Category Archives: Social Issues

The (Much Needed) Healing Power of Laughter

“Some enlightened doctors, nurses and therapists have a prescription for helping all of us to get through this seemingly never-ending pandemic: Try a little laughter.” R. Schiffman, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Megan Werner uses ‘Irwin,’ a skeleton, to help defuse tensions in her therapy groups.Credit- Megan Werner

Excerpt:Laughter May Be Effective Medicine for These Trying Times, By Richard Schiffman, The New York Times

“Humor is not just a distraction from the grim reality of the crisis, said Dr. Michael Miller, a cardiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. It’s a winning strategy to stay healthy in the face of it…‘Having a good sense of humor is an excellent way to relieve stress and anxiety and bring back a sense of normalcy during theseturbulent times.’

Photo Credit- Medical News Today

Perhaps most relevant today, possessing a sense of humor also helps people remain resilient in the face of adverse circumstances, said George Bonanno, a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University.

Try Laughing-Credit- Getty Images

‘Charlie Chaplin once said ‘In order to truly laugh you need to be able to take your pain and play with it,’ said Paul Osincup, the president of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. Write down all of the most difficult and annoying things about quarantine,’Mr. Osincup recommends. Play with those. See if you can find any humor in your situation.

Photo credit- DLPNG

Megan Werner, a psychotherapist in private practice, uses a similar strategy in her work with at-risk youth in Fayetteville, Ark. During group therapy sessions, she has the teenage gang members she works with interact with ‘Irwin,’ a life-size Halloween skeleton, to encourage them to confront their dangerous lifestyle head-on.

‘Most of the time you try to deflate a painful situation,’ she said. ‘In my therapy work, it’s more like ‘let’s blow it up, let’s make it so absurd that we laugh about it.’

Mary Laskin, a nurse case-manager at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, has been working with her chronic pain patients online, teaching them laughter exercises alongside practices designed to develop other positive mental states like gratitude and forgiveness. ‘This pandemic is like a tiger creeping toward us, a huge slow-motion stressor that makes the experience of pain worse. Humor helps my patients relax and release their grip on pain,’  she said…She recommends ‘laughter first-aid boxes,’ where they can stash joke books, funny toys and other props for this purpose.

Mary Laskin, a nurse case-manager, recommends a laughter first aid box for her patients.Credit- Courtesy of Mary Laskin

Humor can also serve to powerfully reaffirm one’s humanity in the face of illness or disability, said Dr. B.J. Miller, a palliative care physician in San Francisco who suffered a freak electrical accident in 1990 that cost him two legs and an arm.

B.J. Miller, a doctor and triple amputee, used his own experience to pioneer a new model of palliative care. Credit: NYT

After the accident, he said, most people — including medical staff members — viewed him as an object of pity. ‘There is a solemnity in how people look at you,’ he said. “You are essentially walled off from others.

The one exception, he recalled, were the men who scrubbed off his burned skin in the hospital. ‘It’s a terrible job, I mean you are inflicting reams of pain on someone to save their life,’ Dr. Miller said. ‘But this ragtag crew, they were freaking hilarious. One of them had a flask and was drinking during the procedure, they were cracking jokes the whole time.’ ‘It made me stronger because they were looking at me and saying this guy can handle the pain and he can also handle a joke — it made me feel like a human being again.’ Inspired by their example, Dr. Miller said, he uses every opportunity to bring a dose of comic relief into his own medical work. Increasingly, he sees his colleagues doing so as well.”

CNN Poll: Biden Wins Final Presidential Debate!

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden answers a question during the debate [ with tRump] 2020. (Morry Gash / Associated Press)

“Joe Biden did a better job in the final debate on Thursday, according to a CNN Instant Poll of debate watchers. Overall, 53% of voters who watched the debate said that Biden won the matchup…”CNN

Beautiful photo of Presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife Jill after the debate 2020. Courtesy CNN

Supporters of Joe Biden cheer as the Democrat’s motorcade passes en route to the final presidential debate in Nashville.(Carolyn Kaster : Associated Press)

 

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: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Some enlightened doctors, nurses and therapists have a prescription for helping us to get through this pandemic.
  2. Having a sense of humor is the key to helping us.
  3. Humor is not just a distraction from the grim reality of the crisis.
  4. Heightened stress magnifies the risk of cardiovascular events.
  5. Having a good sense of humor helps during these turbulent times.
  6. Humor also helps people remain resilient in the face of adverse circumstances.
  7. Most of the time you try to deflate a painful situation.
  8. Many health experts encourage people to actively cultivate the healing power of laughter.
  9. Humor can also serve to powerfully reaffirm one’s humanity in the face of illness.
  10. We must try to maintain our humanity during these challenging times.

 

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Having a good sense of humor are an excellent way to relieve stress.
  2. Doctors, nurses and therapists have a prescription for patients.
  3. Possessing a healthy sense of humor is also a stress reliever.

II

  1. Heightened stress magnifies the risk of cardiovascular events.
  2. Dr. Miller prescribes one good belly laughs a day for his patients.
  3. Ms. Laskin suggests that her patients treat humor as a discipline.

III

  1. Some kinds of joking is potentially destructive.
  2. Some hospitals have initiated formal humor programs.
  3. Some caregivers are also innovating ways to bring humor into their own practice.

Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. Humor is not just a distraction from the grim reality of the crisis, said  It’s a winning strategy to stay healthy in the face of it.”
  2. “…laughter has also been shown to reduce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline and increases the body’s uptake of the feel-good endorphins.”
  3. There also appear to be cognitive benefits from watching a funny video.”
  4. “Perhaps most relevant today, possessing a sense of humor also helps people remain resilient in the face of adverse circumstances.”
  5. “Write down all of the most difficult and annoying things about quarantine…See if you can find any humor in your situation.”
  6. During group therapy sessions, she has the teenage gang members she works with interact with “Irwin,” a life-size Halloween skeleton, to encourage them to confront their dangerous lifestyle head-on.”
  7. “This pandemic is like a tiger creeping toward us, a huge slow-motion stressor that makes the experience of pain worse. Humor helps my patients relax and release their grip on pain.”

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. There is an old saying that states, “Laughter is the best medicine”. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
  2. During these difficult times do you feel like laughing? Why or why not?
  3. According to DR. Michael Miller what does laughter and a  good sense of humor do for us in general?
  4. What does Dr. Miller recommend we do at least once a day?
  5. According to Dr. Singh, why should we watch funny videos?
  6. Why is ‘possessing a sense of humor’ helpful in the face of adverse circumstances?
  7. What is the famous quote by Charlie Chaplin? Do you agree or disagree with this advice? Please explain provide reasons for your answers.
  8. What does Paul Osincup recommend we do with all the annoying things about the quarantine? In your opinion is this a good idea? Explain why or why not.
  9. Ms.  Laskin states, “Our health care system focuses on passive ways to manage pain like taking a pill or getting an operation…I encourage people to actively cultivate the healing power of laughter, which puts them back in the driver’s seat.” In your own words explain what she means.
  10. Why is it unusual for Dr. B. J. Miller to have a sense of humor?  If you were in his position do you think you could maintain a sense of humor?  Explain why or why?
  11. What new information have you learned from this article?

3-2-1-Writing

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

Extra Activities

Create a Laughter First-Aid Box

In the article  Mary Laskin, a nurse case manager, said she recommended “laughter first-aid boxes” for her patients, where they can stash joke books, funny toys and other props for this purpose.  Make a list of all the items you would place in your personal “Laughter First-Aid Box”  or create a physical box . Share your items with someone in your group.

ANSWER KEY

She’s 102 Years Old and Still Voting in 2020!

“Bea Lumpkin is 102 years old and has never missed an election as long as she’s been eligible to vote. Not even a global pandemic could stop her from voting in this one.” S. Andrew, CNN

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

“Lumpkin, a former Chicago public school teacher, dressed in personal protective equipment from head to toe to drop off her ballot for the 2020 presidential election at the mailbox last week. The Chicago Teachers Union, of which she was a member, shared the image.” CNN

Excerpt: Not even a global pandemic could stop this 102-year-old from voting in this election, By Scottie Andrew, CNN

“At her age, Bea’s at high risk for becoming severely ill if she contracted coronavirus. But she would never have missed her chance to vote. She urges every registered voter in the US to exercise their right, too.

Credit: US News

Credit:Vox

‘The most important reason to vote in this election is that there’s so much at stake, more than any other vote I’ve cast, because of the great challenge to the survival of our democracy,’ Lumpkin told CNN… Many of the issues Bea cares about are especially relevant in 2020: health care, racism and climate change among them…She’s also very over living through the pandemic, and she disagrees with the ways in which science has been undermined by the current U.S. president and other federal officials charged with leading the pandemic response.

Credit: Vox

‘I’m sick and tired of this pandemic, and we’ll never get rid of it unless we follow the experience of so many other countries, of the advice of science,’she said…A lifelong feminist, Bea encourages women to vote not only to mark that anniversary but to protect their rights…’There’s a possibility of correcting so many of the wrongs if we have an overwhelming vote for our democratic rights,’ she said… ‘I want to see everybody who’s coming out to vote to stay involved in the process — that’s the way we can make huge advances for working people,’ she said. She’s especially proud of American youth, whom she believes will fight for a fair future.”

Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden has won the majority of elder voters. NYT

 

CNN Instant Poll: Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris Seen as Winner in a Debate that Matched Expectations

Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris waves as she arrives on stage for the vice presidential debate with Mike Pence on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at Kingsbury Hall on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Julio Cortez/AP.

“More Americans said Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris did the best job in the vice presidential debate tonight, according to a CNN Instant Poll of registered voters who watched.”  J. Agiesta — CNN

Related: More than 4 million Americans have already voted [in the 2020 Election] suggesting record turnout. REUTERS

*A state-by-state guide to voting in the age of COVID-19  By Nathaniel Rakich and Julia Wolfe   NOTE:  “This page will be updated on a regular basis with the latest developments.” October 8, 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

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Lumpkin, a former Chicago public school teacher, dressed in personal protective equipment.
  2. She dropped off her ballot for the 2020 presidential election at the mailbox last week.
  3. She urges every registered voter in the US to exercise their right, too.
  4. The most important reason to vote in this election is that there’s so much at stake.
  5. The retired educator knows better than most the value of voting.
  6. She’s also very over living through the pandemic.
  7. Her ballot was received within 48 hours of submission.
  8. It’s essential to vote this year to determine what that future will look like, she says.
  9. We don’t want to just restore what we had before.
  10. Bea has  great confidence in young 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.

Lumpkin, a form/former Chicago public school teach/teacher,dressed/dress in personal/personnel protective equip/equipment from head to toe to drop/dropped off her ballot/ballet for the 2020 presidential election at the mailbox last week….If she could voting/vote this year, so can anyone who’s/whose registered, she said. And the retired educate/educator knows/no better than/then most the value of voting.

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.

Women still have so many ___reasons to ___because in this___, all rights that___ have ___in the hundred-odd years I’ve been on earth — they’re all on the___, she said. But then, this fight for our is much older than we are — it’s even older than I am. ___by mail was___, she says.

WORD LIST: simple, Voting, line, won, women, rights, election, additional, vote, 

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Do you believe that it is very important to vote in every election in the United States?  Why or why not?
  2. Is it important that older people have an interest in politics? Please explain why.
  3. Do you have older relatives or friends that is voting in this 2020 election?
  4. How does Bea feel about the way in which the current U.S. administration is handling the pandemic?
  5. Why is Ms. Lumpkin ‘a great respecter’ of the advances scientists have made since her birth?
  6. Why does Bea strongly encourage women to vote?
  7. Why does she encourage everyone to vote early?
  8.   
  9. Ms. Lumpkin states, “It’s essential to vote this year to determine what that future will look like.”  What does she mean by this?
  10. How does Bea feel about the future?
  11. How does Bea feel about American youth?

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

 

Everyone Should Be Wearing Masks!

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

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Brittainy Newman:The New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

As I said, a different president.”

 

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

~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden ~

~Vice-Presidential Leader Kamala Harris~

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

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

 

Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

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

 

II

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

 

III

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

Reading Comprehension Fill-ins

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

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

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

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

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

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

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

Would You Volunteer for the Covid-19 Vaccine Trial Tests?

“How do you sign up for a trial? Who is eligible? Will you be paid? Could an experimental shot protect you? Could you get sick? Who covers the costs if you do? Here’s what you need to know.” H. Murphy, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

A volunteer gets his injection in the first-phase trial of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna, a company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ceredit- Ted S Warren:AP

 

Excerpt: Do You Want to Be a Vaccine Volunteer? By Heather Murphy, The New York Times  [Note: read this article in its entirety]

“Maybe you are an altruist looking for a way to help fight the coronavirus. Maybe you are hoping to be among the first to try an experimental vaccine. Or maybe you are just bored or could use a few hundred dollars.

Whatever your reasons, scientists, bioethicists and current volunteers say participating in a vaccine trial can be meaningful. And without hundreds of thousands of volunteers, there will be no vaccine for anyone.

But you may be surprised by the commitment and risks that a trial entails. Here’s what you need to know.”

How do I find a trial?

Dr. Avo Avworo in San Antonio, Texas injects volunteer in latest phase of Covid-19 trials. Credit San Antonio Express News

“A number of sites maintain lists of coronavirus vaccine trials. The Covid-19 Prevention Network site, created by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, helps connect volunteers to Phase 3 studies.”

How do I increase my chance of early access to an experimental vaccine?

lA clinical trial participant in England is injected with either an experimental COVID-19 vaccine or a placebo shot. Trials like this are underway around the world. (Oxford University)

“There’s no guarantee that you’ll actually be protected from the coronavirus at any phase of a vaccine trial, no matter how hyped the product has been… you might not get the vaccine at all. It might be an inactive placebo or an alternative intervention. Researchers have to give these to some subjects to create a control group, said Nir Eyal, the director of the Center for Population-Level Bioethics at the Rutgers School of Public Health.”

How much will I get paid?

“It could be a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. It varies by the trial… Organizers try to avoid creating a financial incentive.”

I have antibodies. Am I now immune?

A volunteer taking part in a human trial of a potential vaccine for the coronavirus. Credit- Oxford University, via Associated Press

“People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months.”

What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?

“Employers have to provide a safe workplace with policies that protect everyone equally. And if one of your co-workers tests positive for the coronavirus, the C.D.C. has said that employers should tell their employees — without giving you the sick employee’s name — that they may have been exposed to the virus.”

What if I’m willing to be infected with the coronavirus to speed up the science?

“Across the world, a lively debate is underway about that. This type of vaccine research is called a ‘challenge trial,’ which entails giving volunteers a vaccine then deliberately exposing them to the virus to see if they end up infected.

The approach is controversial because Covid-19 has no cure and can be fatal. But it is also tantalizing because it promises to dramatically speed up research.”

Dr. Eyal believes that “he most ethical way to conduct these trials is to focus on young, healthy volunteers who meet criteria that suggest they’d be unlikely to develop a severe case of Covid-19. There are no guarantees, however, which is why some experts are adamantly opposed to challenge trials… But if you are not deterred, and want to help advance the science, the site 1 Day Sooner invites people to sign up for future challenge trials.”

 

2020 Election Live Updates: Biden Visits Kenosha and Meets With Jacob Blake’s Family

Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill Biden, arrived in Milwaukee on Thursday, where they met with the parents of Jacob Blake, who was shot and paralyzed by a Kenosha police officer. Credit: Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

“Mr. Biden met privately with several of Mr. Blake’s closest relatives for an hour as soon as his plane landed in Milwaukee. He then convened a community meeting at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, which is still reeling after the shooting of Mr. Blake and subsequent protests that saw sporadic outbreaks of violence and looting.

“Hate only hides,” Mr. Biden said, as he described the ways, in his view,  Trump has emboldened bigots. But he predicted that the country had reached an “inflection point.”

“Get off Twitter,” Mr. Biden scolded Trump in a speech on Wednesday, urging him to engage with congressional leaders to help support schools and pass an economic aid package.”

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: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the title of the article. Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Maybe you are an altruist looking for a way to help fight the coronavirus.
  2. Some people are hoping to be among the first to try an experimental vaccine.
  3. Without hundreds of thousands of volunteers, there will be no vaccine for anyone.
  4. You may be surprised by the commitment and risks that a trial entails.
  5. Typically they will monitor you and a few dozen other subjects closely after each dose.
  6. There are three phases for a trial.
  7. Some volunteers will receive  the experimental vaccine.
  8. Sometimes a vaccine will  generate an immune response.
  9. An immune response does not mean the vaccine was sufficient to protect anyone.
  10. Non of the volunteers will know if they are receiving the vaccine or a placebo.

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. A number of site maintain lists of coronavirus vaccine trials.
  2. There are three primary phases of a vaccine trial.
  3. At the time you receive the vaccine, the developer won’t know if it prevents Covid-19.

II

  1. Phase 1 trials are appealing to some volunteers.
  2. Phase 2 is bigger and typically involves a few hundred people.
  3. Only a Phase three trials allows researchers to study if their vaccine works.

III

  1. There’s no guarantee that you’ll actually be protected from the coronavirus at any phase.
  2. The approach is controversial because Covid-19 has no cure and can be fatal.
  3. The  approach also promises to dramatically speed up research.

 

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. “There’s no guarantee that you’ll actually be protected from the coronavirus at any phase of a vaccine trial, no matter how hyped the product has been.”
  2. Organizers try to avoid creating a financial incentive. So even if they could pay much more, they don’t.”
  3. “It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.”
  4. “If the money seems extraordinarily attractive to you, think again… You don’t want to let compensation blind you to the need to pay attention to the risks.”

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. What are some reasons a person might want to volunteer for the Covid-19 tests?
  2. According to the article what happens if there are too few or no volunteers for these tests?
  3. How many volunteers is the company Moderna looking for?
  4. How many phases are there for a vaccine trial?
  5. Why is Phase 1 trial the most popular among volunteers?
  6. How much money will a volunteer make?
  7. Will volunteers who were injected become immune to Covid-19?
  8. According to the article what is this kind of research called? Why?
  9. After reading the entire article, would you  volunteer for the Covid-19 trials? Explain why or why not.
  10. With your group members discus how Covid-19 has affected your daily activites (e.g., home, school, family or friends).

3-2-1-Writing

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

Additional Exercises for Group Discussion

Main Idea / Debate

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

Team A will list five reasons that support arguments for volunteering for the Covid-19 trials.

Team B will list  five reasons that support arguments against volunteering for the Covid-19 trials.

Allow each team time to state their points of view. The teacher decides which team made their points.  

Pros and Cons Scale

Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from Freeology

ANSWER KEY

How Schools Are Organizing to Protect Students During Covid-19

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

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- The New York Times

 

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

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

Credit- The New York Times

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

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

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

Credit- The New York Times

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

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biden and Harris: For The American People!

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

~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

~Democratic Vice-Presidential Leader Kamala Harris~

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

 While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

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

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

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

II

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

III

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

Reading Comprehension Fill-ins

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

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

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

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

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

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

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY