Many of the resources I write about here target early learners. Here’s an exceptional learning resource aimed at secondary and post-secondary students of literature and US history.
shmoop impresses me because it is intentionally about learning, and the joy of learning, not just about passing courses and jumping through educational hoops. Shmoop’s stated mission is: To make learning and writing more fun and relevant for students in the digital age. I think Shmoop could be especially helpful to learners who struggle with the papers they are assigned to write. It turns out that hoop jumping is still required everywhere!
Shmoop hires graduate students to create extensive sets of resources on works of literature and events in US history, with a promise that more subjects will be added. The website’s format is predictable and easy to navigate, with headings and linked sub-headings that make sense.
Main headings for each work of literature include: Intro; Summary; Themes,Quotes; Study Questions; Literary Devices; Characters; Plot Analysis; Did You Know?; Best of the Web. The structure is the same, but some headings are different in Shmoop‘s history section.
Registered users can create folders for their work. Sticky notes can be added, and Shmoop items can be “clipped” into folders. Articles within Shmoop are tagged so that learners can search by tag. Smoop also offers a discussion forum where ideas can be exchanged with other learners. A handy dictionary button is available to the learner at all times.
Perhaps most helpful of all, Shmoop offers a writing guide for every book and play in the literature section. The writer is walked through the process of creating a title, choosing themes to explore, then moving from a fuzzy idea supported with reasons and proof to a thesis statement. The preliminary outline is saved on Shmoop for later download to the writer’s computer.