Category Archives: Social Issues

My Deaf Son: “I see his voice. I hear his face.”

“I watched my toddler wade into the Gulf and launch a fistful of pebbles in flight. They glistened, tiny sparks of light, before I realized he was up to his chin in cold water. And I realized that if I called his name, if I screamed it, the word would sink like stone.”  E. Engelman, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit Giselle Potter, The New York Times

Excerpt: My Deaf Son Fought Speech. Sign Language Let Him Bloom  By Elizabeth Engelman The New York Times

“When Micah turned 2 we had learned that he was profoundly deaf. In the audiologist’s office, an auditory brain response concluded he couldn’t hear a helicopter. ‘You’re taking this well,’ the doctor had said. But later, as I watched Micah step deeper into the Gulf water, I wanted to rage. I was so angry, I could have torn the beach apart. We celebrated his third birthday, and the audiologist turned his cochlear implants on for the first time.

Cochlear Implants | Brain Computer

I said, ‘Hi Micah, can you hear mommy?’ His hazel eyes widened and he screamed in terror, his body trembling. Shock. In American Sign Language, the sign for cochlear implant is similar to the sign for vampire. Vampire is signed with two fingers like teeth to the throat. Cochlear implant is signed with two fingers like teeth behind the ears.

Photo of 3 young children with cochlear implants. photo-hearingsearch

The audiologist told me not to sign at all. She said sign language was a crutch that would hinder his speech. When he heard my voice for the first time, his cry was guttural, a stab wound. He was bitten by sound…He refused to wear the $18,000 sound processors, and his defiance was feral: head butts to my face, kicks, bites. The back of his head smacked against my jaw, and for a moment everything went black. The implant surgery alone had cost $50,000. Auditory verbal therapy was out of pocket, the doctors were out of network. What choice did I have but to force him?

Cochlear Implant and Rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins Listening Center. Photo- John Hopkins

When Helen Keller wouldn’t cooperate, her teacher Annie Sullivan used brute force. In The Story of My Life, Sullivan described how teaching obedience to the deaf and blind girl had to precede teaching language. Each week, I dragged him to speech therapy. He didn’t resist.

In public, his meltdowns drew unwanted attention on playgrounds and in grocery stores. How had I become the dejected mother in the fruit aisle, helpless as Micah bucked and cried, dangerously hitting his head on the linoleum floor?… I was no Annie Sullivan. I couldn’t break him, and instead, he was breaking me.

I gave up on spoken English, and enrolled in American Sign Language classes at the local community college.

Sign Language for children with Autism. photo- shieldhealthcare

Micah’s first sign was flower. To sign flower, the right hand grasps an imaginary stem and holds it first against the right nostril and then against the left, and like a flower, Micah blossomed one new sign at a time and took his implants off his head for good.

The Benefits of Using Sign Language with Your Child | .Intellidanceiff

Nine-week-old Aria, pictured right, was filmed concentrating closely as she was tenderly shown the gesture for ‘grandma’ by her grandmother Pamela, pictured left. photo- The Daily Mail

The first time he told me a story, he was 6. In the dark, his hand reaches up to speak, and I shine a flashlight on his fingers. They make rapid shadow puppets onto the bedroom wall, and I understand his story like a hieroglyph. I see his voice. I hear his face. His pristine silence fills a room far more than sound.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

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 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. The audiologist turned his cochlear implants on for the first time.
  2. The audiologist told me not to sign at all.
  3. When he heard my voice for the first time, his cry was guttural.
  4. Helen Keller wouldn’t cooperate at the start of her training.
  5. When she took  him to speech therapy he didn’t resist.
  6. I woke up paralyzed on the right side of my face.
  7. The doctor said it was trauma to the nerve.
  8. She gave up on talking English.
  9. They enrolled in American Sign Language classes.
  10. His pristine silence fills a room far more than sound.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabualry chart

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

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

Micah’s first___ was___. To sign flower, the right hand grasps an___stem and holds it first against the right___and then against the left, and like a flower, Micah___ one new sign at a time and took his___off his head for good.

WORD LIST: implants, imaginary, sign, blossomed, flower, nostril,

 Grammar Focus

Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article  and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.

For a review of Adjectives visit ESL Voices Grammar

III. Post Reading Activities

Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea

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

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups  and  have each group compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a class.

3-2-1-Writing

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

Category: Language, Social Issues

Let’s Make America Safe Again: Save PBS

“Public broadcasting makes our nation smarter, stronger and, yes, safer. It’s a small public investment that pays huge dividends for Americans. And it shouldn’t be pitted against spending more on improving our military. That’s a false choice.This might seem like an unlikely position for me, a 34-year combat veteran. But it’s a view that has been shaped by my career leading brave men and women who thrive and win when they are both strong and smart. My experience has taught me that education, trusted institutions and civil discourse are the lifeblood of a great nation.”  S.  McChrystal, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Sesame Street. image: wow.tribunnews

Excerpt: Save PBS. It Makes Us Safer By Stanley McChrystal, The New York Times

“Public broadcasting plays a special role with young children. According to the Pew Research Center, rising numbers of American children live with one parent or with two parents who both work.

My son and daughter-in-law are a two-income family with two children, and day care is a part of their lives. Many other parents must get by without day care services. These parents are busy in the morning and busy at night.

They want to protect their children from over-commercialized content. And they strive to prepare their children for school and lifelong learning. Having thoughtful television, games and other media that is not commercially driven is essential to good parenting.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, more than half of all kids in our country do not have the opportunity to attend a preschool program. I’ve also seen research that PBS local stations reach more children ages 2 to 5 than any other children’s network, and the new dedicated PBS Kids channel is the only free national programming for children that is available anywhere and anytime.

I’ve seen articles that say PBS and its member stations are ranked first in public trust among nationally known institutions. Why then would we degrade or destroy an institution that binds us together?

We need a strong civil society where the connection between different people and groups is firm and vibrant, not brittle and divided.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

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 title 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 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. I like to say that leadership is a choice.
  2. Parents want to protect their children from over-commercialized content.
  3. Many children do not have the opportunity to attend a preschool program.
  4. Public, noncommercial broadcasting is also giving kids social skills.
  5. Stereotyping and prejudice have become substitutes for knowing and understanding one another as individuals.
  6. Why then would we degrade an institution that binds us together?
  7. We need public media that acts as our largest classroom.
  8. We need broadcasting that treats us as citizens.
  9. We are not just consumers but  also citizens of this great country.
  10. We need to defend against weaknesses within.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabualry chart

 

Reading Comprehension: Word -Recognition

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

Public television/telephones works hardy/hard to engage /engagement young learners/leaners and build the schools/skills needed for a jump-start on life. We need our youngest to be curious/curiosity, resilient and telepathic/empathetic, and prepared for the jobs of the future.

 Grammar Focus: Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

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

Many parents are busy___ the morning and busy___night. They want___protect their children___ commercialized content. The federal appropriation___the Corporation___Public Broadcasting — supports more ___a thousand television and radio stations___ a cost___ about $1.35 per citizen.

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Public, noncommercial broadcasting is also giving kids social-emotional skills like persistence and self-control. It pushes people by elevating them and their sights. It brings them into more thinking and understanding, and it brings us together.
  2. We need to defend against weaknesses within and enemies without, using the tools of civil society and hard power. We don’t have to pick one over the other.
  3. Explain why you are for or against public television.

3-2-1-Writing

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

Category: Social Issues

When A Female is a ‘Tomboy’ and Not Transgender

“I just wanted to check, the teacher said. ‘Your child wants to be called a boy, right? Or is she a boy that wants to be called a girl? Which is it again?’ I cocked my head. I am used to correcting strangers, who mistake my 7-year-old daughter for a boy 100 percent of the time…’She’s a girl,’ I said. The woman looked unconvinced. ‘Really. She’s a girl, and you can refer to her as a girl.” L. Selin Davis, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Tomboys

Excerpt: My Daughter Is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy. By LISA S. DAVIS, The New York Times

“In fact, I love correcting them, making them reconsider their perceptions of what a girl looks like. But my daughter had been attending the after-school program where this woman taught for six months. Later, when I relayed this conversation to my daughter, she said, ‘More girls should look like this so it’s more popular so grown-ups won’t be so confused.’

My daughter wears track pants and T-shirts. She has shaggy short hair (the look she requested from the hairdresser was Luke Skywalker in Episode IV). Most, but not all, of her friends are boys. She is sporty and strong, incredibly sweet, and a girl.

And yet she is asked by the pediatrician, by her teachers, by people who have known her for many years, if she feels like, or wants to be called, or wants to be, a boy.

In many ways, this is wonderful: It shows a much-needed sensitivity to gender nonconformity and transgender issues. It is considerate of adults to ask her — in the beginning. But when they continue to question her gender identity — and are skeptical of her response — the message they send is that a girl cannot look and act like her and still be a girl.

Scout a tomboy in the film To Kill A Mockingbird

Left alone, would boys really never wear pink? (That’s rhetorical — pink was for decades considered a masculine color.) Would girls naturally reject Matchbox cars? Of course not, but if they show preferences for these things, we label them. Somehow, as we have broadened our awareness of and support for gender nonconformity, we’ve narrowed what we think a boy or a girl can look like and do.

The kids get it. But the grown-ups do not. While celebrating the diversity of sexual and gender identities, we also need to celebrate tomboys and other girls who fall outside the narrow confines of gender roles. Don’t tell them that they’re not girls.

Film star Katherine Hepburn usually dressed up tomboy style.

My daughter is happy with her body and comfortable with the way she looks, thousands of times happier and more comfortable than I am or ever have been. She is my hero. Or rather, my heroine.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

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. 

KWL Chart

Directions: Have students  create  two KWL charts  to list the information they already know about  about the terms Tomboy and Transgender. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

K-W-L Chart from Creately.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 Map  for assistance.

  1. She relayed this conversation to  her daughter.
  2. Many grown-ups can be  confused by her appearance.
  3. This shows a much-needed sensitivity to gender nonconformity.
  4. People are skeptical of her response.
  5. Adults  have increasingly eschewed millenniums-old gender roles.
  6. Her look evolved with age.
  7. I want trans kids to feel free and safe.
  8. You are an awesome girl.
  9. She identifies as a tomboy.
  10. invariably people agree with her choice.

Word Map by Against the Odds

 

Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins

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

Let’s be clear: If my___does begin to feel that the___ in her mind and the sex of her ___don’t match, I will be supportive. I will ___puberty blockers and___ (more than I already have). I will listen to her and make ___accordingly, just as I did when she turned 3 and asked for a tie and a button-down shirt. Then she saw her father wear a(for once).

WORD LIST: blazer decisions, hormones, research, daughter, gender, body,

Grammar: Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article  and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.  Using Adjectives  ESL Voices Grammar

III. Post Reading Activities

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 for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. “She is not gender nonconforming. She is gender role nonconforming. She does not fit into the mold that we adults — who have increasingly eschewed millenniums-old gender roles ourselves, as women work outside the home and men participate in the domestic sphere — still impose upon our children.”
  2. “The message I want to send my daughter is this: You are an awesome girl for not giving in to pressure to be and look a certain way. I want her to be proud to be a girl.”

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. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Social Issues

Designs for The Insane “Border Wall” Proposal

“By the time bidding closed Tuesday, there was no lack of companies competing to build the wall…proposed for the border between the U.S. and Mexico. In fact, by The Associated Press’ count, upwards of 200 organizations had expressed interest in designing and building it for ‘Customs and Border Protection‘. Despite their common goal, the companies submitting bids have followed some radically different paths in their approach.” C. Dwyer, NPR

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Border fences like this one exist along the U.S.-Mexican border. In Brownsville, Texas, the local consensus is that the fence hasn’t helped anyone except contractors and drug cartels. (Thinkstock photo)

 

Excerpt: The Many Possible Shapes Of [A]Border Wall, by Colin Dwyer, NPR

“Among the submissions are walls with solar panels, wire mesh and sloped, slippery surfaces. There are even walls that are no walls at all — statements standing instead as protests of a policy that from the start has drawn a lot of resistance…The AP notes the prototypes are expected to cost about $200,000 to $500,000 each; estimates for the cost of the wall covering the 2,000-mile border, however, range up to $38 billion. Here’s a glimpse of just a few of the designs vying to stand between the U.S. and Mexico, complete with renderings and explanations of how they could take shape.”

The WireWall

The WireWall fence now in place in California on the border with Mexico.

The WireWall fence now in place in California on the border with Mexico. Riverdale Mills says the fence is produced using the same manufacturing process as its “marquee marine wire mesh” designed for lobster traps used in New England.’The configurations of the wire mesh make it virtually impossible to climb or cut,’ Jane Meehan Lanzillo, director of corporate communications for Riverdale, tells NPR in an email.

Solar Panels

This rendering depicts solar panels snaking along the border.

Partners, the company behind the proposal, believes that the energy provided by the panels would offer the U.S. a financial boon. The company’s proposal sets solar panels on sections of the wall, generating what it says would be approximately 2.0 megawatts of electricity per hour, according to the wire service.

Maximum-Security Wire Mesh

The Penna Group rendering, which displays two groups on either side watching each other through the mesh. Courtesy of the Penna Group

Composed of high-density steel packed into double wire mesh, the Penna Group’s proposed wall takes its cue from maximum security prisons. Nearly impossible to climb, it would also be built to withstand pick axes, acetylene torches and other handheld weapons. Michael Evangelista-Ysasaga, CEO of the Penna Group, speaks to the aesthetics of the U.S.-facing side of the wall, telling NPR ‘the wire mesh panels will be emblazoned with the Seal of the United States.’

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian Construction Company’s wall, here modeled in miniature, would be paneled according to its Tridipanel system.

It’s impossible to avoid: For a man bidding to build a massive wall, Rod Hadrian has a rather serendipitous name. Namesake of the Roman emperor who built the wall that once marked off the northernmost edge of the ancient empire — the wall that still stands in ruins in the U.K. today — Hadrian Construction Company has proposed a wall constructed in prefabricated panels.

The Wall Of Sound

A Wall of Pipe Organs-jmerindian.studio copy

One of at least three protest proposals ginned up by J.M. Design Studio of Pittsburgh, this one calls for ‘a semi-continuous wall of nearly 10 million pipe organs.’ The long line of 30-foot organs breaks in regular intervals, offering border-crossers the opportunity to walk straight through — but not before playing a ditty of their choosing.

The Wall To End All Walls

Unlike the other proposals on this list, the Otra Nation concept condemns barriers altogether. Courtesy of Otra Nation

‘We propose a trans-national ‘New Deal’ to build an innovative shared co-nation based on local economic empowerment, energy independence and revolutionary infrastructure and transit,’  says the MADE Collective, a cross-disciplinary team that argues for the creation of what it calls the Otra Nation — a ‘regenerative co-nation shared by citizens  of both Mexico and the United Stated and co-maintained by respective governments.'”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

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 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. There were submissions with  walls made of solar panels.
  2. There are many protests  against building a wall.
  3. The finalists for the contract will be announced in June.
  4. The companies will be expected to build a prototype of their wall.
  5. Estimates for the cost of the wall covering range up to $38 billion.
  6. Here’s a glimpse of just a few of the designs.
  7. Some companies have renderings of their ideas.
  8. There are mesh walls  designed for lobster traps used in New England.
  9. This wall is virtually impossible to climb or cut.
  10. The Wall Of Sound allows people to play a ditty as they walk through.

 

Word Map by Against the Odds

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

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

The border___should be “a ___of art,” Russ Baumgartner, CEO of Concrete Contractors Interstate of San Diego, tells the AP. The ___service says the company’s ___calls for stones and___set in___concrete, reflecting the areas the wall wends through and___both sides “aesthetically pleasing” — unlike the CBP’s callout, which___ only that the U.S. side be pleasant to look at.

WORD LIST:  artifacts, wire, piece, proposal, asks,   polished, rendering, wall,

Grammar Focus: Word Recognition

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

J. Meridian — an art/artist who says the actual/actually broader/border wall is “preposterous for so many reasons,” according to the Wall Street Journal — also proposes/purpose a wall of hammocks and a wall of refugees‘ gravestones/grave  for passersby to “consider the danger, terror, and honor/horror they must have faced in trying to cross.”

III. Post Reading Activities

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?

Groups Ask/Answer  Questions

Directions:  Place students in groups and have each group list 3  questions they would like to pursue in relation to  the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.

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. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Social Issues

New Stem-Cell Discovery Stirs New Ethical Questions

“As biological research races forward, ethical quandaries are piling up. In a report published Tuesday in the journal eLife, researchers at Harvard Medical School said it was time to ponder a startling new prospect: synthetic embryos. In recent years, scientists have moved beyond in vitro fertilization. They are starting to assemble stem cells that can organize themselves into embryo like structures.Whatever else, it is sure to unnerve most of us.” by C. Zimmer, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Biological landscape of embryos and Synthetic human entities with embryonic features (SHEEFs) in relation to moral status. image-elife

Excerpt: A New Form of Stem-Cell Engineering Raises Ethical Questions, by Carl Zimmer, The New York Times 

“Soon, experts predict, they will learn how to engineer these cells into new kinds of tissues and organs. Eventually, they may take on features of a mature human being. In the report, John D. Aach and his colleagues explored the ethics of creating what they call ‘synthetic human entities with embryolike features’ — Sheefs, for short. For now, the most advanced Sheefs are very simple assemblies of cells. But in the future, they may develop into far more complex forms, the researchers said, such as a beating human heart connected to a rudimentary brain, all created from stem cells.

Established guidelines for human embryo research are useless for deciding which Sheefs will be acceptable and which not, Dr. Aach argued. Before scientists get too deeply into making Sheefs, some rules must be put in place. Dr. Aach and his colleagues urged that certain features be kept off limits: Scientists, for example, should never create a Sheef that feels pain…Scientists began grappling with the ethics of lab-raised embryos more than four decades ago.

Photo- The stem cell blog

In 1970, the physiologist Robert G. Edwards and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge announced they had been able to fertilize human eggs with sperm and keep them alive for two days in a petri dish. During that time, the embryos each divided into 16 cells. In 1979, a federal advisory board recommended that the cutoff should be 14 days…Adherence to the 14-day rule led to tremendous advances. For decades, scientists did not break the 14-day rule — but only because they did not know how. But last year, two teams of scientists determined how to grow human embryos for 13 days. Those advances hinted that it might be possible to allow scientists to tack on a few days more, by changing the 14-day rule to, say, a 20-day rule… A hint of the future arrived in a study published this month by researchers at the University of Cambridge.

They built microscopic scaffolding into which they injected a mixture of two types of embryonic stem cells from mice. While these artificial embryos developed from embryonic stem cells, it may soon become possible to build them from reprogrammed adult human cells. No fertilization or ordinary embryonic development would be required to build a mouse Sheef. Henry T. Greely of Stanford University was less optimistic. While it is important to have a discussion about Sheefs, he said, it may be hard to reach an agreement on limits as enforceable as the 14-day rule. Even if ethicists do manage to agree on certain limits, Paul S. Knoepfler, a stem cell biologist at the University of California, wondered how easy it would be for scientists to know if they had crossed them.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

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

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

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

G. Cluster Brainstorming-workshopexercises

 

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. Some experts predict cell engineering will cause trouble.
  2. What are the ethics of creating synthetic human entities?
  3. They may develop into far more complex forms.
  4. Scientists might be able to test out drugs for diseases such as cancer or diabetes.
  5. There has to be guidelines for human embryo research.
  6. Scientists began grappling with the ethics of lab-raised embryos.
  7. Adherence to the 14-day rule led to tremendous advances.
  8. Some scientists were optimistic.
  9. Other kinds of research such as cloning could be studied.
  10. Spotting a primitive streak is easy.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabualry chart

 

Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

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

Dr. Edwards won the Nobel Prize in 2010 for his reset/research, which opened the door to in vitro fertilization/fertilize. The discovery/discover also made it possible to study the early/earliest moments of human/humane development. Governments around the world/worldly began deliberating over how length/long research laboratories and fertility clinics/clinic should be allowed to let these embryos grow. The so-called 14-day rule came to be embraced/embody not just by scientists in the United States but in other countries as well.

 Grammar Focus: Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

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

Experts predict, they will learn how___engineer these cells ___new kinds ___tissues and organs.

___the future, they may develop___ far more complex forms.

Such ___a beating human heart connected ___a rudimentary brain, all created ___stem cells.

Adherence ___the 14-day rule led___ tremendous advances.

Each ___those germ layers goes ___  ___produce all the body’s tissues and organs.

III. Post Reading Activities

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?

Group Debates

Directions: After reading the article, place students in groups and  have each group choose one side of the following debate:  For or Against the New Form of Stem-Cell Engineering. Allow groups to develop their arguments and conclude with a class discussion.

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. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Science, Social Issues