Robotic Duck Helps Kids Battling Cancer

“Children battling cancer can’t always express their feelings. Now a robotic duck is doing it for them.” P. Holley, The Washington Post

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Savi Abdallah-Sinha, a 4-year-old battling leukemia, interacts with a robotic duck (Peter Holley:The Washington Post)

Robotic Duck Help Children  By Peter Holley, The Washington Post   

It was hard enough that Savi Abdallah-Sinha was only two years old when he began undergoing chemotherapy treatment to rid his body of leukemia. What made his situation even more difficult, his parents say, was knowing that the little boy was so young he lacked the words to communicate the many varieties of acute pain he was experiencing. Each time a new drug was introduced or a round of treatment completed, the boy’s inner world remained largely mysterious to the adults caring for him. 

This adorable robot duck helps kids cope with cancer treatments. Mashable

‘He couldn’t even say, ‘Why am I taking this medication?’ his father, Rachid Abdallah, said from a family room inside Children’s National Health System in Washington D.C., recalling the first months after his son’s chemotherapy began. ‘At the same time, we didn’t have the words to give him answers or explain to him what was making him sick.’ Nearly a year ago — as Savi’s own understanding of his illness was just beginning to come into focus — the Washington D.C. family received a new tool to help them communicate through the fog of cancer: a quacking robotic duck resembling a soft stuffed animal.

My Special Aflac Duck. Broadchannel

A partnership between the insurance company Aflac, whose company mascot is a duck, and the robotics toy company Sproutel, the social robot, known as My Special Aflac Duck uses a series of touch sensors that enable the device to respond to the person interacting with it. Merging play with tools that help doctors do their jobs, the robot — which has four patents pending — can turn it’s neck, nuzzle, open it’s beak and emit sounds and vibrations. When doctors need a patient to breathe in a rhythmic pattern, the duck can emit a series of pulses, designed to mimic a heartbeat, that can help to calm a child and guide their breathing.

Aaron Horowitz, co-founder and CEO of Sproutel. People

When doctors administer medication to their patients, a toy syringe can be attached to the robot that allows a child to mimic giving the duck medication as well. Aflac, which introduced a quacking duck in its commercials nearly two decades ago, has donated just over 4,000 of the robotic ducks to nearly 200 hospitals across the country.

Though the duck is designed to be a companion for children battling illness, hospital workers say it also gives children a way to express their emotions when their words are not readily available.

The robot includes multiple plastic emoji discs, each representing a different emotion. When a disc is placed against the duck’s chest, the robot acts out the emotion, unleashing happy chirps or uneasy moans. Abdallah calls the robot a ‘great translator.’

Now four, his son is able to express how he’s feeling with much more precision, offering his parents small details that were unavailable to them when he was younger (Savi is in his final phase — and the least intensive — of his 3-year chemotherapy plan, doctors say).”

Another Great Story:

“A young girl was afraid of IVs. So she invented a teddy bear to disguise them [Medi Teddy].” https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/13/health/iv-teddy-bear-medi-teddy-trnd/index.html

Medi Teddy is designed to conceal a bag of IV fluid, medication, or blood product from the patient.

MEDI TEDDY Website for Donations: “Donations received through this site are for the purpose of donating Medi Teddys to children from all over the world who are requesting them.  Thank you for your generosity!” https://www.medi-teddy.org

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:  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. Savi Abdallah was only two years old when he began undergoing chemotherapy.
  2. The little boy was so young he lacked the words to communicate.
  3. There were many varieties of acute pain he was experiencing.
  4. Aflac is a quacking robotic duck.
  5. The insurance company Aflac, had a partnership with robotics toy company Sproutel.
  6. Merging play with tools help doctors do their jobs.
  7. The duck can emit a series of pulses, designed to mimic a heartbeat.
  8. Aflac introduced a quacking duck in its commercials nearly two decades ago.
  9. It can be therapeutic to educate a child.
  10. Now four, his son is able to express how he’s feeling with much more precision.

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 can/was be therapeutic too/to educate a/an child or its/it can just be/bee therapeutic of/for them/they to play with an/a duck and knot/not even talk/talks about the medical aspect of/for things.

Reading Comprehension Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken 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.

To ___with the painful___of___, children often___ to develop ___strategies that either give them a sense of control in an ___environment or ___them during moments of___stress, experts say.

WORD LIST: pricks, uncertain,extreme,syringes,coping, deal, need,distract,

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 this a good solution to help kids communicate with doctors? 
  2. Have you or anyone you know ever used an Aflac duck to help a child?
  3. Can you think of any improvements for the Aflac duck?
  4. Can you see any negative aspects to the Aflac duck? If yes, please explain.
  5. List 3 questions you would like to ask anyone mentioned in the article.  Share your questions with the 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: Education, Health Issues | Tags:

Is It Healthy to Hold on to Grudges? Many Say “No”

“One of my favorite party games is to ask a group of people this simple question: What is your oldest or most cherished grudge? Without fail, every person unloads with shockingly specific, intimate detail about their grudge.” T. Herrera, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Image- in-light-ment.com

Excerpt: Let Go of Your Grudges. They’re Doing You No Good.By Tim Herrera, The NYT

“Career slights (intentional or not), offhand-yet-cutting remarks, bitter friendship dissolutions; nothing is too small or petty when it comes to grudges.

One of my favorite answers I’ve gotten to this question came from a friend whose grudge stretched back to second grade. A classmate — he still remembered her full name and could describe her in detail — was unkind about a new pair of Coke-bottle glasses he had started wearing. Her insult wasn’t particularly vicious, but he’d been quietly seething ever since. Childhood!

But what does holding onto grudges really get us, aside from amusing anecdotes at parties… And what could we gain from giving them up?

I posed this question on Twitter last week, asking if people had ever given up on a grudge and, if so, how that made them feel. The responses were delightfully all over the place.

Yeah pretty much most of them since entering my 30s,’ one respondent said. ‘It feels cleansing to free up the brain space.’‘Literally not once,’ another said‘I felt neutral!!’ one more wrote. ‘Like I just couldn’t be bothered anymore but also I didn’t feel relieved or anything. Just indifferent.’

A 2006 study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology as part of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, suggested that ‘skills-based forgiveness training may prove effective in reducing anger as a coping style, reducing perceived stress and physical health symptoms, and thereby may help reduce’ the stress we put on our immune and cardiovascular systems.

Let Go of Grudges-Image- CafeMom

‘Holding onto a grudge really is an ineffective strategy for dealing with a life situation that you haven’t been able to master. That’s the reality of it,’ said Dr. Frederic Luskin, founder of the Stanford Forgiveness Project.

‘Whenever you can’t grieve and assimilate what has happened, you hold it in a certain way,’ he said. ‘If it’s bitterness, you hold it with anger. If it’s hopeless, you hold it with despair. But both of those are psycho-physiological responses to an inability to cope, and they both do mental and physical damage.’

At the same time, he said, the converse is true: Full forgiveness can more or less reverse these negative repercussions of holding onto anger and grudges.

O.K., so getting over grudges is good. But how do we do it?

1. Forgiveness is for you, not the offender. 2. It’s best to do it now. 3. It’s about freeing yourself …Perhaps most crucially, Dr. Luskin stressed, forgiveness is a learnable skill. It just takes a little practice.”

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

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic, ‘grudges’.  Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article.  Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming Map by rentonschools.us

 

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. What is a grudge?
  2. What is your most cherished grudge?
  3. Some grudges stem from career slights.
  4. Other grudges caused bitter friendship dissolutions.
  5. One person has been quietly seething ever since childhood.
  6. Grudges can be used as amusing anecdotes at parties.
  7. One response Mr. Herrera received was the most introspective one.
  8. Another response sounded like a cliché.
  9. It has been revealed that releasing grudges can alleviate stress.
  10. Holding onto a grudge really is an ineffective strategy for dealing with a life situation.

 

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. Getting under grudges is good.
  2. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to become their friend.
  3. Sometimes just taking a deep breath can help.

 

 

II

  1. You have to counter-condition the stress response.
  2. You should think about the source of yourself grudge.
  3. Change your story from that of a victim.

III

  1. Calm yourself down in the moment.
  2. Life doesnt’  always turn out the way we want it to.
  3. Anger can have immune implications.

 

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. One of the author’s favorite party games is to ask a group of people,  ‘What is your oldest or most cherished dream?’
  2. The author’s wife attends these parties
  3. When it comes to grudges, they must be big ones.
  4. According to the article some people hold grudges from childhood.
  5. When asked if  they had ever given up on a grudge a few people replied simply: ‘No.’
  6. The author has children who hold grudges.
  7. Dr. Frederic Luskin  is the founder of the Hold on to Grudges Project.
  8. Full forgiveness has four actions, according to Dr. Luskin.
  9. According to Dr. Luskin forgiveness is a learnable skill.
  10. The author admits that grudges can be fun to hold.

 

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. According to Mr. Herrera  Forgiveness is for you, not the offender.” Do you agree with his statement?  Explain why or why not.
  2. What’s the longest period of time that you’ve held a grudge against someone?  What made you release the grudge?
  3. Did you feel better after giving up your grudge?
  4. What did Mr. Herrera mean by the following question,Do you enjoy holding these grudges in some way, perhaps tending to them  ‘like little pets’? Or, do they ‘own’ you and affect your happiness and peace of mind?

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 | Tags:

Your Next Boss Just Might Be A Machine

“The goal of automation has always been efficiency. What if artificial intelligence sees humanity itself as the thing to be optimized?” K. Roose, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

The application Cogito on view on a monitor. Credit Tony Luong for The New York Times

Excerpt: A Machine May Not Take Your Job, but One Could Become Your Boss By Kevin Roose, The New York Times

“When Conor Sprouls, a customer service representative in the call center of the insurance giant MetLife talks to a customer over the phone, he keeps one eye on the bottom-right corner of his screen. There, in a little blue box, A.I. tells him how he’s doing. Talking too fast? The program flashes an icon of a speedometer, indicating that he should slow down.

Sound sleepy? The software displays an ‘energy cue,’ with a picture of a coffee cup.

Icons that are used in Cogito are placed around the MetLife call center.

Not empathetic enough? A heart icon pops up.

For decades, people have fearfully imagined armies of hyper-efficient robots invading offices and factories, gobbling up jobs once done by humans. But in all of the worry about the potential of artificial intelligence to replace rank-and-file workers, we may have overlooked the possibility it will replace the bosses, too.

Mr. Sprouls and the other call center workers at his office inR.I., still have plenty of human supervisors. But the software on their screens — made by Cogito, an A.I. company in Boston — has become a kind of adjunct manager, always watching them.

At the end of every call, Mr. Sprouls’s Cogito notifications are tallied and added to a statistics dashboard that his supervisor can view. If he hides the Cogito window by minimizing it, the program notifies his supervisor.

Cogito is one of several A.I. programs used in call centers and other workplaces. The goal, according to Josh Feast, Cogito’s chief executive, is to make workers more effective by giving them real-time feedback. ‘There is variability in human performance,’ Mr. Feast said. ‘We can infer from the way people are speaking with each other whether things are going well or not.’

When AI becomes your boss. Technocracy News

But using A.I. to manage workers in conventional, 9-to-5 jobs has been more controversial. Critics have accused companies of using algorithms for managerial tasks, saying that automated systems can dehumanize and unfairly punish employees.

And while it’s clear why executives would want A.I. that can track everything their workers do, it’s less clear why workers would…Amazon uses complex algorithms to track worker productivity in its fulfillment centers, and can automatically generate the paperwork to fire workers who don’t meet their targets, as The Verge uncovered this year.

(Amazon has disputed that it fires workers without human input, saying that managers can intervene in the process.) IBM has used Watson, its A.I. platform, during employee reviews to predict future performance and claims it has a 96 percent accuracy rate.

Then there are the start-ups. Cogito, which works with large insurance companies like MetLife and Humana as well as financial and retail firms, says it has 20,000 users. Percolata, a Silicon Valley company that counts Uniqlo and 7-Eleven among its clients, uses in-store sensors to calculate a ‘true productivity’ score for each worker, and rank workers from most to least productive…Using A.I. to correct for human biases is a good thing. But as more A.I. enters the workplace, executives will have to resist the temptation to use it to tighten their grip on their workers and subject them to constant surveillance and analysis. If that happens, it won’t be the robots staging an uprising.”

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:Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have themexamine 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. People have fearfully imagined armies of robots invading offices and factories, gobbling up jobs.
  2. Talking too fast? The program flashes an icon of a speedometer.
  3. Not empathetic enough? A heart icon pops up.
  4. At the end of every call, Mr. Sprouls’s Cogito notifications are tallied.
  5. Cogito is one of several A.I. programs used in call centers.
  6. The goal of automation has always been efficiency.
  7. Amazon uses complex algorithms to track worker productivity.
  8. Amazon has disputed that it fires workers without human input.
  9. Human managers can intervene in the process.
  10. Mr. Sprouls feels that the software on his screen has become a kind of adjunct manager, always watching him.

 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

Cogito is one of several A.I. programs use in call centers.

There is variability in human performance.

The goal of automation has always been efficiency.

II

It is surreal to think that any company could fire their own workers.

It actually changes peoples behavior without them knowing about it.

Defenders of workplace A.I. might argue that these systems are not meant to be overbearing.

III

Some wonder why anyone wouldwant to be judged on a computer.

There were no protests at MetLife’s call center.

Still, there is a creepy sci-fi vibe to a situation in which A.I. surveils human workers.

Reading ComprehensionFill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken 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 best___ for workplace A.I. may be___in which ___bias skews decision-making, such as hiring. Pymetrics, a ___start-up, has made___in the corporate hiring world by replacing the ___résumé ___process with an A.I. program that uses a series of games to test for ___skills. The algorithms are then ___to make sure they are not ___biased hiring outcomes, or favoring one ___over another.

WORDLIST:  creating, analyzed, relevant, screening, traditional,  New York    human, group, inroads, situations, argument

Discussion Questions: 

  1. Have you ever worked for (or with) robots? If so, describe your experience.
  2. Do you think it might be fun working for a robot? Why or why not?
  3. In your opinion would automated systems be able to judge a person’s work performance fairly? Please explain why or why not.
  4. What would you do if you found out that your new ‘boss’ was a robot?
  5. The article states, Using A.I. to correct for human biases is a good thing. But as more A.I. enters the workplace, executives will have to resist the temptation to use it to tighten their grip on their workers and subject them to constant surveillance and analysis. If that happens, it won’t be the robots staging an uprising.”  Explain what this means. Provide an example.

 

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: Robots, Technology

The Elementary School Where Students Cope With Parents’ Addiction

“About half of the student body at one Ohio elementary school has witnessed drug use at home. Educators spend time every day teaching the children how to cope.” D. Levin, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Students at Minford are encouraged to pick a color that represents an emotion Credi A. Schukar for The NYT

Excerpt: Inside the Elementary School Where Drug Addiction Sets the Curriculum — By Dan Levin, The New York Times

“Inside an elementary school classroom decorated with colorful floor mats, art supplies and building blocks, a little boy named Riley talked quietly with a teacher about how he had watched his mother take ‘knockout pills’ and had seen his father shoot up ‘a thousand times.’

Riley, who is 9 years old, described how he had often been left alone to care for his baby brother while his parents were somewhere else getting high. Beginning when he was about 5, he would heat up meals of fries, chicken nuggets and spaghetti rings in the microwave for himself and his brother, he said. ‘That was all I knew how to make,’ Riley said.

Riley — who is in foster care and who officials asked not be fully identified because of his age — is among hundreds of students enrolled in the local school district who have witnessed drug use at home.  Like many of his classmates at Minford Elementary School, Riley struggles with behavioral and psychological problems that make it difficult to focus, school officials said, let alone absorb lessons.

The school offers clothing, including shoes, to its students. Credit A. Schukar for The NYT

‘If you’re worried about your parents getting arrested last night, you can’t retain information,’ said Kendra Rase Cram, a teacher at Minford Elementary who was hired this past academic year to teach students how to cope with trauma.  Over the past nine months, she led several classes a day, and met every week in one-on-one sessions with up to 20 students who have experienced significant trauma.

Indeed, the classroom is becoming the battleground in the war against drug addiction where the next generation will be saved or lost in Ohio, which in 2017 had the second highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the country… Minford Elementary is not like typical schools. At this small campus in rural southern Ohio, there is a dedicated sensory room stocked with weighted blankets, chewable toys and exercise balls. Children who were born dependent on drugs, as well as others with special needs, can take time to jump on a trampoline or calm down in a play tunnel, sometimes several times each day…In this county, long considered ground zero in Ohio’s opioid epidemic, nearly 9.7 million pills were prescribed in 2010 — enough to give 123 to each resident, the highest rate in the state, according to official statistics. Over the years, as opioid prescriptions have fallen, many drug users have moved on to heroin and fentanyl.

In Scioto County, nearly 9.7 million pills were prescribed in 2010 —Credit A. Schukar for The NYT

In Minford, the town’s school district is in many ways on the front lines of the crisis, the effects of which began appearing in classrooms about a decade ago, said Marin Applegate, a psychologist for the Minford school district. 

‘My preschool teachers just started screaming, ‘We have these kids, their behavior is off the wall and none of the traditional measures are working,’ said Ms. Applegate, who at the time worked with the state’s Department of Education. As drug users shifted from painkillers to heroin, and then to fentanyl, the county’s schools struggled to handle the fallout from parental addiction and abject poverty… Students at Minford Elementary have endured a range of abuse and neglect, county and school officials said. Some children have worn the same clothes for several consecutive days, and some have arrived on campus covered in bedbug bites. Parents have shown up after school high on heroin, school officials said, or have forgotten to pick up their children at all. In play-therapy sessions, some young students have drawn pictures of people cooking meth.

 

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:  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 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. Riley told a teacher how he had watched his mother take ‘knockout pills‘.
  2. He had seen his father ‘shoot up‘ a thousand times.
  3. Riley who is 9 years old is in foster care.
  4. Kendra teaches children how to cope with trauma.
  5. Minford Elementary has  a drug prevention curriculum.
  6. There are exercises to teach students how to cope with the consequences of an opioid epidemic.
  7. Four kindergartners lost parents to fatal overdoses.
  8. There is a sensory room stocked with weighted blankets, and exercise balls.
  9. Children can also jump on a trampoline to calm down.
  10. The roads leading to Minford, in Scioto County, wind past picturesque horse farms.

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.

Riley has/have fallen/fell in love on/with reading, and especially loves/love the/a Harry Potter books. He say/said he can relate to/at the boy wizard who have/had a tough childhood. ‘We’re/Were similar,’ he said. ‘It made myself/me happy that Harry knows/know how it feels.’

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 elementary school is located in New York City.
  2. Riley, is 9 years old and described how he had to care for his baby brother.
  3. According to the article Riley lives on his own.
  4. Last academic year, four kindergartners won prizes for spelling.
  5. Minford Elementary has a sensory room stocked with weighted blankets, chewable toys.
  6. In 2017  Boston had the second highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the country.
  7. Kendra Rase Cram is  a teacher at Minford Elementary.
  8. Mike DeWine is another teacher at the school.
  9. At the school, children can take time to jump on a trampoline or calm down in a play tunnel.
  10. As a way to help the children express their feelings, each child picks a color that symbolizes an emotion.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve seen your parents getting high? What was your reaction?
  2. Have you ever been in a situation where you were tempted to take drugs?
  3. Why do you think parents get high in the first place? (e.g., for recreation, stress etc.)
  4. In your opinion, should parents who are addicted to drugs have their children taken away?  Please explain why or why not?
  5. When you have children, what will you tell them about the drugs? If you have children, do you speak to them about drug use? What do you tell them?
  6. The teachers at this school and others like it are doing a wonderful job of helping the children. Can you think of  additional ways to help both parents and children in theses situations?

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: Education | Tags: ,

The New Way to “Bully-Proof Your Child”

“When my 10-year-old daughter was shunned by her friends a few years ago, we tried a surprisingly effective anti-bullying strategy.” E. Erasmus, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

book by izzy

Excerpt:How to Bullyproof Your Child, Estelle Erasmus, The New York Times

“The trouble started during a play date when three little girls battled over who would wear the one sparkly gown for dress-up. It ended up my daughter’s prize, infuriating one of the girls who told the rest not to play with her. My daughter defended herself, crying, as the other girls continued to taunt her.

Searching for answers, I came upon the work of Izzy Kalman, a school psychologist, educator and author of Bullies to Buddies: How to Turn Your Enemies Into Friends. His concept of the golden rule is to treat the person insulting you as a friend rather than an enemy, and not to get defensive or upset.

Following his online advice, I told my daughter: ‘If they say they don’t want to play with you, say very politely, ‘It’s a free country. It’s O.K. if you don’t want to play with me.’ Then find something else to do.’

It seemed like a lot to ask of a child who was already upset. But we role-played until she had the script down. The next time someone tried to shun her, she didn’t act offended, and the other children saw her as less of a target and moved on. Eventually, the friendships resumed with minimal emotional collateral damage.

Mr. Kalman’s strategydiffers from the approach favored by many schools in several ways: It avoids labeling a child as a bully (it’s an insult, like ‘wimp’ or ‘loser’), but also advocates going to adults for advice or help with role playing. His method encourages kids to solve problems on their own rather than asking an adult to put pressure on the school to take the side of the upset child over the one identified as the ‘bully.’

‘Nobody can guarantee their children a life without difficulties. If you protect your children from the social challenges of life, it weakens them,’ he said…

‘The way to reduce bullying is to not punish kids for exercising their freedom of speech,’ Mr. Kalman said. Teaching children that everyone is allowed to speak freely removes much of the power of the bullying and enables children to be their own advocates…

But many anti-bullying experts think Mr. Kalman’s scripts oversimplify things and call on a child who is likely to be upset to show outsize maturity and restraint.

Barbara Coloroso, author of ‘The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander,’ said: ‘t’s a short walk from hateful rhetoric, to hate crimes to crimes against humanity. Bullying is neither normal, natural or necessary. It is a learned behavior. The bullies must be stopped.’

Of course, Mr. Kalman’s strategies are likely to be most effective if they are used to shut down teasing as soon as it starts. Some bullying situations are so overwhelming that a child feels unable to resolve the conflict alone, and needs to call in adults.”

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:  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. The trouble started when little girls battled over one sparkly gown for dress-up.
  2. My daughter’s prize, infuriated one of the girls.
  3. My daughter defended herself.
  4. The other girls continued to taunt her.
  5. I came upon the work of Izzy Kalman, a school psychologist.
  6. His concept of the golden rule is to treat the person insulting you as a friend.
  7. We role-played until she had the script down.
  8. The friendships resumed with minimal emotional collateral damage.
  9. Mr. Kalman’s strategy avoids labeling a child as a bully.
  10. Of course, if a child is physically attacked, he deems that a crime and endorses calling for adult intervention.

 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. The trouble started during a play date.
  2. He also teaches children how to handle threats.
  3. If a child are physically attacked call for adult intervention.

II

  1. Izzy’s concept of the golden rule are to treat the person insulting you as a friend.
  2. It’s O.K. if you don’t want to play with me.
  3. It seemed like a lot to ask of a child who was already upset.

III

  1. He also teaches children how to handle threats.
  2. If someone are committing a crime against you, go to the authorities.
  3. Nobody can guarantee their children a life without difficulties.

Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins

Mr. Kalman ___that when we ___kids for using certain ___ it ___them that words are very harmful. And when an ___punishes a child for saying something___, it ___hostilities and takes the ___for fixing the___ out of the child’s hands.

WORD LIST: teaches,explained,magnifies, punish, issue,solution, hurtful, magnifies,adult, words

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Have you or someone you know ever been bullied?  When? How did you (or your friend) handle the situation?
  2. What is Mr. Kalman’s concept of the golden rule? Do you agree with this rule?
  3. In what ways does Mr. Kalman’s Strategy differ from other approaches?
  4. In what situation does Mr. Kalman advise a child to call for adult  help?
  5. Barbara Coloroso, author of The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander, said: …“Bullying is neither normal, natural or necessary. It is a learned behavior. The bullies must be stopped.” Do you believe that bullying is a learned behavior? If so, where would children learn this behavior?

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

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