“What is college? To Madison Comer, a confident 6-year-old, it is a very big place. It’s tall, she explained, It’s like high school but it’s higher… Matriculation is years away for the Class of 2030, but the first graders in Kelli Rigo’s class at Johnsonville Elementary School in rural Harnett County, N.C., already have campuses picked out. Three have chosen West Point and one Harvard. In a writing assignment, the children will share their choice and what career they would pursue afterward.” L.Pappanofeb, NYT
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Is Your First Grader College Ready?Laura Pappanofeb,NYT
“The future Harvard applicant wants to be a doctor. She can’t wait to get to Cambridge because “my mom never lets me go anywhere. The mock applications they’ve filled out are stapled to the bulletin board. The age-old question is: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ You always ask kids that,” Ms. Rigo said. We need to ask them, ‘How will you get there? Even if I am teaching preschool, the word ‘college’ has to be in there.
It’s sort of like, if you want your kids to be in the Olympics or to have the chance to be in the Olympics, said Wendy Segal, a tutor and college planner in Westchester County, N.Y., you don’t wait until your kid is 17 and say, ‘My kid really loves ice skating.’ You start when they are 5 or 6. Credit President Obama and the Common Core Standards for putting the college and career ready mantra on the lips of K-12 educators across the country. Or blame a competitive culture that has turned wide-open years of childhood into a checklist of readiness skills. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that college prep has hit the playground set.
Research shows that the college advantage is growing only for students from educated, high-income families…while it has barely moved (from 6 percent to 9 percent) for low-income students. The college project, this year adopted by all five first-grade classes, has pleased some parents and puzzled others. One, Lora Collins, a Kansas State graduate, thought the college talk was useful. For many local families, she said, it is just not in their mind, in their thought process, to think about going to college.
A few have not been so receptive, complaining that students should be focusing on reading, writing and math. Young children simply cannot understand what college is, according to Marcy Guddemi, executive director of the Gesell Institute of Child Development. You may as well be talking about Mars. It’s totally meaningless. We are robbing children of childhood by talking about college and career so early in life…Not every child will go to college. That is just a fact. Equating degree-earning with success may set up some to feel like failures.
Children need to make mistakes and find themselves in dead ends and cul-de-sacs,” said Joan Almon, a founder of the Alliance for Childhood who worries that the early focus cuts short self-exploration. I’m concerned that we are putting so much pressure around college that by the time they get there they are already burned out…Some agree. A number of colleges refuse to host tours for children in grades below high school, expressing sentiments similar to those on the Boston College website, which notes a desire not to contribute to the college admissions frenzy.”
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 learning new vocabulary. 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: Have students examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of words and ideas that they think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading Tasks
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.
- The future Harvard applicant wants to be a doctor.
- The mock applications are stapled to the bulletin board.
- Blame our competitive culture.
- For a decade they have been taking students to visit campuses.
- Schools want to provide incentive for hard work.
- Now everyone wants to check out higher education options.
- The University of Maryland has been deluged with requests.
- The goal is to get students to picture themselves on campus.
- Children need to make mistakes and find themselves in cul-de-sacs.
- A number of colleges refuse to host tours for children in grades below high school
Directions: Students choose the correct word or phrase to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
“The age-old quest/question is: ‘What do you want/wish to be when you grow up?’ You always axe/ask kids that,” Ms. Rigo said. “We need to ask them, ‘How will you get there?’ Even if I am teaching/teacher preschool, the word ‘college’ has to be in there.” Forget mean/meandering — the messaging/messages now is about coals/goals and focus. “It’s sort of like, if you want your kids to be in the Olympics or to have the change/chance to be in the Olympics,” said Wendy Segal, a tutor/tutu and college planner in Westchester County, N.Y., “you don’t wait until your kid is 17 and say, ‘My kid really loves ice skating.’ You start/begin when they are 5 or 6.”
Grammar Focus: Preposition Exercise
Prepositions: for, of, with, by, in, on, at, to, as, into, over, during,
Directions: The following sentences are from the article. For each sentence choose the correct preposition Note that not all of the prepositions presented will be in the paragraph.
One has only ___search Pinterest ___see the trend. Dozens ___elementary schoolteachers share cute activities that make the road___college___ clear___ ABC. One cut-and-paste work sheet has students using circles and squares___ sequence the steps. There are four: mail your application, get accepted, graduate high school and “move___, go___ class and study hard!” “College weeks” have become___ much a staple of elementary school calendars___ the winter band concert. And campus tours are now popular field trips.
III. Post Reading Tasks
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?
1. The following three statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each one, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.
“Reaching out to children years ahead of serious college consideration can seed brand awareness for the university. Or amp up an already anxiety-laced process. Children need to make mistakes and find themselves in dead ends and cul-de-sacs, said Joan Almon, a founder of the Alliance for Childhood who worries that the early focus cuts short self-exploration. I’m concerned that we are putting so much pressure around college that by the time they get there they are already burned out.”
“A number of colleges refuse to host tours for children in grades below high school, expressing sentiments similar to those on the Boston College website, which notes a desire not to contribute to the college admissions frenzy. In some quarters, that frenzy is well underway by middle school. The perception that it’s harder to get into top colleges has parents starting earlier.”
“The impulse to line up achievements and to consider how a child’s record will play on a college application is contagious, said Mary Meyer, whose sons are in fifth and eighth grades in the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District near Houston. It is the game we are playing these days. It is too much, but I don’t see it changing, so you have to join in or you will be left behind.”
Main Idea / Debate
Directions: Divide students into two teams for this debate. Both teams will use the article as their source of information.
Team A will list five reasons for college prep for 6-year-olds.
Team B will list five reasons against college prep for 6-year-olds.
Each team will have time to state their points of view, and the teacher decides which team made their points.
For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer from Freeology