Category Archives: English Language Arts

Worksheets, short exercises, learning supports, readings and other materials related to the English Language Arts curriculum.

Lu Hsun

Lu Hsun: (also romanized as Lu Xun; pseudonym of Chou Shu-jen, 1881-1936) Generally regarded as modern China’s finest writer. Born to a family of traditional scholars, because of the death of his father and a decline in the family fortunes, he was sent to a school that taught Western technical subjects. He later studied Western medicine in Japan, but soon realized that his people needed more than physical healing. He quit his medical studies and turned to literature, returning to China to use his writing to expose the superstitions and injustices of the early Republican period. He his best known for his two collections of short stories, Nahan (generally translated as Call to Arms), published in 1923, and Panghuang (Wandering) published in 1926. His story “A Madman’s Diary” (“K’uang-jen ji-chi) vividly and painfully chronicles the growing realization of the cannibalistic, “dog-eat-dog” nature of Chinese society. “The New Year’s Sacrifice” (“Chu-fu”) is an account of a modern intellectual’s disturbing and eye-opening return to his traditional home for the New Year’s festivities. Painfully aware of the limitations of literature for effecting real change, in 1926 he stopped writing fiction altogether. Translations of his works include Diary of a Madman and Other Stories (1990), The Complete Stories of Lu Xun (1956-60), and Selected Stories of Lu Xun (1980), as well as his seminal scholarly work, A Brief History of Chinese Fiction (1959).

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

The Algonquin Wits: Dorothy Parker

“Reviewing a book on science, Mrs. Parker wrote, ‘It was written without fear and without research.’”

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

Credential (n)

At this moment, in this nation, we currently bear witness people without any brief or expertise in a given subject nonetheless speaking with grotesquely misplaced confidence in their own genius. There is a word for this: bloviating. There is also a term of art to describe it: epistemic trespassing.

In any case, now seems like just about the perfect moment to publish this context clues worksheet on the noun credential. Please do keep in mind that the Latin word root cred means believe. When someone possesses a credential from a reputable (credible, if you like) education institution, that means they are someone we can believe, rather than a political hack with a big mouth and few brains. If you are interested in going a bit further with this with your students, here is a worksheet on the Latin word root cred itself.

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.

Crime and Puzzlement: The Cruise of the Good Ship Contessa

Moving right along, here is a lesson plan on the Crime and Puzzlement case “The Good Ship Contessa.” I open this lesson with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on perhaps the best-known of Aesop’s Fables, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” Here is the scan of the illustrations and questions with which to conduct the investigation of this case. Finally, here is the typescript of the answer key.

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.

Cultural Literacy: Encryption

Because this Cultural Literacy worksheet on encryption has tended to qualify as high-interest material, I have tagged it as such. Keeping secrets, it turns out, is of particular fascination to adolescents.

Who knew?!

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.

A Participial Phrase at the Beginning of a Sentence Must Refer to the Grammatical Subject.

[If you want this as a learning support in Microsoft Word, it’s under that hyperlink.]

“11. A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject.

Walking slowly down the road, he saw a woman accompanied by two children.

The word walking refers to the subject of the sentence, not to the woman. To make it refer to the woman, the writer must recast the sentence.

He saw a woman, accompanied by two children, walking slowly down the road.

Participial phrases preceded by a conjunction or by a preposition, nouns in apposition, adjectives, and adjective phrases come under the same rule if they begin the sentence.

On arriving in Chicago, his friends met him at the station.

On arriving in Chicago, he was met at the station by his friends.

A soldier of proved valor, they entrusted him with the defense of the city.

A soldier of proved valor, he was entrusted with the defense of the city.

Young and inexperienced, the task seemed easy to me.

Young and inexperienced, I thought the task was easy.

Without a friend to counsel him, the temptation proved irresistible.

Without a friend to counsel him, he found the temptation irresistible.

Sentences violating Rule 11 are often ludicrous:

Being in a dilapidated condition, I was able to buy the house very cheap.

Wondering irresolutely what to do next, the clock struck twelve.”

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

A Complete Lesson Plan on Using the Predicate Pronoun

Here is a lesson plan on using the predicate pronoun. I open this lesson with this Everyday Edit worksheet on Anne Frank (and you can help yourself to a yearlong supply of these worksheets courtesy of the good people at Education World). Here is a learning support on pronouns to assist students in developing their own understanding of these words and their use in declarative sentences. This scaffolded worksheet is the center of this lesson; here is the teacher’s copy of the 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.