Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Weekly Text, September 30, 2016

Well, the month of September 2016 has passed us by, never to be seen again. I’ve been so busy getting the school year up and running that I barely noticed.

For the past two weeks, and for the next two weeks, Mark’s Text Terminal is featuring readings and reading comprehension worksheets in observance of  Hispanic Heritage Month. In the process of preparing these posts, I’ve learned a lot about this celebration. If you teach in a school district that is as diverse as ours here in New York City, you are very likely working with a number of students of Hispanic descent. If so, you and your students might be interested in both the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and its Youth Awards program.

For my part, I offer as this week’s Text a reading on author and Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, as well as a comprehension worksheet to accompany it. And now I must get back to work on planning.

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.

Georg Lind: Standardized Testing is Bad for Education and Bad for Democracy

Here’s another post from Diane Ravitch’s Blog on testing, a topic of pedagogical and political concern here at Mark’s Text Terminal. High stakes tests, I think, have indentured teachers to the corporations which produce them. Moreover, there is little evidence to suggest that these same tests have improved education in the United States, particularly for struggling learners.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Georg Lind is an educational researcher and professor of psychology in a German university who has studied the moral implications of standardized testing. His bio is at the end of this post. He sent me the following short essay on the negative consequences of standardized testing:

Leviathan: The Anti-Democratic Effect of High-Stakes Tests.

We ought to think about high stakes tests in wider contexts than we usually do, namely in the context of human functioning and in the context of human rights and democracy:

(a) All tests which are based on classical test theory (CTT) and its off-springs (e.g., item-response-theory, Rasch-scaling) are essentially statistical artifacts. Their hidden psychology is at odds with our knowledge of psychological processes underlying human behavior. These tests are built on a false postulate which says: each and every human response to a test is determined only by one disposition, namely the competence or personality under…

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On Perseverance and Tenacity

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

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

The Weekly Text, September 23, 2016

As I mentioned last week, it is National Hispanic Heritage Month. For the duration of this observance, I’ll post readings and comprehension worksheets that teachers might find useful for edifying students on Hispanic history. I’ll do so with brevity, because it’s the first month of the school year, and I am as busy as I always am in these weeks.

This week’s Text is a reading on Jose Marti, the nineteenth-century martyr to Cuban independence; here is a comprehension worksheet to accompany it. And that’s enough said.

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.

Kenneth Zeichner: What We Know (and Don’t Know) about Non-Traditional Teacher Education Programs

Here’s a post from Diane Ravitch’s Blog on alternative routes to teacher certification, which addresses a professional and pedagogical concern at Mark’s Text Terminal. I entered teaching through one of these programs, the New York City Teaching Fellowship, which was abysmal. I’ve spent the last ten years remedying the shortcomings of my experience in this program, which earned me a M.S. in special education from a diploma mill in the New York City metropolitan area.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Kenneth Zeichner is Boeing Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Washington in Seattle. He recently reviewed five alternate routes into teaching. Here is a question-and-answer session with him about his study.

The study is here.

He said:


My examination of the research on the five programs (The Relay Graduate School of Education, Match Teacher Residency, High Tech High’s Internship, iTeach and TEACH-NOW) concludes that there is no credible evidence that supports the claims of success that are made about them, and that the continued expansion of these programs is driven by ideology rather than by empirical evidence of success.

He added:

First of all, in the U.S. we have very serious problems of an inequitable distribution of teachers and inequitable access to a high-quality education, which enables students to interact with knowledge in authentic and meaningful ways. Students living in communities highly impacted by poverty are disproportionately…

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Jonathan Swift on Competence

“When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in confederacy against him.”

Jonathan Swift

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Portable Curmudgeon. New York: Plume, 1992.

The Weekly Text, September 16, 2016

Whew: busy week.

Are you aware that yesterday inaugurated Hispanic Heritage Month?  For the next five weeks, I’ll post readings related to this honorific month.

To that end, and in somewhat indecent haste (I have to teach in half-an-hour), here is a reading on Cesar Chavez and an accompanying reading comprehension worksheet.

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.