Tag Archives: news

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

March 14, 2020–But Occasionally Revised

This morning, when I picked up the local paper, I learned that Governor Phil Scott has placed Vermont in a state of emergency, as has the president for the entire country. The Boston Public Schools will be closed until at least April 27. I just received an email from the Network for Public Education asking me to sign a petition calling on New York City schools to close immediately. Many programs and events are shut down and cancelled, respectively, in the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union here in Bennington, Vermont.

The United States, wisely, is shutting down until this public health crisis abates. On March 26, Governor Scott of Vermont announced that schools in this state will remain closed for the rest of the year. That news was easily anticipated, and I expect to hear it again as states see no alternative to this.

It happens that I suddenly have some free time on my hands. It’s a long and entirely uninteresting story, but for all practical purposes, my public school teaching career came to a sudden conclusion on March 12.

Mark’s Text Terminal will, however, continue. I plan to use my free time both to publish material already in my data warehouse, but also to develop some new documents, especially on English usage, and cross-disciplinary worksheets based on Judith Hochman and Natalie Wexler’s excellent framework from The Writing Revolution.

I’ve also 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.

As a teacher, I sought to be of some use to the communities I served. Now as a…well, I’m not exactly sure yet what I will do next, but as a blogger with some free time, I hope to be of some use to those parents who have students at home.

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 easily be modified for a wide range of abilities in students.

That said, I taught under my special education license in New York City for 16 years, so you will find that this material 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.

If there is something you and your students need, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line at markstextterminal@me.com. If I don’t have something already (I have volumes of material to publish), I can probably write something for you.

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.

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 (and I’m trying to figure out how to set up a Venmo account today–March 18–and as soon as I do, I’ll post a link to it as well).

As of today [April 2], I don’t think the link above to my Go Fund Me page is working. At the moment, I have decided to prioritize publishing posts over fundraising. If you are interested in contributing to this enterprise, you can search Mark’s Text Terminal on Go Fund Me. Venmo remains as of this date an unrealized project–soon, perhaps, soon.

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

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.

The Current Number of The American Educator

Elsewhere on this blog, I have sung the praises of The American Educator, the quarterly published by my union, The American Federation of Teachers. Let me belabor my point a tad further here by saying that I think this is a first-rate journal of educational theory and practice; it’s where I first encountered Daniel Willingham, who really is doing as much as anyone out there (with his “Ask the Cognitive Scientist” column in The American Educator as well as his excellent books) to assist classroom teachers in applying research to practice.

The current number of the magazine addresses the issue of teaching traumatized students. I started my career working with traumatized adolescents in one of New England’s “ivy league” psychiatric hospitals, and I have continued to work with these kids as a teacher.

A discussion of this population’s needs is long, long, overdue. I cannot sufficiently or strongly encourage teachers to read this issue of The American Educator from cover to cover. This is vital stuff every teacher should know.