Taxonomies

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 cluesword roothomophone, etc.) or document (readinglearning 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.

So I hope it helps. As I arrive at the end of this excursus, I wonder if it seeks to explain my organizational scheme as much to myself as to users of this blog. Whichever is the case, I’d like people to be able to find what they need. And certainly, if anyone is willing to come forward and advise me on where these taxonomies fall short, I would be much obliged.

Categories

English Language Arts

Because I consider myself first and foremost a literacy teacher, just about everything I post on Mark’s Text Terminal could be considered English Language Arts material. Indeed, if English Language Arts classes exist to inculcate strong reading and writing abilities, which I consider my most salient charge in educating the students I serve, then I reiterate that just about everything on Mark’s Text Terminal was designed and composed to meet that responsibility. To put this more simply, you won’t find much on this website that you couldn’t defend as English Language Arts material.

Essays/Readings

The Essays/Readings category describes synthetic review essays that compile and summarize research on teaching and learning. Posts categorized under this heading are for teachers (as opposed to the readings tag below, which designate documents for students); this category will invariably overlap with the professional development tag for obvious reasons.

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.

Lesson Plans

Posts over this category are complete lesson plans as I use them in my classroom–including the lesson plan document itself, short exercises (which, after my first encounter with the New York City Department of Education, I started calling “do-nows” after the Department’s term of art for such work) designed to settle and focus students after a class period change. The Lesson Plans category will intersect with a variety of other categories, particularly English Language Arts, Independent Practice, Social Studies, The Weekly Text, and Worksheets. Commonly, this category will also carry the building conceptual knowledge, building vocabulary, context clues/focus on one word, cultural literacy, Everyday Edit, grammar and style, learning support, short exercises, skills development, and word root tags.

Quotes

This is a simple category: what this plural noun indicates just what it days, i.e. quotes, either amusing, ironic, and most often related to teaching and learning themselves, or the emotional and affective lives of children. The Quotes category, however, will frequently also fall under the Essays/Readings and Reference Materials categories as well as the glossary and professional development tags. Incidentally, quotes are transcribed verbatim from the sources in which I find them into Mark’s Text Terminal. Therefore, you will occasionally find errors that look like typos. Rest assured that I check and double-check my sources, and I am faithful to them, warts and all.

Reblogged Post

This category too is bluntly literal: it covers reblogged posts from a broad spectrum of writers on education, primarily on policy issues. That said, you will find the preponderance of reblogged posts on Mark’s Text Terminal originated on Diane Ravitch’s Blog; she really is the voice of reason on policy issues. You’ll sometimes find these posts categorized as Reference Materials. This category will virtually always carry the educational policy and politics tag, as well as, variably, the professional development tag.

Reference Materials

The Reference Materials category describes materials that serve as background information and some cases evidence for teachers and learners. This category will rarely if ever fail to intersect with Quotes category. Quotes and documents over the Reference Material category will often coincide with the English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Essay/Readings categories as well as the art, music, and professional development tags.

Social Studies

Because I work primarily with struggling learners, and especially learners for whom learning is an effortful activity, I teach social studies as a literacy-building activity. Consequently, many of the worksheets you encounter while browsing this category will be pitched at low-level readers. The preponderance of worksheets in the Social Studies category will ask only basic comprehension questions. All of these documents are in Microsoft Word, so you can manipulate them for the needs of your students.

This adds up to the fact that in many instance, the Social Studies materials on Mark’s Text Terminal will also commonly be categorized as English Language Arts documents. The Social Studies category will also intersect with the Worksheets, Independent Practice, The Weekly Text, and Independent Practice categories, as well as the almanac, Asian Pacific History, Black History, building conceptual knowledge, building vocabulary, cultural literacy, differentiated instruction, high interest materials, Hispanic History, learning support, skills development, United States History, and women’s history tags.

The Weekly Text

The Weekly Text is the mainstay of Mark’s Text Terminal as I originally conceived it in 2015. It remains so, primarily because it is the feature of this blog that I crosspost on the AFT’s Share My Lesson website. The Weekly Text category will, over time, very likely overlap with every category and tag in the taxonomic structure of Mark’s Text Terminal.

Worksheets

Because I created Mark’s Text Terminal for the selfish purpose of eliciting peer review on the material I design from my fellow teachers, wherever they may be, the bulk of the material I post on this blog will be structured, scaffolded worksheets. This category can and will overlap with every other category save Reblogged Posts, and with the lion’s share of tags, save child study and professional development tags.

Tags

almanac

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

art

In the 16 years I have served in the New York City school system, arts education has taken a beating. Blog posts with the art tag will relate–even if it is at times a stretch–to art and its relevance to the primary academic domains I deal with in my practice. Therefore, the English Language Arts and Social Studies categories frequently accompany this tag, as do the Independent Practice, Quotes, Reference Materials, The Weekly Text and Worksheets categories. This tag will also overlap with the tags for Asian Pacific History, Black History, building conceptual knowledge, building vocabulary, context clues/focus on one word, cultural literacy, Everyday Edit, film and visual media, glossary, high interest materials, Hispanic History, homophones, short exercises, skills development, United States History, and women’s history.

Asian Pacific History

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month runs annually through the month of May. Posts over the Asian Pacific History tag will be related to that region of our world and is people, society, and culture. This category will intersect with English Language Arts, Quotes, Reference Materials, Social Studies, The Weekly Text (especially during the month of May), and Worksheets categories. In terms of tags, look for the Asian Pacific History tag to overlap with the building vocabulary, building conceptual knowledge, context clues/focus on one word, cultural literacy, short exercises, skills development, United States History and women’s history tags.

Black History

For a variety of reasons, the concept of “Black History Month” has always left a great deal to be desired–and in saying that I must express my distinct discomfort at second-guessing the ideas and intentions of a scholar of Carter G. Woodson’s stature. Simply put, Black History is United States History, which is why you will always find these two tags in blog posts here. In any case, Black History Month runs through the month of February every year. Materials carrying this tag will also fall under the English Language Arts, Independent Practice, Lesson Plans, Quotes, Reference Materials, Social Studies, The Weekly Text and Worksheets categories. You’ll also find the Black History category associated with the tags for building vocabulary, building conceptual knowledge, cultural literacy, differentiated instruction, Everyday Edit, fiction and literature, film and visual media, high interest materials, Hispanic History (don’t forget that Arturo Schomburg, the namesake of Harlem’s famed Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture was a Puerto Rican national of African descent), short exercises, skills development, sports, United States History, and women’s history (e.g. Zora Neale Hurston or Alice Walker).

book reviews

While I enjoy writing the occasional book review, and flatter myself with the belief that I have something interesting to say about the books I read (usually 50 to 70 volumes a year), this tag will seldom accompany posts on Mark’s Text Terminal. I prefer to use Goodreads to track my reading and as a forum for discourse on books. Any book reviews I write are found there–with the exception of books with particular timeliness and salience for teachers and learners. The book reviews tag will intersect with the English Language Arts, Essays/Readings, and Social Studies categories in addition to the child study, educational policy and politics, learning and cognition, planning documents, and professional development tags.

building conceptual knowledge

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any cultures in the world that don’t use language to represent concepts. Therefore, any blog post above the building conceptual knowledge tag will all but certainly also carry the building vocabulary tag. In my teaching practice, these are respectively the theory and practice of helping students use language to understand and discuss concepts across the domains of knowledge in high school. Categories associated with this tag will include English Language Arts, Independent Practice, Quotes, Reference MaterialsSocial Studies, as well as Worksheets and an occasional posting as The Weekly Text. Tags related to building conceptual knowledge are art, context clues/focus on one word, cultural literacy, fiction and literature, grammar and style, learning support, math literacy/numeracy, science literacy, short exercises, and skills development.

building vocabulary

If humans use language to represent and understand abstract concepts, then our first job as teachers is to build vocabularies in our students that will support and sustain deep understanding of those concepts. In my teaching practice, I work daily to teach students a new word every day. Furthermore, I work constantly to revise my lesson plans to align the day’s vocabulary word or words with the concept addressed in the lesson itself. The building vocabulary tag will, as above, in almost every, case keep company with the building conceptual knowledge tag.  Other tags accompanying building vocabulary are art, Asian Pacific History, Black History, context clues/focus on one word, cultural literacy, Everyday Edit, fiction and literature, film and visual media, glossary, grammar and style, high interest materials, Hispanic History, homophones, math literacy/numeracy, science literacy, short exercises, skills development, United States History, women’s history and word roots. You’ll also find this tag among the English Language Arts, Independent Practice, Lesson Plans, Quotes, Reference Materials, Social Studies, The Weekly Text, and Worksheets categories.

child study

This rarely used tag names blog posts related to child development, particularly its relevance to classroom practice. I began my career working with adolescents on a locked unit in one of New England’s oldest and at that time most prestigious psychiatric hospitals. There we would often have child study groups to focus on vexing child developmental issues on the unit. Because of that experience, I am interested in cognitive, affective and psychiatric pathologies–think bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and their others–as the affect childhood development and therefore learning. This tag will almost universally intersect with the Essays/Readings category and the professional development tag, as well as the learning/cognition tag.

context clues/focus on one word

Unless research somehow disproves their effectiveness, context clues worksheets will remain central to my teaching practice. The idea for this worksheet format arrived at Mark’s Text Terminal from Kylene Beers’ excellent book When Kids Can’t Read: What Teachers Can Do. Context clues worksheets with the context clues/focus on one word tag will always intersect with the English Language Arts and Worksheets category, and often with the Social Studies category. This tag will also align with the building vocabulary, building conceptual knowledge, short exercises and skills development tags, as well as the math literacy/numeracy and science literacy tags. As I begin teaching more advanced English classes, this tag may end up in the company of the fiction and literature, film and visual media, and grammar and style tags.

cultural literacy

The cultural literacy tag (in lower case because it is a tag rather than a category, but in just about all other setting in upper case as the proper noun that it is–a book title extract) represents a long series of worksheets I developed based upon E.D. Hirsch’s arguments about literacy and cultural capital. Indeed, this entire series of worksheets is based on the short readings in Professor Hirsch’s book, co-authored with Joseph E. Jett and James Trefil), The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2002). The cultural literacy tag will always intersect with the Worksheets category along with either the English Language Arts or Social Studies categories, depending on its content. Longer Cultural Literacy worksheets will also always post above the short exercises and skills development (i.e. reading comprehension) tags. Depending on the content of the worksheet, the cultural literacy tag can intersect with the art, building vocabulary, building conceptual knowledge, Asian Pacific History, Black History, fiction and literature, grammar and style, film and visual media, glossary, grammar and style, Hispanic History, math literacy/numeracy, science literacy, United States History, and Women’s History tags.

differentiated instruction

Here’s another seldom-used tag, principally because just about all the work I prepare for the students I serve is some sort of differentiation or adaptation from or to the standard curriculum. I aim in my teaching practice to provide access to the curriculum for struggling and alienated learners. That means I differentiate instruction for ability and interest. I will occasionally add this tag to a post, particularly for longer readings and worksheets over the English Language Arts, Independent Practice, Social Studies, and Worksheets categories, as well as the art, Asian Pacific History, Black History, building vocabulary, building conceptual knowledge, fiction and literature, film and visual media, high interest materials, Hispanic History, skills development, and sports tags.

educational policy and politics

Mark’s Text Terminal is not a policy blog for a couple of simple reasons: the first is that I am a classroom practitioner, not an policy analyst or practitioner; the second is that there are a lot of people much, much smarter than I–and you’ll find some of them in the right-hand column of the home page of this website–performing this work. The Reblogged Post category will commonly taxonomize these posts, and educational policy and politics will also, if called for, include the tags for child study, executive function and organizational skills, learning and cognition, and professional development.

Everyday Edit

Everyday Edit worksheets come to my teaching practice and Mark’s Text Terminal from the generous folks at Education World who offer gratis an entire year’s supply of these well-conceived and executed short exercises. Everyday Edit worksheets are hands-on skills building exercises that will by definition fall under the English Language Arts category, as well as the Independent Practice, and Worksheets categories; depending on a given worksheet’s content, it may find itself among the Social Studies category as well. The tags for building vocabulary, building conceptual knowledge, grammar and style, planning documents, short exercises, and skills development will also accompany this tag.

executive function and organizational skills

Just about every student or client with whom I’ve worked in my career has, to some extent, dealt with executive skills challenges and their manifestations in the real world, a struggle to sequence and to stay organized. I hope I’ll have an opportunity to dust off this vital but seldom-used tag in the future. Specifically, I’d like to design some academic or didactic lessons that assist students in recognizing executive skills challenges and contriving strategies for surmounting them. Until then, however, this tag will very rarely accompany blog posts.

fiction and literature

It goes without saying that this tag will always accompany the English Language Arts category. It was almost as often overlap with the Independent Practice, Lesson Plans, and Worksheets categories, and relatively regularly with the Quotes and Reference Materials categories. The fiction and literature tag  will also overlap with the

film and visual media

future work

glossary

grading and assessment

grammar and style

high interest materials

Hispanic History

homophones

learning and cognition

learning support

literary oddities

math literacy/numeracy

music

parsing sentences

planning documents

professional development

science literacy

short exercises

skills development

sports

United States History

women’s history

Following closely on the heels of Black History Month, Women’s History Month runs through the month of March. For that reason (and as above in the text for the Black History tag) some materials posted over the Black History Month tag (e.g. readings and comprehension worksheets on Toni Morrison or Mae Jemison) will also carry the women’s history tag. Depending on their content, materials over the women’s history tag will fall under either the English Language Arts or Social Studies categories, as well as Independent Practice, Lesson Plans, Quotes, Reference Materials, Social Studies, The Weekly Text (particularly Fridays in March), and Worksheets. Other tags that accompany the women’s history tag are Asian American History, Hispanic History, cultural literacy, Everyday Edit, fiction and literature, film and visual media, high interest materials,  Hispanic History, music, math literacy/numeracy, science literacy, short exercises, and skills development.

word roots