When A Female is a ‘Tomboy’ and Not Transgender

“I just wanted to check, the teacher said. ‘Your child wants to be called a boy, right? Or is she a boy that wants to be called a girl? Which is it again?’ I cocked my head. I am used to correcting strangers, who mistake my 7-year-old daughter for a boy 100 percent of the time…’She’s a girl,’ I said. The woman looked unconvinced. ‘Really. She’s a girl, and you can refer to her as a girl.” L. Selin Davis, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Tomboys

Excerpt: My Daughter Is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy. By LISA S. DAVIS, The New York Times

“In fact, I love correcting them, making them reconsider their perceptions of what a girl looks like. But my daughter had been attending the after-school program where this woman taught for six months. Later, when I relayed this conversation to my daughter, she said, ‘More girls should look like this so it’s more popular so grown-ups won’t be so confused.’

My daughter wears track pants and T-shirts. She has shaggy short hair (the look she requested from the hairdresser was Luke Skywalker in Episode IV). Most, but not all, of her friends are boys. She is sporty and strong, incredibly sweet, and a girl.

And yet she is asked by the pediatrician, by her teachers, by people who have known her for many years, if she feels like, or wants to be called, or wants to be, a boy.

In many ways, this is wonderful: It shows a much-needed sensitivity to gender nonconformity and transgender issues. It is considerate of adults to ask her — in the beginning. But when they continue to question her gender identity — and are skeptical of her response — the message they send is that a girl cannot look and act like her and still be a girl.

Scout a tomboy in the film To Kill A Mockingbird

Left alone, would boys really never wear pink? (That’s rhetorical — pink was for decades considered a masculine color.) Would girls naturally reject Matchbox cars? Of course not, but if they show preferences for these things, we label them. Somehow, as we have broadened our awareness of and support for gender nonconformity, we’ve narrowed what we think a boy or a girl can look like and do.

The kids get it. But the grown-ups do not. While celebrating the diversity of sexual and gender identities, we also need to celebrate tomboys and other girls who fall outside the narrow confines of gender roles. Don’t tell them that they’re not girls.

Film star Katherine Hepburn usually dressed up tomboy style.

My daughter is happy with her body and comfortable with the way she looks, thousands of times happier and more comfortable than I am or ever have been. She is my hero. Or rather, my heroine.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

KWL Chart

Directions: Have students  create  two KWL charts  to list the information they already know about  about the terms Tomboy and Transgender. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

K-W-L Chart from Creately.com

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Map  for assistance.

  1. She relayed this conversation to  her daughter.
  2. Many grown-ups can be  confused by her appearance.
  3. This shows a much-needed sensitivity to gender nonconformity.
  4. People are skeptical of her response.
  5. Adults  have increasingly eschewed millenniums-old gender roles.
  6. Her look evolved with age.
  7. I want trans kids to feel free and safe.
  8. You are an awesome girl.
  9. She identifies as a tomboy.
  10. invariably people agree with her choice.

Word Map by Against the Odds

 

Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

Let’s be clear: If my___does begin to feel that the___ in her mind and the sex of her ___don’t match, I will be supportive. I will ___puberty blockers and___ (more than I already have). I will listen to her and make ___accordingly, just as I did when she turned 3 and asked for a tie and a button-down shirt. Then she saw her father wear a(for once).

WORD LIST: blazer decisions, hormones, research, daughter, gender, body,

Grammar: Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article  and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.  Using Adjectives  ESL Voices Grammar

III. Post Reading Activities

KWL Chart

Directions:  Have students  fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. “She is not gender nonconforming. She is gender role nonconforming. She does not fit into the mold that we adults — who have increasingly eschewed millenniums-old gender roles ourselves, as women work outside the home and men participate in the domestic sphere — still impose upon our children.”
  2. “The message I want to send my daughter is this: You are an awesome girl for not giving in to pressure to be and look a certain way. I want her to be proud to be a girl.”

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Social Issues

Warrior Ants: No Wounded Left Behind

“Leave no man behind. That’s an old idea in warfare — it’s even part of the Soldier’s Creed that Army recruits learn in basic training. And never leaving a fallen comrade is also the rule for some warriors who are ants, according to a report published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.” N. Greenfieldboyce, NPR

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Ant carries a wounded comrade back to the nest . Photo- newscientisttiff

Excerpt: No Ant Left Behind: Warrior Ants Carry Injured Comrades Home,–N. Greenfieldboyce, NPR

“These ants, Megaponera analis, hunt and eat termites. Scouts will go out, find a group of termites, and then return to the ant nest to muster the troops.

Biologist Erik Frank explains that 200 to 500 ants will march out in formation. ‘Like three ants next to each other, in a 2-meter-long column,’ he says. ‘It’s very peculiar and it looks like a long snake walking on the ground. When the termites spot this invading army, they try to escape, but the fighting is fierce. You have a lot of termites lying dead on the ground, and the ants start collecting the termites to return.’

A major worker with termite prey. wikipediatiff

Ants sometimes lose a leg or two, which makes it hard for them to walk. Or, they can be weighed down by a dead termite whose jaws had clamped onto them. Either way, they’re slower than uninjured, unburdened ants.

By marking these injured ants with paint, Frank learned that in nearly all cases, they made a full recovery after being carried home to recuperate. They learn to walk with fewer legs, and their ant buddies apparently will pull off stuck termites. It doesn’t take long for an ant that’s been hurt to once again be ready for action.

‘We saw them again, participating in hunts the next day,’ says Frank.

‘It’s not so far-fetched,  to compare these ant rescue missions to those performed by human soldiers.

One big difference I would say, though, is that these ants are not doing it out of the goodness of their heart,’ says Frank.

He says they’re just responding to a chemical signal from the injured ants, rather than being motivated by empathy.’

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Map for assistance.

  1. These ants hunt and eat termites.
  2. The ants send scouts out to find a group of termites.
  3. It’s  a very peculiar  formation of ants.
  4. Scientists are researching animal behavior and evolution.
  5. The injured  ants  were carried home to recuperate.
  6. We saw them again, participating in hunts the next day.
  7. Ants  that couldn’t march fast enough fell behind.
  8. The ants are not motivated by empathy.
  9. Bringing injured warriors home has huge benefits for the ant colony.
  10. They’re making this substantial contribution to the ant colony.

Word Map by Against the Odds

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

Does it ___me of ___helping? Well, not really…noting that the___don’t seem to be___ helping each other. One reason why one might___that they’re not is that if they ___that same___ ant on the way to the hunt, they ignore it…Wounded ants only get ___home if they’re ___after the battle.

WORD LIST: encountered, carried, injured, think, ants, remind, encounter, intentionally,  mammalian,

Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

It’s clear/clean that bringing injury/injured warriors home has huge benefits/beneficial for the ant/aunt colony. The number of ants that are saved/save by this behavior is about equivalent/equally to the number of ants that are born each day in that colony. So they’re making/make this substantial contribution to the ant colony.

III. Post Reading Activities

Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea

Directions:  Have students use this graphic organizer from Enchanted Learning  to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article.

Comprehension: Ask/Answer  Questions

Directions:  Place students in groups and have each group list 3  questions they would like to pursue in relation to  the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Insects | Tags:

Designs for The Insane “Border Wall” Proposal

“By the time bidding closed Tuesday, there was no lack of companies competing to build the wall…proposed for the border between the U.S. and Mexico. In fact, by The Associated Press’ count, upwards of 200 organizations had expressed interest in designing and building it for ‘Customs and Border Protection‘. Despite their common goal, the companies submitting bids have followed some radically different paths in their approach.” C. Dwyer, NPR

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Border fences like this one exist along the U.S.-Mexican border. In Brownsville, Texas, the local consensus is that the fence hasn’t helped anyone except contractors and drug cartels. (Thinkstock photo)

 

Excerpt: The Many Possible Shapes Of [A]Border Wall, by Colin Dwyer, NPR

“Among the submissions are walls with solar panels, wire mesh and sloped, slippery surfaces. There are even walls that are no walls at all — statements standing instead as protests of a policy that from the start has drawn a lot of resistance…The AP notes the prototypes are expected to cost about $200,000 to $500,000 each; estimates for the cost of the wall covering the 2,000-mile border, however, range up to $38 billion. Here’s a glimpse of just a few of the designs vying to stand between the U.S. and Mexico, complete with renderings and explanations of how they could take shape.”

The WireWall

The WireWall fence now in place in California on the border with Mexico.

The WireWall fence now in place in California on the border with Mexico. Riverdale Mills says the fence is produced using the same manufacturing process as its “marquee marine wire mesh” designed for lobster traps used in New England.’The configurations of the wire mesh make it virtually impossible to climb or cut,’ Jane Meehan Lanzillo, director of corporate communications for Riverdale, tells NPR in an email.

Solar Panels

This rendering depicts solar panels snaking along the border.

Partners, the company behind the proposal, believes that the energy provided by the panels would offer the U.S. a financial boon. The company’s proposal sets solar panels on sections of the wall, generating what it says would be approximately 2.0 megawatts of electricity per hour, according to the wire service.

Maximum-Security Wire Mesh

The Penna Group rendering, which displays two groups on either side watching each other through the mesh. Courtesy of the Penna Group

Composed of high-density steel packed into double wire mesh, the Penna Group’s proposed wall takes its cue from maximum security prisons. Nearly impossible to climb, it would also be built to withstand pick axes, acetylene torches and other handheld weapons. Michael Evangelista-Ysasaga, CEO of the Penna Group, speaks to the aesthetics of the U.S.-facing side of the wall, telling NPR ‘the wire mesh panels will be emblazoned with the Seal of the United States.’

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian Construction Company’s wall, here modeled in miniature, would be paneled according to its Tridipanel system.

It’s impossible to avoid: For a man bidding to build a massive wall, Rod Hadrian has a rather serendipitous name. Namesake of the Roman emperor who built the wall that once marked off the northernmost edge of the ancient empire — the wall that still stands in ruins in the U.K. today — Hadrian Construction Company has proposed a wall constructed in prefabricated panels.

The Wall Of Sound

A Wall of Pipe Organs-jmerindian.studio copy

One of at least three protest proposals ginned up by J.M. Design Studio of Pittsburgh, this one calls for ‘a semi-continuous wall of nearly 10 million pipe organs.’ The long line of 30-foot organs breaks in regular intervals, offering border-crossers the opportunity to walk straight through — but not before playing a ditty of their choosing.

The Wall To End All Walls

Unlike the other proposals on this list, the Otra Nation concept condemns barriers altogether. Courtesy of Otra Nation

‘We propose a trans-national ‘New Deal’ to build an innovative shared co-nation based on local economic empowerment, energy independence and revolutionary infrastructure and transit,’  says the MADE Collective, a cross-disciplinary team that argues for the creation of what it calls the Otra Nation — a ‘regenerative co-nation shared by citizens  of both Mexico and the United Stated and co-maintained by respective governments.'”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. There were submissions with  walls made of solar panels.
  2. There are many protests  against building a wall.
  3. The finalists for the contract will be announced in June.
  4. The companies will be expected to build a prototype of their wall.
  5. Estimates for the cost of the wall covering range up to $38 billion.
  6. Here’s a glimpse of just a few of the designs.
  7. Some companies have renderings of their ideas.
  8. There are mesh walls  designed for lobster traps used in New England.
  9. This wall is virtually impossible to climb or cut.
  10. The Wall Of Sound allows people to play a ditty as they walk through.

 

Word Map by Against the Odds

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

The border___should be “a ___of art,” Russ Baumgartner, CEO of Concrete Contractors Interstate of San Diego, tells the AP. The ___service says the company’s ___calls for stones and___set in___concrete, reflecting the areas the wall wends through and___both sides “aesthetically pleasing” — unlike the CBP’s callout, which___ only that the U.S. side be pleasant to look at.

WORD LIST:  artifacts, wire, piece, proposal, asks,   polished, rendering, wall,

Grammar Focus: Word Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

J. Meridian — an art/artist who says the actual/actually broader/border wall is “preposterous for so many reasons,” according to the Wall Street Journal — also proposes/purpose a wall of hammocks and a wall of refugees‘ gravestones/grave  for passersby to “consider the danger, terror, and honor/horror they must have faced in trying to cross.”

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Groups Ask/Answer  Questions

Directions:  Place students in groups and have each group list 3  questions they would like to pursue in relation to  the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Social Issues

New Stem-Cell Discovery Stirs New Ethical Questions

“As biological research races forward, ethical quandaries are piling up. In a report published Tuesday in the journal eLife, researchers at Harvard Medical School said it was time to ponder a startling new prospect: synthetic embryos. In recent years, scientists have moved beyond in vitro fertilization. They are starting to assemble stem cells that can organize themselves into embryo like structures.Whatever else, it is sure to unnerve most of us.” by C. Zimmer, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Biological landscape of embryos and Synthetic human entities with embryonic features (SHEEFs) in relation to moral status. image-elife

Excerpt: A New Form of Stem-Cell Engineering Raises Ethical Questions, by Carl Zimmer, The New York Times 

“Soon, experts predict, they will learn how to engineer these cells into new kinds of tissues and organs. Eventually, they may take on features of a mature human being. In the report, John D. Aach and his colleagues explored the ethics of creating what they call ‘synthetic human entities with embryolike features’ — Sheefs, for short. For now, the most advanced Sheefs are very simple assemblies of cells. But in the future, they may develop into far more complex forms, the researchers said, such as a beating human heart connected to a rudimentary brain, all created from stem cells.

Established guidelines for human embryo research are useless for deciding which Sheefs will be acceptable and which not, Dr. Aach argued. Before scientists get too deeply into making Sheefs, some rules must be put in place. Dr. Aach and his colleagues urged that certain features be kept off limits: Scientists, for example, should never create a Sheef that feels pain…Scientists began grappling with the ethics of lab-raised embryos more than four decades ago.

Photo- The stem cell blog

In 1970, the physiologist Robert G. Edwards and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge announced they had been able to fertilize human eggs with sperm and keep them alive for two days in a petri dish. During that time, the embryos each divided into 16 cells. In 1979, a federal advisory board recommended that the cutoff should be 14 days…Adherence to the 14-day rule led to tremendous advances. For decades, scientists did not break the 14-day rule — but only because they did not know how. But last year, two teams of scientists determined how to grow human embryos for 13 days. Those advances hinted that it might be possible to allow scientists to tack on a few days more, by changing the 14-day rule to, say, a 20-day rule… A hint of the future arrived in a study published this month by researchers at the University of Cambridge.

They built microscopic scaffolding into which they injected a mixture of two types of embryonic stem cells from mice. While these artificial embryos developed from embryonic stem cells, it may soon become possible to build them from reprogrammed adult human cells. No fertilization or ordinary embryonic development would be required to build a mouse Sheef. Henry T. Greely of Stanford University was less optimistic. While it is important to have a discussion about Sheefs, he said, it may be hard to reach an agreement on limits as enforceable as the 14-day rule. Even if ethicists do manage to agree on certain limits, Paul S. Knoepfler, a stem cell biologist at the University of California, wondered how easy it would be for scientists to know if they had crossed them.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic of stem-cell research.  Next, have students look at the photos in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

G. Cluster Brainstorming-workshopexercises

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Some experts predict cell engineering will cause trouble.
  2. What are the ethics of creating synthetic human entities?
  3. They may develop into far more complex forms.
  4. Scientists might be able to test out drugs for diseases such as cancer or diabetes.
  5. There has to be guidelines for human embryo research.
  6. Scientists began grappling with the ethics of lab-raised embryos.
  7. Adherence to the 14-day rule led to tremendous advances.
  8. Some scientists were optimistic.
  9. Other kinds of research such as cloning could be studied.
  10. Spotting a primitive streak is easy.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabualry chart

 

Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Dr. Edwards won the Nobel Prize in 2010 for his reset/research, which opened the door to in vitro fertilization/fertilize. The discovery/discover also made it possible to study the early/earliest moments of human/humane development. Governments around the world/worldly began deliberating over how length/long research laboratories and fertility clinics/clinic should be allowed to let these embryos grow. The so-called 14-day rule came to be embraced/embody not just by scientists in the United States but in other countries as well.

 Grammar Focus: Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Prepositions:  in, for, of, with, by,  on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over,  through, from, during, up, off,

Experts predict, they will learn how___engineer these cells ___new kinds ___tissues and organs.

___the future, they may develop___ far more complex forms.

Such ___a beating human heart connected ___a rudimentary brain, all created ___stem cells.

Adherence ___the 14-day rule led___ tremendous advances.

Each ___those germ layers goes ___  ___produce all the body’s tissues and organs.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Group Debates

Directions: After reading the article, place students in groups and  have each group choose one side of the following debate:  For or Against the New Form of Stem-Cell Engineering. Allow groups to develop their arguments and conclude with a class discussion.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Science, Social Issues

Teaching Students How to Detect Fake News

“The sixth graders took their seats in a classroom with a news literacy word wall that featured, in large letters, terms like ‘validity,’ ‘accurate’ and ‘reliable.’ The teacher, Marisol Solano, said that the question for the day boiled down to this: ‘How do we know what’s news or not?’ Then she played a four-minute video of a man jumping from an airplane — without a parachute, the video said.” J. Barron, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Marisol Solano’s sixth-grade news literacy class at a Brooklyn middle school include how to tell a real news story from an ad disguised as news. Credit Y.Paskova for The New York Times

Excerpt:  Teaching Students to Parse Fact From Fiction by James Barron, The New York Times

“As the class broke into discussion groups, Ms. Solano told the students to concentrate on other questions, about the video: ‘Would I share this? Would that be responsible of me as a news consumer?’

Fake news worked its way into the public consciousness during the presidential campaign last year and remains a hot topic, especially at Intermediate School 303 in Coney Island, Brooklyn, where teachers like Ms. Solano are on the offensive.

Their lesson plans are aimed at steeping students in news literacy, which involves determining whether an article or a video is real — and if it is real, whether it is, for example, a news story or an advertisement made to look like a news report. The teachers see an urgency to news literacy because, on the internet, misinformation can be mistaken for news. Is a tweet ripped from the headlines, or fabricated?

Can you tell FAKE news from REAL? Image- NPR

‘We started news literacy even before people started talking about fake news,’ said the principal, Carmen Amador. ‘But something we always asked students to do, think critically, now has new importance.’The ideal time is middle school… when students are internet-savvy but not yet immersed in social media. And their worldviews and political orientations are not fixed as firmly as they will be later on.

The video that Ms. Solano played for her class appeared to show a parachutist jumping from a single-engine plane, landing on a trampoline and surviving. The video looked like a news report. It went viral when it was released in 2014.

Man jumps from plane without a parachute and lands on trampoline. Daily Mail Online

News literacy teaches students to ask, among other things, whether a news article or a video is from a legitimate news organization.

Image-Concordia Online Education

That question figured in the way Ms. Solano’s students analyzed the video. A couple of students noticed that the video came not from a major television network but from something identified as Sky Newz, which they realized was not a real news outlet…The video was a clever promotion for a trampoline park in Louisiana. The jump was not real.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about the topic of Fake News.  Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance. Brainstorming Chart By Writing Design

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. How do we know what’s valid or not?
  2. The video showed a man jumping  out of a plane without a parachute.
  3. Students must determine if an article is fake or real.
  4. Teachers see an urgency to teach news literacy.
  5. Misinformation can be mistaken for news.
  6. Is a tweet ripped from the headlines, or fabricated?
  7. The seventh graders are more practiced at news literacy.
  8. The students were skeptical.
  9. It was a conspiracy theory that had spread online.
  10. Advertising masquerading as news is a problem.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

The___has been doing that since before___ and Twitter reshaped the___ landscape and made it easier than ever to spread fake news. A ___is that ___who have never known anything but a___ as a ___for news need to learn to ______from fact as they work their way around the web.

WORD LIST:  separate, source, smartphone,  fiction concern, media,   teenagers, center, Facebook,

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. It’s like those actor who get discovered overnight.
  2. We’ve been fighting fake news since 2007.
  3. But the fight is not just about fake news.

II

  1. There are many half-truths in  advertising.
  2. Ms. Solano told the students to concentrate on other questions.
  3. Their lesson plan are aimed at real news.

III

  1. You have to be selective about what you take in.
  2. Don’t accept somebody else’s truth.
  3. The man fired an assault rifle a couple of times.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them provide examples for each of  the following statements from the article. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. “You have to be selective about what you take in and accept as truth.”
  2. “Indeed, this is a confusing time to be teaching the difference between fake news and real news.”
  3. “Social media has contributed to the spread of stories that have no basis in fact, with troubling consequences.”

Extra: Web Search

Directions: In groups/partners have students search for the topic on the web and see what additional information they can find. Students can either have further discussions or write an essay about the subject.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Social Issues | Tags: