Current Events Round-Up: The Olympics

I love when the Olympics roll around! It’s so much fun to watch all the athletes compete, and I love hearing about sportsmanship and determination. Below are a list of articles and stories that you can use in your ESL classroom if you want to discuss the Olympics! I’ve been talking about it all week with my students, and they are very interested!

There are so many fun things to do with the Olympics in an ESL class. I asked my communication class to discuss which Olympic sports they don’t know anything about, and then had them do some quick research and explain to the class what the rules of the sport are, and how you play it. This was extremely entertaining, and we’re still not quite sure about how curling is played and won!

Most of these stories are appropriate for low-intermediate through advanced ESL classes. For some, you may need to edit for vocabulary if you’d like to use it in the classroom.


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Black History Month: Black Authors

February is Black History Month, so let’s celebrate some of my favorite black authors! Consider using one of these books in your ESL classroom this month or semester and support a black author! I don’t want to make this post too long (because there are so many amazing black authors out there), so look for a follow-up post later in the month!

Note: This post focuses on young adult and middle grade authors/books because that is what I use in my ESL classroom. There are tons of great black authors who write for adults, but I am not as well-versed in those books!


32075671The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

 

Yoon_9780553496680_jkt_all_r1.inddThe Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

 

22859559The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

A spine-tingling tale rooted in Caribbean folklore that will have readers holding their breath as they fly through its pages.

Corinne La Mer isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. They’re just tricksters parents make up to frighten their children. Then one night Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden forest. Those shining yellow eyes that followed her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they?

When Corinne spots a beautiful stranger speaking to the town witch at the market the next day, she knows something unexpected is about to happen. And when this same beauty, called Severine, turns up at Corinne’s house, cooking dinner for Corinne’s father, Corinne is sure that danger is in the air. She soon finds out that bewitching her father, Pierre, is only the first step in Severine’s plan to claim the entire island for the jumbies. Corinne must call on her courage and her friends and learn to use ancient magic she didn’t know she possessed to stop Severine and save her island home.

 

6609764One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

In a humorous and breakout book by Williams-Garcia, the Penderwicks meet the Black Panthers.

 

 

 

33004289Solo by Kwame Alexander

Blade never asked for a life of the rich and famous. In fact, he’d give anything not to be the son of Rutherford Morrison, a washed-up rock star and drug addict with delusions of a comeback. Or to no longer be part of a family known most for lost potential, failure, and tragedy. The one true light is his girlfriend, Chapel, but her parents have forbidden their relationship, assuming—like many—that Blade will become just like his father.

In reality, the only thing Blade has in common with Rutherford is the music that lives inside them. But not even the songs that flow through Blade’s soul are enough when he’s faced with two unimaginable realities: the threat of losing Chapel forever, and the revelation of a long-held family secret, one that leaves him questioning everything he thought was true. All that remains is a letter and a ticket to Ghana—both of which could bring Blade the freedom and love he’s been searching for, or leave him feeling even more adrift.

 

7507944Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

 

35604682Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.

The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.

 

 

 

25566675Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods.

But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.

Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.

 

32793053Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds

“Everyone gets mad at hustlers, especially if you’re on the victim side of the hustle. And Miles knew hustling was in his veins.”

Miles Morales is just your average teenager. Dinner every Sunday with his parents, chilling out playing old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke, crushing on brainy, beautiful poet Alicia. He’s even got a scholarship spot at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Oh yeah, and he’s Spider Man.

But lately, Miles’s spidey-sense has been on the fritz. When a misunderstanding leads to his suspension from school, Miles begins to question his abilities. After all, his dad and uncle were Brooklyn jack-boys with criminal records. Maybe kids like Miles aren’t meant to be superheroes. Maybe Miles should take his dad’s advice and focus on saving himself.

As Miles tries to get his school life back on track, he can’t shake the vivid nightmares that continue to haunt him. Nor can he avoid the relentless buzz of his spidey-sense every day in history class, amidst his teacher’s lectures on the historical “benefits” of slavery and the importance of the modern-day prison system. But after his scholarship is threatened, Miles uncovers a chilling plot, one that puts his friends, his neighborhood, and himself at risk.

 

4419501Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her.

When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots – and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won’t accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of “passing,” of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one’s racial heritage, denying one’s family, denying one’s self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be.

Book Guide Suggestions

Hey everyone!

First, I’d like to say thank you to all of you have been supporting me on Gumroad! I’m really pleased to be able to offer you all a mix of free lesson plans and paid teaching guides.

I’ve noticed that my Esperanza Rising teaching guide has been very popular, and I was wondering if there are any other novels, especially middle grade, that you would like teaching materials for? I tend to make materials for books that I happen to be using in my class, or books I am just reading for fun, but I’d like to meet your needs too!

Let me know if there’s any books you’d like to see ESL teaching materials for by making a comment on this post, or emailing me: eslliteraturelessonplans@gmail.com

Thanks!

Most Anticipated Releases: February 2018

There are so many good books coming out this year, and I want to share a few that might be fun to read with your ESL students! While I haven’t read any of these yet, I look forward to all of them and think they might be appropriate for a variety of ESL or EFL classrooms.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or through email (eslliteraturelessonplans@gmail.com). What books are you looking forward to reading in February?

Note: Most of these are being released in the US. If you are located outside the US and are interested in these books, you will have to check with publishers in your country.


A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena29451548

Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school.  You don’t want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.

This beautifully written debut novel from Tanaz Bhathena reveals a rich and wonderful new world to readers. It tackles complicated issues of race, identity, class, and religion, and paints a portrait of teenage ambition, angst, and alienation that feels both inventive and universal

This book looks incredibly fascinating, and I can’t wait to see how the story plays out. I haven’t read the book, but my students usually tend to like contemporary novels because they can connect with the characters.

35297380American Panda by Gloria Chao

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

I have already shared the title and premise of this book with a few students, and they seemed very interested. One has even preordered it! I can’t wait to get into this book – I think it will work well for an ESL reading class!

34506912The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

This is a graphic novel and looks SO GOOD. I love that it’s a fairy tale, but also deconstructs traditional gender norms. My students are very interested in talking about LGBTQ topics, so this may be a big hit in class!

25797017Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy

At the start of 1991, eleven-year-old Ali Fadhil was consumed by his love for soccer, video games, and American television shows. Then, on January 17, Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein went to war with thirty-four nations lead by the United States.

Over the next forty-three days, Ali and his family survived bombings, food shortages, and constant fear. Ali and his brothers played soccer on the abandoned streets of their Basra neighborhood, wondering when or if their medic father would return from the war front. Cinematic, accessible, and timely, this is the story of one ordinary kid’s view of life during war.

I’m very intrigued by the premise of this book. I think it’s based on a true story (from the co-author). I may end up using this one for a future reading guide, depending on the content. I really enjoy books based on actual historical events.

The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta32618983

MEET KIRANMALA: INTERDIMENSIONAL DEMONSLAYER

(But she doesn’t know it yet.)

On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey… until her parents mysteriously vanish later that day and a rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents’ fantastical stories—like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess—and a wealth of secrets about her origin they’ve kept hidden.

To complicate matters, two crushworthy Indian princes ring her doorbell, insisting they’re here to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There she must solve riddles and slay demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld (who may or may not want to kill her) and the rakkhosh queen (who definitely does) in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it…

This book looks like great fun, and I know my students always love a story with a lot of action and adventure!

Current Events: Active Volcano in the Philippines

There is currently an active volcano in the Philippines that might possibly erupt. What are people doing to stay safe? What are the dangers of living near a volcano? Read through this article and worksheet to learn more about this situation.

Edit: I wrote this article yesterday, when the volcano was threatening to erupt, but it looks like it has erupted after all. Check out an update here from NPR.


Click here for this free current events lesson plan!

Volcano

Current Events: False Ballistic Missile Warning Shakes Hawaii

This past week, all people living in Hawaii were sent a notification on their phone and through the news. This notification said that there was an incoming missile, and that all Hawaiians should look for shelter. There was actually no missile, so why was this notification sent? How did the people of Hawaii react? Read through this lesson plan and article to learn more about this event!

This lesson is best suited for a college-level intermediate ESL reading class. Depending on your class, this lesson runs about 30 minutes.


Click here for this free current events lesson plan!

(On Gumroad, you have to put in a dollar amount, so just put in $0 in this box, and you’re good to go!

FalseMissile

Current Events: Oprah for President 2020?

After receiving a prestigious award at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, many Americans are calling for Oprah to run for president in 2020. Is this a good idea, or not?

This lesson features an article from CNN edited for ESL learners, with some pre-reading questions, vocabulary preview, an active reading activity, vocabulary follow-up, post-reading questions, and a long answer question.

This lesson is best suited for a college-level intermediate ESL reading class. Depending on your class, this lesson runs about 30 minutes.

The lesson is free, so when you click the link, just make sure to type ‘0’ in the price box.


Click here for the free lesson plan ‘Current Events: Oprah for President 2020?’

Oprah202

Remember, if you liked this lesson plan and have used it in class, please consider a small donation on Ko-fi so I can continue creating free content!

Warcross: ESL Teaching Guide

516zrvqj44l-_sx332_bo1204203200_Warcross by Marie Lu was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017, and it met all of my expectations! I LOVED this story, and thought it was a very fun and exciting read!

If you are teaching an ESL high-intermediate to advanced reading class this upcoming semester, consider using Warcross. The book takes place in a world where a virtual reality game (called Warcross) is so popular that 90% of the world’s population play the game in some way. The book tells the story of Emika Chen, a hacker who accidentally glitches herself into the opening game of the international Warcross championship tournament. If you have students like mine (mostly 18-21 years old, from Asian countries), they will definitely connect with the video game obsessed characters and virtual reality story line! There’s a lot of action, a little bit of romance, and plenty of topics that will lend themselves well to classroom discussion.

Warcross is an especially great book is you are considering gamifying your classroom this semester. There are a lot of concepts in the book that lend itself really well to gamifying, and I’ve written some suggestions in the teaching guide. Having a video game-themed semester sounds like a fun way to get students actively involved in learning English!

Click here for a sample of Warcross: ESL Teaching Guide

Click here to purchase the full, 18-page teaching guide!

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New Year, New Semester!

I’ve had a lovely winter break, and I’m trying to muster up the the energy to go back to work next week! One thing that has gotten me excited to go back to work is thinking about my new classes, and what new, exciting things I have in store for them!

Are you heading back to school soon for a new semester? If you’re an ESL reading teacher, are you looking for a novel to teach in your reading class? Check out some of my ESL Teaching Guides for middle grade and young adult novels! I have a mix of free guides and paid guides, and there should be something that will fit your class. Each guide contains (at the least) suggested vocabulary, comprehension questions, and writing/discussion questions. Most of the guides also have suggestions for pre-reading and post-reading activities.

513hgsybygl-_sx337_bo1204203200_A Wrinkle in Time is a classic, and since the new movie is coming out in a few months, this is a timely read for the upcoming semester! This book is best for an intermediate-level reading class, but can be adjusted to a low- or high-intermediate class as well.

A Wrinkle in Time: ESL Teaching Guide

 

 

 

19351043Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is a graphic novel and a quick, fun read! This book starts off light-hearted, but then delves into deeper and darker issues that lend itself well to discussions and writing. This book would be best for a low-intermediate or intermediate class.

Nimona: ESL Teaching Guide

 

 

 

513jeuiztel-_sx321_bo1204203200_Ms. Marvel is an ongoing comic from Marvel detailing the life of super hero teenager Kamala Khan. It’s a really fun read, and teenage or young adult students will easily relate to her character. The file for this contains two teaching guides for the first two books of this series.

Ms. Marvel: ESL Teaching Guide

 

 

 

 

51ly6rgccjl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Inside Out & Back Again is the heartbreaking and uplifting story of a refugee girl who flees from Vietnam to the United States. This story is told in poetry, instead of prose, which students may have to adjust to, but they will relate to the story’s themes of getting used to a new culture.

Inside Out & Back Again: ESL Teaching Guide

 

 

 

esperanza_rising_coverEsperanza Rising tells the story of the author’s grandmother immigrating from Mexico to California in the midst of the Great Depression. The book is geared towards younger readers, but contains universal themes that can be appreciated by all ages.

Esperanza Rising: ESL Teaching Guide

A Wrinkle in Time: An ESL Teaching Guide

Hope you guys are all having a Merry Christmas, if you’re celebrating! I’ve been on winter break for about a week now, and have been working hard on a new teaching guide!


p_awrinkleintime_7533a321

As a kid, A Wrinkle in Time was one of my all time favorite books to read, so you can bet that I am SUPER excited about the new movie coming out in March! This upcoming semester I happen to be teaching a reading class that is the perfect level for reading A Wrinkle in Time, and I can’t wait to introduce this childhood fave to my students. I’m planning on scheduling out the chapters so that we finish the novel right around the time the movie comes out, and I’m going to plan a field trip for us all to see it together!

Since I love this book so much, I’ve put together an ESL Teaching Guide for A Wrinkle in Time. Use this guide with an intermediate-level ESL class to support a class read-through of the novel. This guide contains vocabulary, comprehension questions, and writing/discussion questions for each of the 12 chapters in the novel. It also includes some suggestions for pre-reading and post-reading activities. It is written specifically for a university level intensive English program (since that is where my expertise is), but can be adapted for almost any other scenario.

It is my first paid guide, and is available from Gumroad for only $8 (which is definitely a steal since it saves you from having to write any quiz questions or come up with new activities…I’ve done it all for you)! My hope is to bring you a mix of quality free and paid content in the new year! As always, feel free to leave feedback via comments or email me at eslliteraturelessonplans@gmail.com. Enjoy!

 


Click here to purchase A Wrinkle in Time: ESL Teaching Guide

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