Category Archives: Social Issues

From American Detention Centers to Jail

“As 17-year-olds they were asylum seekers. On their 18th birthdays they became criminals” Editorial Board, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Photo- The Cut

Photo- wsj.com

Excerpt:  Coming of Age in American Detention-The New York Times Editorial Board

In the fall of 2017, Wilmer Ramirez had reason to be hopeful. After he trekked from Guatemala and spent several months in a youth migrant shelter in Arizona, his application for ‘special immigrant juvenile status,’ a designation that would make him eligible for lawful permanent residency, was pending. What’s more, a family in Pennsylvania had agreed to sponsor him, meaning they would submit themselves to the Office of Refugee Resettlement for approval and take him in once they were approved. The only thing between him and freedom, then, was a little more paperwork. But when he turned 18, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials came to the shelter, placed him in handcuffs, and carted him off to a nearby jail.

He hadn’t done anything wrong. The officials were just following the rules. When children become adults, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, turns them over to the Department of Homeland Security, which places them in ‘adult detention,’ a term that usually means county jail.

Exact numbers are difficult to come by, but roughly 1,000 18-year-olds were sent to such detentions in 2017, according to Mr. Ramirez’s lawyers, who have filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the practice.

The transfer from shelter to jail can be abrupt; it often happens at midnight on detainees’ 18th birthday and typically cuts them off from any relationships they might have established, including with caseworkers and counselors.

There are many things wrong with this policy. There is no dark magic that turns teenagers into criminals on their 18th birthday, even if they were born outside the United States. Given the damage that incarceration can do to young adults, every alternative should be pursued before turning teenage asylum seekers over to adult detention.

And, as the Ramirez lawsuit indicates, the procedure itself may be illegal. Federal law requires ICE to place children and teenagers in the least restrictive setting possible, even after they turn 18…Yearlong stays are not uncommon, and cases of 500 days or more have been reported. As those numbers grow, the entire shelter system (some 100 facilities scattered across the country) is nearing capacity.

The best of those shelters may feel like havens to children who fled extreme poverty or violence, and faced incredible risks to make it across the border.

The worst shelters are dens of abuse and neglect. At either end of the spectrum, the children themselves face tedium, a lack of freedom and profound uncertainty, especially when their 18th birthday approaches… Health and Human Services officials have said that the longer stays are an unfortunate but inevitable byproduct of improved safety precautions: It takes time to verify that prospective sponsors are who they claim to be, and to ensure that these already vulnerable and traumatized minors won’t be subjected to abuse once they leave the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

That argument withers under scrutiny. Yes, the threat of trafficking is real, and protections are needed to guard against it. But it’s difficult to see how incarcerating teenagers for the crime of turning 18 protects them more than, say, releasing them to a willing sponsor who has cleared a basic but thorough background check…They deserve as much protection and support as teenagers born in this country — or in any other. We have the ways and means to provide that protection and support. We just need the will and the decency.”

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  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.

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. Many young children were asylum seekers.
  2. Wilmer Ramirez trekked from his home in Guatemala.
  3. Officials are angling to pull out of longstanding judicial agreements.
  4. Ramirez helps other 18-year-olds over their incarceration.
  5. Many of the minors are traumatized by the experience.
  6. There should be a law against the indefinite detention of migrant children.
  7. They deserve as much protection and support as teenagers born in this country.
  8. Many of the minors are traumatized by the experience.
  9. That argument withers under scrutiny.
  10. Stricter requirements have succeeded in scaring off prospective sponsors.

Word Map Education Oasis

 

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. Wilmer Ramirez was from Cuba.
  2. He spent several months in a youth migrant shelter in Boston.
  3. A family in Pennsylvania had agreed to sponsor him.
  4. When Ramirez turned 18, he was placed in a nearby jail.
  5. He stole from a store in the neighborhood.
  6. Approximately 1,000  5-year-olds were sent to such detentions in 2017.
  7. According to the article, the number of migrant children who face jail as they ‘age out’ of youth shelters is climbing.
  8. Ramirez attended college in Boston MA.
  9. The threat of trafficking is real, and protections are needed to guard against it.
  10. More than 200,000 migrant children have entered the United States in the past six years.

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.

Stricter requirements have/has succeeded in/on scaring off/under prospective sponsors, many out/of whom/who are undocumented themselves/theirselves or who have undocumented relatives. But there/their fear does not necessarily speak to/too their fitness as guardians.

There/Their are other options, in/out any case: Immigration advocates, including Mr. Ramirez’s lawyers, has/have proposed releasing teenagers like Mr. Ramirez to/two sponsors, with ankle monitors if need be, or to/too group homes or shelters for/four young adults.

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 for Comprehension /Writing

Ask/Answer  Questions

Directions:  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.

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

Remembering Senator John McCain

“John S. McCain, the proud naval aviator who climbed from depths of despair as a prisoner of war in Vietnam to pinnacles of power as a Republican congressman and senator from Arizona and a two-time contender for the presidency, died on Saturday at his home in Arizona. He was 81.” R. D. McFadden, The NYT

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post With Answer Key

A photo of John McCain sits with flowers outside the late senator’s Phoenix office. Photo- Paste Magazine

Excerpt: The Making of a Maverick, Robert D. McFadden, The New York Times

“A son and grandson of four-star admirals who were his larger-than-life heroes, Mr. McCain carried his renowned name into battle and into political fights for more than a half-century. It was an odyssey driven by raw ambition [and] the conservative instincts of a shrewd military man.

Mr. McCain, bottom right, in 1965 with his Navy squadron. While in the Navy, he was cocky and combative and resisted discipline. Credit National Archives

Nowhere were those traits more manifest than in Vietnam, where he was stripped of all but his character. He boiled over in foul curses at his captors. Because his father was the commander of all American forces in the Pacific during most of his five and a half years of captivity, Mr. McCain, a Navy lieutenant commander, became the most famous prisoner of the war, a victim of horrendous torture and a tool of enemy propagandists…To millions of Americans, Mr. McCain was the embodiment of courage: a war hero who came home on crutches, psychologically scarred and broken in body, but not in spirit…settling in Arizona, he won two terms in the House of Representatives, from 1983 to 1987, and six in the Senate.

An American Hero. The Guardian

He was a Reagan Republican to start with, but later moved right or left, a maverick who defied his party’s leaders and compromised with Democrats. He lost the 2000 Republican presidential nomination to George W. Bush, who won the White House...While he was a persistent and outspoken critic of the Obama administration, Mr. McCain had by 2013 become a pivotal figure in the Senate, meeting with Mr. Obama and occasionally fashioning deals with him. He joined a bipartisan group of senators, known as the Gang of Eight, that sought compromises on comprehensive immigration reform.

President Obama and Senator McCain. Photo- www.history.com

With the rise of Trump, the Republican flame thrower who steered American politics sharply to the right after his election in 2016 as the nation’s 45th president, Mr. McCain was one of the few powerful Republican voices in Congress to push back against Mr. Trump’s often harsh, provocative statements and Twitter posts and his tide of changes. 

In his end-of-life memoir, Mr. McCain scorned  Trump’s seeming admiration for autocrats and disdain for refugees. ‘He seems uninterested in the moral character of world leaders and their regimes,’ he wrote of the president. ‘The appearance of toughness or a reality show facsimile of toughness seems to matter more than any of our values. Flattery secures his friendship, criticism his enmity.’

Personal animus between Mr. McCain and Trump arose in the Republican presidential primaries in 2016. After months of boasts by Trump about his wealth, celebrity and deal-making as qualifications for the White House, and his dismissive capsule characterizations of climate change as ‘a hoax’ and the Iraq war as ‘a mistake,’ Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney, with standing as the previous two Republican presidential nominees, denounced Trump as ‘unfit for the presidency.’

‘Make no mistake, my friends, these are dangerous times,’ Mr. McCain said. ‘But you should not count America out, and we should not count each other out.’  As for Trump’s claim that his White House was operating like a ‘fine-tuned machine,’ Mr. McCain said, ‘In many respects, this administration is in disarray.’

Military personal carry the casket of Sen. John McCain.

John McCain’s Naval Academy memorial service and burial will feature two of his sons and Gen. David Petraeus. He will be buried Sunday at the Naval Academy Cemetery, next to longtime friend and academy classmate Admiral Charles Larson.

Trump won’t be there [ prior to his death, Senator McCain specifically requested that Trump not attend his funeral]  but Defense Secretary James Mattis will be a pallbearer.”

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 Senator John McCain.  Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article.  Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

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. Personal animus between Mr. McCain and Mr. Trump arose in the Republican presidential primaries in 2016.
  2. McCain suffered from a malignant brain tumor.
  3. John McCain was considered a maverick.
  4. McCain had the instincts of a shrewd military man.
  5. He was rebellious since childhood.
  6. McCain was a victim of horrendous torture and a tool of enemy propagandists.
  7. In his end-of-life memoir, Mr. McCain scorned Trump.
  8. Senator McCain warned Americans that Trump’s election might imperil the United States and its democratic systems.
  9. The Senator stated that the Trump administration  was in disarray.
  10. The seven-year Republican drive to derail the Affordable Care Act had collapsed.

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. John McCain was a senator from Texas.
  2. He was the son and grandson of four-star admirals.
  3. Two fighter Jets were named McCain, for the senator’s father and grandfather.
  4. McCain was a prisoner of war in WWII.
  5. John McCain won two terms in the House of Representatives and six in the Senate.
  6. He lost the 2000 Republican presidential nomination to Barack Obama.
  7. Senator John McCain and Trump are best friends.
  8. McCain’s wife  donated to many charities.
  9. As a torture victim, Mr. McCain was sensitive to the interrogation of detainees in the fight against terrorism.
  10. John McCain suffered from a malignant brain tumor.

 

Grammar: 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

Mr. McCain’s___ of Trump perhaps ___in July, after the [meeting with]  Vladimir V. Putin of Russia___in ___ Finland…Responding to Trump’s ___ in which the president spoke favorably of his Russian counterpart and questioned American___ findings that the Russians had ___in the 2016 ___election, Mr. McCain declared, “No prior president has ever___himself more abjectly before a tyrant.”

WORD LIST:  abased, presidential, interfered, intelligence, performance, Helsinki, privately, disapproval, peaked,

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  and  have each group compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters 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.

ANSWER KEY

The Hidden Dangers On School Websites

“The home page of Pinellas County Schools in Florida is brimming with information for families, students, staff members and the public: Facebook page, Twitter feed and YouTube channel. But Pinellas’s home page has been supplying information to another audience, an unseen one, as well this year. An array of tracking scripts were embedded in the site, designed to install snippets of computer code into the browsers of anyone clicking on it, to report their visits or track their movements as they traveled around the web. The trackers were detected last winter during a study by Douglas Levin, a Washington-based expert on educational technology. Asked about them in April, the district expressed surprise and said it would have them removed. But Mr. Levin found 22 trackers when he checked back last month.” E.K. Moore, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Photo- The New York Times

Excerpt:  The Information on School Websites Is Not as Safe as You Think By E.K. Moore, The New York Times

“Trackers are as common on public school websites these days as microbes on a restroom door, to judge by Mr. Levin’s examination of 159 public school websites from among the nation’s largest and most tech-savvy districts. At least some form of ad tracking or online surveillance technology was embedded in all but one of them, he found. Their use is an ‘industry-accepted practice,’ said Lisa Wolf, the public information officer for Pinellas County Schools, echoing comments by school officials elsewhere. 

Most trackers are used to help websites work better, by counting page visits or catching problems with broken links. Some are used for promotions, as in Pinellas County, where Ms. Wolf said the trackers spotted in April had been left behind after a school-choice campaign, and others were later added to boost enrollment at a technical college.

Photo- pcrevue.sk

But some trackers are also designed to recognize visitors by the I.P. address of their device and to embed cookies in their browsers for the advertising practice known as behavioral targeting. And knowingly or otherwise, many school sites are hosting software from third-party companies whose primary business is buying and selling data for the detailed dossiers of personal information on finances, lifestyle and buying habits that advertisers prize…’The price of getting information about your child’s school should not be losing your privacy to online ad brokers,’ said Mr. Levin, founder of EdTech Strategies, which conducts research and advises nonprofits and government agencies on using technology to improve schools.

Photo- cssd.ab.ca

Many people who use the internet are familiar with cookies and aware that their movements are tracked, especially after the Cambridge Analytica scandal put a spotlight on Facebook’s business model this year. But the unseen, commercial tracking of visitors to school websites — including students — raises issues that go beyond tracking on other kinds of sites, other experts agree… The companies offer school districts incentives to use ‘freemium’ services, free or discounted products for which, Mr. Russell says, ‘you’re paying with your personal information.’

The presence of trackers from data brokers such as BlueKai, AddThis or DataLogix on school sites should be viewed as a ‘smoking gun’ that demands an explanation, Mr. Polonetsky said, because those companies commonly engage in the buying, selling and linking of user data. Mr. Levin found all three on the websites of the Huntsville, Ala., schools on one recent day.  He found AddThis on public school sites in Cleveland; Springfield, Mo.; Washington, D.C.; and Albuquerque.

valleybreeze.com

BlueKai was among the 22 trackers Mr. Levin found on the Pinellas County, Fla., schools site. Ms. Wolf said she did not know how it got there. ‘It is the district’s expectation that our partners do not sell or misuse web visitor information,’ she said.

Some limits exist on how far trackers can intrude. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, known as Coppa, bars unauthorized collection of children’s personal information, including I.P. addresses, on sites aimed at children under 13.

School pages accessible to the public are mostly for adults, but ad trackers shouldn’t be allowed on the pages students visit to do homework or check grades, said Linnette Attai, founder of PlayWell, who advises companies on compliance issues related to privacy, online safety and marketing aimed at children and teens.

But Ms. Attai said even the most sophisticated companies were having trouble keeping up with rapidly changing online ad technology and the laws that governed it. Amelia Vance, director of the education privacy project at the Future of Privacy Forum, called this a problem for schools as well.

Google’s DoubleClick ad trackers, for instance, are commonly found on school pages that host YouTube videos, like the Community Website Introduction video on a school site in Massapequa, on New York’s Long Island. The trackers tee up videos containing advertising on the school page, once its own video finishes playing.

This year, after the Cambridge Analytica scandal cast a harsh light on the way Facebook harvests personal information for its advertising sales, the National Education Policy Center in Boulder, Colo., announced it was deleting its own Facebook page, citing what it called Facebook’s ‘invasive data mining and the third-party targeting of users inherent in its business model.’ ‘I don’t think we realized how much information we were giving out, or where else it could be used,’ 

 

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  the topic.  Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article.  Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Colorful Brainstorming chart from Live It Magazine.

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Trackers are common on public school websites.
  2. Ad tracking was embedded in all but one homepage.
  3. The trackers were detected last winter.
  4. Many people who use the internet are familiar with cookies.
  5. “There’s a continuum of data collectors.
  6. School pages accessible to the public are mostly for adults.
  7. The companies offer school districts incentives such as discounted products.
  8. Some limits exist on how far trackers can intrude.
  9. Integration of free social media into many school websites still provide a subtle entry point for commercial ads.
  10. This year, the Cambridge Analytica scandal cast a harsh light on the way Facebook harvests personal information for its advertising sales.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-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.

Student ___are now available for___on the basis of___ affluence, ___lifestyle, awkwardness and even a predicted need for ___services, according to a study released in June by___ Center on Law and Information Policy. Where that ___was drawn from is mostly___ the study found.

WORD LIST: undisclosed, ethnicity, Fordham University’s,purchase, information, lists, family planning, religion,

 

 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. Since 2013, we’ve had 125 new student privacy laws.
  2. We have almost no funding.
  3. Google’s DoubleClick ad trackers, for instance, is commonly found on school pages.

II

  1. Most trackers are used to help websites work better.
  2. Some trackers is also designed to recognize visitors.
  3. Google’s DoubleClick ad trackers, for instance, are commonly found on school pages that host YouTube videos.

III

  1. Many school sites are hosting software from third-party companies.
  2. Schools shouldn’t be selling and marketing there kids’ data.
  3. With many of these sites you’re paying with your personal information.

 

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 and have them  discuss the following questions. 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.

Note: The following questions are samples from the site Internet Safety and Pitfalls The site provides great discussion questions with answers.

  1. What is the main downside of social network sites?
  2. How do dangerous criminals use social network sites?
  3. What can you do to prevent criminals from using a social network site to target you? (Choose a site that allows you to control who can see your page.)
  4. What should you never reveal when posting a blog, using a chat room, sending an I-M or email to an online acquaintance?
  5. Why should you always think twice about posting words and pictures online?

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

“Why Are We Obsessed With Superhero Movies?”

“Seven of the 11 top-grossing films of 2017 were superhero movies, based on characters first introduced in comic books. The top two grossing films so far this year have been ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War.’..Films reflect the tastes and values of the period in which they are made. We can trace the changing status of women, evolving ideas about masculinity, war, crime, journalism, the C.I.A. or anything else by Hollywood treatments over the decades. So when historians look back at this glut of superhero flicks, what will they say about us? What are they about?” M. Bowden, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

image- Den of Gook

 

Excerpt: Why Are We Obsessed With Super hero Movies? By Mark Bowden

“There is no rule, of course, that says films have to be about anything. One way of looking at comic book movies is to see them simply as mental popcorn, meant to be rapidly consumed and forgotten — this may be precisely why so many people love them…why, for instance, do superheroes and villains persist in hurling large objects at each other long after it is clear this has no effect?

Film: The Black Panther-poster

They showcase beautiful bodies in well-choreographed combat augmented by ear-blasting pseudo-Wagnerian music and dazzling special effects. Plot lines are an afterthought, and dialogue is often breezily incoherent (particularly when trying to impart deeper meaning)…

Film: Avengers-Infinity War-photo- nme.com

Even if they are not meant to be taken seriously by anyone older than 12, all stories mean something, even bad ones… They celebrate exceptionalism and vigilantism. The old American ideal of succeeding through cleverness, virtue and grit is absent, as is the notion of ordinary folk banding together to overcome a threat — think of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’or the original ‘The Magnificent Seven’ or any of a dozen World War II-era films. Gone is respect for the rule of law and the importance of tradition and community. Institutions and human knowledge are useless. Religion is irrelevant.

Film- The Magnificent Seven-Heroes without superpowers

Governments are corrupt and/or inept, when not downright evil. The empowered individual is all. The superhero is an alien or outcast who possesses unique powers acquired either at birth or through some accident or gift.

The Justice League-photo-i09-Gizmodo

Normal humans are mere bystanders, when they are not being crushed or vaporized. The average person is powerless and depends for survival on the good will of the gods. (It may be worth noting that in real life, the only way for a human to acquire anything like a superpower is to buy a gun, which may shed new light on America’s firearms fetish.)…When I was 12, living in Port Washington, N.Y., my friend Buzzy and I mixed a potion with his chemistry set and sprinkled ourselves with it, hoping to attain superpowers. We then raced around his house, anticipating a magical effect.

Superhero Comic Books-photo-Hollywood Reporter

We were disappointed. We remained all too normal, and soon set our sights on more viable dreams. Even then, in the ’60s, I imagined how cool it would be if movies could capture the stories I devoured in comic books.

The old ‘Superman’ TV show was pathetic; poor George Reeves looked more padded than chiseled, and he flew like someone suspended from a crane…

TV version: Superman circa 1950s.

The biggest reason for Hollywood’s booming Comic Book Age, of course, is technology. Computer imagery can now bring even the most outlandish images of comic book fantasy to life. They are exactly what I dreamed about as a boy.

I watch now with my discounted senior citizen ticket, ever hopeful of recapturing the thrill I once got from the static printed page. And despite the astonishing cinematic wizardry, I’m always disappointed.

The stories I read as a boy were no better and generally worse than those now on screen, but my dreams have all changed. Even as the utterly fantastic is made real, the superheroes seem silly, the stories fake. Still, the kid in me keeps coming back. I haven’t seen ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ yet. Maybe that will be the one.”

 

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:  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.

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic

 

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. Superhero movies are seen as a global obsession.
  2. They are the most consumed stories in human history.
  3. Even snooty critics have fun inventing clever ways to slam them.
  4. Plot lines are an afterthought.
  5. Dialogue is often breezily incoherent.
  6. Peter Parker enters into a quasi apprenticeship with Iron Man.
  7. Many think that heroes are idealized humans.
  8. Hollywood has always cherished mavericks.
  9. The superhero is an alien or outcast.
  10. We then raced around his house, anticipating a magical effect.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-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.

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ is a ___retelling of the ___story…Icarus, inflated with ___when outfitted with feather-and-wax wings by his___ father, Daedalus, ignores his father’s ___and flies too high. The sun ___the wax and Icarus plunges to his death.

This would be far too___ a fate for a ___ of course. Peter Parker enters into a ___apprenticeship with Iron Man, who makes him a___costume that augments his powers while cautioning him to take it slow.

WORD LIST: warnings,harsh, fancy, pride, melts, straightforward, inventor, quasi,Icarus, superhero,

 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,

We are living ___Hollywood’s Comic Book Age.

Superhero movies are seen___hundreds ___people.

One way ___looking___ comic book movies is ___see them ___mental popcorn.

There is little___ them ___the religious right; they are socially liberal, [and] big ___female empowerment.

The characters ___myth illustrate very human appetites, weaknesses and strengths.

The extraordinary success of Black Panther rests ___part ___creating a counter-myth___centuries ___racist depictions ___Africa.

The biggest reason___ Hollywood’s booming Comic Book Age, ___course, is technology.

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 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 topics mentioned.

  1. Do you think that  people are really “obsessed” with superhero movies?  Explain your answer.
  2. Would you consider yourself  obsessed with superhero movies?
  3. How many of these movies have you seen?
  4. The article states, There is no rule, of course, that says films have to be about anything. One way of looking at comic book movies is to see them simply as mental popcorn, meant to be rapidly consumed and forgotten — this may be precisely why so many people love them.”Do you agree with this idea? Explain why or why not.

Group Activity

With your group members create the perfect superhero.Include information such as: description (what they would look like) where she/he comes from, what super powers they have, how did they acquire their super powers, what would be their purpose in fighting and any other information you can you’d like to include. Have members draw a picture of your hero. Share the information with other groups in your class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Film, Social Issues | Tags:

Understanding the Social Signs of Autistic People

“One of the most widely held beliefs about autistic people — that they are not interested in other people — is almost certainly wrong. Our understanding of autism has changed quite a bit over the past century, but this particular belief has been remarkably persistent…  Even now, a National Institutes of Health fact sheet suggests that autistic people are ‘indifferent to social engagement,’and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that some ‘might not be interested in other people at all.”  V.  K. Jaswal and N. Akhtar, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Photo- Autism Speaks.

Excerpt: How to Meet Autistic People Halfway, By Vikram K. Jaswal and Nameera Akhtar, The New York Times

“Seventy-five years ago, the first published account of autism described its subjects as ‘happiest when left alone’ and ‘impervious to people’…There is no question that autistic people can seem as though they are not interested in others. They may not make eye contact or they may repeat lines from movies that don’t seem relevant in the moment. They may flap their hands or rock their bodies in ways that other people find off-putting. But just because someone appears socially uninterested does not mean that he or she is…As the autistic author Naoki Higashida writes, ‘I can’t believe that anyone born as a human being really wants to be left all on their own, not really,” adding, ‘The truth is, we’d love to be with other people.’

So why do autistic people act in ways that make it appear they want to be left alone? Autism is a neurological condition that affects how people perceive, think and move. Autistic people say that some of their apparently unsociable behaviors result from these neurological characteristics. Paradoxically, they may behave in these ways when they are trying to engage with other people.

Take eye contact. Some autistic people say they find sustained eye contact uncomfortable or even painful. Others report that it’s hard to concentrate on what someone is saying while simultaneously looking at them. In other words, not looking someone in the eye may indicate that an autistic person is trying very hard to participate in the conversation at hand. Unfortunately, this attempt to engage often gets interpreted as a lack of interest… Some popular autism interventions recommend that parents and teachers attempt to train autistic children to make eye contact or to stop repeating themselves or flapping their hands.

The problem with this is that the neurological makeup of an autistic person may make it difficult or impossible for him or her to do so… For all of us, whether we are socially motivated at any given time depends on much more than our innate predisposition for sociability… Autistic people have been making the case for decades that they are interested in other people, and that they do not intend their unusual behaviors to indicate otherwise.”

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.

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. Autistic people can seem as though they are not interested in others.
  2. In some cases autistic people are desperate for social connection.
  3. Autistic people may behave in strange ways deemed unsociable.
  4. Paradoxically, they may behave in these ways when they are trying to engage with other people.
  5. Some autistic people say they find sustained eye contact uncomfortable or even painful.
  6. Or consider another common autistic behavior: echolalia.
  7. Wrongly assuming that someone is not socially motivated can have devastating consequences.
  8. The presumption that autistic people are not sociable effectively dehumanizes them.
  9. There are some popular autism interventions.
  10. Some autistic people behave in ways that get misinterpreted.

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. Autistic people are not interested in other people.
  2. Seventy-five years ago, the first published account of autism described its subjects as “happiest when left alone”.
  3. Autistic people make eye contact.
  4. Autistic people never make odd gestures.
  5. Autistic people experience loneliness, say they want friends.
  6. Naoki Higashida is an autistic author.
  7. Autism is a physical condition that affects how people perceive, think and move.
  8. Echolalia occurs when  people say the same thing over and over again.
  9. Sometimes autistic people repeat phrases as a way of connecting at a deep level.
  10. Improving the social lives of autistic people will require putting aside assumptions about how social interest is expressed.

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.

If you assume/consume  a person is not interested in interacting/interact with you, then you probably won’t exert/exit much effort/afford to interact in the first place. This can led/lead to a situation where neither/either person wants to act/interact with the other. Or you might insisting/insist that he or she interact in the ways you expect/inspect socially interested people to interact.

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion 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 topics mentioned.

  1. Do you have a friend who is autistic?  If yes how do you interact with them?
  2. Are there students with autism in your school or class? How do they interact with you and the other students?
  3. The article states, “Wrongly assuming that someone is not socially motivated can have devastating consequences. Being sociable is widely considered to be a fundamental part of being human. The presumption that autistic people are not sociable effectively dehumanizes them.
  4. If you assume a person is not interested in interacting with you, then you probably won’t exert much effort to interact in the first place. This can lead to a situation where neither person wants to interact with the other. Or you might insist that he or she interact in the ways you expect socially interested people to interact.”
  5. The article also states,For all of us, whether we are socially motivated at any given time depends on much more than our innate predisposition for sociability.”

Ask/Answer  Questions

Directions: 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.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Social Issues | Tags: