Category Archives: Education

The Tug of War Within the Deaf and the Hearing Communities

“Your whole life, they’ve been trying to take you away from me,” my father says to me, referring to the deaf community. But the deaf community could just as easily say the same about my father.” S. Katz, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Katherine Lam, NYT

Excerpt: Is There a Right Way to Be Deaf? By Sarah Katz, The New York Times

“More than 90 percent of deaf and hard-of-hearing children are born to hearing parents like mine, who have little to no experience interacting with deaf people. When it was discovered that I was profoundly deaf at six weeks old, my parents faced a common decision: Should they adapt themselves to their deaf child, learn sign language, and embrace deaf culture, or have their deaf child adapt to hearing culture, give her cochlear implants or hearing aids, and train her in the precarious art of lip-reading?

My parents chose the former, believing that sign language would provide me with equal access to the opportunities afforded my hearing twin brother. So, when I was 6 months old, my parents welcomed educators from a local deaf school into their home to give signing lessons. Over several months, my mother learned to sign with me…Using sign language, I communicated a lot — even more than my brother. But then something strange happened. I began speaking. Aloud. In English.

Dress pretty, you like?’ my mother recalls me asking her when I was around 3 years old. I did, it turned out, have residual hearing, as later tests confirmed.

But I spoke using classic American Sign Language word order, which involves a grammatical structure closer to French than English — And, although my mother knew that my syntax did not indicate limited cognitive ability, but rather an acute, developing awareness of the language, she began to wonder if sign language was the right choice after all. Was disregarding an aural-oral approach restricting my natural gift of gab?

After more research my parents found what they thought was a middle path. Rather than have me undergo cochlear implant surgery my parents hoped to supplement my sign language education with cued speech, a visual communication system invented in 1966 at Gallaudet University that functions as a supplement to speech-reading (only 30 percent of speech is visible on the lips)…Cued speech can be learned in just 48 hours. My mother was convinced that this bicultural-bilingual approach involving a combination of cued speech and sign language lessons could give me the best of both worlds: full visual access to English and the hearing community, and concurrent access to sign language and the deaf community.

But we apparently couldn’t have it both ways. When the educators from the local deaf school learned that my parents were considering cued speech, they became livid. ‘If you choose cued speech,’ my mother recalls one of them saying, ‘we’re not coming back here.’

In the deaf community, some feel that cued speech, like cochlear implants, threatens deaf culture because they believe it arises from a medical model of deafness, through which deafness is perceived as an undesirable trait that needs to be treated or cured.

A ‘social model,’ on the other hand, suggests that the environment must adapt to the deaf person, whose “natural language” is sign language. The educators even asked my parents to consider sending me to their residential program, where, surrounded by fluent signers, I would absorb sign language at a faster pace and have full exposure to deaf culture… My mother was stumped. On the one hand, she didn’t know if cued speech would work, but desperately wanted to succeed at finding a way to communicate with me quickly and effectively. On the other hand, she didn’t want me to be alienated from the deaf community. My father, however, was resolute: He would not send his child away.

Sign Language Chart-amazon

Together, they decided the promise of cued speech was worth the risk for at least a year at the nearby public school. If it didn’t work out, they would have the deaf school’s residential program as a fallback option.. Throughout my life, I’ve felt like the object of a constant tug of war between the deaf and hearing communities. Although I’m rewardingly self-employed, married and highly literate, I still struggle in hearing-centric environments… Well-meaning hearing people frequently insult me with ‘compliments’ about how well I’ve assimilated, like, ‘I can barely tell you’re deaf!’ (We call comments like these ‘audist’ — akin to ‘racist’ or ‘sexist’ — because they assume deaf people like me must speak aloud and sound like a hearing person to be deemed fortunate or successful.)

On the other hand, when I spend time with deaf friends, I’m often chided by them for not being more fluent in sign language, or otherwise embracing a more culturally deaf way of life. According to them, I’ve succumbed to audism by using my voice to speak more often than my hands, and cued speech to absorb information… I still hold out hope that the deaf and hearing communities will come to a compromise.”

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

Directions: Examine the title of the post and the actual article.  Examine the photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Some people are born deaf.
  2. The class studied aural anatomy yesterday.
  3. They reached an oral agreement.
  4. My mother was stumped by the response.
  5. Researchers look for ways to communicate effectively with deaf children.
  6. She didn’t want me to be alienated from the deaf community.
  7. I’m a 30-year-old who wears hearing aids.
  8. I’ve succumbed to audism by using my voice to speak
  9. She’s often chided by her  deaf friends for speaking.
  10. My father was resolute in his plans for me.

Color Vocabulary Map by Enchanted Learning

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,

___the other hand, when I spend time ___deaf friends, I’m often chided ___them___not being more fluent ___sign language, or otherwise embracing a more culturally deaf way ___life.According ___them, I’ve succumbed ___audism___using my voice___speak more often than my hands, and cued speech___ absorb information.

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.

In the ___community, some feel that___speech, like ___implants, ___deaf ___because they believe it arises from a ___model of deafness, through which ___is perceived as an ___trait that needs to be ___or cured.

WORD LIST: treated, undesirable, deafness, medical, culture,  threatens, cochlear, cued, deaf,

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. Are you or someone you know hearing impaired? If yes, can you describe your experiences with non-hearing people? What about your experiences with people who can hear?
  2. Why is the following comment.I can barely tell you’re deaf!” considered to be an insult to deaf people?
  3. Why did the author’s parents choose to have  her learn sign language?
  4. Why is the classic American Sign Language word order structure closer to French than English?
  5. According to the article what is the difference between cued speech and a social model?
  6. The author states, ‘When the educators from the local deaf school learned that my parents were considering cued speech, they became livid. ‘If you choose cued speech,’ my mother recalls one of them saying, ‘we’re not coming back here.’ Why were the educators angry?
  7. What problems does the author face with her friends in the deaf community?
  8. Who is Amy Crumrine, and what solution does she offer to the deaf and hearing communities?
  9. After reading this article name at least one new thing that you’ve learned about the deaf community. Discuss what you’ve learned with your group members and share as a class.
  10. Create a list that of suggestions for ways the non-hearing and hearing people living together in a deaf community might work things out.
  11. As a group search the web and find famous people who are deaf. Write brief summaries of how they have handled being deaf. Share your findings with the class.

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

The Joy and Pain of Being Bilingual

“The bittersweet discovery that language, and the stories it carries, is not a straight path.” N. Sylvester, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: The Beauty of Being Bilingual, Natalia Sylvester, The New York Times

“My parents refused to let my sister and me forget how to speak Spanish by pretending they didn’t understand when we spoke English. Spanish was the only language we were allowed to speak in our one-bedroom apartment in Miami in the late 1980s.

We both graduated from English as a second language lessons in record time as kindergartners and first graders, and we longed to play and talk and live in English as if it were a shiny new toy…I’m most thankful that I can speak Spanish because it has allowed me to help others.

There was the young mother who wanted to know whether she could leave a cumbersome diaper bin aside at the register at Goodwill while she shopped. The cashier shook her head dismissively and said she didn’t understand. It wasn’t difficult to read the woman’s gestures — she was struggling to push her baby’s carriage while lugging the large box around the store. Even after I told the cashier what the woman was saying, her irritation was palpable. The air of judgment is one I’ve come to recognize: How dare this woman not speak English…”I don’t understand,’ she kept saying, though the mother’s gestures transcended language.

I choose not to understand is what she really meant…If you go back one generation, you’ll hear stories of people like my in-laws, whose teachers in Florida beat them for speaking in school the language they spoke at home.

Go back yet another generation and you’ll hear of the state-sanctioned racial terror inflicted on residents of Mexican descent in Texas in the late 1800s and early 1900s…Those whose parents tried to shield them from discrimination by not passing it on are often expected to be fluent in a language they never had the chance to forget.

Those of us who managed to hold on to it, despite the pressures to assimilate, know that our imperfect Spanish is a privilege we are often shamed for both inside and outside of our communities. And those of us who speak only Spanish are too often dismissed and worse, targeted — by women pushing shopping carts, by ICE raids, by gunmen with anti-immigrant manifestoes.

Their terror makes victims of us all…How do you translate fear to those you cannot trust? At a Costco Tire Center in Texas this week, a woman asked the man who had just helped me whether he spoke Spanish. He answered no, flatly… I volunteered to interpret. I found myself interpreting her words verbatim, forgetting to switch from the first person to the third…In her face I saw my friends, my mother, my grandmother and me, each of us with different degrees of Spanish and English, all rooted in a desire to feel accepted and understood.”

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. Those of us who grew up bilingual understand the complexities of embracing either language.
  2. My parents pretended that they didn’t understand  English.
  3. My mother feigned confusion anytime we slipped into English.
  4. I would let out exasperated sighs.
  5. She interrupted us to correct our grammar in Spanish.
  6. One day you’ll thank me, my mother retorted.
  7. The cashier shook her head dismissively and said she didn’t understand
  8. I found myself interpreting her words verbatim.
  9. The Latina woman was struggling and needed someone to interpret for her.
  10. “I don’t understand,” she kept saying, though the mother’s gestures transcended language.

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,

My parents refused___let my sister and me forget how___speak Spanish.

Spanish was the only language we were allowed ___ speak____our one-bedroom apartment ___Miami ___the late 1980s.

___kindergartners and first graders we longed ___play and talk and live___ English.

We would let out exasperated sighs ___having ___repeat ourselves ___Spanish.

 

Reading ComprehensionFill-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.

Those of us who’ve served as ___in everyday life know it’s a ___privilege.

You find ___in the in-between spaces of ___ but never the right ___to ___ them.

You hear the___of someone being ___in your voice, and the sound of someone being unseen in the ___.

WORD LIST:  silence, language,  express,  heard, sound ,  interpreters,  bittersweet, words, truths,

 

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. Are you bilingual? If yes what languages do you speak?
  2. In your experience, is being bilingual a good thing or not?
  3. the author begins by stating, My parents refused to let my sister and me forget how to speak Spanish by pretending they didn’t understand when we spoke English. Spanish was the only language we were allowed to speak in our one-bedroom apartment in Miami in the late 1980s.”  Why did her parents forbid them to speak English at home? Did your parents do the same or did you grow up speaking both English and your native language?
  4. In her encounter with a cashier, the author states, “The air of judgment is one I’ve come to recognize: How dare this woman not speak English, how dare this other woman speak both English and Spanish.” Have you ever encountered people who were jealous of the fact that you are bilingual?
  5. Do you help others with English translation? Describe a situation when someone was grateful that you were there to help them.
  6. In general, do you feel that people here in the U.S  treat you differently because you’re bilingual?
  7. Should people who come to live in the U.S. learn English? Why?

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, Social Issues | Tags:

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