Should Students See Themselves in the Books They Read?

“Reading books by Latina writers taught me our stories were worthy of being told.” V. Matir, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Jump Rope – The author and her family at Palmetto Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in June 1983. Credit: Meryl Meisler

 

Excerpt: I Was ‘Too Much’ for Boarding School. But I Had the Garcia Sisters.

“I grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in the 1980s, in what felt like a forgotten neighborhood.  Abandoned buildings loomed over piles of garbage and rubble. Playgrounds were overrun by drug dealers. But for me, Bushwick was a place imbued with my culture.

A piraguero (pronounced pee‐rah GWAY‐row)—one of a breed of street vendors that has become a hot‐weather institution in El Barrio

There were piragua carts with multicolored umbrellas selling shaved ice on every corner. The bodeguero Miguel gave my mother credit when our food stamps ran out. The Puerto Rican flag hung from almost every window.

My mother migrated from Honduras to New York in 1971. When I was 2 years old my mother met and fell in love with another woman, Millie, which was then widely considered taboo. Two years later we all moved into a two-bedroom railroad-style apartment.

The paint cracked and peeled off the walls, but we always had food on the table, even if it was white rice, fried eggs and canned corned beef…My life took a turn at 13 when my social studies teacher saw promise in me and suggested I take part in A Better Chance, a program that places low-income minority students in top schools around the country. I applied and was offered a four-year scholarship to attend a boarding-school-type program at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts…

I remember gazing out the window in awe as gorgeous mansions with perfect manicured lawns came into view. I moved into a four-story house with other students complete with a study and fireplace… But I soon realized that I was different. My guidance counselor would often pull me aside and tell me I was ‘too loud’ and ‘too much.’

Two Boys Crossing Gates Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn, Vanessa Mártir

Growing up, I’d read the Sweet Valley High series, Encyclopedia Brown mysteries and all the Judy Blume books. The characters in them didn’t look like me, but I was too young to understand the difference or know it could matter.

One day in my junior year, I was reading on the mezzanine overlooking the cafeteria, when my English professor, Mr. Goddard, approached me. ‘You should read this,’ he said and handed me How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. My eyes stopped at the writer’s name, Julia Alvarez. ‘That’s a Spanish name,’ I thought.

I saw myself reflected in the story of the Garcia sisters, who had fled to the United States from the Dominican Republic with their parents. They went to boarding school and, like me, had trouble fitting in. It began to dawn on me that there must be other writers like Ms. Alvarez out there. I asked teachers for recommendations and dug through the library shelves on campus.

Later I would discover the work of Gloria Anzaldúa, Cherríe Moraga, Sandra Cisneros.

What was missing for me was the narrative of the Latina who left the ’hood to pursue an education only to find that she no longer fit in anywhere. I was too loud at boarding school and a sellout in the place I had once called home.

For years I’d chronicle my joys and heartbreaks in journals and scribble down poems on napkins at bars. On weekends I’d go to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. I was in awe of the poets who read their work aloud. I longed to be that brave. I was the only one of my siblings to graduate from college… When I learned I was pregnant in 2003, something inside me shifted. I wanted my daughter to learn by watching her mamá that she could live out her dreams. I dusted off my journals and wrote throughout my pregnancy. My first novel,  A Woman’s Cry, was published in 2007, three years after she was born. After my novel was published I sought out other writers of color. At last I found a place where I felt I belonged.

My mother still lives in the same apartment in Bushwick. The neighborhood is no longer reminiscent of a war zone…I buy my daughter, who is now 15 years old, books by writers like Elizabeth Acevedo, Jacqueline Woodson and Gabby Rivera. I teach writing in neighborhoods like the one I grew up in. I know from experience that when children see positive images of themselves reflected in front of the classroom, in books and on the big screen, it can make all the difference. This is how change happens, and it’s how we create a country in which all of us feel we belong. One story at a time.”

 

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 improving oral skills. 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: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine the photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members 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. Abandoned buildings loomed over piles of garbage and rubble
  2. For me, Bushwick was a place imbued with my culture.
  3. My mother migrated from Honduras to New York in 1971.
  4. She fell in love with another woman which was then widely considered taboo.
  5. The program placed low-income minority students in top schools.
  6. I remember gazing out the window in awe.
  7. Rosie Perez as Tina in the 1989  film Do The Right Thing was the only exposure to a Latina I had.
  8. One day in my junior year, I was reading on the mezzanine overlooking the cafeteria.
  9. I saw myself reflected in the story of the Garcia sisters.
  10. For years I’d chronicle my joys and heartbreaks in journals.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

Grammar Focus: Identifying 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.

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

Additional Prepositions:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_prepositions

I grew up___Bushwick, Brooklyn, ___the 1980s,___what felt like a forgotten neighborhood.

Abandoned buildings loomed ___piles ___garbage and rubble.

My mother migrated ___Honduras___New York___1971.

My life took a turn___13 when my social studies teacher saw promise___me.

Millie’s brother drove me___school ___a beat-up blue Pentecostal church van.

I saw myself reflected___the story___ the Garcia sisters, who had fled ___the United States___the Dominican Republic ___their parents.

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. The author grew up in Manhattan, in the 1980s.
  2. The playgrounds were overrun by happy children.
  3. The grocer  Miguel gave the author’s mother credit when their food stamps ran out.
  4. Her mother migrated from  Puerto Rico to New York in 1971.
  5. The mother fell in love with an American man.
  6. The author was offered  a four-year scholarship to Wellesley High School in Massachusetts.
  7. While at Wellesley, the author realized that  she was just like the other students.
  8. Her English professor, Mr. Goddard introduced her to the book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, by Julia Alverez.
  9. For years she would chronicle her  joys and heartbreaks in journals.
  10. The author’s  mother still lives in the same apartment in Bushwick.

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/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. In your opinion is it important for students to feel  represented by the books they are reading? Why or why not?
  2. Do you see yourself in the books that you read? Name the books.
  3. Are there any authors that you particularly like to read?  Why?
  4. The author states, “Mr. Goddard, approached me. ‘You should read this,’ he said and handed me How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. My eyes stopped at the writer’s name, Julia Alvarez. ‘That’s a Spanish name” Are there authors from your own country that you enjoy reading? Who are they?
  5. How did you discover the authors that you identify with?
  6. In your opinion, who should be responsible for introducing students to books with which they can identify? For example, parents, teachers, librarians or someone else?
  7. Name at least two things that you have learned form reading this article.

ANSWER KEY

5 People Who Made Positive World Changes in 2019

“In a year of many dispiriting headlines, Fixes still found the better angels of human nature at work.” T. Rosenberg, The New York Times

Note: Fixes is a column from the New York Times that looks at solutions to social problems and why they work.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Excerpt: Five Who Spread Hope in 2019-By Tina Rosenberg, The New York Times

“O.K. so Time magazine has Greta Thunberg. But many other individuals also changed the world for the better in 2019. Here, for a second year, is a list of five whose contributions Fixes wrote about.

Scott O’Neill fights tropical disease.

Scott O’Neill, director of the World Mosquito Program, with a cage of Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes in his Melbourne laboratory. Credit- Shaney Cameron

There’s a new weapon in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases.

Before 1970, only nine countries had experienced severe epidemics of dengue fever. Now, the disease is endemic in 100 countries, infects 400 million people a year and is intensifying rapidly.

Like Zika and chikungunya, dengue is spread by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, and no workable vaccine or cure has been found.

The normal public health response to mosquitoes is attack: spray pesticide, eliminate breeding grounds and help people ward off their bites. But these strategies have failed to control dengue. The world is desperate for something new. Scott O’Neill leads a team that is doing just the opposite — adding millions of mosquitoes to areas affected by disease. Professor O’Neill directs the World Mosquito Program, which is based at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

The mosquitoes the program releases are infected with Wolbachia bacteria, which block their ability to transmit disease. Wolbachia occurs naturally in most insect species and is harmless to vertebrates and humans. When enough Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes are released, they take over the whole population…In Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wolbachia zones had 76 percent fewer cases of dengue than other areas. Wolbachia has also led to reductions in disease in Brazil and Vietnam.

Kimberly McGrath heals trafficked children.

Kimberly McGrath coordinates foster care services at the Citrus Health Network in Hialeah, Fla. Credit- Maria A. Cardona for The New York Times

What happens to a child who is exploited commercially for sex? Kimberly McGrath is changing the answer to that question. Historically, trafficked children have been arrested for solicitation and sent to juvenile court…’The core understanding was that these were defiant, rebellious youth who would rebel in a family,’ Dr. McGrath said. In 2013, Florida officials asked Dr. McGrath, who coordinates foster care services at the Citrus Health Network in South Florida, to come up with a different response.

She started from the premise that these children were not defiant criminals. A vast majority had been abused, which made them more susceptible to the manipulations of traffickers. And they had never gotten help to recover from that abuse.

Dr. McGrath and her colleagues looked at what had worked for other traumatized children and adapted it to trafficked children. They educated not just therapists and social workers, but also foster parents…’When foster parents are equipped and prepared to deal with their special needs, children thrive in family-based environments,’ she said. “They really are just traumatized kids.’

Dr. Dixon Chibanda transforms global mental health care.

Dr. Dixon Chibanda turned benches into destinations for therapy. Credit- Markus Schreiber:Associated Press

Depression occurs everywhere. By some measures, it’s the world’s most debilitating disease. But treatment is not everywhere. Even in New York City, less than 40 percent of people with depression get treatment. In poor countries, it’s closer to zero percent.

So what can be done in places with no public mental health care and only a tiny number of mental health professionals? As with medical care, the answer is training nonprofessionals. Every health clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe, has a ‘friendship bench‘ in its yard. It’s an ordinary wooden bench. Seated on it is a community health worker with a few weeks’ training in problem-solving therapy. Patients go to the bench, talk to the health worker about their problems and come up with possible solutions. They go home and try them, and return.

The friendship bench was invented in 2006 by a psychiatrist, Dixon Chibanda, after a patient committed suicide. He had asked her to come see him at Harare Central Hospital, but she lived in another city and didn’t have bus fare.

Dr. Chibanda decided to bring treatment for depression to Harare’s health clinics. At first he wanted to train nurses and put offices inside the buildings, but the nurses had not enough  time and clinics had not enough space. But what seemed like a setback is what has allowed the program to spread.

Now, there’s a bench in the yard of every government-run health clinic in Harare, and the practice is spreading throughout Zimbabwe and to other African countries. In a different form, the strategy has also reached New York. Research shows that friendship benches are effective at treating depression.

Dr. Rebekah Gee makes medicines affordable.

Dr. Rebekah Gee, Louisiana’s health secretary. Credit- Tom Williams:CQ Roll Call, via Associated Press

Louisiana is doing two things no other state is doing about hepatitis C, which kills more Americans than all other infectious diseases combined. One is that the state is suddenly treating more people.

Hep C is curable — but the drugs are astronomically expensive. Even the cheapest generic version in the United States costs $24,000 for a course of treatment. (In India, the same drug is $550.) Because of the price, state Medicaid programs ration the drugs. In 2018, Louisiana treated 1,200 people… Louisiana could do that because of the second innovation: The drugs were made a lot less expensive. In July, the state began buying hep C medicines in a new way. Just as you pay Netflix a flat fee for all you want to watch, Louisiana now pays Asegua Therapeutics $58 million per year for all the hep C medicine the state can use.

Dr. Rebekah Gee, Louisiana’s secretary of health, adopted the scheme from Australia, where it has allowed Australia to treat seven times as many patients for the same money. Louisiana is the first state in America to do the same. The State of Washington is about to start as well. Other states are likely to follow.

Phil Keisling deepens democracy.

Illustration by Jeffrey Henson Scales; photographs by Marcin Jastrzebski and Digiphoto:iStock, via Getty Images

There’s a lot of attention, and rightly so, paid to Republican efforts to suppress voting. But there’s also a movement in both parties to expand voting. It abandons the traditional polling booth in favor of voting at home

It’s one of the most effective ways to increase turnout — possibly the best way.

Increasingly, other states are following the path first set by Oregon, which mails every voter a ballot. Voters fill it out at their leisure and mail it in or drop it off at a ballot center.

In next year’s elections, all voters in Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Utah and Hawaii will vote at home. California will soon follow. Large parts of North Dakota and Nebraska vote at home. In last year’s midterms, 69 percent of all votes in the West were cast by voters who received ballots in the mail.

Phil Keisling was Oregon’s secretary of state, in charge of elections, when Oregon began home voting in 1998. Now he leads the Vote at Home Institute.

The institute asserts that it saves taxpayers money (some election officials disagree). It argues that because the approach uses paper ballots, it’s secure against hacking… Home voting probably doesn’t affect turnout in big elections. But it does in local elections, races at the end of the ballot, ballot propositions and judicial elections.

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 improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

Pre-reading Exercises

 

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Have  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 chart by J. Swann

 

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. Before 1970, only nine countries had experienced severe epidemics of dengue fever.
  2. The normal public health response to mosquitoes is attack: spray pesticide.
  3. What happens to a child who is exploited?
  4. Historically, trafficked children have been arrested for solicitation.
  5. Depression occurs everywhere.
  6. So what can be done in places with no public mental health care?
  7. Louisiana is doing two things no other state is doing about hepatitis C.
  8. Hepatitis C kills more Americans than all other infectious diseases combined.
  9. There’s a lot of attention, and rightly so, paid to Republican efforts to suppress voting.
  10. Increasingly, other states are following the path first set by Oregon, which mails every voter a ballot.

Source: New Oxford American Dictionary   

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

Many other individual also changed the world for the better in 2019.

The normal public health response to mosquitoes is attack.

The mosquitoes the program releases are infected with Wolbachia bacteria.

II

The friendship bench was invented in 2006.

There’s a bench in the yard of every government-run health clinic in Harare.

Louisiana is treating more people for hepatitis C.

III

Because of an price, state Medicaid programs ration their drugs.

In next year’s elections, all voters in Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Utah and Hawaii will vote at home.

Turnout for these elections can be in the single digits.

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article. The first group to correctlyidentify all of the speakers wins.

  1. “People who understand dengue and live in transmission areas are horrified and scared.”
  2. “Now we know they really are just extremely traumatized youth.”
  3. I started to realize that psychiatry in an institution is not the way to go. We have to take it to the community.”
  4. “Why couldn’t we change health care in this country?”
  5. “For millions of citizens, especially those with uncertain work schedules, family obligations and other daily demands, the traditional polling place has now become the most powerful voter suppression tool of all.”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/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. Which of the profiles do you find most inspiring or heartwarming? Why?
  2. Do they make you more hopeful and optimistic about the world?
  3. Do they inspire you to make a difference? How?
  4. Have you observed other ordinary heroes of 2019 in the news?In your community? Describe them.
  5. What qualities make it possible for individuals to affect change?
  6. Do you think you made a positive difference in the lives of others in 2019? Explain how.
  7. Has anyone made a difference in your life this past year? 

 

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

How The New York Times Chooses The Best Photos of 2019

“A painstaking selection process ensures that The Times’s annual visual review highlights the biggest news events and strongest images.” L. Takenaga, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Lesson Plan

Excerpt: From 500,000 Photos to 116: How Our Editors Distill the Year in Pictures, Lara Takenaga, The New York Times

“Umbrella-wielding protesters engulfed in tear gas in Hong Kong. A severely malnourished baby girl sprawled on a floor in Venezuela. The first-ever image of a black hole.

These are some of the pictures in the seemingly boundless photographic universe that Times editors scrolled through to define the year visually.

At The Times, the Year in Pictures is the result of weeks of near round-the-clock culling and editing.

And 2019 marks the most ambitious year yet for the project, led by David Furst, the International photo editor, and Jeffrey Henson Scales, the Op-Ed photo editor.

For the first time since 2008, the project will have its own special section in the paper, on Dec. 15, featuring an introduction by Dean Baquet, The Times’s executive editor. At 36 pages, it has almost twice the print real estate that it did last year, when it ran as part of the Sunday Review.

Beyond expanding the project’s scale, Mr. Furst wanted to ‘bring the photographers out from behind their bylines’ this year. To that end, Dionne Searcey, a political reporter who recently returned to New York after being The Times’s West Africa bureau chief, interviewed about 50 of the photographers.

Their quotes and anecdotes — about covering an Ebola outbreak, being in the center of violent protests, working in arctic temperatures — help explain what goes into their thinking before they press the shutter button… To be as comprehensive as possible, Mr. Furst reached out to every desk in the newsroom and The New York Times Magazine, as well as to photo agencies and wire services, for their best material.

He and Mr. Henson Scales also kept a spreadsheet of hundreds of individual photographers, painstakingly reviewing their published and unpublished work from The Times and other assignments, and came up with a list of the most important news events to include.

Doug Mills, a Times photographer who covers the White House, has shot more than 12,000 pictures since January alone, making the task of narrowing those down to 100 initially, and later to just two, a herculean challenge…All told, the editors went through over 500,000 photos… They pared down the photos and organized them in folders by month. Hundreds of images for each month were narrowed down to dozens and, eventually, to about 10.

The final phase of cutting was grueling. Mr. Furst and Mr. Henson Scales scrutinized photos side by side as they went through each month and then looked at the year as a whole.

Getting just the right mix of images was the most challenging part. The editors considered a number of factors, such as the impact of a photo or its ability to delight, and the variety of images in each month.

A beautiful, poignant picture could edge out a more newsworthy one, and vice versa… The designers avoided jarring juxtapositions, finding ways to balance moments of tragedy and levity.

Portraits, landscapes and aerial shots sit comfortably alongside hard news photos.

One photographer who came up repeatedly in discussions of the digital and print presentations was Lam Yik Fei, a photojournalist who has covered the protests in Hong Kong for The Times.

While most of the featured photographers are seasoned professionals, there are some fresher faces, too.

The month of June includes an image from the Pride Parade in New York by Brittainy Newman, a photography fellow at The Times who shot the event for her first big project.

When she found out she would be among this year’s photographers, ‘I almost cried,’ she said. ‘It’s really a dream come true.”

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 improving oral skills. 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: Have  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 chart by J. Swann

 

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. Umbrella-wielding protesters were engulfed in tear gas.
  2. The Times editors scrolled through to define the year visually.
  3. There was round-the-clock culling and editing.
  4. Mr. Furst wanted to bring the photographers out from behind their bylines this year
  5. The writers had many quotes and anecdotes
  6. The final phase of cutting was grueling.
  7. Mr. Furst and Mr. Henson Scales scrutinized photos.
  8. A beautiful, poignant picture could edge out a more newsworthy one, and vice versa.
  9. The designers avoided jarring juxtapositions.
  10. Portraits, landscapes and aerial shots sit comfortably alongside hard news photos.

 

Grammar Focus: Identifying 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.

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

Additional Prepositions

Umbrella-wielding protesters engulfed ___tear gas ___Hong Kong. A severely malnourished baby girl sprawled ___a floor ___Venezuela. The first-ever image___a black hole.

___the first time ___2008, the project will have its own special section ___the paper, ___Dec. 15. One photographer who came

___repeatedly___discussions ___ the digital and print presentations was Lam Yik Fei,a photojournalist who has covered the protests___Hong Kong___The Times.

Getting just the right mix___ images was the most challenging part. The editors considered a number ___factors, such as the impact___ a photo or its ability ___delight, and the variety___ images each month.

 

Reading Comprehension: Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article. The first group to correctly  identify all of the speakers wins.

“They put you in the photographer’s spot.”

“When you feel like you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you’re reminded that you missed a dozen different news events or these 20 photographers or these 15 projects in the newsroom.”

“We are always interested in finding images that really represent a particular photographer’s unique way of seeing something.”

“One of the big balances is news value versus craftsmanship and beauty,”said. “We’re always having to juggle those kinds of elements.”

“It’s like a Rubik’s cube.”

III Post Reading

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Describe the process of choosing the final photos.
  2. According to the article what is the most challenging part of choosing the final photos?
  3. Who found the initial stage of the photo finding process daunting?
  4. Which photographer came up repeatedly in discussions? Why?

 

Questions for Reflection

  1. Would you want to work as a photographer? Why?
  2. What type of photos would interest you? Why?
  3. What new ideas did you learn from reading this article?
  4. To See All of The Photos and Titles: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/world/year-in-pictures.html

 

Photo  Group Activity

Directions: Place students in groups and have them view all of the photos.  Each group chooses 3 or 4 photos and  writes a paragraph explaining what they think the photos mean.

Questions for the Authors

Directions: Place students in groups Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class.

ANSWER KEY

New Year’s Celebrations!

“Celebrating the start of the New Year has been practiced for at least four thousand years. The following article reviews the history,  significance, and common traditions of this festive, and meaningful holiday.” History.com

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon.

Excerpt: The History of New Year’s Celebration–History.com

“Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day).

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event.

New Year Celebration, Tendillas Square, Spain

Revelers often enjoy meals and snacks thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes-symbolizing their hopes for the months ahead-right before midnight.

In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success; examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the United States. Because pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures, pork appears on the New Year’s Eve table in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries.

New Year Celebration, Vienna, Austria.

In Sweden, it is believed that whoever gets that one peeled almond hidden inside the rice pudding at Christmas will get married within a year. the scoop.

 

In Sweden and Norway, meanwhile, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve; it is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune.

The London Eye on the River Thames during New Year fireworks and celebrations. The Telegraph.

Other customs that are common worldwide include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever-popular “Auld Lang Syne” in many English-speaking countries. The practice of making resolutions for the new year is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. (They would reportedly vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment.)

Chinese New Year, Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. Photo-NBC News

New Year Celebration New York City’s Times Square. Photo- C. Morris.

In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City‘s Times Square at the stroke of midnight…Over time, the ball itself has ballooned from a 400-pound iron-and-wood orb to a brightly patterned sphere 12 feet in diameter and weighing in at nearly 12,000 pounds.”

WISHING EVERYONE A SAFE AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

Language Skills: reading, writing, speaking,  vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: approximately 2 hours.

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

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article about New Year’s celebrations 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 Task

Prediction: Analyze headings and photos.

Directions: Read the title of the post, and article.  Analyze the photo(s) to see if  you can predict what  information the article will discuss.  Then based on this information,  make a list of ideas,  words and phrases that might be in the article.

The K-W-L Chart

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about New Year’s celebrations.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

 

Vocabulary: 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. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia.
  2. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31st.
  3. New Year’s Eve is the last day of the Gregorian calendar.
  4. Common traditions include attending parties, and eating special New Year’s foods.
  5. Other traditions include making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.
  6. The earliest recorded festivities date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon.
  7. Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars.
  8. The calendars would pin the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event.
  9. In Egypt the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius.
  10. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

Vocabulary Organizer by Against the Odds

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least five millennia.
  2. Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays
  3. The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Rome.
  4. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.
  5. In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily replaced January 1 as the first of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as December 25 (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth).
  6. In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 3 and continue into the early hours of January 1.
  7. Revelers often eat specific foods that are believed to bring good crops for the coming year.
  8. Grapes in Spain, round fruits in the Philippines, suckling pig in Austria, soba noodles in Japan are all considered good-luck food.
  9. Other customs that are common in the U.S. include making resolutions.
  10. In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City‘s Times Square at the stroke of midnight.

III Grammar Focus

Identifying Parts of Speech: Nouns

Directions: Identify the nouns in the following paragraph, then use the words to write a short paragraph about \ New Year celebrations in the United States.

Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

WH-How Questions format

Directions: 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?

K-W-L 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/Writing Exercise

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

  1. The article states, “ Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day).  Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.”
  2. Provide a description of when and how the New Year is celebrated in your country. If you live in the U.S. then discuss how you celebrate the New Year.
  3. Discuss the types of foods you like to eat on New Year’s Day and the significance of the food.
  4. A big New Year  tradition in the U.S. is making resolutions. Discuss a few of your own resolutions and why you are making them.
  5. What new ideas have you learned from this article? Discuss them with group members and the class.

ANSWER KEY

NOTE: Happy New Year Banner Courtesy Vector Logo.

 

Category: History, Holidays, Social Issues | Tags:

The Gift of The Magi, By O. Henry

“The magi, as you know, were wise men – wonderfully wise men – who brought gifts to the new-born King in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones…. And here I have related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the Magi.” O. Henry.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key


O. Henry: Portrait by W. M. Vanderweyde, 1909- Credit-Wikipedia

William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910), better known by his pen name O. Henry, was an American short story writer.

O. Henry’s stories frequently have surprise endings. In his day he was called the American answer to Guy de Maupassant. While both authors wrote plot twist endings, O. Henry’s stories were considerably more playful, and are also known for their witty narration.

Most of O. Henry’s stories are set in his own time, the early 20th century. Many take place in New York City and deal for the most part with ordinary people: policemen, waitresses, etc…He had an obvious affection for the city, which he called ‘Bagdad-on-the-Subway’ and many of his stories are set there—while others are set in small towns or in other cities.

One of his most favorite stories is The Gift of the Magi . It is about a young couple, Jim and Della, who are short of money but desperately want to buy each other Christmas gifts. The essential premise of this story has been copied, re-worked, parodied, and otherwise re-told countless times in the century since it was written.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ESL-VOICES!

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: This is a short version for this lesson plan. For the extended version visit HERE

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: Copy of story The Gift Of The Magi,  biography of O. Henry, 

Objective: Students will  read and discuss the short story The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. Students will achieve a better understanding of the story.

I. Pre-Reading Exercises

 Stimulating Background Knowledge

Directions:  Ask students to read the title of the short story. Then, have them  examine the photo carefully. Based on these sources,  ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article.

II. While Reading Tasks

Vocabulary:  Word Inference

Directions: Place students in groups and have them infer the meanings of the words in bold font taken from the story.

  1. This is a  story about the meaning of true love and unselfishness.
  2. Della sat  down on the shabby little couch and howled.
  3. They lived in a furnished flat at $8 per week.
  4. In the vestibule below was a letter-box. 
  5. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated.
  6. Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass
  7. There were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride.
  8. Once she faltered for a minute.
  9. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.
  10. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

 

Questions for Comprehension

Directions: After students have read the short story, have them answer the following questions from the story.

  1. During what holiday does the story take place?
  2. Identify the characters in the story.
  3. What are the two valuable possessions  belonging to Della and Jim?
  4. How much money did Della have at first to buy Jim’s gift?
  5. What did Della do to get additional money for his gift?
  6. What gift did Della buy for Jim?
  7. How did Jim get additional money to buy Della’s gift?
  8. What gift did Jim buy for Della?
  9. Did things work out the way Jim and Della planned? Explain why or why not.

 

III. Post-Reading Exercises

Questions for Reflection

Directions:  In groups have students discuss the following questions.

The Gift of the Magi is a story about a young married couple who are very poor. This story tells of  how they handle the challenge of  secretly buying Christmas gifts for each other with very little money to spend. The questions below ask you to think about gifts and their value.  Discuss your ideas with your class members.

1. In your opinion what makes a gift  valuable?

2. Describe the most valuable gift you have ever received.

3. What was the most valuable gift you have given someone?

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: Holidays | Tags: ,