Category Archives: Social Issues

Combat Zone Classrooms… in the U.S.?

“For nine months in Kandahar, Afghanistan, I went through the same routine every day. I put on my uniform and tied my boots. I put a magazine in my 9-millimeter handgun and locked it in my hip holster. I put a 30-round magazine in my M4 and slung it over my shoulder… That was my standard procedure while serving with the United States Army in a combat zone. When I left active duty in 2014, I never expected that those skills would be applicable to my next job, as a high school teacher in San Jose, Calif.” A. Nicolas, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Debate.org

Excerpt: A Combat Zone, With Desks, Ashley Nicolas, The New York Times

“But the reality is that much of what I learned in the Army is horrifyingly relevant in the classroom. My school conducted drills similar to those that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., even before a gunman opened fire last week and killed 17 people. Our first drill, during which staff practiced sheltering students and barricading doors, exposed countless weaknesses, making it obvious to me that we were woefully unprepared to protect our charges… The classroom was big, with doors on opposite ends. I wrestled with the idea of enlisting the help of my maturest students in securing such a large space, ultimately deciding that I would take only volunteers from my upper-class classroom aides.

The shooting in Parkland, Fla., has reignited debates about legal priorities in America. Cartoon- Patrick Chappatte-The New York Times

I pondered how to construct impromptu blockades to delay or confuse an attacker. My helpers and I moved the cart of class iPads to where it could be easily pushed in front of the door — an ideal barricade. Still, the large windows extending the length of the room, once a pleasing feature, now looked only like a gaping vulnerability. We covered the windows in butcher block paper to obstruct the view from outside…I considered the fastest way to get my students into cover, or at least concealment, and agonized over how to keep dozens of 14-year-olds calm during an attack. I was preparing my classroom for combat.

aurorasentinel.com

But our school was built to cultivate learning, not withstand an attack; our teachers were trained to instruct, not shield students from bullets. Fortunately, I never had to confront the horror of a gunman roaming the hallways of my school…As children and parents appear on TV begging for action, our elected officials insist that even the best gun control and safety reforms would not eliminate attacks.

Against Guns.com

Some, like Senator Mike Rounds, Republican of South Dakota, extol the virtues of layered defense systems, similar to those employed at military checkpoints. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called for teachers to have the ‘opportunity and option’ to carry weapons in school…Others suggest putting combat veterans in classrooms…Instead of curbing the violence, our leaders prefer to go on the defensive and fortify our schools against the next semiautomatic rifle that will ‘inevitably’ walk through the door.

Colorado to arm teachers in classrooms. | Sherdog Forums | UFC …

But our legal system is designed to evolve, to push us toward a ‘more perfect union.’ Yes, we need to arm our teachers — with the support of effective gun control, comprehensive background checks, better information-sharing between local and federal authorities, engaged parents and school-sponsored mental health care providers to identify troubled students before they become killers…America’s schools should not be a combat zone.”

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:  First, have students examine the title of the post and the photos. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

Second, after creating the list of words and ideas, ask students to explain what they think the cartoons mean.

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 reality is that there are too many shootings in our schools.
  2. My school conducted drills similar to those in the army.
  3. School staff practiced sheltering students and barricading doors.
  4. Our classroom was exposed to countless weaknesses.
  5. I had to enlist the help of my maturest students.
  6. I pondered how to construct impromptu blockades.
  7. I also took a tourniquet from an old Army first aid kit.
  8. Our school was built to cultivate learning.
  9. Even the best gun control and safety reforms would not eliminate attacks.
  10. We need to curb the violence.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

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

These ___would prefer to___our children to ___interactions with ___guards and our ___to the awful ____of using deadly___ rather than ___in a principled conversation about gun control.

WORDLIST:  engage,  force, possibility, teachers,   people, subject,  daily,  armed,

 

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. Taking actions that make these calamities far less frequent is a priority.
  2. I took a oath to protect and defend my country.
  3. I did not consider the dangers involved.

II

  1. Tragically people died trying to save others.
  2. We  need to strengthen gun control in these country.
  3. Teachers  should not carry weapons in the classroom.

III

  1. The classroom was big, with doors on opposite end.
  2. Parkland could have been my classroom.
  3. There should not be armed guards in our schools.

 

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?

Group Debates

Directions: Divide students into  two teams for this debate. Both teams can use the article  as their source of information or sources from the Web.

Team A will list five reasons for teachers being armed in the classroom.

Team B will list  five reasons against teachers being armed in the classroom.

Each team will have time to state their points of view,  and the teacher decides which team made their points.  

For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from Freeology

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

 

Learn How To Survive A Shooting Situation

“With mass shootings in schools, theaters, churches and workplaces, experts in threat assessment have come up with advice about what to do.This is a grim topic for an advice article, and the odds that you personally will be a victim of a mass shooting are low. But experts say mass shootings have become so frequent and deadly in the United States that people should think in advance about how they will respond if the worst happens. In general, they have settled on a simple guideline: “run, hide, fight.” C. Hauser, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Poster: Ready Navy

Excerpt: What to Do When There’s an Active Shooter, Christine Hauser, The New York Times

“The specific situation and location matters. ‘There is never going to be a universal rule for this,’ said Bob Kolasky, an acting deputy undersecretary for the Department of Homeland Security who oversees active shooter training.

You’ve Got to Know What You’d Do Before It Actually Happens.

The department has published detailed advice, defining an ‘active shooter’ as someone with a gun engaged in killing or trying to kill people in a confined and populated place. The advice is based on actual cases. It can be chilling to consider, but the more prepared you are, the better your chances of survival.

The State Office of Risk Management

 

‘There is chaos,’ Mr. Kolasky said. The more you have got protocols in place, the more likely you are to minimize the damage.

Look around you. Where are the exits?

When you hear gunfire, the first response should be to escape. But would you know how to escape? Experts advise being familiar with quick routes out of your workplace. And whenever you are in a new location, take note of the exits. Use them if you are sure that your path will not take you in the gunman’s direction…Do not pull a fire alarm. That creates confusion as to whether what is happening is a drill, as happened in the recent shooting in Parkland, Fla., where the gunman himself pulled the alarm, the authorities said.

Where do I hide?

If escape is not an option, you should hide, although Dr. Blair prefers to use the more active term ‘deny access’ rather than what he calls ‘hide and hope.’ Dart into a room, closet, anywhere there is a door to lock, or at least to close and barricade.

Play Dead?

Playing dead is generally not a good idea, Dr. Blair said. Gunmen have been known to circle back and fire into wounded people or others on the ground, he said. But in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, a teacher remained motionless after being shot in the leg and then escaped after the gunman had moved on…’Keep operating if shot,’ Dr. Blair said. ‘Try to get yourself out.’

What should I do after hiding?

Don’t stop to grab belongings, not even your cellphone. But if you do have one, once you are hidden, call 911, identify yourself and explain briefly what is happening and where. 

  1. Silence the phone or stop speaking but leave it on so the dispatcher can hear. 
  2. Turn off lights.
  3. Do not talk with others in the room if the gunman is nearby. ‘Stay quiet as a mouse,’ Dr. Dietz said.
  4. Social media use might give away your location or help the attacker know where the police are, Dr. Blair warned.

The last resort: Fight.

If you are strong enough, wrestle or jump the gunman if he stops to reload, which could take just seconds. That is how some stopped the gunman who shot former Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others at a supermarket near Tucson, Ariz., in 2011…All of the experts emphasized that confronting the attacker was a last resort.

What if someone else is hurt or calls for help?

If you are safely hidden, think twice about opening the door again, even for colleagues or friends who are knocking or calling for help. ‘Only open the door for someone else if you know the shooter is not in the area,’  Dr. Dietz said.

When help arrives, here is what to do.

When the police arrive, they might not be sure immediately who the suspect is. Put your hands up and spread your fingers to show you are not carrying anything that could be mistaken for a gun. Do not hug the officers, ask them questions or request first aid. Show them, do not tell them, that you are not part of the threat.”

Related Article for Parents and Teachers of Young Children

Creekside Learning

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Lesson Plan: Learn How To Survive A Shooting Situation

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about active shooting situations.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

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. Bob Kolasky is acting deputy undersecretary for the Department of Homeland Security.
  2. Gunmen usually open fire in a populated and confined place.
  3. This scenario can be chilling to consider.
  4. If you believe you are in the gunman’s line of sight, run in a zigzag course.
  5. Many workplaces and schools prepare workers and students for lockdowns and evacuations.
  6. When you hide try to barricade or lock  the door.
  7. All of the experts emphasized that confronting the attacker was a last resort.
  8. If someone near you is hurt and it would not jeopardize your safety, try to help them.
  9. Use a tourniquet to slow bleeding if possible.
  10. Apply pressure to stanch blood from less severe wounds.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. According to the article the specific situation and location matters.
  2. If possible pull a fire alarm for assistance.
  3. An active shooter is described  as someone with a gun engaged in killing or trying to kill people in a confined and populated place.
  4. When you hear gunfire, the first response should be to fight.
  5. Whenever you are in a new location, take note of the exits.
  6. If on a higher floor, use elevators. Windows are also an option.
  7. If you believe you are in the gunman’s line of sight, run in a straight line or from cover to cover.
  8. If escape is not an option, you should fight.
  9. You can also hide under your desk if there is no alternative. It’s not the best choice, but removing yourself from the line of sight and gunfire is better than nothing.
  10. Playing dead is generally a good idea.

Grammar Focus:Fill-ins

Directions: The following sentences are from the article. Choose the correct word for each blank space from the word list  or make up your own words.

Many ___and schools use ___to prepare workers and students for ___and evacuations.

But if you are someplace like a ___ look for the___ yourself. Mr. Kolasky, who worked with the National Association of Theatre Owners after the Aurora theater shooting in 2012, said___service announcements in theaters often ___them out. But they are only ___to the degree that people pay attention, he said.

WORDLIST: successful, point, public, theater, lockdowns, workplaces,  exits, drills,

III. Post Reading Activities

KWL Chart

Directions:  Have students  fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.

Discussion for Comprehension

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.

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

RuPaul Charles: “We’re All Born Naked and the Rest Is Drag”

“The reality-television competition that began nine years ago has evolved to reflect an era fixated on gender and identity — and the boundary-pushing spirit of its star [RuPaul Charles].Drag has been featured in popular culture for decades. Movies like ‘Kinky Boots,’ ‘Tootsie,’ ‘The Birdcage’ — even ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ — have showcased men, some gay, some not, who dress and perform as women.  But most tended to treat drag as high jinks. Nothing about the inner lives of queens has hit critical mass quite like ‘Drag Race’… But Charles belongs to a different generation, one that fought so hard for visibility that they feel they’ve earned the right to eschew all political decorum and enjoy the anarchy of reinvention…” J. Wortham, the New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Famous RuPaul in drag.

RuPaul Charles. Credit Graeme Mitchell for The New York Times

Excerpt: Is RuPaul’s Drag Race the Most Radical Show on TV? by Jenna Wortham, The New York Times

“When ‘Drag Race’ first began, it seemed like a fun window into an underground culture, but over the nine years it has aired, the show has evolved to reflect America’s changing relationship to queer rights and acceptance.

Ru Paul Fashion Awards Show

Drag, to Charles, is about the perversion of our understanding of gender, and by extension, ourselves. ‘We queens take on identity, and it is always a social statement,’ Charles explained to me. ‘It’s all nudge, nudge, wink, wink. We never believe this is who we are. That is why drag is a revolution, because we’re mocking identity. We’re mocking everyone.’

Anyone familiar with reality television will recognize the premise of ‘Drag Race’: Loosely modeled on ‘America’s Next Top Model,’ hosted by Tyra Banks, the show features 12 (or so) contestants who gather to compete for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar and a cash prize that varies per season but can be as much as $100,000. To determine who will advance to the next round, the queens are given elaborate challenges, like creating haute-couture runway looks from scratch or starring in music videos.

RuPaul. photo- Obsession

‘Drag Race’ is entertaining in the way that every show that structures itself around transformation is: There’s a pleasant thrill that comes from watching a bland room metamorphose into something out of Architectural Digest, or the creation of an impossibly elaborate meal in under an hour, or a generic-looking man morphing into a gorgeous and statuesque woman.

RuPaul and Rupaul-Photo-threadz.com

At first, “Drag Race” wasn’t an easy sell. Even when Viacom’s L.G.B.T. channel, LogoTV, picked it up, Charles had to fight to realize his vision for the show…Each season is imbued with a sense of optimism in the face of relentless adversity; Charles believes that is central to the gay and queer experience.  ‘There is a sisterhood here,’ he told me. ‘It has to do with the shared experience of being outsiders and making a path for ourselves.’

Amid the glitz and glamour of drag, the show doesn’t obscure the violence and terror that accompanies the life of the marginalized. On the first season, a contestant named Porkchop described being shot at while standing outside a gay bar… Trinity K Bonet talked about living with H.I.V. When I asked Charles if there was a deliberate decision to infuse the show with overt political messaging, he shook his head.

‘It’s inherent in our experience. We don’t have to do much to infuse a consciousness into the show. It is such a part of our story, and we walk with it.’ That awakening feels familiar to him because he went through it himself at 13. He looked like a girl, with sharp cheekbones, a soft brow…

A young RuPaul-Photo- tmlarts.com

He saw his first drag performance: Crystal LaBeija, an icon in drag-queen history, was singing Donna Summer in black fishnets and a bustier. Charles was floored. He drafted the first iteration of his new persona, blending the new-wave punk aesthetic of Bow Wow Wow, the goth freakiness of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’…all finished with a pile of hair whose volume rivaled Tina Turner’s.

Mother Has Arrived! | RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 Finale

He started bands, made music videos with friends, appeared on public-access variety shows and worked as a go-go dancer. He papered downtown Atlanta with handmade posters of himself that read, ‘RuPaul Is Everything,’ and ‘RuPaul Is Red Hot.’.. ‘Since “Drag Race’ first aired in 2009, the conversation around identity and gender has shifted tremendously.

Finalists from Drag Race season 9.

For all the show has done to challenge its audience’s notions of masculinity and femininity, it has shied away, until the most recent season, from any serious discussion about the ways the drag community intersects the trans one. There have been trans queens on the show, but the topic is a touchy one in the drag community.

Rupaul – WeKnowMemes Generator

The centerpiece of the show is the contestants’ transforming themselves into queens, and then, after each competition, taking off their wigs and removing synthetic breasts to reappear as men…In 2015, Charles and World of Wonder created RuPaul’s DragCon, a multiday convention about all things drag. Charles had mentioned to me it several times — he is nothing if not media-savvy — as the future of his empire and a way to widen the culture of drag beyond a television show and nighttime acts.”

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.

Brainstorming Map by rentonschools.us

 

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. RuPaul Charles and several drag queens made their way to the stage.
  2. The challenge,  was a parody of the dynamics that play out on the ‘The Bachelor’.
  3. The goal was to see who could perform — satirize, really — stereotypes of femininity.
  4. One queen was dressed like a Barbie doll, her makeup exaggerating her features.
  5. The director called cut, and everyone broke into boisterous laughter.
  6. Part of me wanted to be offended at the over-the-top interpretations of female behavior.
  7. Charles has said that he feels he is beyond categorization.
  8. He feels  they’ve earned the right to eschew all political decorum.
  9. We’re mocking everyone.
  10. “Drag Race” has become a staple of modern television.

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.

Hordes of___people swarmed around the queens, eager to have their___ taken with them. There were long___ of men and___ excited to take ___with Charles, who was holding in a section reserved for the V.I.P.s who bought special badges. There were people dressed as mermaids, ___ cartoon characters and ghouls. There was a dressed as a sea___ being half-eaten by a shark.

WORD LIST: queen, captain, muppets, photos, women, photographs, young, court,  lines,

  

Grammar: Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

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

For a review of Adjectives visit ESL Voices Grammar

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.

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

Category: Drag, Social Issues

According to Monarchists: America Needs A Royal Family!

“From the comfort of his country estate in Oxford, a distant relative of the Russian literary giant Tolstoy says he has the perfect solution for what ails the United States. America, he declares, needs a monarchy.” L. Wayne, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Queen Elizabeth II, US President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama with Prince Philip arrive for a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace

 

Excerpt: What’s the Cure for Ailing Nations? More Kings and Queens, Monarchists Say – By Leslie Wayne, The New York Times

“In fact, Count Nikolai Tolstoy says, more kings, queens and all the frippery that royalty brings would be not just a salve for a superpower in political turmoil, but also a stabilizing force for the world at large.

Count Nikolai Tolstoy

‘I love the monarchy,’ Count Tolstoy, 82, said as he sat in his lush garden behind an expansive stone house. ‘Most people think the monarchy is just decorative and filled with splendor and personalities. They do not appreciate the important ideological reasons for a monarchy.’ The count is not the only voice advocating rule by royalty. An author and a conservative politician who holds dual British and Russian citizenship, he leads the International Monarchist League and is part of a loose confederation of monarchists scattered across the globe, including in the United States.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Photo- Vanity Fair

Their core arguments: Countries with monarchies are better off because royal families act as a unifying force and a powerful symbol; monarchies rise above politics; and nations with royalty are generally richer and more stable.

Critics say such views are antiquated and alarming in an era when democracies around the globe appear to be imperiled. The count and his band of fellow monarchists, however, are determined to make their case at conferences, in editorials and at fancy balls.

Prince William and Kate Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Photo-telegraph.co.uk

A recent study that examined the economic performance of monarchies versus republics bolsters their views. Led by Mauro F. Guillén, a management professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the study found ‘robust and quantitatively meaningful evidence’ that monarchies outperform other forms of government.

Chief Gabriel Igbinedion’s daughter, Ewemade had her traditional wedding to Ganiu Abidemi, the son of Chief Waheed Kuteyi on Saturday, the 19th of November, 2016. Photo- iloveweddings

Far from being a dying system, the study said, ‘monarchies are surprisingly prevalent around the world.’ They provide a ‘stability that often translates into economic gains’; they are better at protecting property rights and checking abuses of power by elected officials; and they have higher per-capita national incomes, the study said.

Spain’s New King Felipe VI. Photo- newsweek

Mr. Guillén says he was ‘shocked’ by the results, which have not yet been published. ‘Most people think monarchies are something anachronistic,’ he said.  ‘They think that modern forms of government are superior and have trouble accepting that monarchies have advantages.’ When he presents his findings, ‘there is more skepticism in the room than with the average paper,’ said Mr. Guillén, who is not a monarchist. ‘It’s been an uphill battle.’

His findings come as no surprise, however, to monarchists, who aim to preserve existing monarchies and to support royals who live in exile. They believe that countries with exiled royals should return them to the throne, and that nations without monarchies should consider a switch.

The Royal Crown. Westminster Abbey, London

‘We support the retention and restoration of monarchies anywhere in the world,” Count Tolstoy said.  “Our goal is to persuade people.”

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. 

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 believe that there is style, a mystery and ethos with a monarch.
  2. Kings, queens and all the frippery that royalty brings would be a stabilizing force for the world at large.
  3. People love the monarchy.
  4. The count is not the only voice advocating rule by royalty.
  5. Critics say such views are antiquated and alarming.
  6. Most people think monarchies are something anachronistic.
  7. They believe that countries with exiled royals should return them to the throne.
  8. “We support the retention and restoration of monarchies .
  9. History books, of course, are replete with examples of monarchies.
  10. Some  kings were ousted by bloody rebellions.

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. According to Count Nikolai Tolstoy, most people think the monarchy is the right way to rule a country.
  2. Count Nikolai Tolstoy is the only voice advocating rule by royalty.
  3. Count Tolstoy, 82 said that he loves the monarchy.
  4. Critics say monarchies are better than democracies.
  5. A recent study that examined the economic performance of monarchies versus republics bolsters the views of monarchists.
  6. The study was led by Mauro F. Guillén, a management professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
  7. The study found  that monarchies outperform other forms of government.
  8. Mr. Guillén says he foresaw  the results.
  9. His findings come as no surprise, however, to monarchists.
  10. Monarchists believe that  countries with monarchies are better off because royal families act as a unifying force and a powerful symbol.

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. Mr. Guillén’s study show that since 1900, 22 countries have abandoned royal leaders.
  2. The study noted that some current monarchies lack basic democratic freedoms.
  3. Those surviving in the Middle East are the very lucky.

 

II

  1. Finding people to reject the monarchists’ vision is not hard.
  2. The group have a clear mandate.
  3. We want to see the monarchy abolished.

III

  1. Monarchies of Eastern Europe could be a bulwark against Soviet expansion.
  2. Count Tolstoy took over in the mid-1980s.
  3. He has also runs, unsuccessfully, as a parliamentary candidate.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Group Debates

Directions: Place students in groups and assign each group one side of the following argument.  Allow groups to develop their arguments and conclude with a class debate.

A: Rule by royalty is helpful to countries.

B: Rule by royalty is not helpful to countries.

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: Social Issues

School Supplies Now Include Bullet Proof Backpacks!

“Florida Christian School in Miami put a few order forms on its website to make school supply shopping easier. Parents can purchase their children T-shirts bearing the school’s logo or some snugly winter wear. Or, for $120, they can buy them bullet-resistant panels designed to slip into their backpacks in case of a school shooting.” T. Andrews, The Washington Post
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

This Florida School Is Selling Bulletproof Panels For Students’ Backpacks. Fort Smith:Fayetteville News

Excerpt: Florida school lets parents buy bulletproof panels for students to put in backpacks -By Travis Andrews, The Washington Post

“The nondenominational kindergarten through 12th grade school hasn’t been the scene of any gun violence, but its private security wants to be prepared just in case. The panel is a ‘tool’ to help protect children in case of a horrific event, just like its sound-enabled surveillance cameras and active shooter drills, according to George Gulla, the school’s head of security.

The school in Miami. (Screengrab Google Maps)

‘I’d rather be prepared for the worst than be stuck after saying Wow, I wish we would’ve done that,’ Gulla told the Miami Herald.

The panel comes from Applied Fiber Concepts, a body armor company based in nearby Hialeah and owned by Al Cejas, who has two children at the school. He attended one of Gulla’s active shooting drills last year and suggested the company make custom armor plates for students.

Al Cejas poses with a bulletproof backpack insert, in Miami.

‘While books and stuff in your backpack may stop a bullet, they’re not designed to,’ Cejas told the Miami Herald. ‘I wouldn’t bet my life on it.’

The slim panels, which weigh less than a pound, can slip easily in the students’ backpacks among their school books. They’re reportedly able to protect students from bullets such as a .44 Magnum or a .357 SIG, both pistol cartridges.

Bullet Blocker Survival Magazine

Stopping rifle bullets would require heavier armor…His company isn’t the only business marketing bulletproof “accessories” to schools in the aftermath of mass shootings across the county. Bullet Blocker, a Massachusetts company, began developing a range of products after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 that left 32 dead.

The focus isn’t only on backpacks. For instance, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore purchased hundreds of bulletproof whiteboards in 2013, as did the Minnesota Rocori School District, where a shooting left two students dead in 2003. For Florida Christian School… Gulla thinks the option to buy the backpack inserts might calm some parents.

Florida Christian School, a K-12 school in Miami-Dade, offered parents the opportunity to buy a $120 bulletproof backpack insert as a security tool. Miami Herald

‘We thought, yeah, let’s offer it to anyone who wants it,’ he told the Miami Herald. It’s not required. But if it gives you extra peace of mind.’ It’s out of the norm, but what is the norm?”

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 picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming chart by UIE copy

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Nearly all students use backpacks.
  2. Schools want to protect  their students.
  3. There are also binder inserts to place among loose-leaf paper.
  4. Colleges began using the backpacks after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.
  5. The company’s products include bulletproof backpacks, fleeces, and  briefcases.
  6. Bullet Blocker saw a spike in bulletproof backpack sales.
  7. One university purchased hundreds of bulletproof whiteboards in 2013.
  8. There are writing tablets that double as bulletproof shields.
  9. The idea behind bulletproof backpacks is that students can use them as shields.
  10. Some are decrying the sale of bulletproof items in schools.

Reading Comprehension

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

The panel/pane comes from Applied Fiber Concepts, a body arm/armor company based/biased in nearby Hialeah and owned by Al Cejas, who has two/too children at the school. He attendance/attended one of Gulla’s active/activity shooting drones/drills last year and suggested the company make custom/costume armor plates for students.

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,

While books and stuff___your backpack may stop a bullet, they’re not designed___.

The kindergarten through 12th grade school hasn’t been the scene___any gun violence.

The panel is a tool ___help protect children___ case ___a horrific event.

There are  binder inserts ___place___loose-leaf paper.

Main Idea / Debate

Directions: Divide students into  two teams for this debate. Both teams can use the article  as their source of information or sources from the Web.

Team A will list five reasons for bullet proof backpacks.

Team B will list  five reasons against bullet proof backpack

Each team will have time to state their points of view,  and the teacher decides which team made their points.  

For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from Freeology

Visual Art Project

Directions: Students can create graphs, pictures, collages, or models to demonstrate their understanding of the topic.  They can do this individually or in groups.

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