“With kids needing so much help in remote learning, we may be pushed to become the parents we never wanted to be.” D. Braff, New York Times, Sept. 28, 2020
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: The New Helicopter Parents Are on Zoom By Danielle Braff, The New York Times Sept. 28, 2020
“On the first day of remote learning, my daughter was nervous she’d press the wrong button. So I pulled up a chair next to her bedroom desk and she and I began third grade. The school has set up a system called Schoology, which connects every caregiver with their child’s schoolwork. Every time she (and I) submitted an assignment, my phone dinged, signaling that I may (and should?) check on her work… Welcome to e-learning, where some parents have become reluctant helicopters, circling their kids as they attempt to learn, helping them with their every move…Andrea Cordts Pastin, a senior content manager for an SEO agency, moved a video baby monitor next to her 6-year-old so she could listen to class as she works in another room. “We have to listen in to see if the teacher gives her instructions for the independent learning times,” she said…The issue is that most younger students tend to be unable to manage remote learning on their own regardless of the teacher’s proficiency, said Beyhan Farhadi, a postdoctoral visitor at York University in Toronto, who researches online learning, education policy and equity…It may be difficult for parents, but this helicoptering approach — deliberate or not — can be tough on teachers as well… Some parents chime in during class to offer lesson recommendations, said Natasha Brejnak, the parent of a first-grader at a Chicago public school…’Everyone has a preference for what more effective teaching would be and knows their child very well.”
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 60 minutes.
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: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- On the first day of remote learning, many children are nervous.
- Welcome to e-learning, where some parents have become reluctant helicopters.
- Many parents can be found sitting adjacent to their children in front of the computers.
- Parents claim that instructions can be confusing for six-year-olds.
- Any independence children have developed has gone completely out the window.
- Grown-ups will need to help with everything from getting the child logged on to solving any technical problems.
- We often underestimate the role of the adult in the room.
- Reluctant learners are less likely to advocate for themselves.
- Some parents chime in during class to offer lesson recommendations.
- In a virtual environment, the teacher is still responsible for instruction and guidance.
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- Some parents has become reluctant helicopters.
- Any independence she had built up has gone.
- A grown-up needs to help with everything.
- We often underestimate the role of the adult.
- Some parents sit on their kids all day.
- Riggs had been a part-time church choir director.
- Some parents chime on during class.
- Many teachers are grateful for all the help they receive from parents.
- Kids this age need to be redirected and encouraged.
Reading Comprehension: Identify The Speakers
Directions: Read the following quotes from speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.
- “We have to listen in to see if the teacher gives her instructions for the independent learning times.”
- “A grown-up will need to help with everything from getting the child logged on, redirecting them to focus, and solving any technical problems.”
- “The first couple of days last week, I didn’t even eat or take a shower.”
- “Everyone has a preference for what more effective teaching would be and knows their child very well, but I feel that’s just not a realistic expectation…”
- “I know most of them are working remotely as they assist their child,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of helicopters.”
Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- Why did the author sit next to her kid during online school?
- What does Schoology mean?
- Why do they call these parents “helicopter” parents?
- Why does Ms. Pastin leave a baby monitor next to her child when the 6-year-old is online in class?
- According to Ms. Pastin, why does this take away from her kid’s independence?
- According to Dr. Farhadi why is adult support needed for a child’s online learning experience?
- Why would an adult be needed for play-based activities?
- What did the organization FlexJobs find out in their study of parents and job hours?
- In general how do teachers feel about parents involvement in their children’s online schooling?
- According to Ms. Brejnak, what is the major problem with parents being online with their kids?
- How does teacher Lorena Rojas feel about parents involvement in online teaching?
- After reading the article, do you think ‘helicopter’ parents are helpful or a hindrance to online learning? Provide reasons for your answers.
Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.