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.

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.

Mark

Term of Art: Cognitive Style

“cognitive style: The preferred way an individual processed information, usually described as a personality dimension that influences attitudes, values, and social interaction. Unlike individual differences in abilities that describe peak performance, styles describe a person’s typical mode of thinking, remembering, or problem solving. Having more of an ability is usually considered beneficial, while having a particular cognitive style simply denotes a tendency to behave in a certain manner.

Field Independence/Dependence A number of cognitive styles have been identified and studies over the years; field independence/field dependence is probably the most well known. Individuals view the world in different ways. Those who are called “field-dependent” perceive the world in terms of larger patterns and relationships, whereas those who are “field-independent” perceive the world in terms of discrete elements–they look at the pieces that make up the whole.

Most schools in Western culture favor a field-independent approach, rewarding students who tend to work and organize information on their own. These learneer are objective in that they make what is being studies into an object to be analyzed and understood.

Studies have identified a number of connections between this cognitive style and learning. For example, field-independent individuals are likely to learn more effectively by studying by themselves, and are influenced less by social reinforcement.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

The Weekly Text, January 15, 2021: A Lesson Plan on the Latin Word Root Medi-

The Weekly Text from Mark’s Text Terminal for Friday, January 15, 2021, is a lesson plan on the Latin word root medi. It means middle; unless I miss my guess, you already recognize this as an extremely productive root in English, as well as across the Romance Languages.

I open this lesson with this context worksheet on the noun intermediary. This is a commonly used word in English. Its adjectival form, intermediate, shows up on this scaffolded worksheet on this word root that is the principal work 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.

Write It Right: Both Alike

“Both alike. ‘They are both alike.’ Say, they are alike. One of them could not be alike.”

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

Achieve (vi/vt)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the verb achieve, which is used both intransitively and transitively.

More importantly, perhaps, it is very commonly used among educators and with our students;  we use it, albeit in adjectival form, in terms of art like “achievement gap.” If we’re going to use this word, which can be in some cases a value judgement, then we owe it to our kids to help them understand it in both its denotative and connotative senses. Moreover, I would argue, we need to help students understand that achieve and achievement are words that can be and often are used in highly subjective–and again, judgemental–ways.

So we might want to ask critical questions, and by extension help students gain an understanding of asking such questions, like: “What is achievement?” “Who defines achievement?” “How do people know when they achieve something?” “Why is achieving things important?” “According to whom?” “How does one know when one has achieved something?” You get the picture.

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.

Fin de Siecle

“Fin de Siecle: (Fr., end of century) Art of the end of the nineteenth century, also known as decadent art, which was created under the influence of the Aesthetic Movement in the style of Art Nouveau. Particularly associated with the highly stylized, black-and-white illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley.”

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

Cultural Literacy: Lenin

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on V.I. Lenin

Did you know that his real name was Vladimir Illyich Ulyanov? You can see from his patronymic that his father was named Ilya Ulyanov. Interestingly, given Lenin’s later revolutionary activity against the Russian state and its underlying structure of rank and status, Ilya Ulyanov was elevated by dint of education and talent to the position of Active State Councillor, which endowed him with the status of hereditary nobility

Lenin’s older brother, Alexander Ulyanov, on the other hand, fell in with the Narodnaya Volya, which attempted on March 1 1887 (six years to the day after the assassination of Emperor Alexander II) to assassinate Emperor Alexander III. Alexander Ulyanov was arrested, tried, and hanged along with his four co-conspirators for this failed plot.

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: Adjective

“adjective: Defined traditionally as a word added to a noun, which characteristically denotes a property of whoever or whatever is referred to. One function therefore is as a modifier: e.g. tall in tall men is an adjective modifying men. Another is in predicative position: e.g. that of tall in These men are tall.

Adjectives were included in antiquity in the same part of speech as nouns. Distinguished in the later Middle Ages, as ‘nouns adjective’ in contrast to ‘nouns substantive’; and so called, still, in the early decades of the 20th century.

An adjectival element is on either forming or having the role of adjectives: e.g. -less in clueless is an adjectival affix; English participial adjectives in -ed, such as interested in very interested, have been called ‘adjectival passives.”

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

Common Errors in English Usage: Presently (adv), Currently (adv)

Here is a worksheet on differentiating the use of the adverbs presently and currently. Like many of the worksheets in this series, this one addresses what some people might find nitpicky and unimportant. That may well be true of this pair of adverbs, but the point of this exercise is to induce students to think about how to use language precisely and meaningfully.

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.

Walter Page Hines on Woodrow Wilson

“The air currents of the world never ventilated his mind.”

Walter Page Hines on Woodrow Wilson

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Andrew Jackson

Here is a reading on President Andrew Jackson along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. Your students–or anyone–won’t need to read far in this one-page document to find parallels with current history in the United States.

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.