Around 1996, several friends of mine, acting on United States Labor Department job forecasting, returned to school to work on masters’ degrees in Library Science. Demographics indicated that librarians, like teachers, were mostly baby boomers, primed to begin retiring in the early 2000s. The synergy of this shift in the labor market and the burgeoning Internet combined to create increasing demand for professionals holding this credential, known as an MLS. Here at Mark’s Text Terminal, there is, alas, no MLS to help me categorize the work I write and publish. I’ve used WordPress’s Categories and Tags functions in an attempt to keep all this material in some sort of order. I’ve tried to keep this simple, but I still end up with nine categories and thirty-nine tags after extensively revising this blog during the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the categories I eliminated was that for English language learners (ELLs). During the 2018-2019 school year, I taught at a high school in Springfield, Massachusetts. The state requires all teachers sit for a 44-hour-long course on teaching English language learners called RETELL (“Rethinking Equity for English Language Learners”). I took it in the spring of 2019. I was surprised to learn in this course that much of the material I have prepared over the years is not only suitable for English language learners, some if not most of it even conforms to best practices in serving this population. I found myself using the ELL tag so often that it became meaningless. My point is that there is a great deal of material on this site appropriate for English language learners.
In the interest of simplicity, category names, which in general cover broad categories of material–subject area work, planning documents, issues of professional concern, domain specific texts, reference materials, and post names–are always in upper-case. In the interest of typographical consistency (and readability), all tag names are in lower-case. While this has the unfortunate consequence of leaving some proper nouns and substantives uncapitalized, it does make them easy to identify, and this blog therefore easier to use. And that is the purpose here. Tags aim to specify what the document, quote, or other text specifically addresses in terms of subtopics in domains of knowledge, procedural knowledge, conceptual understanding, and professional concern. Please remember that Mark’s Text Terminal is searchable; indeed, as part of the pandemic revision, I worked diligently to give each post as richly descriptive a name as possible for ease of searching. So, don’t be afraid to use unusual or even obscure search terms. An example of this is the parsing sentences tag, which I also omitted in the pandemic revision. There are 45 or so parsing sentences worksheets (five each for nine parts of speech) floating around on this blog. Even though I eliminated the tag, people are still finding their way to these materials by searching for them. So, if the material you seek is on this site, chances are quite good that I’ve named it something easy to find. Also, 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.
A word about the basic structure of Mark’s Text Terminal: I publish two posts at a time–the first a documents post comprised of materials I composed either for use in the classroom or for inclusion on this blog, or both; the second a quote from a reference book of some kind. Often, I will lard quotes with links that lead users to further readings on the subject or subjects dealt with in the quote. Over time, especially as the nation went to online learning, I realized that these augmented quotes could serve in their own right as research assignments. I developed this worksheet template for quotes posts to use with these readings. That worksheet, incidentally, like nearly everything else on Mark’s Text Terminal, is in Microsoft Word. Put another way, it is an open-source document easily exportable to a word processing program of your choice, and is therefore easily manipulated for the needs of your student.
English Language Arts: This category contains domain-specific material–reading and writing expository prose, interpreting literature etc.–designed to meet the Common Core standards in English language arts while at the same time being flexible enough to meet the needs of diverse and idiosyncratic learners. However, because I view English classes as platforms for teaching a broad band of literacy, you will also find in this category a good deal of adapted, differentiated or specialized materials (e.g., a lexicon of culinary arts terms for a student I taught whose primary interest was in working as a chef). Basically, if something involves reading and writing, I will most likely categorize it as English language arts materials.
Essays/Readings: This category designates a piece of my own writing on a topic in educational theory and practice, the sociological phenomena that challenge and abet teaching and learning, professional culture, institutional norms, and topics in history, literature, philosophy–especially epistemology. So, if you are interested in listening to me bloviate, click on this category! However, Essays/Readings also occasionally includes extended quotes from books, particularly on pedagogy, literacy, terms of art, and philosophy.
Independent Practice: This is material either specifically designed for or appropriate to use for what is more commonly known as “homework.” I find that Independent Practice better reflects what research on homework divulges about its purpose and efficacy–and more accurately describes the intention of the documents I prepare and post under this category.
Lesson Plans: This category identifies a post containing two or more documents, which will include a lesson plan, and may include a short exercise to being the class (known in the New York City Department of Education as a “do-now”), a worksheet, often scaffolded, a teacher’s copy of the worksheet, and a learning support of some kind. Lesson plans are most commonly found as Weekly Texts, but not exclusively.
Quotes: As every second post on this site is a quote of some kind (the others are posts with documents for classroom use), you’ll find a deep and broad variety of quotes under this Category, which will overlap with several other tags and categories. Quotes, unsurprisingly, are passages of text drawn verbatim from their sources. You’ll find humor, poetry, aphorisms and apercus, terms of art, encyclopedia entries on music, politics, sociology, psychology and other issues of professional concern to educators, as well as longer reference materials for professional development. Many quotes are larded with links for deeper reading on the subject of the quote, or connections between the subject of the quotes and other people, things, or ideas. These posts, which will be tagged as readings and research, can be turn into online research assignments with this readings and research worksheet template.
Reference Materials: These are materials for teachers and parents. You’ll find, in this category, teachers copies and answer keys for worksheets, quotes related to domain-specific knowledge in English Language Arts and social studies, quotes on issues of professional concern, including terms of art, expositions of strategies, procedures, and practices in teaching and learning, and other materials of use to teachers and parents. Reference materials for students can be found under the learning supports tags.
Social Sciences: You’ll find domain-specific material designed to meet Common Core Standards in social studies, along with adapted and differentiated materials that deal with a broad array of conceptual knowledge in the social sciences. Materials under this category reflect this site’s editorially broad conception (consistent with scholarly consensus on the disciplines the social sciences encompass) of the social sciences–sociology, psychology, history, philosophy, and economics, to name a few.
The Weekly Text: The Weekly Text is a primary feature at Mark’s Text Terminal. This category will include a variety of classroom materials in English Language Arts and social studies, often in the form of complete lesson plans (see above) in those domains. The Weekly Text is posted on Fridays.
Worksheets: Classroom documents for student use. Most are structured and scaffolded, and most are pitched at a fundamental level in terms of the questions they ask and the work and understandings they require of students. All are formatted in Microsoft Word. Therefore, all are open source and manipulable, editable, and alterable for the specific educational needs of your students.
argumentation: This little-used (but very likely to grow) tag identifies materials designed to help students develop their own understanding of the rules, nature, techniques, and rhetorical forms of argumentation. Among other things, you’ll find material from Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein’s They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (Second Edition) (New York: Norton, 2010).
art: This tag designates documents posts and quotes related to the plastic arts–i.e. painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and the like. Items about particular artists, artistic schools and movements, and artistic techniques also end up under this tag.
asian pacific history: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month runs annually through the month of May. Wikipedia’s article on Asia places its boundaries as east of the Suez Canal (separating it from Africa), east of the Turkish Straits, the Ural Mountains, and the Ural River, and south of the Caucasus Mountains and Black and Caspian Seas. Posts tagged as Asian-Pacific History will include documents and quotes dealing with the geography, nationalities, culture, national biographies, and politics of this large and diverse continent.
black history: For a variety of reasons, the concept of “Black History Month” has in my view 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. In any case, at Mark’s Text Terminal, every month is Black History Month. That said, I make a special effort to get out as much material as possible on the Africa and the African diaspora as I can find and create. Nota bene please that a significant part of Black history involves the history of the United States and will be tagged as such; Black history is United States history.
building vocabulary/building conceptual knowledge: When concepts appear in public, they are clothed in language–especially abstract nouns. But language is how we humans understand the world and express our feelings, opinions, and thoughts about as well. Any document that assists students in developing their own ability to acquire and use a broad and deep vocabulary will fall under this tag.
career/technical education: Over the years, I’ve learned for a variety of reasons to see the value in using English language arts instruction to help students build lexicons and develop their ability to write fluent expository prose in areas of interest to them (see here and here). This tag defines documents posts and possibly the occasional quote that employ English language arts and social studies materials and adjuncts to subjects in career-technical education. This is something new at Mark’s Text Terminal, but undoubtedly a growth area. Stay tuned.
cognition/learning/understanding: This tag deals with documents, quotes, and other texts that expose, analyze, explore, and discuss dimensions of teaching and learning rooted–especially–in cognitive science (I look to Daniel Willingham for this, as I have said ad nauseum on this blog), sociology, psychology, philosophy, economics, political realities and, of course, knowledge of students themselves. I am particularly interested in motivation and the role of emotions in learning, so you’ll find readings related to those topics as well as just about anything I stumble across and deem worthy of inclusion here.
context clues: Context clues worksheets are a mainstay of my teaching practice and occupy a similar station here at Mark’s Text Terminal. This approach to teaching reading strategies is a commonplace (and a best practice for English language learners as I understand it), but when I stumbled across the context clues method in Kylene Beers‘ When Kids Can’t Read: What Teachers Can Do (Portsmouth NH: Heinemann, 2003) I took it up immediately and gratefully. This tag identifies, all but invariably, short (half-page worksheets) exercises designed for use at the beginning of a class period after a transition between periods. However, these too are formatted in Microsoft Word, giving users the latitude to adjust them to students’ needs.
cultural literacy: Yes, this tag does refer to materials based on the work and publications of E.D. Hirsch Jr. And yes, I am aware that Professor Hirsch and his Core Knowledge Foundation have aroused controversy–though I confess I remain both agnostic and unconcerned about that. In any case documents found under this tag are short (half-page) exercises unless otherwise specified in the text of the post. I’ve assembled this body of material for its value in providing short introductions to complex topics across the curriculum, or for their value in clarifying idioms, which bedevil English language learners as much as anything I’ve seen. As with other documents on Mark’s Text Terminal, these are do-now exercises for starting a class period after a transition.
diction/grammar/style/usage: This compound tag represents any documents post or quote that deals with any aspect of writing well. That includes, though it is not part of the tag itself (I tried including it, but five elements in one tag is unwieldy), rhetoric.
drama: Anything related to the dramatic arts will live under this tag. This includes, needless to say, biographies of or quotes from playwrights themselves.
fiction/literature: As it suggests, this tag fronts for any documents post or quote (including quotes from authors themselves) related to fiction writing and its variegated manifestations in world literature. Occasionally, this tag will attach to a work of nonfiction with literary merits–known as literary nonfiction; this is the kind of prose you find in periodicals like The New Yorker and the current iteration of Vanity Fair.
film/television/photography: Here’s another literal tag and one that generally identifies materials of interest to students. You’ll find documents posts and quotes related to film, its history, and its production here, as well as television shows and their production. Though there is vanishingly little on the subject here so far, this tag also deals materials on the history, art, and craft of photography.
first nation/indigenous people’s history: This tag stands for documents posts and quotes related to first nations and indigenous peoples across the globe. Because it is part of the tragic history of indigenous peoples the world over, materials related to colonialism will carry this tag as well.
foreign languages: Originally, I contrived this tag to represent the materials I prepared to build vocabulary by way of Greek and Latin word roots. The tag still stands for those documents, but I’ve widened its conception to include materials of any kind that will abet teaching and learning of foreign languages. Don’t forget that Latin is the basis of the Romance languages; if you have students whose first language is Spanish, Latin word roots are the bridge between Spanish and English (and all the other Romance languages–hence the foreign languages tag).
health: Over the years, various teaching situations have required me to produce materials related to health education. There isn’t much of it, so you won’t find this tag attached to many posts; nor is this the strongest material on this blog. But it is all, once again, in Microsoft Word, so you can adapt it to the needs of your students’ needs. This tag, you won’t be surprised to hear, overlaps with the social-emotional learning tag where documents and quotes related to clinical mental health issues are concerned.
high interest materials: As it indicates, this tag represents documents and quotes of high interest to students. I have produced and will continue to produce the bulk of these materials in direct response to student demand. Posts identified with this tag will be related to music and the stars who produce it, movies, film directors, actors, sports and sports figures, video gaming–and just about anything the students I’ve served (and will serve) over the years expressed an interest in learning.
hispanic history: Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15 every year. Originally, this tag stood for materials prepared to observe that month. However, because of my own interest in Latin America and the simple fact that its history, from colonialism to the Cuban embargo, is a story of oppression and subjugation, this tag represents this history of the Spanish- and Portuguese speaking world, from the Iberian Peninsula to the Americas, the Philippines, and the Portuguese colonies in Asia.
homophones: There are some 385 homophones worksheets scattered around this blog, and this tag stands for all of them. The first time I reviewed writing samples from students I served, I recognized that I would need to come up with some material to clarify the use of commonly confused homophones (the first one I wrote was for two, too and to) and thereby build vocabulary. Most of these worksheets are posted in groups of five, so this isn’t a heavily used tag. Some of these also pop up as do-now exercises in lesson plans. These are all half-page worksheets intended to begin a class period after a class transition.
humor: This tag will take you, I hope fervently, to something that will make you laugh. That’s the purpose of the document posts and quotes (mostly) beneath this tag. I hope you enjoy them.
idioms: Idioms confound English language learners more than just about anything they are expected to learn about our mutt of a lingua franca. You won’t find a lot of material carrying this tag on Mark’s Text Terminal. Like everything else here, however, that is subject to change. I hope the documents posts and quotes you’ll find here, which include a number of common proverbs, are effective in your classroom. Once more, these documents, which you will find are mostly Cultural Literacy documents as well (and therefore mostly half-page documents to use as do-nows), are formatted in Microsoft Word and adaptable to the particular needs of your classroom.
learning support: This tag identifies any material designed to support student work in the classroom as well as learning in general. Many of the documents you’ll find under this tag were prepared for specific lessons; others are general supports, especially where diction, grammar, style, and usage are concerned. Some are both specific and general. All, I hope, are useful.
lgbtq history: This tag specifies documents posts and quotes related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history in its broadest and deepest sense. You’ll find materials under this tag on writers, artists, activists, political leaders, scientists, philosophers and the ideas and culture they have produced.
literary oddities: This tag came into being to describe a large series of quotes extracted from the pages of Andre Bernard and Bill Henderson’s Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections (Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998). Then I started using it with Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary (David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000). So this tag accompanies documents posts (rarely) and quotes (often) that are arcane, idiosyncratic, or just plain odd.
music: This tag points out documents posts and quotes related to music and musicians in all genres of the art. What this tag does not represent is anything involved with or related to teaching music–something I haven’t the faintest idea of how to do.
numeracy: Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition defines numeracy as “the capacity for quantitative thought and expression.” This tag designates materials which aim to help students increase their capacity for quantitative thought and expression. N.B., please, that these documents are not materials for teaching mathematics (full disclosure: my brief forays in to teaching math did not resound with notes of great success). Documents posts and quotes under this tag seek to help students develop competence in, ability with, and capacity for quantitative reasoning and expression.
philosophy: This definition (from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition, which is the house lexicon of this blog) of philosophy best summarizes this tag’s meaning on Mark’s Text Terminal: “2a: pursuit of wisdom b: a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means c: an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs.” Documents posts carrying this tag consist of texts and worksheets about individual philosophers and schools of philosophical thought. Quotes with this tag include aphorisms and apercus from philosophers, biographies of individual philosophers, and terms of art in philosophy, as well as material related to world religions.
poetry: Under this tag you’ll find anything and everything related to poets, poetry, poetics, poetic technique (e.g. iambic pentameter or blank verse), and songwriting. Since Hip Hop music is a form of poetry, you’ll find anything related to that musical genre aligned with this tag as well.
professional development: This tag encompasses a broad and deep collection of posts, primarily quotes, but with a few documents mixed in–mostly the contents of my personal planning book. Anyway, under the professional development tag you’ll find terms of art, texts on pedagogical theory and practice, review essays on topics of professional concern to me (and I hope, by inference and extension, for other educators serving a special needs population as well), quotes from eminent educators and scholars of education, content passages for planning instruction–in other words just about anything that can possibly contribute to advancing one’s own professionalism as well as professional culture in our schools.
punctuation: This little-used tag is poised for growth as I begin to develop explicit materials around teaching punctuation or included implicitly in instruction in writing. Documents posts and quotes with this tag are related to punctuation symbols and their proper, appropriate, and stylish use.
questioning/inquiry: The most important thing a teacher does is to ask probing questions that provoke and arouse thought in students’ minds. That’s because all learning, really, begins with a question, and the right question leads to sustained inquiry. Almost every document I write will feature either explicit queries students or implicitly raises questions. This tag will attach to many documents posts and quotes.
readings/research: Readings of a certain length, which is somewhat arbitrary. Cultural Literacy worksheets, especially short ones, don’t make the cut with this tag. Rather, this tag stands for documents and quotes that call upon a student to focus on reading and answering accompanying comprehension questions across a period of time that pushes at but does not transgress the borders of his or her attention span. The documents most commonly found under this tag are a large (there are hundreds of these on Mark’s Text Terminal) and diverse group of readings and comprehension worksheets I adapted from the Intellectual Devotional series. You’ll also find under this tag quotes with interlarded links (you can use this readings and research worksheet template with these quotes posts) that can be used as online short research assignments. This tag, you won’t be surprised to hear, frequently aligns with the questioning/inquiry tag.
science literacy: This tag represents materials intended primarily to help students acquire the vocabulary necessary to understand their science instruction. Hence, you’ll find here lessons on Greek word roots at the base of many words (e.g. bio) in the sciences as well as context clues worksheets designed to clarify the definitions of polysemous words when they appear in scientific discourse; think bond. However, this tag, secondarily, will attach to biographies of groundbreaking scientists, texts on the establishment of scientific paradigms, expositions of scientific concepts, and any other documents posts or quotes that will assist students in developing a body of prior knowledge–including vocabulary–in the hard sciences.
social/emotional learning: As it states plainly, this tag stands for documents related to the social and emotional well-being of human beings. More narrowly, many if not most of the documents posts and quotes aligned with this tag contain material dealing with the particular social and emotional needs of children and adolescents.
sports: Just as it sounds, this tag stands for documents posts and quotes related to sports, famous figures in sports, legendary sporting events, and sport in the social and political lives of people and nations. Sports materials tend also to fall under the high-interest materials tag as well.
term of art: A term of art, in Merriam-Webster’s unadorned definition is “a term that has a specialized meaning in a particular field or profession.” Quotes (mostly) or documents posts carrying this tax expose, articulate, and clarify the numerous terms of art in our profession, as well as terms of art in sociology, psychology, linguistics, and other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences that bear on teaching and learning.
united states history: The United States history tag rides along with the Social Sciences category on most but not all occasions. Documents posts and quotes found under this tag address the economic, social, political, and cultural history of the United States from the Colonial Era to the present.
women’s history: March is Women’s History Month–but, like the other themed history months here on Mark’s Text Terminal, every month is Women’s History Month. Documents posts and quotes carrying this tag relate to the global history of women’s contributions to life on earth.
word roots: Over the years, teaching word roots as an express route to helping students build their vocabularies has been an important part of my teaching practice. There is a great deal of this material on Mark’s Text Terminal: I created a classroom worksheet, do-now exercise, or lesson plan on every word root contained in Roger S. Crutchfield’s English Vocabulary Quick Reference (Leesburg, VA: Lexadyne Publishing, 2009). Documents posts and quotes with this tag relate to materials using classical Greek and Latin word roots (and perhaps soon the more productive Anglo-Saxon roots) that appear in English–especially English words used in academic discourse.