Category Archives: Social Issues

Would You Volunteer for the Covid-19 Vaccine Trial Tests?

“How do you sign up for a trial? Who is eligible? Will you be paid? Could an experimental shot protect you? Could you get sick? Who covers the costs if you do? Here’s what you need to know.” H. Murphy, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

A volunteer gets his injection in the first-phase trial of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna, a company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ceredit- Ted S Warren:AP

 

Excerpt: Do You Want to Be a Vaccine Volunteer? By Heather Murphy, The New York Times  [Note: read this article in its entirety]

“Maybe you are an altruist looking for a way to help fight the coronavirus. Maybe you are hoping to be among the first to try an experimental vaccine. Or maybe you are just bored or could use a few hundred dollars.

Whatever your reasons, scientists, bioethicists and current volunteers say participating in a vaccine trial can be meaningful. And without hundreds of thousands of volunteers, there will be no vaccine for anyone.

But you may be surprised by the commitment and risks that a trial entails. Here’s what you need to know.”

How do I find a trial?

Dr. Avo Avworo in San Antonio, Texas injects volunteer in latest phase of Covid-19 trials. Credit San Antonio Express News

“A number of sites maintain lists of coronavirus vaccine trials. The Covid-19 Prevention Network site, created by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, helps connect volunteers to Phase 3 studies.”

How do I increase my chance of early access to an experimental vaccine?

lA clinical trial participant in England is injected with either an experimental COVID-19 vaccine or a placebo shot. Trials like this are underway around the world. (Oxford University)

“There’s no guarantee that you’ll actually be protected from the coronavirus at any phase of a vaccine trial, no matter how hyped the product has been… you might not get the vaccine at all. It might be an inactive placebo or an alternative intervention. Researchers have to give these to some subjects to create a control group, said Nir Eyal, the director of the Center for Population-Level Bioethics at the Rutgers School of Public Health.”

How much will I get paid?

“It could be a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. It varies by the trial… Organizers try to avoid creating a financial incentive.”

I have antibodies. Am I now immune?

A volunteer taking part in a human trial of a potential vaccine for the coronavirus. Credit- Oxford University, via Associated Press

“People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months.”

What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?

“Employers have to provide a safe workplace with policies that protect everyone equally. And if one of your co-workers tests positive for the coronavirus, the C.D.C. has said that employers should tell their employees — without giving you the sick employee’s name — that they may have been exposed to the virus.”

What if I’m willing to be infected with the coronavirus to speed up the science?

“Across the world, a lively debate is underway about that. This type of vaccine research is called a ‘challenge trial,’ which entails giving volunteers a vaccine then deliberately exposing them to the virus to see if they end up infected.

The approach is controversial because Covid-19 has no cure and can be fatal. But it is also tantalizing because it promises to dramatically speed up research.”

Dr. Eyal believes that “he most ethical way to conduct these trials is to focus on young, healthy volunteers who meet criteria that suggest they’d be unlikely to develop a severe case of Covid-19. There are no guarantees, however, which is why some experts are adamantly opposed to challenge trials… But if you are not deterred, and want to help advance the science, the site 1 Day Sooner invites people to sign up for future challenge trials.”

 

2020 Election Live Updates: Biden Visits Kenosha and Meets With Jacob Blake’s Family

Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill Biden, arrived in Milwaukee on Thursday, where they met with the parents of Jacob Blake, who was shot and paralyzed by a Kenosha police officer. Credit: Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

“Mr. Biden met privately with several of Mr. Blake’s closest relatives for an hour as soon as his plane landed in Milwaukee. He then convened a community meeting at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, which is still reeling after the shooting of Mr. Blake and subsequent protests that saw sporadic outbreaks of violence and looting.

“Hate only hides,” Mr. Biden said, as he described the ways, in his view,  Trump has emboldened bigots. But he predicted that the country had reached an “inflection point.”

“Get off Twitter,” Mr. Biden scolded Trump in a speech on Wednesday, urging him to engage with congressional leaders to help support schools and pass an economic aid package.”

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 title of the 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: 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. Maybe you are an altruist looking for a way to help fight the coronavirus.
  2. Some people are hoping to be among the first to try an experimental vaccine.
  3. Without hundreds of thousands of volunteers, there will be no vaccine for anyone.
  4. You may be surprised by the commitment and risks that a trial entails.
  5. Typically they will monitor you and a few dozen other subjects closely after each dose.
  6. There are three phases for a trial.
  7. Some volunteers will receive  the experimental vaccine.
  8. Sometimes a vaccine will  generate an immune response.
  9. An immune response does not mean the vaccine was sufficient to protect anyone.
  10. Non of the volunteers will know if they are receiving the vaccine or a placebo.

 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. A number of site maintain lists of coronavirus vaccine trials.
  2. There are three primary phases of a vaccine trial.
  3. At the time you receive the vaccine, the developer won’t know if it prevents Covid-19.

II

  1. Phase 1 trials are appealing to some volunteers.
  2. Phase 2 is bigger and typically involves a few hundred people.
  3. Only a Phase three trials allows researchers to study if their vaccine works.

III

  1. There’s no guarantee that you’ll actually be protected from the coronavirus at any phase.
  2. The approach is controversial because Covid-19 has no cure and can be fatal.
  3. The  approach also promises to dramatically speed up research.

 

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. “There’s no guarantee that you’ll actually be protected from the coronavirus at any phase of a vaccine trial, no matter how hyped the product has been.”
  2. Organizers try to avoid creating a financial incentive. So even if they could pay much more, they don’t.”
  3. “It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.”
  4. “If the money seems extraordinarily attractive to you, think again… You don’t want to let compensation blind you to the need to pay attention to the risks.”

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 are some reasons a person might want to volunteer for the Covid-19 tests?
  2. According to the article what happens if there are too few or no volunteers for these tests?
  3. How many volunteers is the company Moderna looking for?
  4. How many phases are there for a vaccine trial?
  5. Why is Phase 1 trial the most popular among volunteers?
  6. How much money will a volunteer make?
  7. Will volunteers who were injected become immune to Covid-19?
  8. According to the article what is this kind of research called? Why?
  9. After reading the entire article, would you  volunteer for the Covid-19 trials? Explain why or why not.
  10. With your group members discus how Covid-19 has affected your daily activites (e.g., home, school, family or friends).

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideasyou’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.

Additional Exercises for Group Discussion

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 volunteering for the Covid-19 trials.

Team B will list  five reasons that support arguments against volunteering for the Covid-19 trials.

Allow each team time to state their points of view. The teacher decides which team made their points.  

Pros and Cons Scale

Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from Freeology

ANSWER KEY

How Schools Are Organizing to Protect Students During Covid-19

An illustrated guide to how schools will try to control the coronavirus when students return to their classrooms, this fall or in the future.” By D. Goldstein, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- The New York Times

 

Excerpt:What Back to School Might Look Like in the Age of Covid-19, By Dana Goldstein, The New York Times

“A typical American school day requires proximity: High school lab partners leaning over a vial. Kindergarten students sharing finger paints. Middle schoolers passing snacks around a cafeteria table.

Credit- The New York Times

This year, nothing about school will be typical. Many of the nation’s largest districts plan to start the academic year online, and it is unclear when students and teachers will be back in classrooms.

Others plan hybrid models, while some are determined to go five days a week.

When school buildings do reopen, whether this fall or next year, buses, hallways, cafeterias and classrooms will need to look very different as long as the coronavirus remains a threat.

Credit- The New York Times

Even teaching, which has evolved in recent decades to emphasize fewer lectures and more collaborative lessons, must change…There is still considerable uncertainty and debate over how easily children of different ages contract and spread the virus, and whether some of the recommended safety guidelines would help or are even necessary.”

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION

The 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, at the close of the Democratic National Convention Thursday night. [8/20] Photo: Olivier Douliery

On Thursday night, [8/20] he was introduced by a video that referenced the loss of his first wife and daughter early in his Senate career and, years later, of his son Beau to brain cancer. “I know how mean and cruel and unfair life can be sometimes…your loved one may have left this earth, but they’ll never leave your heart. They’ll always be with you. You’ll always hear them.”

Vice President Biden with his son Beau at Camp Victory on the Baghdad outskirts in 2009.Credit: Khalid Mohammed

As president, the first step I will take will be to get control of the virus that’s ruined so many lives… Because I understand something this president doesn’t. We will never get our economy back on track, we will never get our kids safely back to school, we will never have our lives back until we deal with this virus.”

Brayden Harrington, 13, spoke about how former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. helped him overcome his stutter in a speech on Thursday at the Democratic National Convention.

“As God’s children, each of us has a purpose in our lives… And we have a great purpose as a nation: to open the doors of opportunity to all Americans; to save our democracy; to be a light to the world once again; to finally live up to and make real the words written in the sacred documents that founded this nation that all men and women are created equal. Endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Among them, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” 

Biden and Harris: For The American People!

“I will have a great vice president at my side, Senator Kamala Harris,” Biden reminded his listeners. “She is a powerful voice for this nation. Her story is the American story. She knows about all the obstacles thrown in the way of so many in our country: women, Black women, Black Americans, South Asian Americans, immigrants, the left out and left behind. But she’s overcome every obstacle she’s ever faced. No one’s been tougher on the big banks or the gun lobby. No one’s been tougher in calling out this current administration for its extremism, its failure to follow the law, and its failure to simply tell the truth.” 

~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

~Democratic Vice-Presidential Leader Kamala Harris~

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: 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. 

 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. This is an illustrated guide to how schools will try to control the coronavirus.
  2. A typical American school day requires proximity.
  3. Some schools plan to use hybrid models, while some are determined to go five days a week.
  4. The coronavirus remains a threat to everyone.
  5. Unfortunately, education leaders are relying on a host of conflicting federal, state and public health guidelines.
  6. As a result, schools are adopting a wide range of approaches for the pandemic era.
  7. All schools have one factor to solve which is eliminating proximity.
  8. Getting children to school will be one of the most difficult logistical challenges.
  9. Some state guidelines sketch alternative scenarios.
  10. Schools will  check each student for symptoms before they  enter the classroom.

 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. Kindergarten students likes to share finger paints.
  2. Middle schoolers pass snacks around a cafeteria table.
  3. High schoolers share cellphones.

II

  1. Some schools are determined to go five days a week.
  2. Other schools will use a hybrid model.
  3. This year, nothing about school will be typical.

III

  1. For about half of American students, the school day typically begins with a bus trip.
  2. Families should not cluster at the bus stop.
  3. Some schools will hire monitors to check students’ symptoms before they board the bus.

Reading Comprehension Fill-ins

Directions: Read the entire article, then  complete the following sentences taken from the article.  You can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide your own terms.

Young ___may be the hardest to ___apart, given their ___energy, need for hands-on play and___nature. And most___acknowledge that it is not realistic to expect them to wear ___all day.

Many ___will try to keep students in___ by limiting class ___to about 12 students and by ___interaction between classrooms. That way, they can ___shutting down entirely if a single pod has a ___case.

WORD LIST: avoid, sizes, pods, masks, guidelines, affectionate, schools, frenetic, children, reducing, positive, keep,

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: 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. To help stop the spread of the virus what is the one factor that all schools must agree upon?
  2. Where is the first place students come into contact with each other?
  3. According to the article how many students should ride the school buses during Covid-19?
  4. What will be the very first thing children will have to have done before entering the school?
  5. What happens to students who fail the symptom check?
  6. What do schools plan to do with large spaces like gyms and cafeterias?
  7. The article states “Schools are not planning to follow a traditional bell schedule.”  How do schools now plan to schedule lunch and bathroom breaks during the day?

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: In 5 minutes 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

If Kids Return to School Masks Are Must!

“Crayola, Old Navy and Disney are among the brands making colorful masks for children. Child psychologists see this as a positive step toward “normalcy.” D. B. Taylor, The New York Times

Crayola-NBC news

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Excerpt: This Year’s Must-Have Back-to-School Item: Masks for Children By Derrick B. Taylor, NYT

“Fall is drawing near, and right on schedule, ads offering discounts on backpacks, notebooks and pencils are beginning to pop up on television and online.

But this year, during a pandemic that has school officials agonizing over how and whether to safely reopen masks are appearing among the glue sticks and glitter as essential back-to-school items.

Crayola Masks – Credit- Crayola NYT

Companies like Crayola, Old Navy and Disney have begun selling colorful masks for children in packs of four and five as part of their back-to-school offerings… Dr. Andrew Adesman, the chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Queens, said the reality is, you want children to go back to school in the safest way possible…” Having child-friendly face masks in terms of fit and appeal are probably more part of the solution than the problem.”

Credit- Freepik

With the school year quickly approaching, schools across the United States are grappling with how to reopen — and whether they can reopen safely at all… There are concerns that the reopening of schools could spark outbreaks, especially among older children. A large study from South Korea found that children younger than 10 transmit the coronavirus much less often than adults, although the risk is not zero.

Credit- Krayola

Children between 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as efficiently as adults do, the study found…The research does not necessarily prove that children are spreading the virus, but experts said the findings should influence the debate over whether and how to reopen schools…Though scientists and health authorities say that masks reduce the spread of the coronavirus, even adults can’t agree on wearing them.”

~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

“2020 Election Live Updates: Democratic convention speakers will include the Clintons and Obamas, along with Sanders and Kasich. The big names will be augmented by testimonials from “from voters of all kinds — delegates, parents, teachers, small-business owners, essential workers, activists and elected leaders,” culled from “1,000 crowdsourced videos,” officials with the convention’s organizing committee announced on Monday.” The New York Times

Democratic Convention Begins:  Monday August 17 — Ends Thursday August 20  Visit  The Democratic National Convention  Schedule Information Here

Congratulations! Kamala Harris Is Biden’s Choice for Vice President!

Biden taps Kamala Harris as his pick for vice president-New York Times

“A former rival for the Democratic nomination, she will be the first woman of color to be nominated for national office by a major political party.” By A. Burns and K. Glueck, The New York Times

Joe Biden with his VP choice Kamala Harris

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: 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. Fall is drawing near, and right on schedule.
  2. But this school year there is a pandemic.
  3. School officials are agonizing over how and whether to safely reopen.
  4. Face masks are appearing as essential back-to-school items.
  5. The idea of colorful masks is all very bright if a little dystopian.
  6. Some educators feel child-friendly face masks  will appeal to kids.
  7. There are concerns that the reopening of schools could spark outbreaks.
  8. It had been found that infected children have at least as much of the coronavirus in their noses and throats as infected adults.
  9. Experts said the findings should influence the debate over whether and how to reopen schools.
  10. More than half the states have issued mask requirements in recent weeks.

 

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. Masks was designed to help children adapt to the new normal.
  2. Fall is coming and some schools might open.
  3. This school year is during a pandemic.

II

  1. Schools have two major concerns.
  2. Some companies is making large quantities of masks for children.
  3. In addition, items such as face shields are being made for kids.

 

III

  1. It’s all very bright and colorful for kids.
  2. There  is concerns that the reopening of schools could spark outbreaks.
  3. Some stores want children to pester their parents for masks.

 

Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. “The reality is, you want children to go back to school in the safest way possible.”
  2.   “The key to getting children to wear masks in school was to make them fun.”
  3. ” The company had designed its masks to help children adapt to the new normal and feel comfortable in school.”
  4. “The company had started making face coverings for families at the outset of the pandemic.”
  5. “Some stores want children to pester their parents for masks, “for kids to say, ‘I want that mask because it’s nicely designed.”

 

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. What are the two main concerns school officials have?
  2. Which three major companies are selling masks for children?
  3. In addition to masks what other items are being made for children to wear this fall?
  4. Dr. Andrew feels that face masks for kids should be viewed in what way?
  5. The article states, In most districts where students will be allowed to return to the classroom, they’ll do so with a requirement to wear masks or face coverings, though that directive is not universal.”
  6. In your opinion, should face masks be required for  some kids but not for all? Why or why not?
  7. The article states, Children between 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as efficiently as adults do, the study found.”
  8. Do you think schools should reopen at all this year? Explain why.

 

3-2-1-Writing

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

Main Idea / Debate

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

Team A will list five reasons that support arguments for children returning to school.

Team B will list  five reasons that support arguments against children returning to school

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 Pros and Cons Scale organizer from Freeology

Pros and Cons Scale

ANSWER KEY

Ways to Help Your Kids From Falling Behind in School

“As kids start school with more online learning, parents wonder whether they’ll ever catch up. Here’s how to set them up for success.” H. Burns, The New York Times

Credit- Sonia Pulido, The NYT

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Worried Your Kid Is Falling Behind? You’re Not Alone, By Holly Burns, The New York Times

“The other day my mother gave me a book called ‘What Your Second Grader Should Know.’ A quick flip through it revealed that a few weeks from now, my son would need to label an insect’s thorax [and]discuss the role of Dolley Madison in the War of 1812.

In the wake of some serious distance learning burnout, the most educational thing we’d done all summer had been a contact-free library pickup of the latest ‘Captain Underpants.’ I suddenly wished we’d done a little more.

If you’re concerned that remote learning may have set your child back academically, brace yourself: It probably has… The question comes up constantly: When do we need to start panicking about our children falling behind?

Deborah Stipek, Ph.D., a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, said that may not be the right question to ask. ‘I think a more useful one is, ‘How do we ensure that our children get the best possible opportunities to learn under these challenging circumstances?’

To gauge potential gaps in learning, said Britt Menzies, a preschool teacher in Atlanta, Ga., scatter informal tests throughout the day. ‘Have a child count their peas while they’re eating dinner,” she said. “See how many letters they recognize on a billboard… But don’t stress over hard-hitting academics for the pre-K set, said Emily Levitt, vice president of education for Sylvan Learning…Instead, weave in playful learning activities, like ‘baking sheets filled with lentils to give kids a multi-sensory way to trace shapes and numbers,’ she said.

‘Regardless of socioeconomic status, a household filled with anxiety and stress can be a major driver of kids falling behind’, said Bruce Fuller, Ph.D., a professor of education and public policy at U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education.

When parents lose their patience or don’t listen, said Dr. Fuller, children can start to shut down emotionally, in turn disengaging from reading and rich conversation inside the family.

That rings true for Lindsay Williams, an interior decorator in Madison, Wis., who said she’s dreading the pressure that comes with teaching her 6- and 9-year-old herself. ‘I’m terrified I’m going to screw my kids up, because I get so easily flustered and frustrated,’ she said…To ease the burden, Williams is thinking of forming a neighborhood learning co-op, so that she and a few other families can share the duties of teaching the material provided by the school. ‘Meeting regularly with a small, safe group of peers can be beneficial for the social-emotional health of both children and parents, said Dr. Fuller.'”

“The Democrats bowed to the realities of the pandemic and canceled the major in-person speeches that were still planned for their convention this month.” Reid J. Epstein and Katie Glueck/ The New York Times

“I’ve wanted to set an example as to how we should respond individually to this crisis,” Mr. Biden said at a fund-raiser on Wednesday. “Science matters.” ~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

 

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: 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.

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 author stated that her son would need to label an insect’s thorax.
  2. The collective angst in some parenting circles has reached an intense agitation level.
  3. Many parents also  panic  at the thought of their kids failing in school.
  4. Schools want to ensure that kids receive the best education.
  5. Every child deserves the best opportunities to learn during these challenging times.
  6. Experts suggest that parents give kids informal tests throughout the day.
  7. Experts also suggest that parents try not to prompt kids to get a better picture of what skills they need to on.
  8. Educators state that kids will likely bounce  back very quickly when they go back to school.
  9. One parent stated that her 6-year-old, who has A.D.H.D., won’t flourish academically with remote instruction.
  10. Affluent parents are better situated to help or hire help for their kids working online.

 

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

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

  1. “I think a more useful one is, ‘How do we ensure that our children get the best possible opportunities to learn under these challenging circumstances?”
  2. “At home, board games are an easy way to reinforce turn-taking etiquette. Parents can also work on delaying gratification. If your child asks for a snack, stretch out the time between them asking and you giving it to them.”
  3. “Have a child count their peas while they’re eating dinner,” she said. “See how many letters they recognize on a billboard. Ask them what shapes are in that picture they drew.”
  4. “Weave in playful learning activities, like “baking sheets filled with lentils to give kids a multi-sensory way to trace shapes and numbers.”
  5. “She can’t read yet, so she can’t get through the computer work without assistance. She zones out if I’m not sitting next to her. And I can’t sit next to her all the time because I have three other children who need me.”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Directions:  Use this advanced organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist with  finding  the main points from the article.

Topic organizer. By Enchanted Learning

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. What does research show about children returning to school during Covid-19?
  2. According to Dr. Stipek, what question should we be asking about our children’s education?
  3. According to the article when do children learn the crucial social-emotional skills?
  4. What suggestions does Britt Menzies offer to help kids with potential learning gaps?
  5. What advice does  Emily Levitt offer to provide kids with a multi-sensory experience with shapes and numbers?
  6. Which group of kids face an even more difficult learning challenge?
  7. Dr. Stipek  suggests that parents of elementary school kids should look where for resources and guidance?
  8. Can you make  personal connections to this article? For example, if you have children (or know someone who does) is there a concern about kids falling behind in their school work?
  9. Can you think of ways to help parents and teachers help kids keep up with school work?

 

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

“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