Category Archives: Political Issues

TikTok Teens Prepare For 2020 Presidential Election!

“Teenagers are campaigning, debating, running fact checks and forming party-based coalitions (hype houses). One of them called it cable news for young people.” By T. Lorenz, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

TikTok Teens Get Political-

 

Excerpt:The Political Pundits of TikTok By Taylor Lorenz, The New York Times

“As Twitter and Facebook continue to dominate conversations about social media and the 2020 presidential election, TikTok is quietly becoming a political force.

Teenagers in America — many of them too young to vote — are forming political coalitions on TikTok to campaign for their chosen candidates, post news updates and fact check opponents. They are sharing real-time commentary for an audience that is far more likely to watch YouTube videos than turn on a cable news channel.

In a sense, these TikTok users are building short-form TV networks, each with a cast of talking heads. On TikTok they’re called hype houses, named after the high-powered influencer collab house in Los Angeles. These political houses are not physical homes, but virtual, ideological ones represented by group accounts.

There are conservative-leaning houses… and liberal ones…There are also bipartisan houses, for users who love discourse, and undecided houses, for those who aren’t sure what or whom they love… In recent months, content on TikTok has been getting more political.

Many users are campaigning hard, especially because they may not be of voting age in time for Nov. 3. ‘I feel like I am making an impact on the election even though I can’t vote’ Izzy, 17, said…Many members of Gen Z will be voting for the first time in the 2020 presidential election. Those who can’t have been taking political action in other ways, especially on social media.”

Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden Laces Into Trump for Fanning ‘Flames of Hate’

“In a speech in Philadelphia, Mr. Biden assailed  [Trump’s] handling of the protests over police brutality and racial justice:  “Donald Trump has turned this country into a battlefield riven by old resentments and fresh fears… Is this who we want to be? Is this what we want to pass on to our children and our grandchildren? Fear, anger, finger pointing, rather than the pursuit of happiness? ~ Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden~ June 3, 2020

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

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

Colorful Brainstorming chart from Live It Magazine.

 

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. As Twitter and Facebook continue to dominate conversations, TikTok is quietly becoming a political force.
  2. Young people are forming political coalitions on TikTok.
  3. These political houses are not physical homes, but virtual, ideological ones.
  4. There are conservative-leaning houses.
  5. There are liberal houses on TikTok.
  6. There are also bipartisan houses.
  7. Like YouTube’s commentators any of these creators have sought to replicate their success on TikTok.
  8. TikTok has struggled to prevent conspiracy theories from spreading.
  9. Many on TikTok debunk false theories.
  10. For many members of political hype houses, tamping down on misinformation is a top concern.

 

 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. Teenagers are campaigning, debating.
  2. They are sharing real-time commentary.
  3. These TikTok users is building short-form TV networks.

II

  1. Their are bipartisan houses for users who love discourse.
  2. TikTok is cable news for young people.
  3. TikToks  run a maximum of 60 seconds.

III

  1. Many users are campaigning hard because they may not be of voting age in time for Nov. 3.
  2. For many tamping down on misinformation is a top concern.
  3. Political TikToks often rely on popular trends and dances.

 

Reading Comprehension: Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. “I do feel like TikTok is cable news for young people.”
  2. I feel like I am making an impact on the election even though I can’t vote.”
  3. “A lot of political stuff is on Facebook and Twitter, but Gen Z isn’t really into that stuff.”
  4. [referring to the misinformation on the platform.] “Knowing that one million impressionable teens have seen this video and chosen to believe or not believe it.”
  5. “Many members of Gen Z will be voting for the first time in the 2020 presidential election.”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Are you a member of TikTok, Facebook or any other social media platform?
  2. If yes, what information do you provide? If no, would you consider becoming a member of any media platform?
  3. In your opinion, do you think teens getting involved in politics at an early age is a good idea? Provide reasons for your answer.
  4. Describe ‘Duetting’ on TikTok.
  5. What is a main concern for the majority of the members on TikTok?
  6. After reading this article name at least one thing new that you’ve learned.

 

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideasyou’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

 

Group Project Create An  Online Video Using TikTok

Directions: Have students go to the TikTok site and see if they can create a short video.Ultimate Tik Tok Guide – How to Tik Tok & How to Make a Tik Tok Video that Gets Likes

 

CNN and Sesame Street are refocusing their second town hall to address racism.

The show will talk to kids about racism, the recent nationwide protests, embracing diversity and being more empathetic and understanding. A CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall for Kids and Families’ will air on Saturday, June 6, at 10 a.m. ET.

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/

We Can’t Let the Coronavirus Postpone Elections

“The integrity of the election is critical to the legitimacy of the nation’s next leader, and never more than in this hazardous moment. It’s essential that every eligible voter has an opportunity to cast a ballot, and that every vote is counted. Voting by mail is key to ensuring the integrity and accessibility of November’s vote.” – New York Times Editorial Board

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Credit…Nicholas Konrad

Excerpt: It’s Time to Protect the 2020 Election, Too, —The New York Times Editorial Board

“There is no good time for a pandemic to hit. Still, it’s hard to imagine a more vulnerable moment than the one we find ourselves in, only months before some 130 million Americans expected to head to the polls to vote for the next president and thousands of other officeholders.

The outcome of the November election could shape the contours of American politics and government for decades.

Right now, most people are rightly preoccupied with the immediate impacts of the coronavirus on public health and the national economy. But a functioning democracy requires elections that are free, fair, accurate and on time, even during a global health crisis.

It is almost certain that the 2020 election won’t look like any we’ve seen before. Assuming the coronavirus outbreak persists into the fall, it will pose unprecedented challenges to holding a nationwide vote, the most obvious of which is the need to keep people physically separated… Several states have already postponed their primaries for this reason.

That may be the right call for the time being, but it won’t work for the general election in November, the date of which is prescribed by federal law, and which is followed soon after by the constitutionally mandated inauguration of the next president on Jan. 20, [2021].

Colorado has already moved over to 100% mail or drop-off voting.(Ivan Couronne : AFP:Getty Images)

The most practical fix is to make voting by mail a clear and free optionfor every eligible voter in the country.

This means, at a minimum: printing tens of millions of mail-in ballots and envelopes; ensuring that all registered voters receive one automatically, can request a replacement if they don’t, and can return it by Election Day; and finally, having the human and technological resources, like ballot scanners, available to count those votes quickly and accurately.

The good news is that we already have evidence that voting by mail works well. In five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington, most or all votes are cast by mail; in three others more than half are. In all, nearly one-quarter of all voters cast ballots by mail in 2016.

The experiments in the states have yielded several key findings: First, turnout is significantly higher nearly everywhere voting by mail is used. Second, voters of all political persuasions use it and like it. Third, it’s safe and secure. Bar codes allow for ballot tracking and validation. And states that use vote-by-mail have encountered essentially zero fraud: Oregon, the pioneer in this area, has sent out more than 100 million mail-in ballots since 2000, and has documented only about a dozen cases of proven fraud…Switching to all or nearly all voting by mail will require printing at least 70 million additional ballots.

These ballots will have to be ready to go out by Labor Day, less than six months from today. They must be postage-paid, so that no one has to pay a penny to vote, and there need to be enough machines and poll workers available to start counting ballots as soon as they come in. Signature-matching software can help ensure ballots are coming from the voters they were sent to, without introducing partisan bias into the process…A bill drafted by Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota would require states to, among other things, provide self-sealing envelopes with prepaid postage to all voters who request an absentee ballot. The bill would provide for all necessary federal funds to help the states.

Making voting easy and widely accessible in a time of social distancing is the biggest thing we can do, but there are other steps we can take to ensure a safe, secure and high-turnout election.

It is Your Right to Vote-NYT

First, educating voters with clear and simple instructions about handling and returning their mail-in ballots.

Second, physical polling sites still must be made available for those voters who are uncomfortable voting by mail or unable to. Many Native Americans living on reservations, for example, do not have traditional postal addresses, and would have a hard time receiving or returning a mail ballot. Many others will have moved as a result of the virus and may be hard to locate…Finally, voter registration needs to be easier across the board, in recognition of the fact that many Americans will have moved or be in transit over the coming months. This means making online registration available now and same-day registration available everywhere.

For the oldest continuously operating democracy in the world, the United States has a poor track record of prioritizing the smooth operation of elections…For all Americans, no matter their politics, the most important thing to remember is that this election is not going to look like what they are used to, and to be patient if final results aren’t in on election night. There has been a lot of criticism, much of it legitimate, about slow or disorganized counts during this primary season. But getting an accurate vote count is far more important than getting a fast one.”

In the Meantime:  Great Teaching  Activities Sites with Free Materials for Teachers, Students and Parents

“Learning Packets” for students During School Closures By Larry Ferlazzo:It seems like a fair number of districts don’t have any kind of learning plan in place for their students right now. Some districts, however, even if they don’t have a full-fledged remote learning program going on, are creating “learning packets” for students to complete. It’s not great, obviously, but it seems like it’s better than nothing and can help out parents.” For more information visit

Home With Your Kids? Writers Want to Help” –  The New York Times Mo Willems, Gene Luen Yang, Amie Kaufman and other authors for young readers are reading their work online and offering drawing tutorials, to help fill our strange new hours. For more information visit

The author and illustrator Mo Willems began hosting sessions on YouTube on Monday.

 

The STEM Sprouts Teaching Guide – Boston Children’s Museum & WGBH Welcome! Are you ready for some fun?

The STEM Sprouts Teaching Kit is the product of a collaborationbetween National Grid, Boston Children’s Museum, and WGBH. The goal of this curriculum is to assist preschool educators in focusing and refiningthe naturally inquisitive behaviors of three to five-year-olds on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

For more information visit here

STEM Teaching Guide

 

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. There is no good time for a pandemic to hit.
  2. The outcome of the November election could shape the contours of American politics.
  3. Right now, most people are rightly preoccupied with the immediate impacts of the coronavirus.
  4. If the coronavirus outbreak persists into the fall the 2020 election won’t look like any we’ve seen before.
  5. It will pose unprecedented challenges to holding a nationwide vote, the most obvious of which is the need to keep people physically separated.
  6. Several states have already postponed their primaries for this reason.
  7. That may be the right call for the time being, but it won’t work for the general election in November.
  8. The general election is followed soon after by the constitutionally mandated  inauguration of the next president on Jan. 20, [2021].
  9. The most practical fix is to make voting by mail a clear and free option  for every eligible voter in the country.
  10. The good news is that we already have evidence that voting by mail works well.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

 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. 130 million Americans are expected to head to the polls to vote for the next president.
  2. People are rightly  concerned with the immediate impacts of the coronavirus.
  3. It are almost certain that the 2020 election won’t look like any we’ve seen before.

II

  1. Several states has already postponed their primaries.
  2. The most practical fix is to make voting by mail a clear and free choice.
  3. These ballots will have to be ready to go out by Labor Day.

III

  1. The ballots must be postage-paid, so that no one has to pay a penny to vote.
  2. There need to be enough machines and poll workers available.
  3. Online registration must be make available now.

 

Reading ComprehensionFill-ins

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

For the oldest continuously operating ___in the world, the ___has a ___track record of prioritizing the smooth ___of elections…For all___, no matter their___, the most___thing to remember is that this ___is not going to look like what they are used to, and to be___ if final results aren’t in on ___night.

WORD LIST: election, election,important, patient, politics, operation, poor,democracy,United States, Americans,

 

III. Post Reading Activities

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. If you are of voting age and live in the U.S., have you thought about voting during the coronavirus?
  2. In your opinion, is voting now an important matter to the American People? Why or why not?
  3. The authors state that “It is almost certain that the 2020 election won’t look like any we’ve seen before.”  In what way will the 2020 election be different from others?
  4. The article states that “The most practical fix is to make voting by mail a clear and free option for every eligible voter in the country.” Do you agree with this statement? Why?
  5. We already have states such as Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington, in which most or all votes are cast by mail with very positive results; so why do you think that people are still hesitant to vote by mail in other states?
  6. What are some of the precautions that must be taken to switch to nearly all voting by mail before November elections?
  7. Colorado uses specialized drop boxes with camera monitors. Is this a good idea to ensure safe voting?
  8. Why or why not?
  9. In addition to mail in voting, why must physical polling sites be made available to voters?
  10.   After reading this article name at least one piece of new information that you’ve learned. Discuss what you’ve learned with your group members and share as a class.

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

5 People Who Made Positive World Changes in 2019

“In a year of many dispiriting headlines, Fixes still found the better angels of human nature at work.” T. Rosenberg, The New York Times

Note: Fixes is a column from the New York Times that looks at solutions to social problems and why they work.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Excerpt: Five Who Spread Hope in 2019-By Tina Rosenberg, The New York Times

“O.K. so Time magazine has Greta Thunberg. But many other individuals also changed the world for the better in 2019. Here, for a second year, is a list of five whose contributions Fixes wrote about.

Scott O’Neill fights tropical disease.

Scott O’Neill, director of the World Mosquito Program, with a cage of Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes in his Melbourne laboratory. Credit- Shaney Cameron

There’s a new weapon in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases.

Before 1970, only nine countries had experienced severe epidemics of dengue fever. Now, the disease is endemic in 100 countries, infects 400 million people a year and is intensifying rapidly.

Like Zika and chikungunya, dengue is spread by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, and no workable vaccine or cure has been found.

The normal public health response to mosquitoes is attack: spray pesticide, eliminate breeding grounds and help people ward off their bites. But these strategies have failed to control dengue. The world is desperate for something new. Scott O’Neill leads a team that is doing just the opposite — adding millions of mosquitoes to areas affected by disease. Professor O’Neill directs the World Mosquito Program, which is based at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

The mosquitoes the program releases are infected with Wolbachia bacteria, which block their ability to transmit disease. Wolbachia occurs naturally in most insect species and is harmless to vertebrates and humans. When enough Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes are released, they take over the whole population…In Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wolbachia zones had 76 percent fewer cases of dengue than other areas. Wolbachia has also led to reductions in disease in Brazil and Vietnam.

Kimberly McGrath heals trafficked children.

Kimberly McGrath coordinates foster care services at the Citrus Health Network in Hialeah, Fla. Credit- Maria A. Cardona for The New York Times

What happens to a child who is exploited commercially for sex? Kimberly McGrath is changing the answer to that question. Historically, trafficked children have been arrested for solicitation and sent to juvenile court…’The core understanding was that these were defiant, rebellious youth who would rebel in a family,’ Dr. McGrath said. In 2013, Florida officials asked Dr. McGrath, who coordinates foster care services at the Citrus Health Network in South Florida, to come up with a different response.

She started from the premise that these children were not defiant criminals. A vast majority had been abused, which made them more susceptible to the manipulations of traffickers. And they had never gotten help to recover from that abuse.

Dr. McGrath and her colleagues looked at what had worked for other traumatized children and adapted it to trafficked children. They educated not just therapists and social workers, but also foster parents…’When foster parents are equipped and prepared to deal with their special needs, children thrive in family-based environments,’ she said. “They really are just traumatized kids.’

Dr. Dixon Chibanda transforms global mental health care.

Dr. Dixon Chibanda turned benches into destinations for therapy. Credit- Markus Schreiber:Associated Press

Depression occurs everywhere. By some measures, it’s the world’s most debilitating disease. But treatment is not everywhere. Even in New York City, less than 40 percent of people with depression get treatment. In poor countries, it’s closer to zero percent.

So what can be done in places with no public mental health care and only a tiny number of mental health professionals? As with medical care, the answer is training nonprofessionals. Every health clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe, has a ‘friendship bench‘ in its yard. It’s an ordinary wooden bench. Seated on it is a community health worker with a few weeks’ training in problem-solving therapy. Patients go to the bench, talk to the health worker about their problems and come up with possible solutions. They go home and try them, and return.

The friendship bench was invented in 2006 by a psychiatrist, Dixon Chibanda, after a patient committed suicide. He had asked her to come see him at Harare Central Hospital, but she lived in another city and didn’t have bus fare.

Dr. Chibanda decided to bring treatment for depression to Harare’s health clinics. At first he wanted to train nurses and put offices inside the buildings, but the nurses had not enough  time and clinics had not enough space. But what seemed like a setback is what has allowed the program to spread.

Now, there’s a bench in the yard of every government-run health clinic in Harare, and the practice is spreading throughout Zimbabwe and to other African countries. In a different form, the strategy has also reached New York. Research shows that friendship benches are effective at treating depression.

Dr. Rebekah Gee makes medicines affordable.

Dr. Rebekah Gee, Louisiana’s health secretary. Credit- Tom Williams:CQ Roll Call, via Associated Press

Louisiana is doing two things no other state is doing about hepatitis C, which kills more Americans than all other infectious diseases combined. One is that the state is suddenly treating more people.

Hep C is curable — but the drugs are astronomically expensive. Even the cheapest generic version in the United States costs $24,000 for a course of treatment. (In India, the same drug is $550.) Because of the price, state Medicaid programs ration the drugs. In 2018, Louisiana treated 1,200 people… Louisiana could do that because of the second innovation: The drugs were made a lot less expensive. In July, the state began buying hep C medicines in a new way. Just as you pay Netflix a flat fee for all you want to watch, Louisiana now pays Asegua Therapeutics $58 million per year for all the hep C medicine the state can use.

Dr. Rebekah Gee, Louisiana’s secretary of health, adopted the scheme from Australia, where it has allowed Australia to treat seven times as many patients for the same money. Louisiana is the first state in America to do the same. The State of Washington is about to start as well. Other states are likely to follow.

Phil Keisling deepens democracy.

Illustration by Jeffrey Henson Scales; photographs by Marcin Jastrzebski and Digiphoto:iStock, via Getty Images

There’s a lot of attention, and rightly so, paid to Republican efforts to suppress voting. But there’s also a movement in both parties to expand voting. It abandons the traditional polling booth in favor of voting at home

It’s one of the most effective ways to increase turnout — possibly the best way.

Increasingly, other states are following the path first set by Oregon, which mails every voter a ballot. Voters fill it out at their leisure and mail it in or drop it off at a ballot center.

In next year’s elections, all voters in Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Utah and Hawaii will vote at home. California will soon follow. Large parts of North Dakota and Nebraska vote at home. In last year’s midterms, 69 percent of all votes in the West were cast by voters who received ballots in the mail.

Phil Keisling was Oregon’s secretary of state, in charge of elections, when Oregon began home voting in 1998. Now he leads the Vote at Home Institute.

The institute asserts that it saves taxpayers money (some election officials disagree). It argues that because the approach uses paper ballots, it’s secure against hacking… Home voting probably doesn’t affect turnout in big elections. But it does in local elections, races at the end of the ballot, ballot propositions and judicial elections.

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.

Pre-reading Exercises

 

 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. Before 1970, only nine countries had experienced severe epidemics of dengue fever.
  2. The normal public health response to mosquitoes is attack: spray pesticide.
  3. What happens to a child who is exploited?
  4. Historically, trafficked children have been arrested for solicitation.
  5. Depression occurs everywhere.
  6. So what can be done in places with no public mental health care?
  7. Louisiana is doing two things no other state is doing about hepatitis C.
  8. Hepatitis C kills more Americans than all other infectious diseases combined.
  9. There’s a lot of attention, and rightly so, paid to Republican efforts to suppress voting.
  10. Increasingly, other states are following the path first set by Oregon, which mails every voter a ballot.

Source: New Oxford American Dictionary   

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

Many other individual also changed the world for the better in 2019.

The normal public health response to mosquitoes is attack.

The mosquitoes the program releases are infected with Wolbachia bacteria.

II

The friendship bench was invented in 2006.

There’s a bench in the yard of every government-run health clinic in Harare.

Louisiana is treating more people for hepatitis C.

III

Because of an price, state Medicaid programs ration their drugs.

In next year’s elections, all voters in Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Utah and Hawaii will vote at home.

Turnout for these elections can be in the single digits.

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. The first group to correctlyidentify all of the speakers wins.

  1. “People who understand dengue and live in transmission areas are horrified and scared.”
  2. “Now we know they really are just extremely traumatized youth.”
  3. I started to realize that psychiatry in an institution is not the way to go. We have to take it to the community.”
  4. “Why couldn’t we change health care in this country?”
  5. “For millions of citizens, especially those with uncertain work schedules, family obligations and other daily demands, the traditional polling place has now become the most powerful voter suppression tool of all.”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

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. Which of the profiles do you find most inspiring or heartwarming? Why?
  2. Do they make you more hopeful and optimistic about the world?
  3. Do they inspire you to make a difference? How?
  4. Have you observed other ordinary heroes of 2019 in the news?In your community? Describe them.
  5. What qualities make it possible for individuals to affect change?
  6. Do you think you made a positive difference in the lives of others in 2019? Explain how.
  7. Has anyone made a difference in your life this past year? 

 

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

2020: Let The People Elect The President! End the Electoral College

“If you were looking for how dysfunctional the American system of electing the president is, it would be hard to top last week’s federal appeals court ruling allowing ‘electors’ — the members of the Electoral College — to vote for whomever they want, rather than the candidate they were pledged to support.” Editorial Board, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Excerpt: Fix the Electoral College — Or Scrap It, Editorial Board, The New York Times

“Wait,” you might say, ‘someone I’ve never even heard of can just throw out my vote for president?’ Well, yes. Or maybe not.

First some background: Micheal Baca was a Democratic elector in Colorado in 2016, pledged to Hillary Clinton, who won the state.

Mr. Baca believed Mr. Trump’s electoral victory posed an existential threat to the country, so he began a campaign, with a Democratic elector in Washington State, to persuade electors of both parties to break their pledges and vote for someone they might agree was qualified for the job — like John Kasich, the former Ohio governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate.

If there were enough ‘faithless electors,’ either Mr. Kasich would be president or the electoral vote would be deadlocked and the election thrown to the House.

While almost no one else joined Mr. Baca’s cause, he cast his ballot for Mr. Kasich anyway, in symbolic protest. In doing so he broke a Colorado law requiring electors pledged to the person who wins the state’s popular vote to cast their ballot for that candidate. The state replaced him with an elector who voted for Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Baca sued, saying that Colorado’s law — similar to those in more than two dozen states — violated his right to cast his electoral vote however he chose, as the framers intended.

Citing Alexander Hamilton’s dictum that the College ensured that ‘the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications,’ Mr. Baca and his allies called themselves ‘Hamilton electors.’

The National Popular Vote! What It Is-Why It’s Needed

The Aug. 20 ruling from a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver, backed up his constitutional claim.

The decision was the reverse of a ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court in May that upheld that state’s law imposing a fine of $1,000 on three faithless electors, including Mr. Baca’s ally. That court noted that the Constitution gives states near-total authority over electors.

If the United States Supreme Court steps in to resolve the conflicting rulings, it will of course note that Hamilton’s vision has not been a reality for more than 200 years.

After electors unanimously chose the nonpartisan George Washington in the first two elections, national political parties developed and electors became partisan actors who voted for their party’s candidate.

In other words, electors aren’t distinguished citizens weighing whether the people have made a wise decision on their presidential ballot; they are men and women chosen because of their partisan loyalty. So it’s understandable that after years of tightly contested elections, Americans are aghast that an elector would dare to substitute his judgment for the will of the people.

But even if Mr. Baca were to win a Supreme Court ruling, not much would change. Outside of a few scattered symbolic protests, electors are almost never truly faithless, even when there’s no law stopping them.

Consider the 2000 election, when George W. Bush won states representing 271 electoral votes — just one more than the minimum he needed to prevail.

Despite losing the popular vote to Al Gore, Mr. Bush didn’t lose a single elector.

If states were forbidden from determining how their electors vote, parties would only be more careful about vetting prospective electors.

The point is that faithless electors are not the real problem. What really disregards the will of the people is the winner-take-all rule currently used by every state but Maine and Nebraska

The winner-take-all rule encourages campaigns to focus on closely divided battleground states, where a swing of even a few hundred votes can move a huge bloc of electors — creating presidents out of popular-vote losers, like George W. Bush and Donald Trump.

This violates the central democratic (or, if you prefer, republican) premises of political equality and majority rule.

What most people don’t realize is that the winner-take-all rule exists nowhere in the Constitution. It’s a pure creation of the states. They can award their electors by congressional district, as Maine and Nebraska do, or in proportion to the state’s popular vote, as several states have considered.

Or they could award them to the candidate who wins the most votes nationwide, regardless of the state outcome. That’s the elegant approach of the National Popular Vote interstate compact, which achieves a popular vote not by abolishing the College but by using it as the framers designed it — as a state-based institution. So far 15 states and the District of Columbia, with 196 electoral votes among them, have joined the compact, promising to award their electors to the national vote-winner.

The compact goes into effect once it is joined by states representing 270 electoral votes — the bare majority needed to become president — thus guaranteeing the White House to the candidate who won the most votes.

Critics say that relying on the popular vote would allow the presidency to be decided by the big cities on the coasts, but big cities don’t come close to having enough votes to swing a national election…

It’s unlikely that battleground states will abandon winner-take-all on their own, since it would lessen their political power. But right now a constitutional amendment to eliminate it would be as unlikely as one eliminating the Electoral College itself.

The College has survived not because it makes sense, but because one party or the other has believed it gives them an advantage. That may be smart politics, but it’s terrible for a democracy.”

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

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.

KWL Chart from Creately,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. Micheal Baca pledged to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
  2. Mr. Baca cited  Alexander Hamilton’s dictum.   
  3. He had his allies on his side.
  4. He cast his ballot for Mr. Kasich.
  5. Some say that  the state violated his right to cast his electoral vote.
  6. Parties would be more careful about vetting prospective electors.
  7. There was a chance that the electoral vote would be deadlocked.
  8. The decision was the reverse of a ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court.
  9. The United States Supreme Court stepped in to resolve the conflicting rulings.
  10. Americans are aghast that an elector would dare to substitute his judgment for the will of the people.

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.

Micheal Baca was/wasn’t a Democratic elector in/on Colorado in 2016. Mr. Baca believe/believed Trump’s electoral victory posed/pose an/a existential threat from/to the country. While almost no one else joined Mr. Baca’s cause, he/his cast his ballot for Mr. Kasich anyway…The August 20 ruling in/from a three-judge panel of the/an United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in/on Denver, backed up his constitutional claim.

 

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.

In other words, ___aren’t distinguished___weighing whether the people have made a wise ___on their ___ballot; they are men and women chosen because of their partisan loyalty. So it’s understandable that after___ of tightly contested elections, ___are ___that an elector would dare to substitute his ___for the will of the people.

WORD LIST: aghast,  judgment, presidential,  electors, Americans,  years,    citizens, decision,

III Post Reading

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. What are some of the problems with the current Electoral College?
  2. What is it that most people don’t realize about the winner-take-all rule?  Where was this rule created?
  3. The article states, Despite more than 700 proposals for amendments to reform or abolish the Electoral College — by far the most of any provision of the Constitution — it has remained.” Why is the Electoral College still in use in many states?
  4. Why is the National Popular Vote interstate compact considered to be fair?
  5. What are some of the criticisms of the National Popular Voting system?
  6. In your opinion, which better represents the true vote of the American people, the Electoral College or the National Popular Vote? Explain why.

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