Monthly Archives: July 2017

What Office Indeed?

“What office is there which involves more responsibility, which requires more qualifications, and which ought, therefore, to be more honourable, than that of teaching?”

Harriet Martineau (1802-1876)

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

Cultural Literacy: Schism

On a bright, cool morning in Springfield, Vermont, I offer you this Cultural Literacy worksheet on schism. By their senior year at the very least, this is a word and concept high school students really ought to know.

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.

Emerson on the Importance of a Free Press

“Democracy becomes a government of bullies, tempered by editors.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

The Weekly Text, July 28, 2017

At the moment, I’m busily developing a unit on argumentation for the fall semester at my school. Ergo, This week’s Text is a quick one, namely these two context clues worksheets on the adjective prolix and the noun prolixity. I can tell you from my experience working in a couple of different college writing centers that students are regularly dispatched to those old-fashioned help desks for prolixity. Students ought to know what these words mean, in any case, especially students planning to major in subjects in the humanities in college–which require a lot of (good) writing.

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.

Rotten Reviews: The Human Comedy

“Alas! Interested though one is in the attempt, it remains to say that the result is not very happy…there is scarcely a trace of Saroyan’s characteristic charm of manner, and indeed his art of inspired artlessness now falls extremely flat. This, in short, is an excessively simple and very, very sentimental little concoction.”

Times Literary Supplement

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

July 25, 2017: A Midsummer Text

I’ve been working on a series of new homophone worksheets, including these five on the who’s and whose and this learning support to accompany them.

I assume you see these words confused regularly, as they are two of the most commonly confused homophones in the English language. Writing these worksheets, I’m afraid I let the material get away from me. Endeavoring to create materials that helped students form their own, comprehensive, understanding of these two words, I wrote a lot of text that I realized, after it was down on paper, was too much information for worksheet instructions. I turned quite a bit of the text into the learning support post in this Text. However, the worksheets themselves still may be prolix by virtue of the still-lengthy definitions of these two words and their definitions,

In any case, these are Word documents, so you may manipulate them for your use.

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.

The Teacher as Artist

“What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul.”

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) As quote in Spectator (1711)

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

Strategies for Creating Cognitive Apprenticeships

During the month of July, I generally try to work on planning and professional development, so I’ve had my nose in both for the past three weeks. The summer’s reading is The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, which, 205 pages in, I have not found as useful to my own practice as I did The Cambridge Handbook of Literacy. Still, there are plenty of important ideas articulated in the book (Cambridge University Press has thoughtfully posted as a giveaway this PDF of the introduction to the book, by its editor, R. Keith Sawyer; if you search The Cambridge Handbook of Literacy, you’ll find a couple of different PDFs from its pages for free download as well.)

One of the first articles in this volume is by Allan M. Collins, who, as you can see from his Wikipedia page, is an important figure in the learning sciences. I like his ideas about cognitive apprenticeship. Here is an outline describing cognitive apprenticeship strategies that I took from his article and typed into a Word document.

I hope you find it useful.

Salinger (and Holden Caulfield) on Teachers

“You can’t stop a teacher when they want to do something. They just do it.”

J.D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

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

The Weekly Text, July 21, 2017

This week’s Text is a complete lesson plan on using the degrees of adjectives. To refresh your memory, the three degrees of adjectives are the positive (big), the comparative (bigger) and the superlative, (biggest). Two do-now exercises open this unit, the first a parsing sentences worksheet on verbs and the second a Cultural Literacy Worksheet on acronyms. (I include as a matter of course two do-now exercises in the event that a lesson runs into a second day because of interruptions.) The mainstay of the lesson is this scaffolded worksheet on using the three degrees of adjectives. You may also want to use this learning support on the degrees of adjectives. Finally, you might find the teacher’s copy of the worksheet useful while giving this lesson.

Finally, this lesson affords you an opportunity, should you care to emphasize it, to point out to students that they will always, after the comparative adjective, use the conjunction than and not the adverb then.

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.