Category Archives: Education

We Can’t Let the Coronavirus Postpone Elections

“The integrity of the election is critical to the legitimacy of the nation’s next leader, and never more than in this hazardous moment. It’s essential that every eligible voter has an opportunity to cast a ballot, and that every vote is counted. Voting by mail is key to ensuring the integrity and accessibility of November’s vote.” – New York Times Editorial Board

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Credit…Nicholas Konrad

Excerpt: It’s Time to Protect the 2020 Election, Too, —The New York Times Editorial Board

“There is no good time for a pandemic to hit. Still, it’s hard to imagine a more vulnerable moment than the one we find ourselves in, only months before some 130 million Americans expected to head to the polls to vote for the next president and thousands of other officeholders.

The outcome of the November election could shape the contours of American politics and government for decades.

Right now, most people are rightly preoccupied with the immediate impacts of the coronavirus on public health and the national economy. But a functioning democracy requires elections that are free, fair, accurate and on time, even during a global health crisis.

It is almost certain that the 2020 election won’t look like any we’ve seen before. Assuming the coronavirus outbreak persists into the fall, it will pose unprecedented challenges to holding a nationwide vote, the most obvious of which is the need to keep people physically separated… Several states have already postponed their primaries for this reason.

That may be the right call for the time being, but it won’t work for the general election in November, the date of which is prescribed by federal law, and which is followed soon after by the constitutionally mandated inauguration of the next president on Jan. 20, [2021].

Colorado has already moved over to 100% mail or drop-off voting.(Ivan Couronne : AFP:Getty Images)

The most practical fix is to make voting by mail a clear and free optionfor every eligible voter in the country.

This means, at a minimum: printing tens of millions of mail-in ballots and envelopes; ensuring that all registered voters receive one automatically, can request a replacement if they don’t, and can return it by Election Day; and finally, having the human and technological resources, like ballot scanners, available to count those votes quickly and accurately.

The good news is that we already have evidence that voting by mail works well. In five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington, most or all votes are cast by mail; in three others more than half are. In all, nearly one-quarter of all voters cast ballots by mail in 2016.

The experiments in the states have yielded several key findings: First, turnout is significantly higher nearly everywhere voting by mail is used. Second, voters of all political persuasions use it and like it. Third, it’s safe and secure. Bar codes allow for ballot tracking and validation. And states that use vote-by-mail have encountered essentially zero fraud: Oregon, the pioneer in this area, has sent out more than 100 million mail-in ballots since 2000, and has documented only about a dozen cases of proven fraud…Switching to all or nearly all voting by mail will require printing at least 70 million additional ballots.

These ballots will have to be ready to go out by Labor Day, less than six months from today. They must be postage-paid, so that no one has to pay a penny to vote, and there need to be enough machines and poll workers available to start counting ballots as soon as they come in. Signature-matching software can help ensure ballots are coming from the voters they were sent to, without introducing partisan bias into the process…A bill drafted by Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota would require states to, among other things, provide self-sealing envelopes with prepaid postage to all voters who request an absentee ballot. The bill would provide for all necessary federal funds to help the states.

Making voting easy and widely accessible in a time of social distancing is the biggest thing we can do, but there are other steps we can take to ensure a safe, secure and high-turnout election.

It is Your Right to Vote-NYT

First, educating voters with clear and simple instructions about handling and returning their mail-in ballots.

Second, physical polling sites still must be made available for those voters who are uncomfortable voting by mail or unable to. Many Native Americans living on reservations, for example, do not have traditional postal addresses, and would have a hard time receiving or returning a mail ballot. Many others will have moved as a result of the virus and may be hard to locate…Finally, voter registration needs to be easier across the board, in recognition of the fact that many Americans will have moved or be in transit over the coming months. This means making online registration available now and same-day registration available everywhere.

For the oldest continuously operating democracy in the world, the United States has a poor track record of prioritizing the smooth operation of elections…For all Americans, no matter their politics, the most important thing to remember is that this election is not going to look like what they are used to, and to be patient if final results aren’t in on election night. There has been a lot of criticism, much of it legitimate, about slow or disorganized counts during this primary season. But getting an accurate vote count is far more important than getting a fast one.”

In the Meantime:  Great Teaching  Activities Sites with Free Materials for Teachers, Students and Parents

“Learning Packets” for students During School Closures By Larry Ferlazzo:It seems like a fair number of districts don’t have any kind of learning plan in place for their students right now. Some districts, however, even if they don’t have a full-fledged remote learning program going on, are creating “learning packets” for students to complete. It’s not great, obviously, but it seems like it’s better than nothing and can help out parents.” For more information visit

Home With Your Kids? Writers Want to Help” –  The New York Times Mo Willems, Gene Luen Yang, Amie Kaufman and other authors for young readers are reading their work online and offering drawing tutorials, to help fill our strange new hours. For more information visit

The author and illustrator Mo Willems began hosting sessions on YouTube on Monday.

 

The STEM Sprouts Teaching Guide – Boston Children’s Museum & WGBH Welcome! Are you ready for some fun?

The STEM Sprouts Teaching Kit is the product of a collaborationbetween National Grid, Boston Children’s Museum, and WGBH. The goal of this curriculum is to assist preschool educators in focusing and refiningthe naturally inquisitive behaviors of three to five-year-olds on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

For more information visit here

STEM Teaching Guide

 

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.

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

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

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. There is no good time for a pandemic to hit.
  2. The outcome of the November election could shape the contours of American politics.
  3. Right now, most people are rightly preoccupied with the immediate impacts of the coronavirus.
  4. If the coronavirus outbreak persists into the fall the 2020 election won’t look like any we’ve seen before.
  5. It will pose unprecedented challenges to holding a nationwide vote, the most obvious of which is the need to keep people physically separated.
  6. Several states have already postponed their primaries for this reason.
  7. That may be the right call for the time being, but it won’t work for the general election in November.
  8. The general election is followed soon after by the constitutionally mandated  inauguration of the next president on Jan. 20, [2021].
  9. The most practical fix is to make voting by mail a clear and free option  for every eligible voter in the country.
  10. The good news is that we already have evidence that voting by mail works well.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

 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. 130 million Americans are expected to head to the polls to vote for the next president.
  2. People are rightly  concerned with the immediate impacts of the coronavirus.
  3. It are almost certain that the 2020 election won’t look like any we’ve seen before.

II

  1. Several states has already postponed their primaries.
  2. The most practical fix is to make voting by mail a clear and free choice.
  3. These ballots will have to be ready to go out by Labor Day.

III

  1. The ballots must be postage-paid, so that no one has to pay a penny to vote.
  2. There need to be enough machines and poll workers available.
  3. Online registration must be make available now.

 

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.

For the oldest continuously operating ___in the world, the ___has a ___track record of prioritizing the smooth ___of elections…For all___, no matter their___, the most___thing to remember is that this ___is not going to look like what they are used to, and to be___ if final results aren’t in on ___night.

WORD LIST: election, election,important, patient, politics, operation, poor,democracy,United States, Americans,

 

III. Post Reading Activities

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. If you are of voting age and live in the U.S., have you thought about voting during the coronavirus?
  2. In your opinion, is voting now an important matter to the American People? Why or why not?
  3. The authors state that “It is almost certain that the 2020 election won’t look like any we’ve seen before.”  In what way will the 2020 election be different from others?
  4. The article states that “The most practical fix is to make voting by mail a clear and free option for every eligible voter in the country.” Do you agree with this statement? Why?
  5. We already have states such as Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington, in which most or all votes are cast by mail with very positive results; so why do you think that people are still hesitant to vote by mail in other states?
  6. What are some of the precautions that must be taken to switch to nearly all voting by mail before November elections?
  7. Colorado uses specialized drop boxes with camera monitors. Is this a good idea to ensure safe voting?
  8. Why or why not?
  9. In addition to mail in voting, why must physical polling sites be made available to voters?
  10.   After reading this article name at least one piece of new information that you’ve learned. Discuss what you’ve learned with your group members and share as a class.

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

How We Can Achieve Social Unity, With Social Distancing

“To combat the coronavirus, Americans need to do more than secure their own safety.” E. Klinenberg, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

A discarded medical glove on a subway grate in midtown Manhattan in New York City on Tuesday.Credit…Damon Winter:The New York Times

Excerpt: We Need Social Solidarity…By Dr. Eric Klinenberg, The New York Times

“Social distancing — canceling large gatherings, closing schools and offices, quarantining individuals and even sequestering entire cities or neighborhoods — seems to be the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But it’s a crude and costly public health strategy.

Some of the homeless people who camp near Washington’s Union Station feel isolated as foot traffic has decreased. (Michael S. Williamson:The Post)

Shuttering shared spaces and institutions means families lose child care, wages and social support.  What’s more, it’s insufficient to protect the older, sick, homeless and isolated people who are most vulnerable to the virus. They need extra care and attention to survive, not society’s back.

I learned this firsthand while studying another recent health crisis, the great Chicago heat wave of 1995. In that event, as in so many other American disasters, social isolation was a leading risk factor and social connections made the difference between life and death.

Tents of one of the many homeless men and women are set up at Dupont Circle in Washington. (Astrid Riecken for The Post)

In Chicago, social isolation among older people in poor, segregated and abandoned neighborhoods made the heat wave far more lethal than it should have been. Some 739 people died during one deadly week in July, even though saving them required little more than a cold bath or exposure to air-conditioning. There was plenty of water and artificial cooling available in the city that week. For the truly disadvantaged, however, social contact was in short supply. Good governments can mitigate damage during health crises by communicating clearly and honestly with the public and providing extra service and support to those in need…It’s chilling, how familiar this seems. And it’s disturbing, how little we’ve heard about helping the people and places most threatened by the coronavirus, about the ways in which, amid so much isolation, we can offer a hand.

Coronavirus concerns empty public spaces around the world-Boston Globe

In addition to social distancing, societies have often drawn on another resource to survive disasters and pandemics: social solidarity, or the interdependence between individuals and across groups.

A Flowershop Offeres Free Flowers To everyone.

This an essential tool for combating infectious diseases and other collective threats.

Solidarity motivates us to promote public health, not just our own personal security. It keeps us from hoarding medicine, toughing out a cold in the workplace or sending a sick child to school…Social solidarity leads to policies that benefit public well-being, even if it costs some individuals more. Consider paid sick leave.

A Brookline Principal reads bedtime stories to her young students

When governments guarantee it (as most developed democracies do), it can be a burden for employers and businesses. The United States does not guarantee it, and as a consequence many low-wage American workers, even in the food service industry, are on the job when they’re contagiously ill.”

Related Articles:

5 Ways to Help Your Community Combat Coronavirus (While Still Social Distancing)

“Instead of isolating, you can help your neighbors and community in these ways.” By Ria Misra, The New York Times

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 Coronavirus.  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. Many people are kept in quarantine.
  2. Entire cities or neighborhoods are being sequestered.
  3. But it’s a crude and costly public health strategy.
  4. Shuttering shared spaces and institutions means families lose child care, wages and social support.
  5. What’s more, it’s insufficient to protect the older, sick, homeless.
  6. Good governments can mitigate damage during health crises.
  7. Amid so much isolation, we can offer a hand.
  8. Societies have often drawn on another resource to survive disasters and pandemics: social solidarity.
  9. Societie have also drawn upon the interdependence between individuals and across groups.
  10. We should not be hoarding medicine, toughing out a cold in the workplace or sending a sick child to school.

 

 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. Social distancing  seems to be the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
  2. But it’s a crude and costly public health strategy.
  3. We need to protect the older, sick, homeless and isolated people.

II

  1. Good governments can mitigate damage during health crises.
  2. Its chilling, how familiar this seems.
  3. It’s disturbing, how little we’ve heard about helping the people.

III

  1. Societies have often drawn on social solidarity to survive disasters.
  2. Solidarity motivates us to promote public health.
  3. Solidarity is a essential tool for combating infectious disease

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.Ifa statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false theymarkit F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. The Coronavirus is only in China and the U.S.
  2. Social distancing and canceling large gatherings,  is not the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
  3. Keeping people separated seems to be a crude and costly public health strategy.
  4. Shuttering shared spaces and institutions means families lose child care, wages and social support.
  5. Young people who are most vulnerable to the virus.
  6. The author references  another health crisis that occurred in New York.
  7. According to the author, solidarity is an essential tool for combating infectious diseases.
  8. Social solidarity leads to people being lonely.
  9. The scientists expect the coronavirus to be over in 3 months.
  10. The United States does not guarantee paid sick leave, and as a consequence many low-wage American workers, even in the food service industry, are on the job when they’re contagiously ill.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Graphic Organizers: Finding The Main Idea

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

 

Topic organizer. By Enchanted Learning

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you, your friends, family and community?
  2. Do you feel that we need more compassion and solidarity during this crises?
  3. Name several  good things that solidarity motivates us to do for others.
  4. According to the article who are the most vulnerable people?
  5. It’s stated that, “As Covid-19 spreads, we’ll continue to see more people asked to work remotely or from home, more school closings, more canceled events, and other measures associated with social distancing.”
  6. Do you have  plans of how you intend to remain in touch with family and friends. In addition, make a list of things you, your friends and family could do to help others in need.
  7. After reading this article name at least one thing new that you’ve learned about the Coronavirus situation. Discuss what you’ve learned with your group members and share as a class.

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

The Impact of the Coronavirus on Students Around the World

“The global scale and speed of the educational disruption from the coronavirus epidemic is unparalleled.” The United Nations

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

image-13abc

 

Excerpt: ‘When Can We Go to School?’By Vivian Wang and Makiko Inoue, The New York Times

“The coronavirus epidemic has reached deeper into daily life across the world, with a sweeping shutdown of all schools in Italy, a suspension of classes in India’s capital and warnings of school closures in the United States, intensifying the educational upheaval of nearly 300 million students globally.

Only a few weeks ago, China, where the outbreak began, was the only country to suspend classes. But the virus has spread so quickly that by Wednesday, 22 countries on three continents had announced school closures of varying degrees… Students are now out of school in South Korea, Iran, Japan, France, Pakistan and elsewhere — some for only a few days, others for weeks on end…On the West Coast of the United States, the region with the most American infections so far, Los Angeles declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, advising parents to steel themselves for school closures in the nation’s second-largest public school district. Washington State, which has reported at least 10 deaths from the outbreak, has closed some schools, while on the other side of the country in New York, newly diagnosed cases have led to the closure of several schools as well. 

The speed and scale of the educational tumult — which now affects 290.5 million students worldwide, the United Nations says — has little parallel in modern history, educators and economists contend…In some countries, older students have missed crucial study sessions for college admissions exams, while younger ones have risked falling behind in reading and math. Parents have lost wages, tried to work at home or scrambled to find child care… In Hong Kong, families like Ms. Gao’s have struggled to maintain some semblance of normalcy.

Ms. Gao, 48, stopped working to watch her daughters and started scrimping on household expenses. She ventures outside just once a week and spends the most time helping her girls, 10 and 8, with online classes, fumbling through technology that leaves her confused and her daughters frustrated.

Governments are trying to help. Japan is offering subsidies to help companies offset the cost of parents’ taking time off. France has promised 14 days of paid sick leave to parents of children who must self-isolate, if they have no choice but to watch their children. But the burdens are widespread, touching corners of society seemingly unconnected to education. In Japan, schools have canceled bulk food deliveries for lunches they will no longer serve, hurting farmers and suppliers. In Hong Kong, an army of domestic helpers has been left unemployed after wealthy families enrolled their children in schools overseas.

Julia Bossard, a 39-year-old mother of two in France, said she had been forced to rethink her entire routine since her older son’s school was closed for two weeks for disinfection. Her days now consist of helping her children with homework and scouring supermarkets for fast-disappearing pasta, rice and canned food. ‘We had to reorganize ourselves,’ she said.

Online Help for Schools

School and government officials have sought to keep children learning — and occupied — at home.  The Italian government created a web page to give teachers access to videoconference tools and ready-made lesson plans. Mongolian television stations are airing classes. Iran’s government has made all children’s internet content free…The offline reality, though, is challenging.Technological hurdles and unavoidable distractionspop up when children and teenagers are left to their own devices — literally. Thira Pang, a 17-year-old high school student in Hong Kong, has been repeatedly late for class because her internet connection is slow… With the closings, families must rethink how they support themselves and split household responsibilities.

The burden has fallen particularly hard on women, who across the world are still largely responsible for child care… Working from home was never an option for Ms. Lee…Ms. Lee’s son spends each weekday alone, eating lunchboxes of sausage and kimchi fried rice premade by Ms. Lee.  ‘I think I would have quit my job if my son were younger, because I wouldn’t have been able to leave him alone at home,’ Ms. Lee said.

Beyond the Classroom

The epidemic has shaken entire industries that rely on the rituals of students in school and parents at work…Kazuo Tanaka, deputy director of the Yachimata School Lunch Center in central Japan, said it scrapped orders for ingredients to make about 5,000 lunches for 13 schools. It would cost the center about 20 million yen, nearly $200,000, each month that school was out, he said…’Dairy farmers and vegetable farmers will be hit. The workers at the school lunch centers cannot work.’

In Hong Kong, many among its sizable population of domestic helpers have been jobless as affluent parents have enrolled children overseas…Felix Choi, the director of Babysitter.hk, a nanny service. Now some expatriate families have left the city rather than wait out the closings.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about the Coronavirus.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

K-W-L Chart from Creately.com

 

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 coronavirus epidemic has reached deeper into daily life across the world.
  2. China, where the outbreak began, was the only country to suspend classes.
  3. Parents were advised  to steel themselves for school closures.
  4. The speed and scale of the educational tumult has little parallel  in modern history.
  5. Closing schools for weeks or even months could have untold repercussions for children.
  6. Ms. Gao, 48, started scrimping on household expenses.
  7. She ventures outside just once a week to shop.
  8. Japan is offering subsidies to help companies offset the cost of parents’ taking time off.
  9. Many  schools were closed for disinfection.
  10. One family in Inner Mongolia packed up its yurt and migrated elsewhere.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Some interruptions/interruption are unavoidable. Posts on Chinese social media show teacher/teachers and students/student climbing into/onto rooftops or hovering over/outside neighbors’ homes in/on search of a stronger internet signal. Onefamily/families in Inner Mongolia packed up its yurtand migrated elsewhere in the grasslands for a/an better web connection, a/an Chinese magazine reported.

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.

Ruby Tan, a___ in Chongqing, a ___in southwestern China that___ school last month, said many ___were helping with child care so that the ___can go to work.But the ___do not always know the___.

They don’t have any way of ___the children’s learning, and instead let them develop bad ___of not being able to focus during___time, Ms. Tan said.

WORD LIST: study, habits, technology, grandparents, parents, grandparents, suspended, city, teacher, supervising,

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

  1. Has the outbreak of the coronavirus affected you and your family? If yes explain in what way.
  2. Is your school closed or is planning to close?
  3. Will your school hold online classes? How do you feel about this?
  4. The article states, “Schools provide structure and support for families, communities and entire economies. The effect of closing them for days, weeks and sometimes even months could have untold repercussions for children and societies at large.” What kind of  effects might children suffer if kept out of class for too long? How might this effect societies?
  5. What are some of the things governments are doing to help teachers and students keep up with their studies?
  6. What are some of the problems with children left to study on their own or with grandparents?
  7. How are some of the world’s  governments helping families financially?
  8. The article mentions that women particularly have felt the burden of school closings. Why is this?
  9. List 3 questions that you  would like to pursue in relation to  the article. Exchange questions with other groups and try to come up with answers.

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 also write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Is Facial Recognition Necessary in Our Schools?

“Recently, a school district in New York adopted the [facial recognition] technology in the name of safety. Opponents cite privacy and bias concerns.” D. Alba, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Facial Recognition Moves Into a New Front: Schools, By Davey Alba, The New York Times

SPmemory via Getty Images

 

“Jim Shultz tried everything he could think of to stop facial recognition technology from entering the public schools in Lockport, a small city 20 miles east of Niagara Falls. He posted about the issue in a Facebook group called Lockportians. He wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times. He filed a petition with the superintendent of the district, where his daughter is in high school.

But a few weeks ago, he lost. The Lockport City School District turned on the technology to monitor who’s on the property at its eight schools, becoming the first known public school district in New York to adopt facial recognition, and one of the first in the nation. The district, said Mr. Shultz, 62, ‘turned our kids into lab rats in a high-tech experiment in privacy invasion.’

The decision underscores how facial recognition is spreading across the country and being deployed in new ways in the United States, as public officials turn to the technology in the name of public safety.

A few cities, like San Francisco and Somerville, Mass., have barred their governments from using the technology, but they are exceptions… Schools are a newer front, and the debate that took place in Lockport encapsulates the furor surrounding the technology.

The Wall Street Journal

Proponents call it a crucial crime-fighting tool, to help prevent mass shootings and stop sexual predators.  Robert LiPuma, the Lockport City School District’s director of technology, said he believed that if the technology had been in place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the deadly 2018 attack there may never have happened…’Subjecting 5-year-olds to this technology will not make anyone safer, and we can’t allow invasive surveillance to become the norm in our public spaces,’ said Stefanie Coyle, deputy director of the Education Policy Center for the New York Civil Liberties Union… The debate in Lockport has unfolded over nearly two years. The school district initially announced its plans to install a facial recognition security system, called Aegis, in March 2018… The state wanted Lockport to make sure that students’ data would be properly protected, and demanded a policy that would forbid the use of student data, including their photos.

In January, the school board unanimously approved the latest policy revision. When the system is on, Mr. LiPuma said, the software looks at the faces captured by the hundreds of cameras and calculates whether those faces match a ‘persons of interest’ list made by school administrators. That list includes sex offenders in the area, people prohibited from seeing students by restraining orders, former employees who are barred from visiting the schools and others deemed ‘credible threats’ by law enforcement…The technology will also scan for guns. The chief of the Lockport Police Department, Steven Abbott, said that if a human monitor confirmed a gun that Aegis had detected, an alert would automatically go to both administrators and the Police Department…Days after the district announced that the technology had been turned on, some students said they had been told very little about how it worked.

‘I’m not sure where they are in the school or even think I’ve seen them,’ said Brooke Cox, 14, a freshman at Lockport High School. ‘I don’t fully know why we have the cameras. I haven’t been told what their purpose is.’  Others, like Tina Ni, 18, said the new technology and the news coverage of her school were ‘cool.’ Critics of the technology, including Mr. Shultz and the New York Civil Liberties Union, point to the growing evidence of racial bias in facial recognition systems.

In December, the federal government released a study, one of the largest of its kind, that found that most commercial facial recognition systems exhibited bias, falsely identifying African-American  and Asian faces 10 to 100 times more than Caucasian faces. Another federal study found a higher rate of mistaken matches among children…Jason Nance, a law professor at the University of Florida who focuses on education law and policy, warned that listing students as ‘persons of interest’ could have unintended consequences.

‘If suspended students are put on the watch list, they are going to be scrutinized more heavily,’ he said, which could lead to a higher likelihood that they could enter into the criminal justice system…Opponents of the new technology now pin their hopes on state lawmakers. In April, Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, a Democrat from Lancaster, introduced a bill that would force Lockport to halt the use of facial recognition for a year while the State Education Department studied the technology. The bill easily passed in the Assembly but was not taken up by the Senate.”

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.

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

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

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. He filed a petition against the school.
  2. This is the first school to adopt facial recognition.
  3. The decision underscores how facial recognition   is spreading across the country.
  4. Facial recognition is being deployed in new ways in the United States.
  5. Schools are a newer front, and the debate encapsulates the furor surrounding the technology.
  6. Proponents call it a crucial crime-fighting tool.
  7. Many agree that we can’t allow invasive surveillance to become the norm in our public spaces.
  8. In January, the school board unanimously approved the latest policy revision.
  9. The software looks at the faces captured by the cameras and calculates whether those faces match a ‘persons of interest’ list.
  10. If suspended students are put on the watch list, they are going to be scrutinized more heavily.

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.

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

Jim Shultz tried everything___could think of to stop facial recognition technology from entering the public school. ___wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times.  ___filed a petition with the superintendent of the district. But a few weeks ago,___ lost.  A few cities, like San Francisco and Somerville, Mass., have barred their governments from using the technology, but___are exceptions. Robert LiPuma, the Lockport City School District’s director of technology, said ___believed that if the technology had been in place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the deadly 2018 attack there may never have happened. ___had an expelled student that would have been put into the system, because ___were not supposed to be on school grounds. ___ snuck in through an open door. ‘Subjecting 5-year-olds to this technology will not make anyone safer, and___can’t allow invasive surveillance to become the norm in our public spaces,’ said Stefanie Coyle, deputy director of the Education Policy Center for the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

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

  “The district,turned our kids into lab rats in a high-tech experiment in privacy invasion.”

“You had an expelled student that would have been put into the system, because they were not supposed to be on school grounds. They snuck in through an open door.'”

“Subjecting 5-year-olds to this technology will not make anyone safer, and we can’t allow invasive surveillance to become the norm in our public spaces.”

“I’m not sure where they are in the school or even think I’ve seen them. I don’t fully know why we have the cameras. I haven’t been told what their purpose is.”

“The new technology and the news coverage of her school were cool.”

“If suspended students are put on the watch list, they are going to be scrutinized more heavily,” he said, which could lead to a higher likelihood that they could enter into the criminal justice system.”

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. Have you ever used any kind of facial recognition technology (e.g.,  to verify your identity at the airport or unlock your smartphone or computer?
  2. Do you feel safe in your school? If you are a parent, do you feel that your children are safe in their schools? What safety measurements are currently in place in the schools?
  3. In your opinion what are the benefits of facial recognition in schools?
  4. What are some drawbacks to using this technology in schools?
  5. According to the article Assemblywoman Monica Wallace states, “We all want to keep our children safe in school. But there are more effective, proven ways to do so that are less costly.”
  6. Can you think of other ways to make schools safe without resorting to facial recognition?
  7. List any new ideas that you have learned from this article.

 

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

This One is for All of the “Loser Teachers”

PBS Editor’s note: President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr., addressed his father’s campaign rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday night, instructing young conservatives “to keep up that fight, bring it to your schools. You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth.”

“His remarks prompted many responses by teachers on social media. Kristin Karnitz is not a teacher (she is a customer service account manager and mother from De Pere, Wisconsin). But, counting many educators in her family, she penned an op-ed in defense of the profession, an edited version of which appears below.” PBS Editor 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Teachers aren’t losers. They’re lifesavers. By Kristin Karnitz, PBS

 

“During President Trump’s rally Monday night in El Paso, Donald Trump Jr. took to the podium. I caught a clip of his speech that made my heart stop momentarily, then pound with the rage of a boxer hitting a punching bag.

‘Keep up that fight. Bring it to your schools. You don’t have to be indoctrinated by these loser teachers that are trying to sell you on socialism from birth,’ he said.

Loser teachers.

There have been many, many moments during this administration that have broken me. But this one, for some reason, hit me particularly hard.

Maybe it’s my mood, maybe it’s the endless winter weather, maybe it’s something I ate. Maybe it’s because the very foundation of our education system was being attacked. I felt sick.

I come from a long line of loser teachers. I am the granddaughter of a loser teacher. The niece of loser teachers. The cousin of loser teachers. The sister of a loser teacher. The friend of many loser teachers.

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a loser teacher too. But when I approached that point in my college life to choose that track, I bailed. I wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t selfless enough. I wasn’t loser enough.

You see, being a loser teacher requires a stamina that I recognized fairly early that I wasn’t cut out for, at least when I was 20 years old and trying to navigate my future.

I think of the loser teachers in our country, and what it takes to be them. Though not a loser teacher, let me take a stab at educating all the non-teacher ‘winners.’

Summers off is a myth. Many teachers work second jobs, or teach summer school. Most of this is to supplement their income.

And a chunk of that, their own money, is reinvested into their classrooms. When budgets are tight, and a first grade teacher needs a rug for her kids to sit on at group lesson time, she buys her own.

Many teachers keep a stash of food in their cabinet that they bought on their own, to sneak a granola bar to a young one who came to school that morning without breakfast. A hungry child has a tough time learning…

Short work days? A school day may be around 7 hours for the kids. Loser teachers are there well before and after.

They are spending evenings writing lesson plans and grading papers. There are staff meetings, extracurriculars they lead, presentations and continuing education classes that are required to maintain their jobs and licenses.

The responsibility of a loser teacher extends far beyond standing in front of a classroom sharing a lesson.

Teachers are expected to wear more hats than most of us could ever dream of putting on.

Teachers are not just educators. They are counselors…Teachers are not just educators. They are surrogate parents. There are so many kids from broken homes and unstable situations. A hug from a teacher may be the only time a child receives a gentle touch of love that day. A word of encouragement or a high five in the hallway may be the only direct acknowledgement a child receives that week.

A pair of mittens may find their way into the locker of a student that would otherwise have cold hands on the playground and walk home…Teachers are not just educators. They save lives. In a world where active shooter drills are now practiced regularly in our schools, teachers need to be on alert at all times. They are the protectors of these young lives. When the unthinkable happens, some have made the ultimate sacrifice.

They have taken a bullet for children that aren’t even their own. Can any of you non-losers say you’d do the same?

So just to summarize today’s lesson here: Teachers are not just educators. They are everyday angels among us. They deserve our support, our respect and our unyielding gratitude.”

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 Teaching/Teachers.  Next, have students 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  the Brainstorming Map by rentonschools.us 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. Teachers are lifesavers.
  2. The speaker took to the podium.
  3. Our education system was being attacked.
  4. Teaching requires a stamina.
  5. When I approached that point in my college life to choose that track, I bailed.
  6. I wasn’t selfless enough.
  7. I was 20 years old and trying to navigate my future.
  8. Let me take a stab at educating all the non-teacher ‘winners.’
  9. Summers off is a myth.
  10. Teachers are surrogate parents.

 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. Donald Trump Jr. took to the podium.
  2. I felt sick.
  3. I come about a long line of loser teachers.

 

II

  1. Summers off is an myth.
  2. Many teachers keep a stash of food in their cabinet.
  3. Teachers are spending evenings writing lesson plans and grading papers.

 

III

  1. Teachers are expected to wear more hats than most of us could ever dream of putting on.
  2. They have taken a bullet for children that aren’t even their own.
  3. They are surrogate parents.

 

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.

Teachers ___students to embrace___, and to avoid name calling, so I will take a lesson from the great___I’ve had throughout my life, and resist countering this___attack with___. It is taking every fiber of my being to do so. But I had good loser teachers who would want me to take the high road. So in___of them, I will.

Instead, I raise a glass to the loser teachers in our country. May we all ___to attain your level of loserdom. Our nation is in sore need of more___, amazing losers like you.

WORD LIST: strive, honor, meanness, ridiculous, educators, kindness, encourage,wonderful

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. What is Ms. Karnitz’s profession?
  2. Why did she write this article defending teachers?
  3. Who made the awful remark against teachers?
  4. Karnitz states, “There have been many, many moments during this administration that have broken me.” What administration is she talking about?
  5. What was the real reason this particular remark made Ms. Karnitz  ‘feel sick’?
  6. What reasons does Ms. Karnitz give for not becoming a teacher?
  7. Ms. Karnitz provides a list of all the wonderful selfless things teachers choose to do to help their kids. What are some of them?
  8. Do you know teachers (especially those working with young children)?  How do they feel about their professions?
  9. After reading this article do you think you would like to become a teacher?  Why or why not?
  10. What do you think of Ms. Karnitz’s ideas about teachers?
  11. After reading this article name some new ideas that you have learned about the teaching profession.

Writing Task

Directions: Choose one of the topics for an essay and share them with the class.

Write an essay in which you describe a kindness that  a teacher has shown you or someone that you know.

Write an essay explaining why teachers in the United States deserve better salaries and more respect.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas  you’ve learned about the topic from the reading (feel free to use the information from question 11 in your reading group) two things  that  you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Education