Category Archives: Education

The New Way to “Bully-Proof Your Child”

“When my 10-year-old daughter was shunned by her friends a few years ago, we tried a surprisingly effective anti-bullying strategy.” E. Erasmus, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

book by izzy

Excerpt:How to Bullyproof Your Child, Estelle Erasmus, The New York Times

“The trouble started during a play date when three little girls battled over who would wear the one sparkly gown for dress-up. It ended up my daughter’s prize, infuriating one of the girls who told the rest not to play with her. My daughter defended herself, crying, as the other girls continued to taunt her.

Searching for answers, I came upon the work of Izzy Kalman, a school psychologist, educator and author of Bullies to Buddies: How to Turn Your Enemies Into Friends. His concept of the golden rule is to treat the person insulting you as a friend rather than an enemy, and not to get defensive or upset.

Following his online advice, I told my daughter: ‘If they say they don’t want to play with you, say very politely, ‘It’s a free country. It’s O.K. if you don’t want to play with me.’ Then find something else to do.’

It seemed like a lot to ask of a child who was already upset. But we role-played until she had the script down. The next time someone tried to shun her, she didn’t act offended, and the other children saw her as less of a target and moved on. Eventually, the friendships resumed with minimal emotional collateral damage.

Mr. Kalman’s strategydiffers from the approach favored by many schools in several ways: It avoids labeling a child as a bully (it’s an insult, like ‘wimp’ or ‘loser’), but also advocates going to adults for advice or help with role playing. His method encourages kids to solve problems on their own rather than asking an adult to put pressure on the school to take the side of the upset child over the one identified as the ‘bully.’

‘Nobody can guarantee their children a life without difficulties. If you protect your children from the social challenges of life, it weakens them,’ he said…

‘The way to reduce bullying is to not punish kids for exercising their freedom of speech,’ Mr. Kalman said. Teaching children that everyone is allowed to speak freely removes much of the power of the bullying and enables children to be their own advocates…

But many anti-bullying experts think Mr. Kalman’s scripts oversimplify things and call on a child who is likely to be upset to show outsize maturity and restraint.

Barbara Coloroso, author of ‘The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander,’ said: ‘t’s a short walk from hateful rhetoric, to hate crimes to crimes against humanity. Bullying is neither normal, natural or necessary. It is a learned behavior. The bullies must be stopped.’

Of course, Mr. Kalman’s strategies are likely to be most effective if they are used to shut down teasing as soon as it starts. Some bullying situations are so overwhelming that a child feels unable to resolve the conflict alone, and needs to call in adults.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. The trouble started when little girls battled over one sparkly gown for dress-up.
  2. My daughter’s prize, infuriated one of the girls.
  3. My daughter defended herself.
  4. The other girls continued to taunt her.
  5. I came upon the work of Izzy Kalman, a school psychologist.
  6. His concept of the golden rule is to treat the person insulting you as a friend.
  7. We role-played until she had the script down.
  8. The friendships resumed with minimal emotional collateral damage.
  9. Mr. Kalman’s strategy avoids labeling a child as a bully.
  10. Of course, if a child is physically attacked, he deems that a crime and endorses calling for adult intervention.

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

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

I

  1. The trouble started during a play date.
  2. He also teaches children how to handle threats.
  3. If a child are physically attacked call for adult intervention.

II

  1. Izzy’s concept of the golden rule are to treat the person insulting you as a friend.
  2. It’s O.K. if you don’t want to play with me.
  3. It seemed like a lot to ask of a child who was already upset.

III

  1. He also teaches children how to handle threats.
  2. If someone are committing a crime against you, go to the authorities.
  3. Nobody can guarantee their children a life without difficulties.

Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins

Mr. Kalman ___that when we ___kids for using certain ___ it ___them that words are very harmful. And when an ___punishes a child for saying something___, it ___hostilities and takes the ___for fixing the___ out of the child’s hands.

WORD LIST: teaches,explained,magnifies, punish, issue,solution, hurtful, magnifies,adult, words

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Have you or someone you know ever been bullied?  When? How did you (or your friend) handle the situation?
  2. What is Mr. Kalman’s concept of the golden rule? Do you agree with this rule?
  3. In what ways does Mr. Kalman’s Strategy differ from other approaches?
  4. In what situation does Mr. Kalman advise a child to call for adult  help?
  5. Barbara Coloroso, author of The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander, said: …“Bullying is neither normal, natural or necessary. It is a learned behavior. The bullies must be stopped.” Do you believe that bullying is a learned behavior? If so, where would children learn this behavior?

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

Category: Culture, Education, Social Issues | Tags:

Wearing Their Hearts on Their Graduation Caps

“Members of the class of 2019 share the inspiration behind their decorated mortarboards.” L. Moore, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Wearing Their Hearts on Their Graduation Caps By Lela Moore, The New York Times

“Decorating one’s graduation cap has become a way for many students to express themselves on their big day, but often the meaning behind their artwork can be hard to decipher. We asked readers graduating this year to tell us the stories behind their mortarboards.Here’s a selection; their comments have been edited and condensed for clarity.”

Credit Shefa Ahsan

Shefa Ahsan, from Lanham, Md., graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia with a B.A. in film and media arts:

“Throughout my years of being a resident assistant, students have told me that they don’t want to live anymore. While I can’t see my cap when I wear it, everyone else can. And I want, need, everyone to know that each and every one of them has a purpose on this earth. That each and every one of them matters.”

Credit Stephanie Fisher

Stephanie Fisher, Salem, Ore., graduated from Western Governors University in Salt Lake City with a B.A. in elementary education.

“I had the students in the kindergarten and first-grade class I worked in as a student teacher write their name on a petal that I turned into a giant flower. I wanted to take a small part of them with me to graduation, as I don’t graduate locally. The center daisy is in honor of my aunt Cathy, who died from cancer. Daisies were her favorite flowers.”

Credit Peta-Gaye Dixon

Peta-Gaye Dixon, from New York, graduated from Brooklyn College with a B.A. in childhood education.

“I immigrated to the United States from Jamaica five years ago, away from my family there. I had to work two or more jobs to survive, but I stayed in school full time and was on the dean’s list every semester. The quote says, ‘If yuh waan good yuh nose haffi run,’ which means that if you want to succeed, you must work hard.”

Credit Rachel Lucyanna

Rebecca Olsen, from Atlanta, graduated from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., with a B.A. in English and religious studies.

“My quote, from Morgan Harper Nichols, a Christian poet, is about remembering both mountains and valleys because so many mountains and valleys brought me to graduation. God has used every high and every low to teach me something important, and I wanted to remember that when I graduated.”

Credit Julie Lam

Julie Lam from New York, graduated from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., with an M.F.A. in creative writing for fiction.

“There’s so much more to what is underneath these words, coming from an immigrant who grew up in Hong Kong, having witnessed the horror of Cultural Revolution through her family’s eyes in China and the Tiananmen Square massacre as a college student… Walking through the crowd, in the sea of black gowns and hats, I wanted my words in blue to shine through the red and white stripes and show the world my loyalty and love for America…”

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

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.

G. Cluster Brainstorming-workshopexercises

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 graduating college students are now decorating their mortarboards.
  2. A first-generation college student bucked family pressure.
  3. Another student chose a quotation from a Christian poet.
  4. The meaning behind their artwork can be hard to decipher.
  5. Their comments have been edited for clarity.
  6. One student immigrated to the United States from Jamaica.
  7. Some graduates find joy among enthusiastic and open-minded people.
  8. One student wanted the cap to represent their vibrant culture.
  9. Students are concerned about the future of journalism.
  10. One graduate decided to incorporate their family and history onto the cap.

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.

I’m/Im a first-generation colleges/college student, so the pressure/pressured to pursue a safe major was/were on from the start of college. Study/Studying art history was a bet that I’m/I’d get the most out of college engaging/engage with something I truly loved, and one that I’m happy to say paid/pay off.

 

Reading ComprehensionFill-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.

Canoe ___has been a lifelong ___of mine and it has ___me so many important life lessons. You cannot always ___easily ___in life; sometimes you have to ___hard and ___upriver ___the current, but that is what makes the ___worthwhile.

WORD LIST: adventure, downstream, work, paddle, passion, against, float, tripping, taught,

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Do you think this is a good idea for college graduates? Explain why or why not.
  2. In your school (or country) are students allowed to decorate their mortarboards?
  3. In the comments section one reader had this criticism,Am I the only curmudgeon left who believes that this indecorous and self-indulgent ornamentation is an insult to a solemn thousand-year-old ceremony, as well as to the professors who taught and the families who raised these students? here were a handful of these at my undergrad commencement in 1991, generally worn by students who thought they were better than everyone else, and who wanted to display that fact as loudly as possible.” How would you respond to this person?
  4. After viewing each photo  choose one or two and write a paragraph sharing your thoughts on the mortarboard decorations.
  5. List 3  questions you would like to ask any person mentioned in the article.  Share your questions as a 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.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Education | Tags:

Relearning How To Teach Reading…The Correct Way

“Jack Silva didn’t know anything about how children learn to read. What he did know is that a lot of students in his district were struggling. Silva is the chief academic officer for Bethlehem, Pa., public schools. In 2015, only 56 percent of third-graders were scoring proficient on the state reading test. That year, he set out to do something about that.” E. Hanford, NPR

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- LA Johnson:NPR

Excerpt: Why Millions Of Kids Can’t Read And What Better Teaching Can Do About It, Emily  Hanford,  NPR

“Bethlehem is not an outlier. Across the country, millions of kids are struggling. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 32 percent of fourth-graders and 24 percent of eighth-graders aren’t reading at a basic level. Fewer than 40 percent are proficient or advanced.

One excuse that educators have long offered to explain poor reading performance is poverty. In Bethlehem, a small city in Eastern Pennsylvania that was once a booming steel town, there are plenty of poor families. But there are fancy homes in Bethlehem, too, and when Silva examined the reading scores he saw that many students at the wealthier schools weren’t reading very well either.

Silva didn’t know what to do. To begin with, he didn’t know how students in his district were being taught to read. So, he assigned his new director of literacy, Kim Harper, to find out.Harper attended a professional-development day at one of the district’s lowest-performing elementary schools. The teachers were talking about how students should attack words in a story. When a child came to a word she didn’t know, the teacher would tell her to look at the picture and guess.The most important thing was for the child to understand the meaning of the story, not the exact words on the page.

Traci Millheim tries out a new lesson with her kindergarten class at Lincoln Elementary in Bethlehem, Pa.Emily Hanford:APM Reports

So, if a kid came to the word “horse” and said ‘house,’ the teacher would say, that’s wrong. But, Harper recalls, ‘if the kid said ‘pony,’ it’d be right because pony and horse mean the same thing.’ Harper was shocked. First of all, pony and horse don’t mean the same thing. And what does a kid do when there aren’t any pictures?

This advice to a beginning reader is based on an influential theory about reading that basically says people use things like context and visual clues to read words. The theory assumes learning to read is a natural process and that with enough exposure to text, kids will figure out how words work. 

Credit: Barnes and Noble

Yet scientists from around the world have done thousands of studies on how people learn to read and have concluded that theory is wrong. One big takeaway from all that research is that reading is not natural; we are not wired to read from birth. People become skilled readers by learning that written text is a code for speech sounds. The primary task for a beginning reader is to crack the code. Even skilled readers rely on decodingMichelle Bosak, who teaches English as a second language in Bethlehem, said that when she was in college learning to be a teacher, she was taught almost nothing about how kids learn to read…Bosak was among the first group of teachers in Bethlehem to attend the new, science-based classes, which were presented as a series over the course of a year. For many teachers, the classes were as much about unlearning old ideas about reading — like that contextual-guessing idea — as they were about learning new things.”

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Extra: Something Very Nice To Watch:

How A Palestinian Teacher Greets Her Students!

 

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 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. Bethlehem is not an outlier.
  2. Fewer than 40 percent are proficient or advanced.
  3. Kim Harper was the new director of literacy.
  4. This advice to a beginning reader is based on an influential theory.
  5. This guessing approach is enshrined in materials and handbooks used by teachers.
  6. Even skilled readers rely on decoding. 
  7. This contextual guessing approach is enshrined in materials.
  8. The child was prompted to sound out the entire word.
  9. The children are successful and happy.
  10. The main goal was to expose kids to lots of text and get them excited about reading

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

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

I

  1. Bethlehem is not and outlier.
  2. There are fancy homes in Bethlehem.
  3. The theory is wrong.

II

  1. Harper attended an professional-development day.
  2. The teachers were talking about how students should attack words in a story.
  3. Pony and horse don’t mean the same thing.

III

  1. The theory assumes learning to read is a natural process.
  2. Even skilled readers  rely on decoding.   
  3. This was an class on the science of reading.

 

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. Jack Silva is the chief academic officer  for  Bronx, New York, public schools.
  2. Silva didn’t know anything about how children learn to read.
  3. One excuse that educators have long offered to explain poor reading performance is too much play time during school.
  4. Kim Harper  new  the director of literacy for Bethlehem school.
  5. One theory assumes learning to read is a natural process.
  6. The primary task for a beginning reader is to guess the word.
  7. The contextual guessing approach is what a lot of teachers in Bethlehem had learned.
  8. When a child comes to a word she doesn’t know,There should guessing.
  9. In the class, teachers spent a lot of time going over the sound structure of the English language.
  10. The starting point for reading is sound, and it’s critical for teachers to have a deep understanding of this.

 

Ask/Answer Questions

Directions:  Place students in groups and have each group list 3  questions they would like to pursue in relation to  the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Education | Tags:

“High School Doesn’t Have to Be Boring”

“When you ask American teenagers to pick a single word to describe how they feel in school, the most common choice is ‘bored.’ The institutions where they spend many of their waking hours, they’ll tell you, are lacking in rigor, relevance, or both.They aren’t wrong.” J. Mehta and S. Fine, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit Ping Zhu, New York Times

 

Excerpt: High School Doesn’t Have to Be Boring By Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine, The NYT

“Studies of American public schools from 1890 to the present suggest that most classrooms lack intellectual challenge. A 2015 Gallup Poll of nearly a million United States students revealed that while 75 percent of fifth-grade students feel engaged by school, only 32 percent of 11th graders feel similarly.

What would it take to transform high schools into more humanizing and intellectually vital places? The answer is right in front of us, if only we knew where to look.

When the two of us — a sociologist and a former English teacher — began our own investigation of this question several years ago, we made two assumptions. Both turned out to be wrong.

The first was that innovative schools would have the answers. We traveled from coast to coast to visit 30 public high schools that had been recommended by leaders in the field. What we saw, however, was disheartening. Boredom was pervasive. Students filled out worksheets, answered factual questions, constructed formulaic paragraphs, followed algorithms and conducted “experiments” for which the results were already known. Covering content almost always won out over deeper inquiry — the Crusades got a week; the Cold War, two days.

The result? In lower-level courses, students were often largely disengaged; in honors courses, students scrambled for grades at the expense of intellectual curiosity. Across the different class types, when we asked students to explain the purpose of what they were doing, their most common responses were ‘I dunno’ and ‘I guess it’ll help me in college.’

Our second mistake was that we assumed the place to look for depth was in core academic classes. As we spent more time in schools, however, we noticed that powerful learning was happening most often at the periphery — in electives, clubs and extracurriculars.

Intrigued, we turned our attention to these spaces. We followed a theater production. We shadowed a debate team. We observed elective courses in green engineering, gender studies, philosophical literature and more.

As different as these spaces were, we found they shared some essential qualities. Instead of feeling like training grounds or holding pens, they felt like design studios or research laboratories: lively, productive places where teachers and students engaged together in consequential work. It turned out that high schools — all of them, not just the ‘innovative’ ones — already had a model of powerful learning. It just wasn’t where we thought it would be.

Consider the theater production that we observed at a large public high school in an affluent suburban community. Students who had slouched their way through regular classes suddenly became capable, curious and confident. The urgency of the approaching premiere lent the endeavor a sense of momentum. Students were no longer vessels to be filled with knowledge, but rather people trying to produce something of real value.

Coaching replaced’professing’ as the dominant mode of teaching. Apprenticeship was the primary mode of learning. Authority rested not with teachers or students but with what the show demanded.

What we saw on a debate team in a high-poverty urban public school was similar. Monthly debate competitions gave the work a clear sense of purpose and urgency. Faculty members and older students mentored the novices. Students told us that ‘debate is like a family.’

Perhaps most important, debate gave students a chance to speak in their own voices on issues that mattered to them. Inducted into an ancient form of verbal and mental discipline, they discovered a source of personal power…It should come as no surprise that when we asked students to reflect on their high school experiences, it was most often experiences like theater and debate that they cited as having influenced them in profound ways…The more we can create similar opportunities in core subjects — giving students the freedom to define authentic and purposeful goals for their learning, creating opportunities for students to lead that learning, and helping them to refine their work until it meets high standards of quality — the deeper their learning and engagement will be.”

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

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 Map by rentonschools.us

 

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. Debate, drama and other extracurriculars provide the excitement.
  2. What would it take to transform high schools into more vital places?
  3. Some innovative schools might have the answers.
  4. We traveled from coast to coast to visit 30 public high schools, what we saw, however, was disheartening.
  5. In lower-level courses, students were often largely disengaged.
  6. We assumed the place to look for depth was in core academic classes.
  7. As different as these spaces were, we found they shared some essential qualities.
  8. Students who had slouched their way through regular classes suddenly became capable and confident.
  9. The truly powerful core classes echoed what we saw in extracurriculars.
  10. Most important of all, high school students need to be granted much more  responsibility and choice.

 

Grammar Focus: English Pronouns

Directions:  Students choose the correct [Subject pronouns] to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

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

When ___ask American teenagers to pick a single word to describe how ___feel in school, the most common choice is ‘bored.’

___traveled from coast to coast to visit 30 public high schools.

Across the different class types,___asked students to explain the purpose of what ___were doing.

As ___spent more time in schools, however,___noticed that powerful learning was happening n electives, clubs and extracurriculars.

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.

Before the___bell, we treat ___as passive ___of knowledge whose interests and ___matter little. After the final bell — in newspaper, debate, theater,___and more — we treat ___as people who ___by doing, people who can ___as well as___, and people whose passions and are worth cultivating.

WORD LIST: learn, learn, identities, final, students, students, athletics, ideas ,teach, recipients,

 

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. Describe your high school experience. Did you find the experience satisfying? Fun? Boring?
  2. With your group members describe your idea of a good  high school curriculum.
  3. The article states,“Schools need to become much more deeply attached to the world beyond their walls…Some use project-based learning to engage students in their local communities; some collaborate with museums, employers and others who can give students experiences in professional domains; still others prioritize hiring teachers who have had experience working in (and not just teaching about) their fields…”Do you agree/disagree with this statement?Why or why not?Provide examples of how project-based learning would work.

 

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

 

Educators Are Using Video Games To Enhance Learning In Class

“History has long served as a backdrop in the Assassin’s Creed video games, whose story lines center on pivotal times in history — from the Third Crusade to Imperial China and beyond…Following last year’s release of Assassin’s Creed Origins, set in Ptolemaic Egypt, the team behind it decided that allowing players to learn more about life in ancient Egypt might make for a pretty cool teaching aid. So they traded in the quests and violence for antiquities and history lessons, and created a mode with a series of Discovery Tours. By putting history front and center, the game may give teachers a new way to connect with some students.” J. Porter, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Learning History through video games. Visions of Education

Excerpt: Assassin’s Creed Has a New Mission: Working in the Classroom, By Justin Porter, The New York Times

“Edyeli Marku, a middle-school teacher at Intermediate School 230 in Jackson Heights, Queens, said there could be ‘tremendous value in it,’ for both students and educators — particularly for students who might test as primarily visual, auditory or kinesthetic learners. For those students, she added, ‘exposing them to a different learning vehicle is always beneficial.’   

Ms. Marku said she understands the importance of games to her students and has even used Oregon Trail as a teaching tool…Maxime Durand, who has been the lead researcher and history consultant for the Assassin’s Creed franchise since 2010, and Jean Guesdon, the creative director on Origins, said they had often heard from educators who saw the potential of using the games. Some had even used small portions in their lessons.

This class is playing video games and learning. Photo-The Day

But so much of Assassin’s Creed, given its violence and fictional narrative, is problematic in a school setting. Even Ms. Marku said the violent content could hamper the franchise’s acceptance for education purposes, especially for parents reacting to the name of the series or those familiar with its subject matter.

In this version of the game, though, players guide their chosen avatar. It can be the sheriff-like character Bayek, the original protagonist of Assassin’s Creed Origins, or one of 25 possible others…A voice-over details the objects on view, including artifacts like pottery, scrolls, farm tools and baking ovens. At some locations, non-playable characters are seen performing tasks like baking bread, tilling a field or inscribing scrolls.

Image: Fenix Bazaar

Here players can elect to have their chosen avatar perform the activity. Maybe Cleopatra and Caesar never knelt before a bread oven to remove a hot loaf from the coals, but here players can have that experience…To make the games accessible to broader range of schools, which typically have computers or tablets rather than game consoles, Ubisoft released a stand-alone version of the Discovery Tour for computers, even those with aging hardware.”

 

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Photo courtesy of ABC15 Arizona

“John McCain was a warrior, a patriot, and a man of immeasurable courage. What a privilege it was to know him.“-Victoria Reggie Kennedy, The Boston Globe

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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: 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.

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. History has long served as a backdrop in the Assassin’s Creed video games.
  2. The story lines center on pivotal times in history.
  3. Exposing students to a different learning vehicle is always beneficial.
  4. Many educators saw the potential of using  video games.
  5. In this version of the game players guide their chosen avatar.
  6. A voice-over details the objects on view.
  7. Some characters are seen performing tasks like baking bread, tilling a field or inscribing scrolls.
  8. Professor  Éthier was intrigued by the game.
  9. Today the Sphinx and the the pyramids are bleached white  by the sun.
  10. Once these monuments were once vividly colored.

 

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.

Marc-André Éthier, a professor at the ___of Montreal who ___materials that are being used to___ high school history, noticed that ___tools like ___were being used less. When he ___about the Discovery Tour, he said, ‘I was___ and I prepared a ___to test if Discovery Tour could ___someone as much as a lecture.’

WORD LIST: teach, traditional, University, teach, intrigued, studies,textbooks,study, heard,

 

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. They traded in the quests and violence for antiquities and history.
  2. Teachers has a new way to connect with students.
  3. Ms. Marku said she understands the importance of games.

II

  1. They can spend hours in front of the computer.
  2. Durand has been the lead researcher since 2010.
  3. A avatar  can be any character the students choose.

III

  1. The 75 available tours cover daily life.
  2. A lot of history’s secret are lost to time.
  3. Students learn how games are created and the way stories are told.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

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.

Discussion 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 do you think that certain video games can enhance learning in the classroom? Explain why or why not.
  2. Have you ever used video games in your class? If yes, describe the experience. If no, would you like to try one?
  3. Review the descriptions of the following video games. Choose one and explain why you think it would be beneficial for your class.

Suggestions For Video Games For The Classroom From Rubicon:

Elegy for a Dead World — The premise of this game is that students visit alien planets and act as the storyteller of that world, creating stories of the possible people and cultures that lived there.  These words are inspired by poets Byron, Keats, and Shelley, providing an easy connection to English curriculum.

Never Alone — This game has set a precedent for the respectful representation of indigenous people.  Co-developed by native Alaskans, it shares Inupiat stories, themes, and values, in addition to making cooperation a critical part of success in the gameplay.  Best of all, it features documentary-style videos on of the Inupiat people who provide context for the sights, sounds, and stories found in gameplay.

Valiant Hearts — A major complaint I have with popular war games is that they can, to some audiences, glorify war while downplaying the intricacies of cause and effect.  The beauty of Valiant Hearts is that it doesn’t attempt to glorify war, and it doesn’t  focus on the guns and battles.

The Republica Times: For older students, there are a wide variety of games addressing social and political issues available for use and analysis.  Games, like The Republica Times, essentially play the role of interactive social commentary.  In the game, your students are tasked with organizing the headlines for each day’s paper in the game.

Enercities: Science teachers, don’t fret!  There are games addressing science topics, like the balance between economy, ecology, population growth, and quality of life found in the free online game Enercities.  A more focused Sim-style game, Enercities provides a sandbox for students to create a city with the goal of keeping a balance between all of the aforementioned categories.

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