Monthly Archives: August 2017

The Devil’s Dictionary: Abasement

Abasement, n. A decent and customary mental attitude in the presence of wealth or power. Peculiarly appropriate in an employee when addressing an employer.

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000


The Weekly Text, August 25, 2017

Last spring, while teaching my unit on prepositions, I found I needed to revise and strengthen this lesson plan on using prepositions with pronouns in the objective case; as long as I had it out, I duplicated and set it aside for a future text, and that future has arrived, so here it is as a Weekly Text.

To teach this lesson you’ll need the two do-now exercises (and, as I’ve written here before, if you like Everyday Edits, the good people at Education World generously give them away), the first of which is an Everyday Edit on Charles Drew; the second, another Everyday Edit, this one on the poet Gwendolyn Brooks, you may need if classroom exigencies extend this lesson into a second day. The mainstay of this lesson is this scaffolded worksheet on using prepositions with the objective case of pronouns. Your students and you will probably find useful this learning support to accompany the worksheet.

I design my worksheets, as you’ll see explained in the About Weekly Texts on the home page banner, so that I can insert students’ names in them as both subject and object noun. This worksheet is, in terms of these insertions, complicated sufficiently that I’ve decided to include in this post this finished copy, ready for classroom use, of the worksheet to demonstrate how to fill the asterisks with subject and object nouns in the worksheet itself. Finally, here is the teacher’s copy of the worksheet which serves as the answer key as well.

That’s it. I hope this lesson is useful to you, and not marred by its prolixity.

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.

Memo to Education “Reformers”

“The whole object of education is…to develop the mind. The mind should be a thing that works.”

Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941)

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

A Super Multiplication Table

As a child, I enjoyed math in school and did fairly well at it. I liked the symmetry and order of numbers, and found multiplication a particularly scintillating procedure (and yes, I am serious; I was a weird kid). By the time I crossed the Rubicon from fractions and decimals into algebra, I could already see I was in trouble. For some reason, I could never get right orders of operations and other algebraic procedures. For some reason I felt, and continue to feel, ashamed of this intellectual inadequacy.

Of course, I am tempted to blame my math teachers in middle school, who were indeed dismal; both of my eighth grade math teachers clearly hated kids. Since I was getting more than enough of that sentiment elsewhere in my life at the time, I avoided them. So I suppose I am at fault as well.

Unsurprisingly, I have been and remain a terrible math teacher. I’ve developed some literacy lessons on both math and science, but they are more reading comprehension work than actual cognitive work in the domains themselves. That said, I have become interested (to some extent for obvious personal reasons) in helping struggling students improve their own understanding of the math curriculum they are expected to master. To that end, I’ve proposed to a colleague in the mathematics department at my school that we collaborate on developing some math learning supports for our struggling students.

This morning I wrote this super multiplication table as a start on this endeavor. I know this doesn’t necessarily augur great sophistication in this project; it’s worth considering, however, how many students who struggle with math do so because they never learned their multiplication tables. As with all of the material posted on Mark’s Text Terminal, this is a Microsoft Word document that you can chop and repurpose as many times as your circumstances require. Indeed, you may end up with as many versions of this as you have students.

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.

The Proverbial Joy of Skepticism

“The believer is happy; the doubter is wise.”

Hungarian Proverb

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


Betsy DeVos and Her Family Are Funding the Republican Candidate for Governor in Virginia

(Remember Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” sketches on Saturday Night Live all those years ago? That’s who Betsy DeVos is, only not funny and quite dangerous.)

Diane Ravitch's blog

Politico reports that the DeVos family is funding the campaign of the Republican candidate for Governor in Virginia.

According to Politico:

TEACHERS UNIONS TARGET GILLESPIE IN VA GOVERNOR’S RACE: Teachers unions are stepping up their opposition to Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie – and they’re using an emerging tactic on the left: linking him to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. National and local union leaders said on Tuesday that they would be mobilizing against Gillespie by highlighting his ties to DeVos, as they back his Democratic opponent Ralph Northam. Gillespie has accepted more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from the DeVos family. “Ed Gillespie can dress it up in any which way he wishes to, but the bottom line is he is a clone of Betsy DeVos. The agenda that Gillespie is pushing for is an agenda that hurts kids,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

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Rotten Reviews: Antony and Cleopatra

“To say that there is plenty of bogus characterization in it…is merely to say that it is by Shakespeare.”

George Bernard Shaw, Saturday Review 1897

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

Consent (vi)

Ah, summer, how quickly you wane! Two weeks from today I’ll be suffering through one more of the vapid, insufferable “professional development” sessions the administration of my school inflicts upon the faculty.

Here is a context clues worksheet on the verb consent. Merriam-Webster tags it as intransitive, and if you think about its use, it’s hard to imagine a direct object following 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.

John Adams on Freedom and Education

“Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.”

John Adams (1736-1826)

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

Department of Education Will Continue to Spend More Than $1 Million Per Month to Protect DeVos

(Other than to wonder why a Secretary of Education needs this level of protection, there’s really nothing to add to this post from Diane Ravitch’s Blog)

Diane Ravitch's blog

Politico reports that the Department of Education will renew the agreement with the U.S. Marshalls Service to protect Secretary Betsy DeVos, which cost nearly $8 million for six months. This occurs at a time when DeVos has enthusiastically endorsed budget cuts of billions to the Department’s programs. One program that she agreed to cut is a $10 million subsidy to the Special Olympics. Should the Dartment pay for her security detail or for opportunities for students with disabilities to demonstrate their athletic accomplishments? She is a billionaire. Why doesn’t she pay for her own security or ask her brother Erik Prince to send over a detail of his mercenaries?

“DEVOS, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE TO RENEW SECURITY AGREEMENT: The U.S. Marshals Service and the Education Department plan to renew an agreement to continue providing protective services for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a spokesman for the Marshals Service tells Pro Education’s Caitlin…

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