Tag Archives: learning support

The Weekly Text, January 24, 2019

On January 6, I published 56 documents for teaching Chinua Achebe’s masterpiece Things Fall Apart.  In last week’s Text, I published a similar set of documents for teaching Elie Wiesel’s Night.

This week’s Text is a batch of documents for teaching William Golding’s Lord of the FliesI wrote these materials, but never marshalled them into a coherent unit plan, over a two-year period beginning a little over 12 years ago; after that, I never used them again, so it has been about ten years since I laid eyes on this stuff. In any case, let’s get these documents uploaded into this post.

Because I was working in global studies and United States history classrooms at the the same time that I was co-teaching the English class dealing with this novel, I perceived instantly that Golding’s novel was Thomas Hobbes’s “state of nature” nightmare, where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” For that reason, I asked the English teacher with whom I was teaching to make an explicit connection between Hobbes and Lord of the Flies. To that end, here is a reading on Hobbes and its (extended, you’ll notice, if you’ve previously picked up these things from Mark’s Text Terminal) accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. I also wrote, to follow up on students’ understanding of the Hobbesian dystopia depicted in Lord of the Flies, this independent practice worksheet that I suspect I would have assigned at about the middle of the novel. The reading and worksheet above began the unit, I’m quite sure.

Next, here are 12 context clues worksheets–one for each chapter. I’m not sure why I compiled this complete vocabulary list for the novel, let alone kept it around. Perhaps I intended them as a learning support? I just don’t remember. I have learned the hard way not to throw away work, no matter how pointless or useless it appears at second glance, so that explains that document’s presence here.

These 12 comprehension worksheets drive a basic understanding of Lord of the Flies and its allegory.

Finally, here are three quizzes on the novel. You will note that these are numbered 2, 3, and 4. If there was ever a number 1, it is lost to time. Also, these aren’t exactly some of my best work, and may well reflect my contempt for my co-teacher’s (and the administrator under whom we served) insistence on quizzes as an assessment tool. I vastly prefer expository writing–i.e. papers–as a means of assessing understanding.

And that’s it. Every document in this post is in Microsoft Word, so these are documents you can manipulate for your own–and your students’–needs.

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.

A Bibliography on Electronic Screens, Child Development, and Learning from Parents Across America

If you’ve been teaching for ten years or more, you probably remember a time in your working life before smartphones became ubiquitous and turned your classroom into a battleground of wills over the presence of these devices in school. I have only one question for people who defend the presence of smartphones in classrooms: would you want your child–or any child–arriving in class every day with a smart television set and a cable modem and wireless router?

That is, of course, a rhetorical question (unless it’s not, which is very bad news indeed for this teacher). But the fact is this: we do allow this smart televisions and cable modems/wifi routers when we allow smartphones in our schools. As I like to tell students, I have nothing, and I do mean nothing, that can compete with the constant stimulation, approbation, distraction, and amusement that these devices offer. What I have is material that requires prolonged attention, engagement, consideration, analysis, and, finally, deep thought. What I offer will more often than not challenge students’ views of the world–which I think is kind of the point of education, after all.

I’ve been waiting for a moment when I would have the stamina to write a lengthy essay to accompany this extended bibliography on the hazards of screens for child development and learning. I can’t summon the outrage–probably because where outrage is concerned, my well runneth dry–to add more than these few words of expository gloss to accompany this excellent document.

But I do want to thank the good people at Parents Across America for this document–and for all the excellent work they do.

Teaching and Learning Support: The Serial Comma

[The Oxford Comma is a fairly contentious issue among writers, and this squib doesn’t address that issue in punctuation usage. If you want this material in typescript form click on that hyperlink.]

In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last.

Thus write,

Red, white and blue

Gold, silver, of copper

He opened the letter, read it, and made a note of its contents.

This comma is often referred to as the “serial” comma.

In the names of business firms the last comma is usually omitted. Follow the usage of the individual firm.

Little, Brown and Company

Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette

Excerpted from: Strunk, William Jr., and E.B. White. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition. New York: Longman, 2000.

Term of Art: Indirect Object

indirect object: An object whose semantic role is characteristically that of a recipient, e.g. to your sister in He blew a kiss to your sister; also, in most accounts, your sister in He blew your sister a kiss. Distinguished as an element in a ditransitive construction from a direct object.

The relation between sentences such as these has been described in terms of dative movement. It is in part because that relation is possible that to your sister can be distinguished, as an object, from directional phrases such as to the seaside as in He sent his family to the seaside.”

Excerpted from: Matthews, P.H., ed. The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Learning Support: The Possessive Singular of Nouns

“Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ‘s.

Follow this rule whatever the final consonant. Thus write,

Charles’s friend

Burns’s Poems

The witch’s malice

Exceptions are the possessives of ancient proper names ending in –es and ‘is, the possessive Jesus’, and such forms as for conscience’ sake, for righteousness sake. But such forms as Moses’ Laws, Isis’ temple are commonly replaced by

The laws of Moses

The temple of Isis

The pronominal possessives hers, its, theirs, yours and ours have no apostrophe. Indefinite pronouns, however, use the apostrophe to show possession.

One’s rights

Somebody else’s umbrella

A common error is to write it’s for its, or vice versa. The second is possessive.

It’s a wise dog that scratches its own fleas.”

Excerpted from: Strunk, William Jr., and E.B. White. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition. New York: Longman, 2000.

Learning Support: Writing about Reading

[You can also take this as a Word Document if you prefer.]

Writing About Reading: Some Openers

  • I was surprised when/angry about/satisfied with/moved by/incredulous at…
  • I liked how the author
  • I noticed how the author
  • I don’t get why the author
  • If I were the author I would have
  • I’d compare this author to
  • This book reminded me of
  • The main character
  • The character development
  • The narrative voice
  • The structure of this book
  • The climax of the plot
  • The resolution of the main character’s problem
  • The genre of this book
  • I’d say a theme of this book is
  • I wish that
  • I didn’t agree with
  • I understood
  • I couldn’t understand
  • Why did
  • This is how I read this book
  • I rated this one _____ because
  • And always: I was struck by/interested in/convinced by this passage: “….” It shows…about this author’s writing.

Excerpted from: Atwell, Nancie. The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers. New York: Scholastic, 2007.

The Weekly Text, January 3, 2020

Let me begin by stipulating that where math teaching is concerned, I leave a lot to be desired.

So, several years ago, when I was tasked with developing a math and science literacy unit for struggling learners, I had little time and few ideas, so I began planning one of my standard literacy units. Fortunately I had a couple of colleagues to coach me on some of the actual math work (and thanks to Nate Bonheimer and Jeremy Krevat for this). I’ve been posting lessons from this unit as I’ve gone along.

This week’s Text, therefore, is this lesson on the concept of solving problems. This lesson begins with this extended context clues worksheet on the verb solve (it’s used both intransitively and transitively) and the noun solution. These definitions of solve and solution can serve either as the teacher’s copy or as a learning support. This problem set and comprehension questions serves as the second piece of work for students. Here is one version of the answer key and here is another. Finally, here is the answer-key template if you decide to develop this lesson further and need it.

Let me end where I began: I am not a particularly deft math teacher, so this is not, by this blog’s standards, a superior piece of work. However, it may well work as a framework for a number of lessons on understanding the lexicon we use with mathematics.

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.