Category Archives: Culture

The New Way to “Bully-Proof Your Child”

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

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

book by izzy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

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

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

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

II

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

III

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

Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins

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

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

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Culture, Education, Social Issues | Tags:

What Does it Mean to Identify as Nonbinary?

“As nonbinary teenagers push for driver’s licenses that reflect their identity, a fraught debate over the nature of gender has arrived in the nation’s statehouses.” A. Harmon, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

image- google

 

Excerpt:Which Box Do You Check? Some States Are Offering a Nonbinary Option By Amy Harmon, The NYT

“Ever since El Martinez started asking to be called by the gender-neutral pronouns “they/them” in the ninth grade, they have fielded skepticism in a variety of forms and from a multitude of sources about what it means to identify as nonbinary.

El Martinez, 17, at home in Massachusetts. Credit Tony Luong for The New York Times

There are faculty advisers on El’s theater crew who balk at using “they” for one person; classmates at El’s public school on the outskirts of Boston who insist El can’t be “multiple people”; and commenters on El’s social media feeds who dismiss nonbinary gender identities like androgyne (a combination of masculine and feminine), agender (the absence of gender) and gender-fluid (moving between genders) as lacking a basis in biology. Even for El’s supportive parents, conceiving of gender as a multidimensional sprawl has not been so easy to grasp. Nor has El’s suggestion that everyone state their pronouns gained much traction.

So last summer, when the Massachusetts State Legislature became one of the first in the nation to consider a bill to add an ‘X’ option for nonbinary genders to the ‘M’ and ‘F’ on the state driver’s license, El, 17, was less surprised than some at the maneuver that effectively killed it.

Beyond the catchall ‘X,’ Representative James J. Lyons Jr. (he/him), a Republican, had proposed that the bill should be amended to offer drivers 29 other gender options, including pangender, two-spirit  and genderqueer. Rather than open the requisite debate on each term, leaders of the Democratic-controlled House shelved the measure.

He articulated an anxiety that many people, even folks from the left, have: that there’s this slippery slope of identity, and ‘Where will it stop?’ said Ev Evnen (they/them), director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, which is championing a new version of the bill…‘Nonbinary gender identity can be complicated,’ said Mx. Evnen, 31, who uses a gender-neutral courtesy title. ‘It’s also threatening to an order a lot of people have learned how to navigate.’

The wave of proposed gender-neutral legislation has prompted debate over whether extending legal recognition to a category of people still unknown to many Americans could undermine support for other groups vulnerable to discrimination…

Some of the antipathy toward nonbinary identities may reflect a generational divide. Over a third of Americans now in their teens and early 20s know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns, according to a recent survey by Pew Research — more than people in their later 20s and 30s, double the number of those in their 40s, and triple the number of those in their 50s and 60s.

image- Detroit Free Press

‘Possibly it’s an age issue,’ said Jocelyn Doane (she/her), 39, a longtime advocate for progressive causes in Hawaii who struggled with whether to support the gender-neutral license bill in her state. ‘I want to respect their challenges, but the use of ‘their’ for a single person is making me crazy.’

Objections to the bills have also been raised by social conservatives, like State Senator J.B. Jennings (he/him) of Maryland, who made a distinction in public comments between transgender people who transition from male to female or vice versa, and those who identify as nonbinary.

image- The Daily Beast

‘They’re either going one way or the other, they’re not stuck in the middle,’ he said. Mr. Jennings suggested that the license would be inaccurate if it listed a gender other than male or female…other opponents, like the Women’s Liberation Front, an advocacy group that has submitted testimony on so-called ‘Gender X’ bills in several states, argue that bolstering the nonbinary category will harm people who face discrimination and violence precisely because they are born with female anatomy…Proponents of adding a gender-neutral option to state identification documents say it would remove a form of discrimination against nonbinary people by providing them with the means to carry identification that matches their identity.

The gender-neutral designation option on a Maine driver’s license. Credit Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles, via Associated Press

Perhaps also because some critical mass has been reached, nine state motor vehicles bureaus have recently added the ‘X’ option to driver’s licenses without involving the legislature…Several other jurisdictions, including New York City, Oregon, New Jersey and New Mexico, have also begun to allow people to change the gender on their birth certificate to ‘X.’

The nation’s major airlines have announced that they will allow passengers to identify as an ‘undisclosed’ or ‘unspecified’ gender when booking tickets…Nonbinary teens themselves have also petitioned for a third gender on state identity documents. Ed Luiggi (they/them), 17, president of an after-school club for gender nonconforming students, skipped school to testify before the Maryland Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee in Annapolis earlier this year.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. The faculty advisers on El’s theater crew balk at using ‘they’ for one person.
  2. Commenters on El’s social media feeds dismiss nonbinary gender identities.
  3. Critics say that it  can be disorienting to lose the gendered cues like pronouns and  names.
  4. Beyond ‘X’ there are 29 other gender options.
  5. Nonbinary gender identity can be complicated.
  6. There is a  wave of proposed gender-neutral legislation.
  7. Some of the antipathy toward nonbinary identities may reflect a generational divide.
  8. Several nonbinary teenagers claimed that their gender identity was a visceral feeling.
  9. Nonbinary gender identity could provoke social ostracism.
  10. Many young people have transitioned from one binary gender to the other. 

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

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. Scholars say that nonbinary genders has existed across history and cultures.
  2. Massachusetts was the first to consider a bill for the ‘X’ option.
  3. He articulated an anxiety that many people have.

II

  1. Their requests for recognition have been met with reservations.
  2. Elected officials has listened to tutorials on gender identity.
  3. These issues  of gender identity are foreign to many people.

III

  1. Over a third of teens knows someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns.
  2. Many hope it will lend legitimacy to liberate people of all genders.
  3. Gender identity was a visceral feeling, they said, not a political choice.

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.

A state agency in ___that tracks the ___of ___took the opposite tack…The state does not have a ___interest in identifying ___based on their___, the agency’s testimony asserted. That ___did not advance, said its sponsor, State Senator Karl Rhoads probably because ___law ___air travelers to carry identification that includes a gender marker, and in the island state, the only way to get anywhere is flying.

WORD LIST:  requires, residents, status, Hawaii,   women, legitimate,    gender, bill, federal,

III Post Reading

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

Wikipedia defines non-binary as the following:

“Non-binary, also known as genderqueer, is a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine‍—‌identities that are outside the gender binary and cisnormativity.[1] Non-binary people may express a combination of masculinity and femininity, or neither, in their gender expression.”

Here is a Glossary of LGBT Terms for Health Care Teams

After carefully reviewing the terms answer the following:

  1. Which of the terms would you say describes you? If none are on the list then how do you identify your gender?
  2. Are there any terms on the list you do not understand? Share your responses with the class.
  3. In your opinion is it necessary to carry an ID that reflects  a person’s gender identity? Provide reasons for your answers.
  4. The article states, The wave of proposed gender-neutral legislation has prompted debate over whether extending legal recognition to a category of people still unknown to many Americans could undermine support for other groups vulnerable to discrimination.” Which groups of people are discriminated against? Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Provide reasons for your answers.
  5. Make a list of questions you would like to ask a nonbinary person. Share your questions with the class.

 

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

Why Are So Many People Superstitious?

“…a new acquaintance said to me shortly after I moved to Portland, Ore. ‘I think I saw you running by the river yesterday.”Did you jump up like Michael Jordan to touch a leaf?’ Indeed, I had.’I was probably stretching,’ I offered. ‘Yeah,’ he said doubtfully.’It really looked like you were high-fiving a tree.’ I was actually touching leaves and flowers for luck, which I’ve done since earliest childhood.” K. Russell, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

image- lopezmedia.net

 

Excerpt:Letter of Recommendation: Superstitions, Karen Russell, The New York Times

“Superstitious people are often dismissed as irrational, stunted thinkers — mental children who never outgrow a scrambled understanding of causality. Even those studies that confirm ‘Improved performance’ for superstitious athletes can sound patronizing, hypothesizing that rituals like Serena Williams’s five bounces before her first serve work by conferring ‘the illusion of control.’ 

But those of us who carry charms and sidestep ladders will tell you that superstitions can have an undeniable power. Not because they change the future, but because they articulate a wish. Superstitions are a special syntax, the ellipses we use to bridge the present and the dreamed-of future. Humble, hopeful, fearful, human.

Image-NBC news

My dad, a Navy veteran and the most superstitious person I know, would throw salt over his shoulder to reverse bad luck, occasionally hitting a Denny’s waiter in the face. ‘Don’t worry, kids!’ he would call out as he went diving into the bushes to avoid an inky kitten. ‘I saw a little gray around the paws!’

From him, I learned that superstitions can be a form of prayer, as well as an exorcism in miniature. You release the fear that comes from feeling responsible for everything that happens to you — an especially American delusion… Fear does animate certain superstitions, but even this becomes a kind of thanksgiving. Flip the coin of fear, and you rediscover the ‘everything’ you have to lose…

Superstitions might not ward off suffering and death, but they can draw a dream into focus. ‘Our baby daughter is due this August,’ I have finally been able to tell people, after the tenuous early months when this felt unutterable. It’s a sentence I always punctuate by knocking on wood. Ancient people did this to summon dryads, the benevolent spirits inside trees. Far from conferring ‘the illusion of control,’ the sound connects me to everyone who has ever dared to hope for anything in this life with its single guarantee.”

 

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.

 

Pre-reading Tasks

 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 Organizer By Scholastic

 

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. I met a new acquaintance yesterday.
  2. He was frowning a little as he thought about my answer.
  3. I was aghast that this had been visible at rush hour
  4. They gave each other a high five at the end of the game.
  5. Superstitions can have an undeniable power.
  6. I learned that superstitions can be a form of prayer, as well as an exorcism in miniature.
  7. Superstitions might not ward off suffering and death.
  8. Fear does animate certain superstitions.
  9. Superstitious people are often dismissed as irrational.
  10. My dad, is a Navy veteran and the most superstitious person I know.

Grammar Focus: English SubjectPronouns

Directions:Students are to choose the correct subject pronouns in the sentences taken from the article.Review Subject pronouns here

A few months later, at the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, a friend waved me over. ‘Hey! I thought that was you. Were you praying back there?’ She’d seen me kneeling in mud, touching a solar-yellow dandelion. ‘Yes,’ I said, to expedite my day, because this seemed less bonkers than explaining what I was actually doing. From him, I learned that superstitions can be a form of prayer, You release the fear that comes from feeling responsible for everything that happens to you —

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.

After ___Andrew ___our___in 1992 (a nine-foot storm surge seemed to choose us, leaving the other___on our block largely untouched), I ___a repertoire of new ___overnight, like mental___sprouting out of the ___that had flooded up to our ceiling.

WORD LIST:saltwater,mushrooms, developed, houses, Hurricane,destroyed, home, superstitions

Discussion/Comprehension Questions

  1. The article states, Superstitious people are often dismissed as irrational, stunted thinkers — mental children who never outgrow a scrambled understanding of causality.”Do you agree or disagree with this statement?  Explain why.
  2. What makes people superstitious?
  3. Are there any superstitions that you like?What are they?
  4. Are your relatives or friends superstitious? Give examples of some of their  superstitions.

Group Project:

Directions: In groups review the following website: Bad Luck Signs. Choose a few of the superstitions listed. Try to think about  how they might have started.  Share your ideas with the class.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Culture | Tags:

Helping Them Make The Transition From Prisoner Back To Citizen

“Raymond Tillman spent most of his adolescence and early adulthood behind bars… When he got out, [in 2011] he had a lot to catch up on — like, the digital age. He remembers his first computer class, looking down at the floor for a mouse. ‘There was a mouse? Where?The teacher pointed to a little black device with a cord connecting it to the computer. ‘I’m like ‘Wow!’ Feel like I was a caveman.’ E. Nadworny, NPR

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Credit- Anke Gladnick for NPR

Excerpt:Changing How You Think Helps The Transition From Prisoner Back To Citizen, By Elissa Nadworny NPR

“When I first came home I was illiterate to technology,” he explains. ‘Didn’t know how to turn on a computer, let alone what an email was.’ But he needed a job, and to get one, he’d need to be able to apply online.

A parole officer suggested Tillman go to the Cal State San Bernardino Reentry Initiative, a promising new program designed to smooth the transition from offender back to citizen. A big portion of the U.S.’s record-setting prison population is re-offenders, so re-entry centers work to get those numbers down by helping people on parole get the tools they need to function in society — so they eventually stay out of prison. Programs are like a bridge, between the world of corrections and the world of social services.

At other times in Raymond Tillman’s life, he would have blown this off, but this time — and he doesn’t even know why — he showed up and followed through…

Catching up on technology is one of the biggest challenges, says Andrea Mitchel — director of research and development at the re-entry center at Cal State. ‘They come out not having any knowledge of it,’ she says, ‘and then they are expected to get into the workforce. ‘ So far, the results here in San Bernardino are promising. Across four centers in the county, they’ve served about 6,000 students to date. Attendance rates are high, and more than half of the current students are now employed.”

 

Interesting Fun Read : A Lowell teacher keeps a document of slang terms used by his students — and the Internet loves it-By Steve Annear, The Boston Globe

“Usually it’s the students who are constantly brushing up on their vocabulary so they can be as prepared as possible for school.

But in the case of James Callahan, a teacher in the social studies department at Lowell High School, it’s the other way around.

Callahan, who has been teaching at the school for 15 years, keeps an alphabetized document of all the slang words and phrases that his students throw around and use regularly so that he can stay abreast of the latest lingo.”

 

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. Raymond Tillman spent most of his adolescence and early adulthood behind bars.
  2. When I first came home I was illiterate to technology.
  3. The program was designed to smooth the transition from offender back to citizen.
  4. At other times in Raymond Tillman’s life, he would have blown this appointment off.
  5. Catching up on technology is one of the biggest challenges,
  6. A decade ago, this center was just an idea Mitchel had.
  7. Most people who get out do want to get off the merry-go-round.
  8. On the board there’s a diagram depicting how thoughts are related to emotions, and then behavior.
  9. Program participants are called students.
  10. The program is focused on job training.

 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. He needed an job.
  2. People eventually stay out of prison.
  3. He took nearly every class the center offered.

II

  1. He remembers him first computer class.
  2. Catching up on technology is one of the biggest challenges.
  3. They are expected to get into the workforce.

III

  1. It took a few years to make that idea a reality.
  2. The center is housed in a modern, two-story building.
  3. This is a respectful place.

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.

A ___ago, this ___was just an ___Mitchel had. Back then, she was working at ___and saw a ___economy. Most people had jobs, except for those who had previously been___.

WORD LIST:   Goodwill, center, booming, incarcerated,  idea,  decade,

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements.

  1. Do you think programs  such as Cal State San Bernardino Reentry Initiative are  useful? Explain why or why not.
  2. Do you know of anyone who has been through a rehabilitation program? If so, describe how they were changed by the program.
  3. The article states, The program is focused on job training, but as we walk through the center, it’s evident that’s it’s more than that.”  What other things does the program do for people?
  4. If you could ask the students in the program two questions, what would they be? Share your questions with the class.

 

ANSWER KEY

“High School Doesn’t Have to Be Boring”

“When you ask American teenagers to pick a single word to describe how they feel in school, the most common choice is ‘bored.’ The institutions where they spend many of their waking hours, they’ll tell you, are lacking in rigor, relevance, or both.They aren’t wrong.” J. Mehta and S. Fine, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit Ping Zhu, New York Times

 

Excerpt: High School Doesn’t Have to Be Boring By Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine, The NYT

“Studies of American public schools from 1890 to the present suggest that most classrooms lack intellectual challenge. A 2015 Gallup Poll of nearly a million United States students revealed that while 75 percent of fifth-grade students feel engaged by school, only 32 percent of 11th graders feel similarly.

What would it take to transform high schools into more humanizing and intellectually vital places? The answer is right in front of us, if only we knew where to look.

When the two of us — a sociologist and a former English teacher — began our own investigation of this question several years ago, we made two assumptions. Both turned out to be wrong.

The first was that innovative schools would have the answers. We traveled from coast to coast to visit 30 public high schools that had been recommended by leaders in the field. What we saw, however, was disheartening. Boredom was pervasive. Students filled out worksheets, answered factual questions, constructed formulaic paragraphs, followed algorithms and conducted “experiments” for which the results were already known. Covering content almost always won out over deeper inquiry — the Crusades got a week; the Cold War, two days.

The result? In lower-level courses, students were often largely disengaged; in honors courses, students scrambled for grades at the expense of intellectual curiosity. Across the different class types, when we asked students to explain the purpose of what they were doing, their most common responses were ‘I dunno’ and ‘I guess it’ll help me in college.’

Our second mistake was that we assumed the place to look for depth was in core academic classes. As we spent more time in schools, however, we noticed that powerful learning was happening most often at the periphery — in electives, clubs and extracurriculars.

Intrigued, we turned our attention to these spaces. We followed a theater production. We shadowed a debate team. We observed elective courses in green engineering, gender studies, philosophical literature and more.

As different as these spaces were, we found they shared some essential qualities. Instead of feeling like training grounds or holding pens, they felt like design studios or research laboratories: lively, productive places where teachers and students engaged together in consequential work. It turned out that high schools — all of them, not just the ‘innovative’ ones — already had a model of powerful learning. It just wasn’t where we thought it would be.

Consider the theater production that we observed at a large public high school in an affluent suburban community. Students who had slouched their way through regular classes suddenly became capable, curious and confident. The urgency of the approaching premiere lent the endeavor a sense of momentum. Students were no longer vessels to be filled with knowledge, but rather people trying to produce something of real value.

Coaching replaced’professing’ as the dominant mode of teaching. Apprenticeship was the primary mode of learning. Authority rested not with teachers or students but with what the show demanded.

What we saw on a debate team in a high-poverty urban public school was similar. Monthly debate competitions gave the work a clear sense of purpose and urgency. Faculty members and older students mentored the novices. Students told us that ‘debate is like a family.’

Perhaps most important, debate gave students a chance to speak in their own voices on issues that mattered to them. Inducted into an ancient form of verbal and mental discipline, they discovered a source of personal power…It should come as no surprise that when we asked students to reflect on their high school experiences, it was most often experiences like theater and debate that they cited as having influenced them in profound ways…The more we can create similar opportunities in core subjects — giving students the freedom to define authentic and purposeful goals for their learning, creating opportunities for students to lead that learning, and helping them to refine their work until it meets high standards of quality — the deeper their learning and engagement will be.”

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.  Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article.  Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming Map by rentonschools.us

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Debate, drama and other extracurriculars provide the excitement.
  2. What would it take to transform high schools into more vital places?
  3. Some innovative schools might have the answers.
  4. We traveled from coast to coast to visit 30 public high schools, what we saw, however, was disheartening.
  5. In lower-level courses, students were often largely disengaged.
  6. We assumed the place to look for depth was in core academic classes.
  7. As different as these spaces were, we found they shared some essential qualities.
  8. Students who had slouched their way through regular classes suddenly became capable and confident.
  9. The truly powerful core classes echoed what we saw in extracurriculars.
  10. Most important of all, high school students need to be granted much more  responsibility and choice.

 

Grammar Focus: English Pronouns

Directions:  Students choose the correct [Subject pronouns] to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

English Subject pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, they

When ___ask American teenagers to pick a single word to describe how ___feel in school, the most common choice is ‘bored.’

___traveled from coast to coast to visit 30 public high schools.

Across the different class types,___asked students to explain the purpose of what ___were doing.

As ___spent more time in schools, however,___noticed that powerful learning was happening n electives, clubs and extracurriculars.

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.

Before the___bell, we treat ___as passive ___of knowledge whose interests and ___matter little. After the final bell — in newspaper, debate, theater,___and more — we treat ___as people who ___by doing, people who can ___as well as___, and people whose passions and are worth cultivating.

WORD LIST: learn, learn, identities, final, students, students, athletics, ideas ,teach, recipients,

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Describe your high school experience. Did you find the experience satisfying? Fun? Boring?
  2. With your group members describe your idea of a good  high school curriculum.
  3. The article states,“Schools need to become much more deeply attached to the world beyond their walls…Some use project-based learning to engage students in their local communities; some collaborate with museums, employers and others who can give students experiences in professional domains; still others prioritize hiring teachers who have had experience working in (and not just teaching about) their fields…”Do you agree/disagree with this statement?Why or why not?Provide examples of how project-based learning would work.

 

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