Category Archives: Education

Congratulations to President Biden and Vice President Harris!

Inauguration Day January 20, 2021

President Biden and Vice President Harris

Category: Education

Classes Outdoors is One Way to Teach Safely During Covid-19

“To combat the coronavirus, schools across America moved students outdoors. Here’s a look at four new learning environments.” A. Nierenberg, The New York Times, Oct. 27, 2020

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

It’s a living classroom,Mrs. Moran said of the school’s outdoor garden. And not just for science. It could be anything.T. Spinski for The New York Times

 

Excerpt: Classrooms Without Walls, and Hopefully Covid — By Amelia Nierenberg, The New York Times, Oct. 27, 2020

“First graders sit crisscross applesauce on tree stumps, hands sky-high to ask a question. Third graders peer closely at the plants growing in class gardens, or spread themselves out in a sunflower-filled space to read.When the sun beats down, students take shelter under shades made from boat sails.

That’s what a school day is like this year in one community on Cape Cod, where every student now spends at least part of the day learning outdoors — at least when the rain holds off.

Seeking ways to teach safely during the pandemic, schools across the United States have embraced the idea of classes in the open air, as Americans did during disease outbreaks a century ago.

The efforts to throw tents over playgrounds and arrange desks in parks and parking lots have brought new life to an outdoor education movement, inspired in part by Scandinavian ‘forest schools’where children bundle up against frigid temperatures for long romps in the snow.

‘The outside provides much more flexibility,’ said Sharon Danks, the chief executive of Green Schoolyards America and the coordinator of the National Covid-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative, which formed in May.

‘You can have a six-foot-apart seating chart, and have enough space to move around.’

‘Covid has hastened the pace of a shift toward trying to take better advantage of the outdoors,’ said Maria Libby, the superintendent of the Five Town Community School District in Rockport, Maine, who bought tents and Adirondack chairs for outdoor classrooms.

Here is a look at four American schools where students are learning in the open air, and where at least some parents and teachers hope that the temporary measures might become permanent, for as long as the weather cooperates.

Six feet is hard for kindergarten students to picture, so to help teach children in Falmouth, Mass., to maintain social distance, their teachers tied knots in a long rope for walks. 

In one Cape Cod community, students learn outside almost every day. T. Spinski for The New York Times

In one Cape Cod community, students learn outside almost every day. “It lets them think on a more fundamental level than sitting in a classroom with a desk,” the president of the local Rotary chapter said…’It’s a living classroom,’ Mrs. Moran said of the school’s outdoor garden. ‘And not just for science. It could be anything.’

Ms. Earle turned to an arborist friend for help, and parents pitched in their time and tools. L. Justice for the NYT

First-grade students complete sentence-structure lessons outside. “We should have been doing this all along,” said Lori Duerr, the superintendent. ‘This is doable, especially in our community, where numbers are very low.’

Lori Duerr, the Falmouth Public Schools superintendent, said the district didn’t have to spend money on the project because the community stepped up. ‘These are not just parents,’ she said. ‘These are just community people who are jumping in to also help.’

Mr. Barley and students take a break under the sun.  De. Rios for the NY

Chris Barley teaches an interdisciplinary class of ninth and 10th grade students. Multiple classes can meet at the same time on the expansive roof…The school hosted events under the sky. After classes, children played soccer on a rubber field and shot hoops on the basketball court. Now, the roof doubles as a classroom space.

 

‘We didn’t really have to modify anything, because it’s technically a schoolyard,’ said Wallace Simpson, the school’s principal. ‘It’s designed to be used.’..Samaiya Bailey, 17, a senior, said she loves the breaks she takes on the roof between classes. There, she can see her friends, at a safe distance...At the start of each school day, Dana Hotho’s students ask: ‘Where are we learning today?’

to help teach children in Falmouth, Mass., to maintain social distance, their teachers tied knots in a long rope for walks. T. Spinski, NYT

It’s a fair question. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, Ms. Hotho takes her class from Lakeside Intermediate School to Garvan Woodland Gardens at the University of Arkansas. The program in the botanical garden, developed over the summer by Bruce Orr, an assistant superintendent, serves students across the district with special needs…As they work, she plays quiet classical music from a Bluetooth speaker. A peacock named George might wander through class…Often, though, she uses the outdoor space for activities that would be impossible in a classroom. She weaves counting lessons into socially distanced dance parties or sends children on scavenger hunts through the gardens.

At the Prairie Hill Waldorf School outside of Milwaukee, students do not use technology in the classroom until middle school. And even then, they use it sparingly, under an educational philosophy developed a century ago in Germany and followed at some private and charter schools in the United States. “Virtual learning definitely isn’t a strong option for us, so we wanted to come back to school in a safe way,” said Lindsey Earle, a fourth-grade teacher at the Prairie Hill school, which has about 125 students in pre-K to eighth grade.

Ms. Earle had almost no carpentry experience before starting the project. L. Justice for The New York Times

Her idea for how to do that: Build a 12-sided outdoor classroom. Ms. Earle spent the summer months working alongside parent volunteers to create the space, and the outdoors easily become part of her lessons on Wisconsin history and geography… Ms. Earle installed a wood-burning clay stove in her classroom, which she hopes will heat the space through the snowy winter months. She is still trying to raise donations for a roof, but a tarp works for now.”

REMEMBERING DR. KING:

~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ~

January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 60 minutes.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities : Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine any 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: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Third graders peer closely at the plants growing.
  2. When the sun beats down, students take shelter under shades made from boat sails.
  3. Schools across the United States have embraced the idea of classes in the open air.   
  4. The outdoor education movement was  inspired in part by Scandinavian ‘forest schools.’   
  5. Children bundle up against frigid temperatures for long romps in the snow.
  6. Teachers are learning carpentry to build their own outdoor classrooms.
  7. Covid has hastened the pace of toward outdoor education.
  8. Some parents and teachers hope that the temporary measures might become permanent.
  9. Holding outdoor classes in public schools has been kind of prohibitive.
  10. Some teachers think that having students learn outside lets them think on a more fundamental level.

 

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

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

I

  1. First graders sit crisscross on tree stumps.
  2. Third graders peer closely at the plants growing outside.
  3. Some students takes shelter under shades made from boat sails.

 

II

  1. The outside provides much more flexibility.
  2. You can has a six-foot-apart seating chart.
  3. Some teachers learned carpentry to build their own outdoor classrooms.

III

  1. Six feet is hard for kindergarten students too picture.
  2. Local lumber companies donated stumps for seats.
  3. Families pitched in old outdoor gear. 

 

Reading Comprehension:  Identify TheSpeakers

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

  1. “The outside provides much more flexibility…You can have a six-foot-apart seating chart, and have enough space to move around.”
  2. “Covid has hastened the pace of a shift toward trying to take better advantage of the outdoors,”
  3.   “Montessori-style, or Waldorf, they’ve been doing this kind of thing for a long time…But to do it in the public school system has been kind of prohibitive.”
  4. “The students are excellent…They have been remarkable coming back. They get it. They want to be here.”
  5. These are not just parents…These are just community people who are jumping in to also help.”
  6. “Now, the roof doubles as a classroom space.
  7. We didn’t really have to modify anything, because it’s technically a schoolyard.”
  8. “Virtual learning definitely isn’t a strong option for us, so we wanted to come back to school in a safe way.”

 

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

Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class.

  1. Why are teachers holding class outdoors?
  2. What are Scandinavian “forest schools”?
  3. According to Sharon Danks, what does outside classrooms provide?
  4. In order to help build additional outdoor classrooms, what are teachers and parents doing?
  5. How do most teachers and parents feel about teaching outdoors?
  6. According to Ms. Loenardi which schools have already been holding outdoor classes?
  7. In your opinion, is it better to teach outdoors or inside classrooms?
  8. What new information have you learned from this article?

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

Three, Two, One: Let’s Put 2020 Behind Us!

“Every year on Dec. 31, the approach of midnight finds us drawing a line in time. The way we do this varies — we eat black-eyed peas, or fling open the windows, or run into an icy ocean — but the idea is always the same. On this night, we put something behind us and seal it off, so it is part of the past. And then we try to begin again.” E. Barry, The New York Times, December 2020

A clear message was being sent in Times Square this week.Credit...Carlo Allegri:Reuters

A clear message was being sent in Times Square this week.Credit…Carlo Allegri:Reuters

 

Three, two, one: Let’s put 2020 behind us. Ellen Barry, The New York Times

“It is difficult to imagine any year when our need of this ritual has been greater. Many of us have lost those dearest to us, and absorbed those losses in isolation. Livelihoods have been wiped away like vapor from a window. And yet, without the fireworks, the giddiness of crowds, we have never been so constrained in our rituals.

That does not mean we are not celebrating. Inside lighted rooms, we will raise glasses to the people who sacrificed for us, to the triumphant performance of our health care workers, and to a thousand small kindnesses already receding from memory. Yeah, yeah, the end of a year may be an illusion, just a way to trick ourselves into keeping going. But we made it.”

Here are some ways you can see off the year, virtually J. Gross and M. Fazio, The New York Times

How to commemorate the end of a year of widespread unemployment, racial unrest and political animosity, not to mention an ongoing pandemic? If you’re at home looking for a festive yet socially distanced way to bid farewell to 2020, consider taking a virtual trip around the world.

New Year’s Eve was celebrated like no other, with pandemic restrictions limiting crowds in Beijing and other major cities in China.Credit…Ng Han Guan:Associated Press

The midnight fireworks above the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House were opulent, but the streets were nearly empty this year.Credit…Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

In New York City, a crystal ball will still drop from One Times Square, complete with confetti and “Auld Lang Syne.” A livestream of the event starts at 6 p.m. Eastern, and it will be covered on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” hosted by Ryan Seacrest on ABC, and “CNN’s New Year’s Eve,” hosted by Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen.

Times Square, NYC December 21, 2020

FROM ESL-VOICES: HAVE A PROSPEROUS AND SAFE NEW YEAR!

Category: Education

The Greatest Gift By Philip Van Doren Stern

The Greatest Gift is a 1943 short story written by Philip Van Doren Stern which became the basis for the film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946). It tells the story of George Pratt, a man who is dissatisfied with his life and contemplates suicide. As he stands on a bridge on Christmas Eve 1943, he is approached by a strange, unpleasantly dressed but well-mannered man with a bag. The man strikes up a conversation, and George tells the man that he wishes he had never been born. The man tells him that his wish has been granted and that he was never born.” ~Courtesy Wikipedia

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Note: This is an Excerpt. For the entire story visit: What So Proudly We Hail Library

The little town straggling up the hill was bright with colored Christmas lights. But George Pratt did not see them. He was leaning over the railing of the iron bridge, staring down moodily at the black water. The current eddied and swirled like liquid glass, and occasionally a bit of ice, detached from the shore, would go gliding downstream to be swallowed up in the shadows under the bridge.

“The water looked paralyzingly cold. George wondered how long a man could stay alive in it. The glassy blackness had a strange, hypnotic effect on him. He leaned still farther over the railing. . .‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you,’ a quiet voice beside him said.

George turned resentfully to a little man he had never seen before. He was stout, well past middle age, and his round cheeks were pink in the winter air as though they had just been shaved. ‘Wouldn’t do what?’ George asked sullenly.’What you were thinking of doing. ‘How do you know what I was thinking?’ ‘Oh, we make it our business to know a lot of things,’ the stranger said easily.

George wondered what the man’s business was. He wore a moth-eaten old fur cap and a shabby overcoat that was stretched tightly across his paunchy belly. Nothing else about him was noteworthy. He wore a moth-eaten old fur cap and a shabby overcoat that was stretched tightly across his paunchy belly. He was carrying a small black satchel. It wasn’t a doctor’s bag—it was too large for that and not the right shape. It was a salesman’s sample kit, George decided distastefully. The fellow was probably some sort of peddler, the kind who would go around poking his sharp little nose into other people’s affairs.

‘Looks like snow, doesn’t it?’ the stranger said, glancing up appraisingly at the overcast sky. ‘It’ll be nice to have a white Christmas. They’re getting scarce these days— but so are a lot of things.’ He turned to face George squarely. ‘You all right now?’

‘Of course I’m all right. What made you think I wasn’t? I—’George fell silent before the stranger’s quiet gaze.

The little man shook his head. ‘You know you shouldn’t think of such things—and on Christmas Eve of all times! You’ve got to consider Mary—and your mother too.’

George opened his mouth to ask how this stranger could know his wife’s name, but the fellow anticipated him. ‘Don’t ask me how I know such things. It’s my business to know ’em. That’s why I came along this way tonight. Lucky I did too.’ He glanced down at the dark water and shuddered.  ‘Well, if you know so much about me,’ George said, “give me just one good reason why I should be alive.’

The little man made a queer chuckling sound. ‘Come, come, it can’t be that bad. You’ve got your job at the bank. And Mary and the kids. You’re healthy, young, and—’

‘And sick of everything!” George cried. ‘I’m stuck here in this mud hole for life, doing the same dull work day after day. Other men are leading exciting lives, but I—well, I’m just a small-town bank clerk that even the army didn’t want.  I never did anything really useful or interesting, and it looks as if I never will. I might just as well be dead. I might better be dead. Sometimes I wish I were. In fact, I wish I’d never been born!’

The little man stood looking at him in the growing darkness. ‘What was that you said?’ he asked softly.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

Language Skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary activities are included.

Time: approximately 2 hours.

Materials:  Copy of story The Greatest Gift, biography of Philip Van Doren Stern, examples of Components for Literary Analysis, and access to the video clips below.

Objectives:  Students will  read and discuss the short story The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern. Students will achieve a better understanding of the story by learning literary devices and terms  (e.g., imagery, symbolism, setting,) used for analyzing stories.  They will also learn how to  analyze the relationship between characters, and events in the story by using these literary devices.

I. Pre-Reading Exercises

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Ask students to think about what they already know about  the film It’s A Wonderful Life. Next, have students look at  any pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the story  As a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming Map by rentonschools.us

 

Pre-reading Discussion Questions

Directions: Have students discuss the following questions prior to reading the story.

The Greatest Gift  is a story about a man who is very unhappy with his life and wishes that he was never born. His wish is granted and the story follows how he handles being unborn.

Think about the following questions.  Discuss your ideas with your  group members.

1. Describe a time when you were very unhappy with the way your life was going. First, how did you feel? Second, what did you do to help the situation?

2. In your opinion what makes life valuable?

3. In general, when people are frustrated and unhappy with their lives, what’s the best advice you would give them?

II. While Reading Tasks

Vocabulary:  Word Inference

Directions: Have students  infer the meanings of the words in bold font taken from the story. They can use this great Vocabulary Chart.

  1. The current eddied and swirled like liquid glass.
  2. George turned resentfully to a little man he had never seen before.
  3. “Wouldn’t do what?” George asked sullenly.
  4. He was a most unremarkable little person.
  5. Nothing else about him was noteworthy.
  6. The little man made a queer chuckling sound.
  7. You’d better take this with you,” he said, holding out his satchel.
  8. After that, of course, it’s a cinch.
  9. George felt a sudden burst of affection.
  10. His father waved toward the door. “Go on in,” he said cordially.
  11. His voice faltered.
  12. His mother smiled at his awkwardness.
  13. The choir was making last-minute preparations for Christmas vespers.

 

Prediction and Character Organizer Charts

Directions: Students may use these Prediction and Character  profile charts by Pace High School as  a while-reading tool to aid in their comprehension of the events and of the characters in the story.

Questions for Comprehension

Directions: After students have reviewed Components for Literary Analysis have them answer the following questions from the story. They can use their  analysis charts as guides.

  1. During what holiday does the story take place?
  2. What was the one thing George felt was outstanding about the stranger?
  3. Describe the stranger.
  4. What kind of profession did George think the stranger had?
  5. The stranger begins to tell George why his life “can’t be that bad.”  What are some of the things he tells George?
  6. Why is George “sick of everything”?
  7. The stranger tells  George why his life “can’t be that bad.”  What are some of the things he tells George?
  8. Why is George “sick of everything?”
  9. What wish does George make?
  10. Describe the stranger’s reaction to George’s wish.
  11. What is George’s reaction after the stranger grants him his wish?
  12. Why did the stranger give George the satchel?
  13. What was inside the satchel?
  14. What happened when George tried to return the satchel to the stranger?
  15. What quarrel did George have with Hank Biddle?
  16. When George inspected the damaged tree in Hank’s yard, what was his reaction?
  17. Why did the ‘nonexistent scar’ on the tree bother George?
  18. Describe what George saw when he  reached the bank where he worked.
  19. Who was Jim Silva?
  20. Why didn’t Jim Silva recognize George?
  21. Who was Marty Jenkins and what did he do involving the bank?
  22. Who was Art Jenkins?  What problem did Art have?
  23. Who did Art Jenkins marry?
  24. Why do you think this information disturbed George Platt?
  25. Why didn’t George go find Mary right away?
  26. How did George’s parents behave when he visited them?
  27. What did George find out about Mary from his parents?
  28. Who was Harry?
  29. Why did George’s mother get upset when Harry’s name was mentioned
  30. How did George remember the incident with Harry?
  31. What changes occurred because George Platt did not exist?
  32. Why did the stranger let George live again?
  33. When George reached Hank Biddle’s house, what did he do first?
  34. At the end of the story what did George find in his house that made his voice freeze

 

Questions for Literary Analysis

Themes are messages or ideas in a story. Usually themes are some beliefs about life or life experiences the author is trying to express to the reader. Examples: honesty, death and dying, love, importance of family)

What are some of the themes in the story?

Symbolism is the practice using an object, place, person or words to represent an abstract idea in a story. When an author wants to suggest a certain mood or emotion they use symbolism to hint at it, as oppossed to just saying it.Examples: flowers can represent romance, fog might represent a bad omen.

What are some of the symbols in the story?

Imagery is descriptive language authors use to create a picture in the reader’s mind. Imagery usually involves the senses: sight, taste, sound, touch andsmell. Examples: ‘the tangy taste of lemon’ ‘the loud ringing of the bells’, ‘the red and gold sunset’)

Identify some examples of how the author used imagery in the story.

 

Questions for Reflection

Directions:  Have  students discuss the following questions.

  1. The stranger says to George, “Oh, we make it our business to know a lot of things,” the stranger said easily.   Who is the “we”  the stranger is referring to? 
  2. George opened his mouth to ask how this stranger could know his wife’s name, but the fellow anticipated him. “Don’t ask me how I know such things. It’s my business to know ’em.” What  do you think his  business is?
  3. After George told the stranger his wish, why did the stranger react the way he did? (Why that’s wonderful!) In your opinion, should he have reacted differently?  Were you surprised by this response? Why or why not?
  4. When George tells the stranger, “they need me here.”  Who needs George and why do they need him? 
  5. Do you think George needs those  people?  Why?
  6. When George Pratt asks for his life back, the stranger tells George Pratt,  “You got everything you asked for. You’re the freest man on earth now.”  Give some examples of  how George is “free”.
  7. In your opinion, What is the Greatest Gift?
  8. At the end of the story, George thinks perhaps it was all a dream. What do you think happened to George?  Why?
  9. What have you  learned from this story?
  10. The stranger says to George, “Oh, we make it our business to know a lot of things,” the stranger said easily.   Who is the “we”  the stranger is referring to? 
  11. George opened his mouth to ask how this stranger could know his wife’s name, but the fellow anticipated him. “Don’t ask me how I know such things. It’s my business to know ’em.” What  do you think his  business is?
  12. After George told the stranger his wish, why did the stranger react the way he did? (Why that’s wonderful!) In your opinion, should he have reacted differently?  Were you surprised by this response? Why or why not?

Writing Assignment 

Directions: Have students choose a topic from below and write an essay to share with the class.

1.Choose one of the themes and write an essay describing your thoughts about the theme.

2. Write a description for each character that appears in the story.

3. In the The Greatest Gift , Philip Van Doren Stern had a happy ending.See if you can write a different a different ending for the story. Share your ending with the class.

IV. Listening Activity

Compare Opening scenes from film “It’s A Wonderful Life” to opening scenes from the short story The Greatest Gift.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story and booklet The Greatest Gift, which Philip Van Doren Stern published in 1943. Wikipedia

1st clip:

It’s A Wonderful Life | Suicide Attempt | Frank Capra

 

 

2nd clip:

It’s a Wonderful Life Movie CLIP

 

Beginning of Short Story The Christmas Gift By Philip Van Doren Stern

The little town straggling up the hill was bright with colored Christmas lights. But George Pratt did not see them. He was leaning over the railing of the iron bridge, staring down moodily at the black water. The current eddied and swirled like liquid glass, and occasionally a bit of ice, detached from the shore, would go gliding downstream to be swallowed up in the shadows under the bridge.

The water looked paralyzingly cold. George wondered how long a man could stay alive in it. The glassy blackness had a strange, hypnotic effect on him. He leaned still farther over the railing. . .“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” a quiet voice beside him said.

George turned resentfully to a little man he had never seen before. He was stout, well past middle age, and his round cheeks were pink in the winter air as though they had just been shaved.

“Wouldn’t do what?” George asked sullenly.
“What you were thinking of doing.”
“How do you know what I was thinking?”
“Oh, we make it our business to know a lot of things,” the stranger said easily.

3rd clip:  It’s a Wonderful Life  Movie CLIP – Careful What You Wish For (1946)

 

Excerpt From Short Story The Greatest Gift

“Well, if you know so much about me,” George said, “give me just one good reason why I should be alive.”

The little man made a queer chuckling sound. “Come, come, it can’t be that bad. You’ve got your job at the bank. And Mary and the kids. You’re healthy, young, and—”

I never did anything really useful or interesting, and it looks as if I never will. I might just as well be dead. I might better be dead. Sometimes I wish I were. In fact, I wish I’d never been born!”

The little man stood looking at him in the growing darkness. “What was that you said?” he asked softly.

“I said I wish I’d never been born,” George repeated firmly. “And I mean it too.”

The stranger’s pink cheeks glowed with excitement. “Why that’s wonderful! You’ve solved everything. I was afraid you were going to give me some trouble. But now you’ve got the solution yourself. You wish you’d never been born. All right! OK! You haven’t!” “What do you mean?” George growled.

“You haven’t been born. Just that. You haven’t been born. No one here knows you. You have no responsibilities—no job—no wife—no children. Why, you haven’t even a mother. You couldn’t have, of course. All your troubles are over. Your wish, I am happy to say, has been granted—officially.”

 

Questions

Directions: Review the clips from the film “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Read the excerpts from the short story The Greatest Gift. Answer the following questions:

1. In the beginning of It’s A Wonderful Life what are the differences between the opening scenes in the film (directed by Frank Capra) and the opening scenes in the short story written by Philip Van Doren Stern?

2. Which version do you prefer? Explain Why?

ANSWER KEY

 

President Joe Biden and Jill Biden Attend War Memorial in Philadelphia

President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden, attend a service at the Philadelphia Korean War Memorial at Penn’s Landing on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo:Alex Brandon)

 

Think of the Men and Women Who Gave up Their Tomorrows So We Could Enjoy Our Todays. Huffingtonpost

 

Joe Biden has won the Presidency AND Kamala Harris will be the nation’s first woman of color to hold the office of Vice President in the United States – November 7, 2020

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, promising to restore political normalcy and a spirit of national unity to confront raging health and economic crises, and making Donald J. Trump a one-term president after four years of tumult in the White House…In a brief statement, Mr. Biden called for healing and unity. “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” he said.

“It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.” ~PRESIDENT Joseph R. Biden~

LESSON PLAN: Thanksgiving Circa 1900: No Pilgrims Or Indians…Just Masks

“Oddest thing: Thanksgiving in turn-of-the-20th century America used to look a heckuva lot like Halloween. People — young and old — got all dressed up and staged costumed crawls through the streets. In Los Angeles, Chicago and other places around the country, newspapers ran stories of folks wearing elaborate masks and cloth veils. Thanksgiving mask balls were held in Cape Girardeau, Mo., Montesano, Wash., and points in between.” L. Weeks, NPR  (November, 2014)

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: When Thanksgiving Was Weird By Linton Weeks, NPR

“In New York City — where the tradition was especially strong — a local newspaper reported in 1911 that fantastically garbed youngsters and their elders were on every corner of the city.

Thanksgiving maskers, circa 1910-1915. Bain News Service:Library of Congress

Thousands of folks ran rampant, one syndicated column noted. Horns and rattles are worked overtime. The throwing of confetti and even flour on pedestrians is an allowable pastime. It must have been like a strange American dream.

Of course there was the familiar Thanksgiving fare for those who could afford it — turkey, pork, apples, figs and mince pies. But there was also a widespread weirdness that has faded away over the years.

Thanksgiving maskers, circa 1910-1915. Bain News Service:Library of Congress

In fact, so many people participated in masking and making merry back then that, according to a widely distributed item that appeared in the Los Angeles Times of Nov. 21, 1897, Thanksgiving was “the busiest time of the year for the manufacturers of and dealers in masks and false faces.

Maskers with baskets, circa 1910-1915. Bain News Service:Library of Congress

The fantastical costume parades and the old custom of making and dressing up for amusement on Thanksgiving day keep up from year to year in many parts of the country, so that the quantity of false faces sold at this season is enormous… In New York: “Newspapers advertised ‘Thanksgiving masks’ and ‘lithographed character masks’ for the tots.

Thanksgiving maskers, circa 1910-1915. Bain News Service:Library of Congress.

These featureless disguises were often sold in candy stores alongside holiday related treats like spiced jelly gums, opera drops, crystallized ginger and tinted hard candies… Children would dress themselves in rags and oversized, overdone parodies of beggars (a la Charlie Chaplin’s character ‘The Tramp’) The ragamuffins would then ask neighbors and adults on the street, ‘Anything for Thanksgiving?’…Ragamuffin parades continued to be popular into the 1950s, but they were eventually overpowered by another burgeoning tradition catapulted into prominence by the 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2014

The new symbol of Thanksgiving also showcased people in fantastic masks and costumes and, in addition, hoisted giant character-based balloons. It was called Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have themexamine 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 Organizer By Scholastic

 

II. While Reading Tasks

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. Fantastically garbed youngsters were on every corner.
  2. One columnist noted that many folks ran rampant.
  3. The throwing of confetti and even flour on pedestrians was allowed.
  4. Many people participated in masking.
  5. Masks were a widely distributed item.
  6. There were many popular get-ups at the time.
  7. Some masks greatly exaggerated facial peculiarities.
  8. More refined revelers donned soft, ghostly, painted veils.
  9. Many people kept the tradition alive.
  10. Children would dress themselves in rags and parodies of beggars.

 

Reading Comprehension

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 marauders/masqueraders rode/ride horses; others strayed/straddled bicycles. Everyone was generous/genuine with pennies and nickels, and the candy stores did a land-office business.

So many young/youngsters in New York City dressed as poor/pop people, Thanksgiving Day took on a nickname: Ragamuffin Day. Parodies/Parades of ragamuffins — sometimes called ‘fantastics’ because of the costumes — can be dated/dates at least to 1891. The ragamuffins would then/than ask neighbors and adults on the street, ‘Anything for Thanksgiving?’

Grammar Focus

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

For a review of Adjectives visit ESL Voices Grammarhttp://esl-voices.com/teachers/grammar-strategies-and-activities/

III. Post Reading Tasks

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/Writing Exercise

Directions: Have students answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the them share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

The following two statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each statement in your own words, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group:

  1. “By 1930, the library blog reports, some New Yorkers were ready to move on. School Superintendent William J. O’Shea instructed administrators that modernity is incompatible with the custom of children to masquerade and annoy adults on Thanksgiving day” by asking for gifts and money.”
  2. “Others kept the tradition alive. The Madison Square Club for Boys and Young Men, for instance, put on Ragamuffin Parades in an attempt to bring order to the occasion. The 1940 parade, according to the library blog, featured more than 400 children and touted the group’s motto: American boys do not beg.”

 

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

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