Category Archives: Political Issues

“There Once Was a Great Nation With an Unstable Leader”

“What happens when the people of a great nation gradually realize that their leader may not be, er, quite right in the head? When Caligula became Roman emperor in A.D. 37, the people rejoiced… Caligula was colorful and flamboyant, offering plenty of opportunities for ribald gossip… He was charming, impetuous and energetic, sleeping only three hours a night, and he displayed a common touch as he constantly engaged with the public. Initially, Caligula focused on denouncing his predecessor and reversing everything that he had done… But, alas, Caligula had no significant government experience, and he proved utterly incompetent at actually getting things done.” N. Kristof, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: There Once Was a Great Nation With an Unstable Leader, By Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

“On all sides, you could see nothing but altars and sacrifices, men and women decked in their holiday best and smiling,’ according to the first-century writer Philo.

The Circus of Caligula, 1901, from the magazine La Vie au Grand Air. Credit Art Media:Print Collector, via Getty Images

The Senate embraced him, and he was hailed as a breath of fresh air after the dourness, absenteeism and miserliness of his great-uncle, Emperor Tiberius. His early months as emperor brimmed with hope. Caligula also made popular promises of tax reform so as to reduce the burden on the public. He was full of grandiose pledges of infrastructure projects, such as a scheme to cut through the Isthmus of Corinth. Meanwhile, his personal extravagance actually increased the need for tax revenue. Suetonius, the Roman historian, recounted how Caligula’s boats had ‘sterns set with gems, parti-colored sails, huge spacious baths, colonnades and banquet halls, and even a great variety of vines and fruit trees.’

Romans initially accepted Caligula’s luxurious tastes, perhaps intrigued by them. But Caligula’s lavish spending soon exhausted the surplus he had inherited, and Rome ran out of money.

This led to increasingly desperate, cruel and tyrannical behavior. Caligula reportedly opened a brothel in the imperial palace to make money, and he introduced new taxes. When this wasn’t enough, he began to confiscate estates, antagonizing Roman elites and sometimes killing them.

A coward himself, Caligula was said to delight in the torture of others; rumor had it that he would tell his executioners: ‘Kill him so that he can feel he is dying.’

donald trump (aka Modern Caligula) stevemacqwark – DeviantArt

Caligula had a thing for generals, and he periodically wore the garb of a triumphant military commander…He offended practically everyone, he couldn’t deliver on his promises, his mental stability was increasingly doubted and he showed he simply had no idea how to govern.

‘If there’s a hero in the story of first-century Rome, it’s Roman institutions and traditional expectations,’ reflects Emma Dench, a Harvard scholar of the period. ‘However battered or modified, they kept the empire alive for future greatness.”

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 learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they 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. Emperor Tiberius was described as dour.
  2. He was full of grandiose  ideas.
  3. The man was incompetent as a leader.
  4. His personal extravagance increased with time
  5. Caligula had luxurious tastes.
  6. He demonstrated tyrannical behavior.
  7. He was a narcissist.
  8. Caligula became increasingly unhinged.
  9. He removed the breastplate of Alexander the Great from his sarcophagus.
  10. He offended practically everyone.

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.

Edward Champlin, a___ of Rome at ___University, says that Caligula pursued a love of ___that a 4-year-old might___and had a___ for___out whatever is on his mind.

WORD LIST:  blurting,disdain,pranks, penchant, historian, Princeton,

 

 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. These rash statement rippled through Rome.
  2. Caligula wreaked havoc.
  3. He offended everyone.

 

II

  1. Rome survived Emperor Nero.
  2. Caligula  be a coward.
  3. Caligula was also a megalomaniac.

III

  1. He supposedly rolled around at a huge pile of gold coins.
  2. He engaged in conversations with the moon.
  3. He set up a temple where he could be worshiped.

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 for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class.

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

Category: Political Issues

Is 2017 a Mirror Image of Orwell’s 1984?

“The dystopia [Oceania] described in George Orwell’s nearly 70-year-old novel 1984 suddenly feels all too familiar. A world in which Big Brother (or maybe the National Security Agency) is always listening in, and high-tech devices can eavesdrop in people’s homes… A world  where fear and hate are drummed up against foreigners…where the government insists on defining its own reality and where propaganda permeates the lives of people too distracted by rubbishy tabloids.” M. Kakutani, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt:  Why ‘1984’ Is a 2017 Must-Read, By Michiko  Kakutani, The New York Times

1984  shot to No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list this week, after Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to Trump described demonstrable falsehoods told by the White House press secretary Sean Spicer — regarding the size of inaugural crowds — as  ‘alternative facts.’

It was a phrase chillingly reminiscent, for many readers, of the Ministry of Truth’s efforts in 1984 at ‘reality control.’ To Big Brother and the Party, Orwell wrote, ‘the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense.’  Regardless of the facts, ‘Big Brother is omnipotent’ and  ‘the Party is infallible.’

Image-news.bitcoin

As the novel’s hero, Winston Smith, sees it, ‘The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.’ (George Orwell 1984 chapter 7-Part One)

Freedom, he [Winston] reminds himself, ‘is the freedom to say that two plus two make four,’ even though the Party will force him to agree that ‘TWO AND TWO MAKE FIVE’ — not unlike the way Mr. Spicer tried to insist that Mr. Trump’s inauguration crowd was ‘the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration,’ despite data and photographs to the contrary.

Not surprisingly, 1984 has found a nervous readership in today’s post-truth era. It’s an era in which misinformation and fake news have proliferated on the web; Russia is flooding the West with propaganda to affect elections and sow doubts about the democratic process; poisonous tensions among ethnic and religious groups are fanned by right-wing demagogues; and reporters scramble to sort out a cascade of lies and falsehoods told by Trump and his aides — from false accusations that journalists had invented a rift between him and the intelligence community (when he had compared the intelligence agencies to Nazis) to debunked claims that millions of unauthorized immigrants robbed him of a popular-vote majority…In this world, 2 + 2 does = 5, as Orwell noted, and the acceptance of bad arithmetic simply becomes a testament to the power of rulers to define reality and the terms of debate.”

Related Article: Steve Bannon Calls Press the ‘Opposition Party,’ Which Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’– By Adam K. Raymond, New York Magazine

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 learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

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

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. In the novel 1984 Orwell describes Oceania as a dystopia.
  2. Demonstrable falsehoods were told by the White House.
  3. Propaganda permeates the lives of people.
  4. Religious groups are fanned by right-wing demagogues.
  5. Orwell presciently argued that people needed to be vigilant.
  6. There are several government agencies are involved in environmental issues.
  7. Of course, all of these developments are being constantly updated.
  8. This mixture of gullibility and cynicism are dangerous.
  9. Some people do not particularly object to being deceived.
  10. This aspect of government is a despairing vision.

Word Map by Against the Odds

 

Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following paragraphs 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.

Orwell had been ___about the___that would become 1984 as early as 1944, when he wrote a letter about ___and Hitler, and the___of emotional ___and a tendency to ___in the existence of objective___ because all the ___have to fit in with the words and___of some infallible führer.”

WORD LIST: horrors, truth,  nationalism, thinking, prophecies,  novel, disbelieve, Stalin, facts,

Grammar: Word -Recognition

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

Of course, all of these developments/developers are beginning/being constantly updated, with regular/regularly flurries/flowers of news and deny/denials and counter-denials — a confusing steak/state of affairs that itself would not have surprised/suppressed Orwell, since he new/knew the value of such confusion to those in powerful/power.

III. Post Reading Activities

Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Create a list of freedoms that you currently enjoy in your home,  in your neighbor,  school and in this country (USA).
  2. Is there a  possibility of these freedoms ever being denied? Discuss why or why not.
  3. The U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights grant freedoms to all American citizens. Make a list of these rights. In your opinion is the current government upholding these rights? Discuss why or why not.

3-2-1-Writing Activity

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

Barack Obama: Reflections on a Great President

“Readers describe how they will remember the President as a man and as a leader…He emerged from relative obscurity as a beacon of hope and change. And, despite the roadblocks and setbacks, he remains so. The Obama presidency has been consequential. Especially impressive is his bold leadership on some of the most significant issues of our time, from health care reform to climate change to a nuclear deal with Iran that was once unimaginable. But it is Mr. Obama the man I will remember most.” The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

President Obama in March 2009 reading letters from Americans in his private study late at night. Credit Callie Shell:Aurora Photos

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk down Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day in 2009. Credit Doug Mills:The New York Times

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk along Pennsylvania Avenue during the parade following Obama’s second inauguration Jan. 21, 2013. Credit Joe Klamar-Getty Images.

 

Excerpt: Reflections on Obama New York Times Sunday Review

“The personal indignities to which he was subjected, from ‘birtherism’ to other acts of disrespect and contempt, are a disgrace. Yet he never lost his own dignity or grace.

Mr. Obama gave his Farewell Speech to the Nation from Chicago, January 10, 2017. Doug Mills:The New York Times

The crowd (20,000) stood as Mr. Obama delivered his farewell address. Doug Mills:The New York Times.

Now, with his successor inspiring more fear than hope, President Obama is urging us not to despair. Rather than apocalyptic, he’s still optimistic. Let’s follow his lead. Those of us who share his values should continue to work tirelessly toward the progressive ideals he has espoused. Barack Obama’s story will always represent the unique promise of America.”

P. Sato,Virginia Beach: “I will remember Barack Obama as president in a flurry of images and sounds —

President Obama Cries during Speech on Shooting At Sandy Hook Elementary School CT

body surfing in Hawaii, wiping a tear speaking of the Sandy Hook victims, singing “Amazing Grace,” announcing Osama bin Laden’s demise, dancing with Michelle on inauguration night, holding hands with his daughters, signing the health care act, showing off Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves, shooting that three-point swish, doing really funny stand-up comedy, resuscitating our American automobile industry, placing medals of honor on soldiers, and always keeping it truly real.

May 1, 2011- President Obama Announces Bin Laden’s Death

Most of all I will remember his presidency as one of a dedicated family man exuding grace, intelligence, humor, wit, compassion, thoughtfulness and fierce commitment to ideals and principles. And, his smile.”

Christmas First Family- Obamas Hannukah

Obama and Biden-A Powerful Brotherhood

S. Skovgaard, Denver:  “I will remember President Obama for his dignity, his humor, his eloquence and especially as the president who shed tears without apology or embarrassment. In that speech in which he discussed  ‘common sense’ gun control measures, he recalled the victims of Sandy Hook and he cried. And I weep now as I write about this memory.”

First Lady Michelle and Barack Obama still in Love.

S. Scandrett, Oakland: “President Obama’s accomplishments in office are numerous, from saving the economy to passing comprehensive health care and financial reform. Yet when the history books describe his time in office, President Obama’s legacy will be defined most significantly by his record on climate change.”

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, outside Paris, on Nov. 30, 2015.

C. Lanvin, Geneva: “While many journalists are pointing to President Obama’s decency and scandal-free administration as major takeaways, what I have been most impressed with is his international legacy. Having lived many years in Asia, where the United States is often seen as brash and arrogant, I have appreciated how he shows genuine respect for other cultures and religions.”

The World on his shoulders.

S. Birenbaum, Malibu: “I am despondent to see the end of Barack Obama’s presidency. Considering the absolute mess he inherited from the previous administration (endless war, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, America’s global reputation in shambles, etc.), I am sure future historians will rank his time in the Oval Office as the era in which the country took a huge step toward becoming the nation we aspire to be. He and his family restored class, dignity and thought into [the] White House…”

President Obama and Michelle with the girls outside of the White House.

T. Seigel, Weston, Conn:“Barack Obama is the first president to make openly gay and lesbian men and women and transgender individuals feel truly at home in our national government.

S. Crescenzo, Chicago:“Although President Obama’s major policy achievements — passage of the Affordable Care Act and the Iran nuclear deal — are now in danger under a Republican president and Congress, there can be no erasing the moral standards he established.”

Obamas Welcome Kids to White House for Easter Egg Roll

You sure are tall, Mr Obama! The president meets Halle Major during a visit by children from the Make-A-Wish charity at the Oval Office

D. Bernstein, Sacramento: A memorable part of President Obama’s legacy will be of a man who knew how to laugh at himself…He was serious about his responsibilities to all of us. He partnered with his wife, Michelle, to keep his daughters largely out of public scrutiny. He maintained his family’s values, like the dinner hour spent together. In so many ways, he was easy to relate to, even though none of us had lived a life that was in any way comparable to his. I will miss him!”

Festive- The First Family pictured outside Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, after Sunday’s Easter service

The President and First Lady

A young Obama with his grandparents Stanley and Madelyn Dunham while he [attended] Columbia University. Photo- The dailymail

All flavors of people adore Obama.

S.  L. Sparks Ga.:“I will remember Barack Obama as the most admirable man to hold the office of the presidency in my lifetime (70 years). My admiration has nothing to do with his policy successes or failures. No, my admiration is based on his deportment as a human being. He is an exemplary husband and father; he treats others with respect; he pursues the greater good over personal gain; his actions are guided by strong ethical and moral convictions; In short, he is the human being I have always endeavored to become.”

The President walking away-Rose-Garden. Huffington Post

“America is not the project of any one person. Because the single most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘We.’ ‘We The People.’ ‘We Shall Overcome.’ ‘Yes, We Can.”

~PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA~

President Obama’s Farewell Speech to the Nation, January 10, 2017.

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 learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they 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. He was subjected to personal indignities.
  2. President Obama is urging us not to despair.
  3. Obama’s story will always represent the unique promise of America.
  4. President Obama is known for his dignity.
  5. President Obama’s accomplishments in office are numerous.
  6. He took office at a true crossroads for our planet.
  7. President Obama’s decency is known world-wide.
  8. He has been restrained in the use of military force.
  9. His legacy to me is his tireless warmth.
  10. My heart is truly heavy as President Obama leaves office.

Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following paragraph 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.

Watching ___at the Kennedy Center Honors show on ___every December has reliably put a lump in my throat. The way he grinned, and___, and ___in time with the___eyes ___ and ___the words — unquestionably___. But the lump came from seeing his ___in the ___range of talent being celebrated, the ___of Americans’ creativity on___display.

WORD LIST: extraordinary, cool, diversity, grooved, President Obama, glorious, palpable pleasure, television,  shook his head, music, mouthed,  closed,

 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. President Obama domestic legacy is one of thoughtful policy.
  2. President Obama’s accomplishments in office are numerous.
  3. Mr. Obama met the moment boldly.

II

  1. President Obama showed  their humanity.
  2. Many journalists are pointing to President Obama’s decency.
  3. President Obama  was a dedicated family man exuding grace and intelligence.

III

  1. Pride organizations can be found at the Justice Department.
  2. It is because of him that I finally  find my place in America.
  3. He rescued the economy and led international efforts to slow climate change.

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?

Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. “Mr. Obama never lost faith in his countrymen and always acted on behalf of the many rather than the few. He rescued the economy, led international efforts to slow climate change, and struck at terrorists from the skies to minimize American casualties. He took important steps to protect the environment. Sadly, he was unable to pass immigration reform or gun-control measures, but not for lack of trying.”
  2. “I was 8 years old when President Obama took office in 2009. I watched the inauguration all the adults in my life were calling ‘historic.’ President Obama would be the one to make our government feel human to me… Here was a president who delivered arguably the funniest White House Correspondents Dinner speech ever, here was a dad who made jokes that made me groan out of sympathy for Malia and Sasha.”

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

One Family: Three Generations of Fading Loyalty to Castro’s Revolution

“When Fidel Castro rode victoriously into Havana on Jan. 8, 1959, Juan Montes Torre rushed into the streets to cheer. A poor, uneducated laborer from the eastern countryside of Cuba, he had arrived in the capital a few years earlier and, like most of his neighbors, could hardly believe what was happening…  ‘ These bearded men, poorly dressed — they won! And on behalf of the lower classes!’ ” D. Cave, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

fidel-castro-mats-terminal-washington-1959

fidel-castro-mats-terminal-washington-1959

Excerpt: One Family. Six Decades. Myriad Views of Fidel Castro’s Revolution. By Damien Cave, The New York Times

“Mr. Montes, who was 25 at the time, stayed loyal to Mr. Castro, who died on Friday, from that moment. The Castro revolution gave him an education, a home, and a job as a police officer who sometimes guarded the comandante himself. But that allegiance slipped from generation to generation in Mr. Montes’s family, and in Cuba as a whole. His son’s views darkened decades ago, during tussles with the Castro government’s restrictions. His teenage granddaughter, Rocio, has spent most of her youth feeling glum about the conditions in her country.

The Father: Mr. Montes first heard of the barbudos, or bearded rebels, when he was picking coffee and fruit in the fields in Cuba’s eastern province of Guantánamo. It was the early 1950s, and poor farmers in the area had started banding together, revolting against wealthy landowners.  Mr. Castro was among many leaders said to be demanding better working conditions…There was a lot of injustice back then, Mr. Montes said. Coups, crime. The government didn’t care at all for the people… After taking power in 1959, Mr. Castro promised radical change. In December that year, Mr. Montes was hired as a police officer. It was his first steady job since his arrival in Havana and came with free schooling, leading him from a fourth-grade education to a high school diploma.

an-old-couple-mourns-the-death-of-castro

an-old-couple-mourns-the-death-of-castro

The Son: The entrance to Juan Carlos’s home is covered in green vines with bunches of bitter grapes…If his father’s image of Mr. Castro and the revolution was shaped by the changes of the 1950s or ’60s, his views have been sculpted by the transition from the flush 1980s to the scavenging ’90s. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba lost a patron that had provided around $4 billion a year in credits and subsidies… In his 20s, he worked at Cuba’s customs agency, as his father had after his tenure on the police force. He said his frustration peaked in the late 1980s when he was rebuffed by Communist Party officials for gathering recommendations from colleagues for improving the agency.They they just told me: ‘That’s not right. Here are the things we are going to talk about, and you, don’t stand up and talk.’

The Granddaughter: Rocio dreams of becoming an art historian…In her eyes, Cuba is purgatory, and even before he died, Mr. Castro was a specter of the past, studied in textbooks more than seen… Her older sister already lives in Spain. Her best friend went to Miami for a vacation one summer and stayed, telling Rocio about the crowded shopping malls and the impressive facilities at her new school. 

Young people in miamis-little-havana-celebrate-castros-death

Young people in miamis-little-havana-celebrate-castros-death

Most of Rocio’s friends, she said, hope to get out of Cuba as soon as they can. Rocio mostly wants Cuba to catch up. Why is there no open and affordable access to the internet? Why can’t she easily get on Facebook to say hi to her sister in Barcelona?… She wants the same thing her grandfather and Fidel Castro wanted when they were young, radical change and a fair shot at making a life for herself on her terms.”

Castros-funeral

Castros-funeral

“In life, he was often an enigma; in death, for Cuban families like the Monteses, he is a collage of competing images, from the inspiring young rebel to the out-of-touch old man.”

Fidel Castro-1926-2016

Fidel Castro-1926-2016

“A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past.” Fidel Castro

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 learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

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

Great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

Great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. In life, Castro was often an enigma.
  2. In 1953, Mr. Castro staged his first major attack.
  3. The Cuban police didn’t abuse anyone.
  4. There was a flurry of activity after Castro’s death.
  5. Castro feared Cuba would turn into an American fief.
  6. Many people were critical of  Castro’s authoritarian ways.
  7. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba lost a patron.
  8. Cuba would need to make some exceptions to the norm.
  9. Eventually Cuba Cuba adopted capitalism.
  10. Cuba suffered chronic shortages of fuel, soap, and food.

 

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. According to the article, Mr. Montes, (the father) remained  loyal to Mr. Castro.
  2. His son also remained loyal to Castro.
  3. His teenage granddaughter, Rocio, has spent most of her youth feeling glum about the conditions in her country.
  4. The Montes family’s story of faith and disillusion is uncommon.
  5. Cuban families have been arguing about Mr. Castro since he came to power.
  6. Fidel Castro had 5 children.
  7. Castro’s death has again produced an intense clash of emotions for many Cubans.
  8. His relationship to the country was remarkably distant.
  9. Castro was one of the few world leaders referred to by just their first names.
  10. It was the early 1970s, when  poor farmers began revolting against wealthy landowners.

 

 Grammar Focus: 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.

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

  1. But that allegiance slipped from generation___generation ___Mr. Montes’s family. 
  2. You have ___look___this ___a very cool way.
  3. Because he ruled___ decades, Mr. Castro’s impact — and the perception___it — changed___time.
  4. Cubans born___the revolution saw him___a transformative force___ good or ill.

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/Writing

Directions: Place students in groups Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class.

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

Category: People, Political Issues | Tags:

The Time Has Come To Eliminate The Electoral College!

“In her concession speech on Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton did not mention the popular vote, an omission that seemed to signal her desire to encourage a smooth and civil transition of power… But her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, wasted little time highlighting her higher vote total than the president-elect in introducing her. And the disparity left a bitter taste in the mouths of many Democrats, whose party won the country’s national popular vote for the third consecutive election but no longer controls any branch of government… The Electoral College is a relic that violates the democratic principle of one person, one vote, and distorts the presidential campaign.” J. Mahler and S. Eder, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

After-a-beautiful-concession-speech-clinton-feels-the-love-of-her-supporters.

After-a-beautiful-concession-speech-clinton-feels-the-love-of-her-supporters.

Excerpt: The Electoral College Is Hated by Many. So Why Does It Endure? By Jonathan Mahler and Steve Eder The New York Times

“None of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters have gone so far as to suggest that the popular vote tally should delegitimize  Trump’s victory, and the popular vote margin in Tuesday’s election was in fact narrower than the one that separated Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore in 2000.

But the results are already renewing calls for electoral reform. I personally would like to see the Electoral College eliminated entirely, said David Boies, who represented Mr. Gore in the Florida recount in 2000. I think it’s a historical anomaly.

Some states have discussed a possibility that would not necessarily require amending the Constitution: jettisoning the winner-takes-all system, in which a single candidate is awarded all of a state’s electoral votes — regardless of the popular vote — and instead apportioning them to reflect the breakdown of each state’s popular vote. Two states, Maine and Nebraska, already do this. But even that approach could face challenges, said Laurence H. Tribe, a professor at Harvard Law School.map-for-electoral-votes-in-each-state

For reformers, the best hope may lie in the so-called National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an agreement among states to award all of their respective electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote in a given election. So far, 10 states and the District of Columbia have joined the agreement. But it will only go into effect when enough states have signed on to guarantee that the winner of the popular vote will win the election.”

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide (i.e., all 50 states and the District of Columbia).  It has been enacted into law in 11 states with 165 electoral votes, and will take effect when enacted by states with 105 more electoral votes. The bill has passed one chamber in 12 additional states with 96 electoral votes.”

Learn More About the Current Movement for The Popular Vote Interstate Compact 

the-national-popular-vote-heading

 

Additional Lesson plans:

Does my vote count? Understanding the electoral college  by David Walbert

“No, the electoral college is not the worst team in the ACC. It’s the group of people who actually elect the president of the United States. How the electoral college works is one of the more complicated parts of the American electoral process — or can be, at least, when things don’t go smoothly. This guide will explain how the electoral college works; discuss the origins and development of the electoral college as some controversial elections; and examine how much your vote actually “weighs” in an election”.-David Walbert-

Congress for Kids

“Did you know that voters in the United States don’t vote for the president? People actually vote for a group of electors when they go to the polls on Election Day. These electors have pledged to support a party’s nominee for president. In many states the ballot lists only the names of the nominees and not the names of the electors, so many people believe they are voting for the president.”

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 learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about the Electoral College.  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 copy

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. In  the  2000 presidential election the Florida recount gripped the nation.
  2. She was a newly elected Democratic senator from New York.
  3. She was unequivocal in her response.
  4. I believe strongly that in a democracy.
  5. Mr. Gore was defeated in the presidential  election.
  6. He made his concession speech in New York.
  7. People have been critical of the Electoral College in the past.
  8. The results are already renewing calls for electoral reform.
  9. There is an imbalance in the Electoral College that favors Republicans.
  10. Many feel that it is intolerable for democracy.
Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following paragraphs 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.

In November 2000, as the ___recount___ the nation, a newly ___Democratic senator from ___took a ___from an upstate___ tour to address the___that ___could wind up winning the ___but losing the presidential election.

WORD LIST: Al Gore, Florida, possibility, elected, gripped,  New York, break, victory, popular vote,

 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. Sixteen year later, the Electoral College is still standing.
  2. But the results are already renewing calls for electoral reform.
  3. There were a variety of factors in the Electoral College.

II

  1. Some historians point to a  critical role in the EC.
  2. Defenders of the system  claim it reduces cheating.
  3. The EC will forever tip the balance to rural voters.

 

III

  1. Many people can’t think of any justification for it.
  2. It would requires a constitutional amendment to change.
  3. For reformers the best hope lies in the National Popular Vote.

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?

Ask/Answer  Questions

  1. Place students in groups and have each group list 3  questions they would like to pursue in relation to  the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.
  2. Have each group write a paragraph explaining why or why not the Electoral College  is a good idea. Students can get information from the web. All responses are shared as a class.

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