2016 US Gold Medal Gymnast Simone Biles is Brilliant!

“It once was easier being Simone Biles. Back three years ago, one year after the Olympic Games, the crowds were smaller and the competition thinner as the little-known 16-year-old won her first U.S. and then world all-around gymnastics championships. I was looking at my first year worlds, and my floor routine seems so easy, she said recently…Can she do it again with the world watching this summer in Rio de Janeiro?… we all saw how that turned out.” C. McDougall, Team USA

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Simone Biles a winner

Simone Biles is a winner

Simone Biles wins Gold in Rio Olympics

Simone Biles wins Gold in Rio Olympics

Excerpt: Being Simone Biles: Not As Easy As She Makes It Look, By Chros McDougall, Team USA

“Three or four years ago I was kind of making a name for myself, so I really had nothing to lose, but I had everything to gain,  said Biles, who also won two team titles and nine individual event medals, five of them gold, during those three world championships.

Beautiful pic of Biles in practice. Photo-Vogue Magazine

Beautiful pic of Biles in practice. Photo-Vogue Magazine

I guess being a three-time world champion, I have stuff to lose if I make mistakes — there’s a lot more eyes on me…I just try to have fun and block out what everybody else says.

Simone Biles Olypic Champion. Photo- People Magazine

Simone Biles Olypic Champion. Photo- People Magazine

The easygoing Biles, who jokes that she came out of the womb with a smile, has some built-in advantages for handling the attention.

Olympian in the making- Simone Biles' childhood photos

Olympian in the making- Simone Biles’ childhood photos

Biles securing Olympic gold

2016 US Women's Gymnastic team wins gold in Rio.

2016 US Women’s Gymnastic team wins gold in Rio.

Simone Biles brimming with confidence.

While some women’s gymnasts compete with the expressions of scared deer, Biles steps on the podium and radiates confidence, showing — not telling — the audience that there’s nowhere else she’d rather be.”

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

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.

  1. Then the competition became tough.
  2. Biles is the most talented gymnast ever.
  3. She’s the first woman to win three consecutive world all-around titles.
  4. The pre-Olympic hysteria officially began.
  5. Biles says she’s been able to tune out all of the talk.
  6. The message resonated.
  7. Last year reporters around the world were scrambling to see Biles perform.
  8. Biles will simply brush off the pressure.
  9. In the Olympic Games  attention to women’s gymnastics spikes.
  10. The easygoing Biles loves to joke.

Reading Comprehension


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

Her___ Aimee Boorman, goes a ___way in ___that ___under pressure. Having coached Biles for more than a ___in the Houston area, Boorman has___ an approach that gets the most out of Biles’ physical ___by embracing the gymnast’s personality.

 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.


Biles prepares to kick off her Olympic season.

Championships was held this weekend in Washington.

Biles had to answer a barrage of questions.


Biles also won two team titles and nine individual event medals.

She  just try  to have fun.

Her coach helps foster  that confidence under pressure.


Nellie Biles, Simone’s mom, has her daughter write down goals for the coming 12 months.

Team USA, winners every time since the event began in 2000, is the favorite.

Biles  have a sense of humility.

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/Writing Activities

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.


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