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The Listicle or How David Letterman Is Connected to the Common Core

One of the hottest trends in written communication these days is the listicle. A listicle is essentially an article (blog, print magazine, newspaper) that is written in the form of a list. Here are some listicle titles from a recent Google search. If you want to try this, type in “top __” or “___ ways” and fill in a number.

Top 5 Marie Antoinette Scandals

(There were more than just the cake eating.)

The Top Six Exercise Excuses and How to Beat Them

(There are only 6 excuses. I personally have dozens including that I have to write a blog.)

Top 7 Intelligent Communities of the Year

(Hopefully we will make this list soon.)

Eight Top River Surfing Spots

(Can it really be called surfing if it’s on a river? Californians take exception to this one.)

Top Nine Brand Blunders of All Time

(I had to click on this. Don’t stop reading until you get to Hannah Montana brand cherries.)

Top Ten Most Paused Movie Moments

(Who is compiling this kind of thing?)

Eleven Ways to Put Up Pears

(Published by Punk Domestics, a blog about Joey Ramone’s love for spiced pears?)

Top Twelve Inflammatory Foods

(I am afraid to look at this one. I am sure sourdough bread is on it, and I can’t give that up.)

Hall of Famous Missourians: Top Thirteen Nominations for Inductees

(I wonder if this is a big tourist attraction in Missouri?)

Fourteen Ways an Economist Says I Love You

(Say it with cash!)

We credit David Letterman with the listicle’s proliferation. His late night top ten list taught a generation of viewers to think in category and rank. US News and World Report was on the verge of shutting its doors before it started ranking colleges. Now you might as well just refer to it as the nation’s top listzine. The form is popular not only as a fad but also because it is practical and compelling.


#3 Listicles tap into all three of the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy (analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing information)

#2 Listicles require brief, clear explanation.

#1 Listicles can be used to successfully teach Common Core Standard ELA>>2>>a.

Introduce a topic; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

Get our listicle assignment in the SUBORDINATE CLAUSE module under COMPOSITION ACTIVITY. Students learn the techniques of writing a listicle and apply them to the topic, Top Subordinate Conjunctions.

Here are some links related to the listicle.

Digiday The Guardian New Yorker

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