August 29, 2014

SLJ Reviews Enhanced Ebook ‘Of Mice and Men,’ Teacher’s Edition

A new iBook version of Steinbeck’s classic novel with video and other elements to enhance the classroom discussion experience. Reviewed by Daryl Grabarek, editor of Touch and Go, an online column of School Library Journal.

When asked why he studies John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men with his students, Matthew Kalafat responds, “it gets kids thinking—critically,” and notes that the debates that follow allow his 8th graders to become “more confident, more engaged readers.” Both Kalafat and Derrick Nelson are educators featured in Penguin’s recently released Of Mice and Men: Teacher’s Deluxe Edition ($11.99; Gr 8 Up), available on a variety of electronic devices. Along with video commentary from the two, the iBook contains the full text of Steinbeck’s novel, a lengthy introduction by Susan Shillinglaw; the Robert Burns’s poem from which the book title derives (“To a Mouse, On Turning Her up in Her Nest with the Plough, November 1785,”); and the text of Steinbeck’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

Lists of discussion questions on topics ranging from “the American Dream” to “Fate” are included and paired with brief video responses by students. The questions and the videos emerged from a collaboration between two schools separated by four miles, but, as one of the educators commented, “might as well be 4,000 miles apart—there’s not much interaction” between these kids. Kalafat and Nelson also describe other aspects of the project from heated wiki conversations to meetings to discuss the classic in person.

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