Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Weekly Text, February 17, 2017, Black History Month 2017 Week III: A Trove of Documents for Teaching Langston Hughes’ Poem “I, too, Sing America”

For the third week of Black History Month, Mark’s Text Terminal showcases Langston Hughes and his poem “I, too, sing America.” This week’s text is a reading which includes the poem itself with this comprehension and exegesis worksheet to analyze the poem. While this worksheet asks questions just slightly above the comprehension level of understanding, the reading does a nice job of presenting its exegesis of the poem in that way. Struggling learners and readers therefore have a chance to perform genuine exegetical work on this key literary monument of the Harlem Renaissance. Finally, because I believe in using every lesson as an opportunity to build students’ vocabularies, here is a context clues worksheet on the noun exegesis, another on the noun exegete, and a third on the adjective exegetical.

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.

Circumstance (n)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the noun circumstance. This word is used mostly in the plural, and I’ve written the context clues to reflect that. Nonetheless, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (the dictionary of record at Mark’s Text Terminal), lists it in the singular, which is how I too list 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: Native Son

[The New Statesman and Nation was a British publication that resulted in a merger in 1931 between the New Statesman and The Nation and Athenaeum, and is now apparently known simply as New Statesman. In any case, it’s hard to imagine that any magazine in Britain could seriously say that the country, at the time of the publication of Richard  Wright’s Native Son–1940–was “away from that particular racial problem.”]

“The astounding thing is that the publisher is able to send out with the book a typescript about the weight of a Tor Bay Sole entirely made up of favorable reviews from the American Press. Over here and away from that particular racial problem the book seems unimpressive and silly, not even as much fun as a thriller.”

New Statesman and Nation

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

The Suddenly Newsworthy John C. Calhoun

John C. Calhoun has been in the news lately–to wit because of Yale University’s (Calhoun is an alumnus of Yale) decision to rename its residential college named after Calhoun. Normally, I would say that Calhoun was one of the most odious politicians ever to walk the American stage. However, now that November 8, 2016, has come and gone, I might need to revise my estimation of him, painful though it may be, upward–though by displacement rather than a rise in regard. In any case, because it is Black History Month, I am somewhat loathe to post this Intellectual Devotional reading on Calhoun along with this reading comprehension worksheet to accompany it for reasons that are obvious to you if you are familiar with him, or will quickly become so as you look into his egregious political career. It wouldn’t be unfair, owing to his adherence to the Constitutional theory of nullification, and his participation in the Nullification Crisis, which was one of this country’s first step down to road to the Civil War, to call him a key proponent of the issues that drove that conflict.

Have I mentioned that Calhoun was from South Carolina and represented that state in the federal legislature? It is no coincidence that South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union. Would you be surprised to hear that he was an ardent racist who played no small role in perpetuating slavery?

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.

Golden Age (n)

For some reason, it took me a long time to get around to writing this context clues worksheet on the noun golden age. I guess I imagined there wouldn’t be a definition for it, per se, in the dictionary. However, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition, lists it simply (which is what you want, I think, if you are using the term as it applies to civilizations as taught in a standard global studies classroom) as “a period of great happiness, prosperity, and achievement.”

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.

Schopenhauer on Genius

“Always to see the general in the particular is the very foundation of genius.”

Arthur Schopenhauer, Parerga and Paralipomena (1851)

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

The Weekly Text, February 10, 2017, Black History Month 2017 Week II: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on the Legendary Bill Russell

It’s the second Friday of Black History Month. This week’s Text is a reading on basketball legend Bill Russell with a reading comprehension worksheet to accompany it. Mr. Russell was one of the first NBA superstars of African descent. Therefore he is no stranger to racism. This is likely to be a high-interest reading for a variety of students. I hope it is useful in your classroom.

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.

Succumb (vi)

While working on cleaning out a folder set aside to post some context clues worksheet, I found a context clues worksheet on the intransitive verb succumb. I don’t remember why I wrote this, but is almost certainly attends a reading in which the word is found. In any case, it’s a nice lively verb for students to know and use.

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: Walt Whitman

[Max Nordau published  Degenerationwhich is, interestingly, available as a available for free download as a PDF here— in 1892; the book was a precursor to some of the “decline of the West” rhetoric the Nazi party employed. Given that Nordau himself was Jewish, and a co-founder of the World Zionist Organization, that fact remains a particularly bitter irony. It’s also important to remember that the Nazis famously mounted an exhibition called “Entarte Kunst” which means “Degenerate Art.”  This exhibition of modernist art aimed to show the extent to which the works shown, many of them by Jewish artists, “insult[ed] German feeling.” Here, Nordau turns his withering gaze on one of the greatest of American poets, Walt Whitman.]

“He was a vagabond, a reprobate, and his poems contain outbursts of erotomania so artlessly shameless that their parallel in literature could hardly be found with author’s name attached. For his fame he has to thank just those bestially sensual pieces which first drew him to the attention of all the pruriency of America. He is morally insane, and incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, virtue and crime.”

Max Nordau, Degeneration, 1895.

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

Poverty and Cognition

Elsewhere on this blog, I have written and commented on the issue of poverty and cognition. Friends and colleagues of mine across the country have complained that this is a forbidden issue in professional development sessions in their schools; administrators don’t want to hear about the struggles of poor kids in the classroom, preferring instead to flog the issue of educators’ “accountability.” If you been subjected to this (it happens, alas, in the institution in which I currently serve, as it has in others in this city where I’ve had the misfortune to work), you probably agree that the best thing that can be said about this discourse-ending trope is that it is tiresome.

It is also ignorant.

In any case, reading NEA Today, the magazine of the National Education Association over the past couple of days, I came across the union’s offer of this handbook on teaching children living in poverty or surviving trauma. I haven’t had a chance to look at it in depth, but it’s something I want to get out to readers of this blog. If you are working with struggling learners, there is a strong possibility, if not a strong probability, that they have been subjected to these social pathologies. We owe it to our students and ourselves to understand these challenges, and to use that understanding to improve practice.