Leonard Nimoy (aka Mr. Spock) Leaves Us…

February 28th, 2015  |  Published in Actors

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

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Nimoy as the famous Mr. Spock.

Nimoy as the famous Mr. Spock.

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

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

An older Mr. Spock.

Nimoy as an older Mr. Spock.

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

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

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

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

The Vulcan  Blessing: Live Long and Prosper.

The Vulcan Blessing: Live Long and Prosper.

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

RIP LEONARD NIMOY-1931-2015

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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

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

 

Great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

Great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

II. While Reading Tasks

Word Inference

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

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

Word Map Education Oasis.

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

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

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

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

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

I

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

 

II

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

III

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

III. Post Reading Tasks

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

Discussion/Writing Exercise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

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

 ANSWER KEY

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To Have The Hands of A Superhero!

February 20th, 2015  |  Published in Technology

“Dawson Riverman’s parents tried to help him make the best of it. Born without fingers on his left hand Dawson struggled to perform even the simplest tasks… The Rivermans could not afford a high-tech prosthetic hand for their son… Then help arrived in the guise of a stranger with a three-dimensional printer.” J. Mroz,New York Times

The designs do not suggest disability; they hint at comic-book superpowers. And they are not made to be hidden. photo credit- stylefrizz.com

The designs do not suggest disability; they hint at comic-book superpowers. And they are not made to be hidden. photo credit- stylefrizz.com

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: 3-D Printing Prosthetic Hands …Anything but Ordinary, By Jacqueline Mroz, NYT

“He made a prosthetic hand for Dawson, in cobalt blue and black, and it did not cost his family a thing. Now the 13-year-old can ride a bike and hold a baseball bat. He hopes to play goalkeeper on his soccer team… The proliferation of 3-D printers has had an unexpected benefit: The devices, it turns out, are perfect for creating cheap prosthetics. Surprising numbers of children need them: One in 1,000 infants is born with missing fingers, and others lose fingers and hands to injury…E-nable, an online volunteer organization, aims to change that.

Ethan Brown, 8, of Opelika, Ala., was born with two fingers missing on his left hand. Now he wears a Cyborg Beast in black and red, his school colors. Credit Kevin Liles NYT

Ethan Brown, 8, of Opelika, Ala., was born with two fingers missing on his left hand. Now he wears a Cyborg Beast in black and red, his school colors. Credit Kevin Liles NYT

Founded in 2013 by Jon Schull, the group matches children like Dawson in need of prosthetic hands and fingers with volunteers able to make them on 3-D printers. Designs may be downloaded into the machines at no charge, and members who create new models share their software plans freely with others.

They are not designed to look like replacement parts. One popular model, the Cyborg Beast, looks like a limb from a Transformer.

The Raptor Hand and Talon Hand 2.X do not suggest disability; they hint at comic-book superpowers. And they are not made to be hidden — indeed, they can be fabricated in a variety of eye-catching fluorescent colors, or even made to glow in the dark…

These days, some leading experts in 3-D design are now collaborating with E-nable on improved prostheses for children. The hands are lightweight, less than a pound, but the fingers move together, not separately.

Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland and E-nable hosted their first 3-D printing conference. credit- hopkinsmedicine.org

Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland and E-nable hosted their first 3-D printing conference. credit- hopkinsmedicine.org

Health care providers are beginning to take note. In September, Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland and E-nable hosted their first 3-D printing conference involving the medical community, volunteers, recipients and manufacturers. The hospital has purchased a 3-D printer and has begun printing free prosthetic devices for children.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

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

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

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

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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Brainstorming

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

Great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

Great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

II. While Reading Tasks

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist them with new vocabulary.

  1. He made a prosthetic hand for Dawson.
  2. The proliferation of 3-D printers has had an unexpected benefit.
  3. Each year, about 450 children receive amputations.
  4. State-of-the-art prosthetic replacements are complicated medical devices.
  5. Best of all, boys and girls usually love their D.I.Y. prosthetics.
  6. They are not designed to look like replacement parts.
  7. The Raptor Hand and Talon Hand 2.X do not suggest disability.
  8. They hint at comic-book superpowers.
  9. They can be fabricated in a variety of  fluorescent colors.
  10. Leading experts in 3-D design are now collaborating with E-nable.
Color Vocabualry Map by Enchanted Learning

Color Vocabualry Map by Enchanted Learning

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. Dawson Riverman was born without a left hand.
  2. The Rivermans purchased a high-tech prosthetic hand for their son.
  3. Each year, about 450 children receive amputations as a result of lawn mower accidents.
  4. The 3-D printers can also create prosthetic legs
  5. E-nable is an online volunteer organization founded in 2013 by John Scull.
  6. Dr. Schull is a research scientist at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
  7. Prosthetic hands are designed to look like replacement parts.
  8. Prosthetic hands can be fabricated in a variety of fluorescent colors, or even made to glow in the dark
  9. Each hand takes about 20 hours to print and another two or three hours to assemble.
  10. The hands work for every child.

 Grammar Focus: Preposition Exercise

Prepositions: in, for, of, with, by, on, at, to, as, into, around, over, from,
Directions: The following sentences are from the news article. For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices presented. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

State-of-the-art prosthetic replacements are complicated medical devices, powered___ batteries and they can cost thousands___dollars.The materials ___a 3-D-printed prosthetic hand can cost ___little___ $20 to $50, and some experts say they work just___well, if not better, than much costlier devices. Best ___all, boys and girls usually love their D.I.Y. prosthetics. The fingers are closed___ flexing the wrist which pulls ___cable tendons.

II. Post Reading Tasks

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

Topic organizer. By Enchanted Learning

 ANSWER KEY

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Tug, The Hospital Robot That Saves Lives

February 14th, 2015  |  Published in Technology

“The robot, I’m told, is on its way. Any minute now you’ll see it. We can track them, you know. There’s quite a few of them, so it’s only a matter of time. Any minute now. Ah, and here it is. Far down the hospital hall, double doors part to reveal the automaton… a white, rectangular machine about four feet tall… It’s not traveling on a track. It’s unleashed. It’s free.” M. Simon, Wired

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Tug autonomous medical robot, aka Tuggy McFresh - Josh Valcarcel:WIRED

Tug autonomous medical robot, aka Tuggy McFresh – Josh Valcarcel:WIRED

Excerpt: This Incredible Hospital Robot Is Saving Lives. By Matt Simon, Wired

“The robot, known as a Tug, edges closer and closer to me at the elbow of the L-shaped corridor and stops. It turns its wheels before accelerating through the turn, then suddenly halts once again. Josh, the photographer I’d brought along, is blocking its path, and by way of its sensors, the robot knows it. Tug, it seems, is programmed to avoid breaking knees. This hospital—the University of California, San Francisco’s Mission Bay wing—had opened four days before our visit. From the start, a fleet of Tugs has been shuffling around the halls. They deliver drugs and clean linens and meals while carting away medical waste and soiled sheets and trash. And by the time the fleet spins up to 25 robots on March 1, it’ll be the largest swarm of Tug medical automatons in the world, with each robot traveling an admirable average of 12 miles a day.

The staff still seems unsure what to make of Tug. Reactions I witness range from daaawing over its cuteness (the gentle bleeping, the slow-going, the politeness of stopping before pancaking people) to an unconvincingly restrained horror that the machines had suddenly become sentient… There are no beacons to guide the Tugs. Instead, they use maps in their brains to navigate. They’re communicating with the overall system through the hospital’s Wi-Fi, which also allows them to pick up fire alarms and get out of the way so carbon-based lifeforms can escape.

The roboticized kitchen of the UCSF Medical Center.  Josh Valcarcel:WIRED

The roboticized kitchen of the UCSF Medical Center. Josh Valcarcel:WIRED

It’ll only board an elevator that’s empty, pulling in and doing a three-point turn to flip 180 degrees before disembarking. After it’s made its deliveries to any number of floors—the fleet has delivered every meal since the hospital opened—it gathers empty trays and returns them to the kitchen, where it starts the whole process anew.

Credit: Josh Valcarcel:WIRED

Credit: Josh Valcarcel:WIRED

Asimov’s laws are good to keep in mind so we don’t end up with murderous hordes of machines, but we need to start talking more about the other side of things. How should we treat them? We need laws for human-robot interaction. For the moment, it seems that we’re supposed to just pretend they’re Grandma. That’s Law Number One. What the other laws will be, I’m not so sure. How will we treat AI that’s smart enough to pass as human, for instance? I mean, we’re already getting emotional about a box that rolls around hospitals. Maybe it’s too early to tell these things. Give me some time to think about it.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

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

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

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

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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic.  Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board.  Students can use this great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.comGreat Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

II. While Reading Tasks

Word Inference

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

  1. The whole circus is, in a word, bewildering.
  2. It’s really weird.
  3. The Tug that’d emerged had come from the kitchen.
  4. Other departments have their own monikers that include Tuggy and Little McTuggy.
  5. There are no beacons to guide the Tugs.
  6. We had to train on a lot of robot etiquette.
  7. We need laws for human-robot interaction.
  8. Most staffers have a strange nonreciprocal affection for Tugs.
  9. The Tug tango is a nice alliteration.
  10. Tug’s manufacturer, designed it to be comforting.
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 Tug robot is currently being used at a hospital in New York.
  2. Some of the Tug’s duties are to answer phones and play with children.
  3. The hospital staff still seems unsure what to make of Tug.
  4. Soon Tugs will be in all California hospitals.
  5. The robots use maps in their brains to navigate.
  6. Tugs communicate through with the hospital’s Wi-Fi system.
  7. Hospital staff knew how to interact with the robots.
  8. Tug’s manufacturer designed it to be comforting.
  9. There are Drug Tugs that securely deliver medications.
  10. According to the article, the robot  performed its duties correctly almost 85 percent of the time.

Grammar Focus

Structure and Usage

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

I

  1. El Camino Hospital has been using the bots since 2009.
  2. Tugs have allowed them to avoid hiring additional staff.
  3. There’s an hotel opening this summer in Japan with robot receptionists.

II

  1. Walking around an hospital in scrubs is perfectly normal.
  2. I’ve spent the morning tailing an autonomous robot.
  3. Right now I envy the Tug on account of its perfection.

III

  1. They’re not saddled with emotions.
  2. I don’t like Tuggy one bit
  3. There’s no robot for an man like me.

III. Post Reading Tasks

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing Exercise

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

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

“In fact, I think the most interesting thing is people have been very respectful of the robots. When we went and talked to other people at other hospitals, they said, ‘Oh, people get in the way.’ We haven’t had any of that. I think we did a lot as an organization to sort of prime people …t sounds demeaning, but the humans had been coached on how to deal with robots. So welcome to the future. Your robot ethics instructor will see you now.”

“It may have an adult voice, but Tug has a childlike air, even though in this hospital you’re supposed to treat it like a wheelchair-bound old lady. It’s just so innocent, so earnest, and at times, a bit helpless. If there’s enough stuff blocking its way in a corridor, for instance, it can’t reroute around the obstruction.”

“…For as cute as Tug can be—and it pains me to say this—it’s also a bit creepy. There’s something unsettling about a robot that’s responsible for human lives tooling around with minimal commands. Maybe it’s that I occasionally felt like we were hunting wild animals, wandering around in search of Tug after Tug. While technicians can track a Tug’s movements, it isn’t always easy to immediately pinpoint and intercept them.”

2. In your opinion is the Tug robot an asset to have in hospitals? Provide reasons for your answers.

3. Will there be less need for human workers now that robots can perform certain functions?

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the Tug robots 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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Six-Years-Old: Too Soon For College Prep?

February 7th, 2015  |  Published in Education

What is college? To Madison Comer, a confident 6-year-old, it is a very big place. It’s tall, she explained, It’s like high school but it’s higher… Matriculation is years away for the Class of 2030, but the first graders in Kelli Rigo’s class at Johnsonville Elementary School in rural Harnett County, N.C., already have campuses picked out. Three have chosen West Point and one Harvard. In a writing assignment, the children will share their choice and what career they would pursue afterward.” L.Pappanofeb, NYT   

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Preping for college.Credit-recordnet

Preping for college.Credit-recordnet

Excerpt: Is Your First Grader College Ready?Laura Pappanofeb,NYT

“The future Harvard applicant wants to be a doctor. She can’t wait to get to Cambridge because “my mom never lets me go anywhere. The mock applications they’ve filled out are stapled to the bulletin board. The age-old question is: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ You always ask kids that,” Ms. Rigo said. We need to ask them, ‘How will you get there? Even if I am teaching preschool, the word ‘college’ has to be in there.

It’s sort of like, if you want your kids to be in the Olympics or to have the chance to be in the Olympics, said Wendy Segal, a tutor and college planner in Westchester County, N.Y., you don’t wait until your kid is 17 and say, ‘My kid really loves ice skating.’ You start when they are 5 or 6. Credit President Obama and the Common Core Standards for putting the college and career ready mantra on the lips of K-12 educators across the country. Or blame a competitive culture that has turned wide-open years of childhood into a checklist of readiness skills. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that college prep has hit the playground set.

College bound. Credit- NYT

College bound. Credit- NYT

Research shows that the college advantage is growing only for students from educated, high-income families…while it has barely moved (from 6 percent to 9 percent) for low-income students. The college project, this year adopted by all five first-grade classes, has pleased some parents and puzzled others. One, Lora Collins, a Kansas State graduate, thought the college talk was useful. For many local families, she said, it is just not in their mind, in their thought process, to think about going to college.

A few have not been so receptive, complaining that students should be focusing on reading, writing and math. Young children simply cannot understand what college is, according to Marcy Guddemi, executive director of the Gesell Institute of Child Development. You may as well be talking about Mars. It’s totally meaningless. We are robbing children of childhood by talking about college and career so early in life…Not every child will go to college. That is just a fact. Equating degree-earning with success may set up some to feel like failures.

creit- NYT video

creit- NYT video

Children need to make mistakes and find themselves in dead ends and cul-de-sacs,” said Joan Almon, a founder of the Alliance for Childhood who worries that the early focus cuts short self-exploration. I’m concerned that we are putting so much pressure around college that by the time they get there they are already burned out…Some agree. A number of colleges refuse to host tours for children in grades below high school, expressing sentiments similar to those on the Boston College website, which notes a desire not to contribute to the college admissions frenzy.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

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

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) 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 for assistance.

  1. The future Harvard applicant wants to be a doctor.
  2. The mock applications are stapled to the bulletin board.
  3. Blame our  competitive culture.
  4. For a decade they have been taking students to visit campuses.
  5. Schools want to provide incentive for hard work.
  6. Now everyone wants to check out higher education options.
  7. The University of Maryland has been deluged with requests.
  8. The goal is to get students to picture themselves on campus.
  9. Children need to make mistakes and find themselves in  cul-de-sacs.
  10. A number of colleges refuse to host tours for children in grades below high school

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.

“The age-old quest/question is: ‘What do you want/wish to be when you grow up?’ You always axe/ask kids that,” Ms. Rigo said. “We need to ask them, ‘How will you get there?’ Even if I am teaching/teacher preschool, the word ‘college’ has to be in there.” Forget mean/meandering — the messaging/messages now is about coals/goals and focus. “It’s sort of like, if you want your kids to be in the Olympics or to have the change/chance to be in the Olympics,” said Wendy Segal, a tutor/tutu and college planner in Westchester County, N.Y., “you don’t wait until your kid is 17 and say, ‘My kid really loves ice skating.’ You start/begin when they are 5 or 6.”

 Grammar Focus: Preposition Exercise

Prepositions: for, of, with, by, in, on, at, to, as, into, over, during,

Directions: The following sentences are from the article. For each sentence choose the correct preposition Note that not all of the prepositions presented will be in the paragraph.

One has only ___search Pinterest ___see the trend. Dozens ___elementary schoolteachers share cute activities that make the road___college___ clear___ ABC. One cut-and-paste work sheet has students using circles and squares___ sequence the steps. There are four: mail your application, get accepted, graduate high school and “move___, go___ class and study hard!” “College weeks” have become___ much a staple of elementary school calendars___ the winter band concert. And campus tours are now popular field trips.

III. Post Reading Tasks

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Writing/Discussion Questions

Writing/Discussion Questions

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

“Reaching out to children years ahead of serious college consideration can seed brand awareness for the university. Or amp up an already anxiety-laced process. Children need to make mistakes and find themselves in dead ends and cul-de-sacs, said Joan Almon, a founder of the Alliance for Childhood who worries that the early focus cuts short self-exploration. I’m concerned that we are putting so much pressure around college that by the time they get there they are already burned out.”

“A number of colleges refuse to host tours for children in grades below high school, expressing sentiments similar to those on the Boston College website, which notes a desire not to contribute to the college admissions frenzy. In some quarters, that frenzy is well underway by middle school. The perception that it’s harder to get into top colleges has parents starting earlier.”

“The impulse to line up achievements and to consider how a child’s record will play on a college application is contagious, said Mary Meyer, whose sons are in fifth and eighth grades in the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District near Houston. It is the game we are playing these days. It is too much, but I don’t see it changing, so you have to join in or you will be left behind.”

Main Idea / Debate

Directions: Divide students into  two teams for this debate. Both teams will use the article  as their source of information.

Team A will list five reasons for college prep for 6-year-olds.

Team B will list  five reasons against college prep for 6-year-olds.

Each team will have time to state their points of view,  and the teacher decides which team made their points.  

For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from FreeologyPros and Cons Scale

ANSWER KEY

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Bjork: Still Beautifully Creative!

January 31st, 2015  |  Published in Music

“For her new album, Bjork has merged the two sides of her artistry to create a new experience of music — again. Every album  Bjork produces resolves itself into a story. The story begins with the songs, the raw material through which Bjork channels emotion, autobiographical experience and philosophical ideas. E. Witt-The NYT 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Bjork-Photograph by Inez and Vinoodh. Styled by Mel Ottenberg

Bjork-Photograph by Inez and Vinoodh. Styled by Mel Ottenberg

Excerpt:

The Peculiar Genius of Bjork  BY Emily Witt, The New York Times

“The songs cohere into a universe. They take on colors, elements, an instrumental sound. They have a physical character, whom Bjork will portray on the album cover: the volcanic beats of Homogenic as a patriotic warrior; the tribal rhythms and trumpets of Volta as a wanderer in electric blue, neon green and red.

The albums and their stories map the bifurcation of Bjork’s artistry. There is Bjork the musician, who creates her music in an emotional cocoon, tinkering with technologies, concepts and feelings; and Bjork the producer and curator, who seeks out collaborators to help her translate her work beyond sound, who has an unparalleled ability to disperse herself across a vast range of media.Bjork-Homogenic- Time Magazine

Bjork has been feeling a little sensitive about her visual collaborations lately. It’s not that she isn’t proud of them, but she worries sometimes that the visual element of her work overshadows the music, her life’s obsession.

Bjork, now 49, spent her teens and early 20s immersed in the collective do-it-yourself ethos of Iceland, where if someone else wanted to put out a record we would just make the poster by hand.

The move from the provincial to the global, from the charming mess of homegrown collaboration to the unknown possibilities of a career as a soloist in a newer genre of music, was also her declaration of independence from the macho vernacular of rock ‘n’ roll.

Bjork:Volta

Bjork:Volta

From then on, mostly it was my songs and my vision, and I would decide what would be in which song and when. Going forward, she would express her vision clearly to her collaborators, and choose them with great care.

Bjork tailored her collaborations to the specificity of each song, to the character and story that she wanted to convey.

She rarely records in a studio, preferring the spontaneous session. Antony Hegarty, who sings accompaniment on a song on the new album, recorded the track while they were on vacation in the Caribbean.

She creates a circle around her which is her universe, and before each circle closes itself she jumps outside to create a new circle…So each album goes into a new direction regardless of the success of the previous one.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

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

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

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

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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 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 Chart for assistance.

  1. The songs cohere into a universe.
  2. The albums and their stories map the bifurcation of Bjork’s artistry.
  3. They are the stories that have coalesced.
  4. It is the Saturday before the winter solstice.
  5. Bjork has been  feeling sensitive about her visual collaborations.
  6. Bjork moved from the provincial to the global.
  7. It was her independence from the macho vernacular of rock ‘n’ roll.
  8. Each album doubled as a nexus of to often-obscure fashion designers.
  9. I can see Bjork shaking her head and morphing into a polar bear.
  10. She doesn’t make records in a traditional way.

Color Vocabualry Map by Enchanted Learning

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. Bjork keeps a small cabin near New York.
  2. Bjork drove to the cabin in a Land Rover.
  3. Bjork  still worries about  the visual element of her work.
  4. Bjork is 50 years-old.
  5. She made a record of folk songs at age 11.
  6. Her first solo album was called ME.
  7. Human Behavior was  her first music video as a solo artist.
  8. Bjork exposed popular audiences to often-obscure fashion designers.
  9. Bjork loved to dress up as clowns when she was young.
  10. She will be making a  feature film soon.

 Grammar Focus

Directions: Have students choose a picture from this lesson and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.

For a review of Adjectives visit ESL Voices Grammar

III. Post Reading Tasks

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing Exercise

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

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

“Bjork has been feeling a little sensitive about her visual collaborations lately. It’s not that she isn’t proud of them, but she worries sometimes that the visual element of her work overshadows the music, her life’s obsession.”

“She creates a circle around her which is her universe, and before each circle closes itself she jumps outside to create a new circle,” said Gondry. “So each album goes into a new direction regardless of the success of the previous one.”

2.With your group members make a list of questions you would ask Bjork if you met her.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

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