Lesson Packets

In honor of our 20th Anniversary, we are creating lesson packets with Change Agent articles from across issues. Check back to see as new packets are added. Have you mined The Change Agent for interesting groupings of articles? Send us your ideas! If your lesson idea is selected, we would like to share it with others and give you a free one-year individual subscription in return. Is there a topic you would like to see us explore? Contact us and let us know about it.

These lesson packets are freely available for you to download, edit, and use. We hope that you’ll sign up for our mailing list so that we can notify you when new lesson packets or other resources are added to the site.

Lesson Packets

  1. Learn Writing by Studying a Writer
  2. Exploring Ratio by Looking at Prison Statistics
  3. Thinking About Becoming a CNA?
  4. Workplace Safety – Learn It and Teach It
  5. Reading Partners
  6. Celebrating Freedom on Juneteenth: Reading Closely, Studying Further, and Learning Mechanics at Three Levels
  7. Joys and Challenges of Holidays: Gathering Evidence from the Text
  8. Write to the Writer by Gale Czerski
  9. Making Sense of Extreme Inequality (and Scaffolding to Complex Text)
  10. Taking Action at Work
  11. Race and Voting Rights in 2016: Lesson Ideas
  12. Facing Racism
  13. Women Dealing with Domestic Violence
  14. Homework Swap
  15. Hair Care Recipes
  16. Using Math to Start a Poultry Farm
  17. Indigenous People’s issue: Beginning Literacy Adaptations
  18. Summer Reading Log
  19. Become a Census 2020 Ambassador
  20. Help Someone Understand the Census (beginner, intermediate and advanced)
  21. How to Fill Out the Questionnaire
  22. Avoid Hoaxes, Scams, and Rumors
  23. Become a Voting Ambassador — in Print and Google Slides
  24. Voter Suppression vs. Fraud — in Print and Google Slides
  25. “Pandemic Haircut” — in Print, Google Slides, and Audio
  26. Teach about Race in the Adult Ed. Classroom — 4 Google Slide Presentations
  27. Stories from Mental Health: Learning, Coping, Healing — Google Slide Presentation
  28. Career Exploration Packets — nursing, peer counseling, and transferable skills
  29. What Pushes and What Pulls Immigrants to the U.S.? — includes a collection of articles and an adaptable graphic organizer for taking notes
  30. Teach about the Upcoming Elections (2024)
  31. Climate Change Refugees — Numeracy, Literacy, and Science
  32. Including LGBTQ Voices in the Classroom


PACket 1: Learn Writing by Studying a Writer

T. Lovett ArticleOur first in a new series of teacher resources is an exploration of three articles written by Timothy Lovett published in three different issues of The Change Agent (Good Jobs, Not Just Any Jobs; All About Food; and Prisons and Justice?) The articles are accompanied by a lesson plan that is aligned to the College and Career Readiness Standards. This lesson plan zeroes in on writing anchor standards 1-5, breaking them down into plain English, providing you with a way to teach them to students, and offering student writing that models the anchor standards for your learners. You, as the teacher, get a clear-cut way to address standards, and your students get the added motivation of learning the standards not from an expert, but from someone just like them — a student who is modeling increasing mastery of writing skills — and at the same time writing about interesting topics in a sometimes humorous and always compelling way.

Download Packet 1: Teach Writing by Studying Writers

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Packet 2: Exploring Ratio by Looking at Prison Statistics

prison population graph

This lesson is meant to supplement instruction on ratio and is aimed at those who are comfortable or getting comfortable at Level C in the CCR standards. This lesson first explores ratio and then offers students the opportunity to think critically about ratio in the context of socially relevant data presented in two kinds of charts. Answer sheets are provided – for the teacher’s reference only or to share with students – your choice.

Download Packet 2: Exploring Ratio by Looking at Prison Statistics 

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Packet 3: Thinking About Becoming a CNA?

lesson3This lesson is designed to provide CCR-aligned activities in the context of content that provides information about work as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). The readings are GLE 5-8.

Download Packet 3: Thinking About Becoming a CNA?

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Packet 4: Workplace Safety — Learn It and Teach It


This lesson is designed to increase reading, math, and presentation skills in the context of materials that explain health and safety laws as well as specific practices that workers – particularly those in environmental services or housekeeping – can use to stay safe on the job. Since one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it, this lesson plan includes the opportunity for students to teach what they have learned.

Download Packet 4: Workplace Safety – Learn It and Teach It

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Packet 5: Reading Partners

students at tableThis rich lesson packet provides relevant reading and writing opportunities, builds relationships between immigrant students and other receiving community members, and helps English Language Learners connect with community resources. In “Reading Partners,” English language learners and members of receiving communities read one or two selected articles from The Change Agent and then use the writing prompts to engage in an exchange of ideas, experiences, and perspectives about the article topic. There are eight articles to choose from – articles about moving to a new community, work, health, schooling and parenting.

The aim of this activity is to use text as a way to get people from different communities talking (through writing) about topics of common interest. Programs that have partnerships with local organizations can use the activities to bring students into conversation with these partners (health care providers who want to connect with immigrants about health, employers who are interested in hiring immigrants, etc.). However, there are many opportunities to communicate across communities right in our own programs: this activity could be carried out by ABE and ESL classes that partner to read and correspond about the same articles, by program volunteers that partner with students, or by diverse student pairs in one classroom.

Download Packet 5: Reading Partners

Packet 5 Tech Tip: Converting a Lesson to Integrate Technology

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PACKET 6: celebrating freedom on juneteenth: Reading closely, studying further, and learning mechanics at three levels

“Juneteenth at Oak Bluffs” by Sonia Sadler. Used with permission from Inez Sadler.

“Juneteenth at Oak Bluffs” by Sonia Sadler. Used with permission from Inez Sadler.

“Juneteenth” is the celebration of June 19, 1865, when slaves in Texas learned they were free – two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. This activity includes text (at three different grade level equivalents or GLEs) and art work. The text shares a family’s oral account of being slaves in Texas in 1865 when word of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached them, a description of Juneteenth celebrations in Texas, and the ways an artist has preserved family history with her artwork. Students also have a chance to look at and analyze two full-color paintings by Sonia Sadler. The text is available at three different levels (GLE 4, 7 and 10). The aim of this activity is to provide students with an engaging, relevant text that allows them to develop key reading and writing skills and knowledge about U.S. history.

Instructions for Lesson packet #6

Download one or more texts for Packet 6: GLE 04, GLE 07, GLE 10

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Packet 7: Joys and Challenges of Holidays: Gathering Evidence from the Text

fireworksUse the graphic organizer we provide (p. 36) or create your own to help students analyze four essays about holidays. They will investigate the text to find what the author says are “fun aspects” of the holiday as well as “challenging aspects” of the holiday, and they will write a paragraph based on the essays. The four essays are: “Christmas Changed” (also available in audio on The Change Agent website) by Diana Solorzano, “Taking the Good with the Bad” by Gregory Parker, “Celebrating Eid” by Nuzhat Jahan, and “My Diwali” by Sue Byman. The holidays also represent diverse religious traditions — Christmas (Christian), Eid (Muslim), and Diwali (Hindu) — so these texts also lend themselves to social studies explorations, such as geography, world religions, immigration patterns, and more. The texts used are levels 7-8 (grade level equivalent). CCR standards addressed are Level D (GLE 6-8.9). The aim of this activity is to provide students with engaging, relevant stories that help them practice the important CCR skill of using evidence from the text to be able to explain what the author is saying.

Download Packet 7: Joys and Challenges of Holidays

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Packet 8: Write to the Writer by Gale Czerski


This lesson packet provides students with the opportunity to write back to Change Agent writers.

Find a description of Lesson Packet 8 here with downloadable articles and worksheets.

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Packet 9: Making sense of Extreme Inequality (and Scaffolding to Complex Text)

income inequality chart

Use these four articles from The Change Agent to examine extreme inequality and to consider the policy changes over the past 50 years that have increased wealth and income inequality. During the course of this lesson, students will be scaffolded to read a fairly complex text.

Download Packet 9: Making Sense of Extreme Inequality

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PACKET 10: Taking action at work

living wage protestUse this selection (or a subset of the selection) of multi-level articles written
(mostly) by students to teach reading skills and to spark discussion about the role of workers in determining what happens in the workplace.

Download Packet 10: Taking Action at Work

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Packet 11: Race and Voting Rights in 2016: Lesson Ideas

Use the context of this election year to explore voting rights in the past and present. This packet includes pre- and post-activities, the hands-on History of Voting Rights activity, a link to a history of voting rights video, an article by Andy Nash on race and voting rights, and more stories and facts and figures about current voting restrictions.

Download level 10 version for advanced learners.
Download level 6 version for intermediate learners.

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Packet 12: Facing Racism

White supremacist rallies, anti-immigrant jargon, and acts of racism, islamophobia, and anti-semitism — these frightening realities mark the beginning of the school year in 2017. As your program gets back into full gear this fall, please consider ways to infuse these high-quality, relevant materials into your classroom. They will help provide a safe and welcoming culture in your program, and they are effective ESOL and ABE teaching tools. These teacher-designed materials are associated with the “Talking about Race” issue of The Change Agent (Issue #42). To access that issue, you need a Username and PW, which you can get be purchasing an online subscription. To teach the lessons provided below, however, you don’t need to do anything except click on the link. All the materials are freely provided.

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Packet 13: women dealing with domestic violence

This packet contains three articles from Issue #19 of The Change Agent, “Women and Literacy.” Two of the articles by practitioners reveal the effect of violence and domestic abuse on women learners. A third article, written by a learner, tells a story of trauma and resilience.

Download Packet 13: Women Dealing with Domestic Violence

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Packet 14: Homework swap

The activity in this packet is modeled after the famous “Yankee Swap” party game. In this version, participants draw an assignment and then can swap assignments if there’s one they prefer – so there are lots of opportunities for students to talk to each other as they navigate all the swapping.

Download Packet 14: Homework Swap

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Packet 15: Hair Care RECIPES

Use this collection of homemade of hair care recipes to practice reading, writing, and math. Take it further by creating a class recipe book of DIY personal care products and perhaps making some in class to use and/or share as gifts.

Download Packet 15: Hair Care Recipes

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Packet 16: using math to start a poultry farm

This true story about starting a poultry farm, written by an immigrant learner in Colorado, is a great way to teach math, reading, writing, and spreadsheet skills in a real-world context.

Download the article with discussion questions and math problems and the solutions and extensions. Get the adaptable Excel spreadsheet here and the adaptable worksheet (in Word) here

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Packet 17: indigenous people’s issue: beginning literacy adaptations

This 13-page packet contains five pieces, all written at about a fourth grade equivalency level. All the pieces (except for the first) are adapted from articles that appear in the “Indigenous Peoples” issue of The Change Agent. If your class is multi-level, you can teach from different levels of the same piece.

Download Packet 17: Beginning Literacy Adaptations

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Packet 18: summer reading log

Keep your students engaged with reading this summer by sharing this resource with them: a log of Change Agent articles that they read and listened to using our online audio.

Download Packet 18: Summer Reading Log

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Packet 19: Become a 2020 Census ambassador

This packet teaches skills aligned to the College and Career Readiness Standards, with a focus on determining the main idea, pointing to evidence in the text and using evidence in your own writing, using multiple sources, learning vocabulary and knowledge of history and U.S. government, as well as presentation skills, listening, and verbally responding to questions. The articles and activities in the packet are designed to help people become Census Ambassadors by giving them:
• background on the census
• information about protecting the privacy of those who fill out the census
• an opportunity to brainstorm about ways to spread the word as Census Ambassadors
• tips & tricks for being an effective Census Ambassador + model for tracking & reflecting on the experienceA Census Ambassador is someone who understands some of the basics about the census, and as a result, feels prepared to talk to people in formal and informal settings about filling out the census. We’ve included multi-level articles, which teachers can mix and match depending on the literacy level(s) in their class. Also included: authentic documents from census.gov. These documents offer additional opportunities for students to tackle harder texts that include more visual complexity.

Download Packet 19: Become a Census 2020 Ambassador

Census Planning and Tracking Grid. — Download Word doc and adapt as needed.

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Packet 20: help someone understand the census

The purpose of this packet is to teach census basics, so that a student could explain what they learn to someone else. Thanks to the National Coalition for Literacy for generously supporting the development of these materials.

  • The beginner packet has articles that have been adapted to be accessible for students reading at grade-level-equivalent 4. The After-You-Read activities are designed for beginners.
  • The intermediate packet has a mix of articles from Level 4 to Level 6. The After-You-Read activities are modified to be intermediate level.
  • The advanced packet has the same readings as the intermediate packet, but it includes the option to do additional research and learn more about how to evaluate the credibility of online sources, and it has more options for how to present the information learned.

Download Packet 20: Help Someone Understand the Census (beginner, intermediate, or advanced)

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Packet 21: how to fill out the questionnaire

This beginner-level lesson packet supports students to fill out the 2020 census questionnaire in three different ways. Both the PDF and online questionnaires are near exact replicas of the Census Bureau’s versions, except they are shorter. The paper copy has vocabulary and explanations on p. 2 of this packet. The online version has vocabulary and explanations embedded in the web pages.

Download Packet 21:How to Fill Out the Questionnaire

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Packet 22: avoid hoaxes, scams, and rumors

This intermediate-level lesson packet gives students a chance to work on reading, writing, and speaking and listening skills in the context of relevant, timely information about protecting against fraud during the 2020 census.

Download Packet 22: Avoid Hoaxes, Scams, and Rumors

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Packet 23: Become a Voting Ambassador

This 10-page packet guides teachers to train students to be Voting Ambassadors. Students learn basics about voting — the issues and the procedures — and decide whether they’d like to take on the project of supporting others in their community to register and vote. Special attention given to carrying out this project-based learning opportunity safely during the pandemic. And we include a special article about voting during uncertain times. It is mostly intermediate- to advanced-level, and it gives students a chance to work on reading, writing, and speaking and listening skills in the context of a highly (!) relevant civics moment.

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Packet 24: voter suppression vs. Fraud

During the 2020 election, we are hearing a lot about both voter suppression and voter fraud. What are they? How should we evaluate the claims about them? This 5-page lesson packet offers some definitions and activities on this topic, and asks students to develop their own questions and then research the answers.

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Even though the pandemic has been catastrophic for so many people, student writers in the Pandemic issue of The Change Agent note the ways it has brought gifts. In this example, a student from Rhode Island says the pandemic makes her feel like “we are in a war.” Yet she goes on to describe how she and her husband found an opportunity to “laugh and be joyful.” For her, it happened when her husband asked her to cut his hair. She watched some tutorials on YouTube and then sat her husband on a stool in the bathtub where he got his first pandemic haircut. For your classroom, mix and match these three ways of accessing the article and activities.

  1. Download a PDF of the article.
  2. Open a Google slides version of the article.
  3. Listen to an audio version of the article.

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PACKET 26: Teach about race in the adult education classroom

These four Google Slide Presentations were developed by Riva Pearson (JVS) and Cynthia Peters (World Education) for teachers to copy and adapt and use in their remote or in-person classroom.

  1. Black Lives Matter — high intermediate ESOL
  2. Talking to the Police — high intermediate ESOL
  3. Introduction to Racism in the U.S. — high intermediate ESOL
  4. Equality vs. Equity — can be adapted for various levels

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PACKET 27: Stories from Mental Health — Learning, Coping, Healing

This Google Slide Presentation was developed by Cynthia Peters and Ebony Vandross (World Education) for teachers to copy and adapt and use in their remote or in-person classroom. Three more Google Slide presentations from the “Mental Health” issue (#52) are available, but you need an online subscription to access them.

  1. “No Sick Days? That’s Bad for Your Physical and Mental Health”

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PACKET 28: career exploration packets — nursing, peer counseling, transferable skills

These four packets are collected from Issue #53 plus other issues of The Change Agent.

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PACKET 29: what pushes and what pulls immigrants to the U.S.?

This packet of four articles from Issue #56 of The Change Agent explore various reasons why immigrants leave their country of origin and what draws them to the U.S. The last page of the packet is a graphic oranizer, where students can take notes about what “pushes” and what “pulls” immigrants to the U.S. (To extend this activity to include a digital literacy component, use this Google doc version of the graphic organizer. This version is “view only.” To adapt it and/or to share it with your students, you must make a copy of it or download it.)

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PACKET 30: Teach about the upcoming elections (2024)

Train Students to Become Voting Ambassadors
Training students to be Voting Ambassadors is a great way to engage in civics, practice speaking and listening in relevant and authentic contexts, learn digital skills, gain transferable skills, and develop leadership. This activity is aligned with IELCE requirements and other standards. Use this set of Google slides to get started. (It includes a link to a Google doc worksheet that helps students plan, take action, and reflect on their work.) More materials forthcoming in early 2024.

Teach the History of Voting Rights
This 9-page PDF includes a dynamic activity and video that teach the history of voting rights, an article about race and voting rights, and a worksheet that helps the student assess what they’ve learned and take it further.

Explore the Difference between Voter Suppression and Fraud
See Lesson Packet #24 above.

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PACKET 31: Climate Refugees — numeracy, literacy, and science

This packet includes two articles by students about how climate change is a factor in creating refugees, one article giving background on how carbon affects our atmosphere, and a Google slideshow (developed by two math specialists) that teaches numeracy in the context of evaluating claims about climate change. Mix and match these resources for your own teaching purposes:
1. Climate Refugees by Efren Macias Ojeda — 2-page PDF with colorful data maps, and pre- and post-reading activities
2. Better Future: At Home, There Are No Jobs, The Cities Are Unsafe, and The Rivers Run Dry by Hortensia Reza — 2 page PDF with reading, writing, and pronunciation activities
3. The Earth’s Atmosphere: Thinner than the Skin of an Apple — 1 page PDF picture story that explains how carbon affects the atmosphere
4. Climate Refugees — an adaptable slideshow that combines the content from #1 and #3 above and presents it (with more images and activities) in the Google slides
5. Math in Text: Hortensia’s Story — a Google slides numeracy lesson that uses excerpts from “Better Future” (#2 above) to create a lesson around reading and understanding numbers in text
ALSO…check out The Change Agent’s Issue #27, “Making Sense of Climate Change”

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PACKET 32: Including LGBTQ voices in the classroom

Many of our students are LGBTQ, but they don’t often see themselves reflected in the reading materials we bring into the classroom. This collection of three articles takes a step towards correcting that. Note: the levels are grade-level equivalents (GLE).

  1. “What Would You Do If I Was Gay?” My Brother Said He Would Disown Me
    by Anonymous — GLE 5
  2. Fight on ‘Til the End
    by Annette Bowen — GLE 7
  3. Different from Other Girls
    by Sun Young Kim — GLE 6

For ideas about how to respond to homophobia if/when it shows up in your classroom, check out these two Change Agent articles written by teachers (“Coming Out to Students” by Deborah Schwartz, and “Homophobia in the Classroom” by Cynthia Peters). In each, they share their strategies for handling challenging situations. The best practices for talking about race in the classroom offered by Lisa Gimbel and Riva Pearson in this article are also excellent best practices for talking about gender and sexuality. As always, teachers are the best judge of when and how to bring up topics that may bring a range of responses in the classroom.

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