“CES 2019: The Year of Virtual Assistants”

“A visual tour of the world’s most important tech conference offers a window into the year’s trends, including next-generation wireless networks and the invasion of A.I.” B.X. Chen, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

2019 CES Tech Conference.

Excerpt: CES 2019: It’s the Year of Virtual Assistants and 5G By B. X. Chen, The New York Times 

“The show must go on. That sentiment couldn’t have been stronger this week at CES, the largest consumer electronics convention in the country. The conference, which brought more than 180,000 people to Las Vegas, was a reminder of what the tech industry is best at: being optimistic about itself. Who cares about the abysmal stock market and growing fears that we are sliding into a recession? Check out these virtual-reality headsets, self-driving cars and big-screen TVs.

DJI’s virtual-reality headset connected to a drone was among the thousands of products on display at the CES tech conference .Credit J. Buglewicz for The New York Times

Filippo Yacob, a tech entrepreneur who attended, was blasé about the state of the market. ‘The speed of progress and innovation happens at such a rapid pace that it’s not like it pulses with the stock market,’ said Mr. Yacob, whose company Primo Toys makes tech products for children. ‘It’s more like a bullet train.’

Cutest companion robots ces 2019 torooc liku. digital Trendsjpeg

This year’s event was also slightly larger than the last, with more than 4,500 exhibitors sprawled across 2.7 million square feet. The conference offered a peek at the year’s hottest tech trends, including artificially intelligent virtual assistants, next-generation wireless networks and connected cars.

UBTech Walker and Cruzr robots strut into CES 2019

LG lured attendees into its giant booth with televisions that can be rolled up as if they were  yoga mats. Wireless carriers and chip makers highlighted 5G, the next-generation cellular network arriving this year in a small number of cities with data speeds so zippy that devices can download an entire movie in seconds.

Laptops get more compact. Mashable

The most surprising news came when a host of tech companies announced they were working with Apple to bring some of the company’s content and virtual assistant capabilities to their devices.

TVs go to 8K. -Mashable

Vizio, the TV maker, said its newer TVs would work with AirPlay, an Apple software feature for streaming video and audio content from an iPhone or Mac to a television screen. People will be able to speak to Siri on their iPhones to play content they had purchased from iTunes on the Vizio TVs. Samsung, Sony and LG announced similar partnerships with Apple. In the past, AirPlay and iTunes videos were mostly tied to Apple-made hardware like the Apple TV set-top box. Their expansion to third parties underlines Apple’s ambition to expand the revenue it generates from its internet content and services.

CES 2019 Cools on Self-Driving; Digital Cockpits, V2X & In-Vehicle Shopping Drive Mobility Market

In a statement provided by Samsung, Eddy Cue, Apple’s head of internet software and services, said that with the expansion of iTunes and AirPlay, ‘iPhone, iPad and Mac users have yet another way to enjoy all their favorite content on the biggest screen in their home.’ Google erected an enormous outdoor booth to show off the multitude of devices that now work with Assistant, including smart watches, speakers and displays. The company said a billion devices now work with its assistant, up from 400 million last year. Google wants to make the Assistant the focal point of a consumer’s life: in the home, in the car and on mobile devices.

Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic

‘When I walk down the aisle at Home Depot, will all the devices I might buy work with the Assistant?’ Nick Fox, a Google executive who oversees Assistant, said of items like smoke detectors and thermostats. ‘The answer is yes.’

The battle among virtual assistants is shaping up to be very different from past platform wars between tech companies because consumers will have more choices. Many of the smart gadgets at CES worked with multiple virtual assistants…Car manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz and BMW showed off concepts of autonomous vehicles powered by artificial intelligence and 5G wireless connections. But consumers won’t be able to buy self-driving vehicles from a dealership anytime soon, in part because companies still need much more data on how people drive cars.  Smarter cars with features like built-in voice assistants to help people use maps, play music or get a sports update without taking their eyes off the road are available now, however.

CES 2019- Hyundai’s Elevate walking car concept.

If the economy does cool off, sales of cutting-edge gadgets will drop. Fast. But that didn’t faze people here. None of the CES attendees I spoke to expressed concern. Matt Strauss, who oversees Comcast’s Xfinity internet and cable service, was especially bullish about the year ahead. He said just about everything announced at CES required an internet connection, so that’s the last thing that people would cut off. ‘It’s become like oxygen,’ he said.”

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 improving oral skills. 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 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

 

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. CES offers a visual tour for consumers.
  2. Consumers don’t seem to care about the abysmal stock market
  3. There was a  battle among virtual assistants.
  4. Many of the smart gadgets worked with multiple virtual assistants.
  5. The smart home is already too complex with products from different brands.
  6. If the economy does cool off, sales of cutting-edge gadgets will drop.
  7. Car manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz and BMW showed off concepts of autonomous vehicles.
  8. The speed of progress and innovation happens at a rapid pace.
  9. Google wants to make the Assistant the focal point of a consumer’s life.
  10. Matt Strauss, who oversees Comcast’s Xfinity internet was especially bullish about the year ahead.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

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.

Amazon also had/have a large presence on/at the show. It filled a/an large conference room at/by the Venetian hotel with/on dozens of product/productsthat/this work with Alexa, including an/a Audi car, a/an motorcycle helmet and a/the stereo system.

Reading: Fill-ins

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

Google ___an enormous outdoor ___to show off the ___of devices that now work with Assistant, including ___speakers and displays. The company said a ___devices now work with its assistant, up from 400___last year. Google wants to make the ___ Assistant the ___point of a consumer’s___: in the home, in the car and on mobile devices.

WORD LIST:focal, life, watches, erected, smart, booth, million, multitude,  billion,Assistant,

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/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. The opening paragraph in the article begins, “The show must go on. That sentiment couldn’t have been stronger this week at CES, the largest consumer electronics convention in the country. The conference, which brought more than 180,000 people to Las Vegas, was a reminder of what the tech industry is best at: being optimistic about itself.”What is the tech industry optimistic about? Do you agree with this optimism? Explain why or why not.
  2. The article states, “Google erected an enormous outdoor booth to show off the multitude of devices that now work with Assistant, including smart watches, speakers and displays. The company said a billion devices now work with its assistant, up from 400 million last year.” Why is it important to Google that the average consumer’s devices work with the Assistant?
  3. Are there any products that seem useless and a waste of money?Why?
  4. With your group members choose the products that you think consumers will buy.
  5. Which products would you buy? Provide reasons why.

 

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

Category: Technology

Literary Classics Become Public Domain in 2019

“Nearly a century ago, the publisher Alfred A. Knopf released a slim book of spiritual fables by an obscure poet and painter named Kahlil Gibran. Knopf had modest expectations…Much to his surprise, the book — titled The Prophet — took off. Until now, the publishing house that still bears Knopf’s name has held the North American copyright on the title. But that will change on Jan. 1, when The Prophet enters the public domain.” A. Alter, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: New Life for Old Classics as Their Copyrights Run Out,  A. Alter, The New York Times

“… works by thousands of other artists and writers, including Marcel Proust, Willa Cather, D. H. Lawrence, Agatha Christie, Joseph Conrad, Edith Wharton, P. G. Wodehouse, Rudyard Kipling, Katherine Mansfield, Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens [will also enter the public domain].

This coming year marks the first time in two decades that a large body of copyrighted works will lose their protected status — a shift that will have profound consequences for publishers and literary estates, which stand to lose both money and creative control.

But it will also be a boon for readers, who will have more editions to choose from, and for writers and other artists who can create new works based on classic stories without getting hit with an intellectual property lawsuit…The sudden deluge of available works traces back to legislation Congress passed in 1998, which extended copyright protections by 20 years. The law reset the copyright term for works published from 1923 to 1977 — lengthening it from 75 years to 95 years after publication — essentially freezing their protected status.

Now that the term extension has run out, the spigot has been turned back on. Each January will bring a fresh crop of novels, plays, music and movies into the public domain. ‘Eventually, these books belong to the people,’ said James L. W. West III, a Fitzgerald scholar. ‘We can have new attempts to edit and reinterpret all of these iconic texts.’

Once books become part of the public domain, anyone can sell a digital, audio or print edition on Amazon.  Theater and film producers can adapt the works into movies, plays and musicals without having to secure rights. Rival publishing houses can issue new print editions, and scholars can publish new annotated versions and interpretations.

It’s difficult to say exactly how many works will enter the public domain this January, because some authors and publishers allowed their copyright to lapse, and some foreign-language books first published overseas in 1923 may remain under copyright for now, like Felix Salten’s BambiSome publishers and the writers’ heirs fear that losing copyright protections will lead to inferior editions with typos and other errors, and to derivative works that damage the integrity of iconic stories.

Still, many scholars and legal experts argue that American copyright law, which is mind-numbingly complex, has skewed toward enriching companies and the heirs of writers and artists at the expense of the public…Publishers often stop printing books that aren’t selling, but still retain the copyright, so no one else can release new editions. Once the books enter the public domain, a wider variety of new editions become available again, filling in a hole in the public and cultural record.

Legacy publishers are also snapping up newly available works. Penguin Classics is releasing new editions of Cane, [and] Gibran’s The Prophet.Vintage Classics is publishing a new edition of Robert Frost’s New Hampshire.”

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 improving oral skills. 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: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

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. Kahlil Gibran was an obscure poet.
  2. The publishing house has held the North American copyright on the title.
  3. This new shift that will have profound consequences for publishers.
  4. But it will also be a boon for readers, who will have more editions to choose from.
  5. The sudden deluge of available works traces back to legislation Congress passed in 1998.
  6. Some writers’ heirs fear that losing copyright protections will lead to inferior editions.
  7. Many also fear that typos and other errors will damage the integrity of iconic stories.
  8. Scholars and legal experts argue that American copyright law has skewed toward enriching companies.
  9. Over the decades, lawmakers repeatedly prolonged the terms.
  10. Theater and film producers can adapt the works into movies, plays and musicals.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

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

I

  1. The shift  will have profound consequences for publishers.
  2. Book are going to be available in a much wider variety.
  3. Each January will bring a fresh crop of novels plays, music and movies into the public domain.

 

II

  1. These book belong to the people.
  2. Fans can publish and sell their own sequels and spinoffs.
  3. Theater and film producers can adapt the works into movies.

 

III

  1. Free digital copies will circulate online.
  2. It’s difficult to said exactly how many works will enter the public domain this January.
  3. Publishers who specialize in classics see a tremendous opportunity to reintroduce old works.

 

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.

In___of a flood of new ___of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby when the ___expires in 2021, the Fitzgerald estate and his publisher, Scribner, released a new edition of the novel in April, hoping to position it as the definitive ___of the text.

The___has sold around 30 million ___worldwide, and continues to sell more than 500,000 ___a year in the ___alone.

WORD LIST: novel, United States, anticipation, copies, version, editions, copyright, copies,

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/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. The article states, “Books are going to be available in a much wider variety now, and they’re going to be cheaper,” said Imke Reimers, an assistant professor of economics at Northeastern University who has studied the impact of copyright. “Consumers and readers are definitely going to benefit from this.” Explain how readers will benefit from having access to so many books.
  2. According to the author once books become available to the public, what will people such as theater and film producers be able to do with the literary works?
  3. The article states, “Some publishers and the writers’ heirs fear that losing copyright protections will lead to inferior editions with typos and other errors, and to derivative works that damage the integrity of iconic stories.” Do you agree or disagree with this idea? Provide reasons for your answer.
  4. With your group members create a list of your favorite classic novels. Is there a novel  form the list that you would change?  Explain why or why not.

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

Category: Literature

2019: Successful People Share Their Worst Job Interviews

“Pretty much everybody who’s ever held down a job has at least one bad interview story. For me, it’s showing up soaking wet in the middle of a downpour for an interview at a major publishing company. ‘This weather is terrible, isn’t it?’ my interviewer asked. ‘It’s the kind of day you really should call in sick and stay in bed!’ I responded enthusiastically. J.Doll, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

business.linkedin.com

Excerpt:  7 Successful People Dish on Their Worst Job Interviews (and What They Learned) By J. Doll The New York Times

“I didn’t get the job. The truth is, I don’t even remember what the job was. But every time I walk into another interview, my heart starts beating faster, I feel slightly nauseated and I wonder how I might mess up again.

Learn from your mistakes

Those nerves are as common as having a bad interview story. Dr. David Austern, a clinical instructor with the Department of Psychiatry at N.Y.U. Langone Health, noted that 92 percent of adults have job interview anxiety…We worry that we won’t be able to express ourselves clearly, or that we won’t look right. What if people think we’re awkward or have a bad handshake? What if we’re evaluated poorly compared to others? With all this comes the behavioral manifestations — shaky hands, getting queasy, sweating — that ratchet the anxiety up even further…’Even if we don’t consider a bad interview a capital-T trauma, it has this emotional leadenness to it,’ said Dr. Austern, who reminded me that, on the up side, ‘pretty much everything short of death we can survive.’

Image- diddispatches.wordpress.com

In the case of Kashif Naqshbandi, the gaffe was the nightclub stamp from the evening before, which he saw when he reached out to greet his interviewer. ‘I could tell they noticed the crude smudge on the back of my hand, but they didn’t address it, which made matters even worse,’ he said. “I felt I had to compensate for my indiscretion and probably came across as too serious or strait-laced.’

fdys.ie

In retrospect, he notes, he should have just addressed it.‘It shows honesty and willingness to discuss difficult or sensitive subjects.’ Now Mr. Naqshbandi is Chief Marketing Officer at Frank Recruitment Group, a global niche technology recruitment agency, and he washes all nightclub stamps from his hands when he gets home.

What goes wrong is as important as what goes right

image- purple.echodigitalmedia.co.uk

No matter what you might think, interviewing isn’t about avoiding rejection. It’s not (entirely) even about impressing the person behind the desk, who, by the way, is a human just like you, and may be just as nervous as you are. The interview is your chance to find out if this is the right fit for you. So trust yourself — if it goes badly, that might be the best thing that’s ever happened.

Just roll with it

You might commit a fashion fur-pas, like Jen Bekman, founder and CEO of 20×200. She was interviewing for a job at a start-up run by David Steward, the former COO of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, “a really impressive and somewhat intimidating guy all around.”

Ms. Bekman had been staying with a friend who had a cat and lived in a “very dark” first floor apartment. ‘It wasn’t until I sat down across from him for the actual interview that I realized that my black suit was absolutely covered in cat hair. I mean, like … covered. I think it’s possible that he might’ve even handed me a lint brush during the interview! Totally mortifying.’He hired her anyway.

Move on

image- blog.acadzone.com

For Ryan Su, lead designer at TeliApp, an AI software development firm, his worst interview moment was also his … nicest. Instead of the hard interrogation he expected, he got questions like, ‘What kind of movies I watched, what the most recent series I’m binge watching was, and what was the most recent book I had read. And it totally threw me off my game…There are a million embarrassing things that could happen in an interview, Dr. Wen admits. The best thing to do is acknowledge it’s happening and refocus. And later, once you go home, ‘if they don’t call you back, the best thing you can do is move on.’Mr. Su resigned himself to failure and sent an email thanking his interviewers for their time. Two days later, he got his offer.”

reddit.com

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 improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

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

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. I stashed my umbrella in the hallway.
  2. He responded enthusiastically to the questions.
  3. Some people might feel slightly nauseated after an interview.
  4. What if people think we’re awkward?
  5. Some feel that they’ll be evaluated poorly due to a mistake.
  6. In the case of Kashif Naqshbandi, the gaffe was the nightclub stamp from the evening before.
  7. He felt that he had to compensate for his indiscretion.
  8. In retrospect, he notes, he should have just addressed it.
  9. Frank Recruitment Group is  a global niche technology recruitment agency.
  10. Mr. Su resigned himself to failure.

 

Grammar Focus: Identifying 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,

I had an interview___ Dumbo and had no idea that the building was 30 minutes___ the subway station!

I was a half-hour late or more and completely frazzled_____ the time I got there. When she finally arrived, the interview took place___ ___ the middle ___an open-plan office, So I had the fun___ having everyone listen___ me apologize.

I’ve spent the last hour convincing this guy I can learn___ pressure, and now I’m going ___look ___a flake.

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/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. Have you ever experienced a bad job interview? Describe what happened.
  2. Describe a good job interview that you’ve had.
  3. Did you learn something from your experiences?
  4. After reading the article, list what you think are the most significant elements one should keep in mind during  job interviews.

Group Projects

Role Play: In groups students can write short scripts for job interviewers and the interviewees.  Members can take turns playing each role. Groups can share role plays with class.

Visual  Ideas: Students could create pictures, collages or drawings to demonstrate their understanding of the article. For example they might focus on the  appropriate type of clothing to wear for a job interview.  Another idea would be the correct body language during an interview.

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: Jobs | Tags:

The Gift That Keeps Giving: ‘The Gift of the Magi’

“Just over 105 years ago, William Sydney Porter sat in a dim, high-backed booth—the third one from the window—in Pete’s Tavern on Irving Place, which cross-sects the Gramercy area of Manhattan. While patrons drank at the adjacent rosewood bar—he sat and penned one of the most enduring love stories to come after the turn of the 20th century. That writer is better known as O. Henry, and according to legend—a plaque commemorates that booth at Pete’s over a century later—he scripted his famous The Gift of the Magi  there.” K. Fallon, The Atlantic

Book Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Book Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for Gift of the Magi with Answer Key

Excerpt: The Gift of ‘The Gift of the Magi’ By Kevin Fallon, The Atlantic

“The indelible short story was first published on December 10, 1905 in the New York Sunday World Magazine. O. Henry was among the most popular writers of his day, with Magi being published at the height of his fame. The tale, a simply structured, exquisitely told story of self-sacrifice, generosity, and love, closed with the O. Henry signature: an ironic twist.

O. Henry- 1862-1910. In 2012 the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp to observe the sesquicentennial of O. Henry's birth.

O. Henry- 1862-1910. In 2012 the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp to observe the sesquicentennial of O. Henry’s birth.

From its opening the story is relatable; destitution is a theme that will never lose relevance. Della and Jim are 22-year-old newlyweds, earning a $20 a week income, and living in a humble apartment—the kind furnished with a shabby little couch and pier-glass window panes.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

She had been saving every penny she could for months… So deeply in love with her husband, Della can’t bear not giving him a Christmas gift and sells off her hair to purchase a fob chain for his watch… we discover that he has pawned the watch to afford the tortoise-shell combs Della had been eyeing to comb her hair.  In the age where shoppers line up at 3 am to buy a HDTV at a 10 percent discount, perhaps the story constantly resurfaces to serve as a sort of moral compass, steering us back on course to the season of giving.It’s a reminder of the way we should be living, with love first, giving second, and possession below all.”

WISHING EVERYONE HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

~ESL VOICES~

Design by webarts

Design by webarts

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for Gift of the Magi

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

Language Skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary activities are included.

Time: approximately 2 hours.

Materials:  Copy of story The Gift Of The Magi,  biography of O. Henry, examples of Components for Literary Analysis, and access to the video below.

Objectives:  Students will  read and discuss the short story The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. Students will achieve a better understanding of the story by learning literary devices and terms  (e.g., imagery, symbolism, setting,) used for analyzing stories.  They will also learn how to  analyze the relationship between characters, and events in the story by using these literary devices.

I. Pre-Reading Exercises

Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Ask students to read the title of the short story. Then, have them  examine the photo carefully. Based on these sources,  ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article.

 Discussion Questions

Directions: Have students discuss the following questions.

The Gift of the Magi is a story about a young married couple who are very poor. This story tells of  how they handle the challenge of  secretly buying Christmas gifts for each other with very little money to spend. The questions below ask you to think about gifts and their value.  Discuss your ideas with your class members.

1. In your opinion what makes a gift  valuable?

2. Describe the most valuable gift you have ever received.

3. What was the most valuable gift you have given someone?

II. While Reading Tasks

Vocabulary:  Word Inference

Directions: Place students in groups and have them infer the meanings of the words in bold font taken from the story. They can use this great Vocabulary Chart by Learnnc.org as a guide.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

  1. This is a  story about the meaning of true love and unselfishness.
  2. Della sat  down on the shabby little couch and howled.
  3. They lived in a furnished flat at $8 per week.
  4. In the vestibule below was a letter-box. 
  5. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated.
  6. Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass
  7. There were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride.
  8. Once she faltered for a minute.
  9. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.
  10. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.
Prediction and Character Organizer Charts

Directions: Students may use these Prediction and Character  profile charts by Pace High School as  a while-reading tool to aid in  their comprehension of the events and of the characters in the story.

CHARACTER Prediction Chart: Pace High School

CHARACTER Prediction Chart: Pace High School

OUTCOME PREDICTIONS Pace High School

OUTCOME PREDICTIONS Pace High School

 

III. Post Reading Exercises

Questions for Comprehension

Directions: After students have reviewed Components for Literary Analysis have them answer the following questions from the story. 

  1. During what holiday does the story take place?
  2. Identify the characters in the story.
  3. What are the two valuable possessions  belonging to Della and Jim?
  4. How much money did Della have at first to buy Jim’s gift?
  5. What did Della do to get additional money for his gift?
  6. What gift did Della buy for Jim?
  7. How did Jim get additional money to buy Della’s gift?
  8. What gift did Jim buy for Della?
  9. Did things work out the way Jim and Della planned? Explain why or why not.
Questions for Reflection

Directions:  In groups have students discuss the following questions.

  1. What are some of the themes in the story?
  2. What are some of the symbols in the story?
  3. Imagery is descriptive language that creates a picture in the reader’s mind.  Identify some examples of how O. Henry used imagery.
  4. What  does the reference to the magi mean in this story?
Writing Assignment 

Directions: Have students choose a topic from below and write an essay to share with the class.

  1.  Some of the themes in this  story are selfless love, sacrifice, and the frustration of poverty. Choose one of these themes and write an essay describing your thoughts about the theme.
  2.  Write a description for each character  that appears in the story.
  3.  O. Henry is famous for the surprise endings in his stories. In The Gift of The Magi  the surprise is that both Jim and Della sacrificed their most cherished possession for the other. See if you can write a different “surprise” ending for the story. Share your ending with the class.
IV. Listening Activity  

Video Clip:  O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi (Free Audio Book) 

Questions for Discussion (Listening)

• After listening to the story, do you feel that you understand it better?   If yes, describe in what way. If no, explain why not.

• Do you prefer the written or aural version of The Gift of the Magi? Provide reasons for your choice.

Additional Activities for Students

Student Interactive: Comic Stories

Directions: In groups have students create short comic strips depicting the events of this short story. Students can vary the dialog of the characters for fun. For a good comic-strip generator visit:  Read Write and Think

Students Write Different Endings

Directions: Have each group write a different ending to the story and share them with the class.

ANSWER KEY: The Gift of the Magi

Category: Literature | Tags:

Night Before Christmas Poem…Plagiarized?

“Every Christmas for more than 150 years, children have hung their stockings by the chimney with care and learned to thank Clement Clarke Moore for the tradition. Moore, a wealthy Manhattan biblical scholar, went down in history as the man who in 1823 created the American image of Santa Claus as the author of …The Night Before Christmas… But did Moore really write it? In a new study… Don Foster, an English professor at Vassar College and a scholar of authorial attribution, accuses Moore of committing literary fraud.”By David D. Kirkpatrick, NYT

(Note: ESL-Voices posted this 2014)

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Photo credit- Crystal links

Photo credit- Crystal links

Excerpt: Whose Jolly Old Elf Is That, Anyway?…By David D. Kirkpatrick

“In a new book, Author Unknown, (Henry Holt & Company) Mr. Foster argues that A Visit From St. Nicholas, first published anonymously in a Troy, N.Y., newspaper in 1823, closely matches the views and verse of Henry Livingston Jr., a gentleman-poet of Dutch descent. Livingston, who lived in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., died before Moore was ever named as the poem’s author.

Clement Clarke Moore (July 15, 1779 – July 10, 1863) Photo- Wikipedia

Clement Clarke Moore (July 15, 1779 – July 10, 1863) Photo- Wikipedia

Livingston’s family first noticed the poem’s growing popularity two decades later and has insisted ever since that Livingston wrote it. But without physical evidence these claims came to naught. Last year Mary Van Deusen, Livingston’s seventh-generation descendant and an amateur genealogist, sought Mr. Foster’s help.

Henry Livingston, Jr. (October 13, 1748 - February 29, 1828) Photo- Wikipedia

Henry Livingston, Jr. (October 13, 1748 – February 29, 1828) Photo- Wikipedia

Mr. Foster, a well-known literary gumshoe, pioneered the technique of studying the details of a text’s wording and syntax to establish authorship, using computerized archives to look for telltale influences. He is best known for identifying Shakespeare as the author of the anonymous poem Funeral Elegy and the journalist Joe Klein as author of the novel Primary Colors. Mr. Foster has become the Livingston camp’s ardent partisan, frequently comparing Mr. Moore in the book to Dr. Seuss’s Grinch.

Santa. Photo- Pooh's Adventures Wiki

Santa. Photo- Pooh’s Adventures Wiki

His case is still untested by other scholars, but it promises to create a lively debate about a poem that has become an American icon. Whoever wrote it played a formative role in shaping the modern American Christmas, said Stephen Nissenbaum, author of the history The Battle for Christmas (Knopf, 1996). Before 1820 Americans typically pictured St. Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus, as a skinny, stern bishop visiting children to dispense discipline as often as gifts, and not necessarily on Christmas Eve. The poem helped recast St. Nicholas as a jovial elf and turn Christmas into a time for giving gifts to children. Finally, at his family’s behest, in 1844 Moore took credit for the famous poem, including it without fanfare in a collection of his more solemn verses. But not before he checked that the coast was clear,Mr. Foster said.”

A bauble on a Christmas tree By Kris De Curtis-Wikicommons

A bauble on a Christmas tree By Kris De Curtis-Wikicommons

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ESL VOICES!

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

Language Skills: reading, writing , and speaking.

Time: approximately 2 hours.

Materials: article excerpt, materials from this lesson plan.

Objectives: Students will review the arguments for and against the authorship of the poem The Night Before Christmas and discuss their conclusions.  They will  also create similar poems, and drawings for this holiday. Students will practice reading, speaking,  and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Tasks

Brainstorming

Directions: Have learners brainstorm to build a list of all of the words they can  think of connected to the terms:  Christmas, santa claus, poem.

Brainstorming chart by UIE.

Brainstorming chart by UIE.

II. While Reading Tasks

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold (from the article) and use a dictionary,  thesaurus, and word chart  for assistance.

  1. Clement Clarke Moore, a wealthy Manhattan biblical scholar.
  2. Don Foster was an English professor and a scholar of authorial attribution.
  3. Moore was accuses of committing literary fraud.
  4. She was Livingston’s seventh-generation descendant.
  5. Mr. Foster is a well-known literary gumshoe.
  6. Mr. Foster has become the Livingston camp’s ardent partisan.
  7. He is known for studying the details of a text’s wording and syntax.
  8. He uses computerized archives to look for telltale influences.
  9. The Night Before Christmas has become an American icon.
  10. The poem helped recast St. Nicholas.

Reading Comprehension 

Sentence Fill-ins

Directions: have students complete the sentences from the article by selecting the correct words or phrases.

1. Clement Clarke Moore  has always been credited with___.

a. writing the National Anthem

b. writing the poem, The Night Before Christmas

c. writing a letter to Santa

2. His his authorship was challenged by___.

a. another author

b. Santa Claus

c.  English professor Don Foster

3. Moore was a wealthy ___biblical scholar.

a. Brooklyn

b. Manhattan

c. Bronx

4. Better known as___ it became one of the most widely read poems in the world.

a. The Night After Christmas

b. The Evening Before Christmas

c. The Night Before Christmas

5. Don Foster, an ___at Vassar College.

a. English professor

b. English student

c. English writer

6. In a new book,___.

a. A Visit From St. Nicholas

b. Henry Holt & Company

c. Author Unknown

7. Mr. Foster argues that ”A Visit From St. Nicholas,” first published anonymously in a Troy, N.Y.,___.

a.  newspaper

b. magazine

c. book

8. Henry Livingston Jr., was a gentleman-poet of___descent.

a. German

b. Dutch

c. American

9. Livingston, who lived in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., ___before Moore was ever named as the poem’s author.

a. left

b. wrote to the newspapers

c. died

10. But without ___these claims came to naught.

a. popularity

b. witnesses

c. physical evidence

Grammar Focus

Structure and Usage

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

I

  1. The Livingston’s family first noticed the poem’s growing popularity two decades later.
  2. Mary Van Deusen was Livingston’s seventh-generation descendant.
  3. She was also a amateur genealogist.

II

  1. Mr. Foster is a well-known literary gumshoe.
  2. He pioneered the technique of studying the details of a text’s wording and syntax.
  3. His case is still untested by other scholar.

III

  1. Before 1820 American pictured St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) as  skinny.
  2. The poem helped recast St. Nicholas as a jovial elf and turn Christmas into a time for giving gifts to children.
  3. In Mr. Foster’s account, Moore, owner of an estate covering what is now Chelsea, was too much of a grouch to write such a playful poem.

Writing/Oral Task

Directions:  In your groups, take  the first 2 or 3 lines from the poem The Night Before Christmas, and create new verses. Then have each group present their verses to the class.

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house…”

Here are some humorous examples if you like:

Parodies of ‘The Night Before Christmas’ By David Emery,

Examples from David’s site:

A Star Trek Night Before Christmas (I)
‘Twas the night before Christmas on the Enterprise-D,
On a routine short hop to Starbase 03…

A Star Trek Night Before Christmas (II)
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the ship
Not a circuit was buzzing, not one microchip…

A Florida Night Before Christmas
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the town,
No noses were frozen, no snow fluttered down…

A Programmer’s Night Before Christmas
‘Twas the night before implementation, and all through the house,
Not a program was working not even a browse…

A Gambler’s Night Before Christmas
‘Twas the nite before Christmas, I hit the Casino,
I went there to play, More than just Keno…

An Intellectual Night Before Christmas
‘Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual Yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential, including that species of domestic rodent known as musculus…

A Lawyer’s Night Before Christmas
Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter “the House”) a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to a mouse…

ANSWER KEY