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Peer Review

AppLit: Resources for Readers and Teachers of Appalachian Literature for Children and Young Adults

by Tina Hanlon


Overall Numeric Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4.25 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Jul 14, 2010 by Teacher Education
Overview: This site contains a plethora of resources for readers and teachers of Appalachian literature for children and young Adults. Although the focus is not primarily on literature for adults, some sections contain material on literature for adults that may be taught in high school or college. The site owners believe strongly that picture books and other literature for children can be enjoyed by people of all ages and taught at all levels through college. The site was created by Tina L. Hanlon and Judy A. Teaford in 2000 with support from the Appalachian College Association, Ferrum College, and a Humanities Focus Grant from the Division of Education of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2000-2001.
Type of Material: This learning object falls under the category of collection and training materials.
Recommended Uses: The content in this site, for the most part, allows for text-based investigation and research by both students and educators. Information on Appalachian literature can be found in organizes indexes for articles, authors, bibliographies, fiction and poems, lesson plans, web sites, and study guides.
Technical Requirements: media player for music and videos
Identify Major Learning Goals: The goals for this Appalachian Literature education site and the Project Teaching Appalachian Literature are clearly posted and include: Making teachers and others more familiar with the literary traditions and cultural history of southern Appalachia; Providing teachers with specific strategies for including high quality literature in their curricula and integrating it with other subjects such as history, art, sociology, and folklore; Providing information about related internet resources and places such as museums where teachers and students can engage in experiential learning; Encouraging communication among teachers, scholars, authors, illustrators, librarians, and students; Providing background information on regional authors and illustrators whose works may not be widely known; Encouraging critical approaches that will help teachers and students avoid negative stereotypes and oversimplified depictions of particular regions, cultures and minority groups; Helping children's literature and Appalachian culture gain acceptance and respect in mainstream literary and cultural studies.
Target Student Population: Elementary through high school students; Teacher Ed. instructors, student teachers.; Language Arts instructors. Educators involved in literacy development. Those interested in the authenticity of Appalachian literature.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: General understanding of the geography and culture of the Appalachian area. Those with some background in Appalachian literature will find much to whet their interests.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The site presents valid concepts for specifically approaching and studying Appalachian Literature. There are several different types of resources including bibliographies, study guides, lesson plans, author pages, texts of previously unpublished folktales, original stories and poems, articles on Appalachian literature and related topics, and links to other Internet resources, as well as regional photos; background on illustrators, dramatists, and filmmakers; and illustrations, including drawings by school children based on their experiences with Appalachian literature and drama to use in developing curriculum. There is a picture gallery of children's drawings for selected stories and performance photos and video clips that address story comprehension.
Concerns: Submissions are encouraged from children and adults, the site is unclear about a review process and/or committee. There is some unevenness in the assessments for the lesson plans selected for the site.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: The purpose of this site is to provide a range of learning resources, contexts, and examples for teaching Appalachian Literature. The set up of the site allows users to choose resources such as study guides for specific stories, authors, fiction and poems, etc. to meet their specific curriculum development needs. The Index of Authors and Illustrators in AppLit is a particularly strong resource that can be "mined" for stories, illustrations, and oral folk tales by all teachers. The content has been developed and supported for nearly a decade so there is both breadth and depth in the learning material.
Concerns: The site was initially established in 2000 as part of a funded grant project. It appears that the last contributions to the site were in 2009.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The site is basically text-based which was the trend when it was initially developed in 2000. There are links to other related bits of information from this site. There is clear labeling of tabs across the top of the page. The information on each of the tabbed pages is informative and filled with appropriate content that rich and useful.
Concerns: It is a decade later and most current web sites use a cascading style-sheet format (CSS) that allows for quick and easy guiding around a web site, no matter the page you are on. This site is so rich in content, but you have to look a little more and pay attention to where you have been sometimes to find information. There are few links that no longer work.

Comments from Author: AppLit was moved to a different Ferrum College server in May 2010, so that all current AppLit pages are now available from AppLit. I am hopeful that Ferrum College will install redirects so that anyone using older links to AppLit will be automatically redirected to updated pages. Anyone who has trouble with specific AppLit links should try inserting www2 into the url in place of www, as this is the only change being made to existing page addresses, and new pages added since October 2009 have the www2 address. (For example, a new page on Appalachian Riddles is at ) All AppLit pages are being updated in summer 2010. Any user is encouraged to send corrections and suggestions to