COVID19 at Mark’s Text Terminal

March 11, 2021

In the year since the outset of this pandemic, Mark’s Text Terminal ramped up production–and the site has undergone significant revisions to simplify taxonomic systems of organizing posts, and to make the blog and its posts more searchable.

I have used my free time over this year not only to 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 deepened, and I read accounts of parents struggling to sustain their children’s education, it became 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.

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: The Wapshot Scandal

Fatally flawed.

Hilary Corke, New Republic

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


Here is a reading on skyscrapers along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet

If memory serves, I wrote this, along with some other materials, for a student who possessed a considerable interest, bordering on obsession, with tall buildings. Like most of the materials based on Intellectual Devotional readings you’ll find on this site, this is a short but thorough general introduction to the topic. Keep an eye on it, though: this is one of those articles in which information can quickly go out of date. Indeed, I have revised this reading a couple of times as buildings get taller and taller.

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.


Allegory: A series of symbols existing harmoniously in a larger system of meaning. While a symbol most often takes the place of a letter, word, or image, such as the cross as a symbol of Christianity, allegory takes symbolism one step further by using images and/or stories to stand in for other ideas or abstract concepts. Picasso’s Guernica, rooted in events from the Spanish Civil War, works as an allegory for total war. (Disputed symbols include the wounded horse and the bull, representing Republican Spain and fascism, respectively.) From the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, the primacy of abstract art made the use of allegory seem out of date. But with the advent of postmodernism and a return to figurative and narrative works, allegory has again flourished. Modernists Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, and Jose Clemente Orozco make use of allegory, as do postmodernists Anselm Kiefer and Francisco Clemente.

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

Fathom (vi/vt)

Alright, here is a context clues worksheet on the verb fathom, which is used both intransitively and transitively.

Inasmuch as this can mean “to penetrate and come to understand,” it is a learning word students probably ought to know and be able to use.

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: Apposition

“Apposition: A syntactic relation in which an element is juxtaposed to another element of the same kind. Especially between noun phrases that do not have distinct referents: e.g. Lucienne is in apposition to my wife in Do you know my wife Lucienne? Thence of other cases where elements are seen as parallel but do not have distinct roles in a larger construction: e.g. Smith is said to be apposed to Captain in Do you know Captain Smith?”

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

The Weekly Text, April 9, 2021: A Lesson Plan on Using the Indefinite Pronoun

This week’s Text is a lesson plan on using the indefinite pronouns.

I open this lesson with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the proverb “any port in a storm.” In the event the lesson continues into a second day, I keep this Everyday Edit (and if you like these, the good people at Education World give away a year’s worth of them) worksheet on Duke Ellington handy. This scaffolded worksheet on using the indefinite pronouns is the mainstay of the lessons. Here is a learning support on subject-verb agreement when working with the indefinite pronouns that students can both use with the work of this lesson and carry away for future reference. And, finally, here is the teacher’s copy of the worksheet to make delivering this lesson a little bit easier.

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.

Book of Answers: Dante’s Inferno

“According to Dante’s Inferno (1321), who is at the bottom of hell? In the lowest circle of hell, the place for traitors, a three-faced Satan chews on three people: Brutus and Cassius, betrayers of Julius Caesar, and Judas Iscariot, betrayer of Jesus Christ.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Cultural Literacy: All Roads Lead to Rome

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the proverb “all roads lead to Rome.” This is a half-page document suitable for use, as I generally use these shorter exercises, to open a class period as a do-now worksheet.

And, of course, you may teach this proverb as either metaphorical or literal: in the ancient world, all roads did, in fact, lead to Rome.

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: Brainy

“Brainy. Pure slang, and singularly disagreeable.”

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

Common Errors in English Usage: Raise (vi/vt), Rear (vi/vt)

Here is an English usage worksheet on on the use of raise and rear to describe the parental responsibilities owed to children.

N.B. that there are no sentences to evaluate on this document. Rather, this worksheet is designed to start and simulate among students the kind of conversations writers and other professionals (and therefore presumably advanced for high school students) conduct when discussing usage rules. Therefore, I hope, this worksheet will stimulate thinking in students about how to use language to produce the clearest communication possible.

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.