Category Archives: English Language Arts

This category contains domain-specific material–reading and writing expository prose, interpreting literature etc.–designed to meet the Common Core standards in English language arts while at the same time being flexible enough to meet the needs of diverse and idiosyncratic learners.

American Language

“American Language: A term that presents American English as a national language, sometimes as an aggressive declaration of independence from the standard language of England: ‘This occasional tolerance for things American was never extended to the American language’ (H.L. Mencken, The American Language, 4th edition, 1936); ‘George Bush is hardly known for his rhetorical gifts. But his speech at last summer’s Republican Convention has already left its mark on the American language’ (Laurence Zuckerman, ‘Read My Cliché,’ Time, 16 Jan. 1989).”

Excerpted from: McArthur, Tom. The Oxford Concise Companion to the English Language. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

A Glossary of Competitive Debate Terms

OK, lastly on this relatively cool morning in Brooklyn, here is a glossary of competitive debate terms that might come in handy if you’re involved in such things.

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.

Leitmotif

“Leitmotif: (German Leitmotiv ‘leading motif’) A term coined by Hans von Wolzugen to designate a musical theme associated throughout a whole work with a particular object, denote a recurrent theme (q.v.) or unit. It is occasionally used as a literary term in the same sense that Mann intended, and also on a broader sense to refer to an author’s favorite themes: for example, the hunted man and betrayal in the novels of Graham Greene.”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Cultural Literacy: Cyclops

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Cyclops. This is a half-page worksheet with a four-sentence reading and three comprehension questions. It covers the basics of this one-eyed, mythical creature, including Odysseus’s encounter with Polyphemus in The Odyssey.

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: Spatial-Material Organizational Disorder

“spatial-material organizational disorder: A problem with organizing materials so that the child constantly struggles for survival within an ordered environment.

A child with this problem has a hard time organizing information on pater. Margins are missing, spacing between words and letters is incorrect, centering is difficult, and the overall appearance of the work is messy. Teachers often have trouble reading the child’s work. Often, a child with this problem forgets assignments or books needed to complete assignments. Assignments themselves may be incomplete, or the child cannot find completed assignments.

In addition, a child with this problem is often disorganized and has problems following routines or completing tasks. Desk and home environment are usually messy and disorganized, although the child may appear to have his own system of organization in his own space.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Word Root Exercise: Inter-

Here is a worksheet on the Latin word root inter. It means between and among. As you have no doubt already recognized, this is an extremely productive root in English, growing such high-frequency words as interfere, intercept, and interim (all present in this document), among many others. Inter should not be confused with intra and intro, which mean within, inward, inside, and into (a worksheet on which is forthcoming).

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.

Rotten Reviews: Love and Death in the American Novel

“The author can’t win, ever, by Fiedler’s standard of judgement. Only the critic can win…there is more in American fiction, much more, than Fiedler has been able to find.”

Malcolm Cowley, New York Times Book Review

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

Vocation (n)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the noun vocation. It means, at least for the purposes of this worksheet, “a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action.” But, since I wrote this document, I distantly recall, because I served a student interested in entering the priesthood, and as the second sentence on this document implies, two secondary, quite common, meanings of this word are “a divine call to the religious life” and “an entry into the priesthood or a religious order.”

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.

Isometric Projection

“Isometric Projection: In architectural drawing, a means of showing a building in three dimensions without foreshortening. The horizontal lines are usually drawn at a thirty-degree angle, the vertical lines are parallel, and all lines are drawn to scale.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

Otis Elevator

Here is a reading on the Otis Elevator company with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. As usual, David S. Kidder and Noah Oppenheim, the editors of the Intellectual Devotional series, ably synthesized Elisha Otis’s biography (he was, to my surprise, a farm boy from Halifax, Vermont) with the changes his invention wrought in American life–and in a one-page reading (!).

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.