Alright, it’s Monday again, and already light at a little before five in the morning. I love this time of year.
Let’s start the week with a Crime and Puzzlement Lesson Plan, to wit, number seven from the first volume of Lawrence Treat’s series, Dead Man’s Curvature. I start this lesson with this Cultural Literacy worksheet idiom “Steal Someone’s Thunder.” Here is a scan of the illustration and questions that are texts for this lesson. Finally, here is a 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.
“A resinous varnish that, when applied in several layers, attains a high polish. True lacquer comes from the Japanese lac tree. Characteristically oriental, lacquer work spread to Europe in the early 18th century. Usually decorated.”
Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.
Over the years I worked with struggling learners in New York City’s schools, I always counted among the students on my rosters a complement of English language learners. Observing them across time, I noticed that all but a very few struggled with idioms from American English. Idioms are, arguably, one of the most difficult if not the most difficult figures of speech to master: they are not literal, and as abstractions they are difficult to interpret because they don’t bear any resemblance in most cases to the concept they describe and represent.
Which is why, when I started using E.D. Hirsch and Joseph F. Kett’s book, The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, I wrote up worksheets on American idioms and attached them as short, do-now exercises (they take five to ten minutes at the beginning of a class period and help with transitions between classes) to as many of the lessons as I could.
So, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on “Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth”. This is still, I think, a very commonly used idiom, and is easy to explain conceptually, which will help students make the jump from the figurative to the literal and back again on this worksheet, and, this teacher hopes, to many of the other of its type I have posted and will post over time.
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.
[N.B. that this quote contains an apparent error, to wit that number 488 in the Kochel Catalogue is not a sonata for two pianos, but rather the composer’s 23rd piano concerto.]
“Mozart effect: A finding, first reported in the journal Nature in 1993, that listening to compositions by Mozart increases scores on tests of spatial ability for a short while. In the original experiment, college students were given various tests after experiencing each of the following for ten minutes: listening to Mozart’s sonata for two pianos in D major K488, listening to a relaxation tape, or silence. Performance on the paper-folding subtest of the Stanford-Binet intelligence scale was significantly better after listening to Mozart than after the other two treatments, but the effect dissipated after about 15 minutes, and other (non-spatial) tasks were unaffected. The finding has been contested by other researchers and has been widely misinterpreted to imply that listening to Mozart (or listening to classical music) increases one’s intelligence. Several independent research studies have shown that children who receive extensive training in musical performance achieve significant higher average scores on tests of spatial ability, but that long-term consequence is not the Mozart effect.
[Named after the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-9100]”
Excerpted from: Colman, Andrew M., ed. Oxford Dictionary of Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.