Big Money: Boot Camp for Coders

October 17th, 2014  |  Published in Business

“A new educational institution, the coding boot camp, is quietly emerging as the vocational school for the digital age, devoted to creating software developers.These boot camps reflect the start-up ethic: small for-profit enterprises that are fast (classes are two to four months), nimble (revising curriculum to meet industry needs) and unconcerned with SAT scores or diplomas. Most are expensive, but some accept a share of the graduates’ first-year earnings or a finder’s fee from employers as payment.”  T. Lewin, NYT

If you plan to go to coding bootcamp, get prepared to eat, sleep, and breathe code. Photo credit Skilledup.

If you plan to go to coding bootcamp, get prepared to eat, sleep, and breathe code. Photo credit Skilledup.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key.

Excerpt: Web-Era Trade Schools, Feeding a Need for Code By Tamar Lewin, The NewYork Times

“Most important, at a time when so many young people are underemployed, most graduates, especially those from highly selective boot camps, quickly find well-paying jobs. In a recent survey of 48 boot camps, Course Report, an online boot camp directory, found that three-quarters of graduates were employed, with raises averaging 44 percent from their pre-boot camp pay and an average salary of $76,000.

Enrolling 20 to 40 students at a time, many boot camps have venture capital backing; in May, Dev Bootcamp, which started here and expanded to New York and Chicago, was bought by Kaplan, the educational services company…On one recent evening at Dev Bootcamp, where class officially ended at 6 p.m. and faculty members were long gone, a sixth-floor classroom was still humming at 9, filled with students sitting in pairs, working on their projects…Most boot camps charge $1,000 a week or more, and attract a mix of career changers — lawyers, consultants, artists — and students who left college to learn to code, looking for a fast track to a well-paying career…

Students at Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco, one of the dozens of schools that have sprung up nationwide to teach computer code. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Students at Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco, one of the dozens of schools that have sprung up nationwide to teach computer code. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The schools’ revenue models differ substantially. App Academy, in San Francisco and New York, charges no tuition, but takes 18 percent of graduates’ first-year salaries, with a $5,000 discount for those who take a job with a partner employer. At the Flatiron School, in New York, tuition is $12,000, with a $4,000 refund for students who take a job with a partner employer. (Employers are also asked to pay the school 15 percent of the students’ first-year salaries.) Many schools offer discounts for women and minorities. Some accept fewer than 10 percent of applicants, culled through Skype interviews and coding exercises. The most selective boot camps claim job-placement rates of nearly 100 percent and average salaries of $85,000 to $100,000 (lower in New York than in San Francisco).”

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 handouts (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 to list the information they already know about coding classes. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

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. In a recent survey of 48 boot camps, it was found that three-quarters of graduates were employed.
  2. Many boot camps have venture capital backing.
  3. The rise of boot camps over the past two years is challenging assumptions about higher education.
  4. Many smart and highly motivated people enter boot camps.
  5. In the old industrial economy such training took place on the job.
  6. The schools’ revenue models differ substantially.
  7. At the Flatiron School, in New York, tuition is $12,000.
  8. At some point, the market will be saturated for skilled programmers .
  9. Dev Bootcamp’s students must spend nine weeks mastering fundamentals.
  10. Some skeptics say a few weeks at boot camp is not enough to produce a functioning developer.
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. The boot camps  are creating software for computers.
  2. Most graduates find it hard to find  well-paying jobs.
  3. Many boot camps are enrolling 200 to 400 students at a time.
  4. Many camps have venture capital backing.
  5. Dev Bootcamp  was bought by  the educational services company  KNEWTON.
  6. The article describes for-profit colleges as expensive dropout factories.
  7. Working 10 hours a day, boot camp students cover a semester’s worth of material in seven days.
  8. The most selective boot camps claim job-placement rates of nearly 100 percent.
  9. There is a low demand for  skilled programmers now.
  10. Many schools offer discounts for women and minorities.

 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

Selective boot camps, quickly find well-paying jobs.

Many boot camp have venture capital backing.

Most coding boot camps attract people interested in making a career change.

II

It’s so exciting to be able to build your own app.

Most boot camp charge $1,000 a week or more.

The schools’ revenue models differ substantially.

III

It’s a more engaging way to learn.

Some boot camps students have already taken college computer classes.

It’s a talent war for people with a few years of experience.

 Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

 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. Review Review ESL Voices Modes of Writing 

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

“With trade schools out of fashion, for-profit colleges often dismissed as expensive dropout factories, and community college students failing to graduate a majority of their students, the rise of boot camps over the past two years is challenging assumptions about higher education, at least for some smart, highly motivated people.”

“The schools’ revenue models differ substantially. App Academy, in San Francisco and New York, charges no tuition, but takes 18 percent of graduates’ first-year salaries, with a $5,000 discount for those who take a job with a partner employer. Many schools offer discounts for women and minorities. Some accept fewer than 10 percent of applicants, culled through Skype interviews and coding exercises.”

“While skeptics say a few weeks at boot camp is not enough to produce a functioning developer, some employers disagree. Indiegogo, a San Francisco-based crowdfunding site, has hired six people straight from boot camps.”

2. Would you consider going to a computer boot camp? Explain why or why not.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about computer boot camps 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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Your Résumé: Employers Want Skills Not Passion

October 11th, 2014  |  Published in Business

“I may not have a lot of experience, but I’m a fast learner. I have so much passion to bring to a company,” this woman told me. I believed her but wasn’t surprised she couldn’t find a job…Getting to do work you are passionate about is a job benefit employers give you, not a skill you bring to them.”M. Kazakoff, Business Week

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.

Follow your passion is dangerous advice according to Cal Newport author of the excellent book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

Follow your passion is dangerous advice according to Cal Newport author of the excellent book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

Excerpt: Fix Your Résumé…By Miro Kazakoff , Business Week

“A young woman I know did everything right in high school, got into a good private college, and landed a position in corporate marketing for a major retail chain after she graduated. While it was a good, stable job—the kind that makes parents happy—she found it stultifying and unsatisfying. With a solid academic pedigree and good experience, she hit the job market to look for a more fulfilling career. Several months into her search, she was floundering despite a solid job market in Boston. She wasn’t sure why.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport.

This situation is typical of those faced by millennials I talk to. This woman’s job quest mirrors a unique phenomenon of this generation: an obsession with passion and a misunderstanding of its currency in the job market.

 Our struggling job-seeker in Boston has formidable passion and commitment, but she described her passion as a skill when she talked to potential employers.

Your resume is incredibly boring. Credit- Frazer Middleton.

Your resume is incredibly boring. Credit- Frazer Middleton.

The economists around me at MIT would likely point out that the fields most often aligned with people’s stated passions usually have the lowest median salaries. University teaching, nonprofits, media, and sports management all have many more qualified candidates clamoring for jobs than they have positions.

Quotes from Cal Newport. Credit purposefulreader.com

Quotes from Cal Newport. Credit purposefulreader.com

Cal Newport’s excellent book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, has a term for this that I find myself using all the time: the “passion trap.”

Visit ESL Voices BUSINESS SECTION for Resume, Cover-letters and More!

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 handouts (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 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 by Freeology  for assistance. 

  1. A young woman landed a position in corporate marketing.
  2. While it was a good, stable job— she found it stultifying.
  3. With a solid academic pedigree  she hit the job market. 
  4. She was floundering despite a solid job market in Boston.
  5. This situation is typical of those faced by millennials I talk to. 
  6. This woman’s job quest mirrors a unique phenomenon of this generation.
  7. I’ve worked with and taught hundreds of millennials.
  8. There are many Stereotypes in the job market.
  9. The job-seeker in Boston has passion and commitment.
  10. He always talks about his work in terms of the impact it has on other people.
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. The author states that millennials do not have an obsession with passion.
  2. The author has interviewed and hired hundreds of millennials in the last five years.
  3. The woman in the story described her passion as a skill.
  4. The economists at MIT agree that jobs aligned with people’s passions usually have the highest salaries.
  5. Cal Newport’s term for this is the “thirst for trap.”
  6. Harvard University has many jobs available in the field of business.
  7. The candidates that consistently get hired quickly, are fired the fastest.
  8. The author knows millennials who dislike the work they’re doing and end up quitting.
  9. The idea that you should “follow your passion” is new advice.
  10. The author will write a book about this experience.

 Grammar Focus

Preposition Exercise
Directions: The following sentences are from the article. For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices presented.

Prepositions to choose: of, to, in, on,

The students who are most successful___ the job market describe passion___different terms. Take one professional I know, a social media marketer (not one of the cool ones). The core ___his job involves testing combinations___pictures and advertising copy___see what people will click___. When his client was selling men’s ties, he spent full workdays uploading photos ___necktie-wearing cats___Facebook .
He always talks about his work___terms ___the impact it has___other people, rather than___himself.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check
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.

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

“The economists around me at MIT would likely point out that the fields most often aligned with people’s stated passions usually have the lowest median salaries. University teaching, nonprofits, media, and sports management all have many more qualified candidates clamoring for jobs than they have positions.”
“The candidates that consistently get hired quickly, advance the fastest, and enjoy their jobs are the ones that articulate their “passions” in terms of what they can do for others—and the skills they want to build.”

“Companies hire for cultural fit, so instead of applying for a thousand jobs hoping to get a few interviews, do your homework and zero in on the employers with the culture and the right amount of flexibility and benefits that work for you… If you want to travel often and meet new people, consider a sales or consulting position. If you’re more introverted, and don’t mind looking at a computer all day, then a programming job could work for you.”

2. Describe your ideal job.

3. If you are working, describe your current job.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned 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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Climate Change: Sounding The Alarm… A Little Louder

October 4th, 2014  |  Published in Climate

“The marchers and mayors, the ministers and presidents, have come and gone. So what is the verdict on Climate Week, the summit meeting on global warming convened by the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, in New York? President Obama…was as eloquent as he has ever been on the subject: “For all the immediate challenges that we gather to address this week — terrorism, instability, inequality, disease — there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.” -NYT Editorial Board.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.

Crowds sounding the climate change alarm along 6th Ave. NYC. Credit- Tina Fineberg AP.

Crowds sounding the climate change alarm along 6th Ave. NYC. Credit- Tina Fineberg AP.

Excerpt:  A Group Shout on Climate Change The  NYT Editorial Board

The meeting was not intended to reach a global agreement or to extract tangible commitments from individual nations to reduce the greenhouse gases that are changing the world’s ecosystems and could well spin out of control. Its purpose was to build momentum for a new global deal to be completed in December 2015, in Paris.

Global climate change now permeates every aspect of our lives, and scientists are scrambling to understand how it will impact species ranges, migratory pathways, and phenology. Credit-migratoryconnectivity project.org

Global climate change now permeates every aspect of our lives, and scientists are scrambling to understand how it will impact species ranges, migratory pathways, and phenology. Credit-migratoryconnectivity project.org

In that respect, it clearly moved the ball forward, not so much in the official speeches but on the streets and in the meeting rooms where corporate leaders, investors, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and state and local officials pressed the case for stronger action…

Climate Change affects us all. Credit- Monash University.

Climate Change affects us all. Credit- Monash University.

But most of the positive energy at this gathering came from people closer to the ground, like the 300,000 activists who marched last Sunday. They included mayors like New York’s Michael Bloomberg and his successor, Bill de Blasio… governors like California’s Jerry Brown.

And they included institutions like Bank of America, which said it would invest in renewable energy, and companies like Kellogg and Nestle, which pledged to help stem the destruction of tropical forests by changing the way they buy commodities like soybeans and palm oil…But what might really do the trick — if Climate Week is any guide — is the emergence of a growing bottom-up movement for change.”

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 handouts (from this lesson) 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 to list the information they already know about the issue of climate change.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

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 Map from  Education Oasis for assistance.

  1. What is the verdict on Climate Week?
  2. The meeting was not intended to extract tangible commitments.
  3. Greenhouse gases are changing the world’s ecosystems.
  4. Many, including Silicon Valley entrepreneurs pressed the case for stronger action.
  5. Its purpose was to build momentum for a new global deal.
  6. It was important to put climate change back on the radar screen.
  7. But most of the positive energy at this gathering came from people closer to the ground.
  8. Companies Kellogg and Nestle pledged to help stem the destruction of tropical forests.
  9. Underlying all these declarations was a palpable conviction to tackle climate change.
  10. This burst of activity comes at a crucial time.

 

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. The summit meeting on global warming was convened by Congress.
  2. The purpose of the meeting was to reach a global agreement about climate change.
  3. There’s going to be a future meeting on global warming in  December 2015, in Paris.
  4. There was approximately 3,000 activists who marched last Sunday.
  5. Bank of America said it would invest in renewable energy.
  6. Companies like Cheerios and Mars pledged to help stem the destruction of tropical forests.
  7. According to scientists, the world  is already suffering from disappearing glaciers, rising seas and persistent droughts.
  8. President Obama is in a much stronger leadership position than he was at Copenhagen.
  9. One of the countries mentioned in the article with bad air was France.
  10. By 2015, all countries will agree on helping with the global warming situation.

 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 meeting was not intended to reach an global agreement.
  2. Its purpose was to build momentum.
  3. In that respect, it clearly moved the ball forward.

II

  1. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs was present at the meeting.
  2. It was important to put climate change back on the radar screen.
  3. President Obama, for one, was as eloquent as he has ever been on the subject.

III

  1. Most of the positive energy came from people closer to the ground.
  2. They included mayors like New York’s Michael Bloomberg and his successor, Bill de Blasio.
  3. This burst of activity come at a crucial time.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

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.

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

“President Obama, for one, was as eloquent as he has ever been on the subject: “For all the immediate challenges that we gather to address this week — terrorism, instability, inequality, disease — there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.”

“Underlying all these declarations was a palpable conviction that tackling climate change could be an opportunity and not a burden, that the way to approach the task of harnessing greenhouse gas emissions was not to ask how much it would cost but how much nations stood to gain by investing in new technologies and energy efficiency.”

“…scientists say, a world already suffering from disappearing glaciers, rising seas and persistent droughts could face even more alarming consequences. Avoiding such a fate is going to require a revolution in the way the world produces and consumes energy, which clearly has to involve national governments, no matter how much commitment there is on the streets and in the boardrooms.”

2. According to the article, what was the purpose for the summit meeting on global warming?

3. With your group members create a list  of the ways  countries can help with climate change.

One-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

 

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The Hidden Messages in Children’s Fairy Tales

September 27th, 2014  |  Published in Literature

Revisiting kids’ books in adulthood can yield all sorts of weird and wonderful subtexts, some more obvious than others… How could Dr Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas be anything other than a parable of consumerism? Similar close readings have rendered the Paddington Bear books fables about immigration and Babar the Elephant an endorsement of French colonialism…The Very Hungry Caterpillar [is] the tale of one creature’s obsessive-compulsive quest to fill a hole that can’t be filled, or a prose poem about demonic possession.” Hephzibah Anderson

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

The Very Hungry Caterpillar By Eric Carle. Photo- Wikipedia

The Very Hungry Caterpillar By Eric Carle. Photo- Wikipedia

Excerpt : The hidden messages in children’s books  By Hephzibah Anderson- BBC

As a child many of my favourite books had food as a theme. One in particular told the story of a boy who helped save his local burger bar by becoming a gastro-sleuth to track down a lost secret ingredient. Long after losing track of the book and forgetting its title, I found myself in Edinburgh to interview Alexander McCall Smith. He was already the mega-selling author of The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, but years earlier, he had published a few children’s books. There among them on a shelf was The Perfect Hamburger. It was my book. Except that it wasn’t – not really. While burgers do indeed feature in lip-smacking detail, this time it was clear to me that The Perfect Hamburger is actually a tale of corporate greed and the fate of small businesses forced to compete with big chains.

The Perfect Hamburger by Alexander McCall Smith

The Perfect Hamburger by Alexander McCall Smith

 How could Dr Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas be anything other than a parable of consumerism?  It’s easy to poke fun at some of these more outlandish readings. Could they perhaps be the products of parents so addled by a text that, following their umpteenth nightly recital, the words start acting like one of those magic-eye images? Stare at them long enough and sense will materialise. Or nonsense. How else could a 22-page picture book like The Very Hungry Caterpillar yield capitalist, Christian, feminist, Marxist, queer and anti-liberal messages?

 The Uses of Enchantment explains the therapeutic importance of fairy tales in children’s education…So-called children’s literature has plenty to offer adults, too argues Dr Sheldon Cashdan, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. As he explains in his book The Witch Must Die: The Hidden Meaning of Fairy Tales, these stories enable kids to see the struggle between good and bad – a struggle that they feel within themselves – acted out on the page, with good prevailing and the witch meeting an invariably gruesome end.

Babar the Elephant By Jean de Brunhoff. Photo BBC

Babar the Elephant By Jean de Brunhoff. Photo BBC

Paddington Bear by Michael Bond. Photo- Goodreads

Paddington Bear by Michael Bond. Photo- Goodreads

These battles persist throughout life. “Notions of greed, of wanting more than you actually need – you can see this in the bonuses of hedge fund managers and [people who have] houses with five bathrooms. Or the subtle, maybe not so subtle, ways that people lie – dating and telling things that aren’t exactly true, fudging their income tax returns.”

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 handouts (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.  

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 Map for assistance. 

  1. As a child many of my favorite books had food as a theme.
  2. The boy in the story was a gastro-sleuth.
  3. Revisiting kids’ books in adulthood can yield wonderful subtexts.
  4. This is is  a parable of consumerism.
  5. It’s easy to poke fun at some of these more outlandish readings.
  6. Some parents are addled by a text.
  7. Such layered meanings are crucial to the longevity of stories.
  8. The story is about children’s regression and separation anxiety. 
  9. These stories enable kids to see the struggle between good and bad –  with good prevailing.
  10. These battles persist throughout life.
Word Map Education Oasis.

Word Map Education Oasis.

Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

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

  1. As a child many of my favorite books had food as a thyme/theme.
  2. I found myself/me in Edinburgh.
  3. It was my book/brook.
  4. It’s easy to poke fun at some of these more outland/outlandish readings.
  5. This is a very simple/sample story, but simplicity is not the same as a lack of depth.
  6. Sometimes meanings seem hid/hidden because we’re too caught up in the story.
  7. So-called children’s literature has plenty to offer/off adults.
  8. It’s only as adults that we make the mistake of thinking that children’s literature is essentially escapist/escape.
  9. These stories are about eternal/eternity  human strengths and weaknesses.
  10. The hidden natural/nature of their messages is crucial to their magic.

 Grammar Focus

Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices presented.

Choose one of the Prepositions:  at, on, of, to, in, as,

  1. One story in particular told the story___a boy who helped save his local burger bar.
  2. Long after losing track___the book and forgetting its title, I found myself___ Edinburgh___ interview Alexander McCall Smith.
  3.  There among them___ a shelf was The Perfect Hamburger.
  4. It was clear ___me that The Perfect Hamburger is actually a tale___corporate greed.
  5. It’s easy to poke fun___ some of these more outlandish readings.
  6. We might not be aware___such adult messages when we read books___kids.
  7. So-called children’s literature has plenty___offer adults.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

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

“It’s easy to poke fun at some of these more outlandish readings. Could they perhaps be the products of parents so addled by a text that, following their umpteenth nightly recital, the words start acting like one of those magic-eye images? Stare at them long enough and sense will materialize. Or nonsense.”

 “There are some exquisite picture books that tackle existential issues like death and sadness head on… Just because we might not be aware of such adult messages when we read books as kids, doesn’t mean we aren’t absorbing them. However far this kind of ‘message seems to leap out at the adult reader, it is probably closer to the truth to say that the message has always been there but the knowledge that allows it to be recognized has not.”

 2. Did you have a favorite fairy tale that you liked to read when you were young? Provide the name of the story and your reasons for liking it then. Do you still like this story? Why or why not?

3. In your opinion what are the most important points of this article?

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned from the article, two things they did not understand in the article, 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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Synesthesia: Artists Seeing Sound

September 20th, 2014  |  Published in Medical

“Synesthesia has been something of a hot topic in music news recently, with the likes of Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Dev Hynes and Frank Ocean suddenly keen to talk up their colourful experiences..One man helping to educate the public is British composer Nick Ryan. He has grapheme-colour synesthesia but also sees corresponding colours, shapes and textures to sound and music. Like Pharrell, he sees his synesthesia as a boon – it makes listening to music very enjoyable– and he has long wanted to recreate it for a non-syn audience.” H. Williams-BBC

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.

Synesthesia makes colour a more multi-sensory affair, linked to sound, texture, taste or shapes. Credit Holly Williams-BBC

Synesthesia makes colour a more multi-sensory affair, linked to sound, texture, taste or shapes. Credit Holly Williams-BBC

Excerpt: How synesthesia inspires artists By Holly Williams

“The experience of colour as we usually understand it is a visual one: objects have colour, artists use colour, and we can recall a colour in our mind’s eye. But for some people, colour is a more multi-sensory affair, linked to sound, texture, taste or shapes. Music has a hue – like the parping of a trumpet that evokes a shower of burnt orange. Numbers, letters and days of the week have their own shade: the number one is white, the letter L is blue and Monday is red.

Pharrell Williams' song Happy is yellow with a hint of mustard and sherbet orange (Pharrell Williams- 24 Hours of Happy). BBC

Pharrell Williams’ song Happy is yellow with a hint of mustard and sherbet orange (Pharrell Williams- 24 Hours of Happy). BBC

This neurological phenomenon is called synesthesia; if you don’t have it, it sounds strange, like the straining of an overactive imagination. But if you’re part of the estimated four per cent of the population who are  synesthetes,  such descriptions are as obvious and natural as the sky being blue and the grass being green.

Synesthesia is best described as a union of the senses; one sensory experience involuntarily, and consistently, prompts another. There are up to 70 different types – from tasting the time to smelling a symphony – although the most common involve colour…

Lady Gaga. Credit- Getty -Mirror UK

Lady Gaga. Credit- Getty -Mirror UK

[Nick Ryan]  Working with Synes, an audio-visual collaboration with digital artists Quayola & Sinigaglia… the work recently premiered at London’s Roundhouse as part of Imogen Heap’s Reverb festival. Highly textured, precisely coloured digital imagery was projected on a large screen, morphing to match his music, which blended electronics with sounds made by the London Contemporary Orchestra. I wanted it to be multi-sensory, because such is the nature of synesthesia he says. It’s a sensation scrapbook, which the audience is immersed in.

Stevie Wonder has sound-color synesthesia and can in fact perceive color. Credit UNC.edu

Stevie Wonder has sound-color synesthesia and can in fact perceive color. Credit UNC.edu

Electronic booms were matched on screen by crashing waves of monochrome static; sustained, growling strings and deep bass were illustrated with slowly warping spidery nets and grids of deep pink and ice-white.

Nick Ryan is an award-winning composer and sound designer.Credit Nickryanmusic

Nick Ryan is an award-winning composer and sound designer.Credit Nickryanmusic

How effective it was for the non-synesthete, I couldn’t say – but it certainly made me realise my own response to music is more synesthetic than I’d previously thought. Some graphic matches felt satisfyingly correct; others, downright wrong. That pale grid shape? Far too light and clean and carefully constructed for the sound – it ought to have been altogether darker, heavier, more organic”

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

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

Time: Approximately 2 hours. 

Materials: Student handouts (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

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 to list the information they already know about synesthesia. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

KWL  chart from Michigan State University.

KWL chart from Michigan State University.

II. While Reading Tasks

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 experience of colour as we usually understand it is a visual one.
  2. But for some people, colour is a more multi-sensory affair.
  3. Music has a hue.
  4. This neurological phenomenon is called synesthesia.
  5. One friend has tastes and textures as well as colours for words.
  6. For some, synesthesia can actually be a bonus, aiding their creative endeavors.
  7. Research on synesthesia was disregarded until the late 1980s.
  8. synesthesia is not a rarity
  9. Ryan is far from the only artist to attempt to recreate their synesthesia.
  10. Like Pharrell, he sees his synesthesia as a boon.
Freeology Chart

Freeology Chart

 

Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

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

  1. The experience of colour as we usually understand it is a visual/visor one.
  2. This neurological phenomenona/phenomenon is called synesthesia.
  3. Synesthesia is best described as a union/uniform of the senses.
  4. One friend/fiend has tastes and textures as well as colours for words.
  5. Synesthesia has been something of a hot top/topic in music.
  6. One of the main things is most artists/art have it.
  7. One man helping to eradicate/educate the public is British composer Nick Ryan.
  8. He has grapheme-colour synthetic/synesthesia.
  9. Ryan is far from the only artist to attempt to recreate/create their synesthesia.
  10. Synesthesia is a senses/sensation scrapbook which the audience is immersed in.

 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. A number of famous artists has experienced synesthesia.
  2. Holly Williams explores its history.
  3. The experience of colour is a visual one.

II

  1. Synesthesia is best described as a union of the senses.
  2. One friend have tastes and textures as well as colours for words.
  3. There are up to 70 different types of synesthesia.

III

  1. For some synesthesia can actually is a bonus.
  2. Synesthesia is not a rarity.
  3. One man helping to educate the public is British composer Nick Ryan.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

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.

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

“The singer-songwriter [Pharrell Williams ] recently insisted in an interview that synesthesia“is not a rarity. One of the main things I try to educate the public on is, most artists have it.” That might be overstating it, but there is a rich history of it in the arts. Notable synesthetes (or suspected ones, given its relatively recent currency and familiarity as a scientific term) include composers Olivier Messiaen, Franz Liszt and Jean Sibelius, Russian author Vladimir Nabokov.”

“Research on synesthesia is not as extensive as you might expect: it was disregarded as a phenomenon until the advent of MRI scans in the late 1980s, proving that corresponding areas of the brain really do light up in synesthetes – but it’s thought it may be more common in artists.”

IV. Listening Activity 

Video clip: Seeing Sound, Tasting Color: Synesthesia; interview with neuroscientist David Eagleman.

 

Video Link

 While Listening Task

Multiple choice

Directions: Students are to choose the correct response from the ones provided from the video.

1. Anesthesia means

a-some feeling

b-no feeling

c-feeling in general

2. Synesthesia means

a-joined feeling

b- too many feelings

c-no feeling

3. An example of Synesthesia  would be

a-hearing music while hearing tones

b-seeing colors  while distinguishing shades

c-hearing  music while seeing colors

4. Examples of over-learned sequences are

a-letters, numbers, weekdays

b-another language

c-algebra

5. The characteristics of Synesthesia are

a-conscious, planned, external

b- rehearsed, mindful, aware

c-  automatic, unconscious, and internal

6…of the population have some form of Synesthesia.

a- 3 percent

b- 4 percent

c- 6 percent

7. The study of Synesthesia  provides insight into understanding

a-  how  different brains can percieve reality

b- how different brains can percieve colors

c- how different brains can percieve numbers

8. Historically, most people who had Synesthesia

a-knew they had it.

b-have lived their lives not knowing they had it.

c- thought that they had it.

 Post-Listening Tasks

Directions: Place students in groups and have each group create a list of questions they would like to ask David Eagleman or any of the recording artists mentioned in the article.

ANSWER KEY

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