Category Archives: People

Beware of Deepfakes: Digital Impersonations That Can Deceive Us

“To those fearful of a future in which videos of real people are indistinguishable from computer-generated forgeries, two recent developments that attracted an audience of millions might have seemed alarming.” D. Victor, The New York Times, March 10, 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Lesson Plan

A video of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who died last year, was created using MyHeritage’s Deep Nostalgia tool.

Excerpt: Your Loved Ones, and Eerie Tom Cruise Videos, Reanimate Unease With Deepfakes,By Daniel Victor, The New York Times, March 10, 2021

“First, a visual effects artist worked with a Tom Cruise impersonator to create startlingly accurate videos imitating the actor. The videos, created with the help of machine-learning techniques and known as deepfakes, gained millions of views on TikTok, Twitter and other social networks in late February.

A looping video of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was created using a photograph and a tool on the MyHeritage genealogy site.

Then, days later, MyHeritage, a genealogy website best known for its role in tracking down the identity of the Golden State Killer, offered a tool to digitally animate old photographs of loved ones, creating a short, looping video in which people can be seen moving their heads and even smiling. More than 26 million images had been animated using the tool, called Deep Nostalgia, as of Monday, the company said.

The videos renewed attention to the potential of synthetic media, which could lead to significant improvements in the advertising and entertainment industries. But the technology could also be used — and has been — to raise doubts about legitimate videos and to insert people, including children, into pornographic images.

The creators of the viral Tom Cruise TikToks said the expertise required to use the technology makes abusing it much harder, and the company behind the photo-animating tool said it put in place safeguards to prevent misuse…‘Although Deep Nostalgia itself is innocuous, it’s part of this set of tools that are potentially very threatening,’ said Sam Gregory, the program director of Witness, a nonprofit organization focused on the ethical use of video, and an expert on artificial intelligence…The Deep Nostalgia tool was created for MyHeritage by D-ID, an artificial intelligence company based in Tel Aviv. Gil Perry, the chief executive of D-ID, said that the company works only with partners it can trust not to abuse the technology, and that it had a four-year relationship with MyHeritage.

Videos created using the tool have watermarks to indicate that they aren’t real, and the videos do not include audio, a decision that Mr. Perry said makes it harder to use them for unsavory purposes…The effects could also be used in Hollywood to better age or de-age actors, or to improve the dubbing of films and TV shows in different languages, closely aligning lip movements with the language onscreen… Of course, people who have died can’t consent to being featured in videos. And that matters if dead people — especially celebrities — can be digitally resurrected, as the artist Bob Ross was to sell Mountain Dew…Henry Ajder, a deepfakes researcher, imagined a future in which our own voices could be used with assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, allowing us to stay connected with loved ones after our deaths.”

STAY SAFE — KEEP LOVED ONES SAFE

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

LESSON PLAN

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 KWL Chart

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

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

Advanced K-W-L chart.Intervention for Reading — Michigan State University

 

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. Videos of real people are indistinguishable from computer-generated forgeries.
  2. A visual effects artist worked with a Tom Cruise impersonator to make the forgeries.
  3. MyHeritage is  a genealogy website.
  4. The website offered a tool to digitally animate old photographs of loved ones.
  5. The tool is called Deep Nostalgia.
  6. The videos renewed attention to the potential of synthetic media.
  7. Although Deep Nostalgia itself is innocuous, it’s part of this set of tools that are potentially very threatening.
  8. Many people are focused on the ethical use of the videos.
  9. The digital imitation of Mr. Cruise was no easy feat.
  10. Creating these videos required extensive expertise and time.

 

 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. More than 26 million image had been animated.
  2. The videos renewed attention to the potential of synthetic media.
  3. Experts say the two examples are not overly alarming.

II

  1. The digital imitation of Mr. Cruise was no easy feat.
  2. Most of what you sea in the videos is the body and voice of Miles Fisher.
  3. Videos like this would require extensive manual work.

III

  1. A nongovernmental organization created a videos of a Mexican journalist.
  2. As the technology advances, it will be used more broadly.
  3. People are always trying to think about the perfect deepfake.

 

While Reading: Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. “Although Deep Nostalgia itself is innocuous, it’s part of this set of tools that are potentially very threatening.”
  2. “The digital imitation of Mr. Cruise was no easy feat. they required extensive expertise and time…It’s like a small Hollywood studio with the two of us. It’s not something you can do at a home computer, pressing a button.”
  3. “The technology could also have a destabilizing effect on global affairs, as politicians claim that videos, including genuine ones, are fake in order to gain an advantage that they have called “the liar’s dividend.”
  4. “Imagine a future in which our own voices could be used with assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, allowing us to stay connected with loved ones after our deaths…In what cases do we need consent of the deceased to resurrect them?”

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. What is the purpose of the tool Deep Nostalgia? What safeguards has D-ID, the company behind the tool, created to prevent its misuse?
  2. What are some benefits to using ‘synthetic media’? What are some dangers in using this type of media?
  3. Name two ways that people can tell which videos were created using the The Deep Nostalgia tool.
  4. Who was Javier Arturo Valdez Cárdenas? Joaquin Oliver? Why are they important to this article?
  5. What are some other ways this technology be used?
  6. (e.g., In the movies/TV shows–in Politics)
  7. How can this technology  have a destabilizing effect on global affairs?
  8. Have you ever seen a deepfake video? If so, where did you see it? Did you think it was real or could you tell it was fake?  If Yes, explain how you knew.
  9. The article concludes with a discussion of consent from people both living and dead. In your opinion, in the future, will we need the consent of dead people to reanimate them? Explain your answer.
  10. Write down three new ideas that 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 all  responses as a class.

Extra Activity:

Main Idea / Debate

Directions: Divide students into two teams for this debate. Both teams can use information from the article and additional articles from various newspapers including the New York Times to support their arguments.

Team A will list reasons that support arguments for Deepfake technology.

Team B will list reasons that support arguments against Deepfake technology.

Each team will have time to state their points of view,  and the teacher decides which team made their points.  

For organization, have students use Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from Freeology

Pros and Cons Scale

Additional Articles on Deepfakes:

Facebook Says It Will Ban ‘Deepfakes’ (New York Times)

Internet Companies Prepare to Fight the ‘Deepfake’ Future‘ (New York Times)

Deepfakes Are Going To Wreak Havoc On Society. We Are Not Prepared.” (Forbes)

Deepfakes and the New AI-Generated Fake Media Creation-Detection Arms Race” (Scientific American)

What Are Deepfakes — and How Can You Spot Them?” (The Guardian)

ANSWER KEY

How to Create Safe Spaces for Your Children to Talk to You

Tips for creating safe spaces and developing emotional intelligence in your children.It is never too late to start opening new communication channels with your child. S. Boswell, The New York Times, Oct. 15, 2020

Credit-SuccessfulParenting

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: How to Help Kids Open Up About Anything By Shanicia Boswell, The New York Times, Oct. 15, 2020

“Did you learn your lesson?” my mother asked.

Those five words have been etched in my mind since I was a teenager.

I was a good kid… but I was always pushing the boundaries. This time, I had received a speeding ticket for rushing to get home before my curfew. When I told her what had happened, my mother approached me with arms crossed, her tone one of serious concern, but not anger.

I received no actual punishment, but I did have to take responsibility for my actions and pay the ticket with my own money. Growing up, I always found my mother to be a safe space for me.

Credit-GrandrapidKids

Now that I’m a mother, I’ve worked to create those spaces for my daughter. The communication that starts with parents and children is one of the most influential and persuasive ways children can learn to socialize throughout their lives, research shows. 

Taylor Quick, a licensed child therapist for Zola Counseling, a private practice in Charlotte, N.C., defines safe spaces as the relationship that a child has to her parent or caregiver to feel understood and heard..How do we create safe spaces to allow our children to manage their emotions and talk openly?

Credit- MyKidsTime

Have a ‘feelings check-in’…Smith-Crawford suggested parents try this with their children. ‘Ideally, feelings check-ins are done daily, at the end of the day. You can do this with your children until they are adults,’ she said.

Self-awareness, or knowing what you feel and how you feel it, is an important component of emotional intelligence, said Daniel Goleman, Ph.D, the author of Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships.

redit-The Good Men Project

Dr. Goleman has demonstrated how younger children have the power to manage their emotions… My 7-year-old and I have a safety circle. In this circle, we sit face to face to create a feeling of [being] equal…It is never too late to start opening new communication channels with your child, especially as we are spending so much more time together during the pandemic. By helping our children talk openly at home, we are preparing them to communicate and connect with others and to use their voice powerfully in the world.”

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: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine  any 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. Tips for creating safe spaces and developing emotional intelligence in your children.
  2. Those five words have been etched in my mind since I was a teenager.
  3. I was a good kid growing up  between boys and shenanigans.
  4. I was always pushing the boundaries.
  5. The communication  has to start with parents and children.
  6. Many parents feel that making  a curfew for kids is important.
  7. This is  one of the most influential ways children can learn to socialize throughout their lives.
  8. Children feel more empowered after their feelings have been validated.
  9. I want the children and the family to identify and be aware of the feelings that they’ve experienced.
  10. Self-awareness is an important component of emotional intelligence.

 

 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. Those five word have been etched in my mind.
  2. I was a good kid but I was always pushing the boundaries.
  3. I had a speeding ticket for rushing to get home before my curfew.

II

  1. Now that I’m a mother, I’ve worked to create those spaces for my daughter.
  2. How do we create safe spaces for our children?
  3. Parents should have check-ins with their children.

III

  1. Showing child how to calm down is important.
  2. Younger children have the power to manage their emotions.
  3. My 7-year-old and I have a safety circle.

 

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. ” Growing up, I always found my mother to be a safe space for me.”
  2. Defines safe spaces as “the relationship that a child has to her parent or caregiver to feel understood and heard.”
  3. “I want the children and the family to identify and be aware of the feelings that they’ve experienced throughout their week but also be able to connect that feeling with a certain circumstance or event.”
  4. “Self-awareness, or knowing what you feel and how you feel it, is an important component of emotional intelligence.”
  5. “My parents listen to me because they want to support me and they want to be there for me.”
  6. He suggests,” we can ask our children how we are doing as parents.”

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. Do you feel it is important for children or adults to have a safe place? Please explain why.
  2. Do you have a safe place? Why?
  3. How does Taylor Quick defines safe places?
  4. According to Ms. Quick, when do children feel more empowered?
  5. Describe ‘feelings check-in’
  6. According to Smith-Crawford how long should parents do feelings-check-ins with their children?

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

Everyone Should Be Wearing Masks!

Something that’s supposed to cover our mouths speaks volumes about how crazy some people have gotten. When people ask me about my mood these days, I tell them that I feel like I’m a reporter for The Pompeii Daily News in A.D. 79…” T. L. Friedman, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Brittainy Newman:The New York Times

Excerpt: If Our Masks Could Speak, By Thomas L. Friedman

“The summer of 2020 could be remembered as one of those truly important dates in American history. Everywhere you turn you see parents who don’t know where or if their kids will go to school this fall, renters who don’t know when or if they will be evicted, unemployed who don’t know what if any safety net Congress will put under them, businesses that don’t know how or if they can hold on another day — and none of us who know whether we’ll be able to vote in November…How did we get so inept?

If, God forbid, America were buried under lava the way Pompeii was and future archaeologists were to come along and dig it out, I have no doubt that the artifact they’d dust off and hold up first to answer that huge question would be a simple item that costs pennies to make and is so easy to wear: the face mask. For something that’s supposed to cover our mouths it speaks volumes about how crazy some have gotten.

Specifically, that face mask tells how the world’s richest and most scientifically advanced country generated a cadre of leaders and citizens who made wearing a covering over their nose and mouth to prevent the spread of a contagion into a freedom-of-speech issue and cultural marker — something no other country in the world did…And that’s where we are now. When you compare the sacrifices — including the ultimate sacrifice — that the Greatest Generation of Americans made to defend their fellow citizens from the scourge of Nazism with how little some members of today’s generations will sacrifice to defend their fellow Americans from the scourge of Covid-19 — by just wearing a face mask — it leaves you speechless.

It’s inexcusable. Resisting wearing a mask in a pandemic is nothing more than selfish, libertarian nonsense masquerading as a comic-book defense of freedom: ‘Don’t tread on me, but I can breathe on you.’  Trump’s resistance to masks actually had nothing to do with ideology. It was just his primitive opposition to anything that would highlight the true health crisis we were in and that therefore might hurt his re-election… As John Finn, professor emeritus of government at Wesleyan University, writing on The Conversation.com, noted, ‘There are two reasons why mask mandates don’t violate the First Amendment. First, a mask doesn’t keep you from expressing yourself. … Additionally, the First Amendment, like all liberties ensured by the Constitution, is not absolute. All constitutional rights are subject to the government’s authority to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community.’

We have a way to go…Wearing a mask in this pandemic is a sign of respect for your fellow citizens and neighbors — no matter what their race, creed or political affiliation. Wearing a mask says: ‘I’m not just concerned about myself. I’m concerned about you, too. We are all part of the same community, the same country and the same struggle to stay healthy.’  A different president would have been urging every American, from the start of this pandemic, to don a red, white and blue mask. He would have used such a mask to do double duty — crush Covid-19 and bring us together for the long march needed to do so.

As I said, a different president.”

 

“The right to vote is the most sacred American right there is — exercise it. Make your voice heard this November.”

~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden ~

~Vice-Presidential Leader Kamala Harris~

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: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine any 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 feels like a reporter for The Pompeii Daily News in A.D. 79.
  2. Many people don’t know if they will be evicted.
  3. Some people are already unemployed.
  4. Anxiety is building up beneath our society.
  5. How did we get so inept?
  6. The artifact they’d dust off and hold up first would be  the face mask.
  7. This country had generated a a cadre of leaders and citizens who selfishly refuse to wear a face mask.
  8. Wearing a mask is the cheapest way to prevent the spread of a contagion.
  9. Years ago Americans made the ultimate sacrifice.
  10. Resisting wearing a mask in a pandemic is inexcusable.

 

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. The summer of 2020 could be remembered as a important date in American history.
  2. That is a lot of anxiety building up beneath our  society.
  3. For something that’s supposed to cover our mouths it speaks volumes about how crazy some have gotten.

 

II

  1. Resisting wearing a mask in a pandemic is nothing more than selfish.
  2. Mike Pence is always happy to put lipstick on Trump’s piggishness.
  3. There are two reason why mask mandates don’t violate the First Amendment.

 

III

  1. Our future archaeologists would also be right to focus on face masks.
  2. We have a way too go.
  3. Wearing a mask in this pandemic is a sign of respect for your fellow citizens and neighbors.

Reading Comprehension Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

“But Mike Pence — always happy to put___on Trump’s ___— dressed up his ___mask-resistance in constitutional garb.

When asked by a___ at Trump’s Tulsa___a few weeks ago why the president appeared___about the absence of masks and social___ at his event, Pence solemnly intoned: ‘I want to remind you again, freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble is in the ___ Even in a health crisis, the American people don’t___ our constitutional rights.’  What a fraud.

WORD LIST: forfeit, Constitution of the U.S., distancing, unconcerned, reporter,  elegant,  crude, rally, lipstick, piggishness,

III. Post Reading Activities

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 author why is there a building up of anxiety in this country?
  2. The author provides one main reason for our ineptness at handling the coronavirus. What is it?
  3. In your opinion, who is to blame for people not wearing face masks?
  4. The author states, “A society that can politicize something as simple as a face mask in a pandemic can politicize anything, can make anything a wedge issue…” What does he mean?
  5. What does the author  say is the ultimate sacrifice that Americans can do (and have done in the past) for  their fellow citizens?
  6. What does the author call refusing to wear a face mask in a pandemic? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  7. The author refers to Trump as being  ‘primitive’ in handling our country especially during Covid-19. Do you agree/disagree?  Provide reasons for your opinion.
  8. What reason does the author give for Trump’s resistance to masks?

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

How Schools Are Organizing to Protect Students During Covid-19

An illustrated guide to how schools will try to control the coronavirus when students return to their classrooms, this fall or in the future.” By D. Goldstein, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- The New York Times

 

Excerpt:What Back to School Might Look Like in the Age of Covid-19, By Dana Goldstein, The New York Times

“A typical American school day requires proximity: High school lab partners leaning over a vial. Kindergarten students sharing finger paints. Middle schoolers passing snacks around a cafeteria table.

Credit- The New York Times

This year, nothing about school will be typical. Many of the nation’s largest districts plan to start the academic year online, and it is unclear when students and teachers will be back in classrooms.

Others plan hybrid models, while some are determined to go five days a week.

When school buildings do reopen, whether this fall or next year, buses, hallways, cafeterias and classrooms will need to look very different as long as the coronavirus remains a threat.

Credit- The New York Times

Even teaching, which has evolved in recent decades to emphasize fewer lectures and more collaborative lessons, must change…There is still considerable uncertainty and debate over how easily children of different ages contract and spread the virus, and whether some of the recommended safety guidelines would help or are even necessary.”

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION

The 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, at the close of the Democratic National Convention Thursday night. [8/20] Photo: Olivier Douliery

On Thursday night, [8/20] he was introduced by a video that referenced the loss of his first wife and daughter early in his Senate career and, years later, of his son Beau to brain cancer. “I know how mean and cruel and unfair life can be sometimes…your loved one may have left this earth, but they’ll never leave your heart. They’ll always be with you. You’ll always hear them.”

Vice President Biden with his son Beau at Camp Victory on the Baghdad outskirts in 2009.Credit: Khalid Mohammed

As president, the first step I will take will be to get control of the virus that’s ruined so many lives… Because I understand something this president doesn’t. We will never get our economy back on track, we will never get our kids safely back to school, we will never have our lives back until we deal with this virus.”

Brayden Harrington, 13, spoke about how former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. helped him overcome his stutter in a speech on Thursday at the Democratic National Convention.

“As God’s children, each of us has a purpose in our lives… And we have a great purpose as a nation: to open the doors of opportunity to all Americans; to save our democracy; to be a light to the world once again; to finally live up to and make real the words written in the sacred documents that founded this nation that all men and women are created equal. Endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Among them, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” 

Biden and Harris: For The American People!

“I will have a great vice president at my side, Senator Kamala Harris,” Biden reminded his listeners. “She is a powerful voice for this nation. Her story is the American story. She knows about all the obstacles thrown in the way of so many in our country: women, Black women, Black Americans, South Asian Americans, immigrants, the left out and left behind. But she’s overcome every obstacle she’s ever faced. No one’s been tougher on the big banks or the gun lobby. No one’s been tougher in calling out this current administration for its extremism, its failure to follow the law, and its failure to simply tell the truth.” 

~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

~Democratic Vice-Presidential Leader Kamala Harris~

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: 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. 

 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. This is an illustrated guide to how schools will try to control the coronavirus.
  2. A typical American school day requires proximity.
  3. Some schools plan to use hybrid models, while some are determined to go five days a week.
  4. The coronavirus remains a threat to everyone.
  5. Unfortunately, education leaders are relying on a host of conflicting federal, state and public health guidelines.
  6. As a result, schools are adopting a wide range of approaches for the pandemic era.
  7. All schools have one factor to solve which is eliminating proximity.
  8. Getting children to school will be one of the most difficult logistical challenges.
  9. Some state guidelines sketch alternative scenarios.
  10. Schools will  check each student for symptoms before they  enter the classroom.

 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. Kindergarten students likes to share finger paints.
  2. Middle schoolers pass snacks around a cafeteria table.
  3. High schoolers share cellphones.

II

  1. Some schools are determined to go five days a week.
  2. Other schools will use a hybrid model.
  3. This year, nothing about school will be typical.

III

  1. For about half of American students, the school day typically begins with a bus trip.
  2. Families should not cluster at the bus stop.
  3. Some schools will hire monitors to check students’ symptoms before they board the bus.

Reading Comprehension Fill-ins

Directions: Read the entire article, then  complete the following sentences taken from the article.  You can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide your own terms.

Young ___may be the hardest to ___apart, given their ___energy, need for hands-on play and___nature. And most___acknowledge that it is not realistic to expect them to wear ___all day.

Many ___will try to keep students in___ by limiting class ___to about 12 students and by ___interaction between classrooms. That way, they can ___shutting down entirely if a single pod has a ___case.

WORD LIST: avoid, sizes, pods, masks, guidelines, affectionate, schools, frenetic, children, reducing, positive, keep,

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: 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. To help stop the spread of the virus what is the one factor that all schools must agree upon?
  2. Where is the first place students come into contact with each other?
  3. According to the article how many students should ride the school buses during Covid-19?
  4. What will be the very first thing children will have to have done before entering the school?
  5. What happens to students who fail the symptom check?
  6. What do schools plan to do with large spaces like gyms and cafeterias?
  7. The article states “Schools are not planning to follow a traditional bell schedule.”  How do schools now plan to schedule lunch and bathroom breaks during the day?

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: In 5 minutes 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

“Home schooling won’t kill kids.. Covid-19 might”

“Parents and teachers struggle with how to reopen schools safely this fall…No one wants to go back to school more than I do. It is imperative that we have a real plan in place.” R. Harris and L Tarchak, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Illustration by Ori Toor

 

Excerpt:‘Home-Schooling Won’t Kill Us. Covid-19 Might.’ By Rachel L. Harris and Lisa Tarchak, The New York Times

“In the past few weeks we’ve heard from multiple contributors, columnists and the editorial board about whether or not schools should reopen for in-person classes this fall. And in the thousands of comments on these pieces, parents and teachers weighed the dangers and the repercussions of continued virtual learning.

Wherever they landed, many agreed that the coronavirus crisis has brought into acute focus how vital America’s schools and child care centers are to society and how crucial they are to helping our diminished economy recover. A selection of those comments follows…I love my job. It is my calling, my life’s work. I have done this for more than twenty years at the same urban public school. My students amuse me and amaze me on a daily basis. Yet the urgent desire of people who are not in education to get schools up and running, frankly, amazes me. Despite all my love for my students, I don’t really want to die for them or anyone else. Neither does my partner, who is living with cancer. It is imperative that we have a real plan in place if we have school.

‘Teachers and students and cafeteria workers and secretaries and custodians and librarians and bus drivers all deserve to be safe while at their jobs.’ Eva Lockhart

‘How many teachers receive combat pay while being forced into mortal heroics?’ James Siegle

‘If young kids are home, one parent has to quit their job. I’m a parent of a first grader and remote learning is a disaster. My kid only had one hour of remote learning a day. The one hour was far from smooth (interruptions, technology issues). I had to teach my child the rest of the day while trying to keep up with my job.” DK, New Jersey

‘There isn’t anyone involved in schools or children’s lives who doesn’t want to see children return to school safely. But we are not yet safe. Tell me how to get a 6-year-old to not sneeze on his friends let alone play and work from a distance’.Anna B, Westchester, N.Y.

‘I spent 12 or more hours a day teaching live lessons, providing written feedback on student work, making instructional videos, meeting remotely with students one on one… I say give remote learning another chance.’ Carolyn, Princeton, N.J.

‘It’s fairly obvious to most people that you cannot open schools in high-rate Covid areas like South Florida. The kids will be fine, it’s the adults that need to get their act together.’ Mike L, South Carolina

 

‘This Is About Justice’: Biden Ties Economic Revival to Racial Equity

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. released the fourth piece of his ‘Build Back Better’ proposal in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday.Credit- M. Agins-NYT

In the last of four proposals laying out his vision for economic recovery, Joseph R. Biden Jr. pledged to lift up minority-owned businesses and to award them more federal contracts”. – By T. Kaplan and K. Glueck , The NYT

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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 any  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 repercussions of virtual learning continued to be a source of debate.
  2. Parents and teachers weighed the dangers of virtual learning.
  3. Wherever they landed a crisis  followed.
  4. American Schools  are crucial in helping diminished economy.
  5. ‘It is imperative that we have a real plan in place.
  6. In some instances remote learning is a disaster.
  7. In other circumstances remote learning was adequate at best.
  8. The politicians have been talking about the virus and kids as carriers.
  9. The government has never granted parents the right to child care.
  10. Our district is constantly piling on more administrative requirements.

 

 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. In the past few weeks we’ve heard from multiple contributors.
  2. I love me job. It is my calling.
  3. I have taught for more than twenty years.

 

II

  1. Returning to normal requires controlling the virus.
  2. Of course we need to reopen schools.
  3. My kid only have  one hour of remote learning.

III

  1. I worry about many student who have unstable homes.
  2. We are going to be facing some long-term damage.
  3. In the eyes of the state, school and child care are different.

 

Reading Comprehension: Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. “I’m the parent of a 12-year-old. Her experience with remote learning was adequate at best.”
  2. “Teachers should take the proper precautions (masks and sanitizer) and come to school to teach.”
  3. “Tell me how each child is going to have her own supplies for the day as shared supplies are no longer an option. No more Legos, no more books.”
  4. “Give remote learning another chance.
  5. You can’t expect students to learn if they aren’t even required to show up.”
  6. “Parents need to step up and step in to educate their kids.”
  7. “It’s fairly obvious to most people that you cannot open schools in high-rate Covid areas like South Florida. The kids will be fine, it’s the adults that need to get their act together.” —
  8. “The risk to the health of the children appears to be minimal; severe illness is very rare. In balancing that risk against the real risks of abuse, isolation and neglect, I strongly believe it is better for us to return to school.”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, they may share their thoughts. To reinforce the ideas, students can also  write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Why do you think the schools are receiving the most pressure to reopen or not?
  2. Who were the people chosen to answer this important question?
  3. Whether they agreed with each other or not one thing these people had in common was the fact that the coronavirus  crisis has brought into acute focus how vital America’s schools and child care centers are to society. Why is this important?
  4. Are you a parent, student teacher or  health worker?  Do you think the schools should be opened  now? Explain why or why not.
  5. Eve Lockhart is amazed by which group of people who want to reopen the schools at any  cost?
  6. Which group of people have the urgent desire to reopen the schools at any cost?
  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.

Main Idea / Debate

Directions: Divide students into two teams for this debate. Both teams can use information from the article and sources from the Web  to support their arguments.

Team A will list five reasons that support arguments for reopening schools.

Team B will list  five reasons that support arguments against reopening schools.

Each team will have time to state their points of view,  and the teacher decides which team made their points.  

For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from Freeology

ANSWER KEY