Category Archives: 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

Want to Be Happy? Try Being Honest

“I’ve been keeping an honesty journal for the past several months. With honesty much in the news lately — you might even say honesty is having a cultural moment — I wanted to reflect on my own. My 6-year-old daughter once told me that telling the truth made her feel ‘gold in her brain.’ The day I started the journal, the same 6-year-old daughter asked me during her bath if the cat really went to sleep last year, and if that actually meant that I had killed him. I rinsed her hair and sighed, wondering if I should wait to start this honesty project until my children were grown.” J. Ketteler, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: How Honesty Could Make You Happier by Judi Ketteler, The New York Times

“But I braved it and told her that yes, I had made the choice for him to die, because he was suffering and I wanted him to be at peace. She lost interest about halfway through my explanation, which was O.K. with me. It struck me that the choice to lie or be honest was often a choice between two equally undesirable things. Telling my daughter the truth did not make me happier, but lying wouldn’t have either.

Children learn the truth from their parents

A bigger opportunity arose with my 8-year-old son. Though he didn’t know anything about the journal, after a few weeks, he seemed to open up in a new way, asking me things he was too embarrassed or scared to ask before, like what the word ‘pimp’ meant and why people kill themselves. In fact, one of my biggest takeaways was that we shouldn’t lie to children when they are asking us about grown-up words or ideas — otherwise, they will just ask Siri.

Even the hard questions should be answered truthfully. milliyettiff

A recent study at the lab suggests that we are more likely to tell a prosocial lie when we feel compassion toward someone, because if you feel bad for someone, the last thing you want to do is hurt them with the truth. These lies feel better in the short term, but they often do more harm than good in the long. After all, the brutal truth can be painful, but people need to know it if they are to improve their performance, especially in a work or school situation.

Over all, I found that I struggled more with the small instances of honesty, rather than the big. So, when a client accidentally paid me twice for a project — sending a duplicate $1,000 check a week after they’d already paid me — there was no internal debate. It was $1,000, so obviously, I notified the client. But when the McDonald’s drive-thru cashier gave me an extra dollar in change and the line had been So long and all I wanted was a Diet Coke and my kids were acting crazy in the back seat and why was this stupid McDonald’s always so slow anyway?! . . . it was a different story. Even though I gave the dollar back, I almost didn’t, because an extra dollar was such a small thing and seemed somehow justified.

Had I not been focused on honesty, I’m not sure I would have given it back…I like the saying, ‘Everybody wants the truth, but nobody wants to be honest.’ I didn’t always want to be honest. But I wanted the truth, and this focus on honesty helped me feel that I was doing my part.”

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 Organizer By Scholastic

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. My plan was to jot down different instances throughout the day.
  2. People are more likely to tell a prosocial lie.
  3. Many times you want to be nice and encourage friends.
  4. In reality people do not like rejection.
  5. The truth can be brutal at times.
  6. The news article sparked my curiosity.
  7. The compulsion to be honest is strong in some of us.
  8. Her experience was consistent with what behavioral economist Dan Ariely wrote about in his 2012 book.
  9. His research showed that we fudge the truth by about 10 percent or so.
  10. My social media self wasn’t a lie.

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

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

  1. The author’s  plan was to jot down different instances throughout the day where she  had to make a choice about honesty.
  2. Her 10-year-old daughter asked  about the death of her cat.
  3. Her 18-year-old son asked what the word pimp meant.
  4. The author figured that if she didn’t answer her children they would ask the church.
  5. A recent  study showed that we are likely to tell a prosocial lie when we feel compassion toward someone.
  6. Over all,  the author struggled more with the large instances of honesty.
  7. The author wrote a book about the questions of honesty.
  8. McDonald’s  gave the author an extra dollar by mistake.
  9. The author and her family prefer to eat at  restaurants.
  10. The author  pulled way back from posting on YouTube.

Grammar: Identifying Articles

Directions: Have students choose the correct English articles (THE, A, AN)  from those provided to fill in the blanks.

Still, I wondered about those little lies we tell to avoid hurting people’s feelings. Researchers at ___University of California San Diego Emotion Lab are looking at “prosocial” lies — ___white lies we tell to benefit others, like telling ___aspiring writer their story is great because you want to be nice and encourage them, when in reality you know it needs work and will meet rejection.

I also quickly came to realize that___Facebook version of Judi Ketteler, whose life was so together and children so well behaved, was ___very particular version of me. My social media self wasn’t ___lie.

II. 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 being honest.

Team B will list  five reasons against being honest.

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

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: Social Issues

America Pleads: President Obama, Rescue Us!

“President Obama, now is the time to start talking. I appreciate the instinct to hold back, to follow the keep-quiet-about-the-new-guy tradition of former presidents. But these are not traditional times. They are unprecedented, and frankly, unpresidential. You deserve a break, but we are out here in this hand-basket. There has been a press secretary hiding among bushes, an F.B.I. director who learned from television reports that he had been fired and Russians laughing in the Oval Office. Something called ‘the Mooch’ happened for about 10 days, and back in May a man body slammed a reporter and then got elected to Congress.” C. Randall Williams, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Image- Trend Hunter

Excerpt: President Obama, Where Are You? By Caroline Randall Williams,  The New York Times

“Days ago, a tiki torch maker had to issue a serious political statement disavowing white supremacists. Somehow this is happening in The New York Times, not The Onion. All of which gives me the hopeful audacity to beg you once more unto the breach, to help unpack this madness.

You have held the highest office in the land for the maximum time it can be occupied. You are an expert on constitutional law and an embodiment of the ideals expounded by the so-called American dream… You are the president who shed tears in public after Sandy Hook. Now we are a country troubled by the looming possibility of a constitutional crisis, and hate groups are claiming the president as theirs. We need your voice. There is not a saner, more trustworthy opinion that many of us would rather hear. I love that, after you posted on Twitter about the violence in Charlottesville, Va., you set a record for the most-liked tweet.

In April, you spoke to students at the University of Chicago and identified your post-presidential calling to help ‘prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton’  as ‘the single most important thing I can do.’ I entirely agree. But your distance remains a weight on my mind.

Don’t get me wrong — I’ve enjoyed your few public engagements so far this year. You spoke meaningfully on climate change in Milan. You eloquently repudiated the continuing attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It was heartening to see the people of Berlin receive you so warmly, and to watch you speak with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Mr. Obama, you were, as ever, subtle, insightful and measured.

The Greatest President in Our Life Time

We learned to experience politics through the lens of your eloquent presence in the White House. In this respect, you raised us. So we are unaccustomed to all of this wildness. Just because we’re grown doesn’t mean we don’t need to hear from the man who brought us up.”

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 Activity

 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. There was a serious political statement from a tiki torch maker.
  2. President Obama is the embodiment of the ideals.
  3. We must try to navigate these fraught times.
  4. There was a quotation from Nelson Mandela.
  5. Obama advised students to take up the baton of leadership.
  6. He also repudiated the attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  7. The apocalypse we’ve been dreading is upon us.
  8. My  phrase had turned into a bewildered mutter.
  9. My shout became a heartbroken whisper.
  10. Many Americans  are calling for an inquiry into the problem.

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.

I recognize and___ your ___approach to ___these times, but this relentless ___has become wearisome. Mr. Obama, now is not the time tothe keep-quiet___ while the new administration___moral equivocator to a much ___nation. It’s time for you to come back.

WORD LIST:   follow, navigating, plays, deliberate, respect, aghast, rules,  fraught, subtlety,

 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.

As a rule/ruler , I do not speak beck/back to the television when I am alone. Or I didn’t used to.  And then/than, around the time of James Comey’s firing, I listened/list to Alan Dershowitz basically/basic announce that the apocalypse we’ve been dreaming/dreading is upon us. I started to feel/fell actual panic/picnic. I found myself yelling/yellow at the screen, and into the universe: ‘Barack! Where are you?’

Ask/Answer  Questions

Directions: Place students in groups and have each group list 3  questions they would like to pursue in relation to  the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Social Issues

Want Better Airline Service? Try Being A Better Passenger!

“Everyone loves to blame and shame the airlines for their travel woes, and there has been plenty of poor behavior to warrant this year’s ticker tape parade of complaints. But before you pig pile your anger on the carriers, take a good look in the mirror. You may not have thrown any punches or tried to bring a birthday cake on an airplane, but perhaps you’ve unknowingly sprayed a bit of lighter fluid on the charcoal briquettes of airport anxiety through some of your actions. I’m not here to make you feel bad, unless you’re a chronic seat recliner or have a predilection to remove your flip-flops at 30,000 feet. Instead, think of me as your fairy godfather (no jokes please), as I offer you some solid advice on how to be a better passenger.” C. Muther, The Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Miguel Gallardo, Boston Globe

 

Excerpt: A dozen easy ways to be a better airline passenger, By Christopher Muther, The Boston Globe

Stop shuffling the contents of your suitcases at the ticket counter.

 Airline websites clearly state weight limits for checked bags. Still, there are plenty of fliers who skim over that detail and show up with suitcases that are heavier than RuPaul’s make-up case. No one wants to pay additional fees, so the overweight suitcases are opened and extra clothes are redistributed into carry-on bags or between spouses’ suitcases. Unfortunately this is happening at the counter, while others are forced to wait in line and watch the suitcase shuffle.If you find yourself in this dilemma, pull your bags to the side and let the next person in line step forward. Better yet, weigh your bags before you get to the airport.

Don’t get pushy when you’re boarding the plane

You’ve been assigned a seat (except if you’re flying Southwest) and no one is going to take your seat (unless the flight has been oversold), so keep those elbows to your sides and proceed in an orderly fashion when your group number is called for boarding.

Don’t take 30 minutes to get in your seat

I’ll never understand why some people take an inordinate amount of time to arrange their belongings and sit down. Jiminy Christmas, just put your carry-on in the overhead and plant yourself. What’s so complicated?

Don’t let your carry-on become a weapon.

I know this sounds like an easy one, but with narrow aisles it’s common to thwack unsuspecting shoulders and legs as you walk to your seat.

Don’t grab on to the seat in front of you when you stand up or sit down.

The seat in front of you is not there to support you when you stand on a plane. There’s someone sitting in it, and whether they tell you or not, they’re probably very annoyed when you’re grabbing and pulling it back to hoist yourself upward.

Never, and I mean never, make others endure your bare feet on a plane.

Jessie Char’s Twitter blow-by-blow of a fellow passenger’s bare feet went viral, and it was horrifying. The offending feet were everywhere (except under the passenger’s seat).

Don’t bring smelly food on a plane.

Buying food on a plane is insanely expensive. I get it. I never buy it either. But bringing smelly fast food on a plane is almost as obnoxious as paying those high prices.

Don’t recline your seat in economy.

No explanation necessary.

Ma’am, please step away from the baggage belt.

It doesn’t matter where I stand at the luggage carousel (does anyone still call it a carousel?), there is inevitably someone who steps in front of me as I’m waiting for my suitcase. When I step away to find another place, someone else stands in front of me. I usually end up elbowed out of the way completely.

You have no right to glare at someone else’s screaming baby.

It’s a baby. It has no idea why its ears are popping or why it’s surrounded by scary adult bare feet. ‘Refrain from giving the parents long glares,’ says Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert and author. ‘They know their child is being loud and your stare won’t stop it.’ But if you have a toddler or child kicking your seat, then by all means turn around and speak with the parent. I find they’re usually very understanding if you ask nicely.

Don’t be a jerk when it’s time to disembark.

There are those (and you know who you are), who dash like Usain Bolt to the front of the plane when the captain turns off the fasten seat belt sign after landing, cutting off everyone else. This starts a cut-off chain reaction. There is a better system. Passengers should leave row-by-row. You’re not the only one who wants to escape from a metal tube that smells like Burger King and feet.

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 current problems occurring  with different airlines.  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.

G. Cluster Brainstorming-workshopexercises

 

II. While Reading Activities

Vocabulary Practice: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. Passengers need to stop shuffling the contents of their  suitcases.
  2. There are plenty of fliers who skim over important details.
  3. If you find yourself in this dilemma pull your bags to the side.
  4. Many people take an inordinate amount of time to arrange their belongings.
  5. Some people even bicker with their spouses.
  6. Some passengers play games as a queue grows behind them.
  7. When getting up use your armrests.
  8. Many people would love to fly on an airline that banned bare feet.
  9. Remember to take a sandwich, or something that won’t invoke the olfactory anger of your fellow passengers.
  10. You don’t have to dress in a spiffy twin set and pearls or a tweed jacket.

Reading Comprehension

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.

Jacqueline Whitmore, a ___flight attendant, ___expert, and ___of the ___School of Palm Beach told me that those who___well are___ better by___ and have a better chance of getting ___when they don’t look like they ___their ___from a pile of dirty laundry.

WORD LIST: selected, upgraded, ensemble,Protocol, founder, etiquette, former, dress, treated, staff,

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.

I’m not saying/sighting  you should staff/starve on your flight, but maybe forgo/Fargo bringing the Taco Bell  bubble/double chalupa or the Burger King onion/oleo rings into the cabin/cargo. Try a sandwich, or something that won’t invoke/invite the olfactory anger of your fellow passengers.

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 do the following:

1. Make a list of bad passenger behaviors they   have witnessed on airlines.

2. Make a list (honestly) of any bad behaviors they have committed while on a plane.

3.  List ways in which the passengers and  the airlines  can improve to make flying an enjoyable experience for all.

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

Today: Military Ban On Transgender Soldiers! Tomorrow: Who Will Be Next?

“Joining the Navy was one of the best decisions Alec Kerry said she had ever made. The other was coming out as transgender…Like thousands of other transgender veterans and members of the military, she grappled with a mix of anger, sadness and fear on Wednesday after Trump ‘tweeted’ that the United States military would no longer ‘accept or allow’ transgender people to serve — a surprise move that came a year after the Obama administration permitted transgender troops to serve openly.” D. Philipps, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Retired U.S. Army Col. and transgender advocate Sheri Swokowski said she was very disappointed in the ban. Photo- Jessie OpoienCAP TIMES.jpg

Excerpt: For Transgender Service Members, a Mix of Sadness, Anger and Fear, By Dave Philipps, The New York Times

“Some transgender troops were left to wonder if they would face a quick discharge from the military or if scheduled medical appointments would be canceled. And nearly all expressed dismay at what they saw as a misguided action that could purge the military of untold numbers of highly skilled and dedicated service members, bringing back an era when many troops lived in secrecy and shame. 

Alec Kerry, transgender and military member. NYT

There are an estimated 2,000 to 11,000 active-duty transgender service members, according to a 2016 RAND Corporation study commissioned by the Pentagon. Since the Obama administration lifted the ban on transgender people serving, public opinion has been mixed. A poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports in June found that 23 percent of those surveyed believed that having them serve openly was good for the military, 31 percent said it would have no impact and 38 percent said it would hurt…A monument to transgender veterans unveiled in June at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Illinois was almost immediately defaced by vandals.

Umut Dursun, a former Marine who transitioned from female to male after his service.Photo- A. Valentin for The New York Times

‘I thought we were at a place of progress, and it feels like we’re taking 10 steps back,’  said Umut Dursun, 35, a former Marine in Miami who transitioned from female to male after his service. He was sitting in a V.A. waiting room on Wednesday morning when he saw the news. ‘We’re not afraid of bullets flying at us,’ he said. ‘But we are afraid of someone’s experience around gender because we don’t understand it.’

 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which represents the newest generation of fighters, came out strongly against the president’s position.‘This is backward, harmful and contrary to American values. It’s also bad for national security,’ said Paul Rieckhoff, the group’s founder. ‘Thousands of transgender troops are serving in our military right now. An unknown number are in combat zones today.”

* Quote from Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

*From Article: ‘First They Came For…’ By Charles M. Blow, OP-ED COLUMNIST, The New York Times, JULY 27, 2017

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

In the U.S. there are many transgender members of the military.

Members feel that the military taught them about integrity.

Many fear a quick discharge from the military.

Transgender troops expressed dismay at the sad news.

Conservatives are trying to purge the military.

Traditional veterans groups are keeping silent.

This ban is contrary to American values.

Some young troops  developed an inseparably bond.

Sergeant Bruce is scheduled to be evaluated for hormone therapy.

A number of transgender soldiers are in combat zones today.

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.

Some ___say transgender troops ___too many ___procedures that would ___the military’s fighting capability, and they hailed Wednesday’s announcement. With the___ we are facing across the globe, we are asking the ___people to___ their hard-earned money in national defense.

WORD LIST: medical, invest, conservatives, undermine, American, require, challenges,

 

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.

With the changes/challenges we are facing/fighting across the globe, we are asking/ask the American people to investment/invest their hard-earned money in national defense… Each dollar needs to be spent/spend to address threats facing our national/nation.

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups.  Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class for discussion or for writing topics.

Group 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 the military ban of transgender service members.

Team B will list  five reasons against the military ban of  transgender service members.

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 

Category: Military, Social Issues