Tag Archives: cultural literacy

Cultural Literacy: Dark Ages

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Dark Ages.

In posting this document, I understand that I’m dealing with a contested term. In fact, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as the period became better understood, historians began restricting its use to the Early Middle Ages, generally the first few centuries following the fall of Rome. When I was teaching global studies in New York, one of the concepts that was chronically overlooked while my co-teacher droned on in a recitation of decontextualized historical facts was the difference between periods of intellectual enlightenment and intellectual repression–indeed, the active promotion of ignorance and superstition.

If one looks at intellectual history, this oscillation between lightness and darkness, as Petrarch framed it, recurs fairly regularly (in fact, we’re arguably in the middle of such a period as I write this). I always thought that in teaching global studies, we ought to use the trial and death of Socrates as an illustration of the contest between intellectual freedom and the superstition and ignorance which opposes it. Once we accomplished that, we can cite this phenomenon everytime it expresses itself in history. It would make introducing the Carolingian Renaissance, the Renaissance itself, and the Enlightenment (and its antithesis, Romanticism) a simpler and deeper conceptual endeavor at once. In United States history, this dynamic expresses itself, I submit, in everything from the First and Second Great Awakenings to the McCarthy Era.

And we end up with those big concepts in historical inquiry that Claude Levi-Strauss called binary oppositions: faith and reason, law and anarchy, science and religion, knowledge and ignorance, and so forth. Those pairs, I think, are what Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe had in mind when they talked about identifying (and helping students to understand) “big ideas” in instructional planning.

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.

A Concluding Assessment Lesson on Adjectives

If you search “lesson plan on adjectives” on this blog, you will find that there are a total of 11 lesson plans dealing with this part of speech; here is the concluding assessment lesson plan.

This lesson opens in my classroom with this Everyday Edit worksheet on Lucy Cousins’ Maisy books–and if your students enjoy the satisfaction of completing these exercises in correcting grammar, style, and spelling in another person’s prose (mine generally have), you can find a yearlong supply for download at no charge from the good people at Education World. This lesson generally extends across two days, so here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on malapropisms. Finally, here is the structured worksheet that closely follows the sequence of the 11 lessons that comprise this unit and serves as their concluding assessment.

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 9, 2021: A Lesson Plan on Using the Indefinite Pronoun

This week’s Text is a lesson plan on using the indefinite pronouns.

I open this lesson with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the proverb “any port in a storm.” In the event the lesson continues into a second day, I keep this Everyday Edit (and if you like these, the good people at Education World give away a year’s worth of them) worksheet on Duke Ellington handy. This scaffolded worksheet on using the indefinite pronouns is the mainstay of the lessons. Here is a learning support on subject-verb agreement when working with the indefinite pronouns that students can both use with the work of this lesson and carry away for future reference. And, finally, here is the teacher’s copy of the worksheet to make delivering this lesson a little bit easier.

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: 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.

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.

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.

Cultural Literacy: Girl Scouts of the United States of America

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. This is a short worksheet, a half-pager, with three questions. In other words, there are two worksheet on every page. That said, you may alter or adapt this document for your use–it is in Microsoft Word and easily exportable to a word processing program of your preference.

I don’t know much about the Girl Scouts (though like many people, I expect, I am intimately familiar with their cookie varieties); I was a Boy Scout myself. In the little bit of research I’ve conducted about scouting for this post, I did notice that while The Girl Scouts have not been immune to sexual abuse scandals, although a review of the Scouting sex abuse cases discloses that this is primarily a problem in the Boy Scouts.

In general, I have only one question about this: what the hell is wrong with people?

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.

Anne Boleyn

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Anne Boleyn. This is a short worksheet–two sentences and three questions.

From 1533 to 1536, she was the second of Henry VIII’s wives and therefore the Queen of England. She was beheaded for treason. Henry VIII was a piece of work, and this material opens a lot of questions about monarchy and the virtually unlimited power it conferred upon Henry. In my experience teaching high school social studies, Henry VIII’s wives tend to be glossed over in deference to the issues of secular and religious power his reign raises. 

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: Madeleine Albright

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Madeleine Albright. This is a full-page document, with a paragraph-length reading and eight questions. As always, however, you may adapt this document, because it is in Microsoft Word, to your students’ needs.

Secretary Albright–the first woman in United States history, incidentally, to serve as Secretary of State–requires little introduction. In her retirement from government service, she has remained active as a scholar of and commentator on world affairs. Most recently, observing (as any sentient person has, I hope) the rise of far right-wing strongmen around the globe, she published a book on fascism, a notoriously slippery subject. The book was well received, so it probably merits a look at some point.

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: Clara Barton

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Clara Barton. This is a half-page worksheet–in other words there are two copies on a single piece of paper. There are three questions.

Ms. Barton, who lived a very long life, is well known as the founder of the American Red Cross. She was a self-educated nurse during the Civil War, long before nursing became an academic discipline and the practice assumed professional standards. She was a friend to Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, upon making whose acquaintance she became, respectively an activist for women’s suffrage and for civil rights. Her accomplishments are many, which is why her name is memorialized around the United States in the names of streets, schools, and medical institutions, and why in 1973 the National Women’s Hall of Fame inducted her into its ranks.

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.