Bin Laden Is Dead, Obama Says by P. Baker, H. Cooper, and M. Mazzetti, New York Times,
Many schools world wide are discussing the historic event of the death of Bin Laden. Here is a lesson plan and some ideas for discussion groups.
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this article With Answer Key.
Article Excerpt: Bin Laden Is Dead, Obama Says, by P. Baker, H. Cooper, and M. Mazzetti
Published: May 1, 2011
“WASHINGTON — Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the most devastating attack on American soil in modern times and the most hunted man in the world, was killed in a firefight with United States forces in Pakistan, President Obama announced on Sunday.
In a late-night appearance in the East Room of the White House, Mr. Obama declared that “justice has been done” as he disclosed that American military and C.I.A. operatives had finally cornered Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, who had eluded them for nearly a decade. American officials said Bin Laden resisted and was shot in the head. He was later buried at sea.
The news touched off an extraordinary outpouring of emotion as crowds gathered outside the White House, in Times Square and at the ground zero site, waving American flags, cheering, shouting, laughing and chanting, “U.S.A., U.S.A.!” In New York City, crowds sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Throughout downtown Washington, drivers honked horns deep into the night.•
“For over two decades, Bin Laden has been Al Qaeda’s leader and symbol,” the president said in a statement broadcast around the world. “The death of Bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al Qaeda. But his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that Al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad.”
Bin Laden’s demise is a defining moment in the American-led fight against terrorism, a symbolic stroke affirming the relentlessness of the pursuit of those who attacked New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001….Bin Laden’s death came nearly 10 years after Qaeda terrorists hijacked four American passenger jets, crashing three of them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington. The fourth hijacked jet, United Flight 93, crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside after passengers fought the militants. “This is important news for us, and for the world,” said Gordon Felt, president of the group, Families of Flight 93. “It cannot ease our pain, or bring back our loved ones. It does bring a measure of comfort that the mastermind of the September 11th tragedy and the face of global terror can no longer spread his evil.
”The mostly young people who celebrated in the streets of New York and Washington saw it as a historic moment, one that for many of them culminated a worldwide manhunt that started when they were children….The city of Abbottabad where Bin Laden was found has had other known Al Qaeda presence in the past…
The president was careful to add that, as Mr. Bush did during his presidency, the United States is not at war with Islam. “Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims,” Mr. Obama said. “Indeed, Al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.”
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this article.
Lesson: Understanding Terrorism
Level: Low Intermediate -Advanced
Time: approximately 1 hour.
Materials: article excerpt, questions for discussion.
Objectives: Students will learn about the significance of the death of Bin Laden; the meaning of terrorism and its connection to the United States and 9/11. Learners will practice reading comprehension, and learn new vocabulary.
I. Pre-Reading Tasks
A. Speaking activity: learning phrases for conversation.
Before beginning the lesson, review the following phrases of Conversation with students.
Suggestions for Guiding Discussion Groups
In a conversation class, there are different formats for group discussions, ranging from informal small talk to a very structured group debate on a controversial topic. In all cases it is important to teach students the words and phrases necessary for them to contribute effectively to the group discussion. Teaching students the proper language to use in certain situations, such as giving opinions, agreeing and disagreeing, is necessary for organized group discussions, and is vital when students are discussing controversial or sensitive topics. The main focus should be that they respect the opinions of each other. You can create a handout of your own set of relevant phrases for your students. Also remember that your language in the classroom will also affect how your students speak to each other.
Agreeing and Disagreeing, Interrupting
I agree with you.
I think you are right.
Excuse me, but I disagree. I don’t agree with you.
Excuse me. Could you clarify that? In my opinion…
Additional Phrases for Conversation
B. Stimulate background knowledge
Find out what students know about the following terms: Bin Laden, terrorism, 9/11.
II. While Reading Tasks
A. Vocabulary Practice (inference)
Give students the excerpt from the article (entire article can be read by clicking on NYT above). Have them try to infer the meanings of the underlined words from the sentences. They may use a dictionary if they like. See the answers below.
- “Osama bin Laden the mastermind of the most devastating attack on American soil in modern times
- Mr. Obama declared that“justice has been done” …
- The news touched off an extraordinary outpouring of emotion as crowds gathered outside the White House, in Times Square and at the ground zero site, waving American flags…
- “…We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad.”
- Bin Laden’s demise is a defining moment in the American-led fight against terrorism…
- The mostly young people who celebrated in the streets of New York and Washington saw it as a historic moment, one that for many of them culminated a worldwide manhunt that started when they were children…
- “Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims,”
- “…Indeed, Al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own.”
B. Questions for Discussion and Reflection
- What is terrorism?
- Who was bin Laden, and what was his background?
- What did he do that angered and hurt the American people?
- Describe what happened on 9/11/01 in the United States?
- Describe the following terms: The Taliban, al-Qaida, Muslims.
- What effect will his death have on people in other countries?
- How was Bin Laden killed?
- Do you think Bin Laden-related terrorists will retaliate?
- Do you think it’s correct for the American people to celebrate his death?
III. Post Reading Tasks
A. Ten Questions You would Ask the following people
Place students in groups and have them think of at least 10 questions (total) they might like to ask the following people. Students can add other people to this list.
- President Obama
- Bin Laden (when he was alive)
- The soldiers who captured and killed bin Laden
- The people who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attack
B. Activity: Using Photos To Stimulate Discussion
This is an excellent activity to encourage students to use their imaginations, and their language skills.
Place students in groups or pairs and hand out photos from above (remove the captions), or choose others from the web.
Using the brainstorming technique, have students discuss what they think is going on in the pictures.
Some possible questions you might propose to the students:
1. Who is the person in the photo? (Who are the people in the photo?)
2. What do you think they are doing, thinking, saying?
3. Write down your thoughts.
Visit each group and provide help if needed.
Each group prepares a short story for each photo. Students should write down any new vocabulary words, and check the meanings using a dictionary. Students share their photos and stories with the class.
For more ideas on using photos for discussion visit lessons for Speaking.
Answers to Vocabulary Practice
- mastermind: noun. someone who has exceptional intellectual ability to plan and direct.
- devastating: adjective. wreaking or capable of wreaking complete destruction.
- justice: noun. judgment involved in the determination of rights and the assignment of rewards and punishments.
- extraordinary: adjective. beyond what is ordinary or usual; highly unusual or exceptional or remarkable;
- outpouring: noun. the rapid and continuous delivery of linguistic communication (spoken or written);
- ground zero: noun. the site of the World Trade Center before it was destroyed
- vigilant: adjective. carefully observant or attentive; on the lookout for possible danger;
- demise: noun. the time when something ends.
- culminate [culminated]: verb. reach the highest or most decisive point.
- manhunt: noun. an organized search (by police) for a person (charged with a crime).
- Muslim: noun. a believer in or follower of Islam
- slaughter [slaughtered]: noun. the savage and excessive killing of many people
Additional Lessons New York Times Learning Network.
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