Category Archives: Social Sciences

You’ll find domain-specific material designed to meet Common Core Standards in social studies, along with adapted and differentiated materials that deal with a broad array of conceptual knowledge in the social sciences. See the Taxonomies page for more about this category.

Skyscrapers

Here is a reading on skyscrapers along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet

If memory serves, I wrote this, along with some other materials, for a student who possessed a considerable interest, bordering on obsession, with tall buildings. Like most of the materials based on Intellectual Devotional readings you’ll find on this site, this is a short but thorough general introduction to the topic. Keep an eye on it, though: this is one of those articles in which information can quickly go out of date. Indeed, I have revised this reading a couple of times as buildings get taller and taller.

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.

Allegory

Allegory: A series of symbols existing harmoniously in a larger system of meaning. While a symbol most often takes the place of a letter, word, or image, such as the cross as a symbol of Christianity, allegory takes symbolism one step further by using images and/or stories to stand in for other ideas or abstract concepts. Picasso’s Guernica, rooted in events from the Spanish Civil War, works as an allegory for total war. (Disputed symbols include the wounded horse and the bull, representing Republican Spain and fascism, respectively.) From the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, the primacy of abstract art made the use of allegory seem out of date. But with the advent of postmodernism and a return to figurative and narrative works, allegory has again flourished. Modernists Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, and Jose Clemente Orozco make use of allegory, as do postmodernists Anselm Kiefer and Francisco Clemente.

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

Book of Answers: Dante’s Inferno

“According to Dante’s Inferno (1321), who is at the bottom of hell? In the lowest circle of hell, the place for traitors, a three-faced Satan chews on three people: Brutus and Cassius, betrayers of Julius Caesar, and Judas Iscariot, betrayer of Jesus Christ.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Cultural Literacy: All Roads Lead to Rome

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the proverb “all roads lead to Rome.” This is a half-page document suitable for use, as I generally use these shorter exercises, to open a class period as a do-now worksheet.

And, of course, you may teach this proverb as either metaphorical or literal: in the ancient world, all roads did, in fact, lead to Rome.

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.

Constructivism

“Constructivism: The creation of three-dimensional abstractions from materials used in modern technics, e.g., wire, iron, plastic, glass, wood. The first constructivist exhibition took place in Moscow in 1920. With its emphasis on rationality and modern technology, constructivist sculpture focused on space rather than mass. Begun as a Russian abstract style, it is sometimes called Tatlinism, after one of the earliest constructivists. Leader constructivists are Antoine Pevsner, Naum Gabo, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy; Alexander Rodchenko and Vladimir Tatlin both applied constructivist principles to architecture and design.”

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

Wright Brothers

Here is a reading on the Wright Brothers along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. Over the years, several students I’ve served were highly interested in aeronautics and aviation, so I’ve tagged these documents as high-interest material.

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.

The Weekly Text, April 2, 2021: A Lesson Plan on the Crime and Puzzlement Case “Picture Gallery”

Since they continue as some of the most downloaded items on Mark’s Text Terminal, here is another case from the pages of the Crime and Puzzlement books, this one a lesson plan on the “Picture Gallery” whodunit.

I start this lesson with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on Dylan Thomas’s immortal lines, some of the best-known in the history of poetry, “Do not go gentle into that good night…Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” I don’t teach younger children, but I’ll hazard a guess that this do-now exercise may well be inappropriate for them. Needless to say, your call. To conduct your investigation into the larceny at the picture gallery, you’ll need this PDF of the illustrations and questions that constitute the forensic material in this crime. Finally, to determine whether your detectives used evidence judiciously to allege a crime and arrest a suspect, 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.

Doris Lessing

“Doris Lessing: (1919-2013) English novelist and short-story writer, born in Persia and for many years a resident of southern Rhodesia. Lessing’s first two published works, The Grass Is Singing (1950) and the stories in This Was the Old Chief’s Country (1951), are sent in Africa. She then began work on a series called ‘The Children of Violence’—including Martha Quest (1952), A Proper Marriage (1954), A Ripple from the Storm (1958), Landlocked (1965), and The Four-Gated City (1969)—that established her as a vividly realistic novelist, with an intense commitment to socialism and a particular capacity for identifying the social and emotional forces that shape women’s lives. The Golden Nottebook (1962), and ambitious experimental novel about a woman writer’s struggle to discover the meaning of ‘self’ has become a classic of feminist literature. While the primary interest in all of her work has remained the delicate, often destructive interplay between men and women, Lessing has continually expanded both her field of focus and her stylistic experiments. Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971) and The Summer Before the Dark (1973) delve into aspects of neurotic disorders and madness. The ‘Canopus in Argus: Archives’ series, which is made up of RE: Colonized Planet 5, Shikasta (1979), The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and Five (1980), The Sirian Experiments (1981), The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (1982), and Documents Relating to the Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire (1983) is a series of visionary, allegorical novels of the future in which archetypal images of men and women interact in a cosmos consisting of six zones, or ‘levels of being.’ Human concerns are dwarfed by the competition between galactic empires for control of the universe, but these conflicts also are an image of human history. The Good Terrorist, a novel, appeared in 1986. Lessing has also gained high praise as a writer of short stories. Among the most noteworthy of her collections are African Stories (1965), The Habit of Loving (1958), and The Stories of Doris Lessing (1978). Nonfiction works include African Laughter (1992), and Under My Skin (1994), a collection of essays.”

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

Cultural Literacy: Ruth Benedict

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Ruth Benedict, a towering figure in the study of anthropology in the United States. This is a short worksheet, three questions only, that doesn’t do justice to this path-breaking scholar.

Like Zora Neale Hurston, Dr. Benedict studied with Franz Boas at Columbia University. In fact, if Ms. Hurston’s Wikipedia page is accurate (I understand educators’ trepidation where Wikipedia is concerned, but entries like this–generally non-controversial–are reliable) she worked with Dr. Benedict at Columbia. Dr. Benedict and Ms. Hurston also worked with Margaret Mead, and Dr. Benedict apparently engaged in an intense romantic affair with Dr. Mead. Serving as president of the American Anthropological Association, Dr. Benedict was the first woman to lead a learned society in the United States. Her book Patterns of Culture became a standard text in the study of anthropology, and as far as I can tell remains an enduring classic.

In other words, Ruth Benedict is clearly an appropriate subject, in the hands of an interested student, for what was called in one high school in which I served a “college paper.”

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.

Susanna Kaysen on Developmental Interruptions

“This time I read the title of the painting: Girl Interrupted at Her Music. Interrupted at her music: as my life had been, interrupted in the music of being seventeen, as her life had been, snatched and fixed on canvas: one moment, made to stand still and to stand for all the other moments, whatever they could be or might have been. What life can recover from that?”

Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted (1993)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.