it’s bad grammar. Room 101 contains everyone’s biggest fear, so it’s best not to test the waters on the scariest day of the year. Oh, the split infinitives!

Public domain from Wikimedia Commons.

  1. Everywhere, A Clockwork Orange. Even the the bravest faux Batman will quiver at the cover of Anthony Burgess’s classic. With blood, violence, brain zapping, and forcing-you-to-watch-violence-until-you-break torture, this book is definitely chill-inducing and boot-quivering.

Stay away from these places on All Hallow’s Eve.

Unless you find them within a book’s leaves.

What other lit locales deliver a spook?

Let Shmoop know by Tweet or Facebook.

Shmoop and Philadelphia’s Northeast High School Release New AP® Results, Prove Technology and Teachers Can Close Achievement Gap

Innovative teachers and AP coordinators used Shmoop as part of program to improve AP enrollment, saw college eligible test scores shoot up 3x with 10% increase in college matriculation. 

Despite recent news of the budget woes plaguing the school district of Philadelphia, a bright spot has been the success stories coming out of Northeast High School, located in one of the lowest income areas of the city. As part of a rigorous Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate program overhaul that began in the 2010 – 2011 school year, Northeast High School incorporated Shmoop, one of the world’s largest digital publishers of test prep materials and educational guides, and saw the number of college eligible AP scores (3+) triple in three years.

“Can a comprehensive high school with a largely low-income student body significantly increase college eligibility scores while maintaining enrollment numbers? Yes. In three years, that is exactly what Northeast High School has done,” says Ellen Siminoff, CEO and President of Shmoop. “The effective use of technology in classrooms should mean that companies like us make it easier for passionate teachers to do their jobs.”

Northeast High School students were given access Shmoop’s full suite of 30+ AP® test prep products to use as a resource to supplement the instruction they were getting in the classroom. In addition, the teachers and AP coordinators created a myriad of academic and extracurricular programs to motivate students to enroll in AP and IB classes. These programs included Saturday practice sessions, summer programs, awards assemblies, subsidized exam fees, and extra instruction and support in classrooms from staff and faculty members. As a result, Northeast High’s AP results soared. In 2007, before the programs were implemented, the school had no AP scholars and only ~10% had a score of ‘3’ or better. In contrast, after the implementation of Shmoop and the extra programs, Northeast High had 22 AP Scholars and saw more than one out of every three AP-test-taking students (36.1%) score a ‘3’ and above in the 2012 – 2013 school year. The college matriculation rate also jumped to 63% versus 53% in 2010, with 133 students earning college credit on 177 AP exams.

Closing the Achievement Gap 2013

Although Shmoop and the programs helped increase student retention rates and the number of students matriculating into college, the school was hit hard by the Philadelphia School District’s budget cuts.

“We have been sustaining the quality of these programs despite the annual budgets cuts that have occurred in the last four years, but this year, the conditions are worse, much worse than they have ever been,” says a public letter from Northeast High School teachers requesting more AP funding. “This year, we are at the point of ensuring that these programs still exist, not working to improve them.”

AP® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.

About Shmoop
Shmoop is a digital curriculum and test prep company that makes fun, rigorous learning and teaching materials. Shmoop content is written by master teachers and Ph.D. students from Stanford, Harvard, UC Berkeley, and other top universities. Shmoop Learning Guides, Test Prep, and Teacher’s Editions balance a teen-friendly, approachable style with academically rigorous materials to help teachers help students understand how subjects relate to their daily lives. Shmoop sees over 7 million unique visitors a month on its site, and offers more than 7,000 titles across the Web, iPhone, Android devices, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader. The company has been honored twice by the Webby Awards, named “Best in Tech” for 2010 and 2011 by Scholastic Administrator, and awarded with two Annual Education Software Review Awards (EDDIES) in 2013. Launched in 2008, Shmoop is headquartered in a labradoodle-patrolled office in Mountain View, California.

*SAT and AP are registered trademarks of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of and does not endorse this product.

*ACT is a federally registered trademark of ACT, Inc. Shmoop University is not affiliated with or endorsed by ACT, Inc.