Keep America Wild and Beautiful!

“In 1846, when he was 29, Henry David Thoreau tried to climb to the top of Mount Katahdin in Maine. Living in Massachusetts, where the virgin forest was long since cut down, Thoreau had never seen true wilderness, and the sheer power of the wild Maine woods sent him into an ecstasy of spiritual overload. ‘This was that Earth of which we have heard, made out of Chaos and Old Night,’ he proclaimed, rejoicing in the ‘rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks! the solid earth! the actual world! the common sense! Contact! Contact!”‘ R. Powers, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Beautiful painting by Frederic Edwin Church – Mount Katahdin from Millinocket Camp.

 

Excerpt: Keep America Wild, by Richard Powers, the New York Times

“Lost in fog at Katahdin’s upper altitudes and defeated by the rugged mountain, Thoreau never did reach the summit. But his words have lived on in the deepest parts of the American mind, shaping this country’s conscience toward nature. Last year, President Obama designated 87,563 acres of the land that so moved Thoreau as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument — a win for the solid earth, the actual world. In a few weeks, Thoreau will turn 200, giving the nation a cause for celebrating. But just in time for the bicentennial, the  [current] government administration is considering stripping Katahdin Woods and Waters of its new designation.

Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada | by mypubliclands

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited Katahdin this week as part of a systematic review of more than two dozen national monuments being considered for delisting. He’s acting under the executive order of [the current] government administration. Other targets for possible delisting include Basin and Range in Nevada, Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado, Grand Canyon-Parashant in Arizona, Craters of the Moon in Idaho and Giant Sequoia in California.

Canyons of the Ancients, Colorado. Reddit

Grand Canyon-Parashant in Arizona. citydata.com

A few of those locations might arguably have some economic potential beyond their incalculable worth as tourist destinations. The oil and gas industries have begun circling around the culturally significant Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, for example, with hopes of fracking it.

Fantastic Craters of the Moon in Idaho. trip101

To his credit, Secretary Zinke concluded his visit to Katahdin by saying that he, at least, is comfortable with the site remaining in ‘public hands.’ But the fight over this and other monuments across the country is far from over.

Giant Sequoia in California.Daily Nova

In Walden, Thoreau wrote that a ‘man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.’  For Thoreau’s 200th birthday, let’s let the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument — and all those other deeply treasured, absurdly beautiful American vistas — alone. We can afford to.”

“If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.”~Henry David Thoreau~

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance. 

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Thoreau wanted to reach the summit.
  2. His poems helped shaped this country’s conscience toward nature.
  3. President Obama designated Katahdin Woods and Waters a National Monument.
  4. Mount Katahdin stands as the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
  5. Thoreau got lost in fog at Katahdin.
  6. People celebrated the bicentennial of Thoreau’s birth.
  7. They had a systematic review of many national sites.
  8. Other targets for possible delisting include YellowStone Park.
  9. Some locations might have some economic potential.
  10. The fight to deprive the country of this public treasure feels like pure tribalism.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

Mount Katahdin___ as the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, the___and departure point of that 2,200-mile trek through what___of Eastern American___. The mountain___Thoreau to his ___core, and it still rocks countless ___visitors who each year make the journey to experience it. How can it ___us, to care for such a prize and its surroundings in common? Once we “free it up” and spend these___ in the name of development, what then?

WORD LIST: lands, threaten, innermost, wilderness, shook, American, stands, arrival, remains,

 

 Grammar Focus: Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Prepositions:  in, for, of, with, by,  on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over,  through, from, during, up, off,

Paul R. LePage, the Republican governor ___Maine, opposed President Obama’s creation___the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, and he continues ___oppose it.

His opposition seems little more than an attempt___incite partisan rancor and now___ingratiate himself___the [current] administration, ___an eye ___aggrandizing his own political future.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups  and  have each group compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Climate, Environmental

The 2017 Historic Flight of SpaceX’s Dragon Ship!

“For the first time in the history of commercial spaceflight, a used spacecraft has blasted off on a mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).” H. Weitering, Space.com

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with answer Key

The nine Merlin engines on the first stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket power the company’s Dragon cargo capsule toward orbit on June 3, 2017. Credit- SpaceX

 

Excerpt: SpaceX Successfully Launches Used Dragon Cargo Ship in Historic First, By Hanneke Weitering, Space.com

“After lightning strikes delayed the launch on Thursday (June 1), lingering storm clouds parted just enough for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to safely lift off from NASA’s historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida today (June 3).

The Falcon 9 rocket, topped with SpaceX’s first refurbished Dragon cargo craft, took to the skies at 5:07 p.m. EDT (2107 GMT). About 8 minutes after liftoff, the first-stage rocket booster returned to Earth to stick a landing at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. [Launch Photos: SpaceX’s 1st Reused Dragon Spacecraft]

A little over 10 minutes into the flight, the Dragon separated from the Falcon 9’s second stage, deployed its solar arrays and began its three-day trek to the ISS. On Monday (June 5), the spacecraft will dock at the space station’s Harmony module, delivering close to 6,000 lbs. (2,700 kilograms) of supplies and science experiments to the Expedition 52 crew.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a used Dragon cargo craft blasts off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 3, 2017

Another historic 1st for SpaceX

Today’s mission is the latest in a series of historic firsts for SpaceX, the private spaceflight company founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk…With the ultimate (and highly ambitious) goal of being able to reuse all major components of their launch vehicles, SpaceX is now putting the Dragon to the test.

‘This whole notion of reuse is something that’s very important to the entire space industry and NASA as well as Space X and others,’ Kirk Shireman, manager of NASA’s ISS program, said in the briefing. ‘The idea of reuse is important for economic reasons as well as technical reasons.” [SpaceX Gaining Substantial Cost Savings From Reused Falcon 9]’

Science on board!

Along with food, water, clothing and other gear for the astronauts at the space station, the Dragon will deliver plenty of science experiments… The experiments on board will support about 220 investigations currently happening at the space station.

The Falcon 9 first stage touches down at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on June 3, 2017. Credit- SpaceX

A new, experimental type of solar panel is also flying to the space station on the Dragon. Called the Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA), these new solar arrays are smaller, lighter and more efficient than the current solar panels that power the ISS.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket stage is seen safely on its Florida landing pad with the trail of its fiery descent visible in this amazing long-exposure photo taken June 3, 2017 Credit- SpaceX

The Dragon also contains some live passengers, including 40 mice and thousands of fruit flies. For a project called Rodent Research-5, the mice will help researchers study a new drug for osteoporosis, or bone density loss. The fruit flies will help investigators study the prolonged effects of spaceflight on the human heart.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart from Michigan State University to list the information they already know about the Space X Dragon ship. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. The lingering storm clouds finally parted.
  2. The  Falcon 9 rocket  was able to safely lift off.
  3. The Falcon 9 rocket carried SpaceX’s first refurbished Dragon cargo craft.
  4. The Dragon separated from the Falcon 9’s second stage, deployed its solar arrays.
  5. This is  the seventh launch for SpaceX this year.
  6. The private spaceflight company was founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.
  7. Certain parts had to be replaced for a number of reasons, such as exposure to seawater during splashdown.
  8. Dragon has been in space before and has been docked to the station for a couple of weeks.
  9. This whole notion of reuse is something that’s very important to the entire space industry.
  10. The idea of reuse is  also important for economic reasons.

Reading Comprehension: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

The Dragon will also delve/deliver  many science/scenes experiments. The experiments on board/broad will support about 220 investigations currently happening at the spice/space station. “They span a multitude/multiple of scientific disciplines, including biological research/reach, the physical sciences, the humane/human research that we’re doing with the astro/astronauts, the technology demonstration studying Earth and space from the ISS, and then last but not least, the educational activities/acts that students have an opportunity to participate in.

 Grammar Focus: Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Prepositions:  in, for, of, with, by,  on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over,  through, from, during, up, off,

___Thursday weather permitted SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket___safely lift___.

A little___10 minutes___ the flight, the Dragon separated___the Falcon 9’s second stage.

___Monday the spacecraft will dock at the space station’s Harmony module.

Hans Koenigsmann, vice president ___flight reusability___SpaceX, said “We are hoping ___stay___ this rate ____the rest ___the year.

III. Post Reading Activities

KWL Chart

Directions:  Have students  fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups  and  have each group compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Science, Technology

My Deaf Son: “I see his voice. I hear his face.”

“I watched my toddler wade into the Gulf and launch a fistful of pebbles in flight. They glistened, tiny sparks of light, before I realized he was up to his chin in cold water. And I realized that if I called his name, if I screamed it, the word would sink like stone.”  E. Engelman, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit Giselle Potter, The New York Times

Excerpt: My Deaf Son Fought Speech. Sign Language Let Him Bloom  By Elizabeth Engelman The New York Times

“When Micah turned 2 we had learned that he was profoundly deaf. In the audiologist’s office, an auditory brain response concluded he couldn’t hear a helicopter. ‘You’re taking this well,’ the doctor had said. But later, as I watched Micah step deeper into the Gulf water, I wanted to rage. I was so angry, I could have torn the beach apart. We celebrated his third birthday, and the audiologist turned his cochlear implants on for the first time.

Cochlear Implants | Brain Computer

I said, ‘Hi Micah, can you hear mommy?’ His hazel eyes widened and he screamed in terror, his body trembling. Shock. In American Sign Language, the sign for cochlear implant is similar to the sign for vampire. Vampire is signed with two fingers like teeth to the throat. Cochlear implant is signed with two fingers like teeth behind the ears.

Photo of 3 young children with cochlear implants. photo-hearingsearch

The audiologist told me not to sign at all. She said sign language was a crutch that would hinder his speech. When he heard my voice for the first time, his cry was guttural, a stab wound. He was bitten by sound…He refused to wear the $18,000 sound processors, and his defiance was feral: head butts to my face, kicks, bites. The back of his head smacked against my jaw, and for a moment everything went black. The implant surgery alone had cost $50,000. Auditory verbal therapy was out of pocket, the doctors were out of network. What choice did I have but to force him?

Cochlear Implant and Rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins Listening Center. Photo- John Hopkins

When Helen Keller wouldn’t cooperate, her teacher Annie Sullivan used brute force. In The Story of My Life, Sullivan described how teaching obedience to the deaf and blind girl had to precede teaching language. Each week, I dragged him to speech therapy. He didn’t resist.

In public, his meltdowns drew unwanted attention on playgrounds and in grocery stores. How had I become the dejected mother in the fruit aisle, helpless as Micah bucked and cried, dangerously hitting his head on the linoleum floor?… I was no Annie Sullivan. I couldn’t break him, and instead, he was breaking me.

I gave up on spoken English, and enrolled in American Sign Language classes at the local community college.

Sign Language for children with Autism. photo- shieldhealthcare

Micah’s first sign was flower. To sign flower, the right hand grasps an imaginary stem and holds it first against the right nostril and then against the left, and like a flower, Micah blossomed one new sign at a time and took his implants off his head for good.

The Benefits of Using Sign Language with Your Child | .Intellidanceiff

Nine-week-old Aria, pictured right, was filmed concentrating closely as she was tenderly shown the gesture for ‘grandma’ by her grandmother Pamela, pictured left. photo- The Daily Mail

The first time he told me a story, he was 6. In the dark, his hand reaches up to speak, and I shine a flashlight on his fingers. They make rapid shadow puppets onto the bedroom wall, and I understand his story like a hieroglyph. I see his voice. I hear his face. His pristine silence fills a room far more than sound.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. The audiologist turned his cochlear implants on for the first time.
  2. The audiologist told me not to sign at all.
  3. When he heard my voice for the first time, his cry was guttural.
  4. Helen Keller wouldn’t cooperate at the start of her training.
  5. When she took  him to speech therapy he didn’t resist.
  6. I woke up paralyzed on the right side of my face.
  7. The doctor said it was trauma to the nerve.
  8. She gave up on talking English.
  9. They enrolled in American Sign Language classes.
  10. His pristine silence fills a room far more than sound.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabualry chart

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

Micah’s first___ was___. To sign flower, the right hand grasps an___stem and holds it first against the right___and then against the left, and like a flower, Micah___ one new sign at a time and took his___off his head for good.

WORD LIST: implants, imaginary, sign, blossomed, flower, nostril,

 Grammar Focus

Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article  and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.

For a review of Adjectives visit ESL Voices Grammar

III. Post Reading Activities

Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article.

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups  and  have each group compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a class.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Language, Social Issues

“Where Epics Fail: Aphorisms Hold Multitudes of Meaning”

“Best not flirt with disaster, lest it decide to commit.” “Take two opposites, connect the dots, and you have a straight line.” These are a few of the pithy wisdoms included in Where Epics Fail, an upcoming book of aphorisms from Egyptian-American poet Yahia Lababidi.” E. Flock, NPR

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Author Yahia Lababidi

Excerpt: What these humble one-liners can teach us about the times we live in —  By Elizabeth Flock, NPR

“The aphorism, an ancient art form that’s part poetry and part philosophy, often consists of just a single line; it’s intended to be both memorable and illuminating.

For many years the aphorism was considered archaic. But Lababidi — whom Obama’s inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, calls the form’s ‘modern-day master’ — said the 140 character age of Twitter has turned many of us into aspiring aphorists. And he believes the form is more important in a confusing political time than ever.

The Guardian of the Riddle — Aphorisms by Yahia Lababidi.

‘In this moment where it seems the grand narratives are failing to hold our attention, maybe the humble epigram can do its work,’ he said.

Signposts To Elsewhere by Yahia Lababidi

‘While deceptively slight and slender, then you sit with it, and perhaps it liberates you somehow, or reminds you of what you’ve forgotten. Poets, thinkers and artists, he said, do not really teach, but remind us of what we already know.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic of aphorisms.  Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart  by UIE for assistance.

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Aphorisms are part poetry and part philosophy.
  2. The messages can be very illuminating.
  3. Many people consider aphorisms archaic.
  4. Young people now aspire to be aphorists.
  5. The well known narratives fail to hold attention.
  6. Perhaps the humble epigram will interest people.
  7. Aphorisms are deceptively slight.
  8. The messages can liberate the mind.
  9. Wit and verse are a way of life in some cultures.
  10. the author hopes they can be used in this politically polarized, country.

Word Cluster by Freeology

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

The other___ in “Where Epics Fail” ___us to ___attention, believe we can make a difference, keep our___ open in the face of pain, take ___for our actions, avoid ego and do the hard___ that comes with sticking to___.

WORD LIST: ideals,  work,  responsibility,   hearts,   exhort,    aphorisms,   pay,

 Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

But many of Lababadi’s poems/proms feel more personality/personal than they do philosophical, addressing head/heed on the concerns of being an immigrant/immigration and feeling like you’re living in a state of exile/exhale. In his poem Speaking American, Lababidi writes about struggling to fit/fight in after immigrating to the United States.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the meanings of some of the following aphorisms by *Yahia Lababidi.   Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class.

1. In thinking about each aphorism which one do you like best? Why?

2. Each group will write one or two aphorisms and share them with the class.

3. Groups try to draw pictures for their aphorisms.

*Aphorisms Yahia Lababidi, Boston University

History does not repeat itself; human nature does.

Envious of natural disasters, men create their own.

The small spirit is quick to misperceive an insult; the large spirit is slow to receive a compliment.

Tattoo: graffiti on a masterpiece.

Different faiths are different dialects of the same Language.

Intuition: generous deposits made to our account by an unknown benefactor.

For the inconsolable, there is Nature.

What is considered eccentric in this world is commonplace in another.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Poetry

“The Doctor Will See Your Iguana Now”

“For the duck with egg problems and the iguana with a troubled snout, Dr. Anthony Pilny is a ray of hope. He treats exotic pets at the Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He has a tattoo of a crane on one arm, a finch on the other, and a puffin on the back of his leg… He is particularly fond of birds; he has 15 of them. He saves brightly colored feathers from his patients in a desk drawer in the hospital office and periodically sends them to an organization called Feathers for Native Americans. They are for American Indians who require naturally molted plumage for their headdresses.” A. Newman, The New York Times

Spot’s owner kisses her after her surgery.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Excerpt: When a Manhattan Iguana Needs a Doctor, By Andy Newman, The New York Times

Dr. Anthony Pilny started the day short-handed: A colleague at the Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine was bitten by an iguana while making her morning rounds. An iguana’s mouth contains around 100 tiny serrated teeth. The other vet went off to the urgent care clinic to get stitches, leaving Dr. Pilny to do an enormously messy piece of gynecological surgery on a duck without an assisting doctor. The duck was out cold on the table in a basement operating room, a breathing tube stuck down her bill. Dr. Pilny sliced open her abdominal cavity and rooted around.‘What is this?’ he asked. ‘I’m seeing some sort of fluid-filled saclike structures. I see free egg yolk in her body.’

Dino the Duck. photo: NYT

There was little time to ponder the situation. On this Thursday morning not long ago, patients were stacked up in their cages: a guinea pig with hair loss, a rabbit unable to move its bowels, and the irascible iguana, now relaxing behind a sign that said ‘Use Caution Lunges.’ Others waited in recovery: a hedgehog newly minus one eyeball, and a chinchilla who sacrificed a leg to the bars of her cage.

Vicente Vergara, a technician in the office, demonstrated how to give medication to a hedgehog who had just had an eyeball removed. Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times

 

Little Neko the guinea pig received a catheter during her surgery for ovarian cysts.Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times

 

The center, on Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, is the city’s only exclusively exotic animal hospital. ‘Exotic’ in the veterinary trade simply means all pets except cats and dogs.  The center treats anything else that comes in the door and weighs under 50 pounds.

Flowerhorn cichlid fish. Photograph- Meetthepet.com

A Prairie Dog (in the middle) with two ducklings. Photo-ViralNova

Most of the patients are rabbits, rodents, lizards or birds, but they can get pretty exotic: kinkajous, alligators, flower horn fish and prairie dogs. So can their problems. ‘I’ve been an avian and exotic vet since 2004,’ Dr. Pilny said, ‘and every day I say, ‘What the hell is this?’

A Kinkajous, Watertown Zoo. Photograph- Joel Sartore, National Geographic.

Many of the center’s patients are not legal in New York City, sometimes for good reason. ‘I’m not a big fan of people keeping a lot of the animals that come in here,’ Dr. Pilny said. But the center asks no questions and passes no judgments. It is not the pet police. ‘We don’t report anybody,’ Dr. Pilny said. ‘We just provide medical care.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a good Pre-reading organizer  by Scholastic for assistance.

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. There was little time to ponder the situation.
  2. One sign said to use Caution.
  3. This is the city’s only exclusively exotic animal hospital.
  4. Dr. Pilny has been an avian and exotic vet since 2004.
  5. Many of the center’s patients are not legal in New York City.
  6. Dr. Pilny removed most of her reproductive organs.
  7. Her egg problems led to calcium deficiency.
  8. There was a very extensive amount of broken eggs.
  9. The doctor had to  try something risky and just hoped it worked.
  10. There was a  cheery vibe in the reception area.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences  taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

Ms. Tibbetts ___up a taped-shut___box and___it on the table. She___ the X-ray to Mr. St. John,___out the ___chunk of bone: “And these are her___, which found their way into Dr. Grodio’s___today.”

WORD LIST: finger, showed, brought, missing, teeth, pointing,  brought, set,

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

.

I

  1. The technician held Spot tightly wrapped in an towel.
  2. He expected to hit bone.
  3. Ms. Tibbetts came over to inspect.

II

  1. Her tail is amputated a while ago.
  2. She was 9 and had a history of lesions.
  3. Now she had a crusty lesion on the top of her head.

III

  1. Dr. Pilny went up to the office to make more calls.
  2. They  was discussing iguana temperaments.
  3. There’s no such thing as a nice iguana.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups  and  have each group compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Animals