Category Archives: People

Boston Dynamic’s Robot Dog Has Joined the Fight Against COVID-19

“A Boston hospital is using Spot, the dog-like robot of Internet fame, to screen for coronavirus.”H. Bray, The Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Spot, a four-legged robot, is being tested at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a way to treat some COVID-19 patients. Boston Dynamics

 

Excerpt:The Robot Dog that helpsHospitalsscreen for coronavirus –ByHiawatha Bray, The Boston Globe

“At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the first encounter a potentially infected person might have is not with a doctor or nurse swathed in protective gear, but with a talking, animal-like robot that looks like it might have wandered off the set of ‘Star Wars.’

Spot, the agile walking robot from Waltham-based Boston Dynamics, gained Internet notoriety for showing off its dance moves on YouTube.

But now it’s going to work in the real world, striding into the danger zone, armed only with an iPad. The robot is posted just outside the hospital, not so much as a sentinel, but asan intake worker that will help doctors safely interview people who fear they may have been infected with the coronavirus.

Research scientist Hen-Wei Huang talked about Spot the robot during a demonstration at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.CRAIG F. Walker-Boston Globs

‘This collaboration is really looking at how we can do all the things we do as emergency medicine physicians, but at a distance,’ said Peter Chai, an emergency medicine doctor at the Brigham.

The yellow-and-black Spot robot, which resembles a large dog, is positioned inside a big white tent set up in front of the hospital’s main entrance as a triage area for potential COVID-19 cases.

It is fitted with an iPad that displays a physician located safely inside the hospital who can use the device’s camera to see the patient’s physical condition.

The doctor can talk to the patient through the built-in microphone and a mounted speaker, asking standard diagnostic questions.

The physician is also able to remotely control Spot, directing the machine to move around for a better perspective of the patient.

The Brigham began real-world trials of the system last week, with a handful of patients who had agreed in advance to the robotic interviews.

Michael Perry, Boston Dynamics’ vice president of business development, said that as early as February the company began receiving inquiries from hospitals worldwide. ..There are already lots of wheeled robots trundling through hospitals, delivering meals and medications…The current version of Spot is only good for conducting interviews. But the Brigham will soon deploy an upgraded model with cameras that can measure a patient’s respiration rate and body temperature, with no need to make physical contact. And Boston Dynamics isn’t hogging the technical innovations. The company said it is giving its medical hardware and software designs at no charge to any robotics company that cares to use them.”

Related News Articles: “Spot, a four-legged robot, has been sent to Singapore to remind people about social distancing guidelines.” F.  Gans, The Boston globeThis Waltham-built, dog-like robot is crawling through Singapore to remind people about social distancing, By Felicia Gans- The Boston Globe

Spot, a four-legged robot, has been sent to Singapore to remind people about social distancing guidelines. Boston Globe

Boston Dynamics

Website www.bostondynamics.com

Boston Dynamics is an American engineering and robotics design company founded in 1992 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Boston Dynamics is best known for the development of a series of dynamic highly-mobile robots, including BigDog, Spot, Atlas, and Handle.

Watch “UpTown Spot”  and his famous dance moves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHBcVlqpvZ8

VOTE 2020

Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden -2020

“I promise you this: A Biden Administration will listen to scientists and heed their advice — not silence them.”

 

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

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Boston Dynamics  produces robot dogs.
  2. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital the first encounter a patient might have is with a  robot dog.
  3. Usually medical personnel is swathed in protective gear.
  4. Spot, the agile walking robot  is from Waltham-based Boston Dynamics.
  5. Spot gained Internet notoriety for showing off its dance moves on YouTube.
  6. But now it’s going to work in the real world, striding into the danger zone, armed only with an iPad.
  7. The robot is posted just outside the hospital, not as a sentinel, but as an intake worker.
  8. This collaboration is  helping emergency medicine physicians but at a distance.
  9. The yellow-and-black Spot robot, is positioned inside a triage area for potential COVID-19 cases.
  10. The doctor can talk to the patient through the built-in microphone asking standard diagnostic questions.

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.

Perry said/say the hospitals needed something/some different. Many had/has set/sit up their COVID triage areas outdoors, in/on lawns or in/on parking lots. On/In such uneven surfaces, traditionally/traditional robotics doesn’t make cents/sense, he said. We need/needs something that can handle this/those difficult terrain. Enter Spot, the latest in/on a long series of/on legged robots develop/developed by Boston Dynamics.

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.

  1. “This collaboration is really looking at how we can do all the things we do as emergency medicine physicians, but at a distance.”
  2. “The Brigham began real-world trials of the system last week, with a handful of patients who had agreed in advance to the robotic interviews. They’re loving it so far.”
  3. “…as early as February the company began receiving inquiries from hospitals worldwide. Was it possible to use a Spot robot to conduct triage interviews?”

 

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.  To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Have you ever encountered a robot in your everyday activities?
  2. Which hospital is using the robotic dog?
  3. Where was Spot built?
  4. What was the first thing Spot was known for?
  5. According to Boston Dynamics, why wouldn’t a regular robot work in the triage areas  outdoors?
  6. Was Spot the first robotic dog Boston Dynamics built?
  7. Doctors at Brigham have been working on remote diagnostic sensors with engineers from what other institute?
  8. What small items can Spot deliver to infected patients?  In what ways does this small task help the medical personnel?
  9. In your opinion, what other helpful tasks might Spot be programmed to perform in the future?
  10. According to Farah Dadabhoy  how are the patients reacting to Spot?
  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.

ANSWER KEY

What Makes A Great Leader?

“Leadership may be hard to define, but in times of crisis it is easy to identify. As the pandemic has spread fear, disease and death, national leaders across the globe have been severely tested. Some have fallen short… but there are also those leaders who have risen to the moment, demonstrating resolve, courage, empathy, respect for science… and thereby dulling the impact of the disease on their people.” The New York Times Editorial Board

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand, giving a Covid-19 update on April 29. Credit…Pool photo by Mark Mitchell

 

Excerpt: In a Crisis, True Leaders Stand Out, By The New York Times Editorial Board

“The master class on how to respond belongs to Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand.

On March 21, when New Zealand still had only 52 confirmed cases, she told her fellow citizens what guidelines the government would follow in ramping up its response. Her message was clear: ‘These decisions will place the most significant restrictions on New Zealanders’ movements in modern history. But it is our best chance to slow the virus and to save lives.’ And it was compassionate: ‘Please be strong, be kind and united against Covid-19.’ Ms. Ardern, a liberal, then joined with the conservative prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, in shaping a joint effort that has all but eliminated the virus from their island nations.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and her Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, in Sydney in February. Credit- Bianca De Marchi:

Other examples of countries where swift and decisive action helped allay the impact of the disease and unite the nation range from South Korea and Taiwan in Asia to Germany and Iceland in Europe. Women, a minority among the national leaders of the world, emerged among the most effective and reassuring of them.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany arriving for a coronavirus briefing.Credit…Pool photo by Markus Schreiber

Like Ms. Ardern, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany acted early and calmly, warning Germans that many of them would fall prey to the novel coronavirus, and quickly getting testing underway.

President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan

President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan likewise responded at the first sign of the new danger, keeping the virus under control and enabling her to send millions of face masks to the United States and Europe…and Norway’s prime minister, Erna Solberg, are other women who have earned plaudits at home and abroad for their handling of the crisis…

Norway’s prime minister, Erna Solberg

In Italy, the European country hardest hit by the pandemic, Giuseppe Contehas won respect for ordering stern measures and pledging that the state will take care of people…

Giuseppe Conte, Italian prime minister. Photo credit- Financial times

All these feats and figures, of course, require caveats. Germany’s relatively low mortality rate, for example, may reflect a far higher rate of testing than other countries, which makes for a greater number of people known to be infected and therefore a smaller percentage of virus-related deaths… A willingness to take quick and bold action, even when it carries political risk, is surely among the most important hallmarks of leadership in a crisis.

[However, several countries such as China and in particular the U.S. have demonstrated extremely poor leadership. It is now obvious that the actions by both governments proved disastrous for the people of those countries].

Other elements of effective leadership include a respect for science, transparent messaging, constant updating of the evidence and prompt assurance of financial support.  Beyond politics, economics and science lie qualities of character that can’t be faked.

 

Democratic President Elect Joe Biden 2020

“When I announced my campaign one year ago today, I said we were in a battle for the soul of the nation. One year later, that is as true as it has ever been. I believe we can and we will emerge from this crisis a stronger, better, and fairer nation. Together, as one America.”

~Democratic Presidential Candidate ‘Leader’ Joe Biden~

U.S. Presidential Election: VOTE NOVEMBER 3,  2020

Related: Joe Biden’s Strengths Match the Nation’s Needs in these Troubled Times

“A return to normality requires an able political adult in the White House.” Scot Lehigh, The Boston Globe

 

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. Leadership may be hard to define.
  2. The pandemic has spread fear, disease and death.
  3. In times of crisis it is easy to identify a true leader.
  4. A true leader will demonstrate resolve, courage and empathy.
  5. Leaders are compassionate.
  6. Several countries made swift and decisive actions.
  7. Women leaders were most effective.
  8. They reassured the people.
  9. All these feats and figures, of course, require caveats.
  10. Women have earned plaudits at home and abroad for their handling of the crisis.

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,as, across, around,by, during,for, from, in, into,of, on,to, over,off, through, up,with, since,

The master class ___how___respond belongs ___ Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister ___New Zealand.

President Tsai Ing-wen ___Taiwan likewise responded ___the first sign___the new danger.

Leadership may be hard ___ define, but___times___crisis it is easy ___ identify.

Germany’s relatively low mortality rate, ___example, may reflect a far higher rate ___testing than other countries.

 

Reading Comprehension: True /False/NA-Statements

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

  1. Leadership may be hard to define, but in times of crisis it is easy to identify.
  2. The master class on how to respond belongs to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
  3. Prime Mnister Jacinda Ardern said. “Please be strong, be kind and united against Covid-19.”
  4. Ms. Ardern, a liberal, then joined with the liberal prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison.
  5. Two other examples of countries where swift and decisive action helped allay the impact of the disease and unite the nation were North Korea and Malaysia.
  6. Ms. Ardern has three children.
  7. Women, a majority  among the national leaders of the world, emerged among the most effective and reassuring of them.
  8. The world leader with a background as a scientist is Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
  9. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said, “Take good care of yourselves and your loved ones.”
  10. Two countries mentioned in the article as having the  worst leadership were the U.S. and China.

 

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

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. In your opinion, what makes a person a great leader?
  2. Create a list of qualities that would describe a great leader.
  3. Have you ever been in a position of leadership? Describe your experience including the challenges and how you over came them. What did your experience teach you?
  4. After reading the article make a list of the leaders (local or global) that you think handled the coronavirus pandemic most effectively.
  5. The article states, “The master class on how to respond belongs to Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand.” Why do you think Prime Minister Ardern is referred to as  being in the  ‘master class’? Do you agree? Why?
  6. In the article, most of the effective leaders are women. Did this surprise you? Explain why or why not.
  7. What new information have you learned after reading 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

Additional Project: Creating Online videos 

School Tube:  students can create their own individual videos or arrange group projects with the teacher’s  support.  New discussions on COVID-19.

School Tube. http://www.schooltube.com/

Stressed Out Parents Now Hire Virtual Baby Sitters

“Overwhelmed parents are paying professionals to virtually babysit while they work.” H. Kelly, The Washington Post

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Babysitter Victoria Rodriguez from the Babysitting Company talks to a 3-year-old about his toy over a Zoom video call. Credit- Heather Kelly:The Washington Post

 

Excerpt: Parents hire Zoom babysitters so they can shelter in peace, By Heather Kelly, The Washington Post

Babysitting used to go something like this: A local teenager comes over to the house after school to play with the kids, then tucks them into bed and spends the remainder of the evening texting from the sofa. All so the parents can unwind after a long week of working in offices by eating and drinking in a crowded restaurant.

Now, babysitting is something that happens over a Zoom or FaceTime call during the day, usually for an hour or less, a few feet from those same parents. But instead of downing margaritas and laughing, they’re taking conference calls, catching up on emails, helping their other kids with home schooling, or just locking themselves in the bathroom for a quick cry.

Over the past two months, millions of Americans have discovered the impossibilities of simultaneously working, parenting, and teaching full time from home. To help ease the strain, they’ve had to get creative with more screen time of all kinds. Now some parents are paying people to spend time with their children virtually.

They’re asking their usual sitters whether they can hire them to keep kids busy over video. On Care.com, a marketplace for caregivers from nannies to health aids, a handful of workers are updating their profiles to say ‘virtual only.’ Existing babysitting services are training their child-care workers on techniques to keep kids engaged over screens, and new companies are popping up to offer virtual-only sitters... a high-end service out of Miami called the Babysitting Company, touts its ‘curated’ child-care offerings in major cities.

It’s still offering some in-person babysitting, with new rules and safeguards for the novel coronavirus but has transitioned many of its sitters to virtual sessions. The company charges $36 for a 45-minute video session, and clients must pay for four hours minimum, to be used at different times…At first, the company offered virtual babysitting for kids 5 and older but has since done a session for a child as young as 2½ years old, which worked. Still, she’s careful to manage parents’ expectations. Sessions can go up to an hour but she doesn’t recommend much longer… The demand for virtual babysitting might increase as the school year, in its mostly virtual form, comes to an end next month and parents who have to work are faced with even less help over the summer.”

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:  Ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic of virtual babysitting during COVID-19.  Next, have students generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming chart by UIE

 

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. Parents  need to unwind after a long week of working.
  2. Today, instead of downing margaritas and laughing, they’re taking conference calls.
  3. To help ease the strain many parents have hired online sitters.
  4. A handful of workers are updating their profiles to say ‘virtual’ only.
  5. Existing babysitting services are training their child-care workers new techniques to keep kids engaged over screens.
  6. It’s a living person on the other side of the screen that’s reading your cues.
  7. One mother goes through a high-end service out of Miami.
  8. One service called the Babysitting Company, touts its curated child-care offerings in major cities.
  9. Babysitting services are careful to manage parents’ expectations.
  10. Some parents do freelance writing and editing work from home.

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.

People use/uses this service differently about/from a babysitter, said/sayAfrick. While before the/an pandemic, the commitment for/on a sitter was a/an few hours, a virtual sitter can/could be book/booked for shorter periods of/near time beyond/throughout the day — just long enough to get some housekeeping or work/worksdone/did or even take a shower.

Reading Comprehension

Identify TheSpeakers

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

  1. “It’s not like you’re watching a show or something that isn’t tuned in to you. It’s a living person on the other side that’s reading your cues,seeing if you’re interested or not interested.”
  2. “If you would have told me this is something we’d be offering, I’d never have believed it. It’s such a personal-contact-based profession.”
  3. “The hardest part, she said, is bringing them back when they walk out of the camera’s range.”
  4. “It doesn’t always keep him occupied for the desired two hours, says Upton-Cosulich, and if he’s tired or anxious, he prefers his parents.”
  5. It is a viable option if you’re willing to be a little bit unorthodox and give it a try.”

 

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. According to the article, why wouldn’t parents want screen baby sitters sessions to spend no longer than an hour with the kids?
  2. Why is video time with avirtual baby sitter better than having kids watch Netflix and YouTube for long periods of time?
  3. According to baby sitters what seems to be the hardest part of keeping young children entertained?
  4. Whatare some of the the differences between hiringa sitter before the pandemic and hiring virtual sitters now?
  5. 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.  Discuss the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Parents Frustrated with Homeschooling: Teaching is Too Hard!

“Mark the fourth week of school closures as the moment when parents began to crack… as social media rants reveal, many parents are now fed up. Managing their children and their anxieties and working from home… some parents have begun resisting the deluge of demands coming from their children’s teachers…The parent rebellion is not at all fun for teachers…S. Ebbert, The Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Photo- The Boston globe

“It was music class that finally drove Mel Mawn over the edge. She was already dutifully arranging her quarantine workdays around the expectations of her three children’s math, English, and science teachers, surrendering her work station to their Zoom meetings.

Now, the music teacher was proposing a ‘fun activity’ and Mawn’s thoughts immediately turned to the recorder — the piercing woodwind instrument that her twin 10-year-old boys are learning to play this year.

‘I mean, we’re stuck here in the house, and I cannot have recorder class for an hour,’ said Mawn, who is working full-time from the Wilmington home she shares with her three children, her husband, and her in-laws…The parentrebellion is not at all fun for teachers, who have found themselves in a no-win situation since schools were closed due to the threat of the coronavirus in mid-March.

First, they were hounded by some hard-charging parents who expected more daily structure and an immediate and effortless switch to online instruction. Teachers had to quickly develop new coursework and ways of presenting it, and to jet into families’ living rooms via Zoom video conferencing, where their every move would be scrutinized.

Now, with teachers more regularly holding classes online, parents are pushing back, saying the expectations are unmanageable — particularly for younger children who can’t handle the technology on their own and need a parent by their side…One irony is that many parents have been schooled to limit young children’s screen times; now they’re being steered to it by their children’s preschool teachers…Another irony is that working parents like her are paying dearly to participate in their children’s ‘circle time.’

‘I’m not paying $2,600 a month for you to do a video chat with my kids twice a day,’ she said. ‘I’m paying for you to watch them and provide high-quality education so I can work.’

Keri Rodrigues, a Somerville mother who heads the National Parents Union, an education advocacy group, said many parents are in survival mode, having suddenly lost their income or begun working at home to maintain it, and they shouldn’t feel pressured about academics at the moment…Mawn is picking and choosing her academic battles now…She understands that the teachers have never handled a pandemic before. But could they not streamline the assignments?

“If I wanted to teach,” Mawn added, “I would be a teacher.”

Additional For Kids (and some Adults)

Michelle Obama Is Reading Books to Children Stuck at Home, By Mariel Padilla

“Michelle Obama read one of her beloved children’s books aloud on Monday, live streaming to hundreds of thousands of people stuck at home. The virtual story time was the first in a four-week series called “Mondays with Michelle Obama.”

In partnership with PBS Kids, Penguin Young Readers and Random House Children’s Books, Ms. Obama, the former first lady, said she would share some of her favorite children’s books, provide an opportunity for children to practice their reading and give families a much-needed break during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Join me, @PBSKIDS, and @penguinrandom for read-alongs on Mondays at 12pm ET Facebook and YouTube https://twitter.com/pbskids/status/1251196381840187395 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: 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. It was [the] music class that finally drove Mel Mawn over the edge.
  2. She was already dutifully arranging her quarantine workdays.
  3. The recorder is definitely going to knock one of us over the edge.
  4. Mark the fourth week of school closures as the moment when parents began to crack.
  5. Managing their children and their anxieties amid a global pandemic was a lot.
  6. Some parents have begun resisting the deluge of demands coming from their children’s teachers.
  7. Many parents find it overwhelming.
  8. Parents feel that they cannot cope with this insanity any longer.
  9. The parent rebellion is not at all fun for teachers.
  10. When the girl did get time to speak, she grew shy and clammed up.

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.

First, they were/was hounded bye/by some hard-charging parents who/whom expected more daily structure and a/an immediate and/an effortless switch to /too online instruction. Teachers has/had to quickly develop new/knew coursework and ways off/of presenting it, and to/two jet into families’ living rooms via Zoom video.

 

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.

  “I mean, we’re stuck here in the house, and I cannot have recorder class for an hour,.”

“We cannot cope with this insanity. Survival and protecting his well being come first.”

The first time they participated,  it was like a nightmare. [Her]  4-year-old did not understand: “Why can’t they hear me? Why can’t I talk?”

“Do not destroy the fabric of your family because you’re trying to please a school district,”

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Are you a parent/ guardian taking care of younger children at home?
  2. Are you helping children with  their online schoolwork?  If so, describe your experience.
  3. How do you think teachers feel about parents being frustrated?
  4. Can you come up with solutions for frustrated parents?
  5. Do you think preschool/daycare centers should be open sooner? Why/why not?

 

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

Can Virtual Classrooms Reach the Homeless Students?

“New York City’s public schools began remote learning. But for the more than 100,000 students who are homeless, virtual education may be out of reach…Thousands of students living in shelters and doubled up in overcrowded apartments have not received web-enabled devices for online learning.”N.Stewart, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Allia Phillips and her mom live in a homeless shelter with no wifi-she uses her mom’s cell phone to try to do her lessons online. The NYT

Excerpt: She’s an Honors Student. And Homeless. Will the Virtual Classroom Reach Her?ByNikita Stewart, The New York Times

“…Allia Phillips was excited about picking up an iPad from her school in Harlem last week. She did not want to miss any classes and hoped to land on the fourth-grade honor roll again.

On Monday, the first day that New York City public schools began remote learning, the 10-year-old placed her iPad on a tray she set up over her pillow on a twin bed in a studio that she shares with her mother and grandmother inside a homeless shelter on the Upper West Side. And then, Allia saw nothing.

‘Iwent downstairs to find out that they don’t have any internet,” said Kasha Phillips-Lewis, Allia’s mother. ‘You’re screwing up my daughter’s education. You want to screw me up? Fine. But not my daughter’s education.’

Shuttering the vast system, which includes 1,800 schools, was a serious challenge for the city, and the large-scale, indefinite school closures are uncharted territory, altering the lives and routines of 75,000 teachers, over one million children, and well over 1 million parents… Recreating a classroom on the internet is a logistical challenge that comes with a learning curve for students, teachers and parents.

The playground at P.S. 161, where Allia Phillips is a student, sits empty. Credit-Gabriela Bhaskar for The NYT

And it is already leaving poor and vulnerable students behind — especially the estimated 114,000 children who live in shelters and unstable housing.

On the first day of remote learning, while some parents in the city were posting cute photos of their children waving to their classmates and teachers as lessons were streamed live, Allia and thousands of other children living in New York City shelters and in overcrowded apartments did not have devices with built-in internet. There are about 450 shelters for families and single adults in the main shelter system, and most of them do not have Wi-Fi available for residents, according to the city Department of Social Services…Christine Quinn [is the] executive director of the nonprofit Win, the largest provider of shelter for families in the city.

J. Garcia and daughter Abigail live in a homeless sheltrt in the Bronx. Photo- Ryan C. Jones

‘They said Monday. To me, that means never. If they come this late, it might as well be never,” she said. ‘What has happened is a disaster. If we weren’t in a pandemic, this would be funny, like Keystone cops, but this is a pandemic so it’s not funny.’

On Monday, Allia made do, using her mother’s smartphone to log into Google classroom. She moved to a stool, balanced the phone on her knees and looked down… Around the city, other students were resorting to the same alternative. Sisters Kamiyah Williams, 6, and Chastity Battle, 5, did their class work on their mother’s phone while sitting in a living room in Brownsville, Brooklyn…Both girls are good students, said Tierra Williams, their mother, adding that she did not want them to fail because they did not have tablets...Estrella Montanez, the director of the Nelson Avenue Family Residence in the Bronx, said she quickly saw a problem last week when she and her staff knocked on families’ doors to ask if they had devices.

The door-to-door polling showed that only 15 out of 79 families had a computer or tablet. There were 177 school-aged children living in the shelter and they attended more than 100 schools. ‘When we look at the idea of distance learning, it’s very complicated. Each school seems to be doing something very, very different,’ she said.

For 10 years, Toiyia, a mother who lives in a Win shelter in Brooklyn with her two sons, has worked for Access-A-Ride, a public transportation service for people with disabilities.

Toiyia, who did not want her last name used to protect her privacy, already had devices for both of her sons: Tahir, 8, and Khalil, 18, who is disappointed that his school probably will not have a graduation ceremony… On the Upper West Side, Allia had no big brother and no iPad, but she pressed on completing her assignments on her mother’s phone.”

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic.  Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article.  Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

The UIE brainstorming chart (sample). http://urbanext.illinois.edu/apples/edu-projects_1B.cfm

 

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. Allia lives in a shelter.
  2. Allia knows that the coronavirus is a very contagious virus.
  3. Many people go to the hospital but many of them have to be isolated.
  4. Allia’s mom was contacted by the school to pick up Allia’s iPad device.
  5. Allia’s mom says she has a cellphone and they  use the hot spot.
  6. The first day that New York City public schools began remote learning, the 10-year-old had a blank screen.
  7. Shuttering the vast system, which includes 1,800 schools, was a serious challenge for the city.
  8. Recreating a classroom on the internet is a  challenge.
  9. Some  centers have been underutilized.
  10. Allia’s mother and grandmother tried to give her some space to concentrate.

 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. Mr. Carranza had announce earlier that the city would distribute an estimated 300,000 devices.
  2. But he acknowledged that children were still waiting for the equipment they need to learn.
  3. The vague timeline has concerned parents and advocates for children.

 

II

  1. On Monday, Allia made do, using her mother’s smartphone to log into Google classroom.
  2. Around the city, other student were resorting to the same alternative.
  3. Sisters Kamiyah Williams, 6, and Chastity Battle, 5, did their class work on their mother’s phone.

 

III

  1. Kamiyah’s favorite story is talk about animals.
  2. Both girls are good students.
  3. Only 15 out of 79 families had a computer or tablet.

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

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

  1. Allia  lives in New York, New.
  2. She’s 10 years old.
  3. She and her mom live in a homeless shelter.
  4. She knows that  the coronavirus is a very contagious virus.
  5. Allia’s iPad does not have internet.
  6. Many children are going to get left behind because they don’t have their devices or they didn’t have the access to the internet.
  7. There are about 450 shelters for families and single adults in the main shelter system.
  8. Another woman Toiyia lives with  her two sons Tahir, 8 and Khalil, 18.
  9. Khalil, has been accepted to six state colleges so far.
  10. Allia had no big brother and no iPad, but she pressed on completing her assignments on her mother’s phone.
  11. Sisters Kamiyah Williams, 6, and Chastity Battle, 5, live in a small two-bedroom apartment with their mother, two younger siblings and three other people.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Do you or someone you know live in a shelter? If so describe the experience.
  2. The article states, Recreating a classroom on the internet is a logistical challenge that will comes with a learning curve for students, teachers and parents. And it is already leaving poor and vulnerable students behind — especially the estimated 114,000 children who live in shelters and unstable housing.” In your opinion, how has the coronavirus exposed the educational divide between the rich and the poor?
  3. With your group try to come up with solutions to this problem. Share them with the class.
  4. What have you learned from reading 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