M.B.A.s Gaining the Most Jobs in 2015!

April 18th, 2015  |  Published in Business

“With some 13,000 graduate schools of business across the globe, the M.B.A. degree has clearly become a commodity. Even among elite schools, courses and case studies are pretty much water from the same well . So how do you choose? By using the rankings? Which ones? The Economist’s? Businessweek’s? The Financial Times’s? And if you do, how do you tell the difference between a school ranked No. 6 and a school ranked No. 7?”  D. McDonald, New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Wesley Bedrosian for The New York Times

Credit- Wesley Bedrosian for The New York Times

Excerpt: M.B.A. Programs That Get You Where You Want to Go, By Duff McDonald New York Times

“Don’t ask us. Don’t ask the schools, either. Their slick brochures try to be everything to everybody, and in the process they obscure rather than illuminate.

Conventional wisdom will tell you that Harvard is for Fortune 500 jobs, Wharton for Wall Street, Kellogg for marketing and Instead for multinational entities. There’s truth to some of it, but times change, and so do employers’ recruiting preferences. The smartest move might be to choose your business school by focusing on a very specific outcome and, assuming a good fit personally, going to the one with an impressive record of helping students achieve the same. Period.

To Work at Amazon

Go to Ross School of Business (University of Michigan)

Wesley Bedrosian for The New York Times

Wesley Bedrosian for The New York Times

This might come as a surprise: Amazon regularly hires more M.B.A.s from top-10 business schools than big Wall Street firms. And its demand is surging: In 2014, Amazon hired 40 percent more M.B.A.s than it did in 2013, a large chunk of them from Ross. The e-commerce giant hired 27 M.B.A.s from Michigan last year, displacing Ross’s historical No. 1 recruiter, Deloitte Consulting, and 37 the previous two years.

To Work at Apple

Go to Fuqua School of Business (Duke)

Wesley Bedrosian for The New York Times

Wesley Bedrosian for The New York Times

Silicon Valley hasn’t always welcomed M.B.A.s. After all, you don’t need a graduate degree to hatch a bold idea in your garage. Steve Jobs, Apple’s late chief, didn’t finish college and was known to have disdain for “suits,” whether investment bankers or management consultants. But the company, once the scrappy symbol of the tech counterculture, has undergone an evolution.

Two of Apple’s top 10 executives hail from Fuqua: the chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, and the senior vice president of operations, Jeff Williams. And they are, apparently, loyal. Apple has hired 32 Fuqua graduates over the past five years, while also providing 42 internships for Duke students.

To Work at Procter & Gamble

Go to Kelley School of Business (Indiana University)

Credit- Wesley Bedrosian

Credit- Wesley Bedrosian

While M.B.A.s don’t dream of working at giant consumer products companies the way they did a few decades ago — today, it’s consulting, start-ups, tech giants or private equity — one of America’s legendary corporate success stories still draws them in hordes: the 177-year-old Procter & Gamble.

To Start Your Own Company

Go to Harvard Business School

Credit: Wesley Bedrosian

Credit: Wesley Bedrosian

No, the world has not been turned upside down. The substantial resources Harvard has devoted to its entrepreneurial offerings in recent years are starting to show real results. By many accounts, Harvard has as strong a claim to being top start-up destination as Stanford does.

Anchored by its Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, the school offers 33 graduate-level entrepreneurship courses, with the second-largest number of dedicated faculty after finance.”

Visit ESL Voices Business Section

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about the MBA programs at various business schools.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

KWL Chart from Creately,com

KWL Chart from Creately,com

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. Conventional wisdom will tell you that Harvard is for Fortune 500 jobs.
  2. But times change, and so do employers’ recruiting preferences.
  3. Choose your business school by focusing on a very specific outcome.
  4. The best schools have impressive records of helping students.
  5. Ross Graduates have traits common to most M.B.A.s.
  6. Desirable soft skills are humility, listening and a hearty work ethic.
  7. Presidio has placed sustainability directors at companies from Salesforce.com to Facebook.
  8. The school’s emphasis on persona is historic.
  9. Private equity has the most lucrative jobs for M.B.A.s, but also the fewest.
  10. East Coast schools seem an obvious choice given their proximity to Wall Street.
ELLteaching 2.0 vocabualry chart

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 paragraph from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list below, or provide their own terms. Students can find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

For an M.B.A.,___a job at McKinsey is a bit like ___to get into a ___business school all over again. Except the field is much ___ made up of only those who managed to pass the first___. But graduates of___perform quite well the second time around. The school’s M.B.A.s are in___ at ___consulting firms, which hired 35 percent of its ___last year, a higher ___than at Harvard (23 percent) and Stanford (16 percent). The top four___at Kellogg in 2014 were McKinsey, Deloitte, Bain and the Boston Consulting Group. McKinsey alone has hired 215 Kellogg ___over the last five years.

Word List:
recruiters, competitive, demand, graduates, trying, hurdle, percentage, graduates,
landing, stronger, Kellogg, elite

 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. This might come as a surprise: Amazon regularly hire more M.B.A.s.
  2. The e-commerce giant hired 27 M.B.A.s from Michigan last year.
  3. The most senior Ross graduate at Amazon is Peter Faricy.

II

  1. Last year, Amazon was home to three teams.
  2. A few desirable soft skills is humility and listening.
  3. Silicon Valley hasn’t always welcomed M.B.A.s.

 

III

  1. Two of Apple’s top 10 executives hail from Fuqua.
  2. Kelley is looking  on talented hard workers with the ability to grow.
  3. Harvard grads consistently start more companies.

III. Post Reading Tasks

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/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

The following  three statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each statement in your own words, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.

1. “Silicon Valley hasn’t always welcomed M.B.A.s. After all, you don’t need a graduate degree to hatch a bold idea in your garage. Steve Jobs, Apple’s late chief, didn’t finish college and was known to have disdain for “suits,” whether investment bankers or management consultants. But the company, once the scrappy symbol of the tech counterculture, has undergone an evolution.”

2. “This might come as a surprise: Amazon regularly hires more M.B.A.s from top-10 business schools than big Wall Street firms. And its demand is surging: In 2014, Amazon hired 40 percent more M.B.A.s than it did in 2013, a large chunk of them from Ross. The e-commerce giant hired 27 M.B.A.s from Michigan last year, displacing Ross’s historical No. 1 recruiter, Deloitte Consulting, and 37 the previous two years.”

3. “Edward A. Snyder is reinventing Yale’s business school. Soon after his arrival as dean in 2011, the school created the Global Network for Advanced Management. The network has since assembled an impressive membership of 27 schools from five continents, including well-known names (Insead, London School of Economics). Since its establishment in 1976, the Yale School of Management has insisted that business, government and nonprofit leaders need to better understand one another, giving the school a distinct public/private flavor. Dr. Snyder makes clear: We’re not abandoning the school’s longstanding mission. Environmental sustainability, for example, is not going to get solved by the government, the market or the nonprofit sector alone. We’re continuing within the frame, but with a more modern — and more global — view.”

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about MBA programs 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

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Jane Goodall Is 80 and Still Saving Chimps

April 6th, 2015  |  Published in People

“Half a century ago, she journeyed into the Tanzanian jungle to change how the world saw chimpanzees. Today the world’s most famous conservationist is on a mission to save their lives.”  P. Tullis-NYT

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Jane Goodall with chimps. Photo- wildchimpanzees.org

Jane Goodall with chimps. Photo- wildchimpanzees.org

Excerpt: Jane Goodall Is Still Wild at Heart By Paul Tullis -New York Times

“…Within two months of her arrival, Goodall met the paleontologist Louis Leakey…He happened to believe in a hypothesis first put forth by Charles Darwin — that humans and chimpanzees share an evolutionary ancestor. Close study of chimpanzees in the wild, he thought, might tell us something about that common progenitor. He was, in other words, looking for someone to live among Africa’s wild animals. One night at Olduvai, he told Goodall that he knew just the place where she could do it: Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve, in the British colony of Tanganyika (now Tanzania). A forbidding environment, no humans lived there, though it was thought by many locals to be where they would be reborn, after death, as chimpanzees. In July 1960, Goodall boarded a boat, far smaller than the Kenya Castle, and after a few hours motoring over the warm, deep waters of Lake Tanganyika, she stepped onto the pebbly beach at Gombe.

Jane Goodall on Lake Tanganyika, offshore from Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. Credit Michael Christopher Brown:Magnum, for The New York Times

Jane Goodall on Lake Tanganyika, offshore from Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. Credit Michael Christopher Brown:Magnum, for The New York Times

Last summer, almost exactly 54 years later, Jane Goodall was standing on the same beach… The jungle had reclaimed the clearing where she pitched her first tent. A ranger station and a small lodge stood nearby. Just out of sight, carved into the vegetation, were more cinder-block buildings that housed staff, researchers and their labs. Jutting into the lake was now a dock, where a boat was pulling up with a load of day-trippers from Kigoma, a small city to the south. All of this bustle was, of course, a result of the work Goodall began that day in 1960, which continues as one of the longest and most rigorously conducted inquiries into animal behavior.

Gombe’s terrain is extremely rugged. The vegetation is tangled and thick; steep ridges rise abruptly from the lake, as much as 2,500 feet in just a mile and a half. The park cannot be reached by road, and its borders are a long walk from any village. These features make the preserve an Eden for chimpanzees, while mostly keeping people at bay… A couple of hundred yards down the beach from Gombe’s ranger station and lodge, Goodall keeps a small house for herself.

On her most recent visit to Burundi, in 2013, she discussed with the French ambassador, Gerrit van Rossum, the situation with Burundi’s Vyanda Park: Refugees from the country’s decade-long civil war were returning home and building houses in the park and along its edge. She told van Rossum she didn’t think the government could devote the resources to enforce the park’s legal protection. Today, at one meeting, van Rossum told Goodall that after that visit, he persuaded France’s government to come up with the cash to hire park rangers. They would also finance outreach, hoping to persuade residents that conserving the forest would promote tourism and with it, development.

“Can you imagine what it’s like for me to hear, ‘Because of your last visit, we’re doing this work’?” Goodall said.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about Jane Goodall.  Later in the Post-Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about her from the reading.

KWL  chart from Michigan State University.

KWL chart from Michigan State University.

II. While Reading Tasks

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. Goodall’s childhood dream was to live among the African wildlife.
  2. It’s hard not to wonder  at the subsequent events in her life.
  3. Excited and apprehensive, she boarded the ship.
  4. Her family departed, and at 4 in the afternoon, the ship cast off.
  5. Most of the passengers were suffering from seasickness.
  6. Jane Goodall remained  at the prow of the ship.
  7. She would deploy her keen observational skills.
  8. She was 8 when inspired by the stories of Dr. Doolittle.
  9. Goodall resolved to live in Africa one day.
  10. Goodall found her life among chimpanzees  very satisfying.
Freeology Chart

Freeology Chart

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. Jane Goodall’s hometown was London England.
  2. Goodall’s childhood dream was to live among the African wildlife.
  3. Goodall, at 22, saved for two years to pay for her passage to Kenya.
  4. Jane Goodall was on a African dock in March 1957 when she realized that her passport was missing.
  5. The Kenya Castle was the name of the ship Goodall boarded to Africa that year.
  6. Goodall was inspired by the stories of Crocodile Dundee when she was 8-years-old.
  7. Within two months of her arrival, Goodall met the paleontologist Sigmund Freud.
  8. Goodall’s first job was to rise at dawn and spend hours observing the chimpanzees.
  9. In July 1960 Goodall boarded a boat to Gombe.
  10. David Graybeard was the name of the first sociologist to meet Goodall.

  Grammar Focus: Preposition Exercise

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

Directions:  The following sentences are from the news article. For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices presented. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.
It’s hard not___ wonder how subsequent events___ her life rather consequential ___they have turned out ___be ___conservation, ___ science, ___ our sense ___ ourselves___a species — might have unfolded differently had someone not found her passport… Then her family departed, and ___4 ___the afternoon, the ship cast___. Twenty-four hours later, ___most ___the passengers were suffering ___seasickness ___their traverse ___the Bay of Biscay, Jane Goodall was ___the prow___ the ship “___ far forward ___one could get,” she wrote ___ her family.

 

III. Post Reading Tasks

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/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

The following  3  statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each statement in your own words, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.

1. “Last summer, almost exactly 54 years later, Jane Goodall was standing on the same beach… But nearly everything else in sight was different. The jungle had reclaimed the clearing where she pitched her first tent. Jutting into the lake was now a dock, where a boat was pulling up with a load of day-trippers from Kigoma, a small city to the south. All of this bustle was, of course, a result of the work Goodall began that day in 1960, which continues as one of the longest and most rigorously conducted inquiries into animal behavior.”

2. “Gombe’s terrain is extremely rugged. The vegetation is tangled and thick; steep ridges rise abruptly from the lake, as much as 2,500 feet in just a mile and a half. The park cannot be reached by road, and its borders are a long walk from any village. These features make the preserve an Eden for chimpanzees, while mostly keeping people at bay.”

3. “Today the social lives of animals from whales to ants have been abundantly cataloged using Goodall’s methodology, which has helped to set the basic ground rules for contemporary field biology. Goodall herself became the first exemplar — before Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking or Neil deGrasse Tyson — of the pop-culture scientist-communicator. She has inspired countless scientists, from the leader of Save the Elephants to the director of the Orangutan Project, at the same time as she has thrown open the door to other pioneering women in the sciences.”

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.

ANSWER KEY

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Are Computers Better Journalists?

March 29th, 2015  |  Published in Technology

“LET me hazard a guess that you think a real person has written what you’re reading. Maybe you’re right. Maybe not…Because, these days, a shocking amount of what we’re reading is created not by humans, but by computer algorithms. We probably should have suspected that the information assaulting us 24/7 couldn’t all have been created by people bent over their laptops.” S. Podolny The NYT

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Photos- Roger Lecuyer:Getty Images

Photos- Roger Lecuyer:Getty Images

Excerpt:  If an Algorithm Wrote This, How Would You Even Know? By Shelley Podolny  NYT

“It’s understandable. The multitude of digital avenues now available to us demand content with an appetite that human effort can no longer satisfy. This demand, paired with ever more sophisticated technology, is spawning an industry of automated narrative generation. Companies in this business aim to relieve humans from the burden of the writing process by using algorithms and natural language generators to create written content. Feed their platforms some data — financial earnings statistics, let’s say — and poof! In seconds, out comes a narrative that tells whatever story needs to be told. These robo-writers don’t just regurgitate data, either; they create human-sounding stories in whatever voice — from staid to sassy — befits the intended audience. Or different audiences. They’re that smart. And when you read the output, you’d never guess the writer doesn’t have a heartbeat.

Consider the opening sentences of these two sports pieces:

“Things looked bleak for the Angels when they trailed by two runs in the ninth inning, but Los Angeles recovered thanks to a key single from Vladimir Guerrero to pull out a 7-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sunday.”

“The University of Michigan baseball team used a four-run fifth inning to salvage the final game in its three-game weekend series with Iowa, winning 7-5 on Saturday afternoon (April 24) at the Wilpon Baseball Complex, home of historic Ray Fisher Stadium.”

If you can’t tell which was written by a human, you’re not alone. According to a study conducted by Christer Clerwall of Karlstad University in Sweden and published in Journalism Practice, when presented with sports stories not unlike these, study respondents couldn’t tell the difference. (Machine first, human second, in our example, by the way.)

Set loose on the mother lode — especially stats-rich domains like finance, sports and merchandising — the new software platforms apply advanced metrics to identify patterns, trends and data anomalies. They then rapidly craft the explanatory narrative, stepping in as robo-journalists to replace humans.”

Did a Human or a Computer Write This?

Can you tell the difference? Take this interactive quiz from the New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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) access to news article, and video clip.

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 Activity

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic.  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 for assistance.  

UIE brainstorming chart (sample)

Brainstorming chart by UIE.

Brainstorming chart by UIE.

II. While Reading Tasks

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 is a  multitude of digital avenues now available to us.
  2. This demand is spawning an industry of automated narratives.
  3. Companies aim to relieve humans from the burden of the writing process by using algorithms.
  4. These robo-writers don’t just regurgitate data.
  5. They create human-sounding stories in whatever voice — from staid to sassy.
  6. When you read the output, you’d never guess the writer doesn’t have a heartbeat.
  7. Software is stealthily replacing  us as communicators.
  8. Narrative Science claims it can create “a narrative that is indistinguishable from a human-written one.
  9. There’s so much information to absorb every day.
Word Map Education Oasis.

Word Map Education Oasis.

Reading Comprehension:Word Recognition
Directions: Have students choose the correct word or phrase from the article. This exercise reinforces students’ attention on words that have been introduced in the reading. Have them skim the article to check their responses. Students should also find the meanings for all unknown words.

It’s understandably/understandable. Algorithms and natural/neutral language generators/generates have been around for a while, but they’re getting better and faster as the demand for them spoors/spurs investment and innovation. The sheet/sheer volume and complexity of the Big Data we generate, too much for mere/more mortals to tackle, calls for artificial rather than human/humane intelligence to derive meaning from it all.

Set loose/lose on the mother lode — especially stats-rich domains like finance, spots/sports and merchandising — the new software platforms apply/apple advanced metrics to identify patterns, trends and data anomalies. They then/than rapidly craft the explanatory narrative, stepping/steeping in as robo-journalists to replace humans.

 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. Things looked bleak for the Angels when they trailed by two runs.
  2. If you can’t tell which was written on a human, you’re not alone.
  3. Study respondents couldn’t tell the difference.

II

  1. Algorithms have be around for a while.
  2. At least 90 percent of news could be algorithmically generated by the mid-2020s
  3. Humans  can do more reporting and less data processing.

III

  1. Automated Insights states that its software created one billion stories last year.
  2. Books is robo-written, too.
  3. Our phones can speak to us (just as a human would).

III. Post Reading Tasks

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/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

The following  three statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each one, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.

1. “But we should be forgiven a sense of unease. These software processes, which are, after all, a black box to us, might skew to some predicated norm, or contain biases that we can’t possibly discern. Not to mention that we may be missing out on the insights a curious and fertile human mind could impart when considering the same information.”

2. “Automated Insights states that its software created one billion stories last year, many with no human intervention; its home page, as well as Narrative Science’s, displays logos of customers all of us would recognize: Samsung, Comcast, The A.P., Edmunds.com and Yahoo. What are the chances that you haven’t consumed such content without realizing it?”

3. Our phones can speak to us (just as a human would). Our home appliances can take commands (just as a human would). Our cars will be able to drive themselves (just as a human would). What does human even mean?… With technology, the next evolutionary step always seems logical. That’s the danger. We rarely step back to reflect on whether, ultimately, we’re giving up more than we’re getting.”

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about robo-journalists 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

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The Girl Who Loved Crows and The Gifts They Brought Her

March 21st, 2015  |  Published in Birds

“Lots of people love the birds in their garden, but it’s rare for that affection to be reciprocated. One young girl in Seattle is luckier than most. She feeds the crows in her garden – and they bring her gifts in return.” K. Sewall–BBC

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Eight-year-old Gabi Mann,Photo-Lisa Mann-BBC

Eight-year-old Gabi Mann, the crows bring her gifts.Photo-Lisa Mann-BBC

Excerpt: The girl who gets gifts from birds By Katy Sewall, BBC News

“Eight-year-old Gabi Mann sets a bead storage container on the dining room table, and clicks the lid open. This is her most precious collection.

Inside the box are rows of small objects in clear plastic bags. One label reads: Black table by feeder. 2:30 p.m. 09 Nov 2014. Inside is a broken light bulb. Another bag contains small pieces of brown glass worn smooth by the sea. Beer coloured glass, as Gabi describes it.

There’s a miniature silver ball, a black button, a blue paper clip, a yellow bead, a faded black piece of foam, a blue Lego piece, and the list goes on. Many of them are scuffed and dirty. It is an odd assortment of objects for a little girl to treasure, but to Gabi these things are more valuable than gold.

Gabi's beautiful gifts from her crow friends.

Gabi’s beautiful gifts from her crow friends.

She didn’t gather this collection. Each item was a gift – given to her by crows. She holds up a pearl coloured heart. It is her most-prized present. “It’s showing me how much they love me.”

How It All Began…

“Gabi’s relationship with the neighborhood crows began accidentally in 2011. She was four years old, and prone to dropping food. She’d get out of the car, and a chicken nugget would tumble off her lap. A crow would rush in to recover it. Soon, the crows were watching for her, hoping for another bite.

As she got older, she rewarded their attention, by sharing her packed lunch on the way to the bus stop. Her brother joined in. Soon, crows were lining up in the afternoon to greet Gabi’s bus, hoping for another feeding session…

Gabi’s mother Lisa didn’t mind that crows consumed most of the school lunches she packed…In 2013, Gabi and Lisa started offering food as a daily ritual, rather than dropping scraps from time to time.

Crow friend  from Gabi's garden.

Crow friend from Gabi’s garden.

Each morning, they fill the backyard birdbath with fresh water and cover bird-feeder platforms with peanuts. Gabi throws handfuls of dog food into the grass. As they work, crows assemble on the telephone lines, calling loudly to them.

It was after they adopted this routine that the gifts started appearing. The crows would clear the feeder of peanuts, and leave shiny trinkets on the empty tray; an earring, a hinge, a polished rock. There wasn’t a pattern. Gifts showed up sporadically – anything shiny and small enough to fit in a crow’s mouth…When you see Gabi’s collection, it’s hard not to wish for gift-giving crows of your own.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – High Intermediate


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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. Have students use the pre-reading organizer to assist them in finding the main ideas from the reading.

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic.

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic.

II. While Reading Tasks

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. This is her most precious collection.
  2. Each item is individually wrapped and categorized.
  3. Many of them are scuffed and dirty.
  4. It is an odd assortment of objects.
  5. She was four years old, and prone to dropping food.
  6. A chicken nugget would tumble off her lap.
  7. As she got older, she rewarded their attention.
  8. Gabi has been given some icky objects.
  9. She  regularly charts their behavior and interactions.
  10. Crows love the birdbath. 
Freeology Chart

Freeology Chart

Reading Comprehension: True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. Eight-year-old Gabi Mann keeps her gifts from the crows in a blue box.
  2. Gabi wraps and categorizes each item.
  3. Among her items from the crows are a small car, a balloon, and a ring.
  4. Many of  the items are shiny and new.
  5. To Gabi these things are more valuable than gold.
  6. Gabi’s relationship with the neighborhood crows began accidentally.
  7. She’d get out of the car, and a chicken sandwich tumbled off her lap.
  8. There are 100 crows total.
  9. Lisa is Gabi’s best friend who helps her keep track of the gifts.
  10. According to Gabi, the crows watch hem all the time.

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. Inside the box is rows of small objects in clear plastic bags
  2. Each item is individually wrapped and categorized.
  3. There’s a miniature silver ball.

 

II

  1. She didn’t gather this collection.
  2. Each item was a gift given to her by crows.
  3. She holds up these pearl colored heart.

 

III

  1. She was four years old, and prone to dropping food.
  2. A crow would rush in to recover it.
  3. As she get older, she rewarded their attention.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea

Directions:  Have students use this graphic organizer from Enchanted Learning  to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article.WH-organizer from Enchanted Learning

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

1. The following three statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each one, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.
“Gabi’s relationship with the neighbourhood crows began accidentally in 2011. She was four years old, and prone to dropping food. She’d get out of the car, and a chicken nugget would tumble off her lap. A crow would rush in to recover it. Soon, the crows were watching for her, hoping for another bite.”

“Marzluff, and his colleague Mark Miller, did a study of crows and the people who feed them. They found that crows and people form a very personal relationship..They understand each other’s signals.The birds communicate by how they fly, how close they walk, and where they sit. The human learns their language and the crows learn their feeder’s patterns and posture. They start to know and trust each other. Sometimes a crow leaves a gift.”

“But crow gifts are not guaranteed. I can’t say they always will give presents…Not all crows deliver shiny objects either. Sometimes they give the kind of presents they would give to their mate. Courtship feeding, for example. So some people, their presents are dead baby birds that the crow brings in.”
2. Have you or your group members ever tried to communicate with crows or any other kind of birds? If yes, describe your experiences.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about crows 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

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Leonard Nimoy (aka Mr. Spock) Leaves Us…

February 28th, 2015  |  Published in Actors

“Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83.” V. Heffernan, Feb. 27, 2015, New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Nimoy as the famous Mr. Spock.

Nimoy as the famous Mr. Spock.

Excerpt: Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 83 By Virginia Heffernan, Feb. 27, 2015 NYT

“His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Mr. Nimoy announced last year that he had the disease, attributing it to years of smoking, a habit he had given up three decades earlier. He had been hospitalized earlier in the week.
His artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: “Live long and prosper” (from the Vulcan “Dif-tor heh smusma”).

An older Mr. Spock.

Nimoy as an older Mr. Spock.

Mr. Nimoy, who was teaching Method acting at his own studio when he was cast in the original Star Trek television series in the mid-1960s, relished playing outsiders, and he developed what he later admitted was a mystical identification with Spock, the lone alien on the starship’s bridge…
Star Trek, which had its premiere on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966, made Mr. Nimoy a star. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the franchise, called him “the conscience of Star Trek — an often earnest, sometimes campy show that employed the distant future (as well as some special effects that appear primitive by today’s standards) to take on social issues of the 1960s.

William Shatner (Captain  James T. Kirk) and Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock)

William Shatner (Captain James T. Kirk) and Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock)

He also directed movies, including two from the “Star Trek” franchise, and television shows. And he made records, singing pop songs as well as original songs about “Star Trek,” and gave spoken-word performances — to the delight of his fans and the bewilderment of critics.
But all that was subsidiary to Mr. Spock, the most complex member of the Enterprise crew, who was both one of the gang and a creature apart, engaged at times in a lonely struggle with his warring racial halves [part Vulcan and part human].

The Vulcan  Blessing: Live Long and Prosper.

The Vulcan Blessing: Live Long and Prosper.

To this day, I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behavior,” Mr. Nimoy wrote years after the original series ended…But that wasn’t such a bad thing, he discovered. Given the choice, if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock.”RIP LEONARD NIMOY-1931-2015

RIP LEONARD NIMOY-1931-2015

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ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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) access to news article, and video clip.


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.  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 Kootation.com for assistance.

 

Great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

Great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

II. While Reading Tasks

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. His wife confirmed his death.
  2. Nimoy brought to life one of the most indelible characters of the century.
  3. Nimoy acknowledged ambivalence about the character.
  4. Star Trek, which had its premiere on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966.
  5. Some special effects appear primitive by today’s standards.
  6. His stardom would endure.
  7. The fans’ devotion only deepened when Star Trek was spun off into an animated show.
  8. His zeal to entertain and enlighten reached beyond Star Trek.
  9. But all that was subsidiary to Mr. Spock.
  10. His speaking voice was among his chief assets as an actor.
Word Map Education Oasis.

Word Map Education Oasis.

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. Mr. Nimoy was known for his role as Spock in the “Star Trek” series.
  2. Mr. Nimoy was working in a store when he was cast in the original “Star Trek” television series.
  3. “Star Trek” had its premiere on ABC on Sept. 8, 1966.
  4. The fans of the show were called Spockies.
  5. Mr. Nimoy was Born in Boston MA.
  6. Mr. Nimoy also directed several of the “Star Trek” movies.
  7. In 2001 he voiced the king of Atlantis in the Disney animated movie “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”.
  8. Mr. Nimoy dreamed of becoming an astronaut.
  9. His religious upbringing never influenced the characterization of Spock.
  10. The phrase “Live long and prosper” was Spock’s signature salute and blessing.

 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. Nimoy became an folk hero.
  2. Spock was the lone alien on the starship.
  3. Mr. Nimoy was  a star.

 

II

  1. His stardom would endure.
  2. The series was canceled after three seasons.
  3. The fan’s devotion only deepened.

III

  1. Mr. Nimoy also appeared on the follow-up movie.
  2. He also directed movies.
  3. Mr. Spock was the most complex member of the Enterprise crew.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Write Design to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main idea and points from the article.Main idea chart By Write Design

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

1. The following  three statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each one, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.

“His zeal to entertain and enlighten reached beyond “Star Trek” and crossed genres. He had a starring role in the dramatic television series “Mission: Impossible” and frequently performed onstage…But all that was subsidiary to Mr. Spock, the most complex member of the Enterprise crew, who was both one of the gang and a creature apart, engaged at times in a lonely struggle with his warring racial halves.”

“Though his speaking voice was among his chief assets as an actor, the critical consensus was that his music was mortifying. Mr. Nimoy, however, was undaunted, and his fans seemed to enjoy the camp of his covers of songs like If I Had a Hammer.”His first album was called “Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space.”

“His stardom would endure. Though the series was canceled after three seasons because of low ratings, a cultlike following — the conference-holding, costume-wearing Trekkies, or Trekkers coalesced soon after “Star Trek” went into syndication. The fans’ devotion only deepened when “Star Trek” was spun off into an animated show, various new series and an uneven parade of movies starring much of the original television cast, including — Mr. Nimoy.”

2. Are you or  the member of your group “Trekkies” ? Explain what you liked or disliked about the  “Star Trek” series.

3. If you could meet Mr. Nimoy today, what questions would you ask him?

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading and 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

Thank you for using this lesson plan.
Please come back again.

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