Refugees Give Gratitude and Thanks for First Thanksgiving In America

“Recently arrived refugees in the United States prepare to cook the most American of feasts… From the day of arrival, food is an integral part of adjustment to a new country.” By J. Moskin, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Preparing for her first Thanksgiving dinner, Mayada Anjari roasted a turkey in her kitchen in Jersey City.CreditCreditChristina Holmes for The New York Times

 

Excerpt:  The First Thanksgiving By Julia Moskin, The New York Times

“Two years ago this month, Mayada Anjari was only dimly aware that a holiday was approaching. After the family’s three-year journey as refugees from Syria, her sons — Hayan, Mohammed and Abdulrazaq — had just started school here; her husband, Ahmad Abdulhamid, was looking for work; She had cooked for the church group that sponsored the family’s resettlement…A new friend who was also Muslim gave her a turkey from a local halal butcher for Thanksgiving. Ms. Anjari cut it into pieces, covered it with water, and simmered it into soup with potatoes, carrots, ginger and cumin. Her family liked it, she said, but it didn’t seem very special to her. So she decided to take a test run at making her first Thanksgiving feast.

Members of the church’s refugee task force, which sponsored Ms. Anjari’s family for resettlement in the United States.Credit Christina Holmes for The New York Times

The [Anjari ] family left their home city, Homs, on March 31, 2013, when the daily violence of the civil war had made their lives untenable. They walked across the Jordan border in darkness, were picked up by the Jordanian military… They registered as refugees with the United Nations, so the boys could attend school, but the adults couldn’t work legally. Food and money were always scarce.

Working with the United Nations Refugee Agency, the Department of State brings a certain number of refugees each year — most of them families with young children — to resettle in the United States. Only people displaced by violence or the threat of violence (like asylum seekers) can apply; the program is separate from other American immigration quotas and regulations…So far in 2018, about 22,000 people have been allowed in, and just 50 of them were Syrian. Despite the continuing civil war and refugee crisis, Syria is one of seven countries from which the Trump administration has forbidden people to enter the United States.

On the State Department’s list of things that sponsors must provide immediately is a ‘culturally appropriate’ meal for the family. Some sponsors interpret this in religious terms, and provide store-bought halal fried chicken or kosher pizza.

‘The culturally appropriate hot meal is simply the best federal regulation of all time,’ said Chris George, executive director of Integrated Refugees & Immigrants Services, a New Haven agency that has resettled more than 6,000 refugees in Connecticut since 1982.

For Congolese and Rwandan arrivals Moambe Chicken (Poulet à la Moambé) Explorers Kitchen

For Congolese and Rwandan arrivals, volunteers have made chicken moambe, a braise with tomato, onion, peanut butter and rich red palm oil, a basic ingredient in those countries and for many, the taste of home. For an Eritrean mother and children, an Ethiopian family who had arrived earlier supplied a meal with injera, the soft, spongy flatbread that is a staple in both countries.

Afghanistan traditional pulao of lamb and rice with raisins

Fereshteh Ganjavi, who arrived from Afghanistan in 2013 and now works at Integrated Refugees, said the meal is particularly powerful for refugees who arrive after years of exile from their home country. Her welcome dinner included a traditional pulao of lamb and rice with raisins, and green tea spiced with saffron and cardamom, a brew specific to the mountainous Hindu Kush region that stretches across northern Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Dima King, a native Russian practiced for his first Thanksgiving dinner by making a pumpkin pie.Credit An Rong Xu for The New York Times

 

Dima King, who arrived in the United States last year, is seeking asylum because of the anti-gay persecution and legislation that have taken hold in his native Russia since 2013. He is cooking his first Thanksgiving dinner this year.

‘I understood it right away as a celebration of new Americans and Native Americans,’ he said. Holidays that celebrate a good harvest are universal, he said, but Thanksgiving also honors the practice of treating strangers with generosity, charity and humanity. ‘Of course, that is a holiday I want to cook for.’

Mr. King is a graduate of Emma’s Torch, a nonprofit restaurant in Red Hook, Brooklyn, that offers professional culinary training to resettled refugees; he is soon to start a job as a line cook at Temple Court, a chic restaurant in the financial district.”

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, and ask them to list what they already know about Thanksgiving  in The United States.Since one refugee in this article speaks about the significance of the American Indians and Thanksgiving, you may wish to begin with this Wikipedia article for background information. 

Thanksgiving in the United States-Wikipedia

Next, have students look at the pictures in this  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.

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 civil war had made their lives untenable.
  2. They registered as refugees with the United Nations.
  3. From the day of arrival, food is an integral part of adjustment.
  4. Food and money were always scarce.
  5. Chris George is a passionate advocate for refugees.
  6. The program is separate from other American immigration quotas and regulations.
  7. The vetting process for resettlement takes about two years.
  8. Sponsors must immediately provide a culturally appropriate meal for the family.
  9. Some sponsors stocked the family’s new kitchen with key ingredients.
  10. Dima King, who arrived in the United States last year from Russia, is seeking asylum.

Word Map Education Oasis

 

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. Two years ago this month, Mayada Anjari was only dimly aware that a holiday was approaching.
  2. Mayada  Anjari’s family is from from Pakistan.
  3. The family left their home city, Homs in 2013.
  4. They registered as refugees with the  U.S. Refugee Camp so the boys could attend school.
  5. The children could attend school and  the adults could work legally.
  6. Working with the United Nations Refugee Agency, the Department of State brings a certain number of refugees each year.
  7. Sponsors must provide a ‘culturally appropriate’ meal for the family.
  8. Chris George is a refugee  at Integrated Refugees & Immigrants Services,  in New Haven.
  9. Fereshteh Ganjavi, who arrived from Afghanistan in 2013 and now works at Integrated Refugees.
  10. Dima King, who arrived in the United States last year, is seeking asylum because of the anti-gay persecution.

Grammar: Identifying English Articles

Directions: Have students choose the correct English articles (THE, A, AN)  from those provided to fill in the blanks.

By last fall, ___boys (now 14, 12 and 10) had learned about the Pilgrims.

Ms. Anjari had memorized ___two-mile walk to ___nearest store.

She had cooked for ___church group.

Fans of Ms. Anjari’s food helped her publish ___cookbook of Syrian recipes.

___daily violence of ___civil war had made their lives untenable.

From the day of arrival, food is ___integral part of adjustment to ___ new country.

Mr. George is ___passionate advocate. ___Eritrean mother and children arrived earlier in the year.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion 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. Are any students celebrating Thanksgiving for the first time in America?
  2. Have students discuss the ways Thanksgiving is regarded in their countries. 
  3. Students might  list some memories they personally associate with Thanksgiving.
  4. Students could create drawings of their families, food, or other items connected to Thanksgiving.
  5. Ask students to make a list of things for which they are thankful.

 

Additonal Activities

Groups could research and write short presentations or essays on the following topics:

The Wampanoag Indians are the tribe that had first contact with the Pilgrims. Compare that time when  they first met the Pilgrims in March 1621 to the problems the Tribe is now facing in November 2018. 

Visit: Where is the “Thanks” For the Mashpee Wampanoags?

Discover why some Native American Indians view Thanksgiving as a Day of Mourning.

Thanksgiving: National Day of Mourning for Native Americans 

One 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: Culture | Tags: ,

E-Sports: The New Gateway to Scholarship Money!

“Behind a glass partition at the Microsoft store at the Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island, 10 teenage boys settled into seats in a rectangular formation. Each sat behind a laptop computer, ears warmed by a bulky headset. Parents and grandparents circled the room, peering over shoulders at screens.The room had the feel of a sporting event, and it was — a group of competitive video gamers on the Bay Shore High School e-sports team were competing in a scrimmage and playing their way toward college scholarships.” A.Dollinger, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

At the computers are, from left, Dimetrius, Randy Garcia and Kyle Champlin. Credit B. Perkins, NYT

 

Excerpt: Video Games Are A Waste of Time? Not for Those With E-sports Scholarships By A. Dollinger, The New York Times

“Multiplayer video games played competitively, often with spectators, are known as e-sports, and they have became a gateway to college scholarship money. Over the past two years, the National Association of Collegiate Esports, which is engaged with 98 varsity programs across the United States and Canada, has helped to facilitate $16 million in scholarships, according to the executive director, Michael Brooks. In higher education, e-sports live in various departments. Sometimes they are part of student affairs; some schools place them within an engineering or design program; and, more rarely, they have their place in athletics.

At Robert Morris University Illinois, e-sports is part of the athletics department. Team members have access to athletic trainers and are put through light fitness training. Players attend practice Monday through Thursday, from 4:30 to 9 p.m., with an hour break for dinner. They analyze film, participate in team-building activities, sit for communication sessions.

Dimetrius at the keyboard as his mother, Anne Bostick, captures the action and his coach, Chris Champlin, watches. Beth Perkins for The New York Times

‘The games that are competitively viable in the collegiate sphere have real depth, have deep levels of strategy, and require strategic teamwork and require real mastery to be successful — and not just by yourself, within a team environment and through using tactics,’ said Kurt Melcher, who runs the program at Robert Morris.

A few years out of college, Mr. Melcher was the soccer coach and associate athletic director for Robert Morris By 2013, he noticed a college community emerging. Students were organizing themselves, creating their own opportunities for gaming. So he took a proposal to the university administration: What if game play were an athletic endeavor? ‘If you look at sports, how do you define what is more of a sport? Is football more of a sport than men’s tennis or women’s tennis, and is golf more or less of a sport than hockey?’ he said.

Today, almost 90 Robert Morris students play, and about 80 of them receive e-sports scholarships, Mr. Melcher said. Varsity-level players can receive scholarships that cover up to 70 percent of their tuition; reserve players receive 35 percent tuition coverage.

Members of the Bay Shore High School e-sports team look on as Matthew Ruiz competes at the Microsoft store at the Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island. Credit Beth Perkins for The New York Times

At the University of California Irvine, where e-sports fall under student affairs, gamers must try out for a team and scholarship offers come later. There are 23 students on e-sports scholarships at U.C.I. this year, on varsity and junior varsity teams, said Mark Deppe, who runs the university’s e-sports program.

There’s discipline involved, there’s practice involved, there’s teamwork and collaboration involved, but also the physical aspect,” said Mark Candella, known as Garvey, the director of strategic partnerships for the streaming platform Twitch. ‘These young people can do up to 360 controlled precise actions per minute. Their fingers and hands and their eyes move so quickly in exact coordination.’

Organized competitive gaming on both the high school and university levels lives in purposeful defiance of the gamer stereotype: as Mr. Melcher said, ‘a kid locked in a basement, antisocial, angry, drinks 50 Mountain Dews and doesn’t sort of become a valuable person in society.’ In the educational sphere, game play often brings students out of basements and bedrooms.

At Bay Shore High School, Ryan Champlin, a senior, started the team with the help of his father, Chris; younger brother, Kyle; and computer teacher, Mike Masino. The team is part of the school’s computer club.

‘The Silicon Valley school is offering almost a full ride,’ Ryan said, in the form of an athletics scholarship for e-sports and a leadership scholarship that would make him assistant director of the e-sports program.The same scholarship if I was playing football or lacrosse.”

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 of E-Sports.  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.

G. Cluster Brainstorming-workshopexercises

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. A group of competitive video gamers were competing.
  2. They were part of an e-sports team.
  3. Team members have access to athletic trainers.
  4. Members participate in team-building activities.
  5. The games are competitively viable in the collegiate sphere. 
  6. Mr. Melcher wanted the games to be an athletic endeavor.
  7. Varsity-level players can receive scholarships that cover up to 70 percent of their tuition.
  8. Players scrimmage other teams.
  9. The league has dozens of recruiters looking for scholarship candidates.
  10. Their fingers and hands and their eyes move so quickly in exact coordination.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

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

Meanwhile, some___ offer___ scholarships not associated with ___or specific games. New York University awards an e-sports___ to one student per year who is ___in the gaming ___and interested in ___in some part of the ___industry.

WORD LIST: gaming, teams, community, scholarship, active, e-sports, schools, working,

 

 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. There is 10 teenage boys settled into seats ready to play.
  2. Each sat behind a laptop computer.
  3. Parents and grandparents circled the room.

 

II

  1. Multiplayer video games are played competitively.
  2. In higher education, e-sports live in various departments.
  3. Players attends practice Monday through Thursday.

 

III

  1. Today, almost 90 Robert Morris students play.
  2. E-sports players at U.C.I. devote 15 to 20 hour a week.
  3. There’s discipline,  practice, and  teamwork involved.

Ask/Answer  Questions

Directions:  Place students in groups and have each group list 3  questions they would like to pursue in relation to  the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.Groups can search online for additional information about E-Sports.

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: Sports, Technology | Tags:

Silicon Valley Nannies: Phone Police for Kids

“Silicon Valley parents are increasingly obsessed with keeping their children away from screens. Even a little screen time can be so deeply addictive…But it’s very hard for a working adult to live at home without looking at a phone. And so, as with many aspirations and ideals, it’s easier to hire someone to do this. Enter the Silicon Valley nanny, who each day returns to the time before screens.” N. Bowles, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Silicon Valley parents are raising their kids tech free-Business Insider UK

Excerpt: Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids —By Nellie Bowles, The New York Times

“Usually a day consists of me being allowed to take them to the park, introduce them to card games,” said Jordin Altmann, 24, a nanny in San Jose, of her charges…’Almost every parent I work for is very strong about the child not having any technical experience at all,’ Ms. Altmann said. ‘In the last two years, it’s become a very big deal.’

From Cupertino to San Francisco, a growing consensus has emerged that screen time is bad for kids. It follows that these parents are now asking nannies to keep phones, tablets, computers and TVs off and hidden at all times. Some are even producing no-phone contracts, which guarantee zero unauthorized screen exposure, for their nannies to sign.

Nanny Ad- PDX Parent

The fear of screens has reached the level of panic in Silicon Valley. Vigilantes now post photos to parenting message boards of possible nannies using cellphones near children. Which is to say, the very people building these glowing hyper-stimulating portals have become increasingly terrified of them. And it has put their nannies in a strange position.

‘In the last year everything has changed,’ said Shannon Zimmerman, a nanny in San Jose who works for families that ban screen time. ‘Parents are now much more aware of the tech they’re giving their kids.  Now the parents will say ‘No screen time at all.’ Ms. Zimmerman likes these new rules, which she said harken back to a time when kids behaved better and knew how to play outside. Parents, though, find the rules harder to follow themselves Ms. Zimmerman said.

Silicon Valley UrbanSitter Nannies

‘Most parents come home, and they’re still glued to their phones, and they’re not listening to a word these kids are saying,’ Ms. Zimmerman said. ‘Now I’m the nanny ripping out the cords from the PlayStations.’

Parents are now asking nannies to sign stringent ‘no-phone use contracts,’ according to nannying agencies across the region. ‘The people who are closest to tech are the most strict about it at home,’ said Lynn Perkins, the C.E.O. of UrbanSitter, which she says has 500,000 sitters in the network throughout the United States.

The phone contracts basically stipulate that a nanny must agree not to use any screen, for any purpose, in front of the child.’ We do a lot of these phone contracts now, Ms. Perkins said.

‘We’re writing work agreements up in a different way to cover screen and tech use,’ said Julie Swales, who runs the Elizabeth Rose Agency, a high-end firm that staffs nannies and house managers for families in the region.

‘Typically now, the nanny is not allowed to use her phone for any private use.’ This can be tricky. These same parents often want updates through the day.

‘If the mom does call and the nanny picks up, it’s, ‘Well what are you doing that you can be on your phone?’ Ms. Swales said. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

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. Silicon Valley parents are increasingly obsessed with keeping their children away from screens.
  2. Nannies have  to sign stringent no-phone use contracts.
  3. These particular parents, after all, deeply understand the allure of screens.
  4. A growing consensus has emerged that screen time is bad for kids.
  5. The fear of screens has reached the level of panic in Silicon Valley.
  6. Most parents come home, and they’re still glued to their phones.
  7. Some parents in Silicon Valley are embracing a more aggressive approach.
  8. Sometimes a nanny is perceived to be not paying enough attention to a child.
  9. The nanny spies are self-appointed.
  10. The forums, where parents post questions are now reckoning with public shaming and privacy issues.

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

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

We’re ___ work ___up in a different way to___screen and tech use, said Julie Swales, who runs the Elizabeth Rose Agency, a ___firm that staffs___and house managers for___ in the region. Typically now, the ___is not allowed to use her ___for any private use.

WORD LIST: nanny, agreements, high-end, phone, writing,  cover, nannies,  families, 

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.

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

The posts follow a pattern: A parent will take a photo ___a child accompanied ___an adult who is perceived ___be not paying enough attention, upload it ___one ___the private social networks like San Francisco’s Main Street Mamas, home___ thousands___ members, and ask: “Is this your nanny?”

Discussion/Comprehension Questions

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. Have you ever worked as a nanny? If yes, describe your experience.
  2. Would you take a job as a nanny in Silicone Valley?  Why or why not?
  3. In your opinion, is it good practice to keep all screens away from children? Provide reasons for your answers.
  4. The article states,The fear of screens has reached the level of panic in Silicon Valley. Vigilantes now post photos to parenting message boards of possible nannies using cellphones near children. Which is to say, the very people building these glowing hyper-stimulating portals have become increasingly terrified of them. And it has put their nannies in a strange position.”  Do you think that some parents have gone too far? Explain your response.

 

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

Explaining the Midterm Elections To Students

“The Times recently published an “Everything You Need to Know” guide to the midterm elections that asks and answers many of the same questions students might have about the midterms. The authors went out of their way to provide succinct answers to questions like…■ When are the midterms? ■ What’s at stake in Washington? ■ What about outside of Washington?” The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Image: gc.edu

Excerpt: Everything You Need to Know for the Midterm Elections By Matt Flegenheimer, Grant Gold and Umi Syam, The New York Times

MIDTERM ELECTIONS F.A.Q.

When are the midterms?

Nov. 6, 2018.

What’s at stake in Washington?

435 U.S. House seats and 33 U.S. Senate seats.

Matters of interest include: which party controls the two chambers of Congress and has oversight power of Trump and his administration. (Hint: Democrats will investigate far more aggressively than Republicans have, if given the chance.) 

What about outside of Washington?

6,665 state positions and thousands more local ones. Don’t forget the governorships, state legislative seats and scores of other nonfederal offices, down to the municipal level. Thirty-six states will elect governors this year.

Create a get-out-the-youth-vote campaign. Credit- Credit Leo Espinosa-NYT

If Democrats take the House, what happens?

Politically: investigations, lectern-pounding, maybe impeachment proceedings. Legislatively: probably next to nothing, with a return to divided government. Which Democrats would consider a significant upgrade.

Young voters for the Midterm Elections. Photo- theoutline.com

If Republicans keep the House, what happens?

Politically: more one-party rule in Washington, perhaps an even more emboldened Trump, almost certainly no impeachment.

How many House seats do Democrats need to pick up to take over the House?

23.

How do they get there?

Start with many of the 23 Republican-held seats in districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. But Democrats see plausible openings in dozens of districts, from diverse metro areas and suburbs — where many college-educated voters think little of Trump — to some rural seats.

How many Americans live in competitive congressional districts?

More than 50 million or so. There are about 75 competitive races out of 435 House seats. Districts are each intended to have about 700,000 people. So that gives us more than 50 million in competitive districts.

Does my vote matter?

Yes.

Can I vote early?

Depends on where you live. Early voting has already started in some states.

How late can I register? Where do I vote?

Rules vary by state.

Predict election results. People cheered for Jared Polis, a gay man running for governor of Colorado, after he won the Democratic nomination in June.Credit Ryan Brown-NYT

What role is social media playing in the midterms?

A large one. The prominence of platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat is nothing new for campaigns, but never before have politicians had more options to circumvent traditional media. One critical example: Candidates are aiming to produce the next viral video as a proxy for pricey television commercials, and often sharing the message largely through social media.

How does the special counsel investigation affect the midterms?

Hard to say. Many Democratic candidates have largely avoided the Russia affair to date, preferring to talk about domestic issues. But Nov. 6 is still a long way off, in political terms, and a major breakthrough in the investigation led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III (or other inquiries into the president and those close to him), could become an ‘October surprise.’

What kinds of policy discussions have dominated races?

Healthcare is universally a biggie, often with debates on two tracks: between Democrats and Republicans on the merits of the Affordable Care Act (still) and between Democrats and Democrats on whether Medicare for all is the long-term answer. Others: immigration, education, gun control.

Which Republican-held seats must the Democrats win to have any shot at capturing the Senate?

Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee. Texas is also on the radar, with Representative Beto O’Rourke running a strong race against Senator Ted Cruz.

Is it really the ‘Year of the Woman’?

Certainly looks that way. A record 257 women are running for the House and Senate this fall, and more women have won House primaries than in any year in the nation’s history — 235.

Follow a candidate. Women have won more primaries than ever before. Will the set a record in November 2018? the New York Times

Have scandals affected the House outlook at all?

Two Republican congressmen from solidly red districts — Chris Collins of New York and Duncan Hunter of California — were indicted recently. Republicans, including the president, have expressed some worry about losing those seats now.

Can I trust the polls?

Yes and no!  Generally, polls are more revealing about the electorate and issues than highly accurate predictors for Election Day. This year, many projections suggest that Democrats have a better than 50-50 chance of taking back the House. And no one is saying it’s a sure thing. Here at The New York Times, the Upshot’s live polling project is a great example of both compelling data and radical candor about what we do not (and cannot) know for certain.

O.K., the midterms end and then what?

Joy, relief, despair. And the 2020 presidential campaign basically starts immediately.

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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

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a

topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about the Midterm Elections. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic. K-W-L Chart from Creately.com

Advanced K-W-L chart.Intervention for Reading

 

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. Democrats will investigate far more aggressively than Republicans if given the chance.
  2. In addition, voters are generally eligible for those little “I Voted” stickers.
  3. There’s no guarantee which party will win big.
  4. If Republicans keep the House perhaps more deregulation, maybe another run at repealing the Affordable Care Act.
  5. Democrats see plausible openings in dozens of districts.
  6. There are diverse metro areas and suburbs where Democrats can win votes.
  7. How many Americans live in competitive congressional districts?
  8. The prominence of platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat is nothing new for campaigns.
  9.  Candidates are aiming to produce the next viral video as a proxy for pricey television commercials.
  10. There are state-backed attempts on social media to sway public opinion.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

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.

There are serious___about protecting the ___of the vote — and the ___process. And, as ever, the White House has been a ___card. Mr. Trump, who has often questioned the___community’s consensus on Russian interference in 2016, has signed an executive order to punish foreign meddling, but ___in both parties have been pushing for ___more aggressive.

WORD LIST: something, integrity, questions, lawmakers, intelligence,election,wild,

 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. House seats are up every two year.
  2. Senators serve six-year terms.
  3. Thirty-three states have Senate races this fall.

 

II

  1. Whose going to win the House?
  2. How many House seats do Democrats need?
  3. Midterm turnout generally lags well behind presidential year turnout.

 

III

  1. Can I vote early?
  2. The company has cited outside attempts to affect the midterms.
  3. Healthcare are universally a biggie.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion for Comprehension/Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions from the article. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. Students may also write about any of the topics discussed.

  1. According to the article who is going to win the House? Provide reasons for your answers.
  2. Are the polls trustworthy?
  3. Which democratic candidates are most popular?
  4. Which republican candidates are most popular?
  5. Is it necessary for everyone to vote? Provide reasons for your answers.
  6. If you are 18 years old do you plan to vote  in November? Explain why or why not.

Group Activities

Role-Plays

Have groups create role-plays. An example would be having two group members represent a democrat and a republican competing for a seat in the Senate or in the House. Each writes a short list of reasons why they would be better suited for the job.

Class Debates

Divide the class into democrats and republicans. Choose 2 members from each side to debate one or two of the major issues mentioned in the article (i.e., the Affordable Care Act, gun control, immigration).

Group Campaigns

As a class or in groups have students create campaigns encouraging the youth vote.

Follow a candidate:

Have groups choose one of the candidates to follow online. Students can use the BALLOTPEDIA website to find out information about various candidates running for federal and state offices.

Fact Checking Sites

Don’t be fooled by Fake News sources! A good fact-checking site uses neutral wording, provides unbiased sources to support its claims and reliable links, says Frank Baker, author of Media Literacy in the K-12 Classroom and creator of the Media Literacy Clearinghouse.”

Snopes  Widely regarded by journalists, folklorists, and laypersons alike as one of the world’s essential resources. Snopes.com is routinely included in annual “Best of the Web” lists and has been the recipient of two Webby awards.

Check The Facts! This independent and nonprofit website offers a comprehensive list of reliable top fact-checking sites.

Media Bias Fact Check  One of the most comprehensive media bias resources on the internet

Additional Election Resources Online

Kid Voting USA: Elections and civics lesson plans broken down by grade level (free downloads with registration).

FiveThirtyEight: Articles relating to the 2018 midterms.

NEA’s Elections Resources: The National Education Association has compiled a list of teacher resources just in time for election season.

Decoding Political Ads: This breaks down political ads in swing states, and provides critical thinking questions for students and possible lesson plans for teachers.

BBC News: How do US elections stack up to others around the world?: A short video that compares political campaigns in the USA to those around the world.

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

The World of Art and Politics

“Somewhere along the I-95 in Philadelphia, a billboard spells out two words in Trump’s campaign font: Pardon Me. This is just one of the challenging artist-designed billboards that have gone up across the US this week as part of the 50 State Initiative, arguably the country’s largest public art project. The crowdfunded spectacle allows artists to have their say – and perhaps their influence – ahead of the midterm elections.” N.Sayei, The Guardian

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Zoë Buckman – Grab ’Em by the Ballots in upstate New York. Photograph- LightWork : For Freedoms

Excerpt: ‘All art is political’: behind America’s most ambitious public art project ever By Nadja Sayei, The Guardian

‘One guy wrote us and said: ‘I see this ‘Pardon Me’ billboard every day on my way to work, can you tell me what this means?’ said Wyatt Gallery, the billboard director at For Freedoms, the New York organization behind the project. ‘He asked: ‘What side are you on? Are you pro-Trump or anti-Trump?’ People can’t figure out what side we’re on, or if there is a side. It makes people think more and to reach out and ask us.’

Christopher Myers – Mayflowers in Rockland. Photograph- Center For Maine Contemporary Art

The goal, according to the For Freedoms co-founder Eric Gottesman, is to make ‘anti-partisan’ statements on the billboards, alongside art exhibitions, installations and public programs to deepen what he calls ‘civic participation’.

Occupy.com

‘It’s not just voting, it’s about using our voices to speak up about the things we feel strongly about,’ said Gottesman. ‘We believe all art is political, so when artists get engaged, the conversation changes. It’s important for artists’ voices not to be marginalized or only to be seen in these elite institutions, but be more at the center of public life.’

Paula Crown – Hurt People Hurt People in Los Angeles. Photograph- Paula Goldman

Each billboard is emblazoned with the For Freedoms logo, which is how people find them online. ‘People look us up or call the billboard company to inquire what the billboards mean,’ said Gallery. ‘That’s a huge sign of success, that people are willing to take that step.’

THIS STORY HASN’T BEEN WRITTEN YET in Raleigh. Photograph- TianranQin : Jeffrey Gibson

Luis Jacob, a Canadian artist, is showing a billboard in Vermont entitled Land Acknowledgement, which reads Abenaki, the name of the tribe based in the region. ‘This piece engages the politics of indigenous land sovereignty on colonized territory,’ said Jacob, who teaches art at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Us Is Them with Wyatt Gallery, NewOrleans, LA, 2016. Photograph- Wyatt Gallery : For Freedoms

As a response to Jacob’s billboard, a member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs contacted the artist. ‘He said he found the artistic concept behind the image compelling,’ said Jacob, ‘and hoped the project would help build connections between the Abenaki community, artists and institutions, such as VCFA, to improve relations.’

Sanford Biggers, Just Us (West Virginia). Photo courtesy of For Freedoms.

Truthout

Many of the billboards are along highways of rural areas. In a way, they catch people off guard while driving, often a time of solitude or reflection. But the billboards are intentionally timed to coincide with the midterm elections and ultimately, they could change the way Americans look at art, politics and the role of advertising in public space.”

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

KWL Chart

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

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

KWL Chart from Creately,com

 

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. This is America’s most ambitious public art project.
  2. The crowdfunded spectacle allows artists to have their say.and perhaps their influence.
  3. Each billboard is emblazoned with the For Freedoms logo.
  4. Some find the artistic concepts behind the images beautiful.
  5. The billboards are intentionally timed to coincide with the 2018 midterm elections.
  6. When artists get engaged, the conversation changes.
  7. It’s important for artists’ voices not to be marginalized.
  8. This piece engages the politics of indigenous land sovereignty.
  9. We want to add more nuance in the kind of conversation we have in public about these issues.
  10. People are taking notice as to what these billboards mean in the context of what’s happening today.

 

Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins

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

There are more than 50 ___designed by ___, which will be up through the end of November. More than 200___and 400 artists across the ___will be hosting talks, ___and exhibits related to ___art in ___with the organization.

WORD LIST:  institutions, political, partnership, billboards, country, projects,  artists,

 

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.

Some of the/them billboards are/is specific to/too certain cities. ‘Some artists felt/feeling like a certain part of the country wood/would make sense,’ said Gallery. ‘Others wanted/wants to be/being as close to the Mexican border as possible, or in/on certain regions. We tried to/two honor those wishes to create a/an dynamic conversation.’

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. The article states, It’s not just voting, it’s about using our voices to speak up about the things we feel strongly about…We believe all art is political, so when artists get engaged, the conversation changes.” Do you agree that all art is political? Provide reasons for your answer.
  2. It also states, “People look us up or call the billboard company to inquire what the billboards mean,” said Gallery. “That’s a huge sign of success, that people are willing to take that step.” Explain why Gallery thinks this is a sign of success”
  3. Overall, are political billboards by artists helpful to potential voters? Provide reasons for your answer.

Group Projects

What’s The Message?

Directions: In groups, have students choose 3 or 4 of the billboard signs presented in the article. Then have them discuss what they think the message is for each billboard. Share answers with the class.

Create Your Own Billboards

Directions: In groups, have students create their own billboards on any topic they like. Group members may use the web for additional information. Have students draw and color their billboards. After, all billboards can be shared by the class or the school.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

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

ANSWER KEY