Category Archives: Social Issues

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

What Makes A Great Leader?

“Leadership may be hard to define, but in times of crisis it is easy to identify. As the pandemic has spread fear, disease and death, national leaders across the globe have been severely tested. Some have fallen short… but there are also those leaders who have risen to the moment, demonstrating resolve, courage, empathy, respect for science… and thereby dulling the impact of the disease on their people.” The New York Times Editorial Board

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand, giving a Covid-19 update on April 29. Credit…Pool photo by Mark Mitchell

 

Excerpt: In a Crisis, True Leaders Stand Out, By The New York Times Editorial Board

“The master class on how to respond belongs to Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand.

On March 21, when New Zealand still had only 52 confirmed cases, she told her fellow citizens what guidelines the government would follow in ramping up its response. Her message was clear: ‘These decisions will place the most significant restrictions on New Zealanders’ movements in modern history. But it is our best chance to slow the virus and to save lives.’ And it was compassionate: ‘Please be strong, be kind and united against Covid-19.’ Ms. Ardern, a liberal, then joined with the conservative prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, in shaping a joint effort that has all but eliminated the virus from their island nations.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and her Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, in Sydney in February. Credit- Bianca De Marchi:

Other examples of countries where swift and decisive action helped allay the impact of the disease and unite the nation range from South Korea and Taiwan in Asia to Germany and Iceland in Europe. Women, a minority among the national leaders of the world, emerged among the most effective and reassuring of them.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany arriving for a coronavirus briefing.Credit…Pool photo by Markus Schreiber

Like Ms. Ardern, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany acted early and calmly, warning Germans that many of them would fall prey to the novel coronavirus, and quickly getting testing underway.

President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan

President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan likewise responded at the first sign of the new danger, keeping the virus under control and enabling her to send millions of face masks to the United States and Europe…and Norway’s prime minister, Erna Solberg, are other women who have earned plaudits at home and abroad for their handling of the crisis…

Norway’s prime minister, Erna Solberg

In Italy, the European country hardest hit by the pandemic, Giuseppe Contehas won respect for ordering stern measures and pledging that the state will take care of people…

Giuseppe Conte, Italian prime minister. Photo credit- Financial times

All these feats and figures, of course, require caveats. Germany’s relatively low mortality rate, for example, may reflect a far higher rate of testing than other countries, which makes for a greater number of people known to be infected and therefore a smaller percentage of virus-related deaths… A willingness to take quick and bold action, even when it carries political risk, is surely among the most important hallmarks of leadership in a crisis.

[However, several countries such as China and in particular the U.S. have demonstrated extremely poor leadership. It is now obvious that the actions by both governments proved disastrous for the people of those countries].

Other elements of effective leadership include a respect for science, transparent messaging, constant updating of the evidence and prompt assurance of financial support.  Beyond politics, economics and science lie qualities of character that can’t be faked.

 

Democratic President Elect Joe Biden 2020

“When I announced my campaign one year ago today, I said we were in a battle for the soul of the nation. One year later, that is as true as it has ever been. I believe we can and we will emerge from this crisis a stronger, better, and fairer nation. Together, as one America.”

~Democratic Presidential Candidate ‘Leader’ Joe Biden~

U.S. Presidential Election: VOTE NOVEMBER 3,  2020

Related: Joe Biden’s Strengths Match the Nation’s Needs in these Troubled Times

“A return to normality requires an able political adult in the White House.” Scot Lehigh, The Boston Globe

 

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: Have 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. Leadership may be hard to define.
  2. The pandemic has spread fear, disease and death.
  3. In times of crisis it is easy to identify a true leader.
  4. A true leader will demonstrate resolve, courage and empathy.
  5. Leaders are compassionate.
  6. Several countries made swift and decisive actions.
  7. Women leaders were most effective.
  8. They reassured the people.
  9. All these feats and figures, of course, require caveats.
  10. Women have earned plaudits at home and abroad for their handling of the crisis.

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,

The master class ___how___respond belongs ___ Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister ___New Zealand.

President Tsai Ing-wen ___Taiwan likewise responded ___the first sign___the new danger.

Leadership may be hard ___ define, but___times___crisis it is easy ___ identify.

Germany’s relatively low mortality rate, ___example, may reflect a far higher rate ___testing than other countries.

 

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. Leadership may be hard to define, but in times of crisis it is easy to identify.
  2. The master class on how to respond belongs to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
  3. Prime Mnister Jacinda Ardern said. “Please be strong, be kind and united against Covid-19.”
  4. Ms. Ardern, a liberal, then joined with the liberal prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison.
  5. Two other examples of countries where swift and decisive action helped allay the impact of the disease and unite the nation were North Korea and Malaysia.
  6. Ms. Ardern has three children.
  7. Women, a majority  among the national leaders of the world, emerged among the most effective and reassuring of them.
  8. The world leader with a background as a scientist is Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
  9. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said, “Take good care of yourselves and your loved ones.”
  10. Two countries mentioned in the article as having the  worst leadership were the U.S. and China.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Graphic Organizers: Finding The Main Idea

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

Topic organizer. By Enchanted Learning

 

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. In your opinion, what makes a person a great leader?
  2. Create a list of qualities that would describe a great leader.
  3. Have you ever been in a position of leadership? Describe your experience including the challenges and how you over came them. What did your experience teach you?
  4. After reading the article make a list of the leaders (local or global) that you think handled the coronavirus pandemic most effectively.
  5. The article states, “The master class on how to respond belongs to Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand.” Why do you think Prime Minister Ardern is referred to as  being in the  ‘master class’? Do you agree? Why?
  6. In the article, most of the effective leaders are women. Did this surprise you? Explain why or why not.
  7. What new information have you learned after reading 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

Additional Project: Creating Online videos 

School Tube:  students can create their own individual videos or arrange group projects with the teacher’s  support.  New discussions on COVID-19.

School Tube. http://www.schooltube.com/

Stressed Out Parents Now Hire Virtual Baby Sitters

“Overwhelmed parents are paying professionals to virtually babysit while they work.” H. Kelly, The Washington Post

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Babysitter Victoria Rodriguez from the Babysitting Company talks to a 3-year-old about his toy over a Zoom video call. Credit- Heather Kelly:The Washington Post

 

Excerpt: Parents hire Zoom babysitters so they can shelter in peace, By Heather Kelly, The Washington Post

Babysitting used to go something like this: A local teenager comes over to the house after school to play with the kids, then tucks them into bed and spends the remainder of the evening texting from the sofa. All so the parents can unwind after a long week of working in offices by eating and drinking in a crowded restaurant.

Now, babysitting is something that happens over a Zoom or FaceTime call during the day, usually for an hour or less, a few feet from those same parents. But instead of downing margaritas and laughing, they’re taking conference calls, catching up on emails, helping their other kids with home schooling, or just locking themselves in the bathroom for a quick cry.

Over the past two months, millions of Americans have discovered the impossibilities of simultaneously working, parenting, and teaching full time from home. To help ease the strain, they’ve had to get creative with more screen time of all kinds. Now some parents are paying people to spend time with their children virtually.

They’re asking their usual sitters whether they can hire them to keep kids busy over video. On Care.com, a marketplace for caregivers from nannies to health aids, a handful of workers are updating their profiles to say ‘virtual only.’ Existing babysitting services are training their child-care workers on techniques to keep kids engaged over screens, and new companies are popping up to offer virtual-only sitters... a high-end service out of Miami called the Babysitting Company, touts its ‘curated’ child-care offerings in major cities.

It’s still offering some in-person babysitting, with new rules and safeguards for the novel coronavirus but has transitioned many of its sitters to virtual sessions. The company charges $36 for a 45-minute video session, and clients must pay for four hours minimum, to be used at different times…At first, the company offered virtual babysitting for kids 5 and older but has since done a session for a child as young as 2½ years old, which worked. Still, she’s careful to manage parents’ expectations. Sessions can go up to an hour but she doesn’t recommend much longer… The demand for virtual babysitting might increase as the school year, in its mostly virtual form, comes to an end next month and parents who have to work are faced with even less help over the summer.”

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:  Ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic of virtual babysitting during COVID-19.  Next, have students generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming chart by UIE

 

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. Parents  need to unwind after a long week of working.
  2. Today, instead of downing margaritas and laughing, they’re taking conference calls.
  3. To help ease the strain many parents have hired online sitters.
  4. A handful of workers are updating their profiles to say ‘virtual’ only.
  5. Existing babysitting services are training their child-care workers new techniques to keep kids engaged over screens.
  6. It’s a living person on the other side of the screen that’s reading your cues.
  7. One mother goes through a high-end service out of Miami.
  8. One service called the Babysitting Company, touts its curated child-care offerings in major cities.
  9. Babysitting services are careful to manage parents’ expectations.
  10. Some parents do freelance writing and editing work from home.

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.

People use/uses this service differently about/from a babysitter, said/sayAfrick. While before the/an pandemic, the commitment for/on a sitter was a/an few hours, a virtual sitter can/could be book/booked for shorter periods of/near time beyond/throughout the day — just long enough to get some housekeeping or work/worksdone/did or even take a shower.

Reading Comprehension

Identify TheSpeakers

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

  1. “It’s not like you’re watching a show or something that isn’t tuned in to you. It’s a living person on the other side that’s reading your cues,seeing if you’re interested or not interested.”
  2. “If you would have told me this is something we’d be offering, I’d never have believed it. It’s such a personal-contact-based profession.”
  3. “The hardest part, she said, is bringing them back when they walk out of the camera’s range.”
  4. “It doesn’t always keep him occupied for the desired two hours, says Upton-Cosulich, and if he’s tired or anxious, he prefers his parents.”
  5. It is a viable option if you’re willing to be a little bit unorthodox and give it a try.”

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. According to the article, why wouldn’t parents want screen baby sitters sessions to spend no longer than an hour with the kids?
  2. Why is video time with avirtual baby sitter better than having kids watch Netflix and YouTube for long periods of time?
  3. According to baby sitters what seems to be the hardest part of keeping young children entertained?
  4. Whatare some of the the differences between hiringa sitter before the pandemic and hiring virtual sitters now?
  5. 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.  Discuss the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

ESL Students Struggle With Online Learning During COVID-19

“The parents of millions of American schoolchildren are not fluent in English, presenting an extra challenge to learning at home.” R. S. Rani, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

A closed school in Kentfield, Calif., this month.Credit…Justin Sullivan:Getty Images

Excerpt: Imagine Online School in a Language You Don’t Understand, By Rikha Sharma Rani, The New York Times

“Like many parents, Zainab Alomari has spent the last month trying to help her children learn at home. But unlike most, she has been talking to teachers and working through lessons in a language she barely understands.

Ms. Alomari came to the United States in 2006 from Yemen, where she spoke Arabic. She knows only a few basic English words and phrases.

Four of her six children attend Oakland public schools. When teachers call, Ms. Alomari makes sure her daughter Maysa, 15, is around to serve as an interpreter, handing her the phone mid-conversation. When one of her children has a question about the instructions on an assignment, Ms. Alomari relies on Google Translate.

Her husband is gone most days to run the family’s grocery business, leaving Ms. Alomari, 39, alone to help the children.

‘I’m doing my best,’ she said through an interpreter. ‘But I don’t know if this is going to affect their learning.’

Remote schooling poses a special challenge for families who are not fluent in English. About five million American schoolchildren are classified as English-language learners, meaning they lack fluency, and even more come from homes where their parents speak a different language.

Nearly a quarter of immigrants and their American-born children live in poverty, and Hispanic immigrants, in particular, are less likely to have access to a computer or home internet service. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, English-language learners were at high risk for chronic absenteeism…Some California districts were particularly well prepared. Many schools in the state use software that can send text messages — often the best way to reach parents — in multiple languages. In other states, including Nebraska, some districts are airing classes on their local public broadcasting stations, including instruction in Spanish…In the Oakland Unified School District, which Ms. Alomari’s children attend, 33 percent of students are English-language learners, and 5 percent are newcomers who have been in the country less than three years and speak a language other than English at home.

To reach more of these students, the district has published a list of learning resources in Spanish, Chinese, Khmer and Arabic, and teachers are making an extra effort to reach out to them…But not every school, teacher or parent has been able to make things work. Some districts, especially small or rural ones, do not translate content into languages other than English, or have limited resources to do so. DeSoto County in Mississippi has one Spanish translator serving 42 schools in the district…and translating a document such as a lesson plan can take up to 10 days. Possible solutions to help low-income families and immigrant students include expanding Wi-Fi hot spots in poorer neighborhoods and hiring more translators in schools.”

Related Article: When Coronavirus Care Gets Lost in Translation.”

“Medical interpreters must now work remotely, multiplying the challenges for front-line doctors and non-English-speaking patients.” By Emma Goldberg, The NYT

Additional Information for English Language Learners:

DUOLINGO New English Test

The Duolingo English Test For ESL Learners: The future of language proficiency assessment

With the suspension of traditional English proficiency tests in countries most affected by the coronavirus, a wave of US institutions are now accepting the results of the Duolingo English Test, either as stand-alone proof or as a supplement to other measures of English-language proficiency.” AVC

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: Have  students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine any 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. Maysa is around to serve as an interpreter.
  2. Remote schooling can be a challenge for non-English speaking families.
  3. Many students are not fluent in English.
  4. English-language learners were at high risk for  chronic absenteeism.
  5. Online school during the pandemic  exacerbates the other family problems.
  6. Some school districts with large low-income immigrant populations help the families.
  7. Schools make certain families have food and other essentials at home.
  8. newcomers who have been in the country less than three years have a difficult time learning online.
  9. To reach more of these students, the district has published a list of learning resources in Spanish.
  10. Communicating in English takes a lot of effort for many language learners.

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Like many parents, Zainab Alomari has spent the last month trying___ help her children learn ___home.

Four___her six children attend Oakland public schools.

Her husband is gone most days ___run the family’s grocery business.

When one ___her children has a question___ the instructions ___an assignment, Ms. Alomari relies ___Google Translate.

Nearly a quarter ___immigrants and their American-born children live ___poverty.

 

 

Reading Comprehension Fill-ins

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

Ms. Torres, an ___from Mexico,___ two to three days a week ___houses, even during the crisis. She has put her___ son in charge of ___his little brother with ___ but she is concerned that neither of them are getting the ___they need.

WORD LIST: support, helping, older, cleaning,  immigrant, works, homework,

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Are you an ESL student? What is your school doing to help  support second language learners with virtual  schooling during the epidemic?
  2. According tho the article how are some  states  helping students and families during  online learning?
  3. Aside from learning English, what are some of the other challenges facing teachers, students and parents?
  4. According to the article, “Possible solutions to help low-income families and immigrant students include expanding Wi-Fi hot spots in poorer neighborhoods and hiring more translators in schools.”  Do you think this will help immigrant students? Why or why not?
  5. Can you think of other solutions to help immigrant students?
  6. After reading this article name at least one thing 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. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Can Virtual Classrooms Reach the Homeless Students?

“New York City’s public schools began remote learning. But for the more than 100,000 students who are homeless, virtual education may be out of reach…Thousands of students living in shelters and doubled up in overcrowded apartments have not received web-enabled devices for online learning.”N.Stewart, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Allia Phillips and her mom live in a homeless shelter with no wifi-she uses her mom’s cell phone to try to do her lessons online. The NYT

Excerpt: She’s an Honors Student. And Homeless. Will the Virtual Classroom Reach Her?ByNikita Stewart, The New York Times

“…Allia Phillips was excited about picking up an iPad from her school in Harlem last week. She did not want to miss any classes and hoped to land on the fourth-grade honor roll again.

On Monday, the first day that New York City public schools began remote learning, the 10-year-old placed her iPad on a tray she set up over her pillow on a twin bed in a studio that she shares with her mother and grandmother inside a homeless shelter on the Upper West Side. And then, Allia saw nothing.

‘Iwent downstairs to find out that they don’t have any internet,” said Kasha Phillips-Lewis, Allia’s mother. ‘You’re screwing up my daughter’s education. You want to screw me up? Fine. But not my daughter’s education.’

Shuttering the vast system, which includes 1,800 schools, was a serious challenge for the city, and the large-scale, indefinite school closures are uncharted territory, altering the lives and routines of 75,000 teachers, over one million children, and well over 1 million parents… Recreating a classroom on the internet is a logistical challenge that comes with a learning curve for students, teachers and parents.

The playground at P.S. 161, where Allia Phillips is a student, sits empty. Credit-Gabriela Bhaskar for The NYT

And it is already leaving poor and vulnerable students behind — especially the estimated 114,000 children who live in shelters and unstable housing.

On the first day of remote learning, while some parents in the city were posting cute photos of their children waving to their classmates and teachers as lessons were streamed live, Allia and thousands of other children living in New York City shelters and in overcrowded apartments did not have devices with built-in internet. There are about 450 shelters for families and single adults in the main shelter system, and most of them do not have Wi-Fi available for residents, according to the city Department of Social Services…Christine Quinn [is the] executive director of the nonprofit Win, the largest provider of shelter for families in the city.

J. Garcia and daughter Abigail live in a homeless sheltrt in the Bronx. Photo- Ryan C. Jones

‘They said Monday. To me, that means never. If they come this late, it might as well be never,” she said. ‘What has happened is a disaster. If we weren’t in a pandemic, this would be funny, like Keystone cops, but this is a pandemic so it’s not funny.’

On Monday, Allia made do, using her mother’s smartphone to log into Google classroom. She moved to a stool, balanced the phone on her knees and looked down… Around the city, other students were resorting to the same alternative. Sisters Kamiyah Williams, 6, and Chastity Battle, 5, did their class work on their mother’s phone while sitting in a living room in Brownsville, Brooklyn…Both girls are good students, said Tierra Williams, their mother, adding that she did not want them to fail because they did not have tablets...Estrella Montanez, the director of the Nelson Avenue Family Residence in the Bronx, said she quickly saw a problem last week when she and her staff knocked on families’ doors to ask if they had devices.

The door-to-door polling showed that only 15 out of 79 families had a computer or tablet. There were 177 school-aged children living in the shelter and they attended more than 100 schools. ‘When we look at the idea of distance learning, it’s very complicated. Each school seems to be doing something very, very different,’ she said.

For 10 years, Toiyia, a mother who lives in a Win shelter in Brooklyn with her two sons, has worked for Access-A-Ride, a public transportation service for people with disabilities.

Toiyia, who did not want her last name used to protect her privacy, already had devices for both of her sons: Tahir, 8, and Khalil, 18, who is disappointed that his school probably will not have a graduation ceremony… On the Upper West Side, Allia had no big brother and no iPad, but she pressed on completing her assignments on her mother’s phone.”

 

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.  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.

The UIE brainstorming chart (sample). http://urbanext.illinois.edu/apples/edu-projects_1B.cfm

 

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. Allia lives in a shelter.
  2. Allia knows that the coronavirus is a very contagious virus.
  3. Many people go to the hospital but many of them have to be isolated.
  4. Allia’s mom was contacted by the school to pick up Allia’s iPad device.
  5. Allia’s mom says she has a cellphone and they  use the hot spot.
  6. The first day that New York City public schools began remote learning, the 10-year-old had a blank screen.
  7. Shuttering the vast system, which includes 1,800 schools, was a serious challenge for the city.
  8. Recreating a classroom on the internet is a  challenge.
  9. Some  centers have been underutilized.
  10. Allia’s mother and grandmother tried to give her some space to concentrate.

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

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

I

  1. Mr. Carranza had announce earlier that the city would distribute an estimated 300,000 devices.
  2. But he acknowledged that children were still waiting for the equipment they need to learn.
  3. The vague timeline has concerned parents and advocates for children.

 

II

  1. On Monday, Allia made do, using her mother’s smartphone to log into Google classroom.
  2. Around the city, other student were resorting to the same alternative.
  3. Sisters Kamiyah Williams, 6, and Chastity Battle, 5, did their class work on their mother’s phone.

 

III

  1. Kamiyah’s favorite story is talk about animals.
  2. Both girls are good students.
  3. Only 15 out of 79 families had a computer or tablet.

 

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. Allia  lives in New York, New.
  2. She’s 10 years old.
  3. She and her mom live in a homeless shelter.
  4. She knows that  the coronavirus is a very contagious virus.
  5. Allia’s iPad does not have internet.
  6. Many children are going to get left behind because they don’t have their devices or they didn’t have the access to the internet.
  7. There are about 450 shelters for families and single adults in the main shelter system.
  8. Another woman Toiyia lives with  her two sons Tahir, 8 and Khalil, 18.
  9. Khalil, has been accepted to six state colleges so far.
  10. Allia had no big brother and no iPad, but she pressed on completing her assignments on her mother’s phone.
  11. Sisters Kamiyah Williams, 6, and Chastity Battle, 5, live in a small two-bedroom apartment with their mother, two younger siblings and three other people.

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: 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. Do you or someone you know live in a shelter? If so describe the experience.
  2. The article states, Recreating a classroom on the internet is a logistical challenge that will comes with a learning curve for students, teachers and parents. And it is already leaving poor and vulnerable students behind — especially the estimated 114,000 children who live in shelters and unstable housing.” In your opinion, how has the coronavirus exposed the educational divide between the rich and the poor?
  3. With your group try to come up with solutions to this problem. Share them with the class.
  4. What have you learned from reading 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