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 or organizing my material there. 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” page.

Mark’s Text Terminal can offer you a variety of seasonable materials. To help your students and children understand the president’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.

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.

Mark

Syntax

“Syntax: The order or arrangement of words in a sentence. Syntax may exhibit parallelism (I came, I saw, I conquered), inversion (Whose woods these are I think I know), or other formal characteristics.”

Excerpted from: Strunk, William Jr., and E.B. White. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition. New York: Longman, 2000.

Salman Rushdie

In memory of Samuel Paty, and in honor of teachers everywhere struggling to promote and conduct free and open inquiry, and as a cautionary tale about religious orthodoxy and extremism across the globe, I offer without further comment this reading on Salman Rushdie and its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

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.

Synthetism

“Synthetism: A Post-Impressionist direction associated with Paul Gauguin, Emile Bernard, and Maurice Denis, which reduced forms to essentials and applied colors as flat, nonshaded fields bounded by strong contour lines.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

Cultural Literacy: Passive Resistance

This Cultural Literacy worksheet on passive resistance as a means of protest ought to have great currency at the moment, especially when elected officials imply they will not participate in a peaceful transfer of governmental authority. The reading in this short exercise mentions Gandhi, but I don’t think teachers should let the opportunity pass to invoke the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., another practitioner of passive resistance who acknowledged his debt to Gandhi.

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.

Term of Art: Indirect Speech

indirect speech: The reporting of something said, thought, etc. with deictic and other units adapted to the viewpoint of the reporter. E.g. He said he would bring them might report a promise, originally expressed by the utterance ‘I will bring them in.’ But the person who made the promise is someone other than the reporter; hence, in the reporting, original I is changed to he. Also the promise was earlier than the report; hence, in addition, will is changed to would. With these adaptations, he would bring them is an example of, and is said to be ‘in,’ indirect speech.”

Excerpted from: Matthews, P.H., ed. The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

The Order of Things: Decibel Scale

This lesson plan on the decibel scale and its accompanying reading and comprehension worksheet are another of the 50 lessons I have prepared using text from Barbara Ann Kipfer’s The Order of Things. If you have students interested in audio engineering or music production, this is something for them.

Otherwise, this is a simple literacy lesson that calls upon students to work with numbers and words in one document. I’ve been working on both the unit plan for these lessons and a user’s manual for their documents. I struggle to articulate why I developed these lessons and how I would use them. For now, think of the documents above as a rehearsal for word problems in math–one of the things that so often bedevil emergent and struggling readers.

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.

Rotten Reviews: Giles Goat-Boy by John Barth

“…a pervasive silliness that turns finally—if one must bring up the university image—into college humor, a kind of MAD magazine joke.”

Christian Science Monitor 

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.    

Nuance (n)

If you listen to the general day-to-day discourse in our society, particularly political discourse, you have probably noticed that while it is often forthrightly counterfactual and mendacious, it is also coarse and myopic. For that reason, I offer this context clues worksheet on the noun nuance. Everybody should know this abstract noun and the concept it represents–you know, subtlety, shades of meaning, thoughtfulness, and the gradations of the analysis that follow these approaches to understanding something deeply.

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.

Write It Right: Back of for Behind, At the Back of

“Back of for Behind, At the Back of. ‘Back of law is force.’”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. Write it Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2010.

Cultural Literacy: Nihilism

If you can use it (I didn’t fully understand the concept until I was well into my undergraduate education), here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on nihilism as a concept in philosophy, which is this word’s function at bottom–to dress up an abstract concept like a belief in nothing. You might want to help your students make the connection with the Latin word root nihil, which means, simply, nothing.

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.