Should We Fear Real ‘Killer Robots’?

August 23rd, 2014  |  Published in Technology

“Americans oppose the use of autonomous military robots that can kill absent a direct command from a human operator, according to a new University of Massachusetts-Amherst poll. Autonomous weapons or, as their critics call them, “killer robots,” are becoming less science fiction and more military reality. Though the United States military, by far the world’s most robotically advanced, has placed a moratorium on the development of autonomous robots, the technology is easily within reach.  Concern about these weapons has grown as the technology has become more feasible, most famously producing both an organized campaign to ban so-called killer robots and a UN report echoing the campaign’s concerns.”  By Zack Beauchamp-Thinkprogress.org

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

SWORDS, a previous generation of weaponized robots, had its combat duties curtailed when it made movements without being given a command. (Photo- QinetiQ)

SWORDS, a previous generation of weaponized robots, had its combat duties curtailed when it made movements without being given a command. (Photo- QinetiQ)

Excerpt: So What Exactly Is a ‘Killer Robot’? By Rose Eveleth, The Atlantic

“For as long as we’ve been able to make robots, we’ve been worried about them killing us.

In 1942, Isaac Asimov published a short story called Runaround that both coined the term “robotics “and introduced the idea of robots killing humans. Last week, one company set out to assure people that it, too, was worried about this potential threat. Clearpath Robotics announced that it would take a stand against killer robots. “To the people against killer robots: we support you,” the company’s press release reads.

Yes, the organized campaign against killer robots has gained momentum as the technology and militarization of robotics has advanced, and the smartest thing the movement has done is pick its name. “Killer robots” still isn’t a well-defined term, but it’s clearly a winning one.
Autonomous robotic systems have indeed come a long way since Asimov. Far enough that, in 2012, Human Rights Watch issued a report making the case against lethal autonomous weapons systems—weapons that can make lethal decisions without human involvement. Except they didn’t call them  “lethal autonomous weapons systems.” The title of the report was “Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots.”

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

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. Review as a class and list these ideas on the board.  Students can use the UIE brainstorming chart (sample) Brainstorming chart by UIE copy

 

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. In 1942, Isaac Asimov coined the term “robotics”.
  2. Last week, one company set out to assure people that it, too, was worried about this potential threat. 
  3. The organized campaign against killer robots has gained momentum.
  4. The technology and militarization of robotics has advanced.
  5. Autonomous robotic systems have indeed come a long way.
  6. Some robots have weapons and can make lethal decisions without human involvement.
  7. Some believe it’s shameless campaigning and advocacy.
  8. There’s reluctance to pin down a single definition.
  9. Different organizations have distinct goals about what discussion of killer robots might yield.
  10. For now, this nebulous mass of robotic entities that could kill or harm humans has a name without a solid definition.
Vocabulary Chart by  Freeology.

Vocabulary Chart by Freeology.

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. For as long as we’ve been able to make robots, we’ve never been worried about them killing us.
  2. In 1942, Isaac Asimov coined the term robotics.
  3. The company Clearpath Robotics announced that it would take a stand against killer robots.
  4. The technology and militarization of robotics has not advanced.
  5. More companies are installing robots in the workforce.
  6. In 2012, Human Rights Watch issued a report making the case against lethal autonomous weapons.
  7. Robot are being used as companions for the elderly.
  8. Mary Wareham is the creator of workforce robots.
  9. Everybody defines “killer robot” the same way.
  10. There’s reluctance to pin down a single definition.

 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. One company was also worry about this potential threat. 
  2. “Killer robots” still isn’t a well-defined term.
  3. Autonomous robotic systems have come a long way.

II

  1. We put killer robots in the title of us report to get attention.
  2. It’s shameless campaigning and advocacy.
  3.  Killer robots seemed to be a good way to begin the dialogue.

III

  1. Naming weapons and missions like this isn’t new. 
  2. For some  a killer robot is an robot that can make a decision to use lethal force without human intervention.
  3. There’s reluctance to pin down a single definition.

 

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

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. How would you put the following two statements from the article  into your own words? 

“Mary Wareham, coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, admits it was a bit much. We put killer robots in the title of our report to be provocative and get attention… It’s shameless campaigning and advocacy, but we’re trying to be really focused on what the real life problems are, and killer robots seemed to be a good way to begin the dialogue.” 

“Naming weapons and missions like this isn’t new. The LGM-118A Peacekeeper was a missile that could carry up to 3,000 kilotons of warheads. Israel Aerospace Industries makes a missile named Gabriel, named for the angel. A 2006 Israeli mission to bomb South Lebanon was named Mivtza Sachar Holem, Operation Just Reward. When the United States invaded Iraq they called the program Operation Iraqi Freedom. Researcher Charles Kauffman argues that as our weapons get more and more powerful, our names for them get more and more demure, to soften the idea of the damage they could do. But if you’re in the market of making a weapon seem evil, killer robot is effective.”

    2. From this article do you think we should fear military robots?      

   3.What are the most significant ideas in this article?

IV. Listening Activity   

Video clip:  As Robotics Advances, Worries of Killer Robots Rise 

Jody williams is the head of a campaign to ban  autonomous robots. The following video  clip explains why this is important to the coalition.

Pre-listening Activity

Listening for new Vocabulary

Directions: Here is a list of words from the video. Have students find the meanings before they listen to the video.  After, as students listen, they are to  check off the words as they hear them. 

 coalition,  drones, autonomously, efficient , Phalanx,  turret, conscious, glitches

 

Video Link 

While Listening Activity

 Sentence  Fill-ins

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

  1. The UK wants to ban/burn killer robots.
  2. The campaign to stop killer robots is a reap/real world wide organization.
  3. It sounds kind of dumb/numb  when you first hear the name.
  4. The campaign is a global coal/coalition started by 22 organizations
  5. The idea is to ban drones/thrones and other robots  which can autonomously  decide to kill an enemy and act on that decision without a human giving the go ahead.
  6. Governments are going  to find/fine fully automated systems more and more attractive.
  7. They seem cheaper, they seem more efficient there would supposedly be less/least chance of fatal mistakes being made.
  8. Right now the closest/closet thing we have to an autonomous weapon is probably the Phalanx system which is this turret on U.S. and British naval ships.
  9. The only thing they can’t do autonomously is fire until a human/humane operator gives them the go ahead.  
  10. The  coalition is  worry/worried about what happens when a human conscious is removed from the equation  and just how fatal glitches in a system like that can be.

Post-Listening Activities

Questions for Discussion

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.

1. After listening to this video has your personal idea of killer robots changed in any way?   If yes, describe in what way.  If no, describe your original opinion.

2. Did  you agree with everything the speaker said?  Discuss which comments  you agreed with and which ones you tended not to agree with.   Explain why.

3.  With your group members, make a list of situations where “autonomous” robots might be dangerous and areas where they might be useful to humans.  

ANSWER KEY: Killer robots

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Robin Williams: Tormented By Personal Demons

August 16th, 2014  |  Published in Actors

“Given his well-publicized troubles with depression, addiction, alcoholism and a significant heart surgery in 2009, Mr. Williams should have had a résumé filled with mysterious gaps. Instead, he worked nonstop. To a large degree,  Mr. Williams seemed to use work as a way to keep his personal demons caged.”~Cieply and Barnes~NYT

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting.

Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting.

Excerpt: Busy Working, Robin Williams Fought Demons By Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes, The New York Times

“Peering through his camera at Robin Williams in 2012, the cinematographer John Bailey thought he glimpsed something not previously evident in the comedian’s work. They were shooting the independent film The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, and Mr. Williams was playing a New York lawyer who, facing death, goes on a rant against the injustice and banality of life.

Robin Williams scene from the  film The Angriest Man in Brooklyn.

Robin Williams scene from the film The Angriest Man in Brooklyn.

His performance, Mr. Bailey said Tuesday, was a window into the Swiftian darkness of Robin’s heart. The actor, like his character, was raging against the storm. That defiance gave way on Monday to the personal demons that had long tormented Mr. Williams. With his suicide at age 63, Mr. Williams forever shut the window on a complicated soul that was rarely visible through the cracks of an astonishingly intact career…At the very least — if his life had followed the familiar script of troubled actors — there would have been whispers of on-set antics: lateness, forgotten lines, the occasional flared temper.

Williams in earlier times. Photographed by Mary Ellen Mark in San Francisco in 1998. Lightbox.

Williams in earlier times. Photographed by Mary Ellen Mark in San Francisco in 1998. Lightbox.

Not so with Mr. Williams. He was ready to work, he was the first one on the set…Robin was always 1,000 percent reliable. To a large degree, said studio executives and agents who worked with him, Mr. Williams seemed to use work as a way to keep his personal demons caged. At an age when most actors are slowing down, Mr. Williams was engaged with a half-dozen recent and planned projects.

Photographed by Peter Hapak for TIME Magazine in 2011. Lightbox.

Photographed by Peter Hapak for TIME Magazine in 2011. Lightbox.

Experts say that it is impossible to predict who will commit suicide. The act is so radical, individual and rare that it defies precise scientific analysis. But there are factors that increase its likelihood, experts said, and many of them were Mr. Williams’s longtime companions: drugs, alcohol, depression.

Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire. Photo: Fanpop.

Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire. Photo: Fanpop.

Mortality also appeared to weigh on him. While shooting “Boulevard,” an indie drama that was filmed in Tennessee in the spring of 2013, Mr. Williams spoke pointedly about the recent death of another famous comedian — his idol, Jonathan Winters.” Read more.

Photographed by Duane Michals in 1979. Lightbox.

Photographed by Duane Michals in 1979. Lightbox.

“Of entertainers born in the second half of the 20th century, not very many earned the adjective “beloved.” ~Tom Shales~ Film Critic, The Daily Beast

R.I.P. ROBIN WILLIAMS

JULY 21,1951-AUGUST 11, 2014

4

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, 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

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 Robin Williams and about severe depression. Also discuss  information they would like to learn about both Williams and depression. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned.  Use this great K-W-L chart from ReadWriteThink.New K-W-L Chart from Read Write Think

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. He was peering through his camera at Robin Williams.
  2. Cinematographer John Bailey thought he glimpsed something not previously evident.
  3. Mr. Williams was playing a New York lawyer who, facing death, goes on a rant against the injustice and banality of life.
  4. Robin was always 1,000 percent reliable.
  5. Mr. Williams  was effervescent in the extreme
  6. The body was  cool to the touch and with rigor mortis.
  7. There was an anticipated sequel to his  biggest hit, “Mrs. Doubtfire”.
  8. Mr. Williams had recently been treated for severe depression.
  9.  Mr. Williams had long been a melancholic guy.
  10. Other members of Mr. Williams’s professional coterie also insisted that money problems were not an easy explanation for what happened.
Word Map Education Oasis.

Word Map Education Oasis.

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following paragraphs 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.

Other ___of Mr. Williams’s professional ___also insisted that ___problems were not an easy explanation for what happened. “He didn’t have___ money like before his divorces, but the___were still full,” said a person who worked closely with Mr. Williams, who was___on his third marriage. Mr. Wilson said: “He was not___. He got highly___ for the series, and he just did two movies.”

Mr. Wilson did ___that money had been an issue for his friend roughly two years ago. In an ___with Parade last year, Mr. Williams said as much, telling an ___that he had ___to do “The Crazy Ones,” his first steady TV job in 30 years, because of the paycheck. Mr. Williams’s ___for the show was reportedly between $150,000 and $200,000 an ___which for a season of 22 episodes could have___more than $4 million.

Word List: interview, paid, interviewer, members, coterie, paid, episode, money,  crazy,  currently,  salary,  coffers, decided, broke,  acknowledge,

 Grammar Focus

Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives. Students might also choose two pictures and write a paragraph comparing the two photos.

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?

 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.

1. How would you put the following statements from the article into your own words?

“Given his well-publicized troubles with depression, addiction, alcoholism and a significant heart surgery in 2009, Mr. Williams should have had a résumé filled with mysterious gaps. Instead, he worked nonstop. At the very least if his life had followed the familiar script of troubled actors —there would have been whispers of on-set antics: lateness, forgotten lines, the occasional flared temper. Not so with Mr. Williams. He was ready to work, he was the first one on the set.”

To a large degree Mr. Williams seemed to use work as a way to keep his personal demons caged. At an age when most actors are slowing down, Mr. Williams was engaged with a half-dozen recent and planned projects. He was totally proud of his recent work…[but] Mr. Williams had long been a melancholic guy.”

“Experts say that it is impossible to predict who will commit suicide. The act is so radical, individual and rare that it defies precise scientific analysis. But there are factors that increase its likelihood, experts said, and many of them were Mr. Williams’s longtime companions: drugs, alcohol, depression.”

2. With your group members make a list of possible reasons for depression. Then create a list of possible solutions.

3. Go to the  HELPGUIDE website to read and discuss the  Warning signs of suicide and prevention tips. See if you and your group members can add  helpful information.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about  actor Robin Williams and depression 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: Robin Williams

 

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Understanding Transgender People

August 8th, 2014  |  Published in Social Issues

Does being transgender mean the same as being  homosexual or gay? As more people are
identifying as transgender the topic becomes more complicated. The new book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, by author Laura Erickson-Schroth was written by and for transgender and gender-nonconforming people to explain 
the social, political, and medical issues they face.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.

Laura-Erickson-Schroth, the editor of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves,  with Dana Bliss, OUP’s Senior Editor for Social Work.

Laura-Erickson-Schroth, the editor of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, with Dana Bliss, OUP’s Senior Editor for Social Work.

Excerpt: Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Modern Manual By And For Trans People-Erickson-Schroth-NPR

“… The new book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a collection of essays describing the varied experiences of transgender people…The idea was inspired by the groundbreaking 1970s feminist health manual Our Bodies, Ourselves.
Erickson-Schroth is a fellow in public psychiatry and LGBT health at Columbia University Medical Center. She’s also a founding member of the Gender and Family Network of New York City. When she was in medical school at Dartmouth, she says, she met a lot of patients who were transgender. I started to see that there were some patterns — there were people talking about this disconnect between trans communities and providers.It’s worth noting that it didn’t seem that this was a word that people knew we needed for a while, Finney Boylan says.

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves- A Modern Manual By And For Trans People.

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves- A Modern Manual By And For Trans People.

She’s a professor of English at Colby College and the author of several books, including Stuck in the Middle with You: Parenthood in Three Genders. She is now a writer-in-residence at Barnard College…Gender nonconforming doesn’t mean that a person is transgender, so there’s a distinction there, but it’s very encompassing in terms of any child with any gender difference, whether that’s in their identity or in their expression…The question of surgery is an interesting one for a couple of other reasons. For one thing, it’s the thing that traditionally in the media always gets fixated on, the question of, Tell us about the surgery. What happens in the surgery? Have you had the surgery?

Laverne Cox’s TIME cover photo. LGBT.

Laverne Cox’s TIME cover photo. LGBT.

And transgender people have, for decades, offered up their most private selves as fodder for these kinds of interviews. … But we’re trying to get to a place now where when we talk about transgender people, it’s not a conversation about a trip to the doctor’s office. And, to some degree, what is private for everyone else ought to be private for us as well.”

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, 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  transgender, and gay people.  Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that might be connected to the article.Regroup  as a class and list these ideas on the board.Brainstorming chart by UIE copy

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. The growing number of people who identify as transgender is raising.
  2. The new book is a collection of essays describing the varied experiences of transgender people.
  3. The idea was inspired by the groundbreaking 1970s feminist health manual Our Bodies, Ourselves.
  4. A book that was written by and for trans people about all aspects of life.
  5. I’m not sure whether that’s my innate sense of myself or my social experience.
  6. The language that I typically use is connected to the word transgender.
  7. That child’s gender is different than what society stereotypically expects.
  8. It’s  a very encompassing term.
  9. At 9 years old I  felt awkward wearing a dress.
  10. Estrogen had a profound effect on my body.
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 new book Trans Bodies,Trans Selves is about transgender people.
  2. The idea was inspired by the book Our Bodies, Ourselves.
  3. The book Our Bodies, Ourselves was put together by a group of doctors.
  4. Erickson-Schroth is a founding member of the Gender and Family Network of New York City.
  5. Many transgender people have surgery.
  6. The book only covers  adults.
  7. Finney Boylan used to be a man.
  8. NA-Transgender people usually marry other transgender people.
  9. Hormones never affect transgender identities.
  10. There will be a movie based on this book.

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 new book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a collection of essays describes the varied experiences of transgender people.
  2. Erickson-Schroth is a fellow in public psychiatry and LGBT health at Columbia University Medical Center.
  3. She’s also a founding member of the Gender and Family Network of New York City.

II

  1. There is relatively new language within the transgender community.
  2. She’s a professor of English at Colby College.
  3. She is now an writer-in-residence at Barnard College.

III

  1. The book cover all ages, including a chapter about gender-nonconforming children.
  2. Gender nonconforming doesn’t mean that a person is transgender.
  3. I did not want to be the mother or the wife.

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. Rephrase the following statements from the article  in your own words and discuss their meaning with your group members.

        “At 9 years old … this was a day I was attending church. … I felt so awkward and, frankly, exposed wearing a dress … At that moment, I understood clearly that I wanted to get married. I wanted to have a family. I did not want to be [the] mother. I did not want to be the wife. I wanted to be the father and the husband. I also knew at that very same instance that this was not something that I would articulate out loud to anyone else, including my closest friend, my twin sister. I already knew at 9 years old that there was no cultural context for this — that no one would understand.”

          “When I was a guy, I’d wake up in the morning and I’d think, “Oh, my gosh, I’ve got to go through this again? I’ve got to put on this whole show.” And it was demeaning and exhausting most of the time.”

2. What are the most important elements from this article?

3-2-1-Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about transgender people 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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Autistic Children… When the Parents Need Healing

August 3rd, 2014  |  Published in Health Issues

Caring for a child with severe developmental disabilities can be mentally, emotionally, and at times physically stressful for many parents. A  recent study from Vanderbilt University found that just six weeks of training in simple techniques led to significant reductions in stress, depression and anxiety for these parents.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Nicholas Pinter's autism and bipolar disorder pose challenges for his parents. His father, Mike, right, learned mindfulness methods to help reduce his stress. Credit Pinter family NYT

Nicholas Pinter’s autism and bipolar disorder pose challenges for his parents. His father, Mike, right, learned mindfulness methods to help reduce his stress. Credit Pinter family NYT

Excerpt: When the caregivers need Healing By Catherine Saint Louis  The New York Times

“This has happened before,she tells herself. It’s nowhere near as bad as before, and it will pass.

Robbie Pinter’s 21-year-old son, Nicholas, is upset again. He yells. He obsesses about something that can’t be changed. Even good news may throw him off. So Dr. Pinter breathes deeply, as she was taught, focusing on each intake and release. She talks herself through the crisis, reminding herself that this is how Nicholas copes with his autism and bipolar disorder.  With these simple techniques, Dr. Pinter… blunts the stress of parenting a child with severe developmental disabilities.

Parents of children  with disabilities have more stress than other parents.

Parents of children with disabilities have more stress than other parents.

 All parents endure stress, but studies show that parents of children with developmental disabilities, like autism, experience depression and anxiety far more often. Struggling to obtain crucial support services, the financial strain of paying for various therapies, the relentless worry over everything  from wandering to the future — all of it can be overwhelming. The toll stress-wise is just enormous, and we know that we don’t do a really great job of helping parents cope with it, said Dr. Fred R. Volkmar, the director of Child Study Center at Yale University School of Medicine.

Parents can get overwhelmed. Photo- SRxA

Parents can get overwhelmed. Photo- SRxA

 But a study published last week in the journal Pediatrics offers hope. It found that just six weeks of training in simple techniques led to significant reductions in stress, depression and anxiety among these parents. Part of what makes the experiment innovative is that it was targeted to adults, not their children, and it was not focused on sharpening parenting skills. Instead, parents learned ways to tackle their distress as problems arise. The idea is to stop wasting energy resisting the way life is.” Read 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) access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving  their reading comprehension skills. They will also learn 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

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 Autism, and what they would like to learn about this topic. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

New K-W-L Chart from Read Write Think

New K-W-L Chart from Read Write Think

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. He obsesses about something that can’t be changed.
  2. She talks herself through the crisis.
  3. Dr. Pinter blunts the stress with these techniques.
  4. All parents endure stress.
  5. Researchers randomly assigned 243 mothers.
  6. One group received instructions on curbing negative thoughts.
  7. An assignment in group might entail taking daily notes.
  8. What makes the experiment innovative is that it was for adults.
  9. Learning to quell distress and anxiety is especially important.
  10. Around 41 percent of parents reported anxiety disorders.
Vocabulary Chart by  Freeology.

Vocabulary Chart by Freeology.

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. Nicholas is the author of the article.
  2. According to Dr. Pinter Nicholas yells to show happiness.
  3. Dr. Pinter teaches English at Belmont University in Nashville.
  4. Dr. Pinter said she descends from a long line of teachers.
  5. The study also focused on medicine for parents.
  6. Dr. Fred R. Volkmar is the director of Child Study Center at Yale University School of Medicine.
  7. The program to help parents takes 2 weeks of training.
  8. During the program the parents were assigned homework.
  9. The experiment targeted both children and adults.
  10. One of the ideas parents are taught is to stop wasting energy resisting the way life is.

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. Dr. Pinter breath deeply, as she was taught.
  2. All parents endure stress.
  3. parents of children with disabilities experience more anxiety.

II

  1. The toll stress-wise is just enormous.
  2. Having an child that has a disability is all-encompassing.
  3. Researchers randomly assigned 243 mothers.

III

 

  1. Stress-reduction groups like these could be a cost-effective way.
  2. Learning to quell distress and anxiety is important of parents.
  3. Mrs. Shouse had to learn how to redirect anxiety.

 

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. Rephrase the following 3 statements from the article in your own words:

          “All parents endure stress, but studies show that parents of children with developmental disabilities, like autism, experience depression and anxiety far more often. Struggling to obtain crucial support services, the financial strain of paying for various therapies, the relentless worry over everything from wandering to the future — all of it can be overwhelming.”

                “The parents were assigned some unlikely homework: In the mindfulness group, for instance, they were told to bring a moment-to-moment awareness to a daily activity like chopping vegetables. An assignment in the positive development group might entail taking a “guilt inventory” to assess if your guilt is healthy or counterproductive.”

                    “Part of what makes the experiment innovative is that it was targeted to adults, not their children, and it was not focused on sharpening parenting skills. Instead, parents learned ways to tackle their distress as problems arise. The idea is to stop wasting energy resisting the way life is.”

2. Do you or anyone you know care for a child with disabilities? If yes, what are some of the challenges for the caregiver?

ANSWER KEY

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Caregivers: Reliable Robots or Abusive Humans?

July 26th, 2014  |  Published in Technology

The Japanese government is increasing financial assistance to companies who can develop low-cost nursing home robots to help with the growing population of elderly people in the country. Companies in the United States are also developing robot-caregiver prototypes but are slower in finding just the right robot companion for older Americans with disabilities.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Film Robot and Frank.

Film Robot and Frank.

Excerpt: The Future of Robot Caregivers  By L. Aronson The New York Times

“Each time I make a house call, I stay much longer than I should. I can’t leave because my patient is holding my hand, or because she’s telling me, not for the first time, about when Aunt Mabel cut off all her hair and they called her a boy at school, or how her daddy lost his job and the lights went out… I can, and do, write prescriptions for her many medical problems, but I have little to offer for the two conditions that dominate her days: loneliness and disability.

She has a well-meaning, troubled daughter in a faraway state, a caregiver who comes twice a week, a friend who checks in on her periodically, and she gets regular calls from volunteers with the Friendship Line. It’s not enough. Like most older adults, she doesn’t want to be “locked up in one of those homes.” What she needs is someone who is always there, who can help with everyday tasks, who will listen and smile.What she needs is a robot caregiver.

That may sound like an oxymoron. In an ideal world, it would be: Each of us would have at least one kind and fully capable human caregiver to meet our physical and emotional needs as we age. But most of us do not live in an ideal world, and a reliable robot may be better than an unreliable or abusive person, or than no one at all.

Last year in Japan, where robots are considered “iyashi,” or healing, the health ministry began a program designed to meet work-force shortages and help prevent injuries by promoting nursing-care robots that assist with lifting and moving patients. 

Film Robot and Frank.

Film Robot and Frank.

Researchers in the United States are developing robot-caregiver prototypes as well, but we have been slower to move in this direction… Even within the medical community, this idea that machines could help fulfill more than just physical needs meets largely with skepticism, and occasionally with outrage.

Film Robot and Frank.

Film Robot and Frank.

But the biggest argument for robot caregivers is that we need them. We do not have anywhere near enough human caregivers for the growing number of older Americans. Robots could help solve this work-force crisis by strategically supplementing human care. Equally important, robots could decrease high rates of neglect and abuse of older adults by assisting overwhelmed human caregivers and replacing those who are guilty of intentional negligence or mistreatment.”

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, listening skills, 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 pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Discuss  as a class. Students can use this great Brainstorming chart from Kootation. Great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

 

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. Aunt Mabel lit pine cones and danced and made everyone laugh.
  2. I can, and do, write prescriptions for her many medical problems.
  3. That may sound like an oxymoron.
  4. But most of us do not live in an ideal world.
  5. A reliable robot may be better than an unreliable person.
  6. Caregiving is hard work.
  7. More often than not, caregiving is tedious.
  8. Caregiving has adverse health consequences for those who do it.
  9. A consortium of European companies, universities and research institutions collaborated on the project  Mobiserv.
  10. Researchers in the United States are developing robot-caregiver prototypes.

 

Freeology Chart

Freeology Chart

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following paragraphs 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.

 Last year in___ where robots are considered “iyashi,” or___ the health ministry began a___ designed to meet work-force ___and help ___injuries by promoting nursing-care___ that assist with___and moving patients. 

A___of European companies, universities and research institutions collaborated on Mobiserv, a project that developed a touch-screen-toting, humanoid-looking “social companion” ___that offers ___about appointments and ___and encourages social activity,___eating and exercise. 

In___ researchers have developed ___ a robot that looks like a standing mirror cum ___monitors health___like blood pressure and has a screen for virtual doctor and visits.

Word List

metrics, Japan, program, medications, robots, shortages, family,

 healing,  prevent,  lifting,  consortium, vacuum cleaner, robot, 

reminders, healthy, Sweden, GiraffPlus,

 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. Each time I makes a house call, I stay much longer than I should.
  2. I can, and do, write prescriptions for her many medical problems.
  3. Researchers in the United States are developing robot-caregiver prototypes.

II

  1. Already, we have robots to assist in surgery.
  2. Robots are increasingly used in rehabilitation.
  3. You can saw older Japanese people chatting happily with a robot.

III

  1. In the next decade, robot caregiver prototypes will become much more sophisticated.
  2. In that new world, my lonely  live would be improved by a robot caregiver.
  3. Are there ethical issues we will need to address? Of course.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

Directions: Students could use this  Topic/Concept/Theme organizer from Write Design to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main topic or theme of the article.Advanced Spider map By writedesignonline

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 3 quotes are from the article. How would you put them into your own words?  With your group members discuss which of the ideas or for or against robots for the elderly.

“Caregiving is hard work. More often than not, it is tedious, awkwardly intimate and physically and emotionally exhausting. Sometimes it is dangerous or disgusting. Almost always it is 24/7 and unpaid or low wage, and has profound adverse health consequences for those who do it. It is women’s work and immigrants’ work, and it is work that many people either can’t or simply won’t do. Many countries have acknowledged this reality by investing in robot development.” 

“Researchers in the United States are developing robot-caregiver prototypes as well, but we have been slower to move in this direction. Already, we have robots to assist in surgery and very basic “walking” robots that deliver medications and other supplies in hospitals. Robots are increasingly used in rehabilitation after debilitating events like strokes. But a robot that cleans out your arteries or carries linens isn’t the same as a robot meant to be your friend and caregiver. Even within the medical community, this idea that machines could help fulfill more than just physical needs meets largely with skepticism, and occasionally with outrage.”

“But the biggest argument for robot caregivers is that we need them. We do not have anywhere near enough human caregivers for the growing number of older Americans. Robots could help solve this work-force crisis by strategically supplementing human care. Equally important, robots could decrease high rates of neglect and abuse of older adults by assisting overwhelmed human caregivers and replacing those who are guilty of intentional negligence or mistreatment.”

2. In your opinion are robots the correct choice for caring for the elderly? Provide reasons for your answers.

3. Would you consider getting a robot an elderly relative? For yourself when you get old?

3-2-1-Writing Activity

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

IV. Listening Activity   

Video ClipRobots as Caregivers in an Aging World – AARP Tech Beat 

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

Directions: Have students look up the following terms before listening to the video:  buzz, ASIMO, humanoid.

Link to video

While Listening Activities

 Sentence  Fill-ins

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

In japan engineering/engineers  have been  designing/designating  robots for years, knowing the country will need them to care for a rapid/rapidly aging population.

Something America may also require in the years/year ahead.

And that inspired a film/firm  that created some buzz in the 2012 Sundance  film festival.

Set in the not so distance/distant future, Robot and Frank follows the  rocky/rock   relationship between a man with early Alzheimer’s and his robot companion.

Now meet ASIMO, what Holiday/Honda calls the world’s most advanced/advance humanoid robot. ASIMO will soon be able to recognize a person’s features/feet and even distinguish between people if more than one is talking to the robot.

Questions for Discussion

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.

  1. After viewing this video what new ideas have you learned about robots caring for the elderly?
  2. Did you agree with everything the speakers said?  Discuss which comments  you agreed with and which ones you tended not to agree with.  Explain why.
  3.  With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask any of  the speakers.
  4. What does ASIMO stand for?  What are the capabilities of ASIMO?
  5. In your opinion would ASIMO be helpful to all elderly people?
  6. Would you like to have ASIMO as a companion? Why or why not?

ANSWER KEY: caregiving robots for the elderly.

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

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