Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Weekly Text, October 30, 2015.

For this week, I offer this learning support on pronouns and case. I’d hoped to have some new lesson plans prepared to post here, but the civic responsibility of jury duty has occupied my time and prevented me from working on them.

I hope you find this useful. As always, I would be grateful to hear how and where you used it.

William Blake on Recess

“Such, such were the joys/When we all, girls and boys/In our youth time were seen/On the Echoing Green.”

William Blake, Songs of  Innocence (1789)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.

The Weekly Text, October 23, 2015

This week I offer some word study work on a key word and concept in Freshman Global Studies here in New York State (and elsewhere, I must assume), to wit, agriculture. For starters, here is a worksheet on the Latin word roots agr-o and agri. These are relatively productive roots–they mean “crop production” and “field”– and the words on this worksheet are in common use in American English as well as appearing on various high stakes college and graduate school entry exams. You may need the Word Root Worksheets Users’ Manual to use this material.

I’ve also included two context clues worksheets for the words agriculture and agrarian to solidify understanding of  these words’ meaning by showing them in use in context. To use these, you may want to take a look at the Focus on One Word Worksheets Users’ Manual.

That’s it! It’s the busy time of the school year–then again, between Labor Day and the last day of school, when are teachers not busy?

Mark Twain on Classroom Management

“Describing her first day back in grade school, after a long absence, a teacher said, ‘It was like trying to hold thirty-five corks under water at the same time.’”

Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.

The Weekly Text, October 16, 2015

Over the years,  many if not most of the high school students I’ve served alerted me to the fact that it isn’t possible to begin a sentence with because. Of course that is incorrect, and it means that no one taught them the use of subordinating conjunctions–probably because this skill isn’t on the high-stakes test du jour. It’s true that this is a moderately tricky area of English usage, but with proper preparation, I believe it is possible to teach the use of all three types of conjunctions–coordinating, subordinating, and correlative–effectively and with ease. To that end, here is a learning support on the most commonly used conjunctions of all three types.

I believe strongly in teaching the parts of speech to struggling learners. Properly planned, units on each part of speech provide a variety of ways to foster and improve literacy. Over the years, I have developed units on all the parts of speech, and they now constitute a nearly yearlong course of study in my English Language Arts classes. The conjunctions unit is the last of them I need to complete, and I’m working on it now. Over time, I’ll post a variety of learning supports from these units on Mark’s Text Terminal.

If you use this, I would, as always, be much obliged to hear how and if you found it effective.

UPDATE, December 14, 2015: Since I wrote this post, I have revised the learning support it includes three times, the most recently today. In the process of finding the document on my computer to revise it, I discovered that I have a second, more complete learning support for conjunctions in my English Language Arts Support folder. I probably set this one aside because it’s a little too complicated for the students I’m currently serving. In any case, to write a unit around this support is more than I can take on right now. Perhaps you’ll find it useful?

For Those Reluctant to Participate in Class

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”

James Joyce Dubliners (1914)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.

The Weekly Text, October 9, 2015

Because I teach a relatively large population of native Spanish speakers (who are, of course, bilingual, which often makes their low levels of literacy confounding to me), I tend to assign Latin word roots to freshmen, and Greek word roots to sophomores. It goes without saying that I aim to show freshmen, by way of Latin word roots, the commonalities between their native tongue and English–which is, of course, Latin and its roots.

Accordingly, when I publish word root worksheets, I’ll alternate between Latin and Greek roots. This week’s Text is a worksheet on the Greek word roots syn, sym, syl, and sys. As you can see, these are very productive roots–they mean together and samewhich are at the base of a number of key high school vocabulary words.

I hope you find this worksheet useful. As always, I would be much obliged for your comments.

Memo to Pearson

“It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curious of inquiry.”

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.

The Weekly Text, October 2, 2015

We teachers in Lower Manhattan are fortunate to have the Museum of Jewish Heritage–A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in our precincts, and in most cases within walking distance. The Museum is diverse (as I write this, it is running an exhibition on design called “Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism”) but its Core Exhibition addresses the 100-year-or-so period in Europe, and the Jewish experience there, surrounding the Holocaust.

The Museum is generous with opportunities for New York City public schools to attend exhibits and educational programs. Their programs are sophisticated and students report back, even those alienated from school, that they found the experience quite meaningful.

This is a reading and writing lesson on genocide designed to equip students with prior knowledge of a key concept that will enable them to better understand the context of their museum visit. There are two do-now exercises, so if you’re unfamiliar with their use, you’ll need the Focus on One Word Worksheets Users’ Manual as well as the explanation of asterisks in the About Weekly Texts page on the banner above this entry. Although I originally taught this as a stand-alone special topic lesson, I have incorporated it into a larger Freshman Global Studies unit, so the lesson plan lacks standards to rationalize it. Again, if you look at the About Weekly Texts page, you’ll find typescripts (from which you can copy and paste standards) of the complete English Language Arts and Social Studies Common Core Standards.

Genocide is nobody’s idea of a pleasant topic for conversation;  United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power has aptly called it it, in her book of the same name, “a problem from hell.” As context for a visit to A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, a relatively deep understanding of genocide and its impetuses is de rigeur. This lesson, I hope, will help students develop their own understanding of that context.

As always, I would very much appreciate hearing if you used this, and how.