Monthly Archives: October 2020

Rotten Reviews: What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

[I confess that in more than thirty years of trying to appreciate his work, the appeal of Raymond Carver is completely lost on me.]

“There is nothing here to appease a reader’s basic literary needs.” 

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

Ernest Hemingway

If you’re teaching Hemingway’s fiction, this reading on Ernest Hemingway and its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet might serve as an introduction to the author himself. I wrote it for that purpose, to support students who were about to start with The Old Man and the Sea–a novella which, despite its plaintive prose, can baffle struggling and emergent readers.

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 Algonquin Wits: Robert Benchley on Easy Credit

“Better than anyone else, Benchley recognized his own irresponsibility in matters of finance. He once applied for a loan at his local bank and, to his shock, was granted the money with no questions asked. The next day he reportedly withdrew all his savings from the bank, explaining, ‘I don’t trust a bank that would lend money to such a poor risk.’”

Excerpted from: Drennan, Robert E., ed. The Algonquin Wits. New York: Kensington, 1985.

Rue (vi/vt)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the verb rue, which is used both intransitively and transitively. This today’s Word of the Day from Merriam-Webster; I couldn’t let it go by for the simple reason that it is a word in common use in English. I think henceforth that will be the criteria for qualifying for treatment in a context clues worksheet: if I’ve read the word, used it myself, or heard another person use it within recent memory, then it is probably a word students should 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.

Term of Art: Bond

bond: Binding agreement, used as a means of compulsion as well as security; for example, to enforce a commercial contract or to ensure good behavior. Bonds generally have two sections: the bond proper and the condition which, if ignored, cause a sum of money, specified in the bond proper, to be paid as forfeit.”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

Cultural Literacy: Reprisals

A few weeks ago I rummaged through my Cultural Literacy folder and pulled up a bunch of worksheets that I thought might be useful for some basic civics education in the run-up the the United States presidential election next week. This Cultural Literacy worksheet on reprisals is the last of them. I think this is an important word, particularly as a  concept in political science and sociology, is important for students to understand.

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.

Write It Right: Banquet

“Banquet. A good enough word in its place, but its place is the dictionary. Say, dinner.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. Write it Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2010.

Common Errors in English Usage: Seasonable (adj), Seasonal (adj), Unseasonable (adj), Unseasonal (adj)

I just returned from a CVS store, where the “seasonal” aisle, already freighted with Christmas merchandise, kind got me down. I assure you that my post of this English usage worksheet on the adjectives seasonable, seasonal, unseasonable, and unseasonal is purely coincidental.

That said, these are solid, commonly used words that students probably ought to be able to use. If nothing else, though, this document meets the Common Core standard on teaching English usage.

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.

Term of Art: Transition

“Transition: A word or group of words that aids coherence by showing the connections between ideas. William Carlos Williams was influenced by the poetry or Walt Whitman. Moreover, Williams’s emphasis on the present and the and the immediacy of the ordinary represented a rejection of the poetic stance of his contemporary T.S. Eliot. In addition, Williams’s poetry….”

Excerpted from: Strunk, William Jr., and E.B. White. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition. New York: Longman, 2000.

Dexterous (adj)

It’s Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, but I almost let it pass. However, I decided, in the final analysis, to work up this context clues worksheet on the adjective dexterous. This word has three meanings, but I wrote context for the meaning “skillful and competent with the hands.”

However, because this is a Microsoft Word document (as are virtually every document on this website), you may edit it for your use and the needs of your 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.