Some Preschools Are Including “Kindness” Training in Their Curriculums

“Thanks to a challenge from the Dalai Lama, a number of preschools are trying to teach something that has not always been considered an academic subject: kindness… preschoolers are introduced to a potpourri of sensory games, songs and stories that are designed to help them pay closer attention to their emotions.” R. Schiffman, New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Excerpt:  Can Kindness Be Taught?  By Richard Schiffman New York Times

“Can you look inside yourself and tell me what you’re feeling?” Danielle Mahoney-Kertes asked a class of prekindergarten students at P.S. 212 in Queens recently.

‘Happy,’ one girl offered. ‘Sick,’ said another. A boy in a blue T-shirt gave a shy thumbs down. ‘That happens too,’ Ms. Mahoney-Kertes, a literacy coach, reassured him. The exercise was part of the  Kindness Curriculum, developed by the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison…’Our world is kind of a scary place,’ Ms. Mahoney-Kertes said. ‘We can’t always control what is happening outside us. But what we’re teaching them is that they can control how they respond.’

P.S. 212, is in a neighborhood in Jackson Heights that is home to many new immigrants…’A child can come in and say, ‘My father was deported last night.’ How do you deal with that?” said the school’s principal, Carin Ellis. ‘We give them tools to cope with their hurt and pain.’

Ms. Ellis believes the Kindness Curriculum has also helped kids manage the stress of standardized testing and cut down on interpersonal conflicts…Richard Davidson, the founder of the Center for Healthy Minds, believes that ancient Buddhist wisdom provides clues. He was inspired, he said, by a request from Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who asked him to take insights from contemplative practice out of their religious context and use them to develop strategies to help improve people’s lives... On “Sesame Street,” the characters model a variety of kind actions. For example, Big Bird’s friends help him conquer his stage fright; Elmo patiently waits as Zoe learns to use his scooter. The program then cuts to its ‘kindness cam,’ which shows real children engaging in similar behaviors… Ms. Mahoney-Kertes points out, however, that, educators must practice what they preach for their lessons to be truly effective.”

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 learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic (kindness).  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. The Dalai Lama presented the challenge.
  2. Preschoolers are introduced to a potpourri of sensory games.
  3. The Kindness Curriculum has also helped kids manage the stress of standardized testing.
  4. We give them tools to cope with their hurt and pain.
  5. The Kindness Curriculum is part of a growing global movement.
  6. Dr. Davidson said he used the Buddhist  concept as the basis for teaching children.
  7. Children are able to empathize with the feelings of others.
  8. Sesame Street’s own research prompted its focus on kindness.
  9. The period between ages 4 and 7 is a critical developmental window when the brain is reorganizing.
  10. Youngsters who received the kindness training become more altruistic as they grew older.

Color Vocabualry Map by Enchanted Learning

 

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.

One ___working on ___with older ___ the Los Angeles-based ‘Kind Campaign’, founded in 2009, organizes middle and high school that ___the problem of ___between young women. The girls are ___to write a ‘kind apology’ and___it to who they have wronged.

WORD LIST: somebody,students,bullying,hand, program, kindness,target, assemblies, invited,

 

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 exercise was part of the Kindness Curriculum.
  2. The Kindness Curriculum was an natural fit.
  3. When you’re unkind to another, it’s usually about how we are feeling.

II

  1. The program strengthened children’s ability to focus.
  2. They may also fare better later in life.
  3. The Kindness Curriculum is part of an growing global movement.

III

  1. Richard Davidson believes that ancient Buddhist wisdom provides clues.
  2. The program encourages children to identify there feelings and to put a label to them.
  3. On Sesame Street, the characters model a variety of kind actions.

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 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.

The articles states, “Another group, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, has developed lesson plans for all age groups through high school. Students are guided in classroom discussions and asked to come up with positive actions, like sitting with someone who is alone in the lunchroom and writing imaginative thank you letters to their future selves.”

  1. Can you think of a time during your life when you were taught to be kind to others?  Share your experience with the group.
  2. In your opinion is this a good curriculum for  all students? Explain why or why not.
  3. With your group create a list of activites for young children that will teach the ideas of kindness, sharing and caring.

 

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, Social Issues | Tags:

Space: The Final Frontier…For The Rich!

“In an era in which privileged individuals search constantly for the next experience to obsess over and post about on social media, space truly remains the final frontier, a luxury that only the one percent of the one percent can afford. Brad Pitt and Katy Perry are among those who have reportedly plunked down $250,000 for a ride on one of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceships… Now a company called Axiom Space is giving those with piles of money and an adventuresome spirit something new to lust after: the prospect of an eight-day trip to space that is plush, if not entirely comfortable, and with a bit of the luster of NASA as well.”  S. Marikar, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Astronaut Gardner Holds A For Sale Sign Photograph by Everett

 

Excerpt: The Rich Are Planning To Leave This Wretched Planet By Sheila Marikar, The New York Times

“Circumambulating the floor of his gray carpeted office on a recent Wednesday, Mike Suffredini — NASA veteran, Houston native and the chief executive officer of Axiom Space — stopped in front of a wood compartment about as big as a telephone booth.

‘It’s no New York hotel room,’ he said with a shrug, as if apologizing for its size. ‘It pretty much is, actually!’ said Gabrielle Rein, Axiom’s marketing director. 

A rendering that screams open the pod bay doors. Credit: Axiom Space

It was an early mock-up of a cabin that will reside inside a commercial space station, among the first of its kind, that Axiom is building: a mash-up of boutique hotel, adult space camp, and NASA-grade research facility designed to hover approximately 250 miles above the earth. Axiom hired Philippe Starck, the French designer who has lent panache to everything from high-end hotel rooms to mass-market baby monitors, to outfit the interior of its cabins. Mr. Starck lined the walls with a padded, quilted, cream-colored, suede-like fabric and hundreds of tiny LED lights that glow in varying hues depending on the time of day and where the space station is floating in relation to the earth.

Mike Suffredini, left, with designer Philippe Starck, with their mockup.CreditTodd Spoth for The New York Times

‘My vision is to create a comfortable egg, friendly, where walls are so soft and in harmony with the movements of the human body in zero gravity,’ Mr. Starck wrote in an email, calling his intended effect ‘a first approach to infinity. The traveler should physically and mentally feel his or her action of floating in the universe.’

The Starck-designed station will supposedly open in 2022, but Axiom says they can start sending curious travelers into orbit as early as 2020. (Note: nearly everything space-related is delayed by years, sometimes decades.) They’ll just have to make do with the comparatively rugged accommodations of the International Space Station, which is working with Axiom in addition to other commercial space station outfits…Axiom’s station can house eight passengers, including a professional astronaut.

Photo- Veranda

Each will pay $55 million for the adventure, which includes 15 weeks of training, much of it at the Johnson Space Center, a 10-minute drive from Axiom’s headquarters, and possibly a trip on one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets. Thus far, three entities have signed up for on-the-ground training, which starts at $1 million, Mr. Suffredini said, though he declined to name them. The inaugural trip will be only $50 million. ‘It’s a bargain!’ he said.”

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 learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading 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. Many call the stay at Axiom glamping at 1,320,000 feet.
  2. Circumambulating the floor of his office Mike Suffredini stopped in front of a wood compartment about as big as a telephone booth.
  3. It was an early mock-up of a cabin that will reside inside a commercial space station.
  4. Some may suffer from Claustrophobia.
  5. They’re putting big inflatable space pods into orbit.
  6. These habitat and outpost companies are great.
  7. Passengers  take a medical exam, administered before the rest of training begins.
  8. The exam includes tests of mind and mettle.
  9. A tour guide quaintly referred to the onboard bathroom as a potty.
  10. He believes that Axiom is crucial to the survival of our species.

Color Vocabulary Map by Enchanted Learning

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: The following sentences are from the article. Choose the correct word for each blank space from the word list  or make up your own words.

Axiom ___will be ___to ___a NASA-grade ___for the rocket ride to and ___the station. (Features include a fiberglass___ and a___ tube for ___small sips of water. Also, a diaper.)

WORD LIST:  consuming, spacesuit,  torso,  required,  from, drink, wear,  guests,

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.

To understand/understood the grand/great  scale/scales of Axiom’s plants/plans, it helps to know that astronauts have, thus far, largely been roughing/rough it up there. The Johnson Space Center contains/contain a life-size mock-up of the ISS, whose drab, beige interior is lined with drab/dribble, gray/grey handholds to tether down things and people, necessary given the lack of gravity/gravy. A tour guide quaintly referred to the onboard/outboard bathroom as a ‘potty.’ There are no showers.

 

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 answer the following questions.

  1. Would you like to travel in a space ship? Provide reason why or why not.
  2. Do you think it’s fair that only very rich people can afford this experience?
  3. Compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a 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: Science, Technology | Tags:

Justice Sonia Sotomayor Strongly Challenges The Travel Ban

“Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., reading for the majority on Tuesday morning, spoke clinically. Justice Stephen G. Breyer followed, working his way through his dissent mildly and analytically.Then it was Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s turn. Steely and unwavering, she began: ‘The United States of America is a nation built upon the promise of religious liberty. Our founders honored that core promise by embedding the principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment. ‘The crowded courthouse fell silent.” C. Edmondson, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Photo-C-span

Excerpt: Sonia Sotomayor Delivers Fiery Dissent in Travel Ban Case by By Catie Edmondson The New York Times

“In upholding [Trump’s] ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, Justice Sotomayor continued, the Supreme Court had failed to “safeguard that fundamental principle.’

For the next 20 minutes, she remained resolute as she delivered an extraordinarily scorching dissent, skewering the court’s decision and condemning the ban as ‘harrowing’ and ‘motivated by hostility and animus toward the Muslim faith.’

The remarkable dissent was delivered by a woman who has championed her own upbringing as an example of the American dream. Justice Sotomayor, whose parents moved from Puerto Rico during World War II, was raised in a housing project in the Bronx. Her father did not speak English and her first language was Spanish. But determined to become a judge, she would go on to attend Princeton University and become the Supreme Court’s first Latina justice.

Justice Sotomayor once said that ‘personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see.’ She again drew upon that idea in her dissent on Tuesday, in which she accused the majority of ‘ignoring the facts, misconstruing our legal precedent and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens.’

That was the crux of the Justice Sotomayor’s damning conclusion: The president’s ban is ‘inexplicable by anything but animus,’ and to argue anything else is to divorce oneself from the facts…

But one of her most striking decisions was to repeat the words of the president himself. Citing more than a dozen instances in which Mr. Trump tweeted or issued anti-Muslim sentiments, it was his words, not her own, that rang out from the bench…The conservative justices, staring unblinkingly ahead, remained stone-faced…In another powerful passage, Justice Sotomayor drew parallels between the decision and Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 ruling that upheld the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

‘As here, the government invoked an ill-defined national security threat to justify an exclusionary policy of sweeping proportion,’ she said. ‘As here, the exclusion was rooted in dangerous stereotypes about, inter alia, a particular group’s supposed inability to assimilate and desire to harm the United States.’

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 learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading 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. Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s speech was both Steely and unwavering.
  2. The ban affects several predominantly Muslim countries.
  3. For the next 20 minutes, she remained resolute.
  4. Justice Sotomayor’s remarkable dissent was described as scorching. 
  5. She said that the ban was motivated by hostility and animus toward the Muslim faith.”
  6. Justice Sotomayor accused the majority of ignoring the facts and misconstruing our legal precedent.
  7. That was the crux of the Justice Sotomayor’s conclusion.
  8. The court voted 5 to 4, with the more conservative justices in the majority.
  9. At one point she stated that Trump’s policy now masquerades behind a facade of national security concerns.
  10. The conservative justices, staring unblinkingly ahead, remained stone-faced.

 

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.

The ___voted 5 to 4, with the more ___justices in the ___and with Justice Breyer ___his own dissent. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg___ Justice Sotomayor’s.

WORD LIST:  joined,conservative, majority, court,writing,

 

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. Justice Sotomayor choose her words carefully.
  2. Her most striking decision was to repeat the words of the president himself.
  3. She continued down the list for minutes, reading one example after another.

 

II

  1. The crowded courthouse fall silent.
  2. Justice Sotomayor was raised in a housing project in the Bronx.
  3. She accused the majority of ignoring the facts, misconstruing our legal precedent.

III

  1. She  stated that Trump had never disavow any of his statements regarding Islam.
  2. The government invoked an ill-defined national security threat to justify an exclusionary policy.
  3. Justice Sotomayor continued that our nation has done much to leave its sordid legacy behind.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups  and  have each group compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a 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

The Departure of Justice Kennedy = A Dark Future for This Country…Vote!

“If the last few days hadn’t been dispiriting enough for those who believed the Supreme Court could still stand for reproductive freedom, equal rights for all Americans, a check on presidential power, a more humane criminal justice system and so much more, Wednesday afternoon brought the coup de grâce… Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement… It sends a stark message to the tens of millions of Americans who have long turned to the court for the vindication of many of their most cherished rights and protections: Look somewhere else. That place is the ballot box. So show up and vote.” The New York Times Editorial Board

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Image: People For The American Way

Excerpt: Kennedy Is Gone.  Now Vote. NYT Editorial Board

“In the absence of a Supreme Court majority that will reliably protect human dignity, universal equality and women’s right to control their own bodies, it is up to Americans who cherish these values to elect politicians at every level of government who share them.

TED ideas-TED talks

Justice Kennedy, who was nominated to the court by President Ronald Reagan and confirmed in 1988, defended these values, however imperfectly. He was the last in a line of Republican-appointed justices who moderated some of the reactionary tendencies on the court, which has now had a majority of Republican appointees for nearly half a century. All of those justices were confirmed in the days before ultraconservative activists hijacked the nomination process and ensured that only faithful right-wing ideologues would get a nod… Once [Trump] names his second pick and the Senate confirms that person, you can forget about new or enhanced protections for gays and lesbians, or saving the last shreds of affirmative action at public universities.

womensmarchmn.com

Longstanding precedents are now at extreme risk. Foremost among these is a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion under Roe v. Wade, which was preserved solely on the strength of Justice Kennedy’s vote… Even this scenario, of course, assumes the continued longevity of Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who provide an essential counterweight to the court’s conservative wing, but who are 79 and 85, respectively, and have endured their share of health problems…For those who face the future in fear after Wednesday, there are no easy answers — but there is a clear duty.

Do not for a moment underestimate the importance of getting out and voting in November. Four years ago, only 36 percent of Americans cast ballots in the midterm elections. Had more people showed up, the Senate may well have remained in Democratic control, Mitch McConnell would not be the majority leader and Judge Merrick Garland would now be Justice Garland. In the days and months ahead, remember this.”

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 learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading 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. Kennedy’s retirement is a dispiriting event in U.S. history.
  2. Wednesday afternoon brought the coup de grâce.
  3. You can forget about new or enhanced protections for many groups.
  4. The courts have an opportunity to further erode the wall between church and state.
  5. States now have the green light to  promote the rights of corporations over individuals.
  6. Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg provide an essential counterweight to the court’s conservative wing.
  7. The Supreme Court operates as a crucial check in a democracy based on majority rule.
  8. Mitch McConnel knows he has an open road to confirming whomever he and the Federalist Society want on the bench.
  9. Consider a few of Justice Kennedy’s most significant majority opinions.
  10. Kennedy’s opinions could sometimes be vague.

 

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.

Justice Kennedy, who, ___far from an ___justice — his ___could be ___and confusing, his jurisprudential commitments often unpredictable — emphasized the ___principles of ___and ___to a degree not in ___among the court’s four other conservatives.

WORD LIST: opinions, ideal, equality, dignity, basic, while,     vague,   evidence

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.

He spoke/speak out forcefully on the need/needs to fix/fixes the nation’s broken/break criminal justice system, voting to strike/stroke down excessive sentence/sentences for juveniles and the intellectually disabled and to force/make states to shrink their overcrowded prisons.

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following 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. Why is Justice Kennedy’s leaving the Supreme Court upsetting to so many people?
  2. In your opinion, which groups in the U.S. would be the most concerned about losing Justice Kennedy?  Provide reasons for your answers.
  3. How is the government organized in the United States? In your opinion is this a fair government system for all people?
  4. Why is it important for everyone to vote this November?

Note for help: visit  Federal Government of The United States- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_government_of_the_United_States

Group Project: Creating Voting Posters

Directions: Look at the posters presented in the reading. Each group is to think about a message they would like to send to people about the importance of voting.  After, design a “VOTE” poster for November 2018.  Share and explain your posters with the class. Maybe place the posters around your school or neighborhood.

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

 

Category: Political Issues | Tags:

The Plight of Migrant Children and The Effect on American Kids

“The kids showed up in our driveway on a Tuesday afternoon. The boy wore a backpack full of diapers for his sister; she wore neon-pink tennis shoes and wouldn’t let go of his hand. Their case worker gave me some paperwork and was gone before I had time to process the thought: Now I’m a foster mom… I’ve tried not to read the headlines about migrant children being separated from their parents. Their panic was palpable. Mine probably was, too.” J. Cummins, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: If It Can Happen to Them, Why Can’t It Happen To Us? By Jeanine Cummins, The NYT

“The little one didn’t sleep so much as lose consciousness in moments when her small body demanded a break from her otherwise ceaseless crying. This happened with no discernible pattern. My two biological daughters, then 7 and 3, watched with concern as her cries turned to whimpers and then sloped into the ragged breath of sleep. She could nod off anywhere except in her crib: at swimming lessons, at the dinner table, sprawled on the kitchen floor…We may have been experienced parents, but we were inexperienced at parenting a traumatized child. I didn’t know how to change the diaper of a baby who was afraid of me. I didn’t know how to comfort a child who became frantic when I tried to touch her.

Metro

During the months that followed, the crying diminished and the children began to trust us. We tried to provide a safe, stable home for them. We gave them clothes, toys, grandparents. We laughed at their jokes and cried with them when visiting their parents was difficult. We loved them.

And yet we were, inherently, part of their trauma. Their parents were, for the moment, unable to provide a safe home for them. But even when it’s necessary, removing children from their parents causes acute distress. I witnessed that suffering. It lived in my home.

Photo- Vic News

My older daughter began having nightmares that ‘the people’ would take her away from us and give her to another family. She was inconsolable. ‘If it could happen to them,’ she asked with the clear-eyed logic of a 7-year-old, “why can’t it happen to us?’

I told my kids this kind of separation happens only to children whose parents don’t do the right thing. But now it’s happening to people who are behaving exactly as good parents should. To parents who endure inconceivable hardship to get their children to this country, precisely in order to protect them. They come from places of violence and poverty and they travel, in some cases, thousands of miles carrying their children on their backs, all in the hopes of providing those children with a chance at safety. Their perseverance is the very model of parental sacrifice… Republicans are ostensibly the party of Christian family values.

Image Dallas Morning News

Their leader is making a mockery of those values at our borders, separating even asylum-seekers from their children, and then using those children to force migrants into voluntary departure…Now I understand that it’s not always merit-based, who gets to keep their kids and who doesn’t. It can be arbitrary — a matter of unlucky geography — even in 2018, even in the United States of America. My daughter was right to be afraid.”

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 learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading 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 little one didn’t sleep so much as lose consciousness.
  2. Attempting to remove her sneakers provoked hysteria.
  3. We were inexperienced at parenting a traumatized child.
  4. We were inherently part of their trauma.
  5. My older daughter began having nightmares.
  6. The little girl  was inconsolable.
  7. It is too easy to imagine a little girl shrieking in her new foster mother’s kitchen.
  8. Their perseverance is the very model of parental sacrifice.
  9. Republicans are ostensibly the party of Christian family values.
  10. Where is our righteous Christian outrage?

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 kids showed up in our driveway on a  Friday afternoon.
  2. My two biological daughters, then 7 and 3, watched with concern as her cries turned to whimpers.
  3. Our neighbors came over to meet the new children.
  4. We may have been experienced parents, and  we were experienced at parenting a traumatized child.
  5. I didn’t know how to comfort a child who became frantic when I tried to touch her.
  6. My younger daughter began having nightmares.
  7. The social worker visited often.
  8. I tried telling her that it happens only to parents who don’t, or can’t, take care of their children.
  9. During the months that followed, the crying diminished and the children began to trust us.
  10. My husband  is not an immigrant.

Grammar:Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article  and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.

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 statements from the article. 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. “I told my kids this kind of separation happens only to children whose parents don’t do the right thing. But now it’s happening to people who are behaving exactly as good parents should.”
  2. “In immigration court, migrants are being told that the best way to see their kids again is to plead guilty, to return to whatever they’re running from. And yet even if they do just that, some parents still don’t get their children back.”
  3. “Would you prefer to keep your children in a dangerous place or risk losing them in a place you can only hope will be safer?”

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