Category Archives: The Weekly Text

The Weekly Text from Mark’s Text Terminal is where one finds manipulable (because they are in Microsoft Word format) curricular materials for use withs struggling learners.

The Weekly Text, February 15, 2019

When I first began work in Lower Manhattan in 2008, for the first time in my career, I worked with students who were reading—decoding and comprehending—at grade level or very close to it. The primary challenge to serving these students revolved around the issues of interest and choice; they could read, they simply chose not to because they were completely uninterested in the material assigned them.

Back then, there was a Borders bookstore just east of the school in which I worked on Trinity Place, over on Broadway, right across from Trinity Church. I often found myself there during my lunch break. In the course of my browsing, it occurred to me that I might be able to co-opt kids into reading by supplying them with high interest articles from what looked like the two leading Hip-Hop magazines of the day, to wit XXL and Vibe. I say “looked like” because these two periodicals, while ostensibly about Hip-Hop music, also contained a number of features of interest to young, inner-city residents. Not only that, but the prose was really first-rate.

And bingo! Students who had theretofore been failing English began to read articles and submit—completed!—the comprehension worksheets I wrote to attend them.

Still, I knew these assignments ultimately would suffer from expiration dates. As I mentioned in a blog post a year or so ago, I remember the time before Hip-Hop was part of popular music’s landscape. That means, of course, that I have seen a lot of rappers come and go. So, it was only a matter of time before these readings and worksheets became obsolete. While students may know who 50 Cent is, but as far as they’re concerned, he is not as au courant as whoever is the newest and flashiest star in the Hip-Hop firmament.

Like many rappers (I ask again, how many people remember Kool Moe Dee, a rapper I really liked in the 1980s), Borders was a casualty of time and circumstance—in its case, the 2008 economic collapse that took the bookseller, like electronics superstore chain Circuit City—down the drain. Over time, I’ve disposed of all the materials I accumulated after students began, once again, turning up their noses at those articles and worksheets. Vibe appears to have survived the transition to digital media,  as did  XXL. I just haven’t the time to keep up with the always rapidly changing rises and falls of stars in Hip-Hop.

However, I did keep one article, Jay-Z’s resume, because I understood that it had value as a well-constructed example of such a document. Moreover, across time, it became clear that unlike many rappers, (and his resume tends to affirm this, I think), Jay-Z is a permanent part of the global cultural landscape. So here is a PDF of Jay-Z’s resume scanned directly from the pages of  Vibe (and the hyperlink at the beginning of this paragraph is a web page with a better reproduction of the document). If you think it might be easier to use, you might consider sacrificing some authenticity an use this typescript of Jay-Z’s resume I prepared, in Word format. I sought to keep the fonts and formatting consistent while assembling a graphically presentable and readable document.

For both teachers and students, I also prepared this glossary of key words used in the document. Finally, here are two comprehension worksheets to attend these documents.

You’ll notice, as of this writing, that no lesson plans or do-nows accompany these materials. I have a lesson plan template made and a few preliminary questions formulated, but this work, without a lesson plan, remains incomplete. As a rule, indeed, a relatively rigid one here at Mark’s Text Terminal, I don’t like to post incomplete work. I do so now because Jay-Z has been in the news a good deal lately for a variety of things–primarily political stances–and I think students should know what self- and community advocacy look like. If you use this material, check back here occasionally for an addendum that will render the assembled document an complete lesson plan.

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, February 8, 2019

OK, for the second Friday of Black History Month 2019, here is a high-interest reading on seminal Hip-Hop group Public Enemy and the vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet that accompanies it.

Years ago, I set out to write a reading and writing unit on the History of Hip-Hop, starting from a pithy remark Chuck D made to characterize Hip-Hop, to wit that the musical genre in its manifestations was “CNN for Black people.” Even though the seriously alienated students in whose service I contrived this material took great interest in it, the principal of the school forbade me from teaching it. I have yet to revisit that material and take it further, as I have no reason to think any of the principals I’ve worked for since would have allowed me to present this high-interest, differentiated 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, 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.

The Weekly Text, January 18, 2019

This week’s Text is a complete lesson plan on using coordinating conjunctions. I open this exercise with this homophone worksheet on the homophones desert and dessert; while I realize that these two words, properly pronounced, aren’t really homophones, these are nonetheless words that students (and adults for that matter) frequently confuse, so I think it’s worth taking a moment to help them sort out these two words. Should this lesson stumble into another day for any reason, here is an everyday edit on Ludwig van Beethoven–and if you like Everyday Edit worksheets, the generous people at Education World have a yearlong supply of them posted as giveaways.

This structured worksheet of modified cloze exercises is the mainstay of this lesson; here too (contrived for the teacher’s ease of use) is the the teacher’s copy and answer key for the 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.

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.

The Weekly Text, January 4, 2019

The first Text for the New Year is this complete lesson plan on the latin word root bell-. It means war. Here is the context clues worksheet on the noun conflict with which I begin this lesson. Finally, this vocabulary-building worksheet on this root is the mainstay of this lesson.

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.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

“(Russian title: Odin den Ivana Denisovicha). A novel (1962; English translation 1963) by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008), first published outside the USSR. Live on one of Stalin’s labour camps in 1950 is seen through eyes of an inmate; the author was himself in such a camp from 1950 to 1953. A film version (1971), directed by Caspar Wrede and starring Tom Courtenay, was a fairly faithful adaptation of the original, with all its harrowing detail.”

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