Category Archives: Technology

Boston Dynamic’s Robot Dog Has Joined the Fight Against COVID-19

“A Boston hospital is using Spot, the dog-like robot of Internet fame, to screen for coronavirus.”H. Bray, The Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Spot, a four-legged robot, is being tested at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a way to treat some COVID-19 patients. Boston Dynamics

 

Excerpt:The Robot Dog that helpsHospitalsscreen for coronavirus –ByHiawatha Bray, The Boston Globe

“At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the first encounter a potentially infected person might have is not with a doctor or nurse swathed in protective gear, but with a talking, animal-like robot that looks like it might have wandered off the set of ‘Star Wars.’

Spot, the agile walking robot from Waltham-based Boston Dynamics, gained Internet notoriety for showing off its dance moves on YouTube.

But now it’s going to work in the real world, striding into the danger zone, armed only with an iPad. The robot is posted just outside the hospital, not so much as a sentinel, but asan intake worker that will help doctors safely interview people who fear they may have been infected with the coronavirus.

Research scientist Hen-Wei Huang talked about Spot the robot during a demonstration at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.CRAIG F. Walker-Boston Globs

‘This collaboration is really looking at how we can do all the things we do as emergency medicine physicians, but at a distance,’ said Peter Chai, an emergency medicine doctor at the Brigham.

The yellow-and-black Spot robot, which resembles a large dog, is positioned inside a big white tent set up in front of the hospital’s main entrance as a triage area for potential COVID-19 cases.

It is fitted with an iPad that displays a physician located safely inside the hospital who can use the device’s camera to see the patient’s physical condition.

The doctor can talk to the patient through the built-in microphone and a mounted speaker, asking standard diagnostic questions.

The physician is also able to remotely control Spot, directing the machine to move around for a better perspective of the patient.

The Brigham began real-world trials of the system last week, with a handful of patients who had agreed in advance to the robotic interviews.

Michael Perry, Boston Dynamics’ vice president of business development, said that as early as February the company began receiving inquiries from hospitals worldwide. ..There are already lots of wheeled robots trundling through hospitals, delivering meals and medications…The current version of Spot is only good for conducting interviews. But the Brigham will soon deploy an upgraded model with cameras that can measure a patient’s respiration rate and body temperature, with no need to make physical contact. And Boston Dynamics isn’t hogging the technical innovations. The company said it is giving its medical hardware and software designs at no charge to any robotics company that cares to use them.”

Related News Articles: “Spot, a four-legged robot, has been sent to Singapore to remind people about social distancing guidelines.” F.  Gans, The Boston globeThis Waltham-built, dog-like robot is crawling through Singapore to remind people about social distancing, By Felicia Gans- The Boston Globe

Spot, a four-legged robot, has been sent to Singapore to remind people about social distancing guidelines. Boston Globe

Boston Dynamics

Website www.bostondynamics.com

Boston Dynamics is an American engineering and robotics design company founded in 1992 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Boston Dynamics is best known for the development of a series of dynamic highly-mobile robots, including BigDog, Spot, Atlas, and Handle.

Watch “UpTown Spot”  and his famous dance moves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHBcVlqpvZ8

VOTE 2020

Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden -2020

“I promise you this: A Biden Administration will listen to scientists and heed their advice — not silence them.”

 

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. Boston Dynamics  produces robot dogs.
  2. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital the first encounter a patient might have is with a  robot dog.
  3. Usually medical personnel is swathed in protective gear.
  4. Spot, the agile walking robot  is from Waltham-based Boston Dynamics.
  5. Spot gained Internet notoriety for showing off its dance moves on YouTube.
  6. But now it’s going to work in the real world, striding into the danger zone, armed only with an iPad.
  7. The robot is posted just outside the hospital, not as a sentinel, but as an intake worker.
  8. This collaboration is  helping emergency medicine physicians but at a distance.
  9. The yellow-and-black Spot robot, is positioned inside a triage area for potential COVID-19 cases.
  10. The doctor can talk to the patient through the built-in microphone asking standard diagnostic questions.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

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.

Perry said/say the hospitals needed something/some different. Many had/has set/sit up their COVID triage areas outdoors, in/on lawns or in/on parking lots. On/In such uneven surfaces, traditionally/traditional robotics doesn’t make cents/sense, he said. We need/needs something that can handle this/those difficult terrain. Enter Spot, the latest in/on a long series of/on legged robots develop/developed by Boston Dynamics.

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article.

  1. “This collaboration is really looking at how we can do all the things we do as emergency medicine physicians, but at a distance.”
  2. “The Brigham began real-world trials of the system last week, with a handful of patients who had agreed in advance to the robotic interviews. They’re loving it so far.”
  3. “…as early as February the company began receiving inquiries from hospitals worldwide. Was it possible to use a Spot robot to conduct triage interviews?”

 

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.  To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Have you ever encountered a robot in your everyday activities?
  2. Which hospital is using the robotic dog?
  3. Where was Spot built?
  4. What was the first thing Spot was known for?
  5. According to Boston Dynamics, why wouldn’t a regular robot work in the triage areas  outdoors?
  6. Was Spot the first robotic dog Boston Dynamics built?
  7. Doctors at Brigham have been working on remote diagnostic sensors with engineers from what other institute?
  8. What small items can Spot deliver to infected patients?  In what ways does this small task help the medical personnel?
  9. In your opinion, what other helpful tasks might Spot be programmed to perform in the future?
  10. According to Farah Dadabhoy  how are the patients reacting to Spot?
  11. 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

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

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

 

Is Facial Recognition Necessary in Our Schools?

“Recently, a school district in New York adopted the [facial recognition] technology in the name of safety. Opponents cite privacy and bias concerns.” D. Alba, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Facial Recognition Moves Into a New Front: Schools, By Davey Alba, The New York Times

SPmemory via Getty Images

 

“Jim Shultz tried everything he could think of to stop facial recognition technology from entering the public schools in Lockport, a small city 20 miles east of Niagara Falls. He posted about the issue in a Facebook group called Lockportians. He wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times. He filed a petition with the superintendent of the district, where his daughter is in high school.

But a few weeks ago, he lost. The Lockport City School District turned on the technology to monitor who’s on the property at its eight schools, becoming the first known public school district in New York to adopt facial recognition, and one of the first in the nation. The district, said Mr. Shultz, 62, ‘turned our kids into lab rats in a high-tech experiment in privacy invasion.’

The decision underscores how facial recognition is spreading across the country and being deployed in new ways in the United States, as public officials turn to the technology in the name of public safety.

A few cities, like San Francisco and Somerville, Mass., have barred their governments from using the technology, but they are exceptions… Schools are a newer front, and the debate that took place in Lockport encapsulates the furor surrounding the technology.

The Wall Street Journal

Proponents call it a crucial crime-fighting tool, to help prevent mass shootings and stop sexual predators.  Robert LiPuma, the Lockport City School District’s director of technology, said he believed that if the technology had been in place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the deadly 2018 attack there may never have happened…’Subjecting 5-year-olds to this technology will not make anyone safer, and we can’t allow invasive surveillance to become the norm in our public spaces,’ said Stefanie Coyle, deputy director of the Education Policy Center for the New York Civil Liberties Union… The debate in Lockport has unfolded over nearly two years. The school district initially announced its plans to install a facial recognition security system, called Aegis, in March 2018… The state wanted Lockport to make sure that students’ data would be properly protected, and demanded a policy that would forbid the use of student data, including their photos.

In January, the school board unanimously approved the latest policy revision. When the system is on, Mr. LiPuma said, the software looks at the faces captured by the hundreds of cameras and calculates whether those faces match a ‘persons of interest’ list made by school administrators. That list includes sex offenders in the area, people prohibited from seeing students by restraining orders, former employees who are barred from visiting the schools and others deemed ‘credible threats’ by law enforcement…The technology will also scan for guns. The chief of the Lockport Police Department, Steven Abbott, said that if a human monitor confirmed a gun that Aegis had detected, an alert would automatically go to both administrators and the Police Department…Days after the district announced that the technology had been turned on, some students said they had been told very little about how it worked.

‘I’m not sure where they are in the school or even think I’ve seen them,’ said Brooke Cox, 14, a freshman at Lockport High School. ‘I don’t fully know why we have the cameras. I haven’t been told what their purpose is.’  Others, like Tina Ni, 18, said the new technology and the news coverage of her school were ‘cool.’ Critics of the technology, including Mr. Shultz and the New York Civil Liberties Union, point to the growing evidence of racial bias in facial recognition systems.

In December, the federal government released a study, one of the largest of its kind, that found that most commercial facial recognition systems exhibited bias, falsely identifying African-American  and Asian faces 10 to 100 times more than Caucasian faces. Another federal study found a higher rate of mistaken matches among children…Jason Nance, a law professor at the University of Florida who focuses on education law and policy, warned that listing students as ‘persons of interest’ could have unintended consequences.

‘If suspended students are put on the watch list, they are going to be scrutinized more heavily,’ he said, which could lead to a higher likelihood that they could enter into the criminal justice system…Opponents of the new technology now pin their hopes on state lawmakers. In April, Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, a Democrat from Lancaster, introduced a bill that would force Lockport to halt the use of facial recognition for a year while the State Education Department studied the technology. The bill easily passed in the Assembly but was not taken up by the Senate.”

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. He filed a petition against the school.
  2. This is the first school to adopt facial recognition.
  3. The decision underscores how facial recognition   is spreading across the country.
  4. Facial recognition is being deployed in new ways in the United States.
  5. Schools are a newer front, and the debate encapsulates the furor surrounding the technology.
  6. Proponents call it a crucial crime-fighting tool.
  7. Many agree that we can’t allow invasive surveillance to become the norm in our public spaces.
  8. In January, the school board unanimously approved the latest policy revision.
  9. The software looks at the faces captured by the cameras and calculates whether those faces match a ‘persons of interest’ list.
  10. If suspended students are put on the watch list, they are going to be scrutinized more heavily.

Grammar Focus: English Pronouns

Directions:  Students choose the correct Subject pronouns to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Subject pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, they.

Jim Shultz tried everything___could think of to stop facial recognition technology from entering the public school. ___wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times.  ___filed a petition with the superintendent of the district. But a few weeks ago,___ lost.  A few cities, like San Francisco and Somerville, Mass., have barred their governments from using the technology, but___are exceptions. Robert LiPuma, the Lockport City School District’s director of technology, said ___believed that if the technology had been in place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the deadly 2018 attack there may never have happened. ___had an expelled student that would have been put into the system, because ___were not supposed to be on school grounds. ___ snuck in through an open door. ‘Subjecting 5-year-olds to this technology will not make anyone safer, and___can’t allow invasive surveillance to become the norm in our public spaces,’ said Stefanie Coyle, deputy director of the Education Policy Center for the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article.

  “The district,turned our kids into lab rats in a high-tech experiment in privacy invasion.”

“You had an expelled student that would have been put into the system, because they were not supposed to be on school grounds. They snuck in through an open door.'”

“Subjecting 5-year-olds to this technology will not make anyone safer, and we can’t allow invasive surveillance to become the norm in our public spaces.”

“I’m not sure where they are in the school or even think I’ve seen them. I don’t fully know why we have the cameras. I haven’t been told what their purpose is.”

“The new technology and the news coverage of her school were cool.”

“If suspended students are put on the watch list, they are going to be scrutinized more heavily,” he said, which could lead to a higher likelihood that they could enter into the criminal justice system.”

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. Have you ever used any kind of facial recognition technology (e.g.,  to verify your identity at the airport or unlock your smartphone or computer?
  2. Do you feel safe in your school? If you are a parent, do you feel that your children are safe in their schools? What safety measurements are currently in place in the schools?
  3. In your opinion what are the benefits of facial recognition in schools?
  4. What are some drawbacks to using this technology in schools?
  5. According to the article Assemblywoman Monica Wallace states, “We all want to keep our children safe in school. But there are more effective, proven ways to do so that are less costly.”
  6. Can you think of other ways to make schools safe without resorting to facial recognition?
  7. List any new ideas that you have 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 Raise Media-Savvy Kids in 2020

“Experts tips and tricks for helping your younglings think critically about what they see on TV and social media.” M. Herbst, Wired Magazine

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids in the Digital Age By Meghan Herbst, Wired

“What does it mean for a kid to be media literate? It sounds generally positive and important, like a good dental checkup or a flawless report card. The field is broad and definitions vary, but the main thrust of literacy education is to prepare our children to be adept at accessing, creating, and thinking critically about all types of media.

How We Parent

As parents, we can struggle to wrap our heads around a carousel of premium, user-friendly, and questionably educational media choices…Among millennials the first generation are now mothers—but their recollections of navigating AOL Instant Messenger and Napster as tweens haven’t necessarily prepared them to curate a child-friendly media diet in 2020.

According to the latest research, though, encouraging your children to think critically about the media they’re consuming is much more important than playing screen-time babysitter…Basic media literacy skills are like a second alphabet for the digital age, and fostering them in our children involves asking questions and being an active participant in their media consumption.

Here are some age-appropriate tips from a handful of media literacy experts who also happen to moonlight as parents…Developmental psychologists say that children younger than 7 or 8 simply can’t understand the persuasive intent behind commercials. Because of this cognitive limitation, media literacy efforts have long ignored this younger age group, focusing on middle and high school students instead.

image-Mama Natural

But media literacy, like any other skill, can benefit from a strong foundation in the early years, according to Faith Rogow, an expert in early childhood literacy and the founding president of the National Association for Media Literacy Education.  ‘It’s easier to help children develop habits around media use, inquiry, and reflection in the early years than it is to wait until they are defiant middle schoolers,’ Rogow says…You can also play the ‘What are they trying to sell?’ game with kids this age, Rogow says. During a commercial break, see who in the family can be the first to guess what the ad is trying to sell. Most of all, parents should be aware of their own media habits.

Image- ABC

At the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina, media literacy educator and doctoral student Jimmeka Anderson helped establish an ‘active reading’ program for young kids. ‘With active reading, parents do not read the words in the book,’ Anderson says. ‘As you go through the pictures in the book, you’re asking questions like, ‘What color is this bear? What do you think the bear is going to do?’ Anderson says this is a way to build media literacy skills beginning in preschool, equipping kids to become critical thinkers… Ian O’Byrne is a digital literacy researcher and former grade school teacher, but he also has two very accessible research subjects: his son, 9, and daughter, 4. O’Byrne, along with five other researcher-parents, conducted a study on an oft-overlooked branch of digital literacy—information security and algorithms, specifically how children interact with and understand them…He acknowledges that even most adults don’t fully comprehend what happens to our information online or on the internet of things, so getting a more thorough grasp of digital security and information-sharing is an important place for parents to start.

O’Byrne and his colleagues haven’t yet published their results, but he says they’ve found two effective strategies that stand out. The first is to find a teachable moment or ‘approach point’ to discuss these issues with your children.

For O’Byrne, the moment came when his son, who has a Google Hangouts account to keep in touch with his parents and a few select friends, was messaged by a complete stranger. He brought it to my attention and I said, ‘Look, this is what you need to be concerned about,’ and we talked about privacy and security,’ O’Byrne said.

Creating that situation is the second strategy. It can take the form of talking about something in the news or finding a good picture book or story, or even using a real-life situation your children are familiar with, like a playground, to discuss security concepts. The next time you snap a photo together at the park or a restaurant, try asking your child if it’s all right that you post it to social media. Use the opportunity to talk about who can see that photo and show them your privacy settings.

The [Tweens] Teens

Perhaps the most vulnerable period for children engaged with media are the much maligned teenage years. Teens are forming their identities, experimenting with and exposing themselves to all sorts of new experiences on their journey to adulthood.

At this stage, a lot of parents sign off from regulating their kids’ media consumption, but Anderson says this is a critical mistake.

Image- Wired

‘Parents have got to stick with them the whole way through,’ Anderson says. ‘That’s the age of identity development, when they’re trying to figure out who they are. If you’re trying to figure out who you are and you haven’t figured it out, media will tell you who you should be, or who you should try to be.’

Anderson started a program in 2011 called I Am Not the Media, a nonprofit that educates teens about media literacy and messaging.

She focuses particularly on marginalized communities, where representation in the media is often not positive and can influence teens’ perceptions of themselves…Parents should take on more of an advisory role during the teen years, she says.

It’s still important to have restrictions, but we’re not equipping them for the world if we shield them from it entirely.   Anderson suggests that parents work with their kids to come up with reasonable limits. Excessive social media use is linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, so come to an agreement with your child about how much is too much. It’s also important to follow your kids’ social media accounts. ‘I can still engage with you and see the content that you’re posting, because if you can’t share it with me, you shouldn’t share it at all,’ Anderson says.

Image- Common Sense Media

Teens also engage more actively with news. A 2017 report by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that promotes media education, found that among kids between age 10 and 18, 39 percent get their news from online sources, most often Facebook and YouTube.

Parents often don’t realize that their children are taking in news through these platforms, says Kelly Mendoza, the senior director of education programs at Common Sense Media. ‘It’s more difficult to determine fact versus fiction when it comes to social media.’

Only 44 percent of kids feel confident that they can tell fake news from real news, according to the same 2017 report.

In its curriculum for middle and high school students, Common Sense uses a technique called lateral reading. If you find a piece of information, you try to see if you can corroborate it with another source. Ideally, parents should encourage kids to verify information through trusted news outlets…On the flip side, kids in this age range trust news they hear from their parents more than any other source.

Across the board, experts agree that staying informed and media savvy as an adult is critical. If you don’t have a clue what’s going on in the run-up to the presidential election, or what the fluff Fortnite is all about, you’d be hard pressed to help your children understand it.

We’re more likely to believe things that we hear from our friends and family than from any random information source,” Anderson says. ‘So you are a form of media, and it’s important for you to vet the information that you’re sharing as well.’

The authoritarian ‘Because I said so’ refrain of old has been linked to lower academic performance and poor emotional regulation.”

Here are the books, apps, podcasts, and websites the experts recommend.

A guide to screens in moderation for busy families: The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life by Anya Kamenetz

A non-Draconian guide to media for younger kids: Screen Time: How Electronic Media—From Baby Videos to Educational Software—Affects Your Young Child by Lisa Guernsey

An app created by the News Literacy Project that features a game quiz-style approach to teaching literacy on the go: Informable

A news app specifically curated for 7- to 10-year-olds: News-O-Matic

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.

Pre-Reading Activity

 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. What does it mean for a kid to be media literate?
  2. The main  force of literacy education is to prepare our children to be adept at  thinking critically about all types of media.
  3. Millennials, the first generation of digital users are now mothers and are not prepared to  curate a child-friendly media diet in 2020.
  4. Encouraging your children to think critically about the media is very important.
  5. Basic media literacy skills need to be fostered in our children.
  6. The ice cream was not at all edible.
  7. The jubilant ponytailed girl on the commercial was enjoying the gloop.
  8. Parents shouldn’t wait until their kids are defiant middle schoolers.
  9. Help kids by teaching them to take an active role in their consumption of pictures and other visual media.
  10. Perhaps the most vulnerable period for children engaged with media are the much maligned teenage years.

 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. According to the latest research parents should encourage children to think critically.
  2. Basic media literacy skills is like a second alphabet for the digital age.
  3. Here are some age-appropriate tips from a handful of media literacy experts.

II

  1. Media literacy, like any other skill, can benefit about a strong foundation in the early years.
  2. It’s easier to help children develop habits around media use in the early years.
  3. Most of all, parents should be aware of their own media habits.

III

  1. Think of it like driving, we’re not going to turn over the car keys to our toddlers.
  2. With active reading, parents do not read the words in the book.
  3. An way to build media literacy skills beginning in preschool.

Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article.

  1. “Think of it like driving, We’re not going to turn over the car keys to our toddlers, so we aren’t exactly teaching them to drive yet, but they are learning about rules of the road from what we do.”
  2. With active reading, parents do not read the words in the book. “As you go through the pictures in the book, you’re asking questions like, ‘What color is this bear? What do you think the bear is going to do?’”
  3. “These algorithms make decisions about our lives…We started to wonder, when should we start talking to individuals about algorithms and power and about trust and truth in these tools? How do we explain this to our kids?”
  4. “Parents often don’t realize that their children are taking in news through these platforms.”

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.

According to the article at what age should parent begin teaching children about digital media?  Why?

When it comes to media literacy which age group is the most popular?  Why?

According to Faith Rogow, “It’s easier to help children develop habits around media use, inquiry, and reflection in the early years than it is to wait until they are defiant middle schoolers.”  Why does she make this statement?

Describe a game Rogow suggests playing with children at a young age.

According to the article, what is the most vulnerable period of a child’s life? What reasons are given for this vulnerability?

According to Jimmeka Anderson, “At this stage, a lot of parents sign off from regulating their kids’ media consumption, but Anderson says this is a critical mistake.”

What stage is Anderson referring to and what advice does she offer parents?

After reading this article name at least one thing new that you’ve learned. Name something that you did not understand.  Was there anything you felt should have been included in the article? Discuss what you’ve learned with your group members and share as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Education, Technology