Biography of First Lady Michelle Obama, By The White House Staff
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
To celebrate this month who better than the vibrant First Lady Michelle Obama. She is America’s First African-American Presidential wife, the role-model for many proud African-Americans, and more importantly she represents unity for people of all colors and nationalities. Among her concerns are the well-being of all children and special care for our military women and men and their extended families.
The following are excerpts from her biography presented by The White House Staff:
“When people ask First Lady Michelle Obama to describe herself, she doesn’thesitate to say that first andforemost, she is Malia and Sasha’s mom…”
“A product of Chicago public schools, Mrs. Obama studied sociology and African-American studies at Princeton University. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1988, she joined the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, where she later met the man who would become the love of her life…”
“Promoting Service and working with young people has remained a staple of her career and her interest. Continuing this effort now as First Lady, Mrs. Obama in 2010 launched Let’s Move!, a campaign to bring together community leaders, teachers, doctors, nurses, moms and dads in a nationwide effort to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity.”
“In 2011, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden together launched Joining Forces, a nationwide initiativethat mobilizes all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned, and to raise awareness of military families’ unique needs as pertains to employment, education and wellness…”
Everyone is encouraged to read her biography to learn more about this wonderful woman, and the people who work with her to help make America a better place for all.
Level: Intermediate -Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.
Objective: Students will read about and discuss the biography of First Lady Michelle Obama, and they will learn about the celebration of Black History month in the United States. They will also practice reading, speaking, writing and listening skills.
I. Pre-Reading Tasks
A. Prediction Give students the following terms from Michelle’s biography and have each group write a short paragraph that includes these words.
African-American, First Lady, President, Michelle Obama, lawyer, Chicago, White House, mother, leader, childhood, wife.
B. Stimulating Background Knowledge:
Directions: Find out what students know about Black History Month, by having students use the brainstorming technique,to build a list of the words and ideas connected to the term Black History. Then have them read about the significance of Black History Month in Wikipedia. After, have them compare what they originally wrote to the new information.
2. Advanced KWL Chart
What do they know about Michelle Obama? What would they like to learn? Use this advanced KWL chart for this activity.
II. While Reading Tasks
1. Word Inference: Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold (taken from the article) and use a dictionary or thesaurus for assistance.
- When people ask First Lady Michelle Obama to describe herself she doesn’t hesitate to say that first and foremost, she is Malia and Sasha’s mom.
- The Robinsons lived in a brick bungalow on the South Side of Chicago.
- …despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at a young age, he hardly ever missed a day of work.
- In 1996, Mrs. Obama joined the University of Chicago with a vision…
- …and under her leadership as Vice President of Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center, volunteerism skyrocketed.
- Continuing this effort now as First Lady, Mrs. Obama in 2010 launched Let’s Move…
- …in a nationwide effort to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity.
- Let’s Move has an ambitious but important goal: to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.
- …to raise awareness of military families’ unique needs as pertains to employment, education and wellness.
- As First Lady, Mrs. Obama looks forward to… promoting the arts, and arts education, and fostering healthy eating…
2. Word Jumble
Directions: Place students in groups and have them unscramble the words, then use the words to form sentences related to the topic of this lesson. For more of a challenge use a timer!
eclMhlei, mmo, trfis ldya, idpeesnrt, caifArn nmicreAa, aabOm,
vaarrdH, weyrla, ihocCga, yoestib , iirlmayt, doohdhlic
B. Questions for Reading comprehension (T/ F)
Directions: Have students skim the reading for the answers to the following statements. If the statement is true, students write (T) if the statement is false they write (F) and provide the correct answer.
- When people ask First Lady Michelle Obama to describe herself, she responds that she is the First Lady.
- According to the her biography, before Michelle was a mother, she was a lawyer.
- The Robinsons lived in a brick bungalow on the East Side of Chicago.
- Michelle’s father Fraser was a pump operator for the Chicago Water Department.
- He was diagnosed as having diabetes, and had to miss work sometimes.
- Marian stayed home to raise Michelle and her older brother Craig…
- Mrs. Michelle Obama studied sociology and Latin American studies at Harvard University.
- After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1988, she joined the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, where she later met the man who would become the love of her life.
- In 1996, Mrs. Obama joined the University of Chicago with a vision of bringing campus and community together. As Dean of Student Services…
- Continuing this effort now as First Lady, Mrs. Obama in 2010 launched Let’s Move!, a campaign to bring together community lawyers, politicians, and their leaders in a nationwide effort to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity.
- Let’s Move! has an ambitious but important goal: to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.
- In 2011, Mrs. Obama and Vice-president Biden together launched Joining Forces…
- …Joining forces, is a nationwide initiative that mobilizes all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned..
- As First Lady, Mrs. Obama looks forward to continuing her work on the issues close to her heart — supporting military families, helping working women balance career and family, encouraging national service…and fostering healthy eating and healthy living for children and families across the country.
- Michelle and Barack Obama have two daughters: Malia, 19, and Sasha, 10.
- …the girls were born in Washington D.C.
III. Post Reading Tasks
A. Reading Comprehension Check
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
1. WH-How Questions
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?
2. KWL chart or Graphic Organizer
Directions: have students fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.
B. Questions for Reflection and Discussion
Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions.
- Do you feel that Michelle Obama has done a good job as the First Lady of the Untied States? Explain why or why not.
- Are there other programs might she have worked with?
- Can you think of another First Lady that accomplished positive programs, groups etc., for their country? Provide examples.
Have students choose one of the following topics and write an essay.
- There are some criticisms of Mrs. Obama, and her organizations. For example some people feel she does not have the right to tell people how to feed their children (even if the food is healthy) or encourage children to get more exercise. Some say these decisions should be left up to the parents. Write an essay where you discuss your thoughts about this. Provide reasons to support your statements.
- Many people adore the first Lady’s wardrobe. Others claim she should not dress so elaborately. Write an essay in which you discuss whether you agree or disagree with one of these ideas. Provide reasons for you stand.
- There are some Americans who compare Mrs. Obama with Jackie Kennedy. Do you agree or disagree with this comparison. You may have to research Jackie Kennedy first, then give your opinions.
- Write an essay pretending that you were the First Lady of a country (you choose the country). Describe some of the things you would do to help the people. On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 showing the least amount of caring) how much would you care about your clothes/appearance as First Lady? For males, the same question if you were President.
IV. Listening Activity
Title of Video Clip: Michelle Obama: South Side Girl
This is a short biography of Michelle Obama that introduces the Obama family to families across America.
A. Pre-listening Tasks
Directions: In groups, have students make a list of words and phrases they think they will hear in the video, based on the title.
B. While Listening Tasks-Multiple choice
Directions: Students are to choose the correct response from the ones provided from the video.
Michelle was born on___
- July 7, 1964.
- January 17, 1964.
- June 14, 1964.
Her family lived in an apartment on__
- the west side of New York.
- the east side of Washington.
- the south side of Chicago.
Michelle was especially close to__
- her father.
- her brother.
- her mother.
When her dad was in his 50s Michelle would still__
- hug him.
- sit on his lap.
- give him a kiss.
Michelle first met Barack Obama___
- at Harvard.
- at a law firm.
- at a picnic.
She felt his name was___
When they first met for an appointment,____
- he was nervous.
- he was shy.
- he was a little late.
Michelle thought that Barack was___when she first saw him.
He looked for___ on her hand.
- a ring
- a bracelet
- a tattoo
The first time Barack asked her out on a date,___
- Michelle went with him.
- Michelle thought about it.
- Michelle refused to go out with him.
Michelle finally agreed to go on a date after Barack___
- bought her a rose.
- bought her a ring.
- bought her ice cream during a company picnic.
Michelle’s mother stated that the law firm was not right for Michelle, so she found work ___
- in the Mayor’s office.
- in Washington.
- in Harvard.
Yvonne Davila stated that after a couple of years Michelle worked for Public Allies, a company that __
- mentored young people for public service work.
- helped young people with school work.
- helped senior citizens.
Travis Rejman stated that Michelle has a gift for___
- seeing the future.
- making plans.
- seeing the potential in people.
Michelle’s___ said that “Michelle is a mom to many people”.
According to her brother, Michelle’s___ came from her father.
Michelle’s mother said that everyday she gets to see___ in Michelle.
- a piece of her husband
C. Post-Listening Tasks
Directions: have students answer the following questions.
1. In groups, have students make up questions they would like to ask Michelle.
2. From this video, what new information did they learn about Michelle Obama?
3. After listening to this discussion, has their personal opinion of Michelle changed? If yes, describe in what way.
Related Lesson Plans and Articles
The following Lessons were developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.
Skill: Elementary School
“Both President and Mrs. Obama join many in the United States who are interested in promoting energy efficiency. But what is energy? How many different kinds are there? The answers to these questions and more are there to be found in this lesson.”
Skill: Elementary School–Time Required: 3-5 class periods
“On April 9, 2009, Michelle Obama and 25 students from Bancroft Elementary School in the District of Columbia planted the first seeds and seedlings in the new White House Kitchen Garden, designed to emphasize the creation of local gardens for healthy eating…”
Skill: Middle School, Time Required: 3-5 class periods.
“Michelle Obama and her mother were born in Chicago, and that is the city in which she met and married Barrak Obama, and where her two children, Melia and Sasha, were born, and where the Obamas lived and worked until they moved to the White House…”
Biography of Michelle Obama National First Ladies Library
“…Michelle Obama stands at the same height (5 feet, 11 inches tall) as Eleanor Roosevelt, making them both equally the tallest First Ladies…” Learn this and other facts about Michelle Obama.
Let’s Move, She Said — and We Have By Ezekiel J. Emanuel, The New York Times
“…In the years since, what has Michelle Obama’s work accomplished, besides (and I can say this from experience) the harvesting of some delicious lettuce, green beans and honey? The answer is: a lot. One of the most important results has been increasing public awareness of the importance of obesity…In conjunction with the Let’s Move campaign, three of the largest food service companies that operate school cafeterias — Sodexo, Aramark and Chartwells — committed to meeting recommended levels of fat, sugar and whole grains in the next 5 years and doubling the fruits and vegetables they serve over the next 10…”
Wooing the First Dresser By Bee-Shyuan Chang, The New York Times
“…There is arguably no more powerful influence in American fashion today than the country’s stylish, risk-taking first lady. It’s by now a well-known tale — how the surprise choice of Jason Wu to design the ivory silk chiffon,one-shouldered gown that Mrs. Obama wore to the inaugural balls in 2009 propelled the then-little-known designer…into a global marketing powerhouse…”
Please come back again.