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

Robots Caring for the Elderly Bring Increasing Questions of Concern

“Robotic companions are being promoted as an antidote to the burden of longer, lonelier human lives. At stake is the future of what it means to be human.” M. Jackson, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Mojo Wang, The New York Times

Excerpt: Would You Let a Robot Take Care of Your Mother? By Maggie Jackson, The New York Times

“After Constance Gemson moved her mother to an assisted living facility, the 92-year-old became more confused, lonely and inarticulate. Two full-time private aides, kind and attentive as they were, couldn’t possibly meet all their patient’s needs for connection.

Credit- ABC Radio Perth – Gian de Poloni

So on a visit one day, Ms. Gemson brought her mom a new helper: a purring, nuzzling robot cat designed as a companion for older adults. “It’s not a substitute for care,” says Ms. Gemson, whose mother died last June at age 95. “But this was someone my mother could hug and embrace and be accepted by. This became a reliable friend.” When her mom was upset, her family or helpers brought her the cat to stroke and sing to, and she grew calmer. In her last days “what she could give, she gave to the cat,” says Ms. Gemson.

Photo- Next Avenue

An aging population is fueling the rise of the robot caregiver, as the devices moving into the homes and hearts of the aging and sick offer new forms of friendship and aid…Winsome tabletop robots now remind elders to take their medications and a walk, while others in research prototype can fetch a snack or offer consoling words to a dying patient… Yet we should be deeply concerned about the ethics of their use. At stake is the future of what it means to be human, and what it means to care.

Issues of freedom and dignity are most urgently raised by robots that are built to befriend, advise and monitor seniors. This is Artificial Intelligence with wide, blinking eyes and a level of sociability that is both the source of its power to help and its greatest moral hazard

When do a robot assistant’s prompts to a senior to call a friend become coercion of the cognitively frail? Will Grandma’s robot pet inspire more family conversation or allow her kin to turn away from the demanding work of supporting someone who is ill or in pain? ‘Robots, if they are used the right way and work well, can help people preserve their dignity,’ says Matthias Scheutz, a roboticist who directs Tufts University’s Human-Robot Interaction Lab. ‘What I find morally dubious is to push the social aspect of these machines when it’s just a facade, a puppet. It’s deception technology.’

For that is where the ethical dilemmas begin — with our remarkable willingness to banter with a soulless algorithm, to return a steel and plastic wink. It is a well-proven finding in the science of robotics: add a bit of movement, language, and ‘smart’ responses to a bundle of software and wires and humans see an intentionality and sentience that simply isn’t there. Such ‘agency’ is designed to prime people to engage in an eerie seeming reciprocity of care.

Credit- The Star Online

Social robots ideally inspire humans to empathize with them, writes Maartje de Graaf of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, who studies ethics in human-robot interactions. Even robots not designed to be social can elicit such reactions: some owners of the robot vacuum Roomba grieve when theirs gets ‘sick’ (broken) or count them as family when listing members of their household.

Many in the field see the tensions and dilemmas in robot care, yet believe the benefits can outweigh the risks. The technology is ‘intended to help older adults carry out their daily lives,’ says Richard Pak, a Clemson University scientist who studies the intersection of human psychology and technology design, including robots…

We know little about robot care’s long-term impact or possible indirect effects. And that is why it is crucial at this early juncture to heed both the field’s success stories and the public’s apprehensions.”

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. The 92-year-old became more confused, lonely and inarticulate.
  2. The pet robots are not a substitute for care.
  3. The robot became a reliable friend.
  4. Care robots are increasly seen as an antidote to the burden of longer, lonelier human lives.
  5. Winsome tabletop robots now remind elders to take their medications and a walk.
  6. Others in research prototype can fetch a snack or offer consoling words to a dying patient.
  7. Since their 2016 debut, sales of robots to assist older adultsare expected to rise 25 percent annually through 2022.
  8. Yet we should be deeply concerned about the ethics of their use.
  9. This is Artificial Intelligence with wide, blinking eyes and a level of sociability that is both the source of its power to help and its greatest moral hazard. 
  10. Some worry robot care would carry a stigma the potential of being seen as not worth human company.

 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. Constance Gemson moved her mother to a assisted living facility.
  2. Two full-time private aides were also hired.
  3. Ms. Gemson brought her mom a new helper: a purring, nuzzling robot cat.

II

  1. A aging population is fueling the rise of the robot caregiver.
  2. Thousands of robotic cats and dogs designed as companions for older people have been sold in the U.S. since 2016.
  3. Yet we should be deeply concerned about the ethics of their use.

III

  1. Robots, if they are used the right way and work well, can help people preserve their dignity.
  2. Social robots ideally inspire humans to empathize  with them.
  3. The robot is designed to stress that it’s not an doctor or nurse but part of someone’s care team.

 

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. “Robots, if they are used the right way and work well, can help people preserve their dignity. “What I find morally dubious is to push the social aspect of these machines when it’s just a facade, a puppet. It’s deception technology.”
  2. “Even robots not designed to be social can elicit such reactions: some owners of the robot vacuum Roomba grieve when theirs gets “sick” (broken) or count them as family when listing members of their household.”
  3. “The technology is intended to help older adults carry out their daily lives.   If the cost is sort of tricking people in a sense, I think, without knowing what the future holds, that might be a worthy trade-off. Still he wonders, “Is this the right thing to do?”
  4. “The robot is one thing, but you still need interaction that’s not programmed.”
  5. It’s not a substitute for care,”

 

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.

  1. Who or What is the article about?
  2. Where does the action/event take place?
  3. When does the action/event take place?
  4. Why did the action/event occur?
  5. How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Do you interact with any robots in your home (e.g., the  Roomba vacuum), school,  job, public facilities (e.g., restrooms, recreation areas ) or institutions such as banks, museums or libraries? If yes, describe them and how you interact with them.
  2. Have you ever interacted with an actual  robot pet? what was your experience like?
  3. Is there a senior member in your family who has a robotic companion? If yes, how do they interact with the pet?
  4. Do you think robotic pets are a good idea for seniors? Why or why not?
  5. According to the article what are the benefits of seniors having robot companions?
  6. The article raises two issues of concern with the robots programmed to befriend and advise seniors. What are the issues and why do they cause concern?
  7. There are new “soft-law” guidelines that professionals state the robots need to have. What are they?
  8. In your opinion, are there certain tasks we should not allow robots to do because they would be considered unethical?
  9. List something  new that you have learned from this article. List something that you did not understand in this article. List something that you would like to add to this article. Share your responses with the class.

ANSWER KEY

The Coronavirus: What We Need to Know

“Wuhan Coronavirus: A respiratory virus has spread from China to at least a dozen other countries, including the U.S. Here’s what you need to know.” R. C. Rabin, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Travelers at a train station in Yichang, China, about 200 miles from Wuhan. Credit- CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press

 

Excerpt: What Is the Coronavirus? Symptoms, Treatment and Risks By Roni C. Rabin the New York Times

“An international outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus has killed at least 132 people and sickened about 6,000, according to the Chinese health authorities. The outbreak began in Wuhan, China, apparently at a market selling live poultry, seafood and wild animals.

A woman checks her son’s forehead in Wuhan, China, on January 27, 2020:The Atlantic

Now the virus has turned up in more than a dozen other countries, including Japan, South Korea, France, Australia and the United States. Investigators in still other nations, and in several American states, are evaluating possible cases…Schools have been closed in affected regions. Major attractions, festivals and movie theaters have been closed down, and sales of tourist packages from China to other countries have been halted. Federal health officials are telling Americans not to visit the Wuhan area, and to avoid traveling to any part of China unless necessary. Some airlines are cutting back on flights to China because of low demand.

Spread of the Wuhan coronavirus in China- CNN

Five cases have been confirmed in the United States: one in Washington State; one in Chicago; one in Arizona; and two in California. All patients had recently traveled to China. More than 100 other patients are being tested.

But much is still unknown about the newly identified virus, including how easily it is transmitted and how often it causes severe disease that can lead to death…Here’s what we have learned so far about the virus and the outbreak.

What is a coronavirus?

model of a coronavirus -Credit NativeAntigen

Coronaviruses are named for the spikes that protrude from their membranes, which resemble the sun’s corona. They can infect both animals and people, and can cause illnesses of the respiratory tract, ranging from the common cold to dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, which sickened thousands of people around the world — and killed nearly 800 — during an outbreak in 2003.

How dangerous is it?

police officer takes the temperature of a driver at a checkpoint on a street on the outskirts of Wuhan on January 27, 2020. :The Atlantic

Health officials around the world are alarmed, but it is hard to accurately assess the lethality of a new virus. On Thursday, the World Health Organization declined to declare the outbreak a global health emergency…’When we get a new infectious disease, we learn about the most severe cases first, the top of the pyramid as it were,’ said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center…By comparison, roughly 200,000 people are hospitalized with the flu each year in the United States, and about 35,000 people die. But while some scientists say the new virus appears to be less severe than other coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, it is not clear whether the Chinese authorities have been fully transparent about the number of infections and deaths, or even whether these figures are being carefully tracked.

How is it transmitted?

Photo- Forbes

The Wuhan coronavirus is most likely transmitted through coughing and sneezing, as is the case with influenza and other respiratory viruses, Dr. Vaishampayan said…The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed 198 confirmed cases in Wuhan. Researchers found that 22 percent had direct exposure to the meat market, and 32 percent had contact with people who had a fever or respiratory disease. But roughly half had neither been to the market nor had contact with anyone who was sick… Researchers at Imperial College London estimated that in the current outbreak, each infected person has passed the virus to 2.6 other people, on average.

What treatment is available?

People wearing face masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus wait inside the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital on January 25, 2020. The Atlantic

The main treatment is supportive care, including making sure the patient is getting enough oxygen, and using a ventilator to push air into the lungs if necessary, Dr. Vaishampayan said. Patients should rest and drink plenty of fluids ‘while the immune system does its job and heals itself,’ she said.

No drugs have been approved for any coronavirus diseases, including the Wuhan coronavirus, though an antiviral medication called remdesivir appears to be effective in animals… Chinese officials are experimenting with at least one other H.I.V. drug to treat the infection.

What is the source of the outbreak?

Animals are the most likely primary source of the outbreak, but it is still not clear which animals. Past outbreaks of similar illnesses, including SARS, also are believed to have emerged from live animal markets.

But though the first patients sickened by the Wuhan coronavirus were thought to have contracted the disease at the market, the illness can also be transmitted from person to person.

What are the health authorities doing to contain the virus?

The Chinese authorities have closed off transportation links from and within Wuhan and other affected cities, encircling roughly 50 million people.

Large public gatherings and performances were banned in Wuhan, and the government announced that all residents were required to wear masks in public to help prevent the disease from spreading.

What are the symptoms of infection?

Source- Center for Disease Control and Prevention:USA Today

Symptoms include fever, severe cough and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Milder cases may resemble the flu or a bad cold, making detection difficult. The incubation period — the time from exposure to the onset of symptoms — is believed to be about two weeks.

I’m traveling to China. What can I do to protect myself?

A fully protected man checks out at the self-help machine of a supermarket in Wuhan on January 25, 2020. The Atlantic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned against all nonessential travel to China…Dr. Schaffner, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said travelers should practice ‘good hand hygiene’ — washing hands frequently and avoiding touching their faces — and maintain a distance from anyone who is coughing and sneezing. Travelers should monitor their health upon their return. If a cough or fever develops, call health providers before going in, so they can prepare and put protective measures in place.

Should I wear a mask?

People wearing masks in China. Londonpost

Wearing a surgical mask may somewhat protect you from infection in a crowd if there is an outbreak, but, generally, surgical masks are not close fitting enough to filter all the air you are breathing in.

Roads remain empty in Wuhan on January 27, 2020.

At the moment, the risk of infection with the new coronavirus in the United States — where there are only five confirmed cases so far — ‘is way too low to start wearing a face mask,’ Dr. Rabinowitz said. The risk is very, very low to the general public.”

RELATED: Fears of coronavirus fuel anti-Chinese racism. By Deanna Pan, Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

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. An international outbreak of respiratory illness has killed at least 132 people and sickened about 6,000.
  2. Now the virus has turned up in more than a dozen other countries.
  3. Investigators in still other nations, and in several American states, are evaluating possible cases.
  4. Five cases have been confirmed in the United States.
  5. One of the key questions is whether it can be transmitted by patients who have not yet shown any symptoms of illness themselves.
  6. Health officials around the world are alarmed, but it is hard to accurately assess the lethality of a new virus.
  7. When we get a new infectious disease, we learn about the most severe cases first.
  8. Some scientists say the new virus appears to be less severe than other coronaviruses.
  9. A close examination of one family, suggested that the virus was passed from one ill relative to six others.
  10. Epidemics caused by other members of the viral family, SARS and MERS, have had high death rates.

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,  as, across, around,  by, during,  for, from, in, into,  of, on,  to, over,  off, through, up,  with, since,

An international outbreak___respiratory illness caused___ a novel coronavirus has killed ___least 132 people.

The outbreak began___ Wuhan, China, apparently ___a market selling live poultry, seafood and wild animals.

Investigators ___still other nations, and___ several American states, are evaluating possible cases.

Federal health officials are telling Americans not___visit the Wuhan area, and ___avoid traveling ___any part___China unless necessary.

Coronaviruses are named ___the spikes that protrude___ their membranes, which resemble the sun’s corona.

 

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. The outbreak began in Japan
  2. The coronavirus has killed at least 132 people and sickened about 6,000 so far.
  3. It appears that the outbreak started in a large crowed village.
  4. The virus has turned up in more than a dozen other countries, including Japan, South Korea, France, Australia and the United States.
  5. Federal health officials are telling Americans not to visit the Wuhan area, but it’s ok to visit other parts of China.
  6. Ten cases have been confirmed in the United States: one in Washington State; one in Chicago; one in Arizona; and two in California.
  7. The virus can only infect people.
  8. There are less severely infected people, and people who are infected who don’t get sick at all.
  9. The Wuhan coronavirus is most likely transmitted through coughing and sneezing.
  10. The main treatment is making sure the patient is getting enough oxygen, and using a ventilator to push air into the lungs if necessary.

III. Post Reading Activities

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

Topic organizer. By Enchanted Learning

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: 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 subjects mentioned.

  1. Before reading this article how much did you know about the coronavirus?
  2. Why do you think people are beginning to panic?
  3. According to the article, where exactly in Wuhan China did the coronavirus start?
  4. The article mentions an incident involving a hospital in Seoul, South Korea, in 2015, where one man with MERS transmitted it to 82 patients. Why is this a major concern today with the coronavirus?
  5. How is the coronavirus similar and different from other epidemics like SARS and MERS?
  6. How is the coronavirus transmitted?
  7. What precautions can people take to avoid getting the virus?
  8. Can you think of any additional ways people might protect themselves from contacting the virus?
  9. So far is there any treatment that can cure the virus?
  10. According to doctors, what are patients advised to do if they contact the virus?
  11. Do you think people in the U.S. and other countries  will act negatively towards  Chinese students or people from China? Why or why not?

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

When your Tween wants to be a Drag Queen

As recently as the 1970s, dressing as another gender could lead to arrest on charges of vagrancy or perversion … drag was an adults-only affair… But as gay culture has gained mainstream acceptance, the number and variety of locations where drag is welcome have grown. G-rated story hours [for kids] are now offered at public libraries.” A. Hines, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Desmond at a fitting for DragCon. Credit-Maridelis M. Rosado for The New York Times

Excerpt: Meet the rising drag stars of America. They’re tweens. By Alice Hines, The New York Times

“I’m excited!’ screamed Desmond Napoles, a 12-year-old drag star who performs as Desmond is Amazing, punctuating his enthusiasm with mild profanity. His eyes darted to his phone. Then he backtracked. ‘Don’t put that in. Don’t put that in.’ He would soon be grounded from Snapchat by his mother for what she called ‘sass.’

Desmond and his mother would still make it to the object of Desmond’s excitement: DragCon, the convention hosted by RuPaul in New York City in early September. It would be Desmond’s third year in a row. He isn’t a different person in drag so much as a more outgoing version of himself, he said. ‘I’m always fierce, fabulous and not playing video games,” he said. ‘I’m being AH-MA-zing.’

From an early age Desmond was theatrical, said Wendy Napoles, his mother. There were dresses fashioned out of household items like recycled cardboard, ribbons, towels, Bubble Wrap. Once, she said, at a mall food court, Katy Perry’s “Firework” came on and he broke into an impromptu dance routine…’Other moms are  soccer moms,’ Ms. Napoles said. ‘They take their kids to practice, to games, they cheer for their kids. That’s how I see myself with drag.’ Keegan, a.k.a. Kween Keekee, is a 9-year-old drag queen. (The New York Times agreed to not use the family’s last name, to protect their privacy.

‘Our goal has never been to make K famous,’ said his mother, Megan. ‘We allow Instagram to be a public account as we don’t feel we need to be pressured to hide our child, and because we think his story could help other kids.’ Kids — and parents intent on raising them outside of traditional gender norms — are keen to perform…’This is the first generation that was truly raised on ‘Drag Race,’ said Robin Johnson, a photographer, who founded Dragutante, an 18-and-under runway show in Denver. When her son, a 14-year-old who in drag is known as Ophelia Peaches, was in elementary school, they would watch “RuPaul’s Drag Race” together, for the gowns, the pageantry, the acting, the drama.  It was ‘like Disney princesses,’she said.

Some have public social media platforms and are on their way to careers. Desmond, with 180,000 followers on Instagram, has the largest online presence, followed by Lactatia, a 10-year-old in Montreal.

CJ Duron, 12, whose mother is the author of Raising My Rainbow, recently appeared in a Sephora Pride campaign; although he is not a ‘drag kid,’ he is inspired by the art form, Ms. Duron said.

An active subset of the internet sees kids in drag not as ‘the future of America,’ as RuPaul has said of Desmond, but ‘socially accepted child abuse,’ in the words of Elizabeth Johnston, a vlogger who ‘daily tackles the left on abortion, feminism, & gender insanity,’ according to her social media bios.

Her network also helped call for the cancellation of several drag queen story hours at local libraries…Nina West, a queen who appeared on ‘Drag Race’ and who has often performed for kids, said that while drag is a form of gender protest, it is not inherently sexual. ‘Drag is the larger than life representation of a character,’ she said.

At drag queen story hours at a library, she often reads the book Red: A Crayon’s Story. In it, a red crayon discovers it is wrapped in the wrong label, and was really blue all along.

 

In her music video ‘Drag Is Magic,’ she performs in front of a group of kids dressed as police officers, pirates and princesses. “Colorful. Bright. Loud. Big! Those are things that kids respond to,” she said. ‘Who’s to say what Barney is?’

Laura Edwards-Leeper, a clinical psychologist in Oregon who works with queer and trans kids, said that experimenting with gender expression isn’t necessarily linked to being queer or trans. ‘It’s normal at basically any age for boys to dress up as princesses and girls in male superhero outfits,’ she said. What’s changed is parenting. ‘When there’s no judgment, kids are more likely to feel free to explore,’ Dr. Edwards-Leeper said.

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

KWL Chart

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about tween drag queens. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

Michigan State University

 

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. Desmond punctuated  his enthusiasm with mild profanity.
  2. He isn’t a different person in drag.
  3. He broke into an impromptu dance.
  4. Desmond was vogueing at the New York Pride parade went videos of him went viral.
  5. His mom also connected with Keegan’s drag mentors adult queens who today help with costumes.
  6. The gay culture has gained mainstream acceptance.
  7. They would watch RuPaul’s Drag Race together, for the gowns, and the pageantry.
  8. Elizabeth Johnston also helped call for the cancellation of several drag queen story hours at local libraries.
  9. The gay culture is thriving.
  10. But at least for now, kids are drag’s least commercialized  niche.

 

 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. Desmond and his mother would still made it to DragCon.
  2. From an early age Desmond was theatrical.
  3. Desmond pegs his start in the world of drag to 2015.

II

  1. Other moms  is  soccer moms.
  2. Keegan, a.k.a. Kween Keekee, is a 9-year-old drag queen.
  3. Our goal has never been to make K famous, said his mother, Megan.

III

  1. This are the first generation that was truly raised on Drag Race.
  2. It’s normal at basically any age for boys to dress up as princesses and girls in male superhero outfits.
  3. Desmond is Amazing has the most followers out of any drag kid.

 

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. “I’m always fierce, fabulous and not playing video games…I’m being AH-MA-zing.”
  2. “Other moms are  soccer moms,”…They take their kids to practice, to games, they cheer for their kids. That’s how I see myself with drag.”
  3. “Our goal has never been to make K famous… We allow Instagram to be a public account as we don’t feel we need to be pressured to hide our child, and because we think his story could help other kids.”
  4. “This is the first generation that was truly raised on ‘Drag Race.”
  5. “…sees kids in drag not as ‘the future of America,’  as RuPaul has said of Desmond, but socially accepted child abuse.”
  6. “Drag is the larger than life representation of a character.”
  7. “It’s normal at basically any age for boys to dress up as princesses and girls in male superhero outfits.”

III. Post Reading Activities

Graphic Organizers: Finding The Main Idea

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Write Design to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main idea and points from the article.

III Post Reading

Questions for Comprehension Discussion and Writing

This article introduces several young people and how they choose to express themselves and explore their identities  through drag.

  1. After reading this article do you think it’s important to express who you are or show only what people expect of you?
  2. Is it very  important to you how people see you? Why or why not?
  3. How do you think other people view you?
  4. How did 12-year-old Desmond Napoles start in the  world of drag?
  5. The article states,Desmond, with 180,000 followers on Instagram, has the largest online presence, followed by Lactatia, a 10-year-old in Montreal.” Do you use social media to express your identity? How?
  6. The article states that, Mothers run most of these accounts… drag moms far outnumber drag dads.” Why do you think more moms are in charge of the accounts?
  7. What is the main task the moms perform as managers of these accounts?
  8. There are people on the internet who view child drag stars as being inappropriate. According to Elizabeth Johnston, a vlogger, “kids in drag [are] not ‘the future of America,’ as [drag star] RuPaul has said of Desmond, but ‘socially accepted child abuse.’ Do you agree or disagree with her? Provide reasons for your opinion.
  9. According to Laura Edwards-Leeper, a clinical psychologist who works with queer and trans kids, what has changed over time are the parents views of their children. Dr. Edwards-Leeper states, When there’s no judgment, kids are more likely to feel free to explore.’  Do you agree with this statement or not? Provide reasons for your answers.
  10. The parents in this article provide  strong support to their kids. In your opinion, is this how parents should be?  Would you support your child if they wanted to be a drag star?  Why or why not?

Group Projects:

Facing History has a wonderful feature called Identity Charts:  Identity charts are a graphic tool that can help students consider the many factors that shape who we are as individuals and as communities. Use identity charts to deepen students’ understanding of themselves, groups, nations, and historical and literary figures. Sharing their own identity charts with peers can help students build relationships and break down stereotypes. In this way, identity charts can be used as an effective classroom community-building tool.”

The New York Times has a free hand-out of the chart here

To learn more about the history of drag, watch the video ‘The History of Drag’ hosted by Trixie Mattel HERE

ANSWER KEY

 

Category: Culture, Drag, People, Social Issues | Tags: ,

Should Students See Themselves in the Books They Read?

“Reading books by Latina writers taught me our stories were worthy of being told.” V. Matir, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Jump Rope – The author and her family at Palmetto Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in June 1983. Credit: Meryl Meisler

 

Excerpt: I Was ‘Too Much’ for Boarding School. But I Had the Garcia Sisters.

“I grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in the 1980s, in what felt like a forgotten neighborhood.  Abandoned buildings loomed over piles of garbage and rubble. Playgrounds were overrun by drug dealers. But for me, Bushwick was a place imbued with my culture.

A piraguero (pronounced pee‐rah GWAY‐row)—one of a breed of street vendors that has become a hot‐weather institution in El Barrio

There were piragua carts with multicolored umbrellas selling shaved ice on every corner. The bodeguero Miguel gave my mother credit when our food stamps ran out. The Puerto Rican flag hung from almost every window.

My mother migrated from Honduras to New York in 1971. When I was 2 years old my mother met and fell in love with another woman, Millie, which was then widely considered taboo. Two years later we all moved into a two-bedroom railroad-style apartment.

The paint cracked and peeled off the walls, but we always had food on the table, even if it was white rice, fried eggs and canned corned beef…My life took a turn at 13 when my social studies teacher saw promise in me and suggested I take part in A Better Chance, a program that places low-income minority students in top schools around the country. I applied and was offered a four-year scholarship to attend a boarding-school-type program at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts…

I remember gazing out the window in awe as gorgeous mansions with perfect manicured lawns came into view. I moved into a four-story house with other students complete with a study and fireplace… But I soon realized that I was different. My guidance counselor would often pull me aside and tell me I was ‘too loud’ and ‘too much.’

Two Boys Crossing Gates Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn, Vanessa Mártir

Growing up, I’d read the Sweet Valley High series, Encyclopedia Brown mysteries and all the Judy Blume books. The characters in them didn’t look like me, but I was too young to understand the difference or know it could matter.

One day in my junior year, I was reading on the mezzanine overlooking the cafeteria, when my English professor, Mr. Goddard, approached me. ‘You should read this,’ he said and handed me How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. My eyes stopped at the writer’s name, Julia Alvarez. ‘That’s a Spanish name,’ I thought.

I saw myself reflected in the story of the Garcia sisters, who had fled to the United States from the Dominican Republic with their parents. They went to boarding school and, like me, had trouble fitting in. It began to dawn on me that there must be other writers like Ms. Alvarez out there. I asked teachers for recommendations and dug through the library shelves on campus.

Later I would discover the work of Gloria Anzaldúa, Cherríe Moraga, Sandra Cisneros.

What was missing for me was the narrative of the Latina who left the ’hood to pursue an education only to find that she no longer fit in anywhere. I was too loud at boarding school and a sellout in the place I had once called home.

For years I’d chronicle my joys and heartbreaks in journals and scribble down poems on napkins at bars. On weekends I’d go to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. I was in awe of the poets who read their work aloud. I longed to be that brave. I was the only one of my siblings to graduate from college… When I learned I was pregnant in 2003, something inside me shifted. I wanted my daughter to learn by watching her mamá that she could live out her dreams. I dusted off my journals and wrote throughout my pregnancy. My first novel,  A Woman’s Cry, was published in 2007, three years after she was born. After my novel was published I sought out other writers of color. At last I found a place where I felt I belonged.

My mother still lives in the same apartment in Bushwick. The neighborhood is no longer reminiscent of a war zone…I buy my daughter, who is now 15 years old, books by writers like Elizabeth Acevedo, Jacqueline Woodson and Gabby Rivera. I teach writing in neighborhoods like the one I grew up in. I know from experience that when children see positive images of themselves reflected in front of the classroom, in books and on the big screen, it can make all the difference. This is how change happens, and it’s how we create a country in which all of us feel we belong. One story at a time.”

 

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. Abandoned buildings loomed over piles of garbage and rubble
  2. For me, Bushwick was a place imbued with my culture.
  3. My mother migrated from Honduras to New York in 1971.
  4. She fell in love with another woman which was then widely considered taboo.
  5. The program placed low-income minority students in top schools.
  6. I remember gazing out the window in awe.
  7. Rosie Perez as Tina in the 1989  film Do The Right Thing was the only exposure to a Latina I had.
  8. One day in my junior year, I was reading on the mezzanine overlooking the cafeteria.
  9. I saw myself reflected in the story of the Garcia sisters.
  10. For years I’d chronicle my joys and heartbreaks in journals.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,as, across, around,by, during,for, from, in, into,of, on,to, over,off, through, up,with, since,

Additional Prepositions:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_prepositions

I grew up___Bushwick, Brooklyn, ___the 1980s,___what felt like a forgotten neighborhood.

Abandoned buildings loomed ___piles ___garbage and rubble.

My mother migrated ___Honduras___New York___1971.

My life took a turn___13 when my social studies teacher saw promise___me.

Millie’s brother drove me___school ___a beat-up blue Pentecostal church van.

I saw myself reflected___the story___ the Garcia sisters, who had fled ___the United States___the Dominican Republic ___their parents.

 

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. The author grew up in Manhattan, in the 1980s.
  2. The playgrounds were overrun by happy children.
  3. The grocer  Miguel gave the author’s mother credit when their food stamps ran out.
  4. Her mother migrated from  Puerto Rico to New York in 1971.
  5. The mother fell in love with an American man.
  6. The author was offered  a four-year scholarship to Wellesley High School in Massachusetts.
  7. While at Wellesley, the author realized that  she was just like the other students.
  8. Her English professor, Mr. Goddard introduced her to the book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, by Julia Alverez.
  9. For years she would chronicle her  joys and heartbreaks in journals.
  10. The author’s  mother still lives in the same apartment in Bushwick.

 

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. In your opinion is it important for students to feel  represented by the books they are reading? Why or why not?
  2. Do you see yourself in the books that you read? Name the books.
  3. Are there any authors that you particularly like to read?  Why?
  4. The author states, “Mr. Goddard, approached me. ‘You should read this,’ he said and handed me How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. My eyes stopped at the writer’s name, Julia Alvarez. ‘That’s a Spanish name” Are there authors from your own country that you enjoy reading? Who are they?
  5. How did you discover the authors that you identify with?
  6. In your opinion, who should be responsible for introducing students to books with which they can identify? For example, parents, teachers, librarians or someone else?
  7. Name at least two things that you have learned form reading this article.

ANSWER KEY