In the late 1990s and early 2000s, several old friends of mine, acting on United States Labor Department job forecasting, went back to school and began work on Masters Degrees in Library Science. It looked as though demographics–like the teachers profession, librarians were by and large baby boomers, primed to begin retiring in the early 2000s–and the burgeoning Internet (a quick web search for “masters in library science” reveals, for example, that Rutgers now offers a “Masters of Information” degree that “enables graduates to provide professional expertise, leadership, and innovation across diverse information and technological landscapes”) would combine to create increasing demand for professionals holding this credential, known in shorthand as an MLS.
Several of these folks ended up working for Internet companies. Furthermore, another friend, who works at a large, multinational Internet company as a graphic artist, tells me that an Internet company of any size and reach really must keep an MLS on staff. A website of any size and scope really does need, in addition to a graphic artist to make it readable, an expert in the arrangement of information so that the website functions.
Here at Mark’s Text Terminal, there is, alas, no MLS to help me categorize the work I publish. I’ve used the WordPress’s Categories and Tags functions in an attempt to keep all this material in some sort of order. From the beginning, I sought to keep the number of Categories and Tags to a minimum in an attempt to conform to what I understand as one of design’s basic principles: simpler is better. However, when it comes to categorizing a wide and complex array of information, simplicity is not always easy to achieve. My own organizational sense is limited by its idiosyncrasy. In general, I seek to organize the material on Mark’s Text Terminal in a way that is consistent with the way I use it in the classroom; often I’ll use one document for several purposes. Categories, then, are relatively flexible. Whether a given post contains one document or several, they will be categorized by their use in instruction. That means that a given post may be categorized for multiple purposes. Tags, on the other hand, tend to narrow descriptions of documents, and with tags, as I use them, I seek to pinpoint both the type of worksheet (e.g. context clues, word root, homophone, etc.) or document (reading, learning support, etc).
While I realize that this explanation leaves something to be desired, it is, sans an MLS, the best I can do, I’m afraid. That said, I’ve worked below to elucidate a few of the Categories and Tags that are not clearly self-explanatory, and to therefore help users of this site understand and navigate around the variety of materials I post here. If you find that more of the Categories and Tags on this site require explanation, please advise via comment, and I’ll work up something to satisfy demand.
Finally, on the home page of Mark’s Text Terminal, you need only roll your cursor across the categories hyperlinks, hover for a moment, and a window will open describing the contents of that category and their purposes.
Independent Practice Category
“Independent practice” at Mark’s Text Terminal and in my classroom is a simple euphemism for “homework.” However, given what the research on homework indicates it probably ought to be a more accurate descriptor of what this practice seeks to accomplish, i.e. focusing students attention on working–briefly–independently on the skill or concept they dealt with in class that day.
Documents categorized as “independent practice” are, generally speaking, one of three things: either a document created specifically to serve as independent practice (I wrote many of them for use in a integrated co-teaching classroom); a section of a scaffolded worksheet that follows closely on the skills practiced in the classroom that day, for that worksheet; or a worksheet or document designed for other purposes, but that can be used for purposes of independent practice.
The almanac tag signifies that the post includes a recap of events in history on the date which the post was published. I added this tag to the taxonomies of Mark’s Text Terminal early in 2018. Almanac entries are and will always be part of a larger post containing a document for classroom use, often but not always related to the almanac entries. Formally, the almanac records the date, along with a couple of significant historical events and maybe a birthday or two if I can find them with athletes or celebrities of some substance. Within the top almanac paragraph I’ll embed links that will take students and teachers to a place–most commonly Wikipedia–that further elucidates and informs on the questions the event of person raises.
At some point, I think, I may use, or at least be able to use, these almanac entries with students. Indeed, I contrived this almanac worksheet–you will find two versions of the worksheet under that link: the first is a template, and the second I edited into outline form to make the directions a little easier to follow for students who struggle to follow complex sets of directions. These worksheets, in any case, are designed to provide students with some experience to help them develop basic research skills through work with almanac posts. I also put together this works cited page for the three books that I draw from for the almanac posts, if you want students to be able to cite sources.
Indeed, if you teach students with pronounced executive skills challenges, the almanac entries and their procedures offer them an opportunity to work through the often complicated steps involved in conducting research, The worksheet supports them as they work through what may be either a simple or complex process, depending on their own circumstances. With practice, students ought to be able to master the process involved in these short excursions. From that mastery, students can continue to build acumen in research methods by continuing up a scaffold to more complex research endeavors as they are ready and able to move along.
In any case, over time, Mark’s Text Terminal will compile hundreds of almanac entries for use in this way.