COVID19 at Mark’s Text Terminal

August 11 2020–But Revised Regularly

It looks like this will be the first fall in almost twenty in which I won’t return to the classroom.

Mark’s Text Terminal has ramped up production. I continue to plan to use my free time to publish material already in my data warehouse, but also to develop some new documents, especially on English usage, some short literacy exercises based on Barbara Ann Kipfer’s great book The Order of Things, and cross-disciplinary worksheets based on Judith Hochman and Natalie Wexler’s excellent framework from The Writing RevolutionAnd as I start to shine a light into the back corners and top shelves of my data warehouse, I find a number of projects I started then, for one reason or another, abandoned. For example, I have the framework for a unit on paraphrasing and summarizing that I anticipate with particular pleasure building up into something usable for teaching that important procedural knowledge.

I taught under my special education license in New York City for 16 years, so you will find that the material offered on this blog contains a lot of language about that city, and even particular places in the Five Boroughs, the better to call up and build upon prior knowledge I could be relatively confident my students possessed. For more about using worksheets from Mark’s Text Terminal, see the “About Posts & Texts” page just above the banner photograph. Here are a set of users’ manuals for the most commonly posted materials on this blog. As below, you may email me with any questions you might have about the material posted on this website. Nota bene, please, that most of what I post here is in Microsoft Word: that means it is easily exportable to other word processing programs, as well as adaptable to your students, children, and circumstances. I wrote most of the material found on this blog for struggling high school students. Most of it can  be easily modified for a wide range of abilities in students.

I’ve opened a Twitter account in an attempt to make material–especially new material–more readily available. I try to remember to tag everything I post on Twitter with #freeopensourcecurriculum, which I contrived for a simple form for organizing my material on that platform. I’ll be revising posts to make them more easily searchable, and I’ll add more extensive, and new, explanations to the “About Posts & Texts” and “Taxonomies” page.

Mark’s Text Terminal can offer you a variety of seasonable materials. To help your students and children understand ex-President Trump’s response to this crisis, here is a lesson plan on personality disorders. To understand the biology of COVID19, here are a reading and comprehension worksheet on viruses. Here is a short Cultural Literacy worksheet on the concept of a pandemic (and don’t forget to tell your children or students–or both, in these circumstances–that the Greek word root pan means all and everything–though in Latin, I must point out, the same root means bread). Since our current circumstances are regularly likened to it, here is a reading and comprehension worksheet on the influenza epidemic of 1918. This reading and comprehension worksheet on immunity should definitely be au courant in our current situation, as should the same set of documents on antibodies. This reading on Edward Jenner and Smallpox explains the science of vaccination, of which I assume I needn’t belabor the importance. Finally, here is a lesson plan on using the 2020 United States census as a teachable moment.

As I begin the relatively grim business of looking for a job for next year, I notice on the various job search platforms, unsurprisingly, there is demand for people in health care. If you, your students, or anyone else for that matter are thinking of working in health care, you might find this list of Greek word roots used in the health professions to be useful, and perhaps even indispensable (I hope).

You will notice that the basic structure of this blog alternates posts between a set of documents and a quote of some kind. Over time, I have begun to develop these quotes–especially those tagged as readings and research–as assignments themselves. Many of these passages are linked to readings outside of Mark’s Text Terminal. If you want to use these posts for learning, here is a worksheet template with an extensive list of questions to drive inquiry in them. For more on this, see the About Posts & Texts and Taxonomies pages.

As this crisis deepens, and I read accounts of parents struggling to sustain their children’s education, it becomes clear to me that I should post some material on teaching practice. For now, keep this in mind: all teaching and learning starts with a question. So, here, to begin, is a a taxonomy of questions from Roland C. Christensen, David A. Garvin, and Ann Sweet’s (eds.) Education for Judgment: The Artistry of Discussion Leadership. (Cambridge: Harvard Business School Press, 1991). Here is a list of question stems to start discussion and essays. I don’t remember where I got this list of 17 Teaching Tips, but it is solid stuff and easy enough to use with whatever you’re doing at home with your kids. For my money, the best framework for instructional planning out there (because it is based firmly upon the principles in the National Research Council’s book How People Learn) is Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s concise yet exhaustive Understanding by Design. I’ve used it to guide my own planning since I discovered it. Here is a trove of documents from the pages of that book, as well as a couple of assessments from the pages of Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids by Mr. McTighe and Carol Ann Tomlinson. I used the Understanding by Design framework to write this list of adapted essential questions for the struggling students I have served in social studies and English language arts classes in New York City. This table of structured activities from Janet L. Kolodner’s article “Case Based Reasoning” in The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), might help to focus home learning for the best retention. Finally, to get a sense of your child’s cognitive style, you might find useful this cognitive styles table from Daniel Willingham’s book Why Don’t Students Like School?  (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009). I look to Professor Willingham’s work when I need guidance on the best instructional design for any learner, but particularly the struggling learners whom I have served throughout my career. If you want more on this, I wrote this review essay with all these documents embedded in a few paragraphs about teaching and learning.

As this pandemic continues, and the failure of distance learning becomes increasingly obvious, I have an opportunity to harp on a topic I take quite seriously–the importance of handwriting. If I were teaching remotely, the first thing I would figure out is how to get paper worksheets into the hands of my students. If you’re interested at all on the manifold benefits of longhand writing, here is a review essay on penmanship and handwriting with links (as usual) to outside sources affirming those benefits.

One organization worth following is TeachRock, which has developed, in a very short time, a great deal of  high-interest material. TeachRock is on Twitter , and you can sign up for its mailing list at its homepage. Highly recommended. Recently, the author of The Historical Diaries blog left her approval here in the form of liking some of my posts. Her own blog is literate and stylish, and mines history for obscure but compelling facts. It is definitely worth a look; I’ll soon publish a worksheet template here that could be used with posts on The Historical Diaries, as well as my own posts tagged with readings and research.

Your kids, especially if they are younger, would all but certainly benefit from listening to Vermont Public Radio’s (I’ve listened to public radio stations across the country, and VPR is the best of them, I think) podcast “But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids.”

If you have any questions, or if there is something you and your students need, please leave a comment on any post with your email address. I vet all comments before they appear on the site, so you won’t be exposing your email address to the open internet. I’ll take your address, delete your comment, and get back to you. If you need something I don’t already have (I have volumes of material to publish), I can probably write something for you.

I offer tutoring, writing, and editing services. Please contact me at the email address above for services, rates, and procedures.

That’s it. I wish you safety and good health.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton on Women’s Sovereignty

“The strongest reason why we ask for woman a voice in government under which she lives; in the religion she is asked to believe; equality in social life, where she is the chief factor; a place in the trades and professions, where she may earn her bread, is because of her birthright of self-sovereignty; because, as an individual, she must rely on herself.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Speech before Senate Judiciary Committee, 18 Jan. 1892

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Cultural Literacy: Hillary Rodham Clinton

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Hillary Rodham Clinton. This is a full-page, in fact two-page, worksheet. In all there are ten questions. Like almost everything else on Mark’s Text Terminal, this is a Microsoft Word document that you may alter and adapt to the needs of your students.

Other than that, I haven’t much to say about Secretary Clinton. She remains basically au courant, so this material may well qualify as a current events exercise.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Mina Loy

“Mina Loy: (Born Mina Gertrude Lowy; 1882-1966) English poet and painter. Daughter of a Hungarian Jewish father and English Protestant mother, her first avocation was art. During her years in Florence (1906-1916) she was immersed in Italian Futurism. Loy gradually disassociated herself from the movement as it became increasingly fascist; a number of early satires take aim at the ‘Futurist genius’ as an example of male suprematism. Her first published work appeared in Alfred Stieglitz’s magazine Camera Work and Carl Van Vechten’s Trend (1914). Her controversial work ‘Love Songs for Johannes’ were considered shocking for their frank expression of female sexuality. In New York, she met Arthur Cravan, an infamous Dadaist “poet-boxer.” Divorcing her first husband, she married Cravan in Mexico City, with whom she had one child. Cravan later disappeared in Mexico and was never found. Her first collection of poems, Lunar Baedeker, appeared in 1923, and she did not publish another one until 1958 (Lunar Baedeker and Time Tables). Her work is distinguished by a satiric and feminist sensibility, an unusual polysyllabic and abstract diction, alliteration, internal and slant rhymes, and a combination of the image with the with the epigram. Some of her poems convey rage at the injustices done to women, the poor, and the homeless. Late in life she became more and more reclusive. Her collected poems, The Last Lunar Baedeker, appeared in 1982.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Cultural Literacy: Martha Graham

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Martha Graham. Ms. Graham, as you may know, is a distinguished figure in the world of modern dance with a plethora of accomplishments to her record.

Did you know that her pedagogy of dance, the Graham Technique, is still taught worldwide? Or that the Martha Graham Dance Company still performs, even in this pandemic time? If ever the term “cultural literacy” applied to a knowledge of a single person, it is Martha Graham.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Shirley Chisholm on Handicaps

“Of my two ‘handicaps,’ being female put many more obstacles in my path than being black.”

Shirley Chisholm, Unbought and Unbossed introduction (1970)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Cultural Literacy: Mary McLeod Bethune

On the first day of Women’s History Month 2021, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Mary McLeod Bethune.

While I would like to think Ms. Bethune requires no introduction, it seems safe to doubt that is the case. This important American heroine was an early and unequivocal champion of gender and racial equality, as well as an educator. In 1904, she started the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Negro Girls. By 1931, her school had grown to such an extent that it became Bethune-Cookman University, now one of the preeminent Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States.

In other words, Mary McLeod Bethune is a world-historical figure. All of this is another way of saying this: to those southern cities taking down statues of white men to fought for (Confederate generals and political leaders), argued for (Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney) or otherwise abetted the practice of slavery in the United States, a nice bronze casting of Mary McLeod Bethune would make an appropriate, indeed just, replacement for any of those vacant plinths. You know?

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

A Black History Month 2021 Coda: C.L.R. James on Rich and Poor

“The patience and forbearance of the poor are among the strongest bulwarks of the rich.”

C.L.R. JamesThe Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. New York: Vintage 1989.

Frederick Douglass on What Is Necessary for Progress in the United States

“It is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake, The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.”

Frederick Douglass, Speech, Rochester, New York, 5 July 1852

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

The Weekly Text, February 19, 2020, Black History Month 2021 Week IV: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on George Washington Carver

This week’s Text, in this blog’s ongoing observance of Black History Month 2021, is this reading on George Washington Carver along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. Today is the final Friday of Black History Month for this year; on Monday, March 1, this blog turns the corner to Women’s History Month.

Professor Carver is a staple of Black History, and usually observations of him tend to emphasize his interest in the peanut and its infinite varieties. While I don’t want to minimize those accomplishments–I for one would be very interested in knowing what Professor Carver’s recipes have added to the gross domestic product of the United States since their inception–I think it’s important to remember that George Washington Carver was a sophisticated agronomist who understood the need to rotate crops in southern fields so that cotton wouldn’t exhaust the topsoil. Alone, this area of his scholarly career makes Professor Carver an early environmentalist.

And all of this he accomplished while on the faculty of Tuskegee University in Alabama, in the heart of the Jim Crow South. If we White Americans are going to he honest with ourselves, we must stipulate that being a smart Black man in Alabama in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries could be dangerous indeed. For Americans of African descent, subservience and deference were the orders of the day in the Jim Crow South. His commitment to educating poor farmers also would have put him in the crosshairs of, say, the Ku Klux Klan.

So let’s all tip our hats to this great man.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Dick Gregory on the Moral and Intellectual Certainty of the White Race

“You gotta say this for the white race—its self-confidence knows no bounds. Who else could go to a small island in the South Pacific where there’s no poverty, no crime, no unemployment, no war, and no worry—and call it a ‘primitive society.’”

Dick Gregory, From the Back of the Bus (1962)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.