Category Archives: Essays/Readings

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

Independent Practice: Mansa Musa

Now that I’m working in a school district where deep instruction in world history is a pedagogical afterthought–if that–I appreciate more than ever New York State’s high standards for social studies instruction. Over the years, I taught or co-taught freshman global studies, for which classes I developed this independent practice worksheet on Mansa Musa. He’s an important figure in world history, and the students I serve in my current posting have no idea who he is.

Which would be a scandal if anyone here actually cared,

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.

Charles Richard Drew

“Drew, Charles Richard: (1904-1950) U.S. physician and surgeon. Born in Washington, D.C., he received his PhD from Columbia University. While researching the properties and preservation of blood plasma, he developed efficient ways to process and store plasma in blood banks. He directed the U.S. and Britain’s World War II blood-plasma programs until 1942. An African-American, he resigned over the segregation of the blood of blacks and whites in blood banks. He died in an auto accident.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Richard Pryor

OK, here, on an seasonably warm morning (34 degrees at 4:25 AM in Massachusetts) is a reading on the late, great, Richard Pryor and its attendant vocabulary-building and 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.

Cultural Literacy: African Methodist Episcopal Church

If you’re observing Black History Month in your classroom, this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the African Methodist Episcopal church may be of some use, depending on your approach to the subject. I would think if nothing else that this would reinforce the idea of community and social cohesion in an oppressed and misunderstood community.

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.

Independent Practice: African Geography

Here is an independent practice worksheet on African geography. As I looked at it just now, I realized it’s pretty dry stuff. Perhaps it can be part of a bigger endeavor for 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.

The Weekly Text, February 1, 2019

Hey! Black History Month 2019 begins today. I’m always excited for this month to roll around. In 16 years of teaching in inner-city schools, I have served students of predominantly (recent) African Descent. (I modify that locution with recent because as it turns out, we all–humans, I mean–started out in Africa. As the late, great Richard Pryor put it, “So Black people we the first people had thought. Right? We were the first to say, ‘Where the f**k am I? And how do you get to Detroit?’”)

Because I have, from childhood, been enamored of syncretic African cultural forms in this country–particularly jazz–the history of Black people in the United States has always been a deep interest of mine. As a matter of fact, I consider the seven years I lived in Harlem a post-graduate exercise. I really was thrilled to read about the locations of famous nightclubs, or the addresses of famous Harlem residents (Billie Holiday’s first apartment was on was on 138th Street, just off Lenox Avenue; A’Lelia Walker’s Dark Tower was on 136th Street in Sugar Hill–I could go on at length starting with 555 Edgecombe Avenue or The Dunbar Apartments–there are just so many of these august addresses in Harlem) and then stroll by to look at them.

Because David Blight, a historian at Yale,  has recently published a new biography of him (you can read Ta-nehisi Coates’ review here), let’s start the month with this short reading on Frederick Douglass and its vocabulary building and 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.

Antihero (n)

“Antihero: A protagonist who lacks traditional heroic virtues and noble qualities and is sometimes inept, cowardly, stupid, or dishonest, yet sensitive. The type is best represented in modern fiction and drama, although it appears as early as 1605, in Don Quixote, James Joyce’s Leopold Bloom in Ulysses, Kingsley Amis’s Jim Dixon in Lucky Jim, and Joseph Heller’s Yossarian in Catch 22 are antiheroes.”


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