“Raymond Tillman spent most of his adolescence and early adulthood behind bars… When he got out, [in 2011] he had a lot to catch up on — like, the digital age. He remembers his first computer class, looking down at the floor for a mouse. ‘There was a mouse? Where?The teacher pointed to a little black device with a cord connecting it to the computer. ‘I’m like ‘Wow!’ Feel like I was a caveman.’ E. Nadworny, NPR
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
“When I first came home I was illiterate to technology,” he explains. ‘Didn’t know how to turn on a computer, let alone what an email was.’ But he needed a job, and to get one, he’d need to be able to apply online.
A parole officer suggested Tillman go to the Cal State San Bernardino Reentry Initiative, a promising new program designed to smooth the transition from offender back to citizen. A big portion of the U.S.’s record-setting prison population is re-offenders, so re-entry centers work to get those numbers down by helping people on parole get the tools they need to function in society — so they eventually stay out of prison. Programs are like a bridge, between the world of corrections and the world of social services.
At other times in Raymond Tillman’s life, he would have blown this off, but this time — and he doesn’t even know why — he showed up and followed through…
Catching up on technology is one of the biggest challenges, says Andrea Mitchel — director of research and development at the re-entry center at Cal State. ‘They come out not having any knowledge of it,’ she says, ‘and then they are expected to get into the workforce. ‘ So far, the results here in San Bernardino are promising. Across four centers in the county, they’ve served about 6,000 students to date. Attendance rates are high, and more than half of the current students are now employed.”
“Usually it’s the students who are constantly brushing up on their vocabulary so they can be as prepared as possible for school.
But in the case of James Callahan, a teacher in the social studies department at Lowell High School, it’s the other way around.
Callahan, who has been teaching at the school for 15 years, keeps an alphabetized document of all the slang words and phrases that his students throw around and use regularly so that he can stay abreast of the latest lingo.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities:
Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer
Directions: Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.
II. While Reading Activities
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.
- Raymond Tillman spent most of his adolescence and early adulthood behind bars.
- When I first came home I was illiterate to technology.
- The program was designed to smooth the transition from offender back to citizen.
- At other times in Raymond Tillman’s life, he would have blown this appointment off.
- Catching up on technology is one of the biggest challenges,
- A decade ago, this center was just an idea Mitchel had.
- Most people who get out do want to get off the merry-go-round.
- On the board there’s a diagram depicting how thoughts are related to emotions, and then behavior.
- Program participants are called students.
- The program is focused on job training.
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.
- He needed an job.
- People eventually stay out of prison.
- He took nearly every class the center offered.
- He remembers him first computer class.
- Catching up on technology is one of the biggest challenges.
- They are expected to get into the workforce.
- It took a few years to make that idea a reality.
- The center is housed in a modern, two-story building.
- This is a respectful place.
Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.
A ___ago, this ___was just an ___Mitchel had. Back then, she was working at ___and saw a ___economy. Most people had jobs, except for those who had previously been___.
WORD LIST: Goodwill, center, booming, incarcerated, idea, decade,
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements.
- Do you think programs such as Cal State San Bernardino Reentry Initiative are useful? Explain why or why not.
- Do you know of anyone who has been through a rehabilitation program? If so, describe how they were changed by the program.
- The article states, “The program is focused on job training, but as we walk through the center, it’s evident that’s it’s more than that.” What other things does the program do for people?
- If you could ask the students in the program two questions, what would they be? Share your questions with the class.