“At the diverse Washington, D.C., public charter school where I teach, and which my 6-year-old attends, the whole point was that our families chose to do it together… Then Covid hit, and overnight these school communities fragmented and segregated…The wealthiest parents snapped up teachers for ‘microschools’…The families with the fewest resourceswere left with nothing.” L. Almagor , The New York Times, June 16, 2021
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post wiht Answer Key
Excerpt: I Taught Online School This Year. It Was a Disgrace. By Lelac Almagor June 16, 2021
” …No child care, only the pallid virtual editions of essential services like occupational or speech therapy…Many times each day, I carefully repeated the instructions for a floundering student, only to have them reply, helplessly, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t hear you,’ their audio squealing and video freezing as they spoke… Children deserve attentive care. That’s the core of our commitment to them.
I am still bewildered and horrified that our society walked away from this responsibility, that we called school inessential and left each family to fend for itself…Some children may have learned to do laundry or enjoy nature during the pandemic. Many others suffered trauma and disconnection that will take years to repair.
I don’t know the first thing about public health. I won’t venture an opinion on what impact the school closures had on controlling the spread of Covid.
What I do know is that the private schools in our city quickly got to work upgrading HVAC systems, putting up tents, cutting class sizes and rearranging schedules so that they could reopen in relative safety. Public schools in other states and countries did the same.
More of our public school systems should have likewise moved mountains — repurposed buildings, reassigned staff, redesigned programming, reallocated funding — to offer consistent public schooling, as safely as possible, to all children.
Instead we opened restaurants and gyms and bars while kids stayed home, or got complicated hybrid schedules that many parents turned down because they offered even less stability than virtual school. Even now, with vaccinations rising and case rates dropping, some families remain reluctant to send their kids back to us in the fall. I can’t help thinking that’s because we broke their trust.”
“Pronouns are basically how we identify ourselves apart from our name. It’s how someone refers to you in conversation,” says Mary Emily O’Hara, a communications officer at GLAAD. “And when you’re speaking to people, it’s a really simple way to affirm their identity.” L. Wamsley, NPR, June 2, 2021
NAVAJO NATION CELEBRATES GAY PRIDE
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 of 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.
I. While Reading Activities
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.
- Ms. Almagor teaches fourth grade at a public charter school in Washington, D.C.
- Our pre-pandemic public school system was imperfect, and plagued with inequities.
- But it was also a little miraculous: a place where children from different backgrounds could stow their backpacks in adjacent cubbies.
- At the diverse Washington, D.C., public charter school our families chose to do it together.
- We would be grappling with our differences and biases.
- Then Covid hit, and overnight these school communities fragmented and segregated.
- The families with the fewest resources were left with nothing.
- Home alone with younger siblings or cousins, kids struggled to focus.
- Many times each day, I carefully repeated the instructions for a floundering student.
- Even under optimal conditions, virtual school meant flattening magic of the classroom.
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.
- The public charter school was diverse.
- My 6-old attends classes.
- Our pre-pandemic public school system was imperfect.
- A little middle-class parents could work remotely from home.
- With schools closed, the health risks didn’t disappear.
- Families with the fewest resources were left with nothing.
- Some kids got a couple of hour a day of Zoom school.
- Some kids were left home alone with younger siblings.
- Others lay in bed and played video games or watched TV.
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.
I don’t know the first ___about___ health. I won’t___an ___on what impact the ___closures had on ___the spread of Covid.
What I do know is that the private ___in our___quickly got to work ___HVAC systems, putting up___, cutting class sizes and rearranging ___so that they could___in relative safety. Public schools in other and countries did the same.
WORD LIST: states, reopen, tents, schedules city, thing, school, venture upgrading, opinion schools, controlling, public,
III. Post Reading Activities
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.
- Describe the public charter school where Ms. Almagor taught before Covid-19 outbreak.
- What changed within the school after Covid-19?
- Why did these changes occur?
- What happened to the families that had little resources?
- According to Ms. Almagor, what were some of the problems facing her fourth-graders at home?
- Ms. Almagor states, “More of our public school systems should have likewise moved mountains — repurposed buildings, reassigned staff, redesigned programming, reallocated funding — to offer consistent public schooling, as safely as possible, to all children. Instead we opened restaurants and gyms and bars while kids stayed home.”
- Do you agree or disagree with her? Why?
- Write down three new ideas you’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.