Category Archives: Culture

Parents Frustrated with Homeschooling: Teaching is Too Hard!

“Mark the fourth week of school closures as the moment when parents began to crack… as social media rants reveal, many parents are now fed up. Managing their children and their anxieties and working from home… some parents have begun resisting the deluge of demands coming from their children’s teachers…The parent rebellion is not at all fun for teachers…S. Ebbert, The Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Photo- The Boston globe

“It was music class that finally drove Mel Mawn over the edge. She was already dutifully arranging her quarantine workdays around the expectations of her three children’s math, English, and science teachers, surrendering her work station to their Zoom meetings.

Now, the music teacher was proposing a ‘fun activity’ and Mawn’s thoughts immediately turned to the recorder — the piercing woodwind instrument that her twin 10-year-old boys are learning to play this year.

‘I mean, we’re stuck here in the house, and I cannot have recorder class for an hour,’ said Mawn, who is working full-time from the Wilmington home she shares with her three children, her husband, and her in-laws…The parentrebellion is not at all fun for teachers, who have found themselves in a no-win situation since schools were closed due to the threat of the coronavirus in mid-March.

First, they were hounded by some hard-charging parents who expected more daily structure and an immediate and effortless switch to online instruction. Teachers had to quickly develop new coursework and ways of presenting it, and to jet into families’ living rooms via Zoom video conferencing, where their every move would be scrutinized.

Now, with teachers more regularly holding classes online, parents are pushing back, saying the expectations are unmanageable — particularly for younger children who can’t handle the technology on their own and need a parent by their side…One irony is that many parents have been schooled to limit young children’s screen times; now they’re being steered to it by their children’s preschool teachers…Another irony is that working parents like her are paying dearly to participate in their children’s ‘circle time.’

‘I’m not paying $2,600 a month for you to do a video chat with my kids twice a day,’ she said. ‘I’m paying for you to watch them and provide high-quality education so I can work.’

Keri Rodrigues, a Somerville mother who heads the National Parents Union, an education advocacy group, said many parents are in survival mode, having suddenly lost their income or begun working at home to maintain it, and they shouldn’t feel pressured about academics at the moment…Mawn is picking and choosing her academic battles now…She understands that the teachers have never handled a pandemic before. But could they not streamline the assignments?

“If I wanted to teach,” Mawn added, “I would be a teacher.”

Additional For Kids (and some Adults)

Michelle Obama Is Reading Books to Children Stuck at Home, By Mariel Padilla

“Michelle Obama read one of her beloved children’s books aloud on Monday, live streaming to hundreds of thousands of people stuck at home. The virtual story time was the first in a four-week series called “Mondays with Michelle Obama.”

In partnership with PBS Kids, Penguin Young Readers and Random House Children’s Books, Ms. Obama, the former first lady, said she would share some of her favorite children’s books, provide an opportunity for children to practice their reading and give families a much-needed break during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Join me, @PBSKIDS, and @penguinrandom for read-alongs on Mondays at 12pm ET Facebook and YouTube https://twitter.com/pbskids/status/1251196381840187395 

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: Have  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. It was [the] music class that finally drove Mel Mawn over the edge.
  2. She was already dutifully arranging her quarantine workdays.
  3. The recorder is definitely going to knock one of us over the edge.
  4. Mark the fourth week of school closures as the moment when parents began to crack.
  5. Managing their children and their anxieties amid a global pandemic was a lot.
  6. Some parents have begun resisting the deluge of demands coming from their children’s teachers.
  7. Many parents find it overwhelming.
  8. Parents feel that they cannot cope with this insanity any longer.
  9. The parent rebellion is not at all fun for teachers.
  10. When the girl did get time to speak, she grew shy and clammed up.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

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.

First, they were/was hounded bye/by some hard-charging parents who/whom expected more daily structure and a/an immediate and/an effortless switch to /too online instruction. Teachers has/had to quickly develop new/knew coursework and ways off/of presenting it, and to/two jet into families’ living rooms via Zoom video.

 

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article.

  “I mean, we’re stuck here in the house, and I cannot have recorder class for an hour,.”

“We cannot cope with this insanity. Survival and protecting his well being come first.”

The first time they participated,  it was like a nightmare. [Her]  4-year-old did not understand: “Why can’t they hear me? Why can’t I talk?”

“Do not destroy the fabric of your family because you’re trying to please a school district,”

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Are you a parent/ guardian taking care of younger children at home?
  2. Are you helping children with  their online schoolwork?  If so, describe your experience.
  3. How do you think teachers feel about parents being frustrated?
  4. Can you come up with solutions for frustrated parents?
  5. Do you think preschool/daycare centers should be open sooner? Why/why not?

 

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

Medical Heroes Fighting the Coronavirus For Us…And Dying

“Millions of health care workers are running to where they are needed, sometimes risking their lives.” D. Berwick, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: They Don’t Hide From the Coronavirus, They Confront It  By Donald M. Berwick, The NYT

‘I’m having flashbacks to the Boston Marathon bombing,’ my daughter said. She was a newly minted physician on the day the bombs went off seven years ago, when the police rolled a man on a stretcher into her hospital’s emergency department. His blood had spilled onto the floor and someone began to wipe it away. ‘Don’t bother,’ the officer said, ‘there is a lot more where that came from.’

ICU medical staff with patients-credit- Washington Post

When she tells that story, my daughter always mentions the dread she felt. How many more victims would arrive, and when?

Now, she faces a similar sense of dread, as demand for Covid-19 care could swamp her hospital and patients who could have been saved may die as the ventilator supply runs out.

Exhausted medical caregivers sleep when [and where] they can.

As the world writhes in the grip of Covid-19, the epidemic has revealed something majestic and inspiring: millions of health care workers running to where they are needed, on duty, sometimes risking their own lives. I have never before seen such an extensive, voluntary outpouring of medical help at such a global scale.

Welsh doctors and nurses urge people tp help contain the virus-credit- www.itv.com

Intensive care doctors in Seattle connect with intensive care doctors in Wuhan to gather specific intelligence on what the Chinese have learned: details of diagnostic strategies, the physiology of the disease, approaches to managing lung failure, and more.

Dozens of healthcare workers are shown on a flight from China to the Philippines. Credit-globalnews.

Health care workers-Credit- CNN

A Wuhan Doctor on the Front Lines-credit-Medscape

The three-page, single spaced document, full of lessons, circulates immediately and widely through social media platforms, a gem borne of pure, professional commitment…And city by city, hospitals mobilize creatively to get ready for the possible deluge: bring in retired staff members, train nurses and doctors in real time, share data on supplies around the region, set up special isolation units and scale up capacity by a factor of 100 or 1000…Think about such adaptations and agility going on all across our nation and the world.

A team of doctors and nurses prepare themselves before heading out to their designated residential areas to check on residents. credit- National Review

A coronavirus prayer. credit-americanmagazine.org

Good people taking the load in a time of crisis…We are witnessing professionalism in its highest form, skilled people putting the interests of those they serve above their own interests…’How are you doing?’ I asked my daughter by phone from the safety of my house. ‘A little scared,’ she said. Then, ‘Gotta go…’ Patients were waiting.”

Credit- healthcareequalityconsulting.com

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: Have  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. I’m having flashbacks to the Boston Marathon.
  2. She was a newly minted physician.
  3. Many people dread the Coronavirus.
  4. Demand for Covid-19 care could swamp many hospitals.
  5. Patients who could have been saved may die as the ventilator supply runs out.
  6. Hospitals prepare for the deluge of patients coming their way.
  7. The Covid-19 epidemic has revealed something majestic and inspiring.
  8. I have never before seen such an extensive, voluntary outpouring of medical help.
  9. Intensive care units are over crowded.
  10. Medical Care people have a sense of commitment to their jobs.

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

She was a newly minted physician ___the day the bombs went ___seven years ago, when the police rolled a man ___a stretcher___her hospital’s emergency department. His blood had spilled___the floor and someone began to wipe it away.

The Journal ___the American Medical Association, even while moving its staff home ___social distancing, sets new records___speeding helpful scientific studies, peer reviewed, ___the web.

 

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.

On Tuesday, ___Bill de Blasio of___asks for___ medical personnel to join the city’s___; 24 hours later, 1000 new volunteers have signed up. Northwell Health, a 23-hospital ___in___, figures out how to add 1,500 beds, if needed, by___space.

WORD LIST: repurposing,NewYork City, Medical Reserve Corps, Mayor,  New York,  retired, system,

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Directions:  Have students use an organizer to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main idea and points from the article.

Cerebral Chart by Write Design

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 the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel heroes? Why?
  2. What are some of the ways hospitals are mobilize creatively to get ready for the possible deluge?
  3. What did the mayor of New York City do to help hospital medical personnel?
  4. Can you think of other times in the U.S. or other countries when medical personnel were considered heroes?
  5. Are there people in other fields you would consider heroes?
  6. What ideas have you learned after reading this article?

3-2-1-Writing

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

Photo Activity for speaking or Writing

Directions: Have students study the photos then choose one to write a paragraph about.

If possible, here are a few questions students might answer:

How does this person/people look to you? For example, tired, sad, happy, hopeful, bored, etc.

What do you think they are thinking about? 

Thank You Cards Activity

Students could create “Thank You” cards of their own and send them to hospitals where medical personnel can receive the cards.

ANSWER KEY

 

Robots Caring for the Elderly Bring Increasing Questions of Concern

“Robotic companions are being promoted as an antidote to the burden of longer, lonelier human lives. At stake is the future of what it means to be human.” M. Jackson, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Mojo Wang, The New York Times

Excerpt: Would You Let a Robot Take Care of Your Mother? By Maggie Jackson, The New York Times

“After Constance Gemson moved her mother to an assisted living facility, the 92-year-old became more confused, lonely and inarticulate. Two full-time private aides, kind and attentive as they were, couldn’t possibly meet all their patient’s needs for connection.

Credit- ABC Radio Perth – Gian de Poloni

So on a visit one day, Ms. Gemson brought her mom a new helper: a purring, nuzzling robot cat designed as a companion for older adults. “It’s not a substitute for care,” says Ms. Gemson, whose mother died last June at age 95. “But this was someone my mother could hug and embrace and be accepted by. This became a reliable friend.” When her mom was upset, her family or helpers brought her the cat to stroke and sing to, and she grew calmer. In her last days “what she could give, she gave to the cat,” says Ms. Gemson.

Photo- Next Avenue

An aging population is fueling the rise of the robot caregiver, as the devices moving into the homes and hearts of the aging and sick offer new forms of friendship and aid…Winsome tabletop robots now remind elders to take their medications and a walk, while others in research prototype can fetch a snack or offer consoling words to a dying patient… Yet we should be deeply concerned about the ethics of their use. At stake is the future of what it means to be human, and what it means to care.

Issues of freedom and dignity are most urgently raised by robots that are built to befriend, advise and monitor seniors. This is Artificial Intelligence with wide, blinking eyes and a level of sociability that is both the source of its power to help and its greatest moral hazard

When do a robot assistant’s prompts to a senior to call a friend become coercion of the cognitively frail? Will Grandma’s robot pet inspire more family conversation or allow her kin to turn away from the demanding work of supporting someone who is ill or in pain? ‘Robots, if they are used the right way and work well, can help people preserve their dignity,’ says Matthias Scheutz, a roboticist who directs Tufts University’s Human-Robot Interaction Lab. ‘What I find morally dubious is to push the social aspect of these machines when it’s just a facade, a puppet. It’s deception technology.’

For that is where the ethical dilemmas begin — with our remarkable willingness to banter with a soulless algorithm, to return a steel and plastic wink. It is a well-proven finding in the science of robotics: add a bit of movement, language, and ‘smart’ responses to a bundle of software and wires and humans see an intentionality and sentience that simply isn’t there. Such ‘agency’ is designed to prime people to engage in an eerie seeming reciprocity of care.

Credit- The Star Online

Social robots ideally inspire humans to empathize with them, writes Maartje de Graaf of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, who studies ethics in human-robot interactions. Even robots not designed to be social can elicit such reactions: some owners of the robot vacuum Roomba grieve when theirs gets ‘sick’ (broken) or count them as family when listing members of their household.

Many in the field see the tensions and dilemmas in robot care, yet believe the benefits can outweigh the risks. The technology is ‘intended to help older adults carry out their daily lives,’ says Richard Pak, a Clemson University scientist who studies the intersection of human psychology and technology design, including robots…

We know little about robot care’s long-term impact or possible indirect effects. And that is why it is crucial at this early juncture to heed both the field’s success stories and the public’s apprehensions.”

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. 

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 92-year-old became more confused, lonely and inarticulate.
  2. The pet robots are not a substitute for care.
  3. The robot became a reliable friend.
  4. Care robots are increasly seen as an antidote to the burden of longer, lonelier human lives.
  5. Winsome tabletop robots now remind elders to take their medications and a walk.
  6. Others in research prototype can fetch a snack or offer consoling words to a dying patient.
  7. Since their 2016 debut, sales of robots to assist older adultsare expected to rise 25 percent annually through 2022.
  8. Yet we should be deeply concerned about the ethics of their use.
  9. This is Artificial Intelligence with wide, blinking eyes and a level of sociability that is both the source of its power to help and its greatest moral hazard. 
  10. Some worry robot care would carry a stigma the potential of being seen as not worth human company.

 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. Constance Gemson moved her mother to a assisted living facility.
  2. Two full-time private aides were also hired.
  3. Ms. Gemson brought her mom a new helper: a purring, nuzzling robot cat.

II

  1. A aging population is fueling the rise of the robot caregiver.
  2. Thousands of robotic cats and dogs designed as companions for older people have been sold in the U.S. since 2016.
  3. Yet we should be deeply concerned about the ethics of their use.

III

  1. Robots, if they are used the right way and work well, can help people preserve their dignity.
  2. Social robots ideally inspire humans to empathize  with them.
  3. The robot is designed to stress that it’s not an doctor or nurse but part of someone’s care team.

 

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article.

  1. “Robots, if they are used the right way and work well, can help people preserve their dignity. “What I find morally dubious is to push the social aspect of these machines when it’s just a facade, a puppet. It’s deception technology.”
  2. “Even robots not designed to be social can elicit such reactions: some owners of the robot vacuum Roomba grieve when theirs gets “sick” (broken) or count them as family when listing members of their household.”
  3. “The technology is intended to help older adults carry out their daily lives.   If the cost is sort of tricking people in a sense, I think, without knowing what the future holds, that might be a worthy trade-off. Still he wonders, “Is this the right thing to do?”
  4. “The robot is one thing, but you still need interaction that’s not programmed.”
  5. It’s not a substitute for care,”

 

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.

  1. Who or What is the article about?
  2. Where does the action/event take place?
  3. When does the action/event take place?
  4. Why did the action/event occur?
  5. How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Do you interact with any robots in your home (e.g., the  Roomba vacuum), school,  job, public facilities (e.g., restrooms, recreation areas ) or institutions such as banks, museums or libraries? If yes, describe them and how you interact with them.
  2. Have you ever interacted with an actual  robot pet? what was your experience like?
  3. Is there a senior member in your family who has a robotic companion? If yes, how do they interact with the pet?
  4. Do you think robotic pets are a good idea for seniors? Why or why not?
  5. According to the article what are the benefits of seniors having robot companions?
  6. The article raises two issues of concern with the robots programmed to befriend and advise seniors. What are the issues and why do they cause concern?
  7. There are new “soft-law” guidelines that professionals state the robots need to have. What are they?
  8. In your opinion, are there certain tasks we should not allow robots to do because they would be considered unethical?
  9. List something  new that you have learned from this article. List something that you did not understand in this article. List something that you would like to add to this article. Share your responses with the class.

ANSWER KEY

When your Tween wants to be a Drag Queen

As recently as the 1970s, dressing as another gender could lead to arrest on charges of vagrancy or perversion … drag was an adults-only affair… But as gay culture has gained mainstream acceptance, the number and variety of locations where drag is welcome have grown. G-rated story hours [for kids] are now offered at public libraries.” A. Hines, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Desmond at a fitting for DragCon. Credit-Maridelis M. Rosado for The New York Times

Excerpt: Meet the rising drag stars of America. They’re tweens. By Alice Hines, The New York Times

“I’m excited!’ screamed Desmond Napoles, a 12-year-old drag star who performs as Desmond is Amazing, punctuating his enthusiasm with mild profanity. His eyes darted to his phone. Then he backtracked. ‘Don’t put that in. Don’t put that in.’ He would soon be grounded from Snapchat by his mother for what she called ‘sass.’

Desmond and his mother would still make it to the object of Desmond’s excitement: DragCon, the convention hosted by RuPaul in New York City in early September. It would be Desmond’s third year in a row. He isn’t a different person in drag so much as a more outgoing version of himself, he said. ‘I’m always fierce, fabulous and not playing video games,” he said. ‘I’m being AH-MA-zing.’

From an early age Desmond was theatrical, said Wendy Napoles, his mother. There were dresses fashioned out of household items like recycled cardboard, ribbons, towels, Bubble Wrap. Once, she said, at a mall food court, Katy Perry’s “Firework” came on and he broke into an impromptu dance routine…’Other moms are  soccer moms,’ Ms. Napoles said. ‘They take their kids to practice, to games, they cheer for their kids. That’s how I see myself with drag.’ Keegan, a.k.a. Kween Keekee, is a 9-year-old drag queen. (The New York Times agreed to not use the family’s last name, to protect their privacy.

‘Our goal has never been to make K famous,’ said his mother, Megan. ‘We allow Instagram to be a public account as we don’t feel we need to be pressured to hide our child, and because we think his story could help other kids.’ Kids — and parents intent on raising them outside of traditional gender norms — are keen to perform…’This is the first generation that was truly raised on ‘Drag Race,’ said Robin Johnson, a photographer, who founded Dragutante, an 18-and-under runway show in Denver. When her son, a 14-year-old who in drag is known as Ophelia Peaches, was in elementary school, they would watch “RuPaul’s Drag Race” together, for the gowns, the pageantry, the acting, the drama.  It was ‘like Disney princesses,’she said.

Some have public social media platforms and are on their way to careers. Desmond, with 180,000 followers on Instagram, has the largest online presence, followed by Lactatia, a 10-year-old in Montreal.

CJ Duron, 12, whose mother is the author of Raising My Rainbow, recently appeared in a Sephora Pride campaign; although he is not a ‘drag kid,’ he is inspired by the art form, Ms. Duron said.

An active subset of the internet sees kids in drag not as ‘the future of America,’ as RuPaul has said of Desmond, but ‘socially accepted child abuse,’ in the words of Elizabeth Johnston, a vlogger who ‘daily tackles the left on abortion, feminism, & gender insanity,’ according to her social media bios.

Her network also helped call for the cancellation of several drag queen story hours at local libraries…Nina West, a queen who appeared on ‘Drag Race’ and who has often performed for kids, said that while drag is a form of gender protest, it is not inherently sexual. ‘Drag is the larger than life representation of a character,’ she said.

At drag queen story hours at a library, she often reads the book Red: A Crayon’s Story. In it, a red crayon discovers it is wrapped in the wrong label, and was really blue all along.

 

In her music video ‘Drag Is Magic,’ she performs in front of a group of kids dressed as police officers, pirates and princesses. “Colorful. Bright. Loud. Big! Those are things that kids respond to,” she said. ‘Who’s to say what Barney is?’

Laura Edwards-Leeper, a clinical psychologist in Oregon who works with queer and trans kids, said that experimenting with gender expression isn’t necessarily linked to being queer or trans. ‘It’s normal at basically any age for boys to dress up as princesses and girls in male superhero outfits,’ she said. What’s changed is parenting. ‘When there’s no judgment, kids are more likely to feel free to explore,’ Dr. Edwards-Leeper said.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and 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 tween drag queens. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

Michigan State University

 

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. Desmond punctuated  his enthusiasm with mild profanity.
  2. He isn’t a different person in drag.
  3. He broke into an impromptu dance.
  4. Desmond was vogueing at the New York Pride parade went videos of him went viral.
  5. His mom also connected with Keegan’s drag mentors adult queens who today help with costumes.
  6. The gay culture has gained mainstream acceptance.
  7. They would watch RuPaul’s Drag Race together, for the gowns, and the pageantry.
  8. Elizabeth Johnston also helped call for the cancellation of several drag queen story hours at local libraries.
  9. The gay culture is thriving.
  10. But at least for now, kids are drag’s least commercialized  niche.

 

 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. Desmond and his mother would still made it to DragCon.
  2. From an early age Desmond was theatrical.
  3. Desmond pegs his start in the world of drag to 2015.

II

  1. Other moms  is  soccer moms.
  2. Keegan, a.k.a. Kween Keekee, is a 9-year-old drag queen.
  3. Our goal has never been to make K famous, said his mother, Megan.

III

  1. This are the first generation that was truly raised on Drag Race.
  2. It’s normal at basically any age for boys to dress up as princesses and girls in male superhero outfits.
  3. Desmond is Amazing has the most followers out of any drag kid.

 

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article.

  1. “I’m always fierce, fabulous and not playing video games…I’m being AH-MA-zing.”
  2. “Other moms are  soccer moms,”…They take their kids to practice, to games, they cheer for their kids. That’s how I see myself with drag.”
  3. “Our goal has never been to make K famous… We allow Instagram to be a public account as we don’t feel we need to be pressured to hide our child, and because we think his story could help other kids.”
  4. “This is the first generation that was truly raised on ‘Drag Race.”
  5. “…sees kids in drag not as ‘the future of America,’  as RuPaul has said of Desmond, but socially accepted child abuse.”
  6. “Drag is the larger than life representation of a character.”
  7. “It’s normal at basically any age for boys to dress up as princesses and girls in male superhero outfits.”

III. Post Reading Activities

Graphic Organizers: Finding The Main Idea

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Write Design to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main idea and points from the article.

III Post Reading

Questions for Comprehension Discussion and Writing

This article introduces several young people and how they choose to express themselves and explore their identities  through drag.

  1. After reading this article do you think it’s important to express who you are or show only what people expect of you?
  2. Is it very  important to you how people see you? Why or why not?
  3. How do you think other people view you?
  4. How did 12-year-old Desmond Napoles start in the  world of drag?
  5. The article states,Desmond, with 180,000 followers on Instagram, has the largest online presence, followed by Lactatia, a 10-year-old in Montreal.” Do you use social media to express your identity? How?
  6. The article states that, Mothers run most of these accounts… drag moms far outnumber drag dads.” Why do you think more moms are in charge of the accounts?
  7. What is the main task the moms perform as managers of these accounts?
  8. There are people on the internet who view child drag stars as being inappropriate. According to Elizabeth Johnston, a vlogger, “kids in drag [are] not ‘the future of America,’ as [drag star] RuPaul has said of Desmond, but ‘socially accepted child abuse.’ Do you agree or disagree with her? Provide reasons for your opinion.
  9. According to Laura Edwards-Leeper, a clinical psychologist who works with queer and trans kids, what has changed over time are the parents views of their children. Dr. Edwards-Leeper states, When there’s no judgment, kids are more likely to feel free to explore.’  Do you agree with this statement or not? Provide reasons for your answers.
  10. The parents in this article provide  strong support to their kids. In your opinion, is this how parents should be?  Would you support your child if they wanted to be a drag star?  Why or why not?

Group Projects:

Facing History has a wonderful feature called Identity Charts:  Identity charts are a graphic tool that can help students consider the many factors that shape who we are as individuals and as communities. Use identity charts to deepen students’ understanding of themselves, groups, nations, and historical and literary figures. Sharing their own identity charts with peers can help students build relationships and break down stereotypes. In this way, identity charts can be used as an effective classroom community-building tool.”

The New York Times has a free hand-out of the chart here

To learn more about the history of drag, watch the video ‘The History of Drag’ hosted by Trixie Mattel HERE

ANSWER KEY

 

Category: Culture, Drag, People, Social Issues | Tags: ,

Should Students See Themselves in the Books They Read?

“Reading books by Latina writers taught me our stories were worthy of being told.” V. Matir, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Jump Rope – The author and her family at Palmetto Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in June 1983. Credit: Meryl Meisler

 

Excerpt: I Was ‘Too Much’ for Boarding School. But I Had the Garcia Sisters.

“I grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in the 1980s, in what felt like a forgotten neighborhood.  Abandoned buildings loomed over piles of garbage and rubble. Playgrounds were overrun by drug dealers. But for me, Bushwick was a place imbued with my culture.

A piraguero (pronounced pee‐rah GWAY‐row)—one of a breed of street vendors that has become a hot‐weather institution in El Barrio

There were piragua carts with multicolored umbrellas selling shaved ice on every corner. The bodeguero Miguel gave my mother credit when our food stamps ran out. The Puerto Rican flag hung from almost every window.

My mother migrated from Honduras to New York in 1971. When I was 2 years old my mother met and fell in love with another woman, Millie, which was then widely considered taboo. Two years later we all moved into a two-bedroom railroad-style apartment.

The paint cracked and peeled off the walls, but we always had food on the table, even if it was white rice, fried eggs and canned corned beef…My life took a turn at 13 when my social studies teacher saw promise in me and suggested I take part in A Better Chance, a program that places low-income minority students in top schools around the country. I applied and was offered a four-year scholarship to attend a boarding-school-type program at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts…

I remember gazing out the window in awe as gorgeous mansions with perfect manicured lawns came into view. I moved into a four-story house with other students complete with a study and fireplace… But I soon realized that I was different. My guidance counselor would often pull me aside and tell me I was ‘too loud’ and ‘too much.’

Two Boys Crossing Gates Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn, Vanessa Mártir

Growing up, I’d read the Sweet Valley High series, Encyclopedia Brown mysteries and all the Judy Blume books. The characters in them didn’t look like me, but I was too young to understand the difference or know it could matter.

One day in my junior year, I was reading on the mezzanine overlooking the cafeteria, when my English professor, Mr. Goddard, approached me. ‘You should read this,’ he said and handed me How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. My eyes stopped at the writer’s name, Julia Alvarez. ‘That’s a Spanish name,’ I thought.

I saw myself reflected in the story of the Garcia sisters, who had fled to the United States from the Dominican Republic with their parents. They went to boarding school and, like me, had trouble fitting in. It began to dawn on me that there must be other writers like Ms. Alvarez out there. I asked teachers for recommendations and dug through the library shelves on campus.

Later I would discover the work of Gloria Anzaldúa, Cherríe Moraga, Sandra Cisneros.

What was missing for me was the narrative of the Latina who left the ’hood to pursue an education only to find that she no longer fit in anywhere. I was too loud at boarding school and a sellout in the place I had once called home.

For years I’d chronicle my joys and heartbreaks in journals and scribble down poems on napkins at bars. On weekends I’d go to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. I was in awe of the poets who read their work aloud. I longed to be that brave. I was the only one of my siblings to graduate from college… When I learned I was pregnant in 2003, something inside me shifted. I wanted my daughter to learn by watching her mamá that she could live out her dreams. I dusted off my journals and wrote throughout my pregnancy. My first novel,  A Woman’s Cry, was published in 2007, three years after she was born. After my novel was published I sought out other writers of color. At last I found a place where I felt I belonged.

My mother still lives in the same apartment in Bushwick. The neighborhood is no longer reminiscent of a war zone…I buy my daughter, who is now 15 years old, books by writers like Elizabeth Acevedo, Jacqueline Woodson and Gabby Rivera. I teach writing in neighborhoods like the one I grew up in. I know from experience that when children see positive images of themselves reflected in front of the classroom, in books and on the big screen, it can make all the difference. This is how change happens, and it’s how we create a country in which all of us feel we belong. One story at a 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: 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. 

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. Abandoned buildings loomed over piles of garbage and rubble
  2. For me, Bushwick was a place imbued with my culture.
  3. My mother migrated from Honduras to New York in 1971.
  4. She fell in love with another woman which was then widely considered taboo.
  5. The program placed low-income minority students in top schools.
  6. I remember gazing out the window in awe.
  7. Rosie Perez as Tina in the 1989  film Do The Right Thing was the only exposure to a Latina I had.
  8. One day in my junior year, I was reading on the mezzanine overlooking the cafeteria.
  9. I saw myself reflected in the story of the Garcia sisters.
  10. For years I’d chronicle my joys and heartbreaks in journals.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

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,

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

I grew up___Bushwick, Brooklyn, ___the 1980s,___what felt like a forgotten neighborhood.

Abandoned buildings loomed ___piles ___garbage and rubble.

My mother migrated ___Honduras___New York___1971.

My life took a turn___13 when my social studies teacher saw promise___me.

Millie’s brother drove me___school ___a beat-up blue Pentecostal church van.

I saw myself reflected___the story___ the Garcia sisters, who had fled ___the United States___the Dominican Republic ___their parents.

 

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 author grew up in Manhattan, in the 1980s.
  2. The playgrounds were overrun by happy children.
  3. The grocer  Miguel gave the author’s mother credit when their food stamps ran out.
  4. Her mother migrated from  Puerto Rico to New York in 1971.
  5. The mother fell in love with an American man.
  6. The author was offered  a four-year scholarship to Wellesley High School in Massachusetts.
  7. While at Wellesley, the author realized that  she was just like the other students.
  8. Her English professor, Mr. Goddard introduced her to the book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, by Julia Alverez.
  9. For years she would chronicle her  joys and heartbreaks in journals.
  10. The author’s  mother still lives in the same apartment in Bushwick.

 

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 is it important for students to feel  represented by the books they are reading? Why or why not?
  2. Do you see yourself in the books that you read? Name the books.
  3. Are there any authors that you particularly like to read?  Why?
  4. The author states, “Mr. Goddard, approached me. ‘You should read this,’ he said and handed me How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. My eyes stopped at the writer’s name, Julia Alvarez. ‘That’s a Spanish name” Are there authors from your own country that you enjoy reading? Who are they?
  5. How did you discover the authors that you identify with?
  6. In your opinion, who should be responsible for introducing students to books with which they can identify? For example, parents, teachers, librarians or someone else?
  7. Name at least two things that you have learned form reading this article.

ANSWER KEY