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.

Finally, and I hope not crassly, I started a Go Fund Me campaign last fall, long before COVID19 disrupted our lives. Please rest assured that the material I publish here has been, is, and always will be free of charge; moreover, I will continue, if I am able, to pay the WordPress premium fee that keeps this site free of the clutter of advertisements. However, I am, in fact, unemployed. I need to be smart about keeping myself in food, shelter, and medicine. I am demonstrably bad about selling myself or asking for assistance. Nonetheless, I do ask now.

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.



“Modernismo: A literary movement that arose in Spanish America in the late 19th century and was subsequently transmitted to Spain, In their quest for pure poetry, the modernists displayed a dazzling technical virtuosity and technical perfection that revolutionized Spanish literature.

According to some critics, the publication of Jose Marti’s Ismaelillo (1882) marks the beginning of the movement. Others assert that, while Marti exerted enormous influence on Spanish-American writing and thought, his poetry is so individual that he cannot be considered even a precursor of modernism. There is no disagreement, however, as to the dominant role of Ruben Dario, whose work defined and stimulated modernism in America and in Spain. The publication of his Azul (1888) is sometimes said to signify the birth of modernism, and Prosas profanas (1896) is held to show modernism at its zenith. Other early modernist poets (often considered precursors of this movement) were Manuel Gutierrez Najera, Jose Ascuncion Silva, and Julian del Casal, the Cuban. Modernists of the later, post-1896 phase include Leopoldo Lugones, Jose Enrique Rodo, Julio Herrera y Reissig, Jose Santo Chocano, Amado Nervo, and Rufino Blanco Fombona.

In rebellion against romanticism, from which, however, they were not always able to free themselves, the modernists drew their initial inspiration and technique from European, particularly French, sources. From French Parnassians and symbolists, such as Gautier, Coppee, and Verlaine, came their pessimism and melancholy, their belief in art for art’s sake, their zeal for technical excellence and musicality, their love of exotic imagery and a vocabulary in which swans (one of Dario’s favorite symbols), peacocks, gems, and palaces abound. Another distinctive characteristic of the modernists was their unceasing experimentation with old and new verse forms, In their desire to escape from the sordidness of reality, the early modernists usually shunned political and native themes. Their successors, however, inspired no doubt by impassioned verses that Dario hurled at Theodore Roosevelt in his ode to Argentina, turned increasingly to American subjects, as exemplified by Chocano’s Alma America (1906). In prose writing, particularly the essay, modernismo fostered a new simplicity and elegance, the finest examples of which are to be found in the works of Rodo.”

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

The Weekly Text, September 18 2020: Hispanic Heritage Month Week I–A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on Diego Rivera

If you’ve never seen the paintings of Diego Rivera, you’re in for a treat. In observance of the first week of Hispanic Heritage Month 2020 (it runs between September 15 and October 15), on Mark’s Text Terminal, the Weekly Text is a reading on Diego Rivera along with 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

As for for As to

“As for for As to. ‘As for me, I am well.’ Say as to me.”

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

Delve (vi)

It’s Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day today. It is also a very strong verb from Middle English, and a word that ought to be used in our schools more often. Hence this context clues worksheet on the verb delve. In the years I’ve been a teacher, students haven’t much delved into the world of ideas as skimmed its surface in preparation for high-stakes standardized tests. Maybe it’s time, especially in the second two years of high school, to ask students to delve into something.

In any case, this verb has a transitive use, excavate (i.e., dig) that Merriam-Webster now designates as archaic. However, intransitively, delve means, for our purposes, “to make a careful or detailed search for information” and  “to examine a subject in detail.” If you know delve and use it, I wonder if you find the verb rarely appears without the preposition into, which then has an object following it? He delved into the essays of James Baldwin.

(OK, delve, intransitively, also means “to dig or labor with or as if with a spade.” I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone say they were off to delve out the hog pen, so I left it alone.)

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.

Mozarabe Style

“Mozarabe Style: Describes a tradition of art developed by the Christians (mozarabes) who lived in those parts of Spain under Muslim rule from the 8th to the 15th centuries. The Mozarabe style was primarily associated with church architecture and was often characterized by the horseshoe arch, a holdover from Visigothic times.”

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

Cultural Literacy: Allies

Given the rise of tyranny around the world, and given the dismal state of United States’ foreign policy, I think now is the time to post this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Allies in both World War I (opposed, in that conflict, to the Central Powers that arose in turn out of the Triple Alliance in Europe) and World War II (opposed, in that global war, to the Axis powers).

This might make a handy learning support for students with less than adequate funds of memory. Questions about the members of alliances are the kinds things that pop up on standardized tests.

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.

Periodic Sentence

“Periodic Sentence: A sentence that expresses the main idea at the end. With or without their parents’ consent, and whether or not they receive the assignment relocation they requested, they are determined to get married.”

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

Limpid (adj)

It’s the Word of the Day at Merriam-Webster’s, so here is a context clues worksheet on the adjective limpid. It means “marked by transparency,” “clear and simple in style,” and “absolutely serene and untroubled.” I’ve used it in the first two senses, but not in the third, in this worksheet.

I understand that this is a words students can probably live without. But what would it look like if we asked them to live with it? This is a word commonly used in poetry. If you read any amount of fiction, or even the blurbs on novels, you’ve almost certainly encountered the locution “limpid prose,” as in “In limpid [and feel free to add ‘crystalline’ here] prose. Hiram Famauthor tells the story of Stanley, who overcomes adversity to triumph in life.” So, if you have advanced English language arts students, or kids struggling with literacy, there are at least of couple of reasons to teach them this word.

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: Aristocracy of Labor

“Aristocracy of Labor The skilled section of the 19th– and early 20th-century British working class in the staple industries, economically and consciously culturally distinct from the mass of workers, which provided the core and leadership of the trade union movement. A Marxist view that its influence held the Labor movement back from revolutionary politics is widely disputed.”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998

Two Independent Research Projects on the Bloods and the Crips

Some time ago, I put up a series of independent research assignments I’d developed for students whom I sought to reach with differentiated instruction. This work had everything to do with motivating students by supplying them with high interest material.

However, I held back two from that original release of documents, to wit this independent research assignment on the Bloods as well as this one on the Crips. I can’t remember now why I didn’t throw them up with the rest, and that leads me to believe I had some misguided notions of propriety. So, let me say that one of the things that animated the development of these documents was the 2008 Independent Lens documentary Crips and Bloods: Made in America. The film does an excellent job of tracing the history of the Crips and the Bloods, explaining along the way the complex sociological and economic forces that move young men to join gangs.

These assignments are structured to follow closely the Wikipedia articles about the Bloods and about the Crips.

Another thing that moved the creation of these documents was the fact that I was working with some students who were themselves either considering joining either the Crips or the Bloods, were already involved, or had family members involved in either group. In any case, if one lives or works (or both) in a tough neighborhood in one of New York City’s Five Boroughs, there is a good chance one sees members of the Crips or Bloods operating daily in one’s neighborhood.

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.