Is Online Learning Working for Your Child? Here’s How To Tell

“Most parents never expected they’d be in grade school again, and yet, here we are…In a moment when time is precious and energy even more so, it might be challenging for parents to understand how growing a bean in a cup fits into their child’s larger education picture.You may be asking yourself: How will I even know if my child is learning anything this year?” K. Bosch, The New York Times (11/2020)

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- additudemaq

Excerpt: How to Tell if Distance Learning Is Working for Your Kid -Measuring skills, not test scores, is key. By Kim Bosch, The New York Times

“The short answer: Focus on the outcomes. ‘Learning Outcomes’ (which are sometimes called ‘goals’ or even ‘standards’) are a set of skills a student should master by the end of a school year.

For example, a typical outcome for a third-grade student in language arts might be, ‘Student can use transition words to vary sentence structure,’ or in mathematics, ‘Student can estimate and measure perimeter,’… Outcomes are a clear and measurable list of skills…As the education crisis caused by Covid-19 continues, all levels of education should focus more on the number of skills students need to learn rather than the amount of time spent on Zoom.

Credit- edutopia

This is especially important in primary school where education is closely tied to developmental milestones, and for pandemic parents who are struggling to find time and energy to help their kids with online education… So how then do they know whether or not their kids are keeping up in their development?

Figure out how your child’s school measures success.

Credit- chronicle.com

First, go online and see if you can find a copy of your school’s learning plan (here is a good example), or ask your teacher or principal for a complete list of learning goals for your kid’s grade. It is important to note that outcomes are not synonymous to major projects or grades or test scores…Depending on your kid, it might also be a good idea to share the list of outcomes for the year with them. Some kids might like being ‘in’ on the plan, or by focusing on the tasks in a list it might take away the anxiety of getting good grades… Parents are being asked to play a bigger role in their child’s education than ever before, and because of that, they should also be given the information that will allow them to do so. This is why your relationship with your child’s teacher is so important…what was once a conversation about ‘math skills’ (vague) can now be ‘Do you have some ideas about how I can work on X outcome at home?’

Having these conversations helps not only students and parents, but teachers too, since they can give you ideas for how you can support your child in person where maybe they, sadly, cannot right now because of social distancing measures.”

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 60 minutes.


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.

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine any 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: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Despite the best efforts of compassionate teachers parents are needed to help with online learning.
  2. Many parents hover over the computer with their kids.
  3. Students are reminded  to document their findings in science class.
  4. Parents are feeling anxious these days.
  5. Learning Outcomes are sometimes called goals.
  6. The author guided faculty through the process of going remote.
  7. It is important to note that outcomes are not synonymous to major projects.
  8. By understanding the learning expectations, parents gain a sense of organization
  9. Once you understand what your kid is expected to learn, you’ll be able to better engage them in the learning process.
  10. For many years, educators have used formal assessments as the measure of a student’s success.

 

 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.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Parents never expected they’d be in grade school again.
  2. Parents are still playing a big role in online education this fall.
  3. Parents hover over an computer with their children.

II

  1. Many teachers are compassionate.
  2. Faculty member are asked to focus on what their students still need to learn.
  3. Parents are advised to  go online and find a copy of their school’s learning plan.

III

  1. Understanding the expected outcomes for your child’s grade can be helpful.
  2. It’s important for parent to engage their kids in the learning process.
  3. It is a good idea for parents to share the list of outcomes for the year with kids.

 

Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins

Directions: Have students 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.

Understanding the ___outcomes for your child’s ___can be ___in a couple ways. First, it allows you to ___a bit knowing that your school has a ___plan for your child’s___. It also gives you a ___by which to measure your child’s success.By understanding the learning expectations, ___gain a sense of ___and ___over an otherwise uncontrollable situation.

WORD LIST: control, organization, parents, relax, checklist, development, helpful, focused, grade,

 

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

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Are you currently in an online learning program? If so, describe your experience so far. If you are a parent describe your child’s online learning program.
  2. Why are parents playing a big role in online education?
  3. According to the article, why are parents feeling anxious about online education?
  4. What is the best way to measure whether a child is learning a subject?
  5. What is another term for “Learning Outcomes”?
  6. What does OBE stand for?
  7. At her school, what did the author ask her faculty to focus on with their students?
  8. According to the article, what should education at all levels focus on?
  9. What is a good way for parents to find out if their kids are “keeping up in their development”?
  10. Why is knowing the expected outcomes for your child grade important?
  11. Why is sharing the expected outcomes with your child a good idea?
  12. The author states, “For centuries, educators have used formal assessments (tests, worksheets and grades) as the key measure of a student’s “success.” But in these challenging times, it’s important to focus less on the formal evaluation of student skills and more on the ability to demonstrate a skill in any way.”  Why is this important?
  13. Describe some  ways  in which a parent can make up the informal assessment periods kids used to spend with their teachers.
  14. Why is it important for parents to focus on the outcomes of a problem and not the way in which the child achieved them?
  15. What does the author suggest parents should do in regards to their child’s teachers?

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

Congratulations to President Biden and Vice President Harris!

Inauguration Day January 20, 2021

President Biden and Vice President Harris

Category: Education

Classes Outdoors is One Way to Teach Safely During Covid-19

“To combat the coronavirus, schools across America moved students outdoors. Here’s a look at four new learning environments.” A. Nierenberg, The New York Times, Oct. 27, 2020

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

It’s a living classroom,Mrs. Moran said of the school’s outdoor garden. And not just for science. It could be anything.T. Spinski for The New York Times

 

Excerpt: Classrooms Without Walls, and Hopefully Covid — By Amelia Nierenberg, The New York Times, Oct. 27, 2020

“First graders sit crisscross applesauce on tree stumps, hands sky-high to ask a question. Third graders peer closely at the plants growing in class gardens, or spread themselves out in a sunflower-filled space to read.When the sun beats down, students take shelter under shades made from boat sails.

That’s what a school day is like this year in one community on Cape Cod, where every student now spends at least part of the day learning outdoors — at least when the rain holds off.

Seeking ways to teach safely during the pandemic, schools across the United States have embraced the idea of classes in the open air, as Americans did during disease outbreaks a century ago.

The efforts to throw tents over playgrounds and arrange desks in parks and parking lots have brought new life to an outdoor education movement, inspired in part by Scandinavian ‘forest schools’where children bundle up against frigid temperatures for long romps in the snow.

‘The outside provides much more flexibility,’ said Sharon Danks, the chief executive of Green Schoolyards America and the coordinator of the National Covid-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative, which formed in May.

‘You can have a six-foot-apart seating chart, and have enough space to move around.’

‘Covid has hastened the pace of a shift toward trying to take better advantage of the outdoors,’ said Maria Libby, the superintendent of the Five Town Community School District in Rockport, Maine, who bought tents and Adirondack chairs for outdoor classrooms.

Here is a look at four American schools where students are learning in the open air, and where at least some parents and teachers hope that the temporary measures might become permanent, for as long as the weather cooperates.

Six feet is hard for kindergarten students to picture, so to help teach children in Falmouth, Mass., to maintain social distance, their teachers tied knots in a long rope for walks. 

In one Cape Cod community, students learn outside almost every day. T. Spinski for The New York Times

In one Cape Cod community, students learn outside almost every day. “It lets them think on a more fundamental level than sitting in a classroom with a desk,” the president of the local Rotary chapter said…’It’s a living classroom,’ Mrs. Moran said of the school’s outdoor garden. ‘And not just for science. It could be anything.’

Ms. Earle turned to an arborist friend for help, and parents pitched in their time and tools. L. Justice for the NYT

First-grade students complete sentence-structure lessons outside. “We should have been doing this all along,” said Lori Duerr, the superintendent. ‘This is doable, especially in our community, where numbers are very low.’

Lori Duerr, the Falmouth Public Schools superintendent, said the district didn’t have to spend money on the project because the community stepped up. ‘These are not just parents,’ she said. ‘These are just community people who are jumping in to also help.’

Mr. Barley and students take a break under the sun.  De. Rios for the NY

Chris Barley teaches an interdisciplinary class of ninth and 10th grade students. Multiple classes can meet at the same time on the expansive roof…The school hosted events under the sky. After classes, children played soccer on a rubber field and shot hoops on the basketball court. Now, the roof doubles as a classroom space.

 

‘We didn’t really have to modify anything, because it’s technically a schoolyard,’ said Wallace Simpson, the school’s principal. ‘It’s designed to be used.’..Samaiya Bailey, 17, a senior, said she loves the breaks she takes on the roof between classes. There, she can see her friends, at a safe distance...At the start of each school day, Dana Hotho’s students ask: ‘Where are we learning today?’

to help teach children in Falmouth, Mass., to maintain social distance, their teachers tied knots in a long rope for walks. T. Spinski, NYT

It’s a fair question. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, Ms. Hotho takes her class from Lakeside Intermediate School to Garvan Woodland Gardens at the University of Arkansas. The program in the botanical garden, developed over the summer by Bruce Orr, an assistant superintendent, serves students across the district with special needs…As they work, she plays quiet classical music from a Bluetooth speaker. A peacock named George might wander through class…Often, though, she uses the outdoor space for activities that would be impossible in a classroom. She weaves counting lessons into socially distanced dance parties or sends children on scavenger hunts through the gardens.

At the Prairie Hill Waldorf School outside of Milwaukee, students do not use technology in the classroom until middle school. And even then, they use it sparingly, under an educational philosophy developed a century ago in Germany and followed at some private and charter schools in the United States. “Virtual learning definitely isn’t a strong option for us, so we wanted to come back to school in a safe way,” said Lindsey Earle, a fourth-grade teacher at the Prairie Hill school, which has about 125 students in pre-K to eighth grade.

Ms. Earle had almost no carpentry experience before starting the project. L. Justice for The New York Times

Her idea for how to do that: Build a 12-sided outdoor classroom. Ms. Earle spent the summer months working alongside parent volunteers to create the space, and the outdoors easily become part of her lessons on Wisconsin history and geography… Ms. Earle installed a wood-burning clay stove in her classroom, which she hopes will heat the space through the snowy winter months. She is still trying to raise donations for a roof, but a tarp works for now.”

REMEMBERING DR. KING:

~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ~

January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968

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 60 minutes.


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 any 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: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Third graders peer closely at the plants growing.
  2. When the sun beats down, students take shelter under shades made from boat sails.
  3. Schools across the United States have embraced the idea of classes in the open air.   
  4. The outdoor education movement was  inspired in part by Scandinavian ‘forest schools.’   
  5. Children bundle up against frigid temperatures for long romps in the snow.
  6. Teachers are learning carpentry to build their own outdoor classrooms.
  7. Covid has hastened the pace of toward outdoor education.
  8. Some parents and teachers hope that the temporary measures might become permanent.
  9. Holding outdoor classes in public schools has been kind of prohibitive.
  10. Some teachers think that having students learn outside lets them think on a more fundamental level.

 

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.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. First graders sit crisscross on tree stumps.
  2. Third graders peer closely at the plants growing outside.
  3. Some students takes shelter under shades made from boat sails.

 

II

  1. The outside provides much more flexibility.
  2. You can has a six-foot-apart seating chart.
  3. Some teachers learned carpentry to build their own outdoor classrooms.

III

  1. Six feet is hard for kindergarten students too picture.
  2. Local lumber companies donated stumps for seats.
  3. Families pitched in old outdoor gear. 

 

Reading Comprehension:  Identify TheSpeakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “The outside provides much more flexibility…You can have a six-foot-apart seating chart, and have enough space to move around.”
  2. “Covid has hastened the pace of a shift toward trying to take better advantage of the outdoors,”
  3.   “Montessori-style, or Waldorf, they’ve been doing this kind of thing for a long time…But to do it in the public school system has been kind of prohibitive.”
  4. “The students are excellent…They have been remarkable coming back. They get it. They want to be here.”
  5. These are not just parents…These are just community people who are jumping in to also help.”
  6. “Now, the roof doubles as a classroom space.
  7. We didn’t really have to modify anything, because it’s technically a schoolyard.”
  8. “Virtual learning definitely isn’t a strong option for us, so we wanted to come back to school in a safe way.”

 

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

Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class.

  1. Why are teachers holding class outdoors?
  2. What are Scandinavian “forest schools”?
  3. According to Sharon Danks, what does outside classrooms provide?
  4. In order to help build additional outdoor classrooms, what are teachers and parents doing?
  5. How do most teachers and parents feel about teaching outdoors?
  6. According to Ms. Loenardi which schools have already been holding outdoor classes?
  7. In your opinion, is it better to teach outdoors or inside classrooms?
  8. What new information have you learned from this article?

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

2021: Assessing Applicants Online Without Interviewers

“Video responses to set questions, online games that measure a person’s traits and skills: The future of interviews is coming to a wider variety of professions in the pandemic.” J. Weed, The New York Times, Nov. 27, 2020

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Image- Northeastern University

 

Excerpt: Job Interviews Without Interviewers, Products of the Pandemic, By Julie Weed, Nov. 27, 2020

“So much of our work lives has moved online during the pandemic: group meetings, chats with the boss — even interviewing for a new job. The pandemic has also led companies to conduct ‘interviews’ without an interviewer. Job applicants are being asked to video record answers to set questions about their experience, skills and personal qualities, rather than speaking with a recruiter by phone or video chat. So-called case questions that pose a business problem and would typically lead into a 30-minute conversation with a hiring manager may now require solely written responses. Online tests in the form of games aim to measure job-seekers’ cognitive and personal traits.

Image- The Addison Group

The new systems are used most often for high turnover hourly jobs like fast-food worker, phone representative or warehouse employee, said Madeline Laurano, founder of Aptitude Research, a firm based in Boston that studies business hiring practices. But the systems are beginning to be used more often for professional jobs, too, especially in the financial, consulting, technology and health industries, she said.

Recruiters who use the systems no longer have to spend large parts of their days in the back and forth of scheduling interviews — the software handles that.

Image- The Confident Career-Conquering Virtual Interviews

The company can evaluate more applicants by reviewing more videos, written responses and game results, less encumbered by interviewers’ schedule restrictions.

Hiring bias, too, can be reduced using the new technology, since each applicant is asked the same questions in the same way, making performances easier to compare objectively… The pandemic has accelerated the use of this technology. In February… 58 percent of businesses were using or considering using digital hiring systems, including ones with the ability for applicants to schedule their own appointments online and participate in video interviews, either with a recruiter or recorded.”

In Response to the Attack on Our Capitol By Cowards:

“My message to my fellow Americans and friends around the world following this week’s attack on the Capitol.” ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger~ January 6, 2021

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 60 minutes.


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. 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 chart by UIE

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Now there are online games that can measure a person’s traits.
  2. In the past, applicants spoke with a recruiter by phone.
  3. So-called case questions that pose a business problem would typically lead into a 30-minute conversation.
  4. Online tests in the form of games aim to measure job-seekers’ cognitive and personal traits.
  5. The new systems are used most often for high turnover hourly jobs.
  6. The company can evaluate more applicants by reviewing more videos.
  7. Hiring bias, too, can be reduced using the new technology.
  8. Some of the new systems can answer questions about benefits using chatbots.
  9. There are tools that can be used to test the programming acumen of software engineers.
  10. Technical snafus still happen.

 

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,  about, by, during,  for, from, in, into,  of, on,  to, over,  off, through, up,  with, since,

  1. So much ___our work lives has moved online ____the pandemic.
  2. Job applicants are being asked ___video record answers ___set questions ___their experience.
  3. Recruiters who use the systems no longer have ___spend large parts ___their days ___the back and forth___scheduling interviews.
  4. Some ___the new systems can contact references, answer questions___ benefits using chatbots, and send along training modules ___newly hired employees.

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. The new systems are used most often for high turnover hourly jobs like fast-food worker, phone representative or warehouse employee.”
  2. “The face-to-face interviews don’t really work that well because there is unconscious bias, and some people may not know how to do an interview well.”
  3. Sixty percent of the nearly five million interviews conducted so far this year using his company’s video recording software were completed after work hours.”
  4. It feels weird… With a person, she can receive cues on how things are going, like encouraging nods or requests for details.”
  5. They reduce bias in hiring because they evaluate personal qualities that applicants can possess without attending elite colleges or fitting into a preconceived image of what a ‘good’ candidate looks like.”

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

Directions: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. What is the purpose of online tests in the form of games?
  2. Which professional jobs are starting to use the new technology?
  3. Why are recruiters no longer required to conduct job interviews?
  4. How does a company evaluate applicants with this new process?
  5. How is hiring bias reduced  with the new  technology?
  6. When using video recorded interviews, what can an applicant do if they do not like the manner in which they answered a question?
  7. According to the article what a some of the problems that might occur with the new technology?
  8. According to Ms. Tobón which part of the recorded interview takes more practice? Why?
  9. What are some of the ways companies can reduce the stress on applicants making videos?
  10. After reading this article which do you prefer, online or in-person interviews? Explain why.
  11. What new information have you learned from this article?

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

 

Three, Two, One: Let’s Put 2020 Behind Us!

“Every year on Dec. 31, the approach of midnight finds us drawing a line in time. The way we do this varies — we eat black-eyed peas, or fling open the windows, or run into an icy ocean — but the idea is always the same. On this night, we put something behind us and seal it off, so it is part of the past. And then we try to begin again.” E. Barry, The New York Times, December 2020

A clear message was being sent in Times Square this week.Credit...Carlo Allegri:Reuters

A clear message was being sent in Times Square this week.Credit…Carlo Allegri:Reuters

 

Three, two, one: Let’s put 2020 behind us. Ellen Barry, The New York Times

“It is difficult to imagine any year when our need of this ritual has been greater. Many of us have lost those dearest to us, and absorbed those losses in isolation. Livelihoods have been wiped away like vapor from a window. And yet, without the fireworks, the giddiness of crowds, we have never been so constrained in our rituals.

That does not mean we are not celebrating. Inside lighted rooms, we will raise glasses to the people who sacrificed for us, to the triumphant performance of our health care workers, and to a thousand small kindnesses already receding from memory. Yeah, yeah, the end of a year may be an illusion, just a way to trick ourselves into keeping going. But we made it.”

Here are some ways you can see off the year, virtually J. Gross and M. Fazio, The New York Times

How to commemorate the end of a year of widespread unemployment, racial unrest and political animosity, not to mention an ongoing pandemic? If you’re at home looking for a festive yet socially distanced way to bid farewell to 2020, consider taking a virtual trip around the world.

New Year’s Eve was celebrated like no other, with pandemic restrictions limiting crowds in Beijing and other major cities in China.Credit…Ng Han Guan:Associated Press

The midnight fireworks above the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House were opulent, but the streets were nearly empty this year.Credit…Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

In New York City, a crystal ball will still drop from One Times Square, complete with confetti and “Auld Lang Syne.” A livestream of the event starts at 6 p.m. Eastern, and it will be covered on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” hosted by Ryan Seacrest on ABC, and “CNN’s New Year’s Eve,” hosted by Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen.

Times Square, NYC December 21, 2020

FROM ESL-VOICES: HAVE A PROSPEROUS AND SAFE NEW YEAR!

Category: Education