Category Archives: Independent Practice

This is material either specifically designed for or appropriate to use for what is more commonly known as “homework.”

The Weekly Text, March 5, 2021, Women’s History Month 2021 Week I: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on Kate “Ma” Barker

In observance of Women’s History Month 2021, here is a reading on Ma Barker along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

While I understand she is not exactly a feminist icon, this has tended to be relatively high-interest material among the students I’ve served over the years. I expect a phrase from the opening sentence, to wit, that Kate “Ma” Barker was the “…matriarch of a notorious family of midwestern bank robbers” contributes to student interest in this short text. But it might also be that fact that she was “proclaimed a public enemy” and that she and her gang was “the target of a nationwide hunt until the gang was cornered in Florida and gunned down by the FBI.” I know that some kids found fascinating the criminal culture of the Barker family–all four of Mrs. Barker’s apparently half-witted sons, Herman, Lloyd, Arthur, and Fred, were “in and out of jail for bank robbery, car theft, and other crimes.” Finally, many students who have used these documents, especially young men, found fascinating the life and criminal career (which apparently included, while Karpis resided at Alcatraz Penitentiary, giving guitar lessons to Charles Manson) of Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, a member of the Barker-Karpis Gang, as it became known after Karpis joined forces with the Barkers.

If nothing else, I guess, there is a lot of solid vocabulary in this reading: matriarch, notorious, and proclaim among others. As far as Women’s History is concerned, well, Ma Barker was a woman, and she is unquestionably part of history.

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: Women’s Movement

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Women’s Movement. This is a full-page worksheet with seven questions, so it is appropriate for, among other things, an independent practice assignment. But, as it is a Microsoft Word document, it is adaptable for whatever use to which you may see fit to put it.

Nota bene, please, that this document supplies students with a relatively broad overview of the Women’s Movement, rightly tracking its roots in the United States back to the nineteenth century. The text quickly pulls into sharp focus on the key issues in the struggle for equality for women; it is, therefore, a good general introduction both theory and practice in the fight for women’s rights.

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.

Cultural Literacy: Hillary Rodham Clinton

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Hillary Rodham Clinton. This is a full-page, in fact two-page, worksheet. In all there are ten questions. Like almost everything else on Mark’s Text Terminal, this is a Microsoft Word document that you may alter and adapt to the needs of your students.

Other than that, I haven’t much to say about Secretary Clinton. She remains basically au courant, so this material may well qualify as a current events exercise.

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.

Cultural Literacy: Martha Graham

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Martha Graham. Ms. Graham, as you may know, is a distinguished figure in the world of modern dance with a plethora of accomplishments to her record.

Did you know that her pedagogy of dance, the Graham Technique, is still taught worldwide? Or that the Martha Graham Dance Company still performs, even in this pandemic time? If ever the term “cultural literacy” applied to a knowledge of a single person, it is Martha Graham.

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.

Cultural Literacy: Mary McLeod Bethune

On the first day of Women’s History Month 2021, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Mary McLeod Bethune.

While I would like to think Ms. Bethune requires no introduction, it seems safe to doubt that is the case. This important American heroine was an early and unequivocal champion of gender and racial equality, as well as an educator. In 1904, she started the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Negro Girls. By 1931, her school had grown to such an extent that it became Bethune-Cookman University, now one of the preeminent Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States.

In other words, Mary McLeod Bethune is a world-historical figure. All of this is another way of saying this: to those southern cities taking down statues of white men to fought for (Confederate generals and political leaders), argued for (Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney) or otherwise abetted the practice of slavery in the United States, a nice bronze casting of Mary McLeod Bethune would make an appropriate, indeed just, replacement for any of those vacant plinths. You 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.

The Weekly Text, February 19, 2020, Black History Month 2021 Week IV: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on George Washington Carver

This week’s Text, in this blog’s ongoing observance of Black History Month 2021, is this reading on George Washington Carver along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. Today is the final Friday of Black History Month for this year; on Monday, March 1, this blog turns the corner to Women’s History Month.

Professor Carver is a staple of Black History, and usually observations of him tend to emphasize his interest in the peanut and its infinite varieties. While I don’t want to minimize those accomplishments–I for one would be very interested in knowing what Professor Carver’s recipes have added to the gross domestic product of the United States since their inception–I think it’s important to remember that George Washington Carver was a sophisticated agronomist who understood the need to rotate crops in southern fields so that cotton wouldn’t exhaust the topsoil. Alone, this area of his scholarly career makes Professor Carver an early environmentalist.

And all of this he accomplished while on the faculty of Tuskegee University in Alabama, in the heart of the Jim Crow South. If we White Americans are going to he honest with ourselves, we must stipulate that being a smart Black man in Alabama in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries could be dangerous indeed. For Americans of African descent, subservience and deference were the orders of the day in the Jim Crow South. His commitment to educating poor farmers also would have put him in the crosshairs of, say, the Ku Klux Klan.

So let’s all tip our hats to this great man.

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: Black Panthers

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Black Panthers. Because the authors of The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, from which, like all the books I use to inform instructional material, I copy verbatim, use the term “Black Panthers,” I have preserved their text.

However, I have always thought of the Panthers, and therefore referred to them as the Black Panther Party, which is how they refer to themselves, and which represents them as the agents of history I would argue they have been in my lifetime.

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.

Cultural Literacy: W.E.B. Du Bois

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on W.E.B. Du Bois. He is a world-historical figure about whom, I confess, I know less than I should.

Fortunately, I found my way to the rich public programming at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, where I have been attending particularly rich and edifying webinars on Monday afternoons. These are open to the public; if you’re on Twitter, simply follow the Beinecke, which regularly tweets about upcoming events. Otherwise, searching “Mondays at Beinecke” (or clicking on that hyperlink) will take you to a calendar of events at the Library.

In any case, the Beinecke possesses some of W.E.B. Du Bois’s papers, which came to the Library by way of one of the major collections at the library, the James Weldon Johnson and Grace Nail Johnson Papers, which is a treasure trove of materials related to Black History in the United States in the twentieth century.

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.

Cultural Literacy: Muhammad Ali

Here is Cultural Literacy worksheet on Muhammad Ali. He was the greatest, you know? This is a full-page worksheet that can be used as independent practice.

Muhammad Ali really requires (or I hope he doesn’t) much explanation or amplification. He was ubiquitous in the media in my childhood, meeting with The Beatles and appearing in a series of photographs with them, and writing a poem with Marianne Moore in addition to his public and principled refusal to fight in the Vietnam War (even as a little kid, this thrilled me). So when an actor friend argued that Ali was one of the most exposed figures in the history of media, I had to agree. My friend’s point, though, was this: it took real courage for Canadian actor Eli Goree to take on the role of Ali; how does one portray such a profound, well-known, and ultimately sui generis personality? If you want to see, take a look at Regina King’s great new film, One Night in Miami on Amazon.

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.

Cultural Literacy: Burundi

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Central African nation of Burundi. This is another African nation that fell victim to the depredations of colonialism, in its case Germany and then Belgium. Like its neighbor, Rwanda, Burundi’s principal ethnic groups are the Hutus and the Tutsis; also, as in Rwanda, the Tutsis have attacked the Hutus and perpetrated a genocide–known as the Ikiza–against them. And, in 1993, one year before the genocide in Rwanda, there was civil conflict following an attempted coup in Burundi that resulted in the deaths of 25,000 Tutsis.

In other words, this worksheet, which is a full page and as such useful for independent practice, opens the door to an exploration of European colonialism and its legacy in colonized nations.

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.