Tag Archives: building vocabulary

The Weekly Text, February 9, 2018

Have you seen director Raoul Peck’s documentary about James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro yet? If not, I cannot recommend this film highly enough. I have always been a film buff, so I have greatly appreciated the arrival, in the last ten or fifteen years, of a bumper crop of engaged, talented documentarians. Indeed, most evenings I watch a documentary of some sort, so I like to think I know something about the form. If “I Am Not Your Negro” doesn’t represent formal perfection, then I don’t know what does.

Also, obviously, it showcases one of the most important public intellectuals and writers of my lifetime. I’ll simply say that The Fire Next Time was one of those books that radically altered the way I perceive the world, and I am grateful to it for that.

This week’s Text is a reading on James Baldwin with a comprehension sheet to accompany it. You might also find useful (and you can get lots more of these from the generous people at Education World) this Everyday Edit on the U.S.-Africa Capital Connection.

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 2, 2018

As I’ve said before, perhaps ad nauseum on this blog, every month is Black History Month in my classroom. I’ve always had mixed feelings about a single month set aside for Black History, mainly because it has always struck me as a form of segregation; I say we integrate Black History into every lesson we teach, particular when we teach the history of the United States. That said, I am decidedly circumspect in second guessing a scholar of Carter G. Woodson’s stature; Dr. Woodson launched “Negro History Month” in February of 1926. This is the month in which we now justly and appropriately celebrate the many and diverse achievements of Americans of African descent.

The first Weekly Text for Black History Month is a relatively high interest reading on Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls with an accompanying reading comprehension worksheet. Rappers come and go, and I’m old enough to remember a time when rap wasn’t part of the cultural landscape of this country. Tupac and Biggie, I think, are icons of the genre, and martyrs to it as well, I suppose. While my students look at me blankly when I ask them if they’ve heard of Kool Moe Dee, (I really liked How Ya Like Me Now and was pleased to hear it shuffle up at the gym recently) they’ve all heard of Biggie and Tupac. You might find useful this Everyday Edit on African-American History Month (courtesy, as always, of the good people at Education World, a world-class hub for instructional 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.

Addendum, February 6, 2018: While waiting for the train in the Bowling Green station late yesterday afternoon, I noticed a poster advertising the USA Network’s upcoming series on the investigations into the murders of Tupac and Biggie. This Text, as it turns out, is timely.

Word Root Exercise: Hepta, Hept

Here, on the final day of January, 2018, is a short exercise on the Greek word roots hepta and hept. They mean seven.

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.

Year One

The year 2696 used to be considered the start date for Chinese civilization, for the winter solstice of that year was held to be the beginning of the reign of the Yellow Emperor. Most historians had accepted that that the period of the Three Sovereigns and the Five Emperors is mythic time, though Huangdi was honored as the man who taught the Chinese to how to build shelters, tame wild animals, build boats and carts, and plant and reap the five cereals, while his wife taught weaving and silk-making, and their chief minister set out how to write, keep laws, and the annual calendar.

If we were all to agree to a new world calendar system, the Chinese Year One would not be such a bad start date, for it calibrates pretty closely with other great memory pegs of world history, such as the construction of the first pyramid (2630 BC), the first era of Stonehenge (3100-2400 BC), and the first recorded king (Enme-Barage-Si of the Sumerian city-state of Ur, c.2600 BC).”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Zealot (n)

Here, on a relatively warm Monday morning, is a context clues worksheet on the noun zealot. I wrote this, if memory serves, to attend a lesson on Maximilien Robespierre.

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, January 26, 2018

It’s the end of a week of New York State Regents Testing, so inanity has been the theme. I’m glad, once more, that it has come to an end. I guess the less said about this horrorshow (and subsidy to crummy educational publishing companies) the better.

This week’s Text is five short exercises on the homophones allude and elude. These are a couple of words students ought to know. Allude is an intransitive verb, often used with a prepositional phrase beginning with to–e.g. “Gabriel regularly alludes to James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake when the subject of modernist literature comes up.” Elude, on the other hand, is transitive and requires a simple direct object: “The students cutting class eluded the dean.”

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.

Ruthless (adj)

Yesterday’s rain gave way to a bright, crisp and windy Wednesday morning here in Manhattan. I wish I weren’t in a windowless building at this hour.

Here is a context clues worksheet on the adjective ruthless. It’s a timely word, I 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.