Category Archives: Culture

Halloween Decorations Are Over the Top This Year!

“Spooky animatronics. Giant skeletons. Twelve-foot-tall inflatable ghosts. The countdown to Halloween is on, and the frightful front yard displays this year look bigger and more ghoulish than ever.” B. Bowker, Boston Globe Staff, October 21, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post With Answer Key

Steve Sardella fills up a Halloween cauldron in front of his home. Matthew J Lee, Globe Staff

Excerpt:  Halloween decorations have taken over yards around Mass. By Brittany Bowker, Globe Staff,  October 21, 2021

“You’re not imagining it. Consumer spending on Halloween-related goods is expected to reach an all-time high of $10.4 billion this year, up from a pandemic-deflated $8 billion in 2020 and $8.8 billion in 2019, according to a new survey from the National Retail Federation.

This is the second year Maureen Lawson (right) and Tim MacClean went big with Halloween. “The Ghoulgenheim had an eclectic mix of horror themes. J. Rinaldi, Globe Staff

That boost in spending is largely driven by home and yard decorations — a trend sparked last year when COVID restrictions meant most kids weren’t trick-or-treating and adults couldn’t go to Halloween parties…Steve and Samantha Sardella of Tewksbury said they have definitely spent more this year on their annual Halloween yard display. It grew during the pandemic in 2020, but this year it’s even bigger.

A skeleton takes a bubble bath on Maureen Lawson and Tim MacClean’s front yard in Wilmington.Jessica Rinaldi, Globe Staff

‘Feedback was the biggest motivator,’ Steve Sardella said. ‘Neighbors would stop by and say, ‘We love your house. Our kids love the decorations.’ We want to top each 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 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. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Houses can be seen with spooky animatronics.
  2. There are also Giant skeletons and inflatable ghosts.
  3. That boost in spending is largely driven by home and yard decorations.
  4. Spooky decor was a safe, socially distanced way to celebrate the holiday.
  5. This year, 52 percent of Americans are planning to decorate for Halloween.
  6. Spending is projected to surge to $3.17 billion, up from last year’s $2.59 billion.
  7. It grew during the pandemic in 2020, but this year it’s even bigger.
  8. Feedback from neighbors  was the biggest motivator.
  9. More people have elaborate displays this year.
  10. Visitors can spot witches and ghouls gathered around a smoky cauldron at some homes.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

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

I

  1. Your not imagining it.
  2. The countdown to Halloween is on.
  3. Displays this year look bigger.

II

  1. That boost in spending is largely driven by home and yard decorations.
  2. A trend sparked last year.
  3. It was a way to bring joy too kids.

III

  1. This year, 52 percent of Americans are planning too decorate for Halloween.
  2. Gravestones dot the front  of many yards.
  3. People still seem very interested in sending cards this year.

Reading Comprehension Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. “It was a way to bring joy to kids who may not be able to ask for candy, but could still walk around the neighborhood and see decorations.”
  2. “Feedback was the biggest motivator…Neighbors would stop by and say, We love your house.”
  3. “There wasn’t much for people to do, but at least they could drive around and look at lights — like they do during Christmastime.”
  4. “It starts with a princess castle that I turn into a haunted castle…I board up the windows and put up spider webs, and then the majority of the front yard is light-up pumpkins.”

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Why are people more interested in celebrating Halloween this year?
  2. Are you decorating more than usual this Halloween? Why or why not?
  3. Which well known athlete is joining in the Halloween spirit this year?

ANSWER KEY

Category: Culture | Tags:

Supporting the Use of Non-Binary Pronouns in Schools

“Transgender and nonbinary students are urging educators to use inclusive language, but not everyone is on board.” L. K. Wertheimer,The Boston Globe September 28, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Alia Cusolito, a sophomore at Old Rochester Regional High School in Mattapoisett. Credit- Harry Scales. The Boston Globe

Excerpt: ‘A very scary thing to tell someone’: The debate over gender pronouns in schools, explained By Linda K. Wertheimer September 28, 2021, The Boston Globe

“On the first day of school at Old Rochester Regional High School in Mattapoisett, Alia Cusolito donned cool, 3-inch, dangling sword earrings. The sophomore also pinned a circular black button with ‘they/them’ in silver letters onto their shirt and a pink ‘they/them’ pin to their backpack. The buttons were a plea for respect and for acknowledgement from teachers and peers of Alia’s identity and preferred pronouns. The teen identifies as nonbinary.

‘The language we use to describe ourselves is a choice, but the gender I am is not a choice,’ says Alia, who switched from she/her pronouns to gender-neutral ones in ninth grade. ‘Nonbinary fits me. My identity isn’t a choice.’

As president of the school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance club, Alia, who is 16, wanted to attend class and walk the halls without the worry that someone, teachers included, might misgender them…Before the school year began, school librarian Allison Barker, adviser to the Gender Sexuality Alliance club (known around the country as GSAs), slipped sample get-to-know-you forms in every teacher’s mailbox. The forms, which students would be asked to fill out, included a blank space to fill in their pronouns and preferred names. Barker has distributed such forms for the past three years to help teachers ease the way for students who may feel anxious to announce their names and pronouns in front of the class.

But Alia’s first two days of school this year were a disappointment. Only three of their nine teachers gave students a way to provide pronouns and names of choice…Many teachers and school administrators I interviewed, including the principal at Old Rochester Regional, say they’re listening and making changes… While asking for pronouns has become routine in some school systems, it isn’t at all commonplace at others.

In some cases, administrators say they’re moving slowly because for many teachers the concept of gender-neutral pronouns is relatively new. And community backlash is a realistic fear. Gender identity, as well as anything to do with the LGBTQ community, used to be a hush-hush topic in schools and elsewhere…In Virginia, a gym teacher sued the Loudoun County school system, contending that his free speech rights were violated when he was suspended for saying at a school board meeting that he wouldn’t refer to transgender students by their preferred pronouns. In August, a judge ruled in his favor… Advocates say the pronoun/name forms are necessary for health and safety reasons. ‘Simply respecting a student’s chosen name and pronoun is the single most important thing you can do to prevent suicide and mental health issues,’ says Kimm Topping, program manager of the Massachusetts Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about transgender or non-binary terms. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Some people identify as Transgender.
  2. Many teens identify as non-binary.
  3. Alia was president of the school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance club.
  4. Many students feel anxious saying their names and pronouns in front of the class.
  5. I’ve seen  a new trend myself as a parent.
  6. My son is an eighth-grader in a suburban Boston middle school.
  7. Those who oppose the distribution of pronoun forms, include parents and conservative Christian groups.
  8. At Old Rochester Regional, a collaboration is taking place  between students and the school educators.
  9. Some teachers still called students by their dead names on the first day and some were misgendered.
  10. Students upset about teachers who didn’t distribute the forms expressed their angst on an Instagram site.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

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, since,

Devoll, the school’s principal___13 years, wanted___ know how they could fix it. Barker believes consistency is the key. She gave Devoll a copy___ a form that’s gone viral, created___ a Pennsylvania middle school science teacher who runs an Instagram site called Teaching Outside the Binary. Barker praised the form’s inclusion___an option ___students___decide who should know their new identity, including whether guardians and parents should be___ the list. “That’s ___their safety,” Barker says. “They don’t feel comfortable being out ___their parents, but___school, they have found safety___being able ___express their true selves.”

Reading Comprehension Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. “I think it’s not asking very much to simply ask a child what they would like to be called.”
  2. “I think everyone who cares about children is on a learning curve. Our understanding of gender identity has evolved in the last decade.”
  3. Advocates say the pronoun/name forms are necessary for health and safety reasons. “Simply respecting a student’s chosen name and pronoun is the single most important thing you can do to prevent suicide and mental health issues.”
  4. “Expanding the curriculum and letting students be called what they want in school are both part of making schools safer.”
  5. “What other emotional and mental labor do queer and trans kids need to put in before we’ll be shown basic respect?” 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Do you consider yourself transgender  or non-binary?
  2. If so, how do you want others to address you?
  3. Do you know someone who identifies as transgender  or non-binary?
  4. In this article how does Alia identify?
  5. What was one of Alia’s fears going back to class?
  6. Which pronoun has been in use since 1375?
  7. What did the school librarian suggest students do before the school year began  to help teachers get to know them?
  8. Did all of the teachers comply with students’ preferences?
  9. What is a ‘dead name’ ?
  10. Why was Alia frustrated? How did they feel about the teachers’ support?
  11. How does Alia’s father feel about the situation at her school?
  12. Why are so many teachers and administrators afraid to use gender-neutral pronouns?
  13. Why would there be community backlash over using gender-neutral pronouns in schools?
  14. What incident occurred in the Loudoun County school in Virginia?
  15. How do opponents of transgender and non-binary pronoun forms view this topic?
  16. According to the recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey, what happens to youths who identify as LGBTQ in Massachusetts?
  17. What happened during the Stonewall riots in 1969?
  18. (Groups might research the riots and  share presentations with the class)
  19. After reading this article list three new ideas  that 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.  Share your responses with your class.

ANSWER KEY

The Difficulty in Explaining Death to Young Children

“I had no idea how to talk to my children about a loved one’s death.  Living through the past pandemic year, and being inundated with constant news about illness and death, has only made this feeling more urgent. I’m not alone.” K. C. Reilly, The Washington Post, August 14, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Image- Mark Wang for The Washington Post

 

Excerpt: Talking to children about death, By Katie C. Reilly, The Washington Post, August 14, 2021

“When I was 16, my uncle diedunexpectedly — my first exposure to the death of a loved one. Upon hearing the news, my dad got on a plane and flew to the West Coast to be with my aunt and cousins. When he returned, there was no conversation beyond ‘Uncle Jimmy died.’

I Miss You- A First Look at Death By Pat Thomas

My mother died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, when I was in my late 20s and my father died of cancer four years later. Having never witnessed the grieving process up close before, I felt like something was wrong with me for the intensity of my grief on each parent’s death.

Now as a mother to two small girls, I want to speak to my children about their grandparents and also prepare them for my eventual passing. Living through the past pandemic year, and being inundated with constant news about illness and death, has only made this feeling more urgent. But like many parents, I have no idea about when or how to begin a conversation about death with a child. And apparently, I’m not alone, experts say.

Book- Grandma is a Star by Ligia Carvalho

Many parents — like my father — avoid speaking to their children about death because they want to protect their kids from sadness and pain, says Cara Mearns-Thompson, a licensed clinical social worker focused on grieving children and the co-founder of the Grief Club of Minnesota.

But there’s more than concern for their children that holds many parents back, says Vicki Jay, chief executive of the National Alliance for Children’s Grief. ‘It’s our own uncomfortableness with [the topic] that prevents us from opening up the discussion,’ she says…‘It is important to know that kids grieve differently than adults. And oftentimes, what may appear to be a frivolous play activity for children may actually be a very worthy way that they are working through grief,’ says Linda Goldman, a therapist in Maryland whose work focuses on children and grief…’Society doesn’t realize just how harmful some popular cliches can be to the grieving process,’ Goldman says.

Grandpa is Now in Heaven by Kasie Kennedy

Mearns-Thompson notes that saying someone has ‘passed away”’or that the person is ‘sleeping’ makes it hard for children to understand what has happened (and, others say, may create real uncertainty or even anxiety about what can happen when someone goes to sleep.)

When a parent loses a loved one, they also have an opportunity to teach their children how to grieve in a healthy way by modeling. The best thing you can do for your kids . . . is model to them what a healthy grief experience is…So it is okay to cry in front of your kids.”

Additional Information:

How To Talk to Kids About Death: “Discussing death with your kids can be a real concern and many tend to avoid it. Death is however an inevitable part of life and it is our responsibility to ensure our kids are aware of it and know it’s okay to discuss it.” Child Development Institute

Little Parachutes – Picture Books about death and bereavement

“Books which tackle the difficult subjects of death, bereavement and loss. Grieving children may find comfort or answers to challenging questions in the pages of these books… The death of a grandparent, for example, may raise different questions than the death of a younger person. A sudden and unexpected death may evoke different responses in a child than a bereavement that has come from a longer illness. We have provided lots of books in this section to help you find one that works for your child and situation.” Little Parachutes

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and 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. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. When I was 16, my uncle died unexpectedly.
  2. I had never witnessed the grieving process up close before.
  3. Many parents — like my father — avoid speaking to their children about death.
  4. Constant news about illness and death this past year  has only made this feeling more urgent.
  5. Parents feel concern for their children.
  6. It is never too early to speak to children about death, but in an age-appropriate manner.
  7. Society doesn’t realize just how harmful some popular cliches can be to the grieving process.
  8. It can be heart-wrenching to tell kids a loved one is never coming back.
  9. Being honest with children also helps to establish trust, experts say.
  10. Young people have this vivid imagination.

Word Map by Against the Odds

 

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

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

I

  1. Parents can’t protect children from seeing or hearing about death.
  2. It is never two early to speak to children about death.
  3. Death is a normal and natural part of our life.

II

  1. Children’s grief will also vary depending on their developmental stage.
  2. They will understand death in new and different ways.
  3. It is important too know that kids grieve differently than adults.

III

  1. When speaking two children about death, it’s important for parents to use clear terminology.
  2. Using the word death is appropriate.
  3. Telling them simple, and honest information is the best approach.

 

Reading Comprehension Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. Many parents — like my father — avoid speaking to their children about death because they want to protect their kids from sadness and pain.”
  2. “…there’s more than concern for their children that holds many parents back. It’s our own uncomfortableness with [the topic] that prevents us from opening up the discussion.”
  3. “Children’s grief will also vary depending on their developmental stage.”
  4. “It is important to know that kids grieve differently than adults. And oftentimes, what may appear to be a frivolous play activity for children may actually be a very worthy way that they are working through grief.”
  5. “Sometimes “my [younger] daughter will say to me, ‘Is Daddy ever coming back?’ And as heart-wrenching as it is to tell her “no, Daddy isn’t coming back.”

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1.  Have you had to speak to young children about the death of a loved one (your kids, young siblings, cousins etc.) since covid-19? At any other time? If so, please describe your experience.
  2. What is the reason many parents  (or care givers) avoid speaking to their children about death?
  3. How do most adults feel about the topic of death?
  4. According to a recent study how many children have lost a parent or caregiver to covid-19?
  5. When is the right time to begin speaking to children about death?
  6. Why will children’s grief vary?
  7. How do children grieve differently than adults?
  8. How did therapist Linda Goldman help a little boy who lost his mom?
  9. When speaking to children about death what is the best terminology to use?

ANSWER KEY

How to Ease Your Child’s Return to School

“As elementary school students return to in-person classes, parents are getting increasingly concerned about their kids’ safety…Added to the worries are fears that after a year of remote learning, some kids have potentially fallen behind or become less comfortable socializing with peers.”  P. Klass, MD, The New York Times, Aug. 17, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Image- Oscar Nimmo, NYT

Excerpt: How to Prep Kids for a Potentially Bumpy Return to School By Perri Klass, MD, The New York Times, Aug. 17, 2021

“As the American Academy of Pediatrics continues to review the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation in schools, it is still recommending in-person education, said Dr. Sara Bode, chairwoman-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on School Health. But at the same time, it is strongly recommending universal masking and a speedy authorization of vaccines for kids under 12.

Here are some ways you can ensure a smooth re-entry for your child.

Oscar Nimmo NYT

One of the best ways to level a bumpy road back to in-person schooling, said Dr. Bode, who is also a general pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, is to give children a good sense of what they can expect, and for parents to make clear that they believe a safe return is possible…First, and most importantly, make sure all family members who are eligible are fully vaccinated, said Dr. Grace Black, a general pediatrician affiliated with the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Oscar Nimmo, NYT

This includes kids ages 12 and up, as well as their older siblings, parents and grandparents… Tell your child that the vaccines are safe and effective, said Dr. Danielle Erkoboni, a general pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and that using them in tandem with masks is the best way to keep everyone safe.

image- Oscar Nimmo, New York Times

Frank discussions like these can give children a sense of their own power and agency in a potentially scary time…Because of the large-scale disruptions in learning over the past year, some students will be returning with major gaps in their education, Dr. Bode said, and they will need time to catch up…While the weather is still warm, summer activities and visits with friends — hikes, picnics, ball games in the park — can help reintroduce kids to group activities and take some of the tension out of going back to the classroom…Also make sure that your child’s school is doing everything they can to create a culture of acceptance and compassion, and that they are taking bullying — whether it’s because of weight gain, masking, academic issues or anything else — seriously and addressing it promptly.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and 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. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. The Delta variant has caused a surge in pediatric Covid-19 hospitalizations.
  2. Especially in areas with low vaccination rates.
  3. Some states aren’t mandating masks in classrooms.
  4. Added to the fears that after a year of remote learning, some kids have potentially fallen behind in studies.
  5. Some kids have become less comfortable socializing with peers.
  6. There are ways that you can ensure a smooth re-entry for your child.
  7. Getting the vaccine and using them in tandem with masks keeps everyone safe.
  8. It is important to give children a sense of their own power and agency in a potentially scary time.
  9. Because of the disruptions in learning over the past year, some students will be returning major gaps in their education.
  10. When children are feeling vulnerable, they need more physical affection, reassurance and acknowledgment.

 

Word Map by Against the Odds

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

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

I

  1. Be prepared for some challenge.
  2. Be OK with academic imperfection.
  3. Discuss the importance of vaccines and masking.

 

II

  1. Project calm reassurance.
  2. Talk to kids about the types of masks.
  3. Reintroduce social activities safely.

III

  1. Return to an routine.
  2. Help your kids get back on track before school starts.
  3. Try to reestablish some dietary boundaries.

 

Reading Comprehension Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. “As the American Academy of Pediatrics continues to review the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation in schools, it is still recommending in-person education.”
  2. “One of the best ways to level a bumpy road back to in-person schooling is to give children a good sense of what they can expect, and for parents to make clear that they believe a safe return is possible.”
  3. “First, and most importantly, make sure all family members who are eligible are fully vaccinated.”
  4. “As soon as the vaccine is available to kids under 12  it’s important that they get it, too.”
  5. “Tell your child that the vaccines are safe and effective, and that using them in tandem with masks is the best way to keep everyone safe.”

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing  

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

  1. Do you have school-age kids that are starting school this year?
  2. If so, are you concerned about their health or that they may have fallen behind in their school work? Please explain why.
  3. In your personal opinion should young children start in-person school this year? Why or why not?
  4. According to the article which organization recommends kids attend school in-person?
  5. What are some of the ways mentioned to help your child reenter school this year? Can you think of any other ways?
  6. According to Dr. Grace Black what should all family members do?
  7. Why is it important for children to understand when we ask them to do anything?
  8. How should parents feel if their child’s learning is a little behind other students? 
  9. How should parents and the schools handle bullying or mockery from students who do not wear masks or take safety  precautions?
  10. What things can parents do at home to begin the process of healthy habits in school?

ANSWER KEY

Good Gossip vs. Bad Gossip

“Two Proverbs: The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; A whisperer separates close friends. K. Radtke, The New York Times, June 29, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

image Credit- Gwendle Le Bec, NYT

Excerpt: Letter of Recommendation: Gossip, By Kristen Radtke, The New York Times, June 29, 2021

“In middle school I learned how to solve for the hypotenuse and identify properties of an atom, but the most enduring skill I picked up was how to gossip. Eighth grade in particular was consumed by chatter and rumors...As a class of 26, we had perhaps more access to one another than is advisable at such a vulnerable age.

Our homeroom teacher, Ms. Deehr, a severe Catholic-school teacher who resembled a sitcom stereotype, had no tolerance for what she called ‘talking behind each other’s backs.’

She quoted from Proverbs: ‘A whisperer separates close friends.’ I burned with shame over my recess gossip, fearing that eternal flames awaited me if I didn’t stop.

Yet, I whispered relentlessly and often without cruelty. My friends and I talked about a classmate’s parents’ divorce when we were trying to understand our own parents’ fighting… We were trying to understand things about ourselves, and the tiny world we inhabited, the only way we knew how: by observing one another and making sense of those observations together. Ms. Deehr failed to mention a verse that came later, also from Proverbs: ‘The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels.’

The anthropologist Robin Dunbar has proposed that humans developed spoken language not to more effectively hunt or build or conquer but to gossip…If humans did indeed develop language in order to gossip, it’s because gossiping creates interpersonal bonds and offers context about the lives we lead.” 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine  any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. When I was young I picked up how to gossip.
  2. Ten is such a vulnerable age.
  3. Our homeroom teacher, Ms. Deehr, was a severe teacher.
  4. She quoted from Proverbs.
  5. I whispered relentlessly and often without cruelty.
  6. We speculated about someone’s trip to another country.
  7. Trading information felt like an opportunity to accrue capital in a world in which we had none.
  8. For an adolescent, gossip was about currying favor.
  9. New York is a city of complex rules and norms.
  10. The internet complicates fun by allowing Trash talk.

Word Map by Against the Odds

 

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

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

I

  1. I whispered relentlessly.
  2. We was trying to understand things about ourselves.
  3. My friends and I talked about a classmate’s parents’ divorce.

II

  1. Trading information felt like a opportunity.
  2. For an adolescent, gossip was about currying favor.
  3. My friend and I moved to New York around the same time.

III

  1. That doesn’t mean gossip is ever moral or fair.
  2. Social media platforms reward our meanest, least empathetic selves.
  3. The internet also obliterate the privacy of a personal network.

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.

That doesn’t mean___ is ever ___or___ or even true; it’s just that it can also be an ___amount of___…Despite her many attempts, my___ never completely kicked her ___habit, and I remain___ that I can ___her off the ____for good.

WORD LIST:  hopeful, gossip,  coax,  fun,  enormous, friend, gossip,  fair, moral,  wagon

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Do you gossip with your friends? Why?
  2. What do you gossip about?
  3. What reason does the author give for her gossiping in school?
  4. In the article the anthropologist Robin Dunbar has proposed that “humans developed spoken language not to more effectively hunt or build or conquer but to gossip.”  Do you agree or disagree with this idea?
  5. How does the author distinguish between ‘gossip’ and ‘spilling secrets’?  Do you agree with her?  Why?
  6. In your opinion is gossip the same as ‘trash talk’? Why or why not?
  7. After reading this article, is gossip a healthy habit among people? Why or why not?
  8. Discuss three new ideas  that 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.

ANSWER KEY

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