Category Archives: Economy

Lesson plan: Labor Day and Unions: From PBS

Labor Day and Unions Today

“Supporters of the California Grape Boycott demonstrate in Toronto, Ontario, December, 1968. Jessica Govea is in the center, front row, wearing poncho. The Delano grape labor strike was organized by the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee and the United Farm Workers against grape growers in California. The strike began on September 8, 1965, and lasted more than five years. Photo of “United Farm Workers Collection, Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University”

Lesson Plan Created by Tina Yalen and Michael Magathan

Repurposed by Katie Gould

Subject

Economics, government, civics

Estimated Time

Two 45 minute classes or one 90 minute block

1 You will want to explain the upcoming main activity simulation briefly to your students and pass out the “Applications” sheets (see handout on the top right of the page) to them two days before the simulation takes place. This will allow you and the students time to select what roles they will play in the simulation.

2 Divide the class into the two teams of Labor and Management and announce who will be playing what role for each team. You can divide students using your Learning Management System for online learning purposes. Pass out, email or upload both sides of the “Demands” sheets to students the night before the simulation.  For homework, have them select the 6 most important demands for their team and be ready to share their choice with their group through the LMS, Google doc or email.

Warm up Activity

Background on Unions and Labor Day

1 Ask students what they know about unions and write their answers on the whiteboards or through the LMS. Many may know nothing about unions, so you may need to prompt them to think of any union-related historical events they may have learned about.

1 Provide students with this definition: an organized association of workers formed to protect and further their rights and interests; a labor union.

2 Watch the short video clips that give a brief background on unions and the holiday Labor Day:

1 A Brief History of Unions”

2 “History of Labor Day”

3 Pass out, email or upload the student handout “Unions Play a Surprising Role in Your Everyday Life.” Have students read and watch the video together which provides examples of how the union plays a role in some everyday topics.

4 Read the interview with Doyle Pryor Assistant General Counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) from 1992-2012, and learn more about the union’s role in professional sports.

Main Activity

“Negotiation”: A Labor/Management Simulation

Objectives:

to expose students to the dynamics of a labor/management dispute involving a given set of issues

to instill real-world awareness that resolution of conflict often depends on the art of compromise and the acceptance of the need for it

to observe the difference between mediation and arbitration

to improve skills in the following area:

Skills:

analysis of information

creative problem-solving

decision-making

logical thinking

communication skills and public speaking

listening skills

teamwork and leadership skills

Basic Flow of Simulation

“Negotiations” scenario (see materials for scenario and demands) will be given to all students at least two days ahead of the start date as well as applications(see materials for applications) to be a Negotiator or Team Leader.

Each class will be divided into two equal-sized “teams,” the labor team and the management team

 Each team will have its own Team Leader and several teams of Negotiators.

The teacher will serve as Mediator/Arbitrator.

Each team will be given a list of 12 “demands” that its side will be trying to achieve and each team will be asked to choose its top 6 priorities and work hard to achieve them in any agreed upon contract. (see materials for scenario and demands)

There will be several rounds of negotiations. Between rounds, teams will huddle, revise and prepare for the next round.

If needed, there will be a final round of negotiation- with an “all-star” team of negotiators appointed by the team leader w/ advice of his/her team.

If both teams agree, any unresolved issues will be resolved by an arbitrator (teacher) who will announce the final decisions on the day of class.

The endpoint/goal of “Negotiation” is to achieve a “contract” between labor and management that includes each side’s top priority without each side feeling like it lost. The goal, in short, is a “win-win” finish, not a “win-lose” finish.

Following final negotiations, the debriefing process will occur. First, each student will analyze the process in writing; this will be followed by a class discussion in person or using the class’s LMS.

Proposed Time Sequence

Day One:

Brief Introductory Remarks (Teacher)

15 minutes: Opening team meetings Goals: Achieve a consensus on 6 priority demands, discuss possible responses to opposition demands, Team Leader- prepare an opening statement, Negotiators- prepare for round one

5 minutes: Both Team leaders make opening presentations (2 minutes each)

10 minutes: Round 1 negotiations, 5 minutes each side to focus on its two highest priorities; Mediator summarizes (Teacher)

10 minutes: Team Meeting to plan for Round 2

Day Two:

Brief Introductory Remarks (Teacher)

10 minutes: Round 2- same rules as Round 1; second set of Negotiators; reverse sequence of teams

5 minutes: Team Meeting to plan for Round 3

10 minutes: Round 3- same rules as Round 1 & 2; third set of Negotiators; reverse sequence of teams

5 minutes: Team Meeting to plan Final Round; All-Star Negotiators selected by Team Leaders with the help/advice from teams

10 minutes: Final Round- same rules as rounds 1, 2, 3; All-Star Negotiators; reverse sequence of teams

Closure: Offer of arbitration; debrief sheet

How to Keep Achieving Job Success Virtually

“Plenty of offices will be empty until well into 2021, so there’s no time like the present to seek feedback from the boss and brush up on your skills.”  J. Weed, The New York Times (November 2, 2020)

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- The New York Times

 

Excerpt:  How to Keep Climbing the Ladder While You Work From Home, By Julie Weed — The New York Times (November 2, 2020)

“You’re stuck working from home, but does your career need to be stuck, too? Worried about keeping employees safe, many companies are pushing return-to-office dates deep into next year, so workers face more months toiling from spare bedrooms and kitchen tables. To keep progressing professionally, reach out for feedback, polish your skills and stay visible (on Zoom, Slack or however you keep in touch with your bosses).

Credit- Recursource

It’s OK to seek feedback more often now that people aren’t in the same office, said Wonya Lucas, chief executive at Crown Media Family Networks, which owns the Hallmark Channel.  It’s also more important than ever to keep track of your to-do list, with quick check-ins to clarify or confirm directions.

Employees may wonder if they are checking in too frequently — or not enough — to make sure they are on the right track. The simplest solution is to ask your manager how he or she wants to be briefed (by Slack message, email or phone call), how often or under what circumstances, and with what level of detail.

‘Managers can be struggling, too, so they’re not necessarily thinking about you,’ said Elizabeth Umphress, a management professor at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.

‘Sending an email asking to meet about communications expectations gives them time to think about what they want,’ Dr. Umphress added, “and you can come to that conversation with ideas, too.’

Level Up Your Skills

Ask your manager what you should focus on improving or which skill he or she is using most right now, Ms. Lucas said. There are plenty of free or low-cost online classes, video tutorials and other resources on every aspect of the business world. It may even be beneficial to go back to school part time… Volunteer for tasks outside your job description to gain new knowledge and get in front of new groups, Ms. Lucas said. Experience and exposure go hand in hand…If you’ve made the effort to acquire a new skill or do some interesting research, offer to hold a ‘lunch and learn’ virtual meet-up to share your new knowledge and gain recognition that way.

Seek out employees with different job descriptions like marketing, finance, human resources and learn what they do. ‘You will always be judged on how well you do in your own area, but unless you understand how your group’s work fits into the company’s overall goals and strategy, you wont rise far,’ Ms. Lucas said.

Take advantage of the virtual break rooms, happy hours or lunchtime hangouts your company is hosting, to meet people, she said. Connecting with someone about a shared interest like sports or pets ‘can lead to the courage to ask that person to a virtual lunch,’ she added.

If Your Boss Doesn’t Support You

Gaining visibility can be especially challenging in a virtual workplace if your boss isn’t passing your good work up the chain or, worse, is taking credit for it. Ask to join the meeting where your work is being presented. Ask peers to speak up for you and acknowledge your contribution to the project.

Give Yourself a Break

If you do need to tread water at work, that’s OK, too. Careers can span 50 years, and for this moment, personal health may need to eclipse professional growth.”

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 the 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 can use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. You’re stuck working from home.
  2. Workers face more months toiling from spare bedrooms and kitchen tables.
  3. It’s OK to seek feedback more often now that people aren’t in the same office.
  4. It’s also more important than ever to keep track of your to-do list.
  5. The simplest solution is to ask your manager how he or she wants to be briefed.
  6. Ask your manager under what circumstances you might talk to them.
  7. Managers can be struggling, too, so they’re not necessarily thinking about you.
  8. If the time you’re saving on your commute travel hasn’t been subsumed by your children’s online schooling you might study improving your skills.
  9. Learn a new skill like wrangling complex PowerPoint presentations or wielding infographics software.
  10. Try to come up with one smart comment or provocative question in the meetings.

 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 stuck working from home during the pandemic.
  2. To keep progressing reach out for feedback.
  3. Be sure to clarify or confirm directions.

II

  1. Employees should make sure they are on the right track.
  2. Ask your manager what you should focus on now.
  3. Getting started can sometimes take courage.

III

  1. Don’t be shy about asking a co-worker for help.
  2. People like to be noticed for there strengths.
  3. Figure out the other person’s style and adapt to it.

Reading Comprehension: Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. “It’s OK to seek feedback more often now that people aren’t in the same office.”
  2. “Managers can be struggling, too, so they’re not necessarily thinking about you.”
  3. “Getting started can sometimes take courage. “Terrified of writing? Take a writing class!”
  4. Figure out the other person’s style and adapt to it, to communicate most effectively with them…Learn how to express empathy better, as well. “

II. 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. What does the author suggest doing to keep progressing professionally?
  2. How do you make sure that you are on the right track with your boss?
  3. Where can you find classes and tutorials if you need to improve on a skill?
  4. Which skills are very important?
  5. What advice does Jean Choy give for communicating effectively with other people?
  6. What advice does Ms. Lucas give for engaging in online meetings?
  7. Name at least  three things you can do to gain new knowledge and exposure in your job.
  8. What can you do online to to meet people involved with your company?
  9. What advice does Dr. Umphress give to managers?
  10. How do you handle a boss who does not support your work?
  11. List 3  questions that you  would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Share questions as a class.

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.

ANSWER KEY

2021: Assessing Applicants Online Without Interviewers

“Video responses to set questions, online games that measure a person’s traits and skills: The future of interviews is coming to a wider variety of professions in the pandemic.” J. Weed, The New York Times, Nov. 27, 2020

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Image- Northeastern University

 

Excerpt: Job Interviews Without Interviewers, Products of the Pandemic, By Julie Weed, Nov. 27, 2020

“So much of our work lives has moved online during the pandemic: group meetings, chats with the boss — even interviewing for a new job. The pandemic has also led companies to conduct ‘interviews’ without an interviewer. Job applicants are being asked to video record answers to set questions about their experience, skills and personal qualities, rather than speaking with a recruiter by phone or video chat. So-called case questions that pose a business problem and would typically lead into a 30-minute conversation with a hiring manager may now require solely written responses. Online tests in the form of games aim to measure job-seekers’ cognitive and personal traits.

Image- The Addison Group

The new systems are used most often for high turnover hourly jobs like fast-food worker, phone representative or warehouse employee, said Madeline Laurano, founder of Aptitude Research, a firm based in Boston that studies business hiring practices. But the systems are beginning to be used more often for professional jobs, too, especially in the financial, consulting, technology and health industries, she said.

Recruiters who use the systems no longer have to spend large parts of their days in the back and forth of scheduling interviews — the software handles that.

Image- The Confident Career-Conquering Virtual Interviews

The company can evaluate more applicants by reviewing more videos, written responses and game results, less encumbered by interviewers’ schedule restrictions.

Hiring bias, too, can be reduced using the new technology, since each applicant is asked the same questions in the same way, making performances easier to compare objectively… The pandemic has accelerated the use of this technology. In February… 58 percent of businesses were using or considering using digital hiring systems, including ones with the ability for applicants to schedule their own appointments online and participate in video interviews, either with a recruiter or recorded.”

In Response to the Attack on Our Capitol By Cowards:

“My message to my fellow Americans and friends around the world following this week’s attack on the Capitol.” ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger~ January 6, 2021

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

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic. Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article.  Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming chart by UIE

 

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. Now there are online games that can measure a person’s traits.
  2. In the past, applicants spoke with a recruiter by phone.
  3. So-called case questions that pose a business problem would typically lead into a 30-minute conversation.
  4. Online tests in the form of games aim to measure job-seekers’ cognitive and personal traits.
  5. The new systems are used most often for high turnover hourly jobs.
  6. The company can evaluate more applicants by reviewing more videos.
  7. Hiring bias, too, can be reduced using the new technology.
  8. Some of the new systems can answer questions about benefits using chatbots.
  9. There are tools that can be used to test the programming acumen of software engineers.
  10. Technical snafus still happen.

 

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

  1. So much ___our work lives has moved online ____the pandemic.
  2. Job applicants are being asked ___video record answers ___set questions ___their experience.
  3. Recruiters who use the systems no longer have ___spend large parts ___their days ___the back and forth___scheduling interviews.
  4. Some ___the new systems can contact references, answer questions___ benefits using chatbots, and send along training modules ___newly hired employees.

Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. The new systems are used most often for high turnover hourly jobs like fast-food worker, phone representative or warehouse employee.”
  2. “The face-to-face interviews don’t really work that well because there is unconscious bias, and some people may not know how to do an interview well.”
  3. Sixty percent of the nearly five million interviews conducted so far this year using his company’s video recording software were completed after work hours.”
  4. It feels weird… With a person, she can receive cues on how things are going, like encouraging nods or requests for details.”
  5. They reduce bias in hiring because they evaluate personal qualities that applicants can possess without attending elite colleges or fitting into a preconceived image of what a ‘good’ candidate looks like.”

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. What is the purpose of online tests in the form of games?
  2. Which professional jobs are starting to use the new technology?
  3. Why are recruiters no longer required to conduct job interviews?
  4. How does a company evaluate applicants with this new process?
  5. How is hiring bias reduced  with the new  technology?
  6. When using video recorded interviews, what can an applicant do if they do not like the manner in which they answered a question?
  7. According to the article what a some of the problems that might occur with the new technology?
  8. According to Ms. Tobón which part of the recorded interview takes more practice? Why?
  9. What are some of the ways companies can reduce the stress on applicants making videos?
  10. After reading this article which do you prefer, online or in-person interviews? Explain why.
  11. What new information have you learned from this article?

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

 

In Silicone Valley: One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

“Three blocks from Mark Zuckerberg’s $10 million Tudor home in San Francisco, Jake Orta lives in a small, single-window studio apartment filled with trash.There’s a child’s pink bicycle helmet, a vacuum cleaner, a hair dryer and a coffee machine that Mr. Orta dug out from the garbage bin across the street from Mr. Zuckerberg’s house.” T. Fuller, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Jake Orta searched through a trash bin outside Mark Zuckerberg’s home in San Francisco.Credit Jim Wilson:The New York Times

Excerpt: In San Francisco, Making a Living From Your Billionaire Neighbor’s Trash by Thomas Fuller, NYT

“A military veteran who fell into homelessness and now lives in government subsidized housing, Mr. Orta is a full-time trash picker, part of an underground economy in San Francisco of people who work the sidewalks in front of multimillion-dollar homes, rummaging for things they can sell.

Trash picking is a profession more often associated with shantytowns and favelas than a city at the doorstep of Silicon Valley. The Global Alliance of Waste Pickers, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, counts more than 400 trash picking organizations across the globe, almost all of them in Latin America, Africa and southern Asia.

Mr. Orta is part of an underground economy of people who work the sidewalks in front of multimillion-dollar homes, rummaging for things they can sell.CreditJim Wilson:The New York Times

But trash scavengers exist in many United States cities and, like the rampant homelessness in San Francisco, are a signpost of the extremes of American capitalism. A snapshot from 2019: One of the world’s richest men and a trash picker, living a few minutes’ walk from each other. Mr. Orta, 56, sees himself as more of a treasure hunter.

‘It just amazes me what people throw away,’ he said one night, as he found a pair of gently used designer jeans, a new black cotton jacket, gray Nike running sneakers and a bicycle pump. ‘You never know what you will find.’ Mr. Orta says his goal is to earn around $30 to $40 a day from his discoveries, a survival income of around $300 a week.

It just amazes me what people throw away, Mr. Orta said. Credit Jim Wilson:The New York Times

Trash picking is illegal in California — once a bin is rolled out onto the sidewalk the contents are considered the possession of the trash collection company, according to Robert Reed, a spokesman for Recology, the company contracted to collect San Francisco’s garbage. But the law is rarely enforced.

Mr. Orta was born in San Antonio, Tex., one of 12 children. He spent more than a dozen years in the Air Force, loading aircraft during the Persian Gulf war of 1991 and was dispatched to Germany, Korea and Saudi Arabia. By the time he returned to the United States, his wife had left him, and he struggled with alcoholism and homelessness. He moved to San Francisco, and five years ago qualified for a program assisting chronically homeless veterans.

At dusk he leaves his apartment building, which is wedged between a popular brunch spot for tech workers and a cannabis shop in the heart of the Mission neighborhood. The smell of marijuana fills the vestibule. Walking up a steep hill lined with mature trees, he passes homes that could pass for works of art… A virtual tour of the neighborhood on the Zillow site shows that homes valued at $3 million and above are the norm.

But Mr. Orta doesn’t look at the architecture. He walks the streets, slightly stooped, his eyes on the ground and a flashlight in his back pocket. His friends call him the Finder.

On the six times Mr. Orta went out with a reporter, he followed a variety of circuits, but usually ended up exploring his favorite alleys and a dumpster that has been bountiful. (The first rule of dumpster scavenging, he said, is to make sure there’s no raccoon or possum in there.) In March, the dumpster yielded a box of silver goblets, dishes and plates, as if someone had yanked a tablecloth from underneath a feast in some European chateau…

Mr. Orta, right, selling some of the items he found. His goal is to earn around $30 to $40 a day from his discoveries.CreditJim Wilson:The New York Times

Mr. Orta’s other recent discoveries: phones, iPads, three wristwatches and bags of marijuana…For years San Francisco has been a global beacon of recycling, attracting a stream of government ministers, journalists and students from across the globe to study the sorting facilities of Recology.

But the city is also full of young, affluent people preoccupied with demanding jobs and long commutes for whom the garbage can is a tempting way to get rid of that extra pair of jeans or old electronics cluttering their closet…Trash pickers like Mr. Orta target items in the black landfill garbage bins whose contents would otherwise go to what’s known as the pit — a hole in the ground on the outskirts of the city that resembles a giant swimming pool, where trash is crushed and compacted by a huge bulldozer and then carried by a fleet of trucks to a dump an hour and a half away. The city exports about 50 large truckloads a day. Nick Marzano, an Australian photographer who publishes a glossy magazine, Mission Gold, which documents the world of trash pickers in San Francisco, estimates there are several hundred garbage scavengers in the city.

‘It’s a civic service as I see it,’ Mr. Marzano said. ‘Rather than this stuff going to landfill the items are being reused.’ ‘It’s the primary form of income for people who have no other income,’ he said. Mr. Orta sells what he retrieves at impromptu markets on Mission Street or at a more formal market on Saturdays on Julian Avenue.”

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. Zuckerberg lives in a $10 million Tudor home in San Francisco.
  2. He carried items home in a Whole Foods paper bag that  he retrieved from a bin.
  3. You can see people in front of multimillion-dollar homes, rummaging for things they can sell.
  4. Trash picking is a profession more often associated with shantytowns.
  5. Picking trash is also associated with favelas.
  6. But trash scavengers exist in many United States cities.
  7. After the Persian Gulf war, he was dispatched to Germany, Korea and Saudi Arabia.
  8. But he sees trash picking, and the spontaneous sidewalk markets that pop up in neighborhoods.
  9. It’s the primary form of income for people who have no other income.
  10. Mr. Orta sells what he retrieves at impromptu markets on Mission Street.

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,

Three blocks ___Mark Zuckerberg’s home ___San Francisco, Jake Orta lives ___a small apartment filled ___trash.

Orta is a military veteran who fell ___homelessness and now lives ___government subsidized housing.

Mr. Orta was born___ San Antonio, Texas, one ___12 children.

He spent more than a dozen years___ the Air Force, loading aircraft ___the Persian Gulf war of 1991.

 

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. Trash scavengers exist only in San Francisco.
  2. Mark Zuckerberg  lives in San Francisco.
  3. Jake Orta lives in a  large house.
  4. Zuckerberg has three kids.
  5. Jake Orta  is  millionaire.
  6. Trash picking is a profession more often associated with shantytowns and favelas.
  7. One night, Jake found a pair of designer jeans and gray Nike running sneakers.
  8. Mr. Orta’s goal is to earn around  $ 300 a day.
  9. Trash picking is  legal in California.
  10. Mr. Orta was born in San Antonio, Texas.

III. Post Reading Activities

Graphic Organizers: Finding The Main Idea

Directions:  Have students use this graphic organizer from Enchanted Learning  to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article.

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. The article states, “… “You’ve got more and more tech people here and this city is moving faster and faster. These people have short attention spans. Some discard items that ought to be repurposed through a thrift shop.”  Have you ever thought about the items that you throw out? Are there things that you might donate or give away to less fortunate people?
  2. Mr. Jake Orta is described as, A military veteran who fell into homelessness and now lives in government subsidized housing… a full-time trash picker…” How did Mr. Orta become homeless?
  3. What items did Mr. Orta find in Mark Zuckerberg’s trash?
  4. What is Mr. Orta’s monetary goal for each week?
  5. Mr. Orta states, “It just amazes me what people throw away.”  Why do you think he is amazed? In your opinion, why do some people throw away items that are still in good condition?
  6. Have you ever found a useful item in the trash? If so what was it?
  7. After reading this article, will you think carefully about your items before you throw them away? Explain your answer.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Economy, Social Issues

Boston Companies: Paying Employees to Learn English

“During most of his work week, Cesar Orantes dons a hair net, rubber gloves, and a white apron flecked with fish scales for his job in quality assurance at Stavis Seafoods, a wholesaler in Boston’s Seaport District. But for four hours each week, the Guatemalan native removes his protective gear, gathers with several of his co-workers in the company’s break room, and turns his attention to something very different: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and other fundamentals of English.” S. Pfeiffer, The Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Blount Team in Fall River, MA

Excerpt: Get paid to learn English? Some companies offer immigrant workers that very perk By Sacha  Pfeiffer Boston Globe

“The classes are free and held during the workday, and Orantes is paid his regular wage while sitting in the makeshift classroom. Stavis even gives him and his colleagues a bonus if they attend a certain number of classes. As Orantes improves his English language skills, he is also boosting his workplace performance, since the better he can communicate with customers and colleagues, the more effectively he can do his job.

Faced with a labor shortage in the robust Massachusetts economy — the state’s unemployment rate of 2.9 percent is the country’s second-lowest, along with North Dakota — employers are increasingly relying on immigrant workers, and a growing number of businesses are devoting resources to on-the-job English language instruction.

image- Cambridge English

At least 35 Massachusetts companies provide free English classes, according to a Globe tally. The training lets them retain promising employees, promote from within, and identify workers whose potential was previously hidden behind a language barrier.

Employers offering this benefit, which is often partially paid for by state grants, range from hospitals to manufacturing firms to food service companies. Some even schedule pre-dawn courses to accommodate overnight workers, who finish their shifts with an English class before clocking out for the day at 7 or 8 a.m.

‘If we hire somebody who doesn’t cut up the right seafood for an order because they can’t read the order form, that’s not good customer service,’  said Stuart Altman, a co-owner of Stavis Seafoods, which says at least 20 percent of its 133-person workforce are immigrants, mostly Latino and Asian. Currently, 18 of them are enrolled in the company’s English class.

By offering English instruction, errors are reduced, Altman said, and ‘this gives us an opportunity to train the next generation of middle managers, and puts them in a position to succeed the best they can.”

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 learning new vocabulary. 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. Many companies offer immigrant workers perks.
  2. Some places have makeshift classrooms.
  3. Workers can communicate with customers and colleagues.
  4. Massachusetts is faced with a labor shortage.
  5. Employers are increasingly relying on immigrant workers.
  6. Potential was previously hidden behind a language barrier.
  7. Many people are enrolled in the company’s English class.
  8. Many nonprofit organizations provide instructors.
  9. Requests for grant funding for English instruction is in demand.
  10. There is an economic benefit for employers.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: The following sentences are from the article. Choose the correct word for each blank space from the word list  or make up your own words.

The YMCA of ___Boston has ___English___at the Langham Hotel and at ___small businesses in Chelsea. Interest in English training is so ___that JVS has tripled the ___of classes it offers in ___years, from nine in 2009 to 27 this year, according to___development director Mandy Townsend.

WORD LIST: training, number, business, provided, Greater, recent,  robust, numerous,

Grammar Focus

Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article  and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.

For a review of Adjectives visit ESL Voices Grammar

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?

Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. “If employees aren’t comfortable speaking up and can’t make themselves understood, that prevents them from moving up and prevents the company from taking advantage of their expertise.”
  2. “Employees who are competent in English aren’t just better communicators; they also better understand workplace safety rules, and English proficiency makes them more digitally adept, since hospital and hotel workers who clean rooms, for example, must sometimes chart their progress on hand-held devices that require basic English literacy.”
  3. “…the classes [are] a huge investment from the company’s standpoint . . . because while they’re in class that’s a significant loss in productivity, so we end up having to pay overtime for other people to produce the work we need to produce.But offering classes during the workday increases attendance, he said, since some employees have second jobs and family responsibilities that prevent them from taking courses before or after work.”

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

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