Brain Pickings, the cultural website curated by Maria Popova, is a trove of valuable and engaging classroom resources. With several posts each day, the breadth and depth is remarkable. One of the best things you can do is subscribe to the weekly newsletter. An overview of the best stories from the week with added bonuses, it can help guide your reading and your students’ research depending on how you choose to implement this resource.
Because most Brain Pickings posts are complex conversations, you may want to pick and choose some of the videos, images, text, etc. You can always have your students research the weekly newsletter itself and have them choose a post for themselves. As with anything, I would recommend the use of SOAPSTone and/or précis paragraph writing in an attempt to have them look for argument/bias in all forms of writing.
Since there also exists a Weekly Newsletter Archive , you can quickly review the past several months of posts, too. While I’ll spend the next two days highlighting specific posts, let me suggest one of my favorite newsletters. A majority of the highlighted posts are easily accessible and incorporate video/photos to help students examine argument via different media and formats. See ideas for incorporating the entirety of the newsletter into class discussion/writing below.
Weekly Newsletter-10/30/2011 – 5 Unsung Heroes Who Shaped Modern Life, a Pixar animator reimagines Hindu deities, and more
1. Have students read the “5 Unsung Heroes” post. Ask that they, based on knowledge solely from the posts, construct an argument for or against the order in which the heroes are listed.
- Have them examine the Henrietta Lacks section specifically. Consider asking them to assess how video and multiple images make her seem a more convincing choice for number 1 of 5 most important.
2. Have students examine “The Phantom Tollbooth at 50” post and watch the accompanying short documentary. Ask that they determine what, if any, the importance is between storyteller and illustrator.
- Consider offering them some other children’s book examples to get them thinking. See Popova’s post entitled “5 (More) Children’s Books for Grown-Ups” if you need a starting point.
3. Have students examine the images included in “Visual Storytelling.” Read and assess Popova’s argument about the book and images included. Then have students parse the images discussing the following:
- Image argument
- Role of data
- Role of aesthetics
- Need for this type of visual storytelling in today’s culture
4. Have students read/examine the post detailing “The Little Book of Hindu Deities.” Next, instead of giving them the essential questions have them create them.
- Ask that they do more than just identify aspects of the post/images. Ask that they also include moral/ethical debate questions that focus on the overlap popular culture and religion.