Tag Archives: high-interest materials

New York City Subways

Here is a reading on the New York City subways along with its vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

This is a rudimentary history of the system, though it does offer some room for analysis, particularly the paragraph that begins “Since their opening, New York’s subways have functioned as a sort of bellwether for the city’s overall condition.” In any event, if you happen to work as a teacher in New York City, and serve a special needs population, I can just about guarantee you that at some point you will encounter a student, if you haven’t already, whose all-consuming, even obsessive, interest in the subway system will make these documents stand as high-interest material. Ergo, I have tagged them as such.

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, July 2, 2021: A Lesson Plan on the Crime and Puzzlement Case “The Cider Booth”

This week’s text is a lesson plan on the Crime and Puzzlement case “The Cider Booth.” 

I open this lesson with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on dead languages. Incidentally, the short reading in this half-page document speaks specifically of Latin, ancient Greek, and Sanskrit. As a matter of routine in my classroom, I taught Greek and Latin word roots for vocabulary building. When one thinks about how often classical word roots turn up in English words, the idea under the circumstances that these languages are “dead” can make for interesting classroom discussions. Also, when one considers that Spanish, the first lingua franca of a wide swath of student I served over the years, is in some respect a modern version of Latin, the idea that the tongue of the Roman Empire is dead doesn’t quite make sense.

Anyway, to conduct your investigation into the case of “The Cider Booth,” you will need this PDF of the illustration and questions that both drive the investigation and serve as evidence in it. Finally, to identify a suspect and bring him or her to the bar of justice, here is the typescript of the answer key you will need.

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: Microchip

Since there is currently a worldwide shortage of them, and this as particularly affected the automobile manufacturing industry, now is a good time to post this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the microchip. It’s a full-page worksheet with five questions; as it is formatted in Microsoft Word, the user is left with a lot of latitude where expanding, contracting, or otherwise adapting this document to suit his or her needs.

So have at it.

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.

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.

Cultural Literacy: Isadora Duncan

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Isadora Duncan. This is a short worksheet, three questions, that could be expanded to include a couple more. I expect this would be high-interest material to certain students, so I’ve tagged it as such.

And, of course, Ms. Duncan’s rich life, in the hands of an interested student, is the stuff of a variety of avenues of inquiry, from modern dance to the life of a bohemian, and beyond. Incidentally, did you know that her sister Elizabeth Duncan was also a dancer? Or that her brother Raymond Duncan was as well? Finally, a second brother, Augustin Duncan was an actor and theatrical director who continued to perform and direct even after he had gone blind.

So, a couple of big questions that come out of even this cursory knowledge of the Duncan family are What is an artistic family? and How does an “artistic family” become artistic?

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: Lizzie Borden

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Lizzie Borden. If you are my age (or perhaps younger–do kids still recite this?), you might remember her from this piece of doggerel, recited on finer playgrounds during recess from the horrors of the elementary school classroom:

“Lizzie Borden took an axe
She gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
Lizzie Borden got away
For her crime she did not pay.”

I wrote this worksheet for this year’s Women’s History Month 2021 which is under way now. So I’ve never used it in the classroom. But it’s a safe bet that it will be a high-interest item–especially if paired with a deeper examination of the facts of Lizzie Borden’s case, and the fact that one may, if one chooses, lodge at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/Museum while traveling through Fall River, Massachusetts.

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, March 5, 2021, Women’s History Month 2021 Week I: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on Kate “Ma” Barker

In observance of Women’s History Month 2021, here is a reading on Ma Barker along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

While I understand she is not exactly a feminist icon, this has tended to be relatively high-interest material among the students I’ve served over the years. I expect a phrase from the opening sentence, to wit, that Kate “Ma” Barker was the “…matriarch of a notorious family of midwestern bank robbers” contributes to student interest in this short text. But it might also be that fact that she was “proclaimed a public enemy” and that she and her gang was “the target of a nationwide hunt until the gang was cornered in Florida and gunned down by the FBI.” I know that some kids found fascinating the criminal culture of the Barker family–all four of Mrs. Barker’s apparently half-witted sons, Herman, Lloyd, Arthur, and Fred, were “in and out of jail for bank robbery, car theft, and other crimes.” Finally, many students who have used these documents, especially young men, found fascinating the life and criminal career (which apparently included, while Karpis resided at Alcatraz Penitentiary, giving guitar lessons to Charles Manson) of Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, a member of the Barker-Karpis Gang, as it became known after Karpis joined forces with the Barkers.

If nothing else, I guess, there is a lot of solid vocabulary in this reading: matriarch, notorious, and proclaim among others. As far as Women’s History is concerned, well, Ma Barker was a woman, and she is unquestionably part of history.

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.

Hank Aaron

“Aaron, Hank: (orig. Henry Louis) (1934-2021) U.S. baseball player. Born in Mobile, Alabama, he played briefly in the Negro and minor leagues before joining the Milwaukee Braves in 1954. He would play outfield most of his career. By the time the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1965, he had hit 398 career home runs; in 1974 he hit his 715th, breaking Babe Ruth’s record. He played his final two seasons (1975-76) with the Milwaukee Brewers. His records for career home runs (755), extra-base hits (1,477), and runs batted in (2,297) remain unbroken, and only Ty Cobb and Pete Rose exceeded him in career hits (3,771). He is renowned as one of the greatest hitters of all time.”

Excerpted/Adapted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Cultural Literacy: Muhammad Ali

Here is Cultural Literacy worksheet on Muhammad Ali. He was the greatest, you know? This is a full-page worksheet that can be used as independent practice.

Muhammad Ali really requires (or I hope he doesn’t) much explanation or amplification. He was ubiquitous in the media in my childhood, meeting with The Beatles and appearing in a series of photographs with them, and writing a poem with Marianne Moore in addition to his public and principled refusal to fight in the Vietnam War (even as a little kid, this thrilled me). So when an actor friend argued that Ali was one of the most exposed figures in the history of media, I had to agree. My friend’s point, though, was this: it took real courage for Canadian actor Eli Goree to take on the role of Ali; how does one portray such a profound, well-known, and ultimately sui generis personality? If you want to see, take a look at Regina King’s great new film, One Night in Miami on Amazon.

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.