The Ultimate Safe Houses…The Wall Street Journal
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.
We are still cleaning up after the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy. Lives were lost, and many homes were destroyed, some beyond repair. Because of this, more people are deciding that it’s a good idea to “disaster proof” their homes. According to the article this can be a very expensive process and it has been estimated that some home owners are spending more on security and safety features today than they were five years ago. On the other side, because of the expense involved, some experts think people would be better off “letting the house blow down and rebuild it”.
“ The Corbi family’s house looks like many other modern homes in the Hollywood Hills, with white walls, large glass windows and views of downtown Los Angeles. But it has some key differences from its neighbors. The house has been built to withstand nearly every type of disaster scenario imaginable, from storms to high-magnitude earthquakes to wildfires to pandemic to a rare but potentially crippling high-frequency electromagnetic pulse attack triggered by a nuclear bomb, solar flare or specialized weapon. A wine cellar in the basement doubles as an underground bunker. If all else fails, a rooftop helipad allows for a last-ditch emergency exit.
More home builders and buyers are chasing a new kind of security: homes equipped to handle everything from hurricanes, tornados and hybrid superstorms like this week’s Sandy, to man-made threats ranging from home invasion to nuclear war.
Some, rebuilding in frequently storm-tossed areas, are looking to better withstand the next disaster; others are hoping to create a safeguard against any possible calamity… Sean Murphy, of Miami-based Coastal Construction, is building a 40,000-square-foot waterfront estate for a client in South Florida that’s designed to withstand a major hurricane or worse. It’s basically a bunker-style home we’re talking about
… In the Midwest, Steve Huff is aiming to build the ultimate tornado-proof home… a 70,000-square-foot reinforced-concrete, chateau-style home in rural Christian County, Mo. The home, known as Pensmore, has 12-inch-thick walls and ballistic-proof windows that have been tested to withstand the equivalent of a two-by-four board traveling at 40 miles an hour, mimicking the speed at which debris can be hurtled during a big storm…Mr. Huff says homeowners and builders can apply many of the same techniques on a broader scale to make homes more resistant to natural disasters.
For example, helix fibers within the concrete blocks make them slightly bendable like rubber, and better able to withstand impact, with minimal additional cost… Doug Buck, the governmental-affairs director for the Florida Home Builders Association, says some “extreme” building techniques don’t make financial sense for most homeowners. You’re going to spend so much that honestly, it would make more sense to let it blow down and rebuild it… Al Corbi, the owner of the Hollywood Hills house and founder of a company called Strategically Armored and Fortified Environments, or SAFE, says he can outfit homes with underground bunkers up to 30 stories below ground.” read more…
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.
Objective: Students will read the article with a focus on reading comprehension and acquiring new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through discussions, writing, and drawings.
I. Pre-Reading Tasks
Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Ask students to read the title of the post, and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them examine the photos. Based on these sources ask students to create a list of words and ideas that they think might be related to this article.
Directions: Have students use the KWL to activate their knowledge of a safe house, and diasters such as Hurricane Sandy, torrnados, earhtquakes, etc. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic. A good KWL chart from MSU.
II. While Reading Tasks
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold
- The Corbi family’s house looks like many other modern homes…
- The house has been built to withstand nearly every type of disaster scenario imaginable…
- …from…wildfires to pandemic to a…crippling high-frequency attack…
- A wine cellar in the basement doubles as an underground bunker.
- If all else fails, a rooftop helipad allows for a last-ditch emergency exit.
- …others are hoping to create a safeguard against any possible calamity.
- Doug Buck says some “extreme” building techniques don’t make financial sense for most homeowners.
- That doesn’t stop some wealthy homeowners from trying to insulate themselves from every conceivable threat.
- The fog ranges from a harmless…haze to pepper spray to a noxious gas that can debilitate whoever inhales it…
True / False
Directions: The following statements were taken from the article. If a statement is true, students write (T) if a statement is false they write (F) and provide the correct answer from the article.
- According to the article The Corbi family’s house is located in Beverly Hills.
- The house has been built to withstand nearly every type of disaster except tornadoes.
- A wine cellar in the basement doubles as an underground bunker.
- Builders only construct buildings to safeguard against any possible calamity.
- Builder Sean Murphy, is building a 40,000-square-foot waterfront estate that’s designed to withstand a major earthquake or worse.
- In the Midwest, Steve Huff is aiming to build the ultimate tornado-proof home.
- When it is completed in early 2014, the Huff building will be the second largest private home in America.
- Doug Buck, is a builder for the Florida Home Builders Association.
- Also growing in popularity are escape tunnels that allow residents to exit to another point.
- Another feature in the Corbi house is a A facial-recognition system.
• Grammar Focus
Using Adjectives to describe pictures
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
Reading Comprehension Check
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?
Main Idea / Debate
Directions: Divide students into two teams for this debate. Both teams will use the article as their source of information (or the web for additional information).
One team will list five reasons for building extreme disaster-safe homes for millions of dollars.
The other team will list five reasons against building theses types of homes.
Each team will have time to state their points of view, and the teacher decides which team was most convincing.
Students can start with the following statements from the article:
“More home builders and buyers are chasing a new kind of security: homes equipped to handle everything from hurricanes, tornados and hybrid super storms like this week’s Sandy, to man-made threats ranging from home invasion to nuclear war.”
On the other hand, “Doug Buck, the governmental-affairs director for the Florida Home Builders Association, says some extreme” building techniques don’t make financial sense for most homeowners. You get to a point of diminishing returns… You’re going to spend so much that honestly, it would make more sense to let it blow down and rebuild it.”
For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer from Freeology
Discussion /Writing Tasks
Directions: Place students in groups and have then answer the following questions. After, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. Or have students choose a topic for an essay to share with the class.
- What are the most important points in this article? For example the fact that people are building safer homes, or that the tremendous amount of money they spend creating these super homes.
- Some critics think that those with money should invest in building public disaster-proof housing for poorer people. What is your opinion on this? Provide examples for your reasons.
- If you could afford it, would you build a disaster-proof home? Why? or why not?
- How long have people been building disaster-proof homes? You’ll have to do research for the answer.
- Has there ever been a national disaster in your country? If yes, please describe what happened.
IV. Listening Activity
Video:Clark Howard of HLN: Is your home disaster proof?
Clark Howard (born June 20, 1955) is a popular U.S. talk radio host of the nationally syndicated consumer advice program The Clark Howard Show. The show covers consumer and financial news, covering ways to spend less, save more and avoid rip-offs.” read more…
While Listening Tasks
True /False statements
Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video. As students listen to the video if a statement is true they mark it T if the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.
- The house behind Clark Howard had been hit by a tornado.
- Kids need to be taught how to escape from the house during emergencies.
- Clark’s 11-year-old knows how to use a safety ladder.
- The ladder is on the heavy side.
- His daughter also knows how to safely remove the windows in an emergency.
- Another safety idea is a fire-proof safe.
- Smoke detectors should be checked once a year.
- Smoke detectors usually last for 10 years.
1. After listening to this video make a list of additional safety tips for people.
2. With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask Clark Howard.
V. GROUP PROJECTS:
Design a Disaster Proof House
Directions: Place students in groups and have each group design their version of a disaster-proof house. They can use the designs presented in the article as the basis for their design. They can also use the web to find ideas.
Hurricane Sandy and the Disaster-Preparedness Economy By Andrew Martin , The New York Times -Folks here don’t wish disaster on their fellow Americans. They didn’t pray for Hurricane Sandy to come grinding up the East Coast, tearing lives apart and plunging millions into darkness.But the fact is, disasters are good business in Waukesha. And, lately, there have been a lot of disasters.
Please come back again.