Hands-on English current events activityfor ESL

June 2003

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Reading and listening activity:
A Reagan Timeline

Dear Instructors:
The news coverage of the Reagan funeral may be somewhat baffling to immigrants and new arrivals here. Jill Kramer, an instructor in Columbus, Ohio, sent us this simple biography of the former president which she wrote for her intermediate-level students. Putting Reagan's key dates on a timeline gives students a structured listening activity but also gives them a way to put these events into a personal or historical context. We are grateful to Jill for sharing this lesson with us, and we hope you will find it useful with your students.
--Anna Silliman, Editor.

Jill's teaching notes:
Read the story aloud to your students. Read slowly and repeat several times. You may need to pre-teach some of the vocabulary, depending on your students. If you have newspaper and magazine articles with pictures, bring them in to show the students--this will enhance the lesson.
For beginning or literacy level students, use the dictation-style version of the story below. It has blanks for the dates so the students can fill these in as they listen.
For intermediate level students, ask the students to draw a timeline as they listen. Use a blank sheet of paper turned sidewise with a line drawn across it. As they listen, the students put the dates and events on the line. Then they can use this information to write their own paragraph about Reagan. (They can write this story on the same sheet, under the timeline.)
To make this activity easier, have the students write only the dates on the timeline as they listen to the story. Then, give them the event strips (below) and have them put these in the correct order, matching each event with the correct date.
(See some suggestions for follow-up activities at the end of this lesson, below)

 


A Reagan Timeline.

Ronald Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Illinois. He graduated from Eureka College in 1932. From 1932 to 1937 he worked as a radio announcer in Iowa. He became an actor. He acted in his first movie in 1937. During World War Two, from 1942 to 1945, Reagan made Air Force training movies. After the war he continued to act in movies. In 1954 he married Nancy. They had two children. Reagan became interested in politics. In 1962 he joined the Republican party. Reagan was elected governor of California in 1966. He was governor for 8 years. In 1980 he was elected president of the USA. He started the job in January 1981. He was re-elected in 1984. After being president for 8 years, Reagan returned to California. He got a disease called Alzheimer's and told the American people about it in 1994. Reagan died on June 5, 2004. He was 93 years old.


Here are the main events of Reagan's life from the story. You can print these, make multiple copies, then cut the sentences into strips and shuffle them. The students can put these in the correct order, then use the event information to complete their timeline, matching each event to the correct date.

Ronald Reagan was born in Illinois.

He graduated from Eureka College.

He worked as a radio announcer in Iowa.

He became a movie actor.

During World War Two he made Air Force training movies.

He married Nancy. They had two children.

Reagan joined the Republican party.

Reagan was elected governor of California..

He was elected president of the USA.

He was re-elected and was president for 8 years.

Reagan returned to California.

He told the American people about his disease.

Reagan died when he was 93 years old.


Use the version below for beginning students--all the dates and numbers have been replaced with blanks. They can listen carefully to the story and fill in the correct numbers. This might be good preparation for the timeline activity, above.

A Reagan Timeline.

Ronald Reagan was born on February 6, ________ in Illinois. He graduated from Eureka College in _______. From ________ to _______ he worked as a radio announcer in Iowa. He became an actor. He acted in his first movie in ________. During World War _____ , from ________ to _________ , Reagan made Air Force training movies. After the war he continued to act in movies. In ________ he married Nancy. They had _____ children. Reagan became interested in politics. In ________ he joined the Republican party. Reagan was elected governor of California in _______. He was governor for _______ years. In ________ he was elected president of the USA. He started the job in January ________. He was re-elected in ________. After being president for _______ years, Reagan returned to California. He got a disease called Alzheimer's and told the American people about it in ______. Reagan died on June 5, ________. He was _______ years old.

 


Possible follow-up activities:

  • Have the students make a timeline of their own lives and use that to write a paragraph about themselves.
  • For advanced level students, look at the Reagan timeline and find other events for his important dates. For example, what else was happening in 1937? (Hitler was gaining power in Germany; my father was 3 years old; etc.)
  • Help the students research the names and terms of presidents from Reagan to the current president.
  • Discuss some of Reagan's policies and actions. Students might find this information in newspaper and magazine accounts. For example, appointing the first female US Supreme Court justice, firing the air traffic controllers who were on strike, the Grenada invasion, Star Wars, etc.
  • Ask the students to write about a leader of their native country.


As always I am interested to hear what you and your students are doing in the classroom, and I welcome comments and teaching suggestions.--Anna Silliman,


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