Category Archives: Education

The Extraordinary Jane Goodall Still Going Strong At 80!

“During her girlhood, Tarzan was her role model. When she realized how chimpanzee habitats were being destroyed, she turned into a crusader. At 85, she’s still preaching: ‘One million species are in danger of extinction…Just think logically. This planet has finite natural resources. And in some places, we’ve used them up faster than Mother Nature can replenish them.  D. Gelles, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Jane Goodall with Motambo, an orphan at the JGI Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center. Courtesy: The Jane Goodall Institute

Excerpt: Jane Goodall Keeps Going, With a Lot of Hope (and a Bit of Whiskey) David Gelles, NYT

“Jane Goodall nursed a glass of neat Irish whiskey. It was the end of a long day of public appearances, and her voice was giving out. That’s what Ms. Goodall does these days. She talks. To anyone who will listen. To children, chief executives and politicians. Her message is always the same: The forests are disappearing. The animals are going quiet. We’re running out of time.

Dr. Jane Goodall. Photo-New York Times

Ms. Goodall, the celebrated primatologist, was in New York as part of her ongoing efforts to raise money for her institute and its affiliates. The nonprofit organization raises money for conservation efforts across Africa, and works with local communities to promote economic self-sufficiency and improve public health. It’s proven to be an effective model for preserving chimpanzee habitats, yet Ms. Goodall is worried it’s not working fast enough.

Her faltering voice was the result of arduous travel and relentless campaigning. Yet her energy didn’t flag. For more than an hour, Ms. Goodall, 85, spoke about her family history, her unconventional career path and how business leaders — and consumers — can make a difference.

The following interview [conducted by David Gelles] was condensed and edited for clarity.

Where’s home for you these days? Mostly hotels and airplanes. But I’ve got a home in England. It’s that house I grew up in. It belonged to my grandmother, she left it to her three daughters and they left it to me and my sister.

What did your parents do for work? My father was an engineer. As soon as World War II was declared, he joined up and went to build Bailey bridges in Burma. My mum looked after us.

What was your first job? My very first job was with my aunt who was a physiotherapist. She had a clinic, and I would go there and take down the notes when the doctors were examining her patients. I learned a lot there about how lucky I was to be born healthy. And I’m so glad I grew up in the war. Children today, they take everything for granted. We had two little squares of chocolate — that was our ration for a week. One egg.

When did you know you wanted to make working with chimpanzees your life’s work? I don’t know that I thought of it quite like that. There was no thought of becoming a scientist, because girls weren’t scientists like that in those days. And actually, there weren’t really any men going out there, living in the wild. So my model was Tarzan.

How did you make it happen against such long odds? When I dreamed of Africa, everybody laughed at me at school. How would I do that? We didn’t have money. Africa was far away. It was the Dark Continent in those days, and I was just a girl. But my mom said, ‘f you really want this, you’re going to have to work really hard.’

When you finally got into the field, how did you approach the work? I didn’t have any academic training, and so I didn’t have this reductionist way of thinking. But fortunately I just applied common sense. I knew that to find out about the chimps, I would have to get their trust. And that took months. They ran away. They’re very conservative.

Did working with chimps teach you anything about humans? That we’ve been very arrogant in thinking that we’re so separate. Chimps turned out to be, not only behaviorally so like us, but also biologically like us, sharing 98.6 percent of DNA, similarities in immune system, blood composition, anatomy of the brain. We’re not, after all, separate from the animal kingdom. We’re part of it.

Did becoming an activist come naturally to you? No, I was very shy. It happened because I helped organize this conference in 1986. The purpose was to find out if chimp behavior might differ in different environments, or is it so innately chimp that you find it everywhere. But we also had a session on conservation. And in all of these sites, forests were going, chimp numbers were dropping. It was the beginning of the bush meat trade, of chimpanzees caught and wire snares, losing hand and feet. Poachers shooting mothers to steal babies to sell as pets overseas, or training for circuses…After seeing that secretly filmed footage from a medical research lab, I couldn’t sleep. I went to the conference as a scientist, and I left as an activist.

What have you found to be some effective strategies to promote conservation? When we went to find out about the chimps’ problems in Gombe, Tanzania, we also learned about the suffering of the people — poverty, lack of health care and education…So we set up micro credit, based on the work of Muhammad Yunus…We started restoring fertility to the overused farmland, bringing in better health education and family planning information.

Now they love us, and they have agreed to put up a buffer zone between Gombe and the villages, and now they’re creating corridors for the Gombe isolated chimps to interact with other chimpanzee groups. And if you fly over Gombe today, there are no bare hills anymore.

Jane Goodall always travels with a stuffed animal named Mr. H to remind her of the indomitable human spirit.

What’s your message to business leaders today? How can it make sense if we carry on in the way we are now, with business as usual, to have unlimited economic development on a planet with finite natural resources, and a growing population?

But consumers, at least if they’re not living in poverty, have an enormous role to play, too. If you don’t like the way the business does its business, don’t buy their products.

This is beginning to create change. People should think about the consequences of the little choices they make each day.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Jane Goodall nursed a glass of neat Irish whiskey.
  2. Ms. Goodall is a  celebrated primatologist.
  3. Ms. Goodall was in New York as part of her ongoing efforts to raise money for her institute and its affiliates.
  4. Her institute is effective for preserving chimpanzee habitats.
  5. According to Ms. Goodall, one million species are in danger of extinction.
  6. Her faltering voice was the result of arduous travel and relentless campaigning.
  7. Ms. Goodall 85, spoke about her family history, her unconventional career.
  8. Her nonprofit organization works with local communities to promote economic self-sufficiency and improve public health.
  9. If any of the family doesn’t want to inherit the house, it can’t just be sold.
  10. Jane’s family used to get food parcels from Australia.

 

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. At 85, she’s still preach.
  2. It was the end of a long day of public appearances.
  3. Ms. Goodall talks to anyone who will listen.

II

  1. Her message is always the same: The forests are disappearing.
  2. Ms. Goodall is an celebrated primatologist.
  3. The nonprofit organization raises money for conservation efforts across Africa.

III

  1. One million species are in danger of extinction.
  2. Her faltering voice was the result of arduous travel.
  3. For more than an hour, Ms. Goodall spoke about her family history.

 

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. Jane Goodall is a primate.
  2. Ms. Goodall is  75 years old.
  3. She has a home in England.
  4. Jane’s father was an engineer during War II.
  5. Her mother served in the military.
  6. Jane has two  sisters.
  7. Her very first job was with an aunt who was a physiotherapist.
  8. Her uncle Rex, joined the air force and he was killed.
  9. Jane had a Masters in biology when she first began working with chimps.
  10. Some of the problems for the people  in Gombe, Tanzania, were poverty, lack of health care and education.

 

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Jane states, “I’m so glad I grew up in the war.” Explain why she made this statement.
  2. How did Jane’s uncle die?  What effect did this have on Jane’s mother? Why?
  3. According to the article someone told Jane the following, “If you really want this, you’re going to have to work really hard. Take advantage of every opportunity, and don’t give up.” Who said this and why?
  4. According to Dr. Goodall, what did her work with chimps teach her about humans?
  5. Why did Jane’s mother send her to live with a German family? Do you think that Jane learned a lesson  from this experience? What?
  6. Would you like to be a primatologist? Please explain why or why not? 
  7. Describe how your country is (or is not) helping to conserve wild life and forests.
  8. List 3  questions that you would like to ask Dr. Goodall. Share the questions with the class.

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

“Pre-K Teachers Are Making House Calls and Helping Kids Succeed.”

“In more than 700 communities across the country, teachers are supporting students of all ages — and their parents — outside the classroom. Even for the youngest children, the benefits can be profound.” C. Caron & K. Zoepf, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Yumna al-Kashto, 4, receiving gifts during an introductory visit with her pre-K teachers at her home in Baltimore ahead of the school year. NYT

Excerpt: ByChristina Caron and Katherine Zoepf- The New York Times

“Yumna al-Kashto is only 4, but she’s already had to adapt to lots of changes in her life. She was born in Antakya, Turkey, after intense fighting forced her parents and four older siblings to flee their home in Idlib, the Syrian opposition stronghold.

In December 2015, when Yumna was only 4 months old, her family resettled in Baltimore. And in July, on the day before her fourth birthday, her mother gave birth to her newest sibling.

On the day the baby came home, Zoe Hardy and Latanya Scott, Yumna’s assigned pre-K teachers at Moravia Park Elementary School, were there, too. Their goal? To develop a rapport with Yumna and her family before the school year officially began.

‘This is for you,’ Ms. Hardy told Yumna with a smile, placing a large box decorated with pictures of teddy bears onto the table. The box, provided by a local nonprofit, contained children’s books, pajamas and other items aimed at supporting a back-to-school evening routine.

‘We like to get to know the family, let the family get to know us,’ Ms. Hardy told Yumna’s parents. ‘That way we can all make sure Yumna is safe and she’s getting what she needs.’

The Moravia Judy Center, which runs early childhood programs at Moravia Park Elementary School, started its home visiting program for pre-K and kindergarten students in 2016, sending pairs of teachers into students’ homes in an effort to build mutually supportive relationships with their families, most of whom are poor enough to qualify for public assistance…

The overall concept of home visits isn’t new — they are a requirement of Head Start, a free pre-K program for disadvantaged children, and are also common at Montessori schools and various community programs. But the Parent-Teacher nonprofit’s model takes a unique approach.

With its method, teachers and school staff travel in pairs to visit a family at least once — either at home or in a neutral public setting like a park — usually ahead of the school year. The teachers arrive prepared to listen: They do not take notes, fill out paperwork or lecture. Instead, they want to know about the family’s hopes and dreams for their child, and connect with their soon-to-be student in a nonschool setting.

The visits, which typically last about 30 minutes, are not mandatory for the teachers or the parents. The teachers, who are paid for their visits, are encouraged to meet all their incoming students or a cross-section of their class: Targeting certain families is discouraged because it can lead to stigma.

Studies have found that these types of home visits can have numerous benefits for students, including improvements in attendance and reading assessments. Families who participate also tend to become more involved in their children’s education.

‘If a family feels secure when their children come into prekindergarten or kindergarten,’ Ms. Matthews said, these conversations can help shape positive attitudes toward school for years to come…While the home visit model appears to be a straightforward way to build engagement, reduce absenteeism and improve certain academic measures, the simplicity of the program means it can sometimes be overlooked by decision-makers, said Ms. Vanhoy, whose organization trains Dallas I.S.D. teachers to perform home visits.

Some school district leaders and policymakers assume ‘that can’t be the answer because that’s too simple,’Ms. Vanhoy said. ‘So you go after the more complicated research, or new curriculum, or new this or new that.’

Teachers are usually paid for each visit, but the amount they receive and the way those payments are funded varies considerably…Without Title I funding, schools sometimes must rely on a patchwork of grants, state funding or other types of federal funding to pay for the visits…Sometimes parents are wary of home visits, especially if they’ve had negative experiences with schools in the past…It’s effective to introduce home visits during early childhood, she added, as a child’s formal education begins…At the Kashto home in Baltimore, Yumna, who had hidden her face in her 8-year-old sister’s arm upon her teachers’ arrival, became less reserved as the visit progressed.”

Related Articles:

What to Know About Montessori Preschools: They’re popular, but how do they differ from conventional nursery schools? By M. Wenner Moyer, NYT

“The first time I walked into a Montessori preschool classroom six years ago, I thought to myself, what is this sorcery? The materials were beautiful but unfamiliar; the room seemed eerily calm considering it held so many 3-year-olds; and the terms the teachers used were new and confusing to me. They’re not lessons or activities, they’re “work”; and what, pray tell, was that pink tower thing everyone kept talking about?” M. Wenner Moyer

How to Tackle Tough [Preschool]Drop-Offs: Expert tips on how to disentangle from your little clingers swiftly and kindly. By J. Grose, New York Times

“We will send our younger gal off to school for the first time in a few weeks, and I’m bracing myself for another common issue during school transitions — rough drop-offs. I remember leaving her older sister at preschool for the first time and feeling smugly confident about the fact that she didn’t cry when we left…Turns out, she didn’t cry because she thought preschool was a one-time thing.”J. Grose

 

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 Exercise

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Yumna al-Kashto has four older siblings.
  2. She’s already had to adapt to lots of changes in her life.
  3. The teachers wanted o develop a rapport with Yumna and her family.
  4. The school box was provided by a local nonprofit.
  5. Schools want to build mutually supportive relationships with the families.
  6. The visits are modeled after a method that was devised more than two decades ago.
  7. The Parent-Teacher nonprofit’s model takes a unique approach.
  8. The visits  are not mandatory for the teachers or the parents.
  9. Targeting certain families is discouraged because it can lead to stigma.
  10. The program can be implemented for students through grade 12.

 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. We like to get to know the family.
  2. The box contain children’s books.
  3. We can all make sure children are safe.

II

  1. Many  schools have early childhood programs.
  2. The idea is to build trust between teachers and students.
  3. Most of the families are poor enough to qualify for public assistance.

III

  1. Studies have found that these home visits have numerous benefits for students.
  2. Teachers are usually pay for each visit.
  3. Some parents are wary of home visits, especially if they’ve had negative experiences.

 

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.

Most of the home___across the ___are funded by Title I, a federal ___program for the country’s ___schools, she said. Without Title I funding, schools sometimes must rely on a ___of grants, state ___or other types of federal funding to pay for the visits.

WORD LIST: funding, patchwork, poorest,  antipoverty, visits,  nation,

III Post Reading

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Are there pre-schools in your country?
  2. Have you ever taught pre-school? If yes, for how long?
  3. Did you ever visit any of your students at their homes? Why? Describe the visits.
  4. Where  did the overall concept of home visits actually begin?
  5. According to the article what are the  benefits of home visits by pre-school teachers?
  6. What are some of the problems the program faces?
  7. In your own words explain why this is (or is not) a good program. Especially from the view of new children in the U.S. for the first time.

Additional Activity: Identify Speakers from the Article

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

“We like to get to know the family, let the family get to know us…”

“…home visits have built trust among the school’s large population of refugee families…”

“… 72 percent reported that attendance had increased either somewhat or greatly as a result of the home visits…”

“Typically that is one of the first questions that we get: How do we pay for this?” 

“Too often the communication that happens face-to-face, on the phone, in a visit is to talk about something that’s wrong. Your child’s not making progress, or your child has a behavior problem…”

 

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

The Dangers of Pursuing Perfect Grades

“If you always succeed in school, you’re not setting yourself up for success in life.” A. Grant, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

credit- Linda Huang, NYT

 

Excerpt: What Straight -A Students Get Wrong, Adam Grant, The NYT

“A decade ago, at the end of my first semester teaching at Wharton, a student stopped by for office hours. He sat down and burst into tears. My mind

started cycling through a list of events that could make a college junior cry: His girlfriend had dumped him; he had been accused of plagiarism. ‘I just got my first A-minus,’ he said, his voice shaking.

Image- gigazine.net

Year after year, I watch in dismay as students obsess over getting straight A’s. Some sacrifice their health; a few have even tried to sue their school after falling short. All have joined the cult of perfectionism out of a conviction that top marks are a ticket to elite graduate schools and lucrative job offers.

 I was one of them. I started college with the goal of graduating with a 4.0. It would be a reflection of my brainpower and willpower, revealing that I had the right stuff to succeed.  But I was wrong.

The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their  performance. (Of course, it must be said that if you got D’s, you probably didn’t end up at Google.)

image Gigazine.net

Academic grades rarely assess qualities like creativity, leadership and teamwork skills, or social, emotional and political intelligence. Yes, straight-A students master cramming information and regurgitating it on exams. But career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem — it’s more about finding the right problem to solve.

In a classic 1962 study, a team of psychologists tracked down America’s most creative architects and compared them with their technically skilled but less original peers. One of the factors that distinguished the creative architects was a record of spiky grades. ‘In college our creative architects earned about a B average,’ Donald MacKinnon wrote. ‘In work and courses which caught their interest they could turn in an A performance, but in courses that failed to strike their imagination, they were quite willing to do no work at all.’ They paid attention to their curiosity and prioritized activities that they found intrinsically motivating — which ultimately served them well in their careers…This might explain why Steve Jobs finished high school with a 2.65 G.P.A., J.K. Rowling graduated from the University of Exeter with roughly a C average, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. got only one A in his four years at Morehouse… So universities: Make it easier for students to take some intellectual risks. Graduate schools can be clear that they don’t care about the difference between a 3.7 and a 3.9…And why not let students wait until the end of the semester to declare a class pass-fail, instead of forcing them to decide in the first month?

Employers: Make it clear you value skills over straight A’s…Straight-A students: Recognize that underachieving in school can prepare you to overachieve in life. So maybe it’s time to apply your grit to a new goal — getting at least one B before you graduate.

 

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. My mind started cycling through a list of events.
  2. He had been accused of plagiarism.
  3. Year after year, I watch in dismay as students obsess over getting straight A’s.
  4. Some sacrifice their health.
  5. All have joined the cult of perfectionism.
  6. They think that top marks are a ticket to elite graduate schools.
  7. Academic grades rarely assess qualities like creativity.
  8. You should be willing to tolerate the occasional B.
  9. Some recruiters  actively selected against students with high G.P.A.s
  10. Underachieving in school can prepare you to overachieve in life. 

 

Grammar Focus: English Pronouns

Directions:  Students are to choose the correct SUBJECT pronoun to complete the sentences.  They are to choose from the options presented.

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

A student came to the office and ___began crying.

___just got my first A-minus,” ___said.

___watched in dismay.

Grades are a reflection of my brainpower and ___had the right stuff.

Many Students say all ___want are top marks and a ticket to elite graduate schools.

As teachers ___need to make it easier for students to take some intellectual risks.

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.

Looking back, I don’t wish my ___had been___. If I could do it over again, I’d___less. The hours I wasted ___the inner workings of the___ would have been better spent trying out___ comedy and having more___ about the meaning of life.

WORD LIST: conversations, memorizing, grades, improv, eye,  higher, study,

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: 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. Do you strive to get the best grades?   At times do you feel pressured to make good grades? Explain your answer.
  2. Will strong grades lead  you to success in work and life? Explain why or why not.
  3. Are there skills that you posses that are not  reflected in your overall grades? What are they?
  4. In your opinion, is there too much emphasis placed on getting the best grades?
  5. In your opinion can you succeed  in life without excellent grades? Provide some examples.
  6. What are some downsides in pursing straight A’s? 

ANSWER KEY

Category: Education

Robotic Duck Helps Kids Battling Cancer

“Children battling cancer can’t always express their feelings. Now a robotic duck is doing it for them.” P. Holley, The Washington Post

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Savi Abdallah-Sinha, a 4-year-old battling leukemia, interacts with a robotic duck (Peter Holley:The Washington Post)

Robotic Duck Help Children  By Peter Holley, The Washington Post   

It was hard enough that Savi Abdallah-Sinha was only two years old when he began undergoing chemotherapy treatment to rid his body of leukemia. What made his situation even more difficult, his parents say, was knowing that the little boy was so young he lacked the words to communicate the many varieties of acute pain he was experiencing. Each time a new drug was introduced or a round of treatment completed, the boy’s inner world remained largely mysterious to the adults caring for him. 

This adorable robot duck helps kids cope with cancer treatments. Mashable

‘He couldn’t even say, ‘Why am I taking this medication?’ his father, Rachid Abdallah, said from a family room inside Children’s National Health System in Washington D.C., recalling the first months after his son’s chemotherapy began. ‘At the same time, we didn’t have the words to give him answers or explain to him what was making him sick.’ Nearly a year ago — as Savi’s own understanding of his illness was just beginning to come into focus — the Washington D.C. family received a new tool to help them communicate through the fog of cancer: a quacking robotic duck resembling a soft stuffed animal.

My Special Aflac Duck. Broadchannel

A partnership between the insurance company Aflac, whose company mascot is a duck, and the robotics toy company Sproutel, the social robot, known as My Special Aflac Duck uses a series of touch sensors that enable the device to respond to the person interacting with it. Merging play with tools that help doctors do their jobs, the robot — which has four patents pending — can turn it’s neck, nuzzle, open it’s beak and emit sounds and vibrations. When doctors need a patient to breathe in a rhythmic pattern, the duck can emit a series of pulses, designed to mimic a heartbeat, that can help to calm a child and guide their breathing.

Aaron Horowitz, co-founder and CEO of Sproutel. People

When doctors administer medication to their patients, a toy syringe can be attached to the robot that allows a child to mimic giving the duck medication as well. Aflac, which introduced a quacking duck in its commercials nearly two decades ago, has donated just over 4,000 of the robotic ducks to nearly 200 hospitals across the country.

Though the duck is designed to be a companion for children battling illness, hospital workers say it also gives children a way to express their emotions when their words are not readily available.

The robot includes multiple plastic emoji discs, each representing a different emotion. When a disc is placed against the duck’s chest, the robot acts out the emotion, unleashing happy chirps or uneasy moans. Abdallah calls the robot a ‘great translator.’

Now four, his son is able to express how he’s feeling with much more precision, offering his parents small details that were unavailable to them when he was younger (Savi is in his final phase — and the least intensive — of his 3-year chemotherapy plan, doctors say).”

Another Great Story:

“A young girl was afraid of IVs. So she invented a teddy bear to disguise them [Medi Teddy].” https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/13/health/iv-teddy-bear-medi-teddy-trnd/index.html

Medi Teddy is designed to conceal a bag of IV fluid, medication, or blood product from the patient.

MEDI TEDDY Website for Donations: “Donations received through this site are for the purpose of donating Medi Teddys to children from all over the world who are requesting them.  Thank you for your generosity!” https://www.medi-teddy.org

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. Savi Abdallah was only two years old when he began undergoing chemotherapy.
  2. The little boy was so young he lacked the words to communicate.
  3. There were many varieties of acute pain he was experiencing.
  4. Aflac is a quacking robotic duck.
  5. The insurance company Aflac, had a partnership with robotics toy company Sproutel.
  6. Merging play with tools help doctors do their jobs.
  7. The duck can emit a series of pulses, designed to mimic a heartbeat.
  8. Aflac introduced a quacking duck in its commercials nearly two decades ago.
  9. It can be therapeutic to educate a child.
  10. Now four, his son is able to express how he’s feeling with much more precision.

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.

It can/was be therapeutic too/to educate a/an child or its/it can just be/bee therapeutic of/for them/they to play with an/a duck and knot/not even talk/talks about the medical aspect of/for things.

Reading Comprehension Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

To ___with the painful___of___, children often___ to develop ___strategies that either give them a sense of control in an ___environment or ___them during moments of___stress, experts say.

WORD LIST: pricks, uncertain,extreme,syringes,coping, deal, need,distract,

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 this a good solution to help kids communicate with doctors? 
  2. Have you or anyone you know ever used an Aflac duck to help a child?
  3. Can you think of any improvements for the Aflac duck?
  4. Can you see any negative aspects to the Aflac duck? If yes, please explain.
  5. List 3 questions you would like to ask anyone mentioned in the article.  Share your questions with the class.

 

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

Category: Education, Health Issues | Tags:

The Elementary School Where Students Cope With Parents’ Addiction

“About half of the student body at one Ohio elementary school has witnessed drug use at home. Educators spend time every day teaching the children how to cope.” D. Levin, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Students at Minford are encouraged to pick a color that represents an emotion Credi A. Schukar for The NYT

Excerpt: Inside the Elementary School Where Drug Addiction Sets the Curriculum — By Dan Levin, The New York Times

“Inside an elementary school classroom decorated with colorful floor mats, art supplies and building blocks, a little boy named Riley talked quietly with a teacher about how he had watched his mother take ‘knockout pills’ and had seen his father shoot up ‘a thousand times.’

Riley, who is 9 years old, described how he had often been left alone to care for his baby brother while his parents were somewhere else getting high. Beginning when he was about 5, he would heat up meals of fries, chicken nuggets and spaghetti rings in the microwave for himself and his brother, he said. ‘That was all I knew how to make,’ Riley said.

Riley — who is in foster care and who officials asked not be fully identified because of his age — is among hundreds of students enrolled in the local school district who have witnessed drug use at home.  Like many of his classmates at Minford Elementary School, Riley struggles with behavioral and psychological problems that make it difficult to focus, school officials said, let alone absorb lessons.

The school offers clothing, including shoes, to its students. Credit A. Schukar for The NYT

‘If you’re worried about your parents getting arrested last night, you can’t retain information,’ said Kendra Rase Cram, a teacher at Minford Elementary who was hired this past academic year to teach students how to cope with trauma.  Over the past nine months, she led several classes a day, and met every week in one-on-one sessions with up to 20 students who have experienced significant trauma.

Indeed, the classroom is becoming the battleground in the war against drug addiction where the next generation will be saved or lost in Ohio, which in 2017 had the second highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the country… Minford Elementary is not like typical schools. At this small campus in rural southern Ohio, there is a dedicated sensory room stocked with weighted blankets, chewable toys and exercise balls. Children who were born dependent on drugs, as well as others with special needs, can take time to jump on a trampoline or calm down in a play tunnel, sometimes several times each day…In this county, long considered ground zero in Ohio’s opioid epidemic, nearly 9.7 million pills were prescribed in 2010 — enough to give 123 to each resident, the highest rate in the state, according to official statistics. Over the years, as opioid prescriptions have fallen, many drug users have moved on to heroin and fentanyl.

In Scioto County, nearly 9.7 million pills were prescribed in 2010 —Credit A. Schukar for The NYT

In Minford, the town’s school district is in many ways on the front lines of the crisis, the effects of which began appearing in classrooms about a decade ago, said Marin Applegate, a psychologist for the Minford school district. 

‘My preschool teachers just started screaming, ‘We have these kids, their behavior is off the wall and none of the traditional measures are working,’ said Ms. Applegate, who at the time worked with the state’s Department of Education. As drug users shifted from painkillers to heroin, and then to fentanyl, the county’s schools struggled to handle the fallout from parental addiction and abject poverty… Students at Minford Elementary have endured a range of abuse and neglect, county and school officials said. Some children have worn the same clothes for several consecutive days, and some have arrived on campus covered in bedbug bites. Parents have shown up after school high on heroin, school officials said, or have forgotten to pick up their children at all. In play-therapy sessions, some young students have drawn pictures of people cooking meth.

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Riley told a teacher how he had watched his mother take ‘knockout pills‘.
  2. He had seen his father ‘shoot up‘ a thousand times.
  3. Riley who is 9 years old is in foster care.
  4. Kendra teaches children how to cope with trauma.
  5. Minford Elementary has  a drug prevention curriculum.
  6. There are exercises to teach students how to cope with the consequences of an opioid epidemic.
  7. Four kindergartners lost parents to fatal overdoses.
  8. There is a sensory room stocked with weighted blankets, and exercise balls.
  9. Children can also jump on a trampoline to calm down.
  10. The roads leading to Minford, in Scioto County, wind past picturesque horse farms.

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.

Riley has/have fallen/fell in love on/with reading, and especially loves/love the/a Harry Potter books. He say/said he can relate to/at the boy wizard who have/had a tough childhood. ‘We’re/Were similar,’ he said. ‘It made myself/me happy that Harry knows/know how it feels.’

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 elementary school is located in New York City.
  2. Riley, is 9 years old and described how he had to care for his baby brother.
  3. According to the article Riley lives on his own.
  4. Last academic year, four kindergartners won prizes for spelling.
  5. Minford Elementary has a sensory room stocked with weighted blankets, chewable toys.
  6. In 2017  Boston had the second highest rate of opioid overdose deaths in the country.
  7. Kendra Rase Cram is  a teacher at Minford Elementary.
  8. Mike DeWine is another teacher at the school.
  9. At the school, children can take time to jump on a trampoline or calm down in a play tunnel.
  10. As a way to help the children express their feelings, each child picks a color that symbolizes an emotion.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve seen your parents getting high? What was your reaction?
  2. Have you ever been in a situation where you were tempted to take drugs?
  3. Why do you think parents get high in the first place? (e.g., for recreation, stress etc.)
  4. In your opinion, should parents who are addicted to drugs have their children taken away?  Please explain why or why not?
  5. When you have children, what will you tell them about the drugs? If you have children, do you speak to them about drug use? What do you tell them?
  6. The teachers at this school and others like it are doing a wonderful job of helping the children. Can you think of  additional ways to help both parents and children in theses situations?

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

Category: Education | Tags: ,