Monthly Archives: February 2017

Factual (adj)

Here, on a Tuesday morning that feels like a harbinger of spring, is a context clues worksheet on the adjective factual. It follows yesterday’s quote from Bernard Baruch nicely, I think. I hope you find it useful.

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.

A Basic Axiom of the Fight against “Fake News”

“Every man has a right to be wrong in his opinions, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.”

Bernard Baruch Baruch: My Own Story (1996)

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

The Weekly Text, February 24, 2017

For the fourth and final week of Black History Month 2017, Mark’s Text Terminal offers this reading on sharecropping, which represents at best a particularly ugly moment in the economic history of the United States, and at worst (toward which I tend), slavery by another name. You’ll probably find this comprehension sheet to accompany it useful. This is probably more a social studies assignment than anything else. As I understand Black History Month, to some extent, as a celebration, I post this work with some circumspection. It is, after all, a story of the ongoing oppression of Americans of African descent, even after their ostensible emancipation from slavery.

In life, however, one takes the bad with the good. This is history that requires repeating, especially in these grim days when we in the United States have just elevated to the office of Attorney General a man known for racist remarks and for singing the praises of the Ku Klux Klan.

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.

Dr. Johnson’s Most Famous Editorial Comment

“Your manuscript is both good and original; the the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.”

Samuel Johnson

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

Placate (vt)

You might find this context clues worksheet on the transitive verb placate useful. It’s another of those strong verbs students would do well to use in expository prose.

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.

Rotten Reviews: The Scarlet Letter

“Why has our author selected such a theme? …the nauseous amour of a Puritan pastor, with a frail creature of his charge, whose mind is represented as far more debauched than her body? Is it in short, because a running undertide of filth has become as requisite to a romance, as death in the fifth act of a tragedy? Is the French era actually begun in our literature?”

Arthur Cleveland Coxe, Church Review

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Obtain (vt)

Here’s a context clues worksheet on the verb obtain as a transitive verb; transitively it means “to gain or attain usually by planned action or effort.” Reading these clues, students will probably say this means “to get,” which is of course quite close. I suggest asking them what it takes to get something they want, or variations of that question, and you will eventually induce in them their understanding that to “get” things requires plans and effort.

Incidentally, obtain as an intransitive verb means “to be generally recognized or established: PREVAIL.” It’s seldom used intransitively these days, but a sample sentence (should you decide to develop a context clues worksheet for this usage) would be something like” “In mid-August, hot and humid conditions obtained in New York City.”

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.

Rotten Reviews: Call It Sleep

(It’s worth mentioning that I believe Henry Roth’s Call It Sleep is one of the great American novels of the twentieth century. After a sixty-year long episode of writer’s block–when he published mostly articles about the exotic fowl business in which he was engaged in Maine–Henry Roth returned to publish, in the 1990s, just before his death, the superb, dark Mercy of a Rude Stream quartet, one of the great events of my reading life.)

“The book lays all possible stress on the nastiness of the human animal. It is the fashion, and we must make the best of the spectacle of a fine book deliberately and as it were doggedly smeared with verbal filthiness.”

The New York Times Book Review

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Fiscal (adj)

Because I work in a economics- and finance-themed high school, I’m almost embarrassed to say that I just now wrote this context clues worksheet on the adjective fiscal. Anyway, here it is if you can use it.

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.

Rotten Reviews: Leaves of Grass

(The post just below this one is a Weekly Text on Langston Hughes’ poem “I, too, sing America,” which is Mr. Hughes’ response to Walt Whitman’s poem “I Hear America Singing.” This seemed as a good as place as any to post these squibs about Mr. Whitman’s work from these, uh, unperceptive reviewers.)

“No, no, this kind of thing won’t do…. The good folks down below (I mean posterity) will have none of it.”

James Russell Lowell, quoted in The Complete Works, Vol. 14, 1904

“Whitman is as unacquainted with poetry as a hog is with mathematics.”

The London Critic

“Of course, to call it poetry, in any sense, would be mere abuse of language.”

William Allingham, letter to W.M. Rossetti, 1857

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.