Tag Archives: building vocabulary/conceptual knowledge

Cultural Literacy: Straw Man

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the concept of a straw man in argumentation. This is a half-page worksheet with a two-sentence reading (the second of them a long compound) and two comprehension questions. This is a cogent introduction to the topic of the straw man. However, it presupposes an prior understanding of argumentation (and its rules) that some students may not possess. But in our current discursive culture, understanding the straw man, a favorite tool of demagogues, strikes me as vital for the development of critical awareness in 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, 21 January 2022: Two Context Clues Worksheets on the Verbs Coerce and Coax

This week’s Text is a pair of context clues worksheets, one on the verb coax and another on the verb coerce. Both of these verbs are used only transitively, so don’t forget your direct object; you must coax or coerce someone or something. These words are near antonyms. However, I wrote them as a pair to help students develop an understanding of the continuum of connotative meanings in English words. A key question for interrogating these two words is quite simple: When does coaxing turn into coercion?

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: Progressive Education

Should you be using progressive methods in your teaching practice, you might find this Cultural Literacy worksheet on progressive education useful. If nothing else, it will help your students understand the way their class operates.

This is a full-page worksheet with a six-sentence (a full paragraph) reading and six comprehension questions. Once again, the editors of The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy have done an admirable job of summarizing a series of concepts, complicated when taken together, into a short but thoroughly informative reading.

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.

Write It Right: Commencement for Termination

“Commencement for Termination. A contribution to our noble tongue by its scholastic conservators, ‘commencement day’ being their name for the last day of the collegiate year. It is ingeniously defended on the ground that on that day those on whom degrees are bestowed commence to hold them. Lovely!”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. Write it Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2010.

Meticulous (adj)

Because it is a very useful word–indeed, when it’s needed, few others will suffice–here is a context clues worksheet on the adjective meticulous. It means “marked by extreme or excessive care in the consideration or treatment of details.” I submit that this is a word students should know and be able to use before they graduate high school.

But what do you think?

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.

Lexicon

“Lexicon (noun): An alphabetical list or book of defined words; wordbook; glossary or dictionary; the vocabulary of a particular language, class, group, or individual; word-hoard; compete record or domain, as of a particular field. Plural: lexicons, lexica; verb: lexiconize.

‘Among several reasons why the Women’s Liberation Movement (and interesting metaphor in itself) runs into resistance is that both men and women have internalized a rich lexicon of metaphors, about the subjects of sex, love, and domesticity.’ Neil Postman, Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk”

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

Word Root Exercise: Lex

Here is a worksheet on the Latin word root lex. It means “word,” “law,” and “reading.” This is a very productive root in English–n.b. that it morphs to leg for most legal terms–and yields a number of academic words, many of which you already know, like lexicon, lexical, and, of course, dyslexia. This root, when it morphs, gives us high-frequency words such as legal and illegal.

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.

Spanish Civil War

Here is a reading on the Spanish Civil War along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. While the reading does mention that this conflict became a “cause celebre among communists and left-leaning Western intellectuals,” it does not mention the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, an oversight in my estimation. This lapse, if you too think it one, can be remedied with this material from the Zinn Education Project.

Incidentally, The Brigade’s members were dismissed as “premature antifascists” in their time. In ours, I suppose, they would be ridiculed as the “woke left” by the halfwits on Fox News. They were right then and remain so about the menace of fascism.

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.

Rhetorical Question

“Rhetorical Question: Basically a question not expecting an answer, or one to which the answer is more or less self-evident. It is used primarily for stylistic effect, and is a very common device in public speaking—especially when the speaker is trying to work up the emotional temperature. For example (a politician on the hustings:

‘Are we going to tolerate this intrusion upon our freedom? Are we going to accept these restrictions? Are we to be intimidated by time-serving bureaucrats? Are we to be suppressed by sycophantic and supine jackals waiting for dead men’s shoes?’

Or the writer may argue with himself (and in a different way work on the emotions of the reader) as Sir Philip Sidney does in the 47th sonnet of the sequence Astrophel and Stella:

‘What, have I thus betrayed my libertie?

Can those blacke beames such burning markes engrave

In my free side? Or am I borne a slave,

Whose necke become such yoke of tyranny?

Or want I sense to feel my miserie?

Or sprite, disdained of such disdaine to have?’

Another fundamental form of rhetorical question (both having something in common with the above) are: (a) a series of questions in quick succession for emphasis (e.g. “Can we make it? If so, will it work? Where can we market it? Can we market it cheaply?” and so on); (b) a question put to another person or oneself which expresses surprise, astonishment, or anger and which is not easily answered. A good example is Bolingbroke’s outburst in Richard II (I, iii, 294) after he has been banished:

‘O, who can hold a fire in his hand,

By thinking of the frosty Caucasus?

Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite

By bare imagination of a feast?

Or wallow naked in December snow,

By thinking on fantastic summer’s heat?'”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.

The Weekly Text, 14 January 2022: A Lesson Plan on the Compound Preposition

This week’s Text is this lesson plan on using compound prepositions.

I open this lesson with this Everyday Edit worksheet on Eleanor Roosevelt; if this lesson goes into a second day, here is another on time zones. Incidentally, if you and your students find these Everyday Edit worksheet edifying (and therefore rewarding), the good people at Education World generously distribute a yearlong supply of them at no charge.

Here is the scaffolded worksheet that is the principal work of this lesson. And, at last, here is the teacher’s copy of same.

And that is it for another week.

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.