Category Archives: Culture

Kids Today Are So Rude -Are Parents to Blame?

“My daughter, who’s 9, recently had a new friend over to play. I gave them a snack and was in the kitchen pouring juice when our visitor bellowed from the next room, ‘More chips!’ I bristled, but I wasn’t surprised. As a mother of three, I’ve long had a front-row seat to children’s declining manners.”N. G. Lipson, The Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Photo- whisper

Excerpt:Why kids today are so rude — and why a little bad behavior might sometimes be a good thing-Nicole G. Lipson, The Boston Globe

“It’s not mislaid soup spoons or white shoes after Labor Day unsettling me. It’s the waning of the most basic acts of courtesy — saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’keeping a door from slamming on the person behind you — and the waxing of rudeness extreme enough to shock. That is, if it weren’t so common.

There’s my neighbor’s tale from her son’s 10th birthday party, when she placed favors — two versions of a detective kit — at the kids’ chairs in an alternating pattern. A girl approached her, indignant, wanting to know why she didn’t get the kit she wanted. My neighbor assured her that the kits were basically the same, but the girl was unappeased. ‘Can you order the other one for me?’ she said.

Photo- Maclean’s

Then there’s the dad who volunteered to coach his daughter’s coed soccer team. A few players refused to participate in scrimmages if placed on a different side than their buddies. At one practice, some, laughing, pelted him with soccer balls. “They see little difference between their parents, coaches, and friends,” he told me. ‘My biggest take-away? Wow, kids have changed.’

Have they ever. Three-quarters of Americans think manners have deteriorated in the United States over the past several decades, according to a 2016 survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The problem isn’t that parents no longer value politeness. Being well-mannered is among the top four virtues they say they wish to instill, up there with responsibility, hard work, and helping others, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center report.

Image- Stivers

Yet what parents say and what they actually do aren’t always the same, and many families are falling short — including my own. No matter how much my husband and I emphasize courtesy, our children still shout at restaurants and answer grown-ups’ questions by mumbling at their shoes, if they say anything at all.

My husband and I sense we’d need to make major shifts in our parenting to raise more polite kids. But at a time when care and concern are often expressed through emojis, and even our political leaders don’t show basic signs of civility, is this investment worth it? What if we can’t even teach good manners in today’s world? Would that matter?

Rude kids may be everywhere, but it’s also true that complaining about the younger generation is an age-old rite of passage. David Finkelhor, a sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire, coined the term ‘juvenoia’ — ’the exaggerated fear of the influence of social change on youth’ — to explain this phenomenon. He attributes it to factors including older people’s investment in the status quo and nostalgia for their own experiences. ‘Adults also tend to forget what childhood was like,’ he says.

Credit-Isabell Espanol -Boston Globe

But plenty of things make our era unique. Take the growing amount of time kids spend using screens…We know that technology lures children away from in-person social exposure. What’s less known is their difficulty regulating behavior once they’ve unplugged. My kids turn into crabby so I was relieved to learn this isn’t a personality flaw, but neurology. ‘There are social skills parents want to cultivate that technology can disrupt,’ says Catherine Steiner-Adair, a Cambridge-based psychologist…

Then there’s our culture to think about. Steiner-Adair says that a third of the time when she speaks to students at school assemblies, one will raise a hand to ask: ‘Could you please help us understand why every single thing you’re telling us not to do, the president of the United States does every day?’

This question highlights the increasingly indecorous behavior of public role models… The frenzied pace of modern life adds to this challenge, making it harder to find room for imparting lessons… Many modern parents have just one or two hours with their children between work and bedtime. ‘The last thing I want to do is come home and immediately get on my kids’ case,’ says Phoebe Segal, an art curator in Boston…

Parents’ stress has a trickle-down effect that affects kids’ ability to be considerate.

‘We can say whatever we want to our children about manners, but more importantly, they’re following our lead,’ says Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert…Even when trying to do what’s best, parents can unwittingly teach bad manners…

Parents think protecting their children from upset will boost their self-esteem, says Weissbourd. But the opposite is true: ‘It’s like the story The Giving Tree. Parents give and give, and their kids just get ruder and more entitled.’

Manners will always have a vital place in our world — and I am fully committed to moving them up my priority list. But sometimes, the goodness we want to see in our kids takes a different form — and it’s already, impeccably, right there in front of us. At least most of the time.”

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: Havestudents to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have themexamine 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. It’s not mislaid soup spoons or white shoes after Labor Day unsettling me.
  2. It’s the waning of the most basic acts of courtesy.
  3. The kid’s chairs were fixed in an alternating pattern.
  4. The little girl was indignant, wanting to know why she didn’t get the kit she wanted.
  5. My neighbor assured her that the kits were basically the same, but the girl was unappeased.
  6. At one practice, the kids pelted him with soccer balls.
  7. Three-quarters of Americans think manners have deteriorated in the United States.
  8. This question highlights the increasingly indecorous behavior of public role models.
  9. The frenzied pace of modern life adds to this challenge, making it harder to find room for imparting lessons.
  10. children skip the most basic acts of courtesy.

 

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

Additional Prepositions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_prepositions

  1. Our children still shout ___restaurants.
  2. We’d need ___make major shifts ___our parenting ___raise more polite kids.
  3. Children have contempt ___authority; they show disrespect ___elders.
  4. Those are words attributed ___Socrates, recorded ___two millennia ago.
  5. Take the growing amount ____time kids spend using screens. 
  6. The question hints ___society’s growing casualness.
  7. The last thing I want ___do is come home and get___mykids’ case.
  8. I don’t want ___lose my whole time ___the kids ___arguing.

 

Reading Comprehension

Identify TheSpeakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article. The first group to correctlyidentify all of the speakers wins.

  1. “There are social skills parents want to cultivate that technology can disrupt…”
  2. “I can get overwhelmed and exhausted by the minutiae of making dinner and schedules and attending to immediate needs.”
  3. “The last thing I want to do is come home and immediately get on my kids’ case…”
  4. “Even more than through observation, children learn empathy by receiving empathy.”
  5. “We can say whatever we want to our children about manners, but more importantly, they’re following our lead…”
  6. “Likewise, before judging our children’s technology-related rudeness, we must examine our own. Kids watch adults all the time, so when we’re constantly interrupting discussions to check our phone and then losing track of the conversation, they pick up on that.”

 

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. In your opinion, are children (teens) rude today?  If yes, why do you think they are this way?
  2. If you have children of your own, or know someone who does, are the children polite? Explain why or why not.
  3. The author tells the story of her neighbor’s son 10th birthday party. “When she placed favors — two versions of a detective kit — at the kids’ chairs in an alternating pattern. A girl approached her, indignant, wanting to know why she didn’t get the kit she wanted. My neighbor assured her that the kits were basically the same, but the girl was unappeased. ‘Can you order the other one for me?’ she said.  What would have been your response to the little girl?
  4. According to the article, “The problem isn’t that parents no longer value politeness. Being well-mannered is among the top four virtues they say they wish to instill, up there with responsibility, hard work, and helping others.” If parents still value manners, what seems to be the problem?
  5. The article states, Then there’s our culture to think about. Steiner-Adair says that a third of the time when she speaks to students at school assemblies, one will raise a hand to ask: ‘Could you please help us understand why every single thing you’re telling us not to do, the president of the United States does every day?’  How would you answer this student?
  6. Have you read an article or a story heard about a situation where a child was rude?  Share the story with your group.

Role Play

Directions: In groups have students create a role play based on the article they just read. Some can play teens, parents, teachers etc. This exercise will  provide students with a higher level of thinking skills as they  dramatize their interpretations for 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, Social Issues

Rethinking The U.S. Prison System Through Art Programs

“Thirty Colorado inmates staged One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest…The cast was strip-searched before boarding the bus to their show. The leading man was shackled so tightly that he performed with abrasions on his wrists. And the moment the men finished their bows and the house lights came up, they had to slip out of costume and back into green prison uniforms.”  J.  Healy, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Inmates of Sterling Correctional Facility rehearsing One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Trent Davis Bailey for The New York Times

Excerpt: How a Prison Play Goes on Tour By Jack Healy, The New York Times

“So goes life on the road for a production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, put on by 30 medium-security inmates of the Sterling Correctional Facility, out on Colorado’s remote eastern plains. While prison plays have been around for decades, the challenge of this show was audaciously new: It went on tour.

Over a week in September, the cast and crew took the play to a men’s prison in the tiny town of Limon, Colo., and to a women’s prison in Denver, a 130-mile bus ride from Sterling. Many in the audience had never read the Ken Kesey novel nor seen the Oscar-winning film adaptation starring Jack Nicholson, which tells the story of men inside a 1960s-era Oregon mental ward. For the prison staff, the logistics of transporting a complicated set and 30 prisoners were daunting.

Many in the audience at the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility had not read the Ken Kesey novel or seen the Oscar-winning film adaptation. Credit Tren D. Bailey for The New York Times

For the cast and crew, the six-month journey into the play, through rehearsals and character studies and improv games, and then out beyond the prison walls, was transformative and surreal. It was the first time in years some had been outside Sterling’s 20-foot walls and razor fences.

The show, produced by the University of Denver’s Prison Arts Initiative, is part of a recent expansion of arts programs inside prisons and jails that dovetails with the movement to rethink a corrections system that now holds 2.2 million people in the United States.

Michael J. Clifton, left and Felicion Alexander Charles in character as Aides Williams and Warren. Photo- Trent D. Bailey

Wendy Jason, the managing director of the Justice Arts Coalition, has counted nearly 350 arts programs behind bars nationwide, double the number that existed eight years ago…’People are looking for new ways to engage the system and to transform it from the inside out,’ Ms. Jason said. ‘Is it possible? That’s one of the questions that keeps me up at night.’

Advocates for prison arts — who now include many current and former inmates — say that learning to paint or performing a monologue can imbue humanity and purpose into the bleakness of life behind bars.

Some studies have suggested that prison arts may reduce disciplinary actions inside prison, though it is unclear whether they and other rehabilitation programs reduce recidivism… As the Sterling men’s prison bus, lined with wire cages, plugged across the plains on the way to shows…some men stared at new condos, new highways, new hospitals, new suburbs that had transformed the cityscape of Denver since they had been locked up. ‘You see the cities and the lights,’ said Terry Mosley Jr., 39, who has been incarcerated since he was 18 for killing an 18-year-old in a fight outside a grocery store. ‘You don’t get to see those horizon lines. It’s just walls around you.’

Brett Phillips in character as Randle McMurphy, the role Jack Nicholson made famous in the film version of Cuckoo’s Nest. Photo- Trent D. Bailey

As the men put together the set, each screw and bolt used to build it — the common room of a mental institution — had to be cataloged and tracked…’To build something like this in prison — you have no idea of what it means,’ said Vern Moter, 51, who is serving 24 years for fraud and was part of the stage crew…Before the show in Denver, while the men paced the stage to get into character and checked out the acoustics, their run-throughs were interrupted by corrections officers doing their regular head count of prisoners…For Dean Williams, the executive director of the Department of Corrections, bringing artists and audience members into prison was part of a strategy to make life inside prison as similar as possible to life outside.

It is called normalization, an idea inspired by Scandinavian countries where inmates cook their own food, interact with people from the outside and have a less adversarial relationship with corrections officers.

Douglas L. Micco as Chief Bromden. Credit Trent D. Bailey for The New York Times

There’s a few of us leading these systems who realize that something’s wrong,’ Mr. Williams said. ‘We’ve made prison a place of starkness, idleness, a place without purpose. Then we’re confused where people get out and they don’t make it. I think that is on us.’

As the cast and crew prepared for Cuckoo’s Nest, a few said that corrections officers asked the men why anyone convicted of violent crimes should have a spotlight and applause…Several of the inmates said the play allowed them to feel human again.

‘This whole thing is some weird dream,’ said Christopher Shetskie, who is serving a life sentence without parole for murdering two women in 1995 and 1996, according to newspaper accounts at the time. He played a doctor in the play.

Amy Mund, [Shetskie killed her sister] did not believe he should have the privilege of performing with the troupe.

‘He brutally murdered two young vibrant ladies in the prime of their lives,’ Ms. Mund said in an email. ‘I question why he is allowed to participate in plays and travel outside the confines of the prison. As a victim of a violent crime, that does not sound like justice to me.’

Mr. Shetskie said he knew he could not undo his crimes.”

 

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: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine the photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article.  Can you describe some of the expressions on the faces of the people?

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 Sterling Correctional Facility is located out on Colorado’s remote eastern plains.
  2. The challenge of this show was audaciously new.
  3. For the first time a prison show went on tour.
  4. For the prison staff transporting 30 prisoners was daunting.
  5. For the cast and crew there were rehearsals, character studies and improv games.
  6. Going beyond the prison walls was transformative and surreal  for the prisoners.
  7. Advocates for prison arts include many current and former inmates.
  8. Advocates say that learning to paint or performing a monologue can imbue humanity and purpose into life behind bars.
  9. Some studies have suggested that prison arts may encourage rehabilitation.
  10. Some inmates have been incarcerated since they were 18.

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.

As the Sterling men’s/mens prison bus, line/lined with wire cages/cage, plugged across the/an plains on the way to shows, some man/men got carsick from the unfamiliar speed/sped of the road. They stared at/on new condos, new highways, knew/new hospitals, new suburbs that had transformed the cityscape of Denver since they had been locked/lock up.

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 cast was never strip-searched before boarding the bus to their show.
  2. The leading man performed with abrasions on his wrists.
  3. After the show prisoners changed into their street clothes.
  4. The play performed by the prisoners was West Side Story.
  5. The film version of the play starred Jack Nicholson.
  6. It tells the story of  how gang members live in New York City.
  7. The name of the prison is the Sterling Correctional Facility.
  8. The prison is located in Utah.
  9. Wendy Jason is the managing director of the Justice Arts Coalition.
  10. California spends $8 million each year on creative-writing workshops.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use theWH-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: 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. Has someone you know served time in prison? What was their experience?
  2. In your opinion, should anyone convicted of violent crimes have the opportunity to participate in artistic programs while incarcerated?
  3. Is the purpose of prisons to punish people for the crimes they’ve committed or to rehabilitate them?
  4. According to Dean Williams, the executive director of Colorado’s Department of Corrections his goal is to “normalize the prisons by making  life inside prison as similar as possible to life outside.” Do you agree with his idea?
  5. The article provides reasons why some officials and families of victims opposed the play production. One such person, Amy Mund, whose sister was killed by one of the performers in the play stated He brutally murdered two young vibrant ladies in the prime of their lives. I question why he is allowed to participate in plays and travel outside the confines of the prison. As a victim of a violent crime, that does not sound like justice to me.” Do you agree or disagree with her?  Please provide reasons for your answers.
  6. For students from different countries, describe the prison systems in your country. Are prisoners allowed to participate in art programs?

Main Idea / Debate

Directions: Divide students into  two teams for this debate. Both teams can use information from the article and sources from the Web   to support their arguments.

Team A will list five reasons that support arguments for  a theater or arts program in prison.

Team B will list  five reasons that support arguments against a theater or arts program in prison.

Each team will have time to state their points of view,  and the teacher decides which team made their points.  

For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from Freeology

Pros and Cons Chart

 

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 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

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