Category Archives: Social Issues

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:

Some Preschools Are Including “Kindness” Training in Their Curriculums

“Thanks to a challenge from the Dalai Lama, a number of preschools are trying to teach something that has not always been considered an academic subject: kindness… preschoolers are introduced to a potpourri of sensory games, songs and stories that are designed to help them pay closer attention to their emotions.” R. Schiffman, New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Excerpt:  Can Kindness Be Taught?  By Richard Schiffman New York Times

“Can you look inside yourself and tell me what you’re feeling?” Danielle Mahoney-Kertes asked a class of prekindergarten students at P.S. 212 in Queens recently.

‘Happy,’ one girl offered. ‘Sick,’ said another. A boy in a blue T-shirt gave a shy thumbs down. ‘That happens too,’ Ms. Mahoney-Kertes, a literacy coach, reassured him. The exercise was part of the  Kindness Curriculum, developed by the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison…’Our world is kind of a scary place,’ Ms. Mahoney-Kertes said. ‘We can’t always control what is happening outside us. But what we’re teaching them is that they can control how they respond.’

P.S. 212, is in a neighborhood in Jackson Heights that is home to many new immigrants…’A child can come in and say, ‘My father was deported last night.’ How do you deal with that?” said the school’s principal, Carin Ellis. ‘We give them tools to cope with their hurt and pain.’

Ms. Ellis believes the Kindness Curriculum has also helped kids manage the stress of standardized testing and cut down on interpersonal conflicts…Richard Davidson, the founder of the Center for Healthy Minds, believes that ancient Buddhist wisdom provides clues. He was inspired, he said, by a request from Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who asked him to take insights from contemplative practice out of their religious context and use them to develop strategies to help improve people’s lives... On “Sesame Street,” the characters model a variety of kind actions. For example, Big Bird’s friends help him conquer his stage fright; Elmo patiently waits as Zoe learns to use his scooter. The program then cuts to its ‘kindness cam,’ which shows real children engaging in similar behaviors… Ms. Mahoney-Kertes points out, however, that, educators must practice what they preach for their lessons to be truly effective.”

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 (kindness).  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.

G. Cluster Brainstorming-workshopexercises

 

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. The Dalai Lama presented the challenge.
  2. Preschoolers are introduced to a potpourri of sensory games.
  3. The Kindness Curriculum has also helped kids manage the stress of standardized testing.
  4. We give them tools to cope with their hurt and pain.
  5. The Kindness Curriculum is part of a growing global movement.
  6. Dr. Davidson said he used the Buddhist  concept as the basis for teaching children.
  7. Children are able to empathize with the feelings of others.
  8. Sesame Street’s own research prompted its focus on kindness.
  9. The period between ages 4 and 7 is a critical developmental window when the brain is reorganizing.
  10. Youngsters who received the kindness training become more altruistic as they grew older.

Color Vocabualry Map by Enchanted Learning

 

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.

One ___working on ___with older ___ the Los Angeles-based ‘Kind Campaign’, founded in 2009, organizes middle and high school that ___the problem of ___between young women. The girls are ___to write a ‘kind apology’ and___it to who they have wronged.

WORD LIST: somebody,students,bullying,hand, program, kindness,target, assemblies, invited,

 

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. The exercise was part of the Kindness Curriculum.
  2. The Kindness Curriculum was an natural fit.
  3. When you’re unkind to another, it’s usually about how we are feeling.

II

  1. The program strengthened children’s ability to focus.
  2. They may also fare better later in life.
  3. The Kindness Curriculum is part of an growing global movement.

III

  1. Richard Davidson believes that ancient Buddhist wisdom provides clues.
  2. The program encourages children to identify there feelings and to put a label to them.
  3. On Sesame Street, the characters model a variety of kind actions.

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.

The articles states, “Another group, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, has developed lesson plans for all age groups through high school. Students are guided in classroom discussions and asked to come up with positive actions, like sitting with someone who is alone in the lunchroom and writing imaginative thank you letters to their future selves.”

  1. Can you think of a time during your life when you were taught to be kind to others?  Share your experience with the group.
  2. In your opinion is this a good curriculum for  all students? Explain why or why not.
  3. With your group create a list of activites for young children that will teach the ideas of kindness, sharing and caring.

 

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Education, Social Issues | Tags:

The Plight of Migrant Children and The Effect on American Kids

“The kids showed up in our driveway on a Tuesday afternoon. The boy wore a backpack full of diapers for his sister; she wore neon-pink tennis shoes and wouldn’t let go of his hand. Their case worker gave me some paperwork and was gone before I had time to process the thought: Now I’m a foster mom… I’ve tried not to read the headlines about migrant children being separated from their parents. Their panic was palpable. Mine probably was, too.” J. Cummins, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: If It Can Happen to Them, Why Can’t It Happen To Us? By Jeanine Cummins, The NYT

“The little one didn’t sleep so much as lose consciousness in moments when her small body demanded a break from her otherwise ceaseless crying. This happened with no discernible pattern. My two biological daughters, then 7 and 3, watched with concern as her cries turned to whimpers and then sloped into the ragged breath of sleep. She could nod off anywhere except in her crib: at swimming lessons, at the dinner table, sprawled on the kitchen floor…We may have been experienced parents, but we were inexperienced at parenting a traumatized child. I didn’t know how to change the diaper of a baby who was afraid of me. I didn’t know how to comfort a child who became frantic when I tried to touch her.

Metro

During the months that followed, the crying diminished and the children began to trust us. We tried to provide a safe, stable home for them. We gave them clothes, toys, grandparents. We laughed at their jokes and cried with them when visiting their parents was difficult. We loved them.

And yet we were, inherently, part of their trauma. Their parents were, for the moment, unable to provide a safe home for them. But even when it’s necessary, removing children from their parents causes acute distress. I witnessed that suffering. It lived in my home.

Photo- Vic News

My older daughter began having nightmares that ‘the people’ would take her away from us and give her to another family. She was inconsolable. ‘If it could happen to them,’ she asked with the clear-eyed logic of a 7-year-old, “why can’t it happen to us?’

I told my kids this kind of separation happens only to children whose parents don’t do the right thing. But now it’s happening to people who are behaving exactly as good parents should. To parents who endure inconceivable hardship to get their children to this country, precisely in order to protect them. They come from places of violence and poverty and they travel, in some cases, thousands of miles carrying their children on their backs, all in the hopes of providing those children with a chance at safety. Their perseverance is the very model of parental sacrifice… Republicans are ostensibly the party of Christian family values.

Image Dallas Morning News

Their leader is making a mockery of those values at our borders, separating even asylum-seekers from their children, and then using those children to force migrants into voluntary departure…Now I understand that it’s not always merit-based, who gets to keep their kids and who doesn’t. It can be arbitrary — a matter of unlucky geography — even in 2018, even in the United States of America. My daughter was right to be afraid.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. The little one didn’t sleep so much as lose consciousness.
  2. Attempting to remove her sneakers provoked hysteria.
  3. We were inexperienced at parenting a traumatized child.
  4. We were inherently part of their trauma.
  5. My older daughter began having nightmares.
  6. The little girl  was inconsolable.
  7. It is too easy to imagine a little girl shrieking in her new foster mother’s kitchen.
  8. Their perseverance is the very model of parental sacrifice.
  9. Republicans are ostensibly the party of Christian family values.
  10. Where is our righteous Christian outrage?

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. The kids showed up in our driveway on a  Friday afternoon.
  2. My two biological daughters, then 7 and 3, watched with concern as her cries turned to whimpers.
  3. Our neighbors came over to meet the new children.
  4. We may have been experienced parents, and  we were experienced at parenting a traumatized child.
  5. I didn’t know how to comfort a child who became frantic when I tried to touch her.
  6. My younger daughter began having nightmares.
  7. The social worker visited often.
  8. I tried telling her that it happens only to parents who don’t, or can’t, take care of their children.
  9. During the months that followed, the crying diminished and the children began to trust us.
  10. My husband  is not an immigrant.

Grammar:Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article  and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.

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 from the article. 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. “I told my kids this kind of separation happens only to children whose parents don’t do the right thing. But now it’s happening to people who are behaving exactly as good parents should.”
  2. “In immigration court, migrants are being told that the best way to see their kids again is to plead guilty, to return to whatever they’re running from. And yet even if they do just that, some parents still don’t get their children back.”
  3. “Would you prefer to keep your children in a dangerous place or risk losing them in a place you can only hope will be safer?”

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