New on Shmoop: a “Woolf,” an Albatross, & Pigs

Pig Out on Our Enhanced Coverage of Animal Farm and the Russian Revolution
  • Based on your requests, we've upgraded our coverage of this classic allegory
  • Find our totally revamped Symbolism and Allegory page – mapping key events from the novel to historical events
  • Check out our deeper character analyses – outlining which characters represented which historical figures
What Gives with the Saying “Albatross Around the Neck?” Check out Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Classic Poem
"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" may be one of the most influential and eerie poems in the English language, but it's a doozy of a confusing read. An old sailor stops a wedding guest and says, essentially, "I know you want to get your drink and your dance on, but now I'm going to tell you a really long story about how I got my entire crew killed and almost died myself because I acted like a jerk while sailing the far reaches of the globe."

Search Shmoop from Your Firefox Browser

Firefox users now have even faster access to the literature, US history, and poetry resources on Shmoop.

Type in The Great Gatsby themes or World War II timeline, and you’ll have Shmoop analysis and facts, right at your fingertips.

Download the Shmoop Search add-on for Firefox from the Firefox website. The download takes less than a minute.

iamge of Shmoop search in Firefox

iamge of Shmoop search in Firefox

From the Front Lines: Shmoop in the Classroom – Reaction Blogging

We’re kicking off a new blog series to coincide with the launch of our new Shmoop Teachers website. Shmoop reports from the front lines. The trenches. Yes, real-life examples of teachers using Shmoop in the classroom. Send in your classroom examples (lesson plans, assignments, classroom activities, etc.) and we’ll share it here with the Shmoop Teachers community.

First Up: Students Share Reactions to Shmoop Reading via Classroom Blog

Who: Debra Schneider, Ph.D.
Subject: Social Studies
School: Merrill F. West HS, Tracy, CA

Reaction Blogging, Deb Schneider's Social Studies ClassThe Idea: Assign a Shmoop reading to your class, and have them post their reactions to the classroom blog.

“We were viewing segments of “Eyes on the Prize,” so my students are captivated by the Civil Rights Movement. I wanted them to show me they have read deeper and discovered more. I want them to read, show their comprehension, form an opinion, and convey their stance.”

The Assignment:

  • Debra assigned her students readings from Shmoop’s Jim Crow in America
  • She posted the assignment to her classroom blog
  • Each student was required to comment on her blog, answering the question, “What section (in reading, photos, or videos) most surprised you? Include the URL where you found it. The deeper you go into Shmoop, the better.

Debra says:

“I found Shmoop on a teacher’s list of “best Social Studies sites of 2008″ and I completely agree. The topics covered are comprehensive, the resources are varied and interesting, the writing acknowledges a complex history but in a way that my students can comprehend, and the writing style is very engaging.”

The assignment was a success. See Deb’s classroom blog for yourself. Deb plans to assign another Shmoop topic soon.

TED Talk: David Merrill: Siftables, the Toy Blocks that Think

Maybe we’re still secretly lusting after that awesome Jabba the Hut Barge lego set that was on our holiday wish list year after year. Whatever the motivation, we think Siftables are cool.

David Merrill’s talk from the most recent TED conference caught our attention. Merrill, an MIT grad student, says that his passion is “making new human-computer interactions that better map to the way our brains work.” We think that rocks. Tactile computing could change our daily lives – and education – in big and small ways.

How would you use siftables to learn or teach?

  • chemistry experiments without the chemicals?
  • legos that visually display principles of physics and architecture?

Add your ideas in the comments below. Or, tweet @helloshmoop

Watch David Merrill’s TED Talk (7 min)