“They are at it again. And this time they have a photo. Since Amelia Earhart, the famous American aviator, and Fred Noonan, her navigator, disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean during a 1937 attempt to circumnavigate the globe, groups of researchers and historians have argued over their fate. Did they land, or did they crash?…Did their twin-engine Lockheed Electra plunge into the ocean, never to be seen again? Or was it found — and even photographed — on Japanese territory in the years leading up to the United States’ 1941 declaration of war on Japan?” J. Fortin, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Did Amelia Earhart Survive? A Found Photo Offers a Theory, but No Proof By Jacey Fortin The New York Times
“Sunday was the 80th anniversary of the disappearance of Ms. Earhart and Mr. Noonan. So it is perhaps no surprise that National Geographic recently announced that a team of forensic dogs was being dispatched to a remote atoll to search for the duo’s remains. And now History — formerly ‘The History Channel… is debuting a documentary on Sunday about how Ms. Earhart may have ended up in Japanese custody and imprisoned on the island of Saipan. Various forms of this theory have been tossed around for decades, but a newly discovered photograph is breathing new life into the idea.
The photo, which History said was found in the National Archives by a retired federal agent named Les Kinney, appears to show a tall, trousers-wearing, short-haired woman seated on a dock in Jaluit, an atoll in the Marshall Islands, with her back to the camera. It also appears to show Mr. Noonan and maybe even the Electra itself, on a barge off in the distance.
Shawn Henry, a former F.B.I. executive assistant director who has been working with History to investigate the photo for about a year, said facial identification experts called it likely that the photos showed Ms. Earhart and Mr. Noonan.
He said the Marshall Islands theory is supported by other evidence, too: pieces of metal that were found in the area and could have come from the Electra; an interview Mr. Henry conducted with an islander who claims to have seen Ms. Earhart around the time of her disappearance; and government records citing reports about Ms. Earhart being imprisoned by the Japanese, though the reports mentioned have not been found. He sounded confident — just as confident, in fact, as Ric Gillespie, who may be the best-known proponent of another, entirely different theory.
Mr. Gillespie is the executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, a nonprofit that has spent decades searching for Ms. Earhart. He thinks the aviator landed her plane on an atoll (then called Gardner Island, now Nikumaroro) that is more than a thousand miles away from the Marshall Islands. This week, researchers from that organization are on their 12th mission to Nikumaroro in search of the aviator’s remains.
‘There is such a public desire for an answer to this mystery,’ Mr. Gillespie said. ‘Because it is such a complex and multidisciplinary effort to investigate it, I see it as a wonderful opportunity to explore and demonstrate and teach how we go about figuring out what is true.’
Mr. Henry said that while the crash-and-sink theory holds weight in the popular imagination, ‘there’s not one shred of evidence that she crashed into the ocean.’ Millions of dollars have been spent to explore ocean floor around Howland Island, and no airplane has turned up yet.”
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
Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about Amelia Earhart. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.
II. While Reading Activities
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.
- Amelia Earhart attempted to circumnavigate the globe.
- Scientists used a team of forensic dogs to search for any remains.
- Ric Gillespie is a proponent of another, entirely different theory.
- Researchers hunt for the aviator’s remains.
- Some think there is a photo of the plane on a barge off in the distance.
- Researchers claim there is other evidence.
- Some claim that Ms. Earhart was imprisoned by the Japanese.
- Many nonprofit organizations have searched for the aviator.
- Many enthusiasts refuse to believe that Earhart could have disappeared without a trace.
- Mr. Henry said that not one shred of evidence can be found.
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.
Mr. Gillespie is the executive ___of The International Group for Historic ___Recovery, a ___that has spent___searching for Ms. Earhart. He thinks the___landed her plane on an ___(then called Gardner Island, now Nikumaroro) that is more than a___miles away from the Marshall Islands.
WORD LIST: thousand, nonprofit, Aircraft, director, decades, aviator, atoll,
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.
The voyage/voter is the one being supplied/supported, in part, by National Geographic and four dogs. The organization’s/organizer’s previous missions/misses have found promises/promising artifacts/artificial, like pieces/pies of what could be airplane metal/meals and parts of jars/jugs manufactured by American companies during the 1930s — including one used for a fickle/freckle ointment for women, which wouldn’t have been out of place among the possessions of the freckled female aviator.
III. Post Reading Activities
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?
Directions: Have students fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.
Discussion for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Place students in groups Have each group list 3 questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class.
Extra: Web Search
Directions: In groups/partners have students search the web for additional information about Amelia Earhart. Students can either have further discussions or write an essay about the material they have found.
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.