Want Better Airline Service? Try Being A Better Passenger!

“Everyone loves to blame and shame the airlines for their travel woes, and there has been plenty of poor behavior to warrant this year’s ticker tape parade of complaints. But before you pig pile your anger on the carriers, take a good look in the mirror. You may not have thrown any punches or tried to bring a birthday cake on an airplane, but perhaps you’ve unknowingly sprayed a bit of lighter fluid on the charcoal briquettes of airport anxiety through some of your actions. I’m not here to make you feel bad, unless you’re a chronic seat recliner or have a predilection to remove your flip-flops at 30,000 feet. Instead, think of me as your fairy godfather (no jokes please), as I offer you some solid advice on how to be a better passenger.” C. Muther, The Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Miguel Gallardo, Boston Globe

 

Excerpt: A dozen easy ways to be a better airline passenger, By Christopher Muther, The Boston Globe

Stop shuffling the contents of your suitcases at the ticket counter.

 Airline websites clearly state weight limits for checked bags. Still, there are plenty of fliers who skim over that detail and show up with suitcases that are heavier than RuPaul’s make-up case. No one wants to pay additional fees, so the overweight suitcases are opened and extra clothes are redistributed into carry-on bags or between spouses’ suitcases. Unfortunately this is happening at the counter, while others are forced to wait in line and watch the suitcase shuffle.If you find yourself in this dilemma, pull your bags to the side and let the next person in line step forward. Better yet, weigh your bags before you get to the airport.

Don’t get pushy when you’re boarding the plane

You’ve been assigned a seat (except if you’re flying Southwest) and no one is going to take your seat (unless the flight has been oversold), so keep those elbows to your sides and proceed in an orderly fashion when your group number is called for boarding.

Don’t take 30 minutes to get in your seat

I’ll never understand why some people take an inordinate amount of time to arrange their belongings and sit down. Jiminy Christmas, just put your carry-on in the overhead and plant yourself. What’s so complicated?

Don’t let your carry-on become a weapon.

I know this sounds like an easy one, but with narrow aisles it’s common to thwack unsuspecting shoulders and legs as you walk to your seat.

Don’t grab on to the seat in front of you when you stand up or sit down.

The seat in front of you is not there to support you when you stand on a plane. There’s someone sitting in it, and whether they tell you or not, they’re probably very annoyed when you’re grabbing and pulling it back to hoist yourself upward.

Never, and I mean never, make others endure your bare feet on a plane.

Jessie Char’s Twitter blow-by-blow of a fellow passenger’s bare feet went viral, and it was horrifying. The offending feet were everywhere (except under the passenger’s seat).

Don’t bring smelly food on a plane.

Buying food on a plane is insanely expensive. I get it. I never buy it either. But bringing smelly fast food on a plane is almost as obnoxious as paying those high prices.

Don’t recline your seat in economy.

No explanation necessary.

Ma’am, please step away from the baggage belt.

It doesn’t matter where I stand at the luggage carousel (does anyone still call it a carousel?), there is inevitably someone who steps in front of me as I’m waiting for my suitcase. When I step away to find another place, someone else stands in front of me. I usually end up elbowed out of the way completely.

You have no right to glare at someone else’s screaming baby.

It’s a baby. It has no idea why its ears are popping or why it’s surrounded by scary adult bare feet. ‘Refrain from giving the parents long glares,’ says Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert and author. ‘They know their child is being loud and your stare won’t stop it.’ But if you have a toddler or child kicking your seat, then by all means turn around and speak with the parent. I find they’re usually very understanding if you ask nicely.

Don’t be a jerk when it’s time to disembark.

There are those (and you know who you are), who dash like Usain Bolt to the front of the plane when the captain turns off the fasten seat belt sign after landing, cutting off everyone else. This starts a cut-off chain reaction. There is a better system. Passengers should leave row-by-row. You’re not the only one who wants to escape from a metal tube that smells like Burger King and feet.

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 current problems occurring  with different airlines.  Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

G. Cluster Brainstorming-workshopexercises

 

II. While Reading Activities

Vocabulary Practice: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. Passengers need to stop shuffling the contents of their  suitcases.
  2. There are plenty of fliers who skim over important details.
  3. If you find yourself in this dilemma pull your bags to the side.
  4. Many people take an inordinate amount of time to arrange their belongings.
  5. Some people even bicker with their spouses.
  6. Some passengers play games as a queue grows behind them.
  7. When getting up use your armrests.
  8. Many people would love to fly on an airline that banned bare feet.
  9. Remember to take a sandwich, or something that won’t invoke the olfactory anger of your fellow passengers.
  10. You don’t have to dress in a spiffy twin set and pearls or a tweed jacket.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: The following sentences are from the article. Choose the correct word for each blank space from the word list  or make up your own words.

Jacqueline Whitmore, a ___flight attendant, ___expert, and ___of the ___School of Palm Beach told me that those who___well are___ better by___ and have a better chance of getting ___when they don’t look like they ___their ___from a pile of dirty laundry.

WORD LIST: selected, upgraded, ensemble,Protocol, founder, etiquette, former, dress, treated, staff,

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.

I’m not saying/sighting  you should staff/starve on your flight, but maybe forgo/Fargo bringing the Taco Bell  bubble/double chalupa or the Burger King onion/oleo rings into the cabin/cargo. Try a sandwich, or something that won’t invoke/invite the olfactory anger of your fellow passengers.

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?

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups  and have each group do the following:

1. Make a list of bad passenger behaviors they   have witnessed on airlines.

2. Make a list (honestly) of any bad behaviors they have committed while on a plane.

3.  List ways in which the passengers and  the airlines  can improve to make flying an enjoyable experience for all.

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

The Doctor’s Dilemma: Helping Patients to Die…Or Not

“I was leafing through a patient’s chart last year when a colleague tapped me on the shoulder. ‘I have a patient who is asking about the End of Life Option Act,’ he said in a low voice. ‘Can we even do that here?’ I practice both critical and palliative care medicine at a public hospital in Oakland. In June 2016, our state became the fourth in the nation to allow medical aid in dying for patients suffering from terminal illness. Now, five months after the law took effect here in California, I was facing my first request for assistance to shorten the life of a patient. I could see my own discomfort mirrored in his face. ‘Can you help us with it?’ he asked me. ‘Of course,’ I said. Then I felt my stomach lurch.”  J. N. Zitter, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Should I Help My Patients Die? By Jessica N. Zitter, The New York Times

“California’s law permits physicians to prescribe a lethal cocktail to patients who request it and meet certain criteria: They must be adults expected to die within six months who are able to self-administer the drug and retain the mental capacity to make a decision like this.

But that is where the law leaves off. The details of patient selection and protocol, even the composition of the lethal compound, are left to the individual doctor or hospital policy.

Our hospital, like many others at that time, was still in the early stages of creating a policy and procedure. To me and many of my colleagues in California, it felt as if the law had passed so quickly that we weren’t fully prepared to deal with it.

This first patient of mine was not a simple case. When I walked into his room, he glared at me.  ‘Are you here to help me with this aid-in-dying thing?’ he asked. He was in his early 60s, thin and tired, but in no obvious distress.  From my read of his chart, he met all criteria to qualify. Terminal illness, decision-making capacity, ability to self-administer the medications. And he had made the requisite first request for the drugs two weeks earlier, as procedure dictates.

When I asked why he wanted to end his life early, he shrugged. ‘I’m just sick of living.’ I asked about any symptoms that might lie behind his request: unrelenting pain, nausea, shortness of breath. He denied them all. In palliative care, we are taught that suffering can take many forms besides the physical.

At our second meeting, with more trust established, he issued a sob, almost a keening. He felt terrified and powerless, he said. He didn’t want to live this way anymore. I understood. I could imagine my own distress in his condition — being shuttled like a bag of bones between the nursing home and the hospital. It was his legal right to request this intervention from me. But given how uncomfortable I was feeling, was it my right to say no? …I’ll admit it: I want this option available to me and my family.

I realized it was past time to sort out my thinking and turned to the de facto specialist in our area on this issue for counsel. Dr. Lonny Shavelson, an emergency medicine and primary care physician in Northern California, has been grappling with the subject for many years. Given his interest in the topic, Dr. Shavelson felt a personal obligation to ensure that this new practice would be carried out responsibly after the law was passed. He founded Bay Area End of Life Options, a consulting group that educates physicians, advocates on patients’ behalf and prescribes the lethal concoction for some patients who meet the criteria for participation. Since starting his practice, he has been approached by 398 patients. He has accepted 79 of those into his program and overseen ingestion and death for 48. When I asked Dr. Shavelson how he might have proceeded with my patient, he said he would have tried everything to relieve his distress without using the lethal medication. But if in the end the patient still wanted to proceed, he would have obliged, presuming his depression was not so severe as to impair his judgment.

Photo- The Atlantic

The American Society of Clinical Oncology recommends that patients with advanced cancer receive concurrent palliative care beginning early in the course of disease. In my experience, far too few of these patients actually get it…We must continue to shape our policies and protocols to account for the nuanced social, legal and ethical questions that will continue to arise. We must identify the clinicians who are best qualified and most willing to do this work and then train them appropriately, not ad hoc. And we must remember that this is just one tool in the toolbox of caring for the dying — a tool of last resort.”  

NOTICE: UPDATE: 

Obama’s tweet after Charlottesville one of most popular tweets ever

former U.S. President Barack Obama

“In subsequent tweets, Obama continued the quote, which read: “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love … For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

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.  Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart 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. Doctors are taught that in palliative care suffering can take many forms.
  2. Oregon was the pioneer 20 years ago.
  3. The law allows physicians  prescribe a lethal cocktail.
  4. The idea of hastening death is uncomfortable.
  5. Many oppose this practice for ethical reasons.
  6. The doctor probed further to find out the truth.
  7. Some terminally ill patients want to die sooner.
  8. Many feel abandoned by their family.
  9. Doctors feel a personal obligation to this new practice.
  10. Dr. Shavelson strives to mitigate all symptoms.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabualry chart

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

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

  1. In June 2016, California became the  seventh in the nation to allow medical aid in dying.
  2. The details of patient selection and protocol, even the composition of the lethal compound, are left to the patients.
  3. The author felt that  she wasn’t fully prepared to deal with the new law.
  4. The American Medical Association, the nation’s largest association of doctors, has been formally opposed to the practice for 23 years.
  5. The  author’s first patient died in a nursing home, of natural causes, the following year.
  6. Dr. Lonny Shavelson is  an emergency medicine and primary care physician in New York City.
  7. Catholic health systems do not participate in the program.
  8. Dr. Shavelson offers  the medications to most of the patients who request them.
  9. One problem is payment, because many insurers won’t cover it.
  10. Doctors worry that public hospital patients like mine will not be able to afford this degree of care.

 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. His patient intake procedures is time-consuming.
  2. Providers can bill for an office visit.
  3. Many insurers won’t cover  treatment.

II

  1. He counts this cases among his greatest successes.
  2. The patient had carefully thought through the decision.
  3. The vast majority of cases here have gone smoothly.

III

  1. Most communities won’t have doctors that offer discounts.
  2. These  is inequities we must address.
  3. We must continue to shape our policies.

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?

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.

“But still. I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of helping to shorten the life of a patient because of depression and resentment. In truth, I’m not sure I am comfortable with helping to intentionally hasten anyone’s death for any reason. Does that make me a hypocrite?”

“There is another question I feel compelled to raise. Is medical aid in dying a reductive response to a highly complex problem? The over-mechanization of dying in America has created a public health crisis. People feel out of control around death. A life-ending concoction at the bedside can lend a sense of autonomy at a tremendously vulnerable time.”

Extra: Web Search

Directions: In groups/partners have students “Google” the topic and see what additional information they can find. Students can either have further discussions or write an essay about the subject.

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: Culture, Medical | Tags:

Why Kids [Still] Can’t Write

“On a bright July morning in a windowless conference room in a Manhattan bookstore, several dozen elementary school teachers were learning how to create worksheets that would help children learn to write. Judith C. Hochman, founder of an organization called the Writing Revolution, displayed examples of student work. A first grader had produced the following phrase: ‘Plants need water it need sun to’ — that is, plants need water and sun, too. If the student didn’t learn how to correct pronoun disagreement and missing conjunctions, by high school he could be writing phrases like this one: ‘Well Machines are good but they take people jobs like if they don’t know how to use it they get fired.’ That was a real submission on the essay section of the ACT.” D. Goldstein, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit A. Asemota The New York Times

 

Credit A. Asemota The New York Times

 

Excerpt: Why Kids Can’t Write, By Dana Goldstein

“It all starts with a sentence,” Dr. Hochman said. Focusing on the fundamentals of grammar is one approach to teaching writing. But it’s by no means the dominant one. Many educators are concerned less with sentence-level mechanics than with helping students draw inspiration from their own lives and from literature…Three-quarters of both 12th and 8th graders lack proficiency in writing, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress. And 40 percent of those who took the ACT writing exam in the high school class of 2016 lacked the reading and writing skills necessary to successfully complete a college-level English composition class, according to the company’s data.

The Hochman Method

Poor writing is nothing new, nor is concern about it. More than half of first-year students at Harvard failed an entrance exam in writing — in 1874. But the Common Core State Standards, now in use in more than two-thirds of the states, were supposed to change all this. By requiring students to learn three types of essay writing — argumentative, informational and narrative — the Core staked a claim for writing as central to the American curriculum. It represented a sea change after the era of No Child Left Behind, the 2002 federal law that largely overlooked writing in favor of reading comprehension assessed by standardized multiple-choice tests.

So far, however, six years after its rollout, the Core hasn’t led to much measurable improvement on the page. Students continue to arrive on college campuses needing remediation in basic writing skills…Adherents worry that focusing too much on grammar or citing sources will stifle the writerly voice and prevent children from falling in love with writing as an activity.

Dr. Hochman’s strategy is radically different: a return to the basics of sentence construction, from combining fragments to fixing punctuation errors to learning how to deploy the powerful conjunctive adverbs that are common in academic writing but uncommon in speech, words like ‘therefore’ and ‘nevertheless.’

dilpreeta.wordpress.com

After all, the Snapchat generation may produce more writing than any group of teenagers before it, writing copious text messages and social media posts, but when it comes to the formal writing expected at school and work, they struggle with the mechanics of simple sentences. ‘I don’t mean to be dismissive,’ she continued, ‘but every instructional minute has its purpose.’

Your v. You’re

Before writing paragraphs — which is often now part of the kindergarten curriculum — children do need to practice writing great sentences. At every level, students benefit from clear feedback on their writing, and from seeing and trying to imitate what successful writing looks like, the so-called text models. Some of the touchy-feel stuff matters, too. Students with higher confidence in their writing ability perform better.

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. Free writing  helps get your intuition back when you make space for it.
  2. Students need to stop the chattering of the rational mind.
  3. One student wrote about the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti.
  4. The student was struggling with how to begin the essay.
  5. Teachers need to start  by exposing them to great writing.
  6. Over the years there hasn’t been much measurable improvement.
  7. Students  still need remediation in basic writing skills.
  8. There is virulent debate about what approach is best.
  9. Good teachers know the importance of rigorous writing.
  10. Simple worksheets can reinforce basic writing  concepts.

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.

Molly Cudahy, who ___fifth-grade ___education at the Truesdell Education Campus, a ___school in Washington, D.C., said she ___Dr. Hochman’s explicit and technical approach. She thought it would___her students’ voices, not ___them. At her school, 100 percent of___come from low-income families.

WORD LIST:   students, free, appreciates,  public, special,   constrain, teaches,

 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,  toward, through, from, during, up, off,  along

___her teacher training sessions, Dr. Hochman___the Writing Revolution shows a slide ___a cute little girl, lying contentedly ___her stomach___she scrawls___ a piece of composition paper.

___the way, students are learning ___recall meaningful content ___math, social studies, science and literature.

There is a notable shortage ___high-quality research___the teaching___writing, but studies that do exist point___ a few concrete strategies that help students perform better___ writing tests.

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?

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: Writing

Today: Military Ban On Transgender Soldiers! Tomorrow: Who Will Be Next?

“Joining the Navy was one of the best decisions Alec Kerry said she had ever made. The other was coming out as transgender…Like thousands of other transgender veterans and members of the military, she grappled with a mix of anger, sadness and fear on Wednesday after Trump ‘tweeted’ that the United States military would no longer ‘accept or allow’ transgender people to serve — a surprise move that came a year after the Obama administration permitted transgender troops to serve openly.” D. Philipps, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Retired U.S. Army Col. and transgender advocate Sheri Swokowski said she was very disappointed in the ban. Photo- Jessie OpoienCAP TIMES.jpg

Excerpt: For Transgender Service Members, a Mix of Sadness, Anger and Fear, By Dave Philipps, The New York Times

“Some transgender troops were left to wonder if they would face a quick discharge from the military or if scheduled medical appointments would be canceled. And nearly all expressed dismay at what they saw as a misguided action that could purge the military of untold numbers of highly skilled and dedicated service members, bringing back an era when many troops lived in secrecy and shame. 

Alec Kerry, transgender and military member. NYT

There are an estimated 2,000 to 11,000 active-duty transgender service members, according to a 2016 RAND Corporation study commissioned by the Pentagon. Since the Obama administration lifted the ban on transgender people serving, public opinion has been mixed. A poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports in June found that 23 percent of those surveyed believed that having them serve openly was good for the military, 31 percent said it would have no impact and 38 percent said it would hurt…A monument to transgender veterans unveiled in June at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Illinois was almost immediately defaced by vandals.

Umut Dursun, a former Marine who transitioned from female to male after his service.Photo- A. Valentin for The New York Times

‘I thought we were at a place of progress, and it feels like we’re taking 10 steps back,’  said Umut Dursun, 35, a former Marine in Miami who transitioned from female to male after his service. He was sitting in a V.A. waiting room on Wednesday morning when he saw the news. ‘We’re not afraid of bullets flying at us,’ he said. ‘But we are afraid of someone’s experience around gender because we don’t understand it.’

 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which represents the newest generation of fighters, came out strongly against the president’s position.‘This is backward, harmful and contrary to American values. It’s also bad for national security,’ said Paul Rieckhoff, the group’s founder. ‘Thousands of transgender troops are serving in our military right now. An unknown number are in combat zones today.”

* Quote from Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

*From Article: ‘First They Came For…’ By Charles M. Blow, OP-ED COLUMNIST, The New York Times, JULY 27, 2017

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: 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.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

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.

In the U.S. there are many transgender members of the military.

Members feel that the military taught them about integrity.

Many fear a quick discharge from the military.

Transgender troops expressed dismay at the sad news.

Conservatives are trying to purge the military.

Traditional veterans groups are keeping silent.

This ban is contrary to American values.

Some young troops  developed an inseparably bond.

Sergeant Bruce is scheduled to be evaluated for hormone therapy.

A number of transgender soldiers are in combat zones today.

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.

Some ___say transgender troops ___too many ___procedures that would ___the military’s fighting capability, and they hailed Wednesday’s announcement. With the___ we are facing across the globe, we are asking the ___people to___ their hard-earned money in national defense.

WORD LIST: medical, invest, conservatives, undermine, American, require, challenges,

 

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.

With the changes/challenges we are facing/fighting across the globe, we are asking/ask the American people to investment/invest their hard-earned money in national defense… Each dollar needs to be spent/spend to address threats facing our national/nation.

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups.  Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class for discussion or for writing topics.

Group Debate

Directions: Divide students into  two teams for this debate. Both teams can use the article  as their source of information or sources from the Web.

Team A will list five reasons for the military ban of transgender service members.

Team B will list  five reasons against the military ban of  transgender service members.

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

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

 

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: Military, Social Issues

“Please Prove You’re Not a Robot”

“When science fiction writers first imagined robot invasions, the idea was that bots would become smart and powerful enough to take over the world by force, whether on their own or as directed by some evildoer. In reality, something only slightly less scary is happening. Robots are getting better, every day, at impersonating humans.”  T. WU, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Living a Dream – blogger

 

Excerpt:  Please Prove You’re Not a Robot By  Tim Wu

“Robots posing as people have become a menace. For popular Broadway shows (need we say “Hamilton”?), it is actually bots, not humans, who do much and maybe most of the ticket buying. Shows sell out immediately, and the middlemen (quite literally, evil robot masters) reap millions in ill-gotten gains.

Philip Howard, who runs the Computational Propaganda Research Project at Oxford, studied the deployment of propaganda bots during voting on Brexit, and the recent American and French presidential elections. Twitter is particularly distorted by its millions of robot accounts; during the French election, it was principally Twitter robots who were trying to make #MacronLeaks into a scandal.

Image-me.me

Facebook has admitted it was essentially hacked during the American election in November. In Michigan, Mr. Howard notes, ‘junk news was shared just as widely as professional news in the days leading up to the election.’

Impossible CAPTCHA – It Doesn’t Really matter if you’re human or not. image. SEO Smarty

To be sure, today’s impersonation-bots are different from the robots imagined in science fiction: They aren’t sentient, don’t carry weapons and don’t have physical bodies. Instead, fake humans just have whatever is necessary to make them seem human enough to ‘pass’: a name, perhaps a virtual appearance, a credit-card number and, if necessary, a profession, birthday and home address.

They are brought to life by programs or scripts that give one person the power to imitate thousands.

In film Wearable ‘Anti AI AI’ detects fake voices. Daily Mail

The problem is almost certain to get worse, spreading to even more areas of life as bots are trained to become better at mimicking humans.

mage- The Daily Star

In coming years, campaign finance limits will be (and maybe already are) evaded by robot armies posing as ‘small’ donors. And actual voting is another obvious target — perhaps the ultimate target.

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.  Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

G. Cluster Brainstorming-workshopexercises

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. Many opportunists use robots.
  2. Robots posing as people have become a menace.
  3. Oxford students  studied the deployment of propaganda bots.
  4. Facebook has admitted it was hacked.
  5. Today’s impersonation-bots are different.
  6. One person the power to imitate thousands.
  7. It is actually bots, not humans, who do much and maybe most of the ticket buying.
  8. Defenses such as  Captchas are built.
  9. Improved robot detection might help us find the robot masters.
  10. Automated processes should be required to state, ‘I am a robot.

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.

Robots are also being used to___the ___features of the ___state. This spring, the Federal Communications Commission put its proposed ___of net___up for public comment. In___years such proceedings___ millions of (human) commentators. This time, someone with an ___but no actual public support unleashed___who ___ (via stolen identities) hundreds of thousands of people, flooding the system with___ comments against federal net neutrality rules.

 

WORD LIST: agenda, fake, democratic, attack, previous, impersonated,  neutrality, administrative,  revocation, robots,   attracted,

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.

When directed/dictated by opportunists, mathematicians/malefactors and sometimes even nation-states, they pose/prose a particular threat/thread to democratic societies, which are promised/premised on being open to the people.

Robots posing as people have become a menace/mention. For popular Broadway shows (need we say “Hamilton”?), it is actually bots, not humanoids/humans, who do much and maybe most of the ticket buying.

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?

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions 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: Technology