Category Archives: Mental Health Issues

The (Much Needed) Healing Power of Laughter

“Some enlightened doctors, nurses and therapists have a prescription for helping all of us to get through this seemingly never-ending pandemic: Try a little laughter.” R. Schiffman, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Megan Werner uses ‘Irwin,’ a skeleton, to help defuse tensions in her therapy groups.Credit- Megan Werner

Excerpt:Laughter May Be Effective Medicine for These Trying Times, By Richard Schiffman, The New York Times

“Humor is not just a distraction from the grim reality of the crisis, said Dr. Michael Miller, a cardiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. It’s a winning strategy to stay healthy in the face of it…‘Having a good sense of humor is an excellent way to relieve stress and anxiety and bring back a sense of normalcy during theseturbulent times.’

Photo Credit- Medical News Today

Perhaps most relevant today, possessing a sense of humor also helps people remain resilient in the face of adverse circumstances, said George Bonanno, a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University.

Try Laughing-Credit- Getty Images

‘Charlie Chaplin once said ‘In order to truly laugh you need to be able to take your pain and play with it,’ said Paul Osincup, the president of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. Write down all of the most difficult and annoying things about quarantine,’Mr. Osincup recommends. Play with those. See if you can find any humor in your situation.

Photo credit- DLPNG

Megan Werner, a psychotherapist in private practice, uses a similar strategy in her work with at-risk youth in Fayetteville, Ark. During group therapy sessions, she has the teenage gang members she works with interact with ‘Irwin,’ a life-size Halloween skeleton, to encourage them to confront their dangerous lifestyle head-on.

‘Most of the time you try to deflate a painful situation,’ she said. ‘In my therapy work, it’s more like ‘let’s blow it up, let’s make it so absurd that we laugh about it.’

Mary Laskin, a nurse case-manager at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, has been working with her chronic pain patients online, teaching them laughter exercises alongside practices designed to develop other positive mental states like gratitude and forgiveness. ‘This pandemic is like a tiger creeping toward us, a huge slow-motion stressor that makes the experience of pain worse. Humor helps my patients relax and release their grip on pain,’  she said…She recommends ‘laughter first-aid boxes,’ where they can stash joke books, funny toys and other props for this purpose.

Mary Laskin, a nurse case-manager, recommends a laughter first aid box for her patients.Credit- Courtesy of Mary Laskin

Humor can also serve to powerfully reaffirm one’s humanity in the face of illness or disability, said Dr. B.J. Miller, a palliative care physician in San Francisco who suffered a freak electrical accident in 1990 that cost him two legs and an arm.

B.J. Miller, a doctor and triple amputee, used his own experience to pioneer a new model of palliative care. Credit: NYT

After the accident, he said, most people — including medical staff members — viewed him as an object of pity. ‘There is a solemnity in how people look at you,’ he said. “You are essentially walled off from others.

The one exception, he recalled, were the men who scrubbed off his burned skin in the hospital. ‘It’s a terrible job, I mean you are inflicting reams of pain on someone to save their life,’ Dr. Miller said. ‘But this ragtag crew, they were freaking hilarious. One of them had a flask and was drinking during the procedure, they were cracking jokes the whole time.’ ‘It made me stronger because they were looking at me and saying this guy can handle the pain and he can also handle a joke — it made me feel like a human being again.’ Inspired by their example, Dr. Miller said, he uses every opportunity to bring a dose of comic relief into his own medical work. Increasingly, he sees his colleagues doing so as well.”

CNN Poll: Biden Wins Final Presidential Debate!

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden answers a question during the debate [ with tRump] 2020. (Morry Gash / Associated Press)

“Joe Biden did a better job in the final debate on Thursday, according to a CNN Instant Poll of debate watchers. Overall, 53% of voters who watched the debate said that Biden won the matchup…”CNN

Beautiful photo of Presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife Jill after the debate 2020. Courtesy CNN

Supporters of Joe Biden cheer as the Democrat’s motorcade passes en route to the final presidential debate in Nashville.(Carolyn Kaster : Associated Press)

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: 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. Some enlightened doctors, nurses and therapists have a prescription for helping us to get through this pandemic.
  2. Having a sense of humor is the key to helping us.
  3. Humor is not just a distraction from the grim reality of the crisis.
  4. Heightened stress magnifies the risk of cardiovascular events.
  5. Having a good sense of humor helps during these turbulent times.
  6. Humor also helps people remain resilient in the face of adverse circumstances.
  7. Most of the time you try to deflate a painful situation.
  8. Many health experts encourage people to actively cultivate the healing power of laughter.
  9. Humor can also serve to powerfully reaffirm one’s humanity in the face of illness.
  10. We must try to maintain our humanity during these challenging times.

 

 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. Having a good sense of humor are an excellent way to relieve stress.
  2. Doctors, nurses and therapists have a prescription for patients.
  3. Possessing a healthy sense of humor is also a stress reliever.

II

  1. Heightened stress magnifies the risk of cardiovascular events.
  2. Dr. Miller prescribes one good belly laughs a day for his patients.
  3. Ms. Laskin suggests that her patients treat humor as a discipline.

III

  1. Some kinds of joking is potentially destructive.
  2. Some hospitals have initiated formal humor programs.
  3. Some caregivers are also innovating ways to bring humor into their own practice.

Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. Humor is not just a distraction from the grim reality of the crisis, said  It’s a winning strategy to stay healthy in the face of it.”
  2. “…laughter has also been shown to reduce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and increases the body’s uptake of the feel-good endorphins.”
  3. There also appear to be cognitive benefits from watching a funny video.”
  4. “Perhaps most relevant today, possessing a sense of humor also helps people remain resilient in the face of adverse circumstances.”
  5. “Write down all of the most difficult and annoying things about quarantine…See if you can find any humor in your situation.”
  6. During group therapy sessions, she has the teenage gang members she works with interact with “Irwin,” a life-size Halloween skeleton, to encourage them to confront their dangerous lifestyle head-on.”
  7. “This pandemic is like a tiger creeping toward us, a huge slow-motion stressor that makes the experience of pain worse. Humor helps my patients relax and release their grip on pain.”

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: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. There is an old saying that states, “Laughter is the best medicine”. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
  2. During these difficult times do you feel like laughing? Why or why not?
  3. According to DR. Michael Miller what does laughter and a  good sense of humor do for us in general?
  4. What does Dr. Miller recommend we do at least once a day?
  5. According to Dr. Singh, why should we watch funny videos?
  6. Why is ‘possessing a sense of humor’ helpful in the face of adverse circumstances?
  7. What is the famous quote by Charlie Chaplin? Do you agree or disagree with this advice? Please explain provide reasons for your answers.
  8. What does Paul Osincup recommend we do with all the annoying things about the quarantine? In your opinion is this a good idea? Explain why or why not.
  9. Ms.  Laskin states, “Our health care system focuses on passive ways to manage pain like taking a pill or getting an operation…I encourage people to actively cultivate the healing power of laughter, which puts them back in the driver’s seat.” In your own words explain what she means.
  10. Why is it unusual for Dr. B. J. Miller to have a sense of humor?  If you were in his position do you think you could maintain a sense of humor?  Explain why or why?
  11. What new information have you 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.

Extra Activities

Create a Laughter First-Aid Box

In the article  Mary Laskin, a nurse case manager, said she recommended “laughter first-aid boxes” for her patients, where they can stash joke books, funny toys and other props for this purpose.  Make a list of all the items you would place in your personal “Laughter First-Aid Box”  or create a physical box . Share your items with someone in your group.

ANSWER KEY

Ways to Help Your Kids From Falling Behind in School

“As kids start school with more online learning, parents wonder whether they’ll ever catch up. Here’s how to set them up for success.” H. Burns, The New York Times

Credit- Sonia Pulido, The NYT

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Worried Your Kid Is Falling Behind? You’re Not Alone, By Holly Burns, The New York Times

“The other day my mother gave me a book called ‘What Your Second Grader Should Know.’ A quick flip through it revealed that a few weeks from now, my son would need to label an insect’s thorax [and]discuss the role of Dolley Madison in the War of 1812.

In the wake of some serious distance learning burnout, the most educational thing we’d done all summer had been a contact-free library pickup of the latest ‘Captain Underpants.’ I suddenly wished we’d done a little more.

If you’re concerned that remote learning may have set your child back academically, brace yourself: It probably has… The question comes up constantly: When do we need to start panicking about our children falling behind?

Deborah Stipek, Ph.D., a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, said that may not be the right question to ask. ‘I think a more useful one is, ‘How do we ensure that our children get the best possible opportunities to learn under these challenging circumstances?’

To gauge potential gaps in learning, said Britt Menzies, a preschool teacher in Atlanta, Ga., scatter informal tests throughout the day. ‘Have a child count their peas while they’re eating dinner,” she said. “See how many letters they recognize on a billboard… But don’t stress over hard-hitting academics for the pre-K set, said Emily Levitt, vice president of education for Sylvan Learning…Instead, weave in playful learning activities, like ‘baking sheets filled with lentils to give kids a multi-sensory way to trace shapes and numbers,’ she said.

‘Regardless of socioeconomic status, a household filled with anxiety and stress can be a major driver of kids falling behind’, said Bruce Fuller, Ph.D., a professor of education and public policy at U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education.

When parents lose their patience or don’t listen, said Dr. Fuller, children can start to shut down emotionally, in turn disengaging from reading and rich conversation inside the family.

That rings true for Lindsay Williams, an interior decorator in Madison, Wis., who said she’s dreading the pressure that comes with teaching her 6- and 9-year-old herself. ‘I’m terrified I’m going to screw my kids up, because I get so easily flustered and frustrated,’ she said…To ease the burden, Williams is thinking of forming a neighborhood learning co-op, so that she and a few other families can share the duties of teaching the material provided by the school. ‘Meeting regularly with a small, safe group of peers can be beneficial for the social-emotional health of both children and parents, said Dr. Fuller.'”

“The Democrats bowed to the realities of the pandemic and canceled the major in-person speeches that were still planned for their convention this month.” Reid J. Epstein and Katie Glueck/ The New York Times

“I’ve wanted to set an example as to how we should respond individually to this crisis,” Mr. Biden said at a fund-raiser on Wednesday. “Science matters.” ~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

 

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: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine the photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

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. The author stated that her son would need to label an insect’s thorax.
  2. The collective angst in some parenting circles has reached an intense agitation level.
  3. Many parents also  panic  at the thought of their kids failing in school.
  4. Schools want to ensure that kids receive the best education.
  5. Every child deserves the best opportunities to learn during these challenging times.
  6. Experts suggest that parents give kids informal tests throughout the day.
  7. Experts also suggest that parents try not to prompt kids to get a better picture of what skills they need to on.
  8. Educators state that kids will likely bounce  back very quickly when they go back to school.
  9. One parent stated that her 6-year-old, who has A.D.H.D., won’t flourish academically with remote instruction.
  10. Affluent parents are better situated to help or hire help for their kids working online.

 

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. “I think a more useful one is, ‘How do we ensure that our children get the best possible opportunities to learn under these challenging circumstances?”
  2. “At home, board games are an easy way to reinforce turn-taking etiquette. Parents can also work on delaying gratification. If your child asks for a snack, stretch out the time between them asking and you giving it to them.”
  3. “Have a child count their peas while they’re eating dinner,” she said. “See how many letters they recognize on a billboard. Ask them what shapes are in that picture they drew.”
  4. “Weave in playful learning activities, like “baking sheets filled with lentils to give kids a multi-sensory way to trace shapes and numbers.”
  5. “She can’t read yet, so she can’t get through the computer work without assistance. She zones out if I’m not sitting next to her. And I can’t sit next to her all the time because I have three other children who need me.”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Directions:  Use this advanced organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist with  finding  the main points from the article.

Topic organizer. By Enchanted Learning

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. What does research show about children returning to school during Covid-19?
  2. According to Dr. Stipek, what question should we be asking about our children’s education?
  3. According to the article when do children learn the crucial social-emotional skills?
  4. What suggestions does Britt Menzies offer to help kids with potential learning gaps?
  5. What advice does  Emily Levitt offer to provide kids with a multi-sensory experience with shapes and numbers?
  6. Which group of kids face an even more difficult learning challenge?
  7. Dr. Stipek  suggests that parents of elementary school kids should look where for resources and guidance?
  8. Can you make  personal connections to this article? For example, if you have children (or know someone who does) is there a concern about kids falling behind in their school work?
  9. Can you think of ways to help parents and teachers help kids keep up with school work?

 

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.

ANSWER KEY

How to Comfort People During Covid-19

“The coronavirus won’t be going anywhere for a long time — and neither will our fears about it…There’s a lot to be scared of. But when people share their fears with you, what do you say?” A. Goldfarb, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Credit- Eric Mower and Assosciates

Excerpt: What to Say When People Tell You Their Coronavirus Fears, Anna Golfarb, The New York Times

“It may feel as if you’re offering comfort with a comment meant to lift their spirits — ‘You’ve got this!’ “’ know you’ll be fine!’ — but to those who are aching, these rah-rah sentiments can sound like you’re bulldozing over their pain, leaving little room for understanding or vulnerability.

Responding to someone’s expression of distress with an unhelpful, cheerful attitude is what the psychotherapist Whitney Goodman calls dismissive, or toxic, positivity.

An empathetic response reassures the other person that you’re seeing the situation from their side and sharing in their suffering. A dismissively positive response subtly shifts the burden of coping back onto the person who is expressing the negative emotion: If you tweaked your attitude, you’d feel better…At its root, dismissive positivity is a response from someone who feels uncomfortable in the situation aiming to make you feel better and quell your concerns, said Nicolle Osequeda, a psychotherapist. But it often ‘results in someone feeling unheard, frustrated, unsupported and alone.’Just because you say, ‘You’ll be fine!’that doesn’t mean that’s actually going to happen…‘That’s not how the world works,’said Ayanna Abrams, a licensed clinical psychologist. ‘That’s not how our bodies work. That’s not how our brain works.’

So here’s what to say — and what not to say — when people express their fears and worries to you right now.

Steer clear of fixing or reframing negative emotions.

Saying something like, ‘The vast majority of people who are infected recover,’ doesn’t help somebody manage their concerns in the moment, Dr. Abrams said.

Don’t minimize the other person’s fears. Saying things like, ‘You have nothing to worry about,’ does not make anxiety magically disappear… Nix the word ‘should.’ Statements with the word ‘should’ sound supportive, but they aren’t.

That’s because we are telling people what to do or how to feel, saidSonia Fregoso, a licensed marriage and family therapist…Instead, we should reflect, validate and be curious. A better way to phrase your concern is by using reflection, validation and curiosity, and in that order, Ms. Fregoso said. Mirror the emotion you hear in your friend’s voice. Fear, sadness and worry are all common emotions people are feeling right now…If you’ve said the wrong thing, you can still repair.

Once you realize what dismissive positivity statements sound like, you may realize you’ve botched the job as a confidant. It’s not too late to do some damage control. Dr. Abrams suggests reaching out and being transparent about missing the mark. Say something like, ‘Hey, I noticed when we were talking earlier, it didn’t seem like you were connecting with what I was saying. I realize I slipped into cheerleader mode too quickly. Can we try again? How are you doing now?’

If you’re at a loss for what to say next time you feel compelled to slip into cheerleader mode, she suggests asking the person directly what they would find helpful. Recruit them as an ally so you can face the issue together.

 

~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

“European diplomats and foreign policy experts say that a Joe Biden presidency would restore the United States’ strained alliances with Europe.” Business Insider

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: 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: 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. It’s hard to lift someone’s spirit in times like these.
  2. Many people are aching.
  3. People are also vulnerable at this time.
  4. Responding to someone’s expression of distress with an unhelpful, cheerful attitude is dismissive.
  5. An empathetic response reassures the other person that you’re seeing the situation from their side.
  6. If you tweaked your attitude, you’d feel better.
  7. At its root, dismissive positivity is a response from someone who feels uncomfortable in the situation.
  8. Try not to minimize the other person’s fears.
  9. Try not to give unsolicited advice.
  10. Nix the word ‘should’ when giving advice.

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.

Try not/no to gave/give unsolicited advice. Unless/useless the other person explicitly ask/asks you for suggestions on/in managing his/he or she/her concerns, you shouldn’t offer/off your two cents. Most likely, people are just looking/look for a/an ear, Dr. Abrams said. They’re looking for a/an heart, nobody/somebody who can meet/met them in the experience and then they can better figure it out on their own.”

Reading Comprehension: Identify The  Speakers

Directions:  Have students read the following quotes from speakers in the article to  see if they can identify the speakers.

  1. Responding to someone’s expression of distress with an unhelpful, cheerful attitude is dismissive, or toxic, positivity.”
  2. At its root, dismissive positivity is a response from someone who feels uncomfortable in the situation.”
  3. “That’s not how the world works. That’s not how our brain works.”
  4. Offering counsel like, ‘You should just practice self-care’ or ‘You shouldn’t be so negative,’ is not helpful.”

 

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. Have you had to comfort anyone since the covid-19?
  2. What advice did you give the person?
  3. List 3 things that one should not say to people in distress. List 3 things to say that are helpful to people in distress.
  4. What is one important  thing Dr. Abrams warns against when attempting to help a person who has fears?
  5. According to Sonia Fregoso what is the one word you should “nix”  when offering advice?
  6. After reading this article, would you change the way you give comfort and advice to people? If yes, explain how you would change.
  7. What new information have you 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

Children With Disabilities Will Suffer More This Covid-19 Summer

“The kids who most need social interaction this summer won’t be getting it.” H. Levine, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Keith Negley, NYT

Excerpt: As the Country Opens Up, Children With Disabilities Are Getting Left Behind, By Hallie Levine, The New York Times

“My 12-year-old daughter, Jo Jo, blossoms over the summer. For her, it’s a time for camp, pool trips with friends, bonfires… Last summer, she began going to the salon for monthly manicures…These events are a rite of passage for any preteen, but they’re particularly important for Jo Jo.

She has Down syndrome, which means she has an extra 21st chromosome that has led to overall developmental delays. For her, these regular social interactions are crucial. But this summer will be dramatically different. Like all kids, she’s been stuck at home since mid-March. Over the last couple weeks, many of those kids have started venturing out, meeting up for bike rides and beach excursions or other outdoor activities. Their parents talk about sending them to day camp, and setting up unofficial ‘quarantine bubbles.’

But Jo Jo and her two neurotypical brothers — Teddy, 10, and Geoffrey, 9 — remain at home, probably for the rest of the summer. Jo Jo is at high-risk for Covid-19 complication… Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled intellectual disability as a high risk condition for flu.

An intellectual disability itself isn’t a risk factor for Covid-19 but kids with developmental disabilities often have other underlying medical conditions that could be… In addition, many kids with intellectual disabilities depend on in-person physical, occupational and speech therapy year round to prevent regression. For example, Lisa Kinderman, a psychologist in Seymour, Ill., is grappling with whether it’s safe to resume physical therapy for her daughter, Lija. A 6-year-old with cerebral palsy, Lija cannot walk or talk and has been hospitalized twice in the last year for respiratory ailments…Unfortunately, there’s no way to gauge a child’s risk of Covid-19, especially as we’re still learning so much about this disease in kids, stressed Brian Skotko, M.D., director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.But there are a few things parents can do to get a ballpark sense of risk.

He suggested using your child’s past experience with infections as a guide for how they might experience Covid-19. If a child like Jo Jo has come down with flu or pneumonia in the past but recovered without urgent medical care or hospitalization, then ‘you should feel more comfortable gradually re-entering the community, he said. For each step, talk it over with your pediatrician…Social distancing can be equally tricky. ‘Wearing masks, staying at least six feet apart from others, being able to tolerate a Covid-19 test — these may all eventually be required for kids to resume school or other activities,’ Skotko said. These are challenging for any child, let alone one with intellectual disabilities. One way to teach these concepts is through social stories, individualized short stories that pair simple language with pictures often used for children with social-communication disorders such as autism.

Skotko also recommended teaching social distancing through color coded circles for older kids.  For example, red for strangers, orange for people you would normally wave to, green and yellow for casual and close friends, and blue for people it’s OK to hug, like parents or siblings.

“I have almost a blind faith in crisis in the American people getting it right”  ~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

Latest Presidential General Election Polls 2020:

“Joe Biden’s lead against Trump in the 2020 election is growing wider, polls show — With the 2020 election now less than five months away, polls show former Vice President Joe Biden pulling further ahead of [Trump].”  Kevin Breuniger, CNBC June ,2020

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.

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: Ask students  what they already know about people with disabilities.  Next, have students generate ideas or words that may be connected to the topic of the article.  Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Colorful Brainstorming chart from Live It Magazine

 

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. Monthly manicures  are a rite of passage for any preteen.
  2. The author’s daughter has Down syndrome.
  3. Some children are born wth extra chromosomes.
  4. Kids have started venturing out, meeting up for bike rides and beach excursions or other outdoor activities.
  5. Studies suggest that death rates from pneumonia were up to 5.8 times higher in 2017 among those with intellectual disabilities.
  6. Some kids like JoJo take medicine that suppresses their immune system.
  7. The immune system is vital to every person alive.
  8. It’s very tough for the author  to gauge if any activities — even outdoor ones — are safe for Jo Jo or her brothers.
  9. Many physicians will meet with medically fragile kids first thing in the morning.
  10. Parents of  intellectually challenged children must grapple with  explaining the COVID-19 to them and why it prevents them from doing fun activities.

 

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. C D C has labeled intellectual disability as a high risk condition for flu.
  2. A typical virus hits her hard.
  3. This winter she test positive for the flu.

 

II

  1. Gone to the salon for monthly manicures is fun.
  2. For her, these regular social interactions are crucial.
  3. But this summer will be dramatically different.

III

  1. We have to brought the world to her.
  2. Unfortunately, there’s no way to gauge a child’s risk of Covid-19,
  3. There are a few things parents can do to get a ballpark sense of risk.

 

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

Directions:  Have students read the following quotes from speakers in the article to  see if they can identify the speakers.

  1. Weighing when, and how, to re-enter the community without putting your child at risk is so much harder.”
  2. “What’s just a mild cold for a typical kid lands Lija in the I.C.U.”
  3. Unfortunately, there’s no way to gauge a child’s risk of Covid-19, especially as we’re still learning so much about this disease in kids.”
  4. That doesn’t mean you should neglect routine medical care, especially with underlying medical diseases that need to be monitored. In addition, “the usual childhood diseases are still around.”
  5. Masks can be particularly challenging, because many kids with intellectual disabilities have sensory processing issues that make it hard for them to tolerate a mask on their face.”
  6. “You don’t want to make this all about the child with the more complex medical needs, because you don’t want to ramp up anxiety, or even resentment.”

 

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: Have  students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Dr. Brian Skotio names some things parents can do to tell if there are risks for infection for certain activities. What are they?
  2. What is one activity  that JoJo’s mom won’t let her do  right now? Why?
  3. Name one thing that doctors cannot check virtually with a patient.
  4. In what ways can the concept of social distancing be taught to children with intellectual disabilities?
  5. According to Leah Booth, why is wearing a mask a special problem for many kids with intellectual disabilities?

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

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

ANSWER KEY

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