Category Archives: Social Issues

“Home schooling won’t kill kids.. Covid-19 might”

“Parents and teachers struggle with how to reopen schools safely this fall…No one wants to go back to school more than I do. It is imperative that we have a real plan in place.” R. Harris and L Tarchak, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Illustration by Ori Toor

 

Excerpt:‘Home-Schooling Won’t Kill Us. Covid-19 Might.’ By Rachel L. Harris and Lisa Tarchak, The New York Times

“In the past few weeks we’ve heard from multiple contributors, columnists and the editorial board about whether or not schools should reopen for in-person classes this fall. And in the thousands of comments on these pieces, parents and teachers weighed the dangers and the repercussions of continued virtual learning.

Wherever they landed, many agreed that the coronavirus crisis has brought into acute focus how vital America’s schools and child care centers are to society and how crucial they are to helping our diminished economy recover. A selection of those comments follows…I love my job. It is my calling, my life’s work. I have done this for more than twenty years at the same urban public school. My students amuse me and amaze me on a daily basis. Yet the urgent desire of people who are not in education to get schools up and running, frankly, amazes me. Despite all my love for my students, I don’t really want to die for them or anyone else. Neither does my partner, who is living with cancer. It is imperative that we have a real plan in place if we have school.

‘Teachers and students and cafeteria workers and secretaries and custodians and librarians and bus drivers all deserve to be safe while at their jobs.’ Eva Lockhart

‘How many teachers receive combat pay while being forced into mortal heroics?’ James Siegle

‘If young kids are home, one parent has to quit their job. I’m a parent of a first grader and remote learning is a disaster. My kid only had one hour of remote learning a day. The one hour was far from smooth (interruptions, technology issues). I had to teach my child the rest of the day while trying to keep up with my job.” DK, New Jersey

‘There isn’t anyone involved in schools or children’s lives who doesn’t want to see children return to school safely. But we are not yet safe. Tell me how to get a 6-year-old to not sneeze on his friends let alone play and work from a distance’.Anna B, Westchester, N.Y.

‘I spent 12 or more hours a day teaching live lessons, providing written feedback on student work, making instructional videos, meeting remotely with students one on one… I say give remote learning another chance.’ Carolyn, Princeton, N.J.

‘It’s fairly obvious to most people that you cannot open schools in high-rate Covid areas like South Florida. The kids will be fine, it’s the adults that need to get their act together.’ Mike L, South Carolina

 

‘This Is About Justice’: Biden Ties Economic Revival to Racial Equity

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. released the fourth piece of his ‘Build Back Better’ proposal in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday.Credit- M. Agins-NYT

In the last of four proposals laying out his vision for economic recovery, Joseph R. Biden Jr. pledged to lift up minority-owned businesses and to award them more federal contracts”. – By T. Kaplan and K. Glueck , The NYT

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

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

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. The repercussions of virtual learning continued to be a source of debate.
  2. Parents and teachers weighed the dangers of virtual learning.
  3. Wherever they landed a crisis  followed.
  4. American Schools  are crucial in helping diminished economy.
  5. ‘It is imperative that we have a real plan in place.
  6. In some instances remote learning is a disaster.
  7. In other circumstances remote learning was adequate at best.
  8. The politicians have been talking about the virus and kids as carriers.
  9. The government has never granted parents the right to child care.
  10. Our district is constantly piling on more administrative requirements.

 

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

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

I

  1. In the past few weeks we’ve heard from multiple contributors.
  2. I love me job. It is my calling.
  3. I have taught for more than twenty years.

 

II

  1. Returning to normal requires controlling the virus.
  2. Of course we need to reopen schools.
  3. My kid only have  one hour of remote learning.

III

  1. I worry about many student who have unstable homes.
  2. We are going to be facing some long-term damage.
  3. In the eyes of the state, school and child care are different.

 

Reading Comprehension: Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. “I’m the parent of a 12-year-old. Her experience with remote learning was adequate at best.”
  2. “Teachers should take the proper precautions (masks and sanitizer) and come to school to teach.”
  3. “Tell me how each child is going to have her own supplies for the day as shared supplies are no longer an option. No more Legos, no more books.”
  4. “Give remote learning another chance.
  5. You can’t expect students to learn if they aren’t even required to show up.”
  6. “Parents need to step up and step in to educate their kids.”
  7. “It’s fairly obvious to most people that you cannot open schools in high-rate Covid areas like South Florida. The kids will be fine, it’s the adults that need to get their act together.” —
  8. “The risk to the health of the children appears to be minimal; severe illness is very rare. In balancing that risk against the real risks of abuse, isolation and neglect, I strongly believe it is better for us to return to school.”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, they may share their thoughts. To reinforce the ideas, students can also  write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Why do you think the schools are receiving the most pressure to reopen or not?
  2. Who were the people chosen to answer this important question?
  3. Whether they agreed with each other or not one thing these people had in common was the fact that the coronavirus  crisis has brought into acute focus how vital America’s schools and child care centers are to society. Why is this important?
  4. Are you a parent, student teacher or  health worker?  Do you think the schools should be opened  now? Explain why or why not.
  5. Eve Lockhart is amazed by which group of people who want to reopen the schools at any  cost?
  6. Which group of people have the urgent desire to reopen the schools at any cost?
  7. What new information have you learned from this article?

 

3-2-1-Writing

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

Main Idea / Debate

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

Team A will list five reasons that support arguments for reopening schools.

Team B will list  five reasons that support arguments against reopening schools.

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

ANSWER KEY

How Animals Play and What We Can Learn From Them

“The animal world is full of games. And tucked in among wrestling monkeys, belligerent birds and wily coyotes are lessons for us all.” E. Vance, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Baby elephants at play. Credit- Smithsonian Magazine

Excerpt: Where the Wild Things Play, Erik Vance, New York Times

“As a sophomore in college I interned at a lab that studied dolphin behavior. The animals spent most of the year doing back flips and spraying water onto tourists at a theme park…In their off months, they hung out with behavioral scientists who studied them. Almost all dolphin [studies] involved games and toys.

Dolphins at play. Credit- New Scientist

Language, consciousness, communication — all of them are easier to study if the animal thinks it’s playing a game. I remember the lead researcher telling me, ‘It has to be fun or they just won’t participate. You cannot force a dolphin to do anything.’ But you can always get them to play…Dolphins are not the only animals that like to play (though they may be the cleverest). The animal kingdom is full of frolicking, frisking, gamboling and romping critters. And while it’s YouTube gold, it also tells us a lot about what’s going on in their heads. And it may help parents better understand how their kids play.

Kitten with string -credit- catslovetoknow

All sorts of animals play for all sorts of reasons. A fawn frolics in the meadow to become more agile. A kitten chases string so that one day it can chase a mouse. 

New Zealand Kea. Photo credit- Lafeber

New Zealand keas, which are large parrots, seem to play just to irritate humans… Keas have been known to rip apart boots, tents and even car parts while campers sleep. I’ve seen them drop branches and rocks on tourists’ vehicles just to watch them thump or break a windshield…Unlike most animals, which become dominant as they age, keas are most dominant as juveniles. Perhaps kea society is just what happens when you put children in charge…Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., a professor emeritus at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has spent decades watching various animal play.

Coyote pack. Credit- Realtree

After hundreds of hours watching wild juvenile coyotes, he’s noticed all sorts of fundamental rules around fun. For instance, play has to be fair. If you tackle another coyote, you have to let it tackle you back, even if you are dominant. Those that play fair, who can discern the subtle signals of how and when to play, become popular playmates and solidify their place in the pack… The young coyotes who don’t play fair basically leave their group. Not because they’re driven out, they just leave their group because other animals don’t want anything to do with them…So, fairness and turn-taking are key to animal play.

Baby gorillas at play. credit-Transitions Abroad

Nowhere is this clearer than during gorilla tag…As with the human version, gorilla tag can devolve into wrestling matches, but even then they take turns winning… play has become a fascinating way to study how animals think. It’s hard to define yet anyone can recognize it when they see it… So why do it? What’s the benefit of play? And what can humans take from it?..Dr. Bekoff noticed that coyote play rarely escalates into real fighting the way it does in human kids. ‘Play breaks down really fast sometimes when a bully starts playing…They don’t learn to negotiate play and the subtle give and take of social cues.’He doesn’t study humans but says he is regularly contacted by school psychologists worried about bullying.”

“Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. joined forces with his top surrogate Thursday morning [July 23, 2020] releasing a video of a conversation with former President Barack Obama that cast the current occupant of the White House as unworthy and Mr. Biden as the perfect leader to replace him.” A. W. Herndon, The New York Times

 

IN MEMORY OF JOHN ROBERT LEWIS

Born: February 21, 1940 — Died: July 17, 2020

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

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

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. At theme parks, dolphins love to spray water onto tourists.
  2. I quickly noticed a few things about dolphin research.
  3. Their idle amusement turns out to reveal an almost artistic ability.
  4. The animal kingdom is full of frolicking, frisking, gamboling and romping critters.
  5. A fawn frolics in the meadow to become more agile.
  6. Keas spend their days doing aerial acrobatics for no reason scientists can discern.
  7. They’re thinking in very sophisticated ways.
  8. Dr. Taylor studies kea intelligence and stressed that they are not malicious.
  9. Unlike most animals, keas are most dominant as juveniles.
  10. Marc Bekoff has noticed all sorts of fundamental rules around fun.

 

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

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

I

  1. Human play develop predictably as we get older.
  2. We start out with simple peekaboo.
  3. The animal world is full of games.

II

 

  1. Dolphins are not the only animals that like to play.
  2. The animal kingdom is full of frolicking critters.
  3. All sorts of animals play for all sorts of reasons.

III

  1. Marc Bekoff has spent decades watching juvenile coyotes.
  2. Fairness and turn-taking are key to animal play.
  3. They’re thinking in very sophisticated ways.

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, mark it NA. If the statement is false  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. The author first learned about dolphin behavior in a zoo.
  2. To the author, observing dolphins can be exciting.
  3. Language, consciousness, communication are easier to study if the animal thinks there’s food involved.
  4. You cannot force a dolphin to do anything.
  5. The author co-wrote a paper about the odd bubble rings they [dolphins] blow and play with.
  6. A kitten chases string so that one day it can grow muscles.
  7. New Zealand keas are large  kangaroos.
  8. Keas are native to the high mountains.
  9. Keas are most dominant as old adults.
  10. Fairness and turn-taking are key to animal play.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Have you ever had the opportunity to work with animals? If yes, describe your experience.
  2. Where did the author first learn about dolphin behavior?
  3. Almost all dolphin experiments involve what?
  4. What are the three major things that behavioral scientists study in dolphin behavior?
  5. According to the article what might parents better understand about their kids?
  6. Within a coyote pack what happens when a member does not play ‘fair’ with the other pack members?
  7. According to the article what is the greatest lesson humans can learn about play from animals?
  8. What new information have you learned from this article?

 

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

How to Comfort People During Covid-19

“The coronavirus won’t be going anywhere for a long time — and neither will our fears about it…There’s a lot to be scared of. But when people share their fears with you, what do you say?” A. Goldfarb, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Credit- Eric Mower and Assosciates

Excerpt: What to Say When People Tell You Their Coronavirus Fears, Anna Golfarb, The New York Times

“It may feel as if you’re offering comfort with a comment meant to lift their spirits — ‘You’ve got this!’ “’ know you’ll be fine!’ — but to those who are aching, these rah-rah sentiments can sound like you’re bulldozing over their pain, leaving little room for understanding or vulnerability.

Responding to someone’s expression of distress with an unhelpful, cheerful attitude is what the psychotherapist Whitney Goodman calls dismissive, or toxic, positivity.

An empathetic response reassures the other person that you’re seeing the situation from their side and sharing in their suffering. A dismissively positive response subtly shifts the burden of coping back onto the person who is expressing the negative emotion: If you tweaked your attitude, you’d feel better…At its root, dismissive positivity is a response from someone who feels uncomfortable in the situation aiming to make you feel better and quell your concerns, said Nicolle Osequeda, a psychotherapist. But it often ‘results in someone feeling unheard, frustrated, unsupported and alone.’Just because you say, ‘You’ll be fine!’that doesn’t mean that’s actually going to happen…‘That’s not how the world works,’said Ayanna Abrams, a licensed clinical psychologist. ‘That’s not how our bodies work. That’s not how our brain works.’

So here’s what to say — and what not to say — when people express their fears and worries to you right now.

Steer clear of fixing or reframing negative emotions.

Saying something like, ‘The vast majority of people who are infected recover,’ doesn’t help somebody manage their concerns in the moment, Dr. Abrams said.

Don’t minimize the other person’s fears. Saying things like, ‘You have nothing to worry about,’ does not make anxiety magically disappear… Nix the word ‘should.’ Statements with the word ‘should’ sound supportive, but they aren’t.

That’s because we are telling people what to do or how to feel, saidSonia Fregoso, a licensed marriage and family therapist…Instead, we should reflect, validate and be curious. A better way to phrase your concern is by using reflection, validation and curiosity, and in that order, Ms. Fregoso said. Mirror the emotion you hear in your friend’s voice. Fear, sadness and worry are all common emotions people are feeling right now…If you’ve said the wrong thing, you can still repair.

Once you realize what dismissive positivity statements sound like, you may realize you’ve botched the job as a confidant. It’s not too late to do some damage control. Dr. Abrams suggests reaching out and being transparent about missing the mark. Say something like, ‘Hey, I noticed when we were talking earlier, it didn’t seem like you were connecting with what I was saying. I realize I slipped into cheerleader mode too quickly. Can we try again? How are you doing now?’

If you’re at a loss for what to say next time you feel compelled to slip into cheerleader mode, she suggests asking the person directly what they would find helpful. Recruit them as an ally so you can face the issue together.

 

~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

“European diplomats and foreign policy experts say that a Joe Biden presidency would restore the United States’ strained alliances with Europe.” Business Insider

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

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

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: 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. It’s hard to lift someone’s spirit in times like these.
  2. Many people are aching.
  3. People are also vulnerable at this time.
  4. Responding to someone’s expression of distress with an unhelpful, cheerful attitude is dismissive.
  5. An empathetic response reassures the other person that you’re seeing the situation from their side.
  6. If you tweaked your attitude, you’d feel better.
  7. At its root, dismissive positivity is a response from someone who feels uncomfortable in the situation.
  8. Try not to minimize the other person’s fears.
  9. Try not to give unsolicited advice.
  10. Nix the word ‘should’ when giving advice.

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.

Try not/no to gave/give unsolicited advice. Unless/useless the other person explicitly ask/asks you for suggestions on/in managing his/he or she/her concerns, you shouldn’t offer/off your two cents. Most likely, people are just looking/look for a/an ear, Dr. Abrams said. They’re looking for a/an heart, nobody/somebody who can meet/met them in the experience and then they can better figure it out on their own.”

Reading Comprehension: Identify The  Speakers

Directions:  Have students read the following quotes from speakers in the article to  see if they can identify the speakers.

  1. Responding to someone’s expression of distress with an unhelpful, cheerful attitude is dismissive, or toxic, positivity.”
  2. At its root, dismissive positivity is a response from someone who feels uncomfortable in the situation.”
  3. “That’s not how the world works. That’s not how our brain works.”
  4. Offering counsel like, ‘You should just practice self-care’ or ‘You shouldn’t be so negative,’ is not helpful.”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Have you had to comfort anyone since the covid-19?
  2. What advice did you give the person?
  3. List 3 things that one should not say to people in distress. List 3 things to say that are helpful to people in distress.
  4. What is one important  thing Dr. Abrams warns against when attempting to help a person who has fears?
  5. According to Sonia Fregoso what is the one word you should “nix”  when offering advice?
  6. After reading this article, would you change the way you give comfort and advice to people? If yes, explain how you would change.
  7. What new information have you learned from this article?

 

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

Teens Get Creative During COVID-19

“Throughout the country, school closures, remote learning and quarantine are redefining the American teen experience. Many are dealing with grief, trauma and loss… For teenagers, there are deep losses, but some are finding bright spots as well.”  A. Homayoun, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Photo- cnbc.com

 

Excerpt: Some Teenagers Are Creating New Rituals in the Pandemic, By Ana Homayoun, The New York Times

“It’s clear that this pandemic has disproportionately impacted low-income families and racial minorities, and some students will experience significant learning loss.

At the same time, some previously overscheduled and sleep-deprived students are surprised to find more time for sleep, less stress around completing schoolwork, and more time for simple activities like reading on the front porch, spending time outdoors or having a leisurely dinner as a family… In a normal school year, Zachary Jones, 17, of Durham, N.C., would see his life ‘swallowed by baseball.’  But Zachary no longer rushes from school to practice to starting homework at 8:30 p.m., and finds that he now has an entire day to do my homework with quality…To regain control at a time of uncertainty and despair, some students are discovering more purposeful ways to channel their energy. Juliette Fore, 16, of Alexandria, Va., initially found quarantine to be a major adjustment.

Photo- economictimes.indiatimes.com

She worried about the health of her 85-year-old grandfather, who lives with her parents and three siblings. When she heard reports of a worldwide increase in domestic violence during lockdown, she started a campaign to gather donations for House of Ruth, a Washington, D.C.-area shelter for victims of abuse…Right before Easter, she and her family delivered two minivans full of donations to the shelter…For Lexi Weintraub, 17, from Irvington, N.Y., in Westchester County, creating new rituals with friends and family has helped diminish the disappointment of a truncated senior year…At home, her mom recently began a nightly tradition to capture memories that might otherwise be forgotten in the middle of a pandemic.”

Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden speaks via video link as family and guests attend the funeral service for George Floyd at The Fountain of Praise church Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in Houston. David J. Phillip-Washingtontimes   

“Now is the time for racial justice. That’s the answer we must give to our children when they ask why. Because when there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America,” ~ Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden~

TODAY WE MARCH — TOMORROW WE VOTE!

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities : Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

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

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: 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. Throughout the country remote learning and quarantine are redefining the American teen experience.
  2. It’s clear that this pandemic has disproportionately impacted   low income families.
  3. Students are surprised to find more time for sleep, less stress.
  4. Teens are spending time outdoors or having a leisurely dinner as a family.
  5. Many teenagers say this newfound flexibility has helped them stay focus.
  6. Before school went online, Sydney was in the dance ensemble for the spring musical.
  7. Some students are able to continue participating in extracurricular activities.
  8. To regain control at a time of uncertainty and despair, some students are discovering ways to channel their energy.
  9. One student is a self-described extrovert.
  10. Creating new rituals has helped diminish the disappointment of a truncated senior year.

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.

Her friends has/have started/start driving separately on/to a/an parking lot by/bye the Hudson River and tunes/tuning into/onto the same radio station in there/their respective cars while watching/watch the sun set.

Reading Comprehension: Identify The  Speakers

Directions:  Have students read the following quotes from speakers in the article to  see if they can identify the speakers.

  1. “We had probably the best team in our school’s history,”
  2. “Our teachers are really accessible if we have a question, But it’s been difficult. Our learning has kind of been put on hold.”
  3. “I personally don’t like doing math at 8:30 in the morning.”
  4. “The corrections are harder to apply because the teacher isn’t right there with you.”
  5. “I would say the project helped with my coping because it gave me something to really focus on.”
  6. At home, her mom recently began a nightly tradition to capture memories that might otherwise be forgotten in the middle of a pandemic.

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. What has been your experience taking online classes so far?
  2. The article states, Many teenagers say this newfound flexibility and fewer outside obligations mean getting more sleep…Zachary no longer rushes from school to practice to starting homework at 8:30 p.m., and finds that he now has ‘an entire day to do  his homework with quality.” Are your able to spend more quality time completing your assignments since the quarantine?
  3. What are  your greatest struggles adjusting  to this new confinement?
  4. The article states, Some students are able to continue participating in extracurricular activities using Zoom and other online tools.” Do you participate in  extracurricular activities using online tools?  What are they?
  5. The article describes how Juliette Fore, 16, started a campaign to gather donations for House of Ruth, a Washington, D.C.-area shelter for victims of abuse.Have you’ve begun any new activities since you’ve been home? If yes, what are they? If no, are you interested in starting new activities?
  6. Do you think you’ve changed in any way due to confinement?   If yes, describe how?
  7. Do you feel closer to your family?
  8. After reading this article name something new that you’ve learned. Discuss what you’ve learned with your group members and share as a class.

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

The Importance of Play for Children During Social Distancing

“Parents across the globe are scrambling to fill their kids’ time, trying to become home school teachers and meet their schools’ variousrequirements. But maybe we need to let children play more instead.” L. R.McRobbie, The Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

The Boston Globe

 

Excerpt: No summer camp, no problem. The value of play during a pandemic — By Linda R. McRobbie, The Boston Globe

“States are starting to re-open, but parents facing the end of the school year are at loose ends, not knowing whether camps, summer schools, pools, and playgrounds will be open after the school year ends. Though the prospect of a summer of agonized choruses of “I’m bored!” might be more daunting than a summer of more social distancing, we might actually find ourselves confronted by something we desperately need: An opportunity to play.

Play is difficult to define, at least according to the academics who study it. Broadly speaking, it’s an activity that is directed by the individual or at least of their own volition, that is intrinsically enjoyable, personally meaningful, engaging, and most importantly, fun. Kids, of course, know play when they see it. And they know that play has value, even if adults don’t always remember that…Research demonstrates that it fosters development of emotional regulation and executive function — things like problem solving, focusing on a task, paying attention, and making sense of our experience of the world. Very recent research — out just this month — also indicates that how much access small children have to play is an indicator of their own sense of wellbeing. Play is so essential, so integral to normal development and positive mental health, that it is enshrined in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child. (However, Wales is the only country that protects that right by law.)

And yet, American playtime is dwindling. Since at least the early 1980s, if not before, child development experts have warned that diminished playtime — and the freedom that entails — is having adverse effects on American children…But the abrupt closure of many schools in March meant that all of a sudden, kids had a lot more undirected, unstructured time, time to not worry so much about achievement and to play. And though this silver lining is perhaps only visible if you squint hard enough, it’s a silver lining nonetheless, because play is even more valuable during periods of stress…And as terrifying as the prospect of a summer of no organized fun seems, remember: It’s all right to let children be bored. “Kids figure out how to play all the time and actually, the figuring it out is building life skills.”

Related:

Sesame Street’s Grover On Coping During Coronavirus: Just For Kids

By C. Turner and A. Kamenetz, NPR

Courtesy of Sesame Workshop

“Kids have lots of questions about staying home right now. When can I go out to see my friends again? When will this be over? To answer them (and have a little fun), NPR’s Life Kit reached out to Sesame Street’s beloved monster, Grover, to speak directly to kids.”

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill Biden, at a veterans memorial in Wilmington, Del. May 25, 2020. Credit- Erin Schaff:The New York Times

“What gives me hope is when I see somebody do just the little things they didn’t have to do, to go out of their way,” ~Joe Biden~

UPDATED ARTICLE:

5 Ways White People Can Take Action in Response to White and State-Sanctioned Violence –

A portrait of George Floyd is seen as part of a memorial for him Wednesday near the site of his arrest. AP Photo:Jim Mone

“On Monday evening, George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police. Video surfaced of a white police officer holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for eight minutes while Floyd pleaded with police saying “I can’t breathe.” Floyd became unresponsive and died shortly after at Hennepin County Medical Center…In this moment, we know there are thousands of white people who are looking for direction and a way to show up alongside Black communities and communities of color. Welcome. You are needed. Here are a few ways to start showing up — not just in words but in action.”  READ  HERE – MEDIUM.COM

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Havestudents to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read.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. Play is a very important factor in child development.
  2. Many parents are at loose ends as summer nears.
  3. Parents dread the agonized choruses of “I’m bored!”
  4. Having bored children can be more daunting.
  5. Children need the opportunity to play.
  6. Play is an activity by an individual and of their own volition.
  7. Play, is a necessary component of building social bonds.
  8. Play is essential to positive mental health.
  9.  In America,  playtime is dwindling.
  10. The abrupt closure of many schools in March meant that  kids had a lot more undirected, unstructured time.

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, since,

In the early part___ the 2000s, governmental policies prioritized literacy and numeracy skills ___less easily tested skills, such___social-emotional ability, despite warnings ___early childhood education experts and bodies such ___the American Academy___Pediatrics. Average recess time in America — unstructured time___children___ engage___ the kind ___play they want — has shrunk ___just 25 minutes, far less than most other countries___ the world.

 

Reading Comprehension

Identify TheSpeakers

Directions:Have students read the following quotes from speakers in the article tosee if they can identify the speakers.

  1. “Play, she says, is a necessary component of building social bonds, first with parents and caregivers and then with other adults and peers.”
  2. “But play, by its very nature, also prepares individuals to deal with uncertainty and “feel comfortable with risk-taking.”
  3. “Play can also help clarify precisely what those negative emotions are about. Kids can be terrible communicators, but play is their medium.”
  4. “However, none of us should read too much into what we see in children’s play. . . interpreting children’s play is very fraught.”

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Why are parents suddenly worried about summer?
  2. Are you a parent? Do you have the same concerns as the parents in this article? Why or why not?
  3. How do academics define “play”?
  4. According to Laura Huerta Migus, why is playing necessary for building social bonds?
  5. According to researchers play fosters what other important developments for children?
  6. According to the article, since the 1980s playtime has been diminishing in America. What are some of the reasons for this?
  7. What kind of effect is reduced play having on American children? Do you agree with this statement? Why/why not?
  8. In the article there are ways to allow children to have fun especially during this time of social distancing from their playmates. Name some of the ways.
  9. Can you think of other ways to make fun things for children to play?
  10. What new information have you learned from this article?

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY