Monthly Archives: December 2018

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

“A novel (1962) by Ken Kesey (1935-2001). The narrator is the Chief, a Native American whose father was the last chief of his tribe. he is a patient in a mental hospital, in which is represented by ‘Big Nurse.’ The admission of McMurphy from prison precipitates a struggle between ‘good’ (the patients,) and ‘evil’ (Big Nurse), with the ‘liberation’ of the patients from institutional restrictions as the stake. The film version (1975), directed by Milos Forman and starring Jack Nicholson as McMurphy, was an unexpected commercial success.

The term ‘cuckoo’ for an eccentric, fool or madman dates back to the late 16th century, deriving from the expression “a cuckoo in the nest,” denoting an oddity. ‘Cuckoo’s nest’ (along with ‘cuckoo academy’ and ‘cuckoo farm’) arose as a term for a psychiatric institution in the USA in the 1960s; cuckoos notably don’t make their own nests, but lay their eggs in those of other birds. The ‘one flew over’ in the title refers to the final escape of the Chief.”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

Pong

Recent circumstances have required me to produce a lot of short readings, including this one on the arcade game Pong as well as its accompanying comprehension worksheet.

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.

Socioeconomic Status and Reading

“Students from disadvantaged backgrounds show a characteristic pattern of reading achievement in school: they make good progress until around fourth grade, and then suddenly fall behind. The importance of background knowledge to comprehension gives us insight into this phenomenon. Reading instruction in the early grades concerns decoding, and so reading tests are basically tests of decoding ability. Kids from wealthier homes in fact do a bit better on these tests, but poorer children are still doing okay. But around fourth grade most children can decode fairly well, and so reading tests place greater weight on comprehension. The disadvantaged kids have not had the same opportunities to acquire the vocabulary and background knowledge needed to succeed on these tests and so their performance drops significantly.”

Excerpted from: Willingham, Daniel T. The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2017.

Galumph (vi)

I do understand that it’s hard to believe that this context clues worksheet on the verb galumph  represents a real word. It does: it’s used intransitively and means, you might not be quite as surprised to hear, “to move with a heavy, clumsy tread.” If nothing else, it’s a word that would suffice well, I think, to introduce or reinforce the concept of onomatopoeia.

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.

Agitprop (n)

Political agitation and propaganda in literature, music, or art, especially pro-Communist doctrinairism.

‘I wonder if I should try to climb on the Women’s Lib bandwagon. First, I would have to change my name—Isabel Fairfax lacked the necessary agitprop crunch.’ Florence King, When Sisterhood Was in Flower.”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.

Isle (n) and Aisle (n)

Monday again, so I’ll begin another week with these five worksheets on the homophones isle and aisle.

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.

9 Muses

“Clio * Euterpe * Thalia * Melpomene * Terpsichore * Erato * Urania * Calliope * Polymnia

The nine muses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the goddess of memory), were a favourite subject for Roman artists and much depicted in mosaic and fresco, or carved in marble to grace the praesidium of a theater.

Clio, the muse of history, is represented with a stylus and a scroll, or after the Renaissance, with a book, a laurel crown, or a trumpet; she is easy to confuse with Calliope, who often has the same attributes. Euterpe, muse of lyrical poetry, bears a flute. Thalia, muse of pastoral poetry and comedy, carries a comic mask and sometimes a viol.

Melpomene, muse of tragedy, is associated with a mask, sometimes embellished with a fallen crown, and holds a dagger. Terpsichore, muse of joyful dance and song, often holds a lyre, as does Erato, muse of lyrical love poetry.

Urania, muse of astronomy, is normally shown consulting a globe of a compass. Polymnia, muse of heroic hymn and eloquence, possesses a lute and a solemn expression that outdoes even those of Clio and Calliope.

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.