Category Archives: Essays/Readings

This category describes readings of any kind for either teachers or students.

The Great Gatsby

Several students in the school in which I serve expressed interest in the literature of the Jazz Age and Gatsby in particular, so here is a short reading on The Great Gatsby along with the vocabulary building and comprehension worksheet that attends it.

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.

This Is Spinal Tap

“A spoof documentary (1984) written by Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Rob Reiner about an ageing British heavy metal band on a disastrous tour of the United States. The accuracy of this satire about the rock business fooled many people into thinking that Spinal Tap was a real rock group. The wheel turned full circle when the band actually conducted a US tour with their second album Break Like the Wind in the early 1990s.”

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

Double Entendre (n)

“Double Entendre (noun): A provocative ambiguity in an expression, especially a humorous or risqué connotation in a word or phrase; double meaning. British: double-entente.

‘The editor was also often on the edge of panic about suspected double entendre, and after thirty-one years I recall his concern about an Arno drawing of one of his elderly gentlemen of the old school dancing with a warmly clinging young lady and saying, ‘Good God, woman, think of the social structure!’ Ross was really afraid that “social structure” could be interpreted to mean a certain distressing sexual phenomenon of human anatomy.’ James Thurber, The Years with Ross”

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

A Cause Worth Supporting

Late last year, in early November, I did something I proclaimed throughout my teaching career I would never do: I resigned and departed from my teaching post during the school year. I won’t bore you with the details of my resignation from the High School of Economics & Finance (HSE&F) in Lower Manhattan other than to say that working in the New York City Department of Education in general and in this school in particular had simply become untenable. That said, I paraphrase what I told my excellent students as my last day approached: I didn’t leave because I had any problems with the kids in this building, but because I had problems with the other adults.

The situation was dismal, redeemed only by the students in whose service I worked. Otherwise, the last couple of years in that school were for me routinely miserable.

Fortunately, some of my best students have stayed in touch. Now I’ve learned that a group of them are making plans to travel to Europe this summer with Pace University’s Liberty Partnership Program. One of the students I served at HSE&F (she’s in the banner photograph under the link below), as a global studies teacher, contacted me with news of the Go Fund Me campaign (which you will find right under this hyperlink) she and the rest of this group has started to underwrite their trip.

I donated this morning.

This is a really great group of kids who have come a long way as students and deserve whatever financial support they garner. If for some reason the link above fails, you can find these kids’ page by bringing up Go Fund Me and searching Travel Abroad Experience for High School Students.

Please consider supporting these richly deserving inner-city high school students.

The Weekly Text, January 11, 2019

This week’s Text is a quick one, mainly because I started a Sheltered English Immersion course last evening so that I can add that endorsement to my Massachusetts teaching licenses. Three hours, from four to seven, after teaching five periods makes for a long day, which left me weary.

Anyway, here is a reading on reading on chocolate tycoon and philanthropist Milton Hershey along with its comprehension worksheet. As this reading can explain to you and your students, Hershey was an interesting guy.

Several years ago “60 Minutes” ran a feature, which I cannot find on the Internet, on the possible sale of the Hershey Company. It was controversial because the philanthropies Milton Hershey contrived, particularly the Milton Hershey School, directly benefit from the company’s profits, and would lose that support in the event the company was sold. As far as I can tell (short of spending hours of research on this, which I really cannot afford to do at the moment), this issue remains unresolved.

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.

Why Read?

…What is reading for? We read in order to understand thoughts: either someone else’s thought, or our own thoughts from the past. That characterization of the function of reading highlights that another mental act had to precede it: the mental act of writing. So perhaps we should begin by thinking about the function of writing. I think I need milk, I write that thought on a note to myself, and later I read what I’ve written and I recover the thought again: I need milk. Writing is an extension of memory.”

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

Richard Feynman on Knowledge and Ignorance

“I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.”

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.