Tag Archives: news

Mercedes Schneider: TFA Will Send Green Teachers into the Classroom with No Teaching Experience

[Would you care to guess where these callow but oh-so-filled-with-missionary-zeal “teachers” will end up? In schools attended by the poorest kids (see immediately below) in our society. Those students deserve better than this cohort of non-educators.]

Mercedes Schneider, a veteran high school teacher in Louisiana with a Ph.D. in research and statistics, was stunned to learn that Teach for America …

Mercedes Schneider: TFA Will Send Green Teachers into the Classroom with No Teaching Experience

Lluis Busse

To wrap up today, I just want to give a quick shout-out to Lluis Busse, who started following this blog yesterday and who maintains a stylish and literate blog that exhibits his compelling monochrome photographs.

Douglass Cater on Why We Need a Robust Independent Media

“The reporter [is] one who each twenty-four hours dictates a first draft of history.”

Douglass Cater

The Fourth Branch of Government ch. 1 (1959)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Requiescat in Pace, John Prine

I don’t know if you heard the news, or even if it means anything to you, but I am devastated at the loss of an American national treasure last night to COVID19, the great, and greatly underrecognized, John Prine. His first album, filled with some of the greatest songs ever to grace American culture, has been a part of my entire life.

Farewell, John Prine. Your death further pauperizes an already devastated world. And thanks for the songs.

Virus

Here is an extremely timely reading on viruses along with its vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. Enough said.

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.

COVID19 at Mark’s Text Terminal

May 28 2020–But Revised Regularly

We’re now eleven weeks into the global disruption the coronavirus has caused. According to UNESCO, 91 percent of students worldwide currently are out of school because of various social-distancing and and shelter-in-place mandates. Governor Phil Scott of Vermont, whence I write, closed schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. 31 states have closed schools for the remainder of this academic year. As I write this, some schools, and a number of colleges, have suggested that they may not reopen in the fall, or at least not reopen for face-to-face classes.

Until March 12 of this year, I was a one-year contract employee in a school district to which I had already announced my intention not to return. I lost my job when the schools in Vermont closed in mid-March. I plan to continue to work in education. But for now, like everyone else, I await the outcome and eventual conclusion (I hope) of the public health catastrophe we currently endure. It happens, therefore, that I suddenly have some free time on my hands. As a teacher, I sought to be of some use to the communities I served. Now as a blogger with some free time, I hope to be of some use to those parents who have their own children at home as, for now, students.

Mark’s Text Terminal will ramp up production. I plan to use my free time to publish material already in my data warehouse, but also to develop some new documents, especially on English usage, some short literacy exercises based on Barbara Ann Kipfer’s great book The Order of Things, and cross-disciplinary worksheets based on Judith Hochman and Natalie Wexler’s excellent framework from The Writing Revolution.

I taught under my special education license in New York City for 16 years, so you will find that the material offered on this blog contains a lot of language about that city, and even particular places in the Five Boroughs, the better to call up and build upon prior knowledge I could be relatively confident my students possessed. For more about using worksheets from Mark’s Text Terminal, see the “About Posts & Texts” page just above the banner photograph. Here are a set of users’ manuals for the most commonly posted materials on this blog. As below, you may email me with any questions you might have about the material posted on this website. Nota bene, please, that most of what I post here is in Microsoft Word: that means it is easily exportable to other word processing programs, as well as adaptable to your students, children, and circumstances. I wrote most of the material found on this blog for struggling high school students. Most of it can  be easily modified for a wide range of abilities in students.

I’ve opened a Twitter account in an attempt to make material–especially new material–more readily available. I try to remember to tag everything I post on Twitter with #freeopensourcecurriculum, which I contrived for a simple form or organizing my material there. I’ll be revising posts to make them more easily searchable, and I’ll add more extensive, and new, explanations to the “About Posts & Texts” page.

Mark’s Text Terminal can offer you a variety of seasonable materials. To help your students and children understand the president’s response to this crisis, here is a lesson plan on personality disorders. To understand the biology of COVID19, here are a reading and comprehension worksheet on viruses. Here is a short Cultural Literacy worksheet on the concept of a pandemic (and don’t forget to tell your children or students–or both, in these circumstances–that the Greek word root pan means all and everything–though in Latin, I must point out, the same root means bread). Since our current circumstances are regularly likened to it, here is a reading and comprehension worksheet on the influenza epidemic of 1918. This reading and comprehension worksheet on immunity should definitely be au courant in our current situation, as should the same set of documents on antibodies. This reading on Edward Jenner and Smallpox explains the science of vaccination, of which I assume I needn’t belabor the importance. Finally, here is a lesson plan on using the 2020 United States census as a teachable moment.

You will notice that the basic structure of this blog alternates posts between a set of documents and a quote of some kind. Over time, I have begun to develop these quotes–especially those tagged as readings and research–as assignments themselves. Many of these passages are linked to readings outside of Mark’s Text Terminal. If you want to use these posts for learning, here is a worksheet template with an extensive list of questions to drive inquiry in them. For more on this, see the About Posts & Texts and Taxonomies pages.

As this crisis deepens, and I read accounts of parents struggling to sustain their children’s education, it becomes clear to me that I should post some material on teaching practice. For now, keep this in mind: all teaching and learning starts with a question. So, here, to begin, is a a taxonomy of questions from Roland C. Christensen, David A. Garvin, and Ann Sweet’s (eds.) Education for Judgment: The Artistry of Discussion Leadership. (Cambridge: Harvard Business School Press, 1991). Here is a list of question stems to start discussion and essays. I don’t remember where I got this list of 17 Teaching Tips, but it is solid stuff and easy enough to use with whatever you’re doing at home with your kids. I’m starting work on a review essay on the contents of my planning book that I hope will provide parents with some basic grounding in pedagogical theory.  For my money, the best framework for instructional planning out there (because it is based firmly upon the principles in the National Research Council’s book How People Learn) is Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s concise yet exhaustive Understanding by Design. I’ve used it to guide my own planning since I discovered it. Here is a trove of documents from the pages of that book, as well as a couple of assessments from the pages of Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids by Mr. McTighe and Carol Ann Tomlinson. I used the Understanding by Design framework to write this list of adapted essential questions for the struggling students I have served in social studies and English language arts classes in New York City. This table of structured activities from Janet L Kolodner’s article “Case Based Reasoning” in The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), might help to focus home learning for the best retention. Finally, to get a sense of your child’s cognitive style, you might find useful this cognitive styles table from Daniel Willingham’s book Why Don’t Students Like School?  (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009). I look to Professor Willingham’s work when I need guidance on the best instructional design for any learner, but particularly the struggling learners whom I have served throughout my career. If you want more on this, I wrote this review essay with all these documents embedded in a few paragraphs about teaching and learning.

One organization worth following is TeachRock, which has developed, in a very short time, a great deal of  high-interest material. TeachRock is on Twitter , and you can sign up for its mailing list at its homepage. Highly recommended. Recently, the author of The Historical Diaries blog left her approval here in the form of liking some of my posts. Her own blog is literate and stylish, and mines history for obscure but compelling facts. It is definitely worth a look; I’ll soon publish a worksheet template here that could be used with posts on The Historical Diaries, as well as my own posts tagged with readings and research.

Your kids, especially if they are younger, would all but certainly benefit from listening to Vermont Public Radio’s (I’ve listened to public radio stations across the country, and VPR is the best of them, I think) podcast “But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids.”

If you have any questions, or if there is something you and your students need, please leave a comment on any post with your email address. I vet all comments before they appear on the site, so you won’t be exposing your email address to the open internet. I’ll take your address, delete your comment, and get back to you. If you need something I don’t already have (I have volumes of material to publish), I can probably write something for you.

Finally, and I hope not crassly, I started a Go Fund Me campaign last fall, long before COVID19 disrupted our lives. Please rest assured that the material I publish here has been, is, and always will be free of charge; moreover, I will continue, if I am able, to pay the WordPress premium fee that keeps this site free of the clutter of advertisements. However, I am, in fact, unemployed. I need to be smart about keeping myself in food, shelter, and medicine. I am demonstrably bad about selling myself or asking for assistance. Nonetheless, I do ask now.

I offer tutoring, writing, and editing services. Please contact me at the email address above for services, rates, and procedures.

That’s it. I wish you safety and good health.

Mark

Fred Smith: How Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein Nudged Test Scores to Get Bragging Rights

[Whenever I reblog political posts, I feel obliged for some reason to qualify their presence on Mark’s Text Terminal by noting that this is not a political blog. I offer no such qualification or caveat for this post from Diane Ravitch’s magisterial blog. I worked for the New York City Department of Education throughout the Bloomberg years; yes, I am outraged by this post, but in those years I was more outraged by the culture of contempt toward teachers Bloomberg and Joel Klein ginned up.]

Diane Ravitch's blog

Fred Smith was the testing expert at the New York City Board of Education for many years. After he retired, he became a relentless truth-teller about the flaws of standardized testing and the clever means of distorting the stats to produce the desired results. He currently acts as an unpaid advisor to opt-out parents.

Smith sent this article from 2007 that shows how Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein played games with the data, in this case blaming “immigrant kids” for a drop in test scores.

Mayor Bloomberg and his schools chancellor, Joel Klein, have reaffirmed that old Mark Twain saying about the three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.

Using a PowerPoint presentation filled with glitzy graphs and color charts, Klein reached a new low yesterday by attempting to blame a sharp drop in this year’s third-, fourth- and fifth-grade reading scores on thousands of immigrant pupils.

According to…

View original post 4,192 more words

New Yorkers, It’s Time to Cashier Richard Carranza

As I say every time I post something like this, Mark’s Text Terminal is not a political or policy blog.

That said, by any standard I recognize, it is long past time for New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza to find something else–anything else–to do. As an erstwhile colleague of mine commented recently, Carranza is “a lightweight.”

In the 16 years I taught in New York, we had one condescending, disrespectful chancellor after another–including the amazingly ill-fated–by her own dismal performance–Cathie Black.

So Carranza is not sui generis. That said, as this web page shows, Carranza’s  incompetence is well-documented and his failures many. The irony of this, of course, is that like so many people who occupy offices at his level in public education, he will all but certainly fail up when leaving New York.

Whatever happens, good riddance….

New Reports Confirm Persistent Child Poverty While Policymakers Blame Educators and Fail to Address Core Problem

[Jan Resseger, whose posts I will occasionally reblog here, is one of the most observant, astute and patient–because I certainly would not have the patience to analyze statistics the way she does, let alone remain patient with what they far too often demonstrate about the idiocy of current educational policy in the United States–analysts of educational policy and performance out there. She is also a gifted and compelling prose stylist.]

janresseger

On Tuesday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published a stunning analysis, by the newspaper’s data analyst Rich Exner, of the school district grades awarded by the state of Ohio on the state report cards released last week.  The new report cards are based on data from the 2018-2019 school year.  I encourage you to follow the link to look at Exner’s series of bar graphs, which, like this one, present a series of almost perfect downward staircases, with “A” grades for school districts in communities with high median income and “F” grades for the school districts in Ohio’s poorest communities.

The correlation of academic achievement with family income has been demonstrated now for half a century, but policymakers, like those in the Ohio legislature who are debating punitive school district takeovers, prefer to blame public school teachers and administrators instead of using the resources of government to assist struggling…

View original post 1,229 more words

The Comtu Trio at the Rockingham Meeting House, August 18, 2019

Elsewhere on this blog I have written about my good friend Walter Wallace, who serves as a docent at the Rockingham Meeting House in Rockingham, Vermont. Walter has arranged a series of concerts in the Meeting House. This Sunday, August 18th, the Comtu trio will perform a program of early American music arranged for trio, as well as selections from the classical repertoire, e.g. Vivaldi and Telemann.

The meeting house per se is worth a visit, and its warm, resonant acoustics make this event well worth attending. On this occasion, Karen Engdahl, the pianist of the Comtu Trio (and proprietor of the Springfield Piano Studio), will perform on the Meeting House’s Estey Reed Organ, manufactured in nearby Brattleboro.

If you happen to be in the Connecticut River Valley–or anywhere else in Vermont, for that matter, since everyplace here is near everything else–take Exit 6 off I-91 and travel west by northwest on State Route 103 for two miles toward Chester. The Meeting House is on Meeting House Road, and is clearly marked on 103 in both directions.