COVID19 at Mark’s Text Terminal

March 14, 2020–But Occasionally Revised

This morning, when I picked up the local paper, I learned that Governor Phil Scott has placed Vermont in a state of emergency, as has the president for the entire country. The Boston Public Schools will be closed until at least April 27. I just received an email from the Network for Public Education asking me to sign a petition calling on New York City schools to close immediately. Many programs and events are shut down and cancelled, respectively, in the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union here in Bennington, Vermont.

The United States, wisely, is shutting down until this public health crisis abates. On March 26, Governor Scott of Vermont announced that schools in this state will remain closed for the rest of the year. That news was easily anticipated, and I expect to hear it again as states see no alternative to this.

It happens that I suddenly have some free time on my hands. It’s a long and entirely uninteresting story, but for all practical purposes, my public school teaching career came to a sudden conclusion on March 12.

Mark’s Text Terminal will, however, continue. I plan to use my free time both to publish material already in my data warehouse, but also to develop some new documents, especially on English usage, and cross-disciplinary worksheets based on Judith Hochman and Natalie Wexler’s excellent framework from The Writing Revolution.

I’ve also 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.

As a teacher, I sought to be of some use to the communities I served. Now as a…well, I’m not exactly sure yet what I will do next, but as a blogger with some free time, I hope to be of some use to those parents who have students at home.

One organization worth following is TeachRock, which has developed, in a very short time, a large amount of extremely high-interest material. TeachRock is on Twitter , and you can sign up for its mailing list at its site. Highly recommended.

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 easily be modified for a wide range of abilities in students.

That said, I taught under my special education license in New York City for 16 years, so you will find that this material 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.

If there is something you and your students need, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line at If I don’t have something already (I have volumes of material to publish), I can probably write something for you.

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.

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 (and I’m trying to figure out how to set up a Venmo account today–March 18–and as soon as I do, I’ll post a link to it as well).

As of today [April 2], I don’t think the link above to my Go Fund Me page is working. At the moment, I have decided to prioritize publishing posts over fundraising. If you are interested in contributing to this enterprise, you can search Mark’s Text Terminal on Go Fund Me. Venmo remains as of this date an unrealized project–soon, perhaps, soon.

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

The Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses: A novel (1988) by Salman Rushdie (b.1947). Questions of faith and doubt underlie this panoramic vision of the clash of cultures between East and West, which encompasses Britain during the Thatcherite era, India, and the mystical landscape in which the Prophet Mahound does battle. The ‘satanic verses’ are whispered by Shaitan in the ear of Mahound, who then repudiates them:

‘The devil came to him in the guise of the archangel, so that the verses he memorized…were not the real thing but its diabolical opposite, not godly, but satanic.’

The novel gave offense to Muslims for certain remarks put into the mouths of its characters. As a result, a Muslim fatwa (legal ruling) was issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, the religious leader of Iran, declaring Rushdie and apostate who should be killed for insulting the Prophet Muhammad. On 24 September 1998, after Rushdie had spent the intervening period in hiding, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran announced that it had no intention, nor would it take any action, to threaten Rushdie’s life or anybody associated with his work, or encourage or assist anybody to do so.”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

Independent Practice: The Mauryan Empire

Here is an independent practice worksheet on the Mauryan Empire.

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.

Devil’s Dictionary: Blank-Verse

“Blank-verse, n. Unrhymed iambic pentameters—the most difficult kind of English verse to write acceptably; a kind, therefore, much affected by those who cannot acceptably write any kind.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000. 

Cultural Literacy: James Joyce

It’s hard to imagine there will be much demand even at the high school level for this Cultural Literacy worksheet on James Joyce. But who knows? More startling things have happened in my classrooms, to be sure.

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.

Ovid’s 4 Ages of Civilization

“Gold * Silver * Bronze * Iron

According to Ovid’s telling of history, our Golden Age was the time when Cronos ruled heaven and when gods lived amongst mankind and no one labored—that time when earth was populated by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The Silver Age was when Zeus ruled over heaven and mankind was taught agriculture and architecture—which we can tie to the inventions of the Neolithic, around 12,000 BC. The Bronze Age was the time of the first great wars, of temple- and empire-building but also of faith and order, which we can directly connect with the ancient civilizations in Iraq, Egypt, Anatolia, China, and India. The Iron Age is our own time, when nation states were forged and mankind learned to mine, navigate, write, and trade. But, as Ovid notes, mankind also became ‘warlike, greedy, and impious. Truth, modesty and loyalty are nowhere to be found.’”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

A Complete Lesson Plan on the Latin Word Roots Deca, Dec, Deka, and Deci

Here is a lesson plan on the Latin word roots deca, dec, deka, and deci. The first three mean ten, but deci means tenth. As you have probably already inferred, especially you math teachers, this is a very productive root in English, and will lead students to understand a wide variety of words for transfer across the curriculum. I open this lesson with this context clues worksheet on the noun cipher. This word root worksheet is the mainstay of this lesson.

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.


“Substantive: Indicating a noun or a word or phrase functioning as a noun, e.g., ‘running away.’”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.