Support for Common Core’s Close-reading Expectations
CraftLit® podcast, hosted by award-winning former HS and University educator Heather Ordover, has been in constant production since 2006, unlocking classic literature in a family-friendly, low-stress format for listeners young and old(er).
Whether you’re an educator or a student, life is hard and moves fast. Our hectic days don’t give us much time to read (much less to savor and ponder on) more complex-but-wonderful-books like the classics.
CraftLit is a free podcast you and your students can listen to online, on an mp3 player, or stream to any smartphone or tablet via the CraftLit app or Stitcher Radio (and soon you will be able to listen on YouTube). (And it’s not cheating.)
If you’ve been teaching for awhile, you’ve probably experienced an eleventh-hour schedule change. Nothing is more terrifying for an English teacher. Prepping a new book is a gargantuan undertaking — how great would it be if you could do that prep in your car on the way to school?
Now you can!
Beyond the free podcast there is a premium audio stream—explained more fully below—where Heather tackles more difficult texts—Alice in Wonderland, which required enhanced podcast/video support; Oscar Wilde, which required more adult-oriented background; Wuthering Heights, which divided listeners into “love” and “truly, deeply hate” camps more than any other proposed book; A Tale of Two Cities and currently Dickens’ very long but marvelously jolly (and not very bleak at all) Bleak House.
Premium content is bundled into audiobook form once complete and loaded into the show’s Shoppe.
Over the years, the shows have helped many high school and university student listeners. The benefits of the format for students are:
- listen when convenient (bus, commute, breaks);
- listen and read at the same time, benefitting from hearing correct pronunciation as well as support-audio while using the visual cortex to process the words in an alternate way;
- ability to rewind as often as necessary with no risk to self-esteem.
But the real benefit to students and educators is this:
if the podcast ensures the students understand the plot and characters, it frees the classroom teacher up to do the really fun and important bits in class—discussing the finer points and helping students work at thinking critically and writing thoughtfully about fantastic works of literature.
The Common Core will be so relieved!
(and so will you)
Originally CraftLit was conceived as a way to help knitters and crafters whose hands are busy to still get a weekly dose of classic literature, unlocked chapter by chapter in a friendly in-your-ear format. The mild-emphasis on handicrafts and creativity supports whole-child learning and encourages students who wrestle with ADD-issues to find productive solutions to their fidgets.
Ordover—known by former students as an educator who preferred to “teach-to-the-joke”—gives listeners important points to focus on, vocabulary that might be tricky, and hard-to-find historical tid-bits that make these books come alive. Listeners over the years have ranged from 6 to 86 and, as you see from the reviews, it’s worked out pretty well.
Episodes are accompanied by shownotes, giving listeners another access-point to the text through links, pictures, and occasional maps.
How to Listen
If you don’t like knitting (or otherwise-crafting) you can skip over the opening audio. Timecodes indicating where the “book talk” begins appear on every set of shownotes where the audio player lives. (Since episode 331, those time codes have been moved to the top of the show notes.)