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. Beginning Literacy Adaptations
  18. Summer Reading Log


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


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 


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?


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


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


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


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


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.

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

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


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.


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 for $20 per year. 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.
  • “Existing While Black”: A Worksheet for ESOL Learners by Lisa Gimbel
    A 4-page worksheet with pre-reading activities (including definition of expressions and practice with expressions, vocabulary, and slang) and post-reading activities (including basics, language review, and comprehension).
  • “Best Practices for Talking about Race” by Lisa Gimbel and Riva Pearson
    A collection wide-ranging tips from personal practice to curriculum to program and community-wide ideas.
  • “Who Paved the Way?” by Kathleen Budway
    Pre- and post-activities (plus handouts) you can use with a short film made by an ESOL teacher in which her students talk about how it affected them to study African-American history and current events.
  • “Preparing My Students to Write about Race” by Hazel Robin
    A teacher shares how she introduced The Change Agent “Call for Articles” on the theme of race. Rather than starting out by asking students to speak from experience, she asks them to conduct research and learn some science behind race. Creating an evidence-based context, she then invites them to respond to The Change Agent writing prompts.
  • “Exploring Racism: Police, Stereotypes, and the Possibility of a Better World” by Manny Reynoso
    A teacher-created lesson that explores the definition of racism and incorporates a first-person story by someone who grew up afraid of the police. Finally, the lesson explores the possibility of a better world — using a video and discussion prompts.
  • “The Construction of Race in the U.S.: An Early History” by Cynthia Peters
    This is a GLE 10 version of the GLE 6 article by the same name that appears on p. 22 of the “Talking about Race” issue. It includes CCR-aligned activities at the end.
  • “Using Sources: Unpacking a Well-Researched Article” by Kathleen O’Connell
    This activity, based on “The ‘Chief Illiniwek’ Half-Time Show” on p. 8 of the Race issue, helps students examine and assess sources.
  • “Race and Voting Rights in 2016: Lesson Ideas” — by Andy Nash and Cynthia Peters
    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. Two versions are available:
    – Race and Voting Rights in 2016 for advanced learners (Level 10)
    – Race and Voting Rights in 2016 for intermediate learners (Level 6)


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

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 

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

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

Packet 17: 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

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