In the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, President Obama has put aside his campaigning role for re-election and has instead focused on his current role as leader of the United States. Fortunately the President was able to administer help to the victims of this horrific hurricane due to his reinstatement of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) whose function it is to help victims of disaster in all states of this country. The New York Times recognizes this important move on the part of the President.
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.
Excerpt: A Big Storm Requires Big Government, New York Times Editorial
“Most Americans have never heard of the National Response Coordination Center, but they’re lucky it exists on days of lethal winds and flood tides. The center is the war room of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where officials gather to decide where rescuers should go, where drinking water should be shipped, and how to assist hospitals that have to evacuate. Disaster coordination is one of the most vital functions of “big government,” which is why Mitt Romney wants to eliminate it… Mr. Romney not only believes that states acting independently can handle the response to a vast East Coast storm better than Washington, but that profit-making companies can do an even better job… It’s an absurd notion, but it’s fully in line with decades of Republican resistance to federal emergency planning. FEMA, created by President Jimmy Carter, … but was then demoted by President George W. Bush… The agency was put back in working order by President Obama, but ideology still blinds Republicans to its value. Many don’t like the idea of free aid for poor people, or they think people should pay for their bad decisions, which this week includes living on the East Coast… Does Mr. Romney really believe that financially strapped states would do a better job than a properly functioning federal agency? Who would make decisions about where to send federal aid? Or perhaps there would be no federal aid, and every state would bear the burden of billions of dollars in damages…Those in Hurricane Sandy’s path are fortunate that, for now, that ideology has not replaced sound policy.”
Tuesday, November 6, 2012, make your voice count: VOTE.
Level: Intermediate -Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 1 hour.
Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.
Objective: Students will read the article with a focus on reading comprehension and new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through discussions, and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Tasks
Analyzing headings and photos
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 photo of the President. Based on these sources, ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use this great pre-reading organizer by Scholastic as a guide.
Directions: have students choose the synonyms (the words closest in meaning) for the words in bold. Have them identify the part of speech for each word. Next, have students prepare sentences using the words in bold. Students can use this Extensive Vocabulary Word Chart By Freeology for assistance.
1…they’re lucky it exists on days of lethal winds and flood tides.
b-sufficient to cause death
2. officials gather to decide…how to assist hospitals that have to evacuate.
3. Disaster coordination is one of the most vital functions of “big government”…
4…Mitt Romney wants to eliminate it.
b-think about something
5. Mr. Romney… believes that states… can handle the response to a vast East Coast storm better than Washington…
6. [Romney] said it was “immoral” for the federal government to do all these things…
a-conforming to standards.
b-not conforming to standards
7. It’s an absurd notion, but it’s fully in line with decades of Republican resistance to federal emergency planning.
8…Bush, who neglected it, subsumed it into the Department of Homeland Security…
9. The agency was put back in working order by President Obama, but ideology still blinds Republicans to its value.
10. Does Mr. Romney really believe that financially strapped states would do a better job than a properly functioning federal agency?
c-a leather belt
- Reading Comprehension
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the article, have them complete the following paragraphs 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.
“Disaster ___is one of the most ___of “big ___” which is why Mitt Romney wants to___ it. At a Republican primary debate last year, Mr. Romney was asked whether emergency management was a function that should be returned to the___.
He not only agreed, he went further. “___,” he said. “Every time you have an ___to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the ___ that’s even better.”
Mr. Romney not only believes that states acting independently can___ the response to a vast ___storm better than___, but that ___companies can do an even better job. He said it was “___” for the ___to do all these things if it means increasing the debt.
It’s an___, but it’s fully in line with decades of Republican ___to federal___. FEMA, created by President Jimmy Carter, was ___to cabinet rank in the Bill Clinton administration, but was then ___by President George W. Bush, who ___it, subsumed it into the Department of Homeland Security, and placed it in the control of political hacks. The disaster of___was just waiting to happen.”
absurd notion, demoted, Washington, states, Absolutely, private sector, handle, immoral, vital functions, resistance, eliminate, emergency planning, occasion, elevated, Absolutely, neglected, Hurricane Katrina, coordination, profit-making, East Coast, government, federal government,
- Grammar Focus
Structure and Usage
Directions: The following 3 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.
- Most American have never heard of the National Response Coordination Center.
- The center is the war room of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where officials gather to decide where rescuers should go.
- Disaster coordination is one of the most vital functions of “big government,” which is why Mitt Romney wants to eliminate it.
- It’s an absurd notion, but it’s fully in line with decades of Republican resistance to federal emergency planning.
- FEMA, created by President Jimmy Carter, is elevated to cabinet rank in the Bill Clinton administration.
- The agency was put back in working order by President Obama, but ideology still blinds Republicans to its value.
- Over the last two years, Congressional Republicans have forced a 43 percent reduction in the primary FEMA grants that pay for disaster preparedness.
- Does Mr. Romney really believes that financially strapped states would do a better job than a properly functioning federal agency?
- Or perhaps there would be no federal aid, and every state would bear the burden of billions of dollars in damages.
III. Post Reading Tasks
• Reading Comprehension Check
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?
- Discussion /Writing Tasks
Directions: Place students in groups and have then answer the following questions. After, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics.
- FEMA was developed to help people in trouble. In your own words explain why, “ Mitt Romney would want to eliminate it?
- According to the article, Romney has said that “it was “immoral” for the federal government to do all these things if it means increasing the debt.” Explain why he would think helping people in need “immoral”.
- If FEMA is eliminated as the Republicans want to do, which group of people will be affected the most by the next natural disaster? Think about the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Which states were affected the most? Were the people who lived in these states rich, poor, or middle class?
IV. Listening Activity
Video Clip: President Obama Speaks on Hurricane Sandy in Situation Room with FEMA
Introduction: “President Obama discusses preparations for Hurricane Sandy before it makes landfall along the East Coast.”
Listening for New Vocabulary or New Terms
Directions: Here is a list of words and phrases from the video. Have students find the meanings before they listen to the video.
unique, — “cut through red tape” — “bogged down” — we “pull together”.
- While Listening Tasks
True /False statements
Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video. As students listen to the video if a statement is true they mark it T if the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.
President Obama made the following statements:
- This is a serious and big storm.
- My first message is to all people across the western seaboard mid atlantic.
- You need to take this very seriously and follow the instructions of your state and local officials.
- We just had a confused meeting with the FEMA team here and with the various agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy.
- It so important for us to respond small and respond slow as local information starts coming in.
- The other thing that makes this storm unique is we anticipate that it is going to be fast moving.
- That means that it may take a long time not only to clear, but also to get for example, the power company back in to clear trees and put things back in place so folks can start moving back home.
- My main message to everybody involved is that we have to take this seriously.
- The federal government is working effectively with the Departments of Defense and Military.
- My message to the governors as well as to the mayors is anything they need we will be there. And we’re going to cut through red tape. We’re not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules.
- In times like this one of the things that americans do is we pull together and we help out one another.
• Post-Listening Tasks
Questions for Discussion
Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.
1. After listening to this video has your personal opinion of the President changed in any way? If yes, describe in what way. If no, describe your original opinion of him.
2. Did you think President Obama spoke sincerely? Did you get the feeling that he was genuinely concerned about the victims of Hurricane Sandy? Explain why or why not.
3. With your group members, make up some questions that you would like to ask the President.
A President For All Seasons
Please come back again.