Category Archives: Social Issues

“Pre-K Teachers Are Making House Calls and Helping Kids Succeed.”

“In more than 700 communities across the country, teachers are supporting students of all ages — and their parents — outside the classroom. Even for the youngest children, the benefits can be profound.” C. Caron & K. Zoepf, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Yumna al-Kashto, 4, receiving gifts during an introductory visit with her pre-K teachers at her home in Baltimore ahead of the school year. NYT

Excerpt: ByChristina Caron and Katherine Zoepf- The New York Times

“Yumna al-Kashto is only 4, but she’s already had to adapt to lots of changes in her life. She was born in Antakya, Turkey, after intense fighting forced her parents and four older siblings to flee their home in Idlib, the Syrian opposition stronghold.

In December 2015, when Yumna was only 4 months old, her family resettled in Baltimore. And in July, on the day before her fourth birthday, her mother gave birth to her newest sibling.

On the day the baby came home, Zoe Hardy and Latanya Scott, Yumna’s assigned pre-K teachers at Moravia Park Elementary School, were there, too. Their goal? To develop a rapport with Yumna and her family before the school year officially began.

‘This is for you,’ Ms. Hardy told Yumna with a smile, placing a large box decorated with pictures of teddy bears onto the table. The box, provided by a local nonprofit, contained children’s books, pajamas and other items aimed at supporting a back-to-school evening routine.

‘We like to get to know the family, let the family get to know us,’ Ms. Hardy told Yumna’s parents. ‘That way we can all make sure Yumna is safe and she’s getting what she needs.’

The Moravia Judy Center, which runs early childhood programs at Moravia Park Elementary School, started its home visiting program for pre-K and kindergarten students in 2016, sending pairs of teachers into students’ homes in an effort to build mutually supportive relationships with their families, most of whom are poor enough to qualify for public assistance…

The overall concept of home visits isn’t new — they are a requirement of Head Start, a free pre-K program for disadvantaged children, and are also common at Montessori schools and various community programs. But the Parent-Teacher nonprofit’s model takes a unique approach.

With its method, teachers and school staff travel in pairs to visit a family at least once — either at home or in a neutral public setting like a park — usually ahead of the school year. The teachers arrive prepared to listen: They do not take notes, fill out paperwork or lecture. Instead, they want to know about the family’s hopes and dreams for their child, and connect with their soon-to-be student in a nonschool setting.

The visits, which typically last about 30 minutes, are not mandatory for the teachers or the parents. The teachers, who are paid for their visits, are encouraged to meet all their incoming students or a cross-section of their class: Targeting certain families is discouraged because it can lead to stigma.

Studies have found that these types of home visits can have numerous benefits for students, including improvements in attendance and reading assessments. Families who participate also tend to become more involved in their children’s education.

‘If a family feels secure when their children come into prekindergarten or kindergarten,’ Ms. Matthews said, these conversations can help shape positive attitudes toward school for years to come…While the home visit model appears to be a straightforward way to build engagement, reduce absenteeism and improve certain academic measures, the simplicity of the program means it can sometimes be overlooked by decision-makers, said Ms. Vanhoy, whose organization trains Dallas I.S.D. teachers to perform home visits.

Some school district leaders and policymakers assume ‘that can’t be the answer because that’s too simple,’Ms. Vanhoy said. ‘So you go after the more complicated research, or new curriculum, or new this or new that.’

Teachers are usually paid for each visit, but the amount they receive and the way those payments are funded varies considerably…Without Title I funding, schools sometimes must rely on a patchwork of grants, state funding or other types of federal funding to pay for the visits…Sometimes parents are wary of home visits, especially if they’ve had negative experiences with schools in the past…It’s effective to introduce home visits during early childhood, she added, as a child’s formal education begins…At the Kashto home in Baltimore, Yumna, who had hidden her face in her 8-year-old sister’s arm upon her teachers’ arrival, became less reserved as the visit progressed.”

Related Articles:

What to Know About Montessori Preschools: They’re popular, but how do they differ from conventional nursery schools? By M. Wenner Moyer, NYT

“The first time I walked into a Montessori preschool classroom six years ago, I thought to myself, what is this sorcery? The materials were beautiful but unfamiliar; the room seemed eerily calm considering it held so many 3-year-olds; and the terms the teachers used were new and confusing to me. They’re not lessons or activities, they’re “work”; and what, pray tell, was that pink tower thing everyone kept talking about?” M. Wenner Moyer

How to Tackle Tough [Preschool]Drop-Offs: Expert tips on how to disentangle from your little clingers swiftly and kindly. By J. Grose, New York Times

“We will send our younger gal off to school for the first time in a few weeks, and I’m bracing myself for another common issue during school transitions — rough drop-offs. I remember leaving her older sister at preschool for the first time and feeling smugly confident about the fact that she didn’t cry when we left…Turns out, she didn’t cry because she thought preschool was a one-time thing.”J. Grose

 

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 Exercise

 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. Yumna al-Kashto has four older siblings.
  2. She’s already had to adapt to lots of changes in her life.
  3. The teachers wanted o develop a rapport with Yumna and her family.
  4. The school box was provided by a local nonprofit.
  5. Schools want to build mutually supportive relationships with the families.
  6. The visits are modeled after a method that was devised more than two decades ago.
  7. The Parent-Teacher nonprofit’s model takes a unique approach.
  8. The visits  are not mandatory for the teachers or the parents.
  9. Targeting certain families is discouraged because it can lead to stigma.
  10. The program can be implemented for students through grade 12.

 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. We like to get to know the family.
  2. The box contain children’s books.
  3. We can all make sure children are safe.

II

  1. Many  schools have early childhood programs.
  2. The idea is to build trust between teachers and students.
  3. Most of the families are poor enough to qualify for public assistance.

III

  1. Studies have found that these home visits have numerous benefits for students.
  2. Teachers are usually pay for each visit.
  3. Some parents are wary of home visits, especially if they’ve had negative experiences.

 

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.

Most of the home___across the ___are funded by Title I, a federal ___program for the country’s ___schools, she said. Without Title I funding, schools sometimes must rely on a ___of grants, state ___or other types of federal funding to pay for the visits.

WORD LIST: funding, patchwork, poorest,  antipoverty, visits,  nation,

III Post Reading

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Are there pre-schools in your country?
  2. Have you ever taught pre-school? If yes, for how long?
  3. Did you ever visit any of your students at their homes? Why? Describe the visits.
  4. Where  did the overall concept of home visits actually begin?
  5. According to the article what are the  benefits of home visits by pre-school teachers?
  6. What are some of the problems the program faces?
  7. In your own words explain why this is (or is not) a good program. Especially from the view of new children in the U.S. for the first time.

Additional Activity: Identify Speakers from the Article

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article. The first group to correctlyidentify all of the speakers wins.

“We like to get to know the family, let the family get to know us…”

“…home visits have built trust among the school’s large population of refugee families…”

“… 72 percent reported that attendance had increased either somewhat or greatly as a result of the home visits…”

“Typically that is one of the first questions that we get: How do we pay for this?” 

“Too often the communication that happens face-to-face, on the phone, in a visit is to talk about something that’s wrong. Your child’s not making progress, or your child has a behavior problem…”

 

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

In Silicone Valley: One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

“Three blocks from Mark Zuckerberg’s $10 million Tudor home in San Francisco, Jake Orta lives in a small, single-window studio apartment filled with trash.There’s a child’s pink bicycle helmet, a vacuum cleaner, a hair dryer and a coffee machine that Mr. Orta dug out from the garbage bin across the street from Mr. Zuckerberg’s house.” T. Fuller, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Jake Orta searched through a trash bin outside Mark Zuckerberg’s home in San Francisco.Credit Jim Wilson:The New York Times

Excerpt: In San Francisco, Making a Living From Your Billionaire Neighbor’s Trash by Thomas Fuller, NYT

“A military veteran who fell into homelessness and now lives in government subsidized housing, Mr. Orta is a full-time trash picker, part of an underground economy in San Francisco of people who work the sidewalks in front of multimillion-dollar homes, rummaging for things they can sell.

Trash picking is a profession more often associated with shantytowns and favelas than a city at the doorstep of Silicon Valley. The Global Alliance of Waste Pickers, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, counts more than 400 trash picking organizations across the globe, almost all of them in Latin America, Africa and southern Asia.

Mr. Orta is part of an underground economy of people who work the sidewalks in front of multimillion-dollar homes, rummaging for things they can sell.CreditJim Wilson:The New York Times

But trash scavengers exist in many United States cities and, like the rampant homelessness in San Francisco, are a signpost of the extremes of American capitalism. A snapshot from 2019: One of the world’s richest men and a trash picker, living a few minutes’ walk from each other. Mr. Orta, 56, sees himself as more of a treasure hunter.

‘It just amazes me what people throw away,’ he said one night, as he found a pair of gently used designer jeans, a new black cotton jacket, gray Nike running sneakers and a bicycle pump. ‘You never know what you will find.’ Mr. Orta says his goal is to earn around $30 to $40 a day from his discoveries, a survival income of around $300 a week.

It just amazes me what people throw away, Mr. Orta said. Credit Jim Wilson:The New York Times

Trash picking is illegal in California — once a bin is rolled out onto the sidewalk the contents are considered the possession of the trash collection company, according to Robert Reed, a spokesman for Recology, the company contracted to collect San Francisco’s garbage. But the law is rarely enforced.

Mr. Orta was born in San Antonio, Tex., one of 12 children. He spent more than a dozen years in the Air Force, loading aircraft during the Persian Gulf war of 1991 and was dispatched to Germany, Korea and Saudi Arabia. By the time he returned to the United States, his wife had left him, and he struggled with alcoholism and homelessness. He moved to San Francisco, and five years ago qualified for a program assisting chronically homeless veterans.

At dusk he leaves his apartment building, which is wedged between a popular brunch spot for tech workers and a cannabis shop in the heart of the Mission neighborhood. The smell of marijuana fills the vestibule. Walking up a steep hill lined with mature trees, he passes homes that could pass for works of art… A virtual tour of the neighborhood on the Zillow site shows that homes valued at $3 million and above are the norm.

But Mr. Orta doesn’t look at the architecture. He walks the streets, slightly stooped, his eyes on the ground and a flashlight in his back pocket. His friends call him the Finder.

On the six times Mr. Orta went out with a reporter, he followed a variety of circuits, but usually ended up exploring his favorite alleys and a dumpster that has been bountiful. (The first rule of dumpster scavenging, he said, is to make sure there’s no raccoon or possum in there.) In March, the dumpster yielded a box of silver goblets, dishes and plates, as if someone had yanked a tablecloth from underneath a feast in some European chateau…

Mr. Orta, right, selling some of the items he found. His goal is to earn around $30 to $40 a day from his discoveries.CreditJim Wilson:The New York Times

Mr. Orta’s other recent discoveries: phones, iPads, three wristwatches and bags of marijuana…For years San Francisco has been a global beacon of recycling, attracting a stream of government ministers, journalists and students from across the globe to study the sorting facilities of Recology.

But the city is also full of young, affluent people preoccupied with demanding jobs and long commutes for whom the garbage can is a tempting way to get rid of that extra pair of jeans or old electronics cluttering their closet…Trash pickers like Mr. Orta target items in the black landfill garbage bins whose contents would otherwise go to what’s known as the pit — a hole in the ground on the outskirts of the city that resembles a giant swimming pool, where trash is crushed and compacted by a huge bulldozer and then carried by a fleet of trucks to a dump an hour and a half away. The city exports about 50 large truckloads a day. Nick Marzano, an Australian photographer who publishes a glossy magazine, Mission Gold, which documents the world of trash pickers in San Francisco, estimates there are several hundred garbage scavengers in the city.

‘It’s a civic service as I see it,’ Mr. Marzano said. ‘Rather than this stuff going to landfill the items are being reused.’ ‘It’s the primary form of income for people who have no other income,’ he said. Mr. Orta sells what he retrieves at impromptu markets on Mission Street or at a more formal market on Saturdays on Julian Avenue.”

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:  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. Zuckerberg lives in a $10 million Tudor home in San Francisco.
  2. He carried items home in a Whole Foods paper bag that  he retrieved from a bin.
  3. You can see people in front of multimillion-dollar homes, rummaging for things they can sell.
  4. Trash picking is a profession more often associated with shantytowns.
  5. Picking trash is also associated with favelas.
  6. But trash scavengers exist in many United States cities.
  7. After the Persian Gulf war, he was dispatched to Germany, Korea and Saudi Arabia.
  8. But he sees trash picking, and the spontaneous sidewalk markets that pop up in neighborhoods.
  9. It’s the primary form of income for people who have no other income.
  10. Mr. Orta sells what he retrieves at impromptu markets on Mission Street.

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,as, across, around,by, during,for, from, in, into,of, on,to, over,off, through, up,with,

Three blocks ___Mark Zuckerberg’s home ___San Francisco, Jake Orta lives ___a small apartment filled ___trash.

Orta is a military veteran who fell ___homelessness and now lives ___government subsidized housing.

Mr. Orta was born___ San Antonio, Texas, one ___12 children.

He spent more than a dozen years___ the Air Force, loading aircraft ___the Persian Gulf war of 1991.

 

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. Trash scavengers exist only in San Francisco.
  2. Mark Zuckerberg  lives in San Francisco.
  3. Jake Orta lives in a  large house.
  4. Zuckerberg has three kids.
  5. Jake Orta  is  millionaire.
  6. Trash picking is a profession more often associated with shantytowns and favelas.
  7. One night, Jake found a pair of designer jeans and gray Nike running sneakers.
  8. Mr. Orta’s goal is to earn around  $ 300 a day.
  9. Trash picking is  legal in California.
  10. Mr. Orta was born in San Antonio, Texas.

III. Post Reading Activities

Graphic Organizers: Finding The Main Idea

Directions:  Have students use this graphic organizer from Enchanted Learning  to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article.

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. The article states, “… “You’ve got more and more tech people here and this city is moving faster and faster. These people have short attention spans. Some discard items that ought to be repurposed through a thrift shop.”  Have you ever thought about the items that you throw out? Are there things that you might donate or give away to less fortunate people?
  2. Mr. Jake Orta is described as, A military veteran who fell into homelessness and now lives in government subsidized housing… a full-time trash picker…” How did Mr. Orta become homeless?
  3. What items did Mr. Orta find in Mark Zuckerberg’s trash?
  4. What is Mr. Orta’s monetary goal for each week?
  5. Mr. Orta states, “It just amazes me what people throw away.”  Why do you think he is amazed? In your opinion, why do some people throw away items that are still in good condition?
  6. Have you ever found a useful item in the trash? If so what was it?
  7. After reading this article, will you think carefully about your items before you throw them away? Explain your answer.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Economy, Social Issues

Is It Healthy to Hold on to Grudges? Many Say “No”

“One of my favorite party games is to ask a group of people this simple question: What is your oldest or most cherished grudge? Without fail, every person unloads with shockingly specific, intimate detail about their grudge.” T. Herrera, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Image- in-light-ment.com

Excerpt: Let Go of Your Grudges. They’re Doing You No Good.By Tim Herrera, The NYT

“Career slights (intentional or not), offhand-yet-cutting remarks, bitter friendship dissolutions; nothing is too small or petty when it comes to grudges.

One of my favorite answers I’ve gotten to this question came from a friend whose grudge stretched back to second grade. A classmate — he still remembered her full name and could describe her in detail — was unkind about a new pair of Coke-bottle glasses he had started wearing. Her insult wasn’t particularly vicious, but he’d been quietly seething ever since. Childhood!

But what does holding onto grudges really get us, aside from amusing anecdotes at parties… And what could we gain from giving them up?

I posed this question on Twitter last week, asking if people had ever given up on a grudge and, if so, how that made them feel. The responses were delightfully all over the place.

Yeah pretty much most of them since entering my 30s,’ one respondent said. ‘It feels cleansing to free up the brain space.’‘Literally not once,’ another said‘I felt neutral!!’ one more wrote. ‘Like I just couldn’t be bothered anymore but also I didn’t feel relieved or anything. Just indifferent.’

A 2006 study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology as part of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, suggested that ‘skills-based forgiveness training may prove effective in reducing anger as a coping style, reducing perceived stress and physical health symptoms, and thereby may help reduce’ the stress we put on our immune and cardiovascular systems.

Let Go of Grudges-Image- CafeMom

‘Holding onto a grudge really is an ineffective strategy for dealing with a life situation that you haven’t been able to master. That’s the reality of it,’ said Dr. Frederic Luskin, founder of the Stanford Forgiveness Project.

‘Whenever you can’t grieve and assimilate what has happened, you hold it in a certain way,’ he said. ‘If it’s bitterness, you hold it with anger. If it’s hopeless, you hold it with despair. But both of those are psycho-physiological responses to an inability to cope, and they both do mental and physical damage.’

At the same time, he said, the converse is true: Full forgiveness can more or less reverse these negative repercussions of holding onto anger and grudges.

O.K., so getting over grudges is good. But how do we do it?

1. Forgiveness is for you, not the offender. 2. It’s best to do it now. 3. It’s about freeing yourself …Perhaps most crucially, Dr. Luskin stressed, forgiveness is a learnable skill. It just takes a little practice.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic, ‘grudges’.  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. What is a grudge?
  2. What is your most cherished grudge?
  3. Some grudges stem from career slights.
  4. Other grudges caused bitter friendship dissolutions.
  5. One person has been quietly seething ever since childhood.
  6. Grudges can be used as amusing anecdotes at parties.
  7. One response Mr. Herrera received was the most introspective one.
  8. Another response sounded like a cliché.
  9. It has been revealed that releasing grudges can alleviate stress.
  10. Holding onto a grudge really is an ineffective strategy for dealing with a life situation.

 

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. Getting under grudges is good.
  2. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to become their friend.
  3. Sometimes just taking a deep breath can help.

 

 

II

  1. You have to counter-condition the stress response.
  2. You should think about the source of yourself grudge.
  3. Change your story from that of a victim.

III

  1. Calm yourself down in the moment.
  2. Life doesnt’  always turn out the way we want it to.
  3. Anger can have immune implications.

 

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. One of the author’s favorite party games is to ask a group of people,  ‘What is your oldest or most cherished dream?’
  2. The author’s wife attends these parties
  3. When it comes to grudges, they must be big ones.
  4. According to the article some people hold grudges from childhood.
  5. When asked if  they had ever given up on a grudge a few people replied simply: ‘No.’
  6. The author has children who hold grudges.
  7. Dr. Frederic Luskin  is the founder of the Hold on to Grudges Project.
  8. Full forgiveness has four actions, according to Dr. Luskin.
  9. According to Dr. Luskin forgiveness is a learnable skill.
  10. The author admits that grudges can be fun to hold.

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. According to Mr. Herrera  Forgiveness is for you, not the offender.” Do you agree with his statement?  Explain why or why not.
  2. What’s the longest period of time that you’ve held a grudge against someone?  What made you release the grudge?
  3. Did you feel better after giving up your grudge?
  4. What did Mr. Herrera mean by the following question,Do you enjoy holding these grudges in some way, perhaps tending to them  ‘like little pets’? Or, do they ‘own’ you and affect your happiness and peace of mind?

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 | Tags:

The New Way to “Bully-Proof Your Child”

“When my 10-year-old daughter was shunned by her friends a few years ago, we tried a surprisingly effective anti-bullying strategy.” E. Erasmus, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

book by izzy

Excerpt:How to Bullyproof Your Child, Estelle Erasmus, The New York Times

“The trouble started during a play date when three little girls battled over who would wear the one sparkly gown for dress-up. It ended up my daughter’s prize, infuriating one of the girls who told the rest not to play with her. My daughter defended herself, crying, as the other girls continued to taunt her.

Searching for answers, I came upon the work of Izzy Kalman, a school psychologist, educator and author of Bullies to Buddies: How to Turn Your Enemies Into Friends. His concept of the golden rule is to treat the person insulting you as a friend rather than an enemy, and not to get defensive or upset.

Following his online advice, I told my daughter: ‘If they say they don’t want to play with you, say very politely, ‘It’s a free country. It’s O.K. if you don’t want to play with me.’ Then find something else to do.’

It seemed like a lot to ask of a child who was already upset. But we role-played until she had the script down. The next time someone tried to shun her, she didn’t act offended, and the other children saw her as less of a target and moved on. Eventually, the friendships resumed with minimal emotional collateral damage.

Mr. Kalman’s strategydiffers from the approach favored by many schools in several ways: It avoids labeling a child as a bully (it’s an insult, like ‘wimp’ or ‘loser’), but also advocates going to adults for advice or help with role playing. His method encourages kids to solve problems on their own rather than asking an adult to put pressure on the school to take the side of the upset child over the one identified as the ‘bully.’

‘Nobody can guarantee their children a life without difficulties. If you protect your children from the social challenges of life, it weakens them,’ he said…

‘The way to reduce bullying is to not punish kids for exercising their freedom of speech,’ Mr. Kalman said. Teaching children that everyone is allowed to speak freely removes much of the power of the bullying and enables children to be their own advocates…

But many anti-bullying experts think Mr. Kalman’s scripts oversimplify things and call on a child who is likely to be upset to show outsize maturity and restraint.

Barbara Coloroso, author of ‘The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander,’ said: ‘t’s a short walk from hateful rhetoric, to hate crimes to crimes against humanity. Bullying is neither normal, natural or necessary. It is a learned behavior. The bullies must be stopped.’

Of course, Mr. Kalman’s strategies are likely to be most effective if they are used to shut down teasing as soon as it starts. Some bullying situations are so overwhelming that a child feels unable to resolve the conflict alone, and needs to call in adults.”

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:  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 trouble started when little girls battled over one sparkly gown for dress-up.
  2. My daughter’s prize, infuriated one of the girls.
  3. My daughter defended herself.
  4. The other girls continued to taunt her.
  5. I came upon the work of Izzy Kalman, a school psychologist.
  6. His concept of the golden rule is to treat the person insulting you as a friend.
  7. We role-played until she had the script down.
  8. The friendships resumed with minimal emotional collateral damage.
  9. Mr. Kalman’s strategy avoids labeling a child as a bully.
  10. Of course, if a child is physically attacked, he deems that a crime and endorses calling for adult intervention.

 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 trouble started during a play date.
  2. He also teaches children how to handle threats.
  3. If a child are physically attacked call for adult intervention.

II

  1. Izzy’s concept of the golden rule are to treat the person insulting you as a friend.
  2. It’s O.K. if you don’t want to play with me.
  3. It seemed like a lot to ask of a child who was already upset.

III

  1. He also teaches children how to handle threats.
  2. If someone are committing a crime against you, go to the authorities.
  3. Nobody can guarantee their children a life without difficulties.

Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins

Mr. Kalman ___that when we ___kids for using certain ___ it ___them that words are very harmful. And when an ___punishes a child for saying something___, it ___hostilities and takes the ___for fixing the___ out of the child’s hands.

WORD LIST: teaches,explained,magnifies, punish, issue,solution, hurtful, magnifies,adult, words

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Have you or someone you know ever been bullied?  When? How did you (or your friend) handle the situation?
  2. What is Mr. Kalman’s concept of the golden rule? Do you agree with this rule?
  3. In what ways does Mr. Kalman’s Strategy differ from other approaches?
  4. In what situation does Mr. Kalman advise a child to call for adult  help?
  5. Barbara Coloroso, author of The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander, said: …“Bullying is neither normal, natural or necessary. It is a learned behavior. The bullies must be stopped.” Do you believe that bullying is a learned behavior? If so, where would children learn this behavior?

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: Culture, Education, Social Issues | Tags:

What Does it Mean to Identify as Nonbinary?

“As nonbinary teenagers push for driver’s licenses that reflect their identity, a fraught debate over the nature of gender has arrived in the nation’s statehouses.” A. Harmon, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

image- google

 

Excerpt:Which Box Do You Check? Some States Are Offering a Nonbinary Option By Amy Harmon, The NYT

“Ever since El Martinez started asking to be called by the gender-neutral pronouns “they/them” in the ninth grade, they have fielded skepticism in a variety of forms and from a multitude of sources about what it means to identify as nonbinary.

El Martinez, 17, at home in Massachusetts. Credit Tony Luong for The New York Times

There are faculty advisers on El’s theater crew who balk at using “they” for one person; classmates at El’s public school on the outskirts of Boston who insist El can’t be “multiple people”; and commenters on El’s social media feeds who dismiss nonbinary gender identities like androgyne (a combination of masculine and feminine), agender (the absence of gender) and gender-fluid (moving between genders) as lacking a basis in biology. Even for El’s supportive parents, conceiving of gender as a multidimensional sprawl has not been so easy to grasp. Nor has El’s suggestion that everyone state their pronouns gained much traction.

So last summer, when the Massachusetts State Legislature became one of the first in the nation to consider a bill to add an ‘X’ option for nonbinary genders to the ‘M’ and ‘F’ on the state driver’s license, El, 17, was less surprised than some at the maneuver that effectively killed it.

Beyond the catchall ‘X,’ Representative James J. Lyons Jr. (he/him), a Republican, had proposed that the bill should be amended to offer drivers 29 other gender options, including pangender, two-spirit  and genderqueer. Rather than open the requisite debate on each term, leaders of the Democratic-controlled House shelved the measure.

He articulated an anxiety that many people, even folks from the left, have: that there’s this slippery slope of identity, and ‘Where will it stop?’ said Ev Evnen (they/them), director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, which is championing a new version of the bill…‘Nonbinary gender identity can be complicated,’ said Mx. Evnen, 31, who uses a gender-neutral courtesy title. ‘It’s also threatening to an order a lot of people have learned how to navigate.’

The wave of proposed gender-neutral legislation has prompted debate over whether extending legal recognition to a category of people still unknown to many Americans could undermine support for other groups vulnerable to discrimination…

Some of the antipathy toward nonbinary identities may reflect a generational divide. Over a third of Americans now in their teens and early 20s know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns, according to a recent survey by Pew Research — more than people in their later 20s and 30s, double the number of those in their 40s, and triple the number of those in their 50s and 60s.

image- Detroit Free Press

‘Possibly it’s an age issue,’ said Jocelyn Doane (she/her), 39, a longtime advocate for progressive causes in Hawaii who struggled with whether to support the gender-neutral license bill in her state. ‘I want to respect their challenges, but the use of ‘their’ for a single person is making me crazy.’

Objections to the bills have also been raised by social conservatives, like State Senator J.B. Jennings (he/him) of Maryland, who made a distinction in public comments between transgender people who transition from male to female or vice versa, and those who identify as nonbinary.

image- The Daily Beast

‘They’re either going one way or the other, they’re not stuck in the middle,’ he said. Mr. Jennings suggested that the license would be inaccurate if it listed a gender other than male or female…other opponents, like the Women’s Liberation Front, an advocacy group that has submitted testimony on so-called ‘Gender X’ bills in several states, argue that bolstering the nonbinary category will harm people who face discrimination and violence precisely because they are born with female anatomy…Proponents of adding a gender-neutral option to state identification documents say it would remove a form of discrimination against nonbinary people by providing them with the means to carry identification that matches their identity.

The gender-neutral designation option on a Maine driver’s license. Credit Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles, via Associated Press

Perhaps also because some critical mass has been reached, nine state motor vehicles bureaus have recently added the ‘X’ option to driver’s licenses without involving the legislature…Several other jurisdictions, including New York City, Oregon, New Jersey and New Mexico, have also begun to allow people to change the gender on their birth certificate to ‘X.’

The nation’s major airlines have announced that they will allow passengers to identify as an ‘undisclosed’ or ‘unspecified’ gender when booking tickets…Nonbinary teens themselves have also petitioned for a third gender on state identity documents. Ed Luiggi (they/them), 17, president of an after-school club for gender nonconforming students, skipped school to testify before the Maryland Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee in Annapolis earlier this year.”

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:  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 faculty advisers on El’s theater crew balk at using ‘they’ for one person.
  2. Commenters on El’s social media feeds dismiss nonbinary gender identities.
  3. Critics say that it  can be disorienting to lose the gendered cues like pronouns and  names.
  4. Beyond ‘X’ there are 29 other gender options.
  5. Nonbinary gender identity can be complicated.
  6. There is a  wave of proposed gender-neutral legislation.
  7. Some of the antipathy toward nonbinary identities may reflect a generational divide.
  8. Several nonbinary teenagers claimed that their gender identity was a visceral feeling.
  9. Nonbinary gender identity could provoke social ostracism.
  10. Many young people have transitioned from one binary gender to the other. 

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

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. Scholars say that nonbinary genders has existed across history and cultures.
  2. Massachusetts was the first to consider a bill for the ‘X’ option.
  3. He articulated an anxiety that many people have.

II

  1. Their requests for recognition have been met with reservations.
  2. Elected officials has listened to tutorials on gender identity.
  3. These issues  of gender identity are foreign to many people.

III

  1. Over a third of teens knows someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns.
  2. Many hope it will lend legitimacy to liberate people of all genders.
  3. Gender identity was a visceral feeling, they said, not a political choice.

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.

A state agency in ___that tracks the ___of ___took the opposite tack…The state does not have a ___interest in identifying ___based on their___, the agency’s testimony asserted. That ___did not advance, said its sponsor, State Senator Karl Rhoads probably because ___law ___air travelers to carry identification that includes a gender marker, and in the island state, the only way to get anywhere is flying.

WORD LIST:  requires, residents, status, Hawaii,   women, legitimate,    gender, bill, federal,

III Post Reading

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

Wikipedia defines non-binary as the following:

“Non-binary, also known as genderqueer, is a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine‍—‌identities that are outside the gender binary and cisnormativity.[1] Non-binary people may express a combination of masculinity and femininity, or neither, in their gender expression.”

Here is a Glossary of LGBT Terms for Health Care Teams

After carefully reviewing the terms answer the following:

  1. Which of the terms would you say describes you? If none are on the list then how do you identify your gender?
  2. Are there any terms on the list you do not understand? Share your responses with the class.
  3. In your opinion is it necessary to carry an ID that reflects  a person’s gender identity? Provide reasons for your answers.
  4. The article states, The wave of proposed gender-neutral legislation has prompted debate over whether extending legal recognition to a category of people still unknown to many Americans could undermine support for other groups vulnerable to discrimination.” Which groups of people are discriminated against? Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Provide reasons for your answers.
  5. Make a list of questions you would like to ask a nonbinary person. Share your questions with the 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