Literature Improves Thinking

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little-girl-reading-book

Are you uncomfortable with ambiguity? It’s a common condition, but a highly problematic one. The compulsion to quell that unease can inspire snap judgments, rigid thinking, and bad decision-making.

Fortunately, new research suggests a simple antidote for this affliction: Read more literary fiction.

A trio of University of Toronto scholars, led by psychologist Maja Djikic, report that people who have just read a short story have less need for what psychologists call “cognitive closure.” Compared with peers who have just read an essay, they expressed more comfort with disorder and uncertainty—attitudes that allow for both sophisticated thinking and greater creativity.

“Exposure to literature,” the researchers write in the Creativity Research Journal, “may offer a (way for people) to become more likely to open their minds.”

Djikic and her colleagues describe an experiment featuring 100 University of Toronto students. After arriving at the lab and providing some personal information, the students read either one of eight short stories or one of eight essays. The fictional stories were by authors including Wallace Stegner, Jean Stafford, and Paul Bowles; the non-fiction essays were by equally illustrious writers such as George Bernard Shaw and Stephen Jay Gould.

Afterwards, each participant filled out a survey measuring their emotional need for certainty and stability. They expressed their agreement or disagreement with such statements as “I don’t like situations that are uncertain” and “I dislike questions that can be answered in many different ways.” Continue reading

Literature Improves Empathy


Have you ever felt that reading a good book makes you better able to connect with your fellow human beings? If so, the results of a new scientific study back you up, but only if your reading material is literary fiction – pulp fiction or non-fiction will not do.

Great Expectations from great literature … empathy occurs in the spaces between characters, such as Joe and Pip, pictured here in the 2012 film adaptation. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex Features

Empathy occurs in the spaces between characters, such as Joe and Pip in Great Expectations, pictured here in the 2012 film adaptation. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex Features

Psychologists David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, at the New School for Social Research in New York, have proved that reading literary fiction enhances the ability to detect and understand other people’s emotions, a crucial skill in navigating complex social relationships.

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Week 4:10 (May 20-24)

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Inquiry Skills: Semester Grade Chart, NVC Notes, “Thriving in a Diverse World”12 Tools for Deep Listening, Plagiarism Notes, Academic Lenses, Did I Plagiarize?, CRAAP Test, MLA Sample Paper, APA Sample Paper, Purdue OWL, Writing an Annotated BibliographySample Annotated Bib., EBSCOGale

English 2 Honors: Macbeth E-text, Semester Grade ChartSuggested Open Prompts for MacbethWeaving & Citation GuideProofreading ExpectationsThesis Generator, Theme Claim Thesis Frame,Thesis Notes, Transitions Toolbox, Summer Reading List

Pre-IB English 2: Macbeth E-text, Persepolis E-text, 1984 E-text, Semester Grade Chart, Weaving & Citation GuideProofreading ExpectationsThesis Generator, Theme Claim Thesis Frame, Thesis Notes, Transitions Toolbox  Exam Study Guide

AP: Course Credit Policies, Summer Reading List

Week 4:9 (May 13-17)

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Inquiry Skills: Semester Grade Chart, NVC Notes, “Thriving in a Diverse World”12 Tools for Deep Listening, Plagiarism Notes, Academic Lenses, Did I Plagiarize?, CRAAP Test, MLA Sample Paper, APA Sample Paper, Purdue OWL, Writing an Annotated BibliographySample Annotated Bib., EBSCOGale

English 2 Honors: Macbeth E-text“Reading Shakespeare”Theme LogTheme Reflection #2Semester Grade ChartSuggested Open Prompts for MacbethWeaving & Citation GuideProofreading ExpectationsThesis Generator, Theme Claim Thesis Frame,Thesis Notes, Transitions Toolbox, Summer Reading List

Pre-IB English 2: Macbeth E-text“Reading Shakespeare”Theme LogTheme Reflection #2Semester Grade ChartSuggested Open Prompts for MacbethWeaving & Citation GuideProofreading ExpectationsThesis Generator, Theme Claim Thesis Frame, Thesis Notes, Transitions Toolbox, Exam Study Guide

AP: Course Credit Policies, Summer Reading List (juniors only)

Week 4:8 (May 6-10)

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Inquiry Skills: Biology EOC ReviewSemester Grade Chart, Plagiarism Notes,Academic Lenses

English 2 Honors: Macbeth E-text“Reading Shakespeare”, Theme LogTheme Reflection #2Semester Grade Chart, Suggested Open Prompts for MacbethWeaving & Citation GuideProofreading ExpectationsThesis GeneratorThesis Notes,Transitions Toolbox, Theme Reflection #2

Pre-IB English 2: Macbeth E-text“Reading Shakespeare”, Theme LogTheme Reflection #2Semester Grade Chart, Suggested Open Prompts for MacbethWeaving & Citation GuideProofreading ExpectationsThesis GeneratorThesis Notes, Transitions Toolbox, Theme Reflection #2, Exam Study Guide

AP Research: Digital PortfolioUser Guide for the Digital PortfolioAcademic Paper Rubric, AP Score Calculator

AP Literature: Past Open Essay PromptsSuggested Works for Open EssayAP Lit TermsAP Score Calculator, Major Works Data Packet (2019), MWDP (2018)MWDP (2017)MWDP (2016)MWDP (2015)MWDP (2014)MWDP (2013)

Week 4:7 (Apr. 29-May 3)

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Inquiry Skills: Industry DBQ DocsPurdue OWL, EBSCOGale, Semester Grade Chart, US History EOC Packet (Pre-test)

English 2 Honors: Macbeth E-text, Theme LogTheme Reflection #2, Semester Grade Chart

Pre-IB English 2: Macbeth E-text, Theme LogTheme Reflection #2, Semester Grade ChartExam Study Guide

AP Research: Digital PortfolioUser Guide for the Digital PortfolioAcademic Paper RubricElements of the PaperPurdue OWL

AP Literature: Reading ScheduleMLA TemplateFinal Poetry Paper Packet, Past Open Essay PromptsSuggested Works for Open EssayAP Lit TermsAP Score CalculatorMajor Works Data Sheet (2018)MWDP (2017)MWDP (2016)MWDP (2015)MWDP (2014)MWDP (2013)

Week 4:6 (Apr. 22-26)

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Inquiry Skills: Homestead Strike (Goldman & Frick texts), Industry Docs (Robber Baron), Purdue OWL , EBSCOGale

English 2 Honors: Macbeth E-text“Reading Shakespeare” Packet, Macbeth Notes,Macbeth Theme Log, Theme Reflection #2

Pre-IB English 2: Macbeth E-text“Reading Shakespeare” Packet, Macbeth Notes, Macbeth Theme Log, Theme Reflection #2

AP Research: Digital PortfolioUser Guide for the Digital Portfolio, Academic Paper RubricElements of the PaperPurdue OWL

AP Literature: Reading Schedule, MLA TemplateFinal Poetry Paper cketNotes on AbsurdismMajor Works Data Sheet TemplatePast Open Essay PromptsSuggested Works for the Open Essay

Week 4:5 (Apr. 15-18)

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Inquiry Skills: Rotation CalendarPurdue OWLTransitions Toolbox & Elaboration/Analysis StartersWriting an Annotated Bibliography, Sample Annotated Bib., FSA Practice Research Databases: EBSCOGale

English 2 Honors: Macbeth E-text“Reading Shakespeare” PacketArchaic PronounsMacbeth NotesMacbeth Character List, “Why Read Shakespeare?” ExcerptMacbeth Theme Log, Theme Reflection #1

Pre-IB English 2: Macbeth E-text“Reading Shakespeare” PacketArchaic PronounsMacbeth NotesMacbeth Character List, “Why Read Shakespeare?” ExcerptMacbeth Theme Log, Theme Reflection #1

AP Research: Blue Sheet for Presentation, PREP #19-30Digital PortfolioUser Guide for the Digital Portfolio, Tips for a Great Presentation (Good & Bad Examples)/ Paper: Academic Paper RubricElements of the PaperPurdue OWL, Abstract Planning Sheet Presentation: Presentation & Oral Defense RubricOral Defense QuestionsSample Presentation

AP Literature: Reading SchedulePoetry PacketAP Credit Policies, Notes on Existentialism & Absurdism, “The Myth of Sisyphus” / Fairy Tale Lit Crit: Literary Theory and Schools of CriticismFairy TalesMLA Template / Major Works Data Sheets: Major Works Data Sheet TemplateLiterary 3×3 ExamplesPast Open Essay PromptsSuggested Works for Open Essay

Week 4:4 (Apr. 8-12)

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Inquiry Skills: Rotation CalendarPurdue OWLTransitions Toolbox & Elaboration/Analysis StartersWriting an Annotated Bibliography, Sample Annotated Bib., FSA Practice Research Databases: EBSCOGale

English 2 Honors: Macbeth E-text“Reading Shakespeare” PacketArchaic PronounsMacbeth NotesMacbeth Character List, “Why Read Shakespeare?” ExcerptMacbeth Theme Log, Theme Reflection #1

Pre-IB English 2: Macbeth E-text“Reading Shakespeare” PacketArchaic PronounsMacbeth NotesMacbeth Character List, “Why Read Shakespeare?” ExcerptMacbeth Theme Log, Theme Reflection #1

AP Research: PREP #19-30Digital PortfolioUser Guide for the Digital PortfolioTransitions ToolboxTips for a Great Presentation (Good & Bad Examples) / Paper: Academic Paper RubricElements of the PaperPurdue OWL, Abstract Planning Sheet Presentation: Presentation & Oral Defense RubricOral Defense QuestionsSample Presentation

AP Literature: Reading SchedulePoetry PacketAP Credit Policies, Notes on Existentialism & Absurdism, “The Myth of Sisyphus” / Fairy Tale Lit Crit: Literary Theory and Schools of CriticismFairy TalesMLA Template / Major Works Data Sheets: Major Works Data Sheet TemplateLiterary 3×3 ExamplesPast Open Essay PromptsSuggested Works for Open Essay

Week 4:3 (Apr. 1-5)

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Inquiry Skills: Rotation CalendarPurdue OWLTransitions Toolbox & Elaboration/Analysis StartersWriting an Annotated Bibliography, Sample Annotated Bib., FSA Practice Research Databases: EBSCOGale

English 2 Honors: Macbeth E-text“Reading Shakespeare” PacketArchaic PronounsMacbeth NotesMacbeth Character List, “Why Read Shakespeare?” ExcerptMacbeth Theme Log

Pre-IB English 2: Macbeth E-text“Reading Shakespeare” PacketArchaic PronounsMacbeth NotesMacbeth Character List, “Why Read Shakespeare?” ExcerptMacbeth Theme Log

AP Research: PREP #19-30Digital PortfolioUser Guide for the Digital PortfolioTransitions ToolboxTips for a Great Presentation (Good & Bad Examples) / Paper: Academic Paper RubricElements of the PaperPurdue OWL, Abstract Planning Sheet / Samples: Mixed #1Qual #1Qual #2Qual #3Qual #4Qual #5Quant #1Quant #2Quant #3AP sample (1)AP sample (2)AP sample (3)AP sample (4)AP sample (5) / Presentation: Presentation & Oral Defense RubricOral Defense QuestionsSample Presentation

AP Literature: Reading SchedulePoetry PacketAP Credit Policies, Sample AP Lit Exam and its KeyNotes on Existentialism & Absurdism, “The Myth of Sisyphus”Waiting for Godot Prompts  / Major Works Data Sheets: Major Works Data Sheet TemplateLiterary 3×3 ExamplesPast Open Essay PromptsSuggested Works for Open Essay