BestScienceFictionStories

They don’t seem to be updating anymore, but BestScienceFictionStories is a really useful collection of info. It’s very searchable and well-tagged. Each entry tells you where the story can be found, either for free or for purchase. Someday, I want to have a classroom library of this stuff.

You can never have enough Bradbury. When I was teaching in Alaska, we used Holt’s “Elements of Literature” curriculum, which – at least at that time – featured some Bradbury stories, especially in its 2nd course (8th grade.) I think it’s great that Farenheit 451 has become a staple of secondary-school classrooms, but I think people forget that he was primarily a short fiction writer – an incredibly prolific short fiction writer. He left behind hundreds of short stories. In fact, many of the sci-fi grandmasters were really prolific in short fiction formats. Asimov, especially comes to mind; Anderson, Le Guin, Heinlein, Clark, Linebarger and others to a greater or lesser extent.

The Game of Rat and Dragon – Cordwainer Smith (A.K.A. Linebarger) A tragically underrated writer.  Linebarger is the best of the best.

The Last Question – Asimov. I would love to teach this one sometime.

To be honest, this is the kind of thing that is dangerous for me. My love for certain things (like classic sci-fi, Hemingway, the romantic poets, Lewis, Beowulf, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to name a few) is really disproportionate. If I had my way, kids would come out of high school knowing more about Nicholas Van Rijn than algebra, the renaissance, or how to write a resume.

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No-Prep Reading-Check Quiz.

Never spend valuable time writing questions for reading-check quizzes again! I got this idea from my field placement teacher. It’s so obvious; use the text itself to check for comprehension.

The day the assigned reading is due, put a selection from the text on the board. Ask students three questions about it.

What is happening in this passage?

What happened before?

What happens next?

The questions can be asked in different ways or adapted. The point is, teachers often spend a disproportionate amount of time assessing relatively small things like whether a student has read the assignment and gained a basic understanding of what they’ve read. This makes the reading-check into a routine that not only saves the teacher time and energy, it also helps the student by giving them a structure that they fit new information into as they read future assignments.