Friday, April 30, 2010

What are your Education Rights?

Sixty years ago in the United States, we had less equality in our schools than we do today. We had segregated schools, so that children from different races did not attend the same schools. There were many "Whites Only" schools, as well as restaurants, parks, hospitals, businesses and neighborhoods. I think you would not be surprised to know that the schools for white children were better in every way  because these schools had better budgets for everything from buildings, books and supplies, libraries and teachers.
We have been learning about the U.S. Constitution, justice, our rights and responsibilities. Today, let's listen to a story about our equal rights and education from the Mendez sisters, whose parents decided to fight against injustice in schools. 

  1. Listen to their storyUse your mouse to stop or rewind the story.
  2. Listen again and answer some questions. We'll check answers together. 
  3. For extra practice, you can also write the words you hear on your class handout.

Work with a classmate to look online for more information about them. The Mendez story is interesting and important.
  • Go to Google. 
  • Type Mendez vs. Westminster. 
  • Look at the first three links.
  • Skim the websites to answer these questions together:
  1. When did the families file the lawsuit because of unconstitutional discrimination in schools?
  2. When did they win the lawsuit?
  3. Where was the lawsuit?
  4. What did Sylvia Mendez do later in her life?
  5. What year was Sylvia Mendez born?
  6. What career did she choose?
  7. When did she go to the White House to meet the President?

Many people discriminate against the poor in many different countries. Other people have noticed that if we can give everyone a fair chance and protection, people who are poor or rich can do well in life. Here is a video from television about an exciting and successful program for poor children. They don't live here in the U.S. but we can learn from their story. Maybe their success can give us some ideas for our schools here. (Sorry, but there is a short commercial at the beginning.)

Do you have a comment or an idea for how to make schools fair and equal? Why do you think it is important to have fairness in education?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Health and Laughter

I read an interesting story in San Francisco Chronicle about jokes and laughter. I read that children laugh more than 300 times a day, and most adults laugh only about 17 times a day! I felt sad when I read that! We all need to laugh. It's good for our health, and good for our minds, too.

Still, many people don't enjoy jokes that hurt another person's feelings. We feel bad about laughing at jokes that insult other people. For example, I do not like jokes about women, gay people, old people,  Asians, Latinos, black people or immigrants! But I still love good jokes.

Sometimes people tell a joke that is unkind, and then they say,
  • "Don't worry, it's just a joke!" or
  • "Can't you take a joke?"
to people who feel hurt or feel insulted.

When we are nervous about telling jokes at work, it's too bad because laughing helps us enjoy our lives. We get nervous, or stressed, and jokes can help us at those times.   I also think it is very good when we can be strong and say we don't like jokes that are insulting to each other. You can tell someone, "I don't like jokes like that!" We can laugh without hurting other people! At work, it's great if you can relax and laugh, but also feel comfortable that everyone feels comfortable and respected.

Look at this comic. Does it give you a little smile? I can always use a joke about computers and technology, can't you?

Also here is a short video from an American comedian, Steve Martin, about learning English. People can be very funny, or sometimes ridiculous when we teach and when we learn. What do you think of the teacher and her student? Can you understand the sentence he is trying to learn to say?

Learning to tell jokes, and beginning to understand jokes is an important and fun part of learning a new language. 
Speaking Practice: Click here to listen to a joke. Then, tell the same joke.

Writing Practice: Do you have a story this week about how humor and laughter help you be a healthy person? How do jokes and laughter help you with take care of stress? Have you ever told a person not to tell insulting jokes? Click on comment and tell us what you think.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our Health

We will listen, read and learn about health insurance and healthy  brains this week. (You can see the cartoon dialogs from last week in last week's lesson. Also, since the cartoons all begin at the same time, you can turn down the sound on your computer or headphones. Then watch them one by one.)

Choose one question and write a comment after you do the lessons, part 1, 2, 3 and 4.  You can write at home if you don't have time in class. You will click on comment down the page to write:
  1. How do you stay healthy? (Don't get sick like me, home with the flu today!)
  2. What is your opinion about health insurance? Did you have good insurance in your home country? Do you have insurance here?
Part One: Listen to this discussion about health insurance. Take the quiz, too. This is an easy listening exercise!

Part Two: Click here to see a diagram of your brain and to hear how to pronounce different parts. A healthy brain will help you learn English, and live better. 

Part Three: Listen to this lesson about the brain and nervous system. 

Part Four: Take this quiz about the brain. There are ten questions. If you can get 7 or 8 correct, that is great. If you don't get 7 or 8 correct, you can watch the lesson from Part Three again. 

Click below to write your comment.
Check your grammar, vocabulary and spelling. 
Your substitute teacher, Anne Huntzinger, can help you.  

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Feedback at Work and Other Places

Although we can feel nervous about feedback, we can also benefit from communication. We can find out how we are doing at work, at school, and with our friends and family. We are finishing our lessons about getting and giving feedback at work in performance reviews. Unless you have an unusual or very casual job in the U.S. you will have a review at your job.

Also, sometimes your boss will give you feedback from time to time about your work. Here is the video that we watched in class on Friday. You can listen again, and pay attention to the "indirect" criticism Joanna gets from her boss about how she dresses at work.

Read our class handout again. Study the new vocabulary. Read the dialog with a classmate.

  1. Watch this cartoon movie. 
  2. Then work with a classmate, and write a dialog. Your dialog can be two people at work, or two neighbors or friends. The dialog topic is "Feedback!" , and one person should give criticism to the other person. Use good grammar. Your dialog should be 6-10 sentences.
  1. Click on this link to make your movie
  2. We will go step by step in class to make one simple movie together so you know how to do it. 
  3. Then make a cartoon movie on your own with the dialog you have written with a classmate today.