Category Archives: Psychology

Offering Advice That People Will Appreciate

“A friend recently approached me in distress saying she wasn’t sure if she should dump her boyfriend or not…she asked what I think she should do. It gave me pause. Of course, I thought she should get rid of the guy, but I didn’t want to put our relationship at risk in case she stayed with him after I shared my opinion.” A. Goldfarb, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: How to Give People Advice They’ll Be Delighted to Take, By Anna Goldfarb, The New York Times

“As anyone who has offered guidance knows, giving spectacular advice doesn’t necessarily mean people will take it. Advice is a gift, albeit one bundled with inherent power dynamics. That “I know your situation best and here’s what you should do” attitude is what can make advice-giving so fraught.

‘Expertise is a tricky thing,’ said Leigh Tost, an associate professor of management and organization at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. ‘To take advice from someone is to agree to be influenced by them.’ Sometimes when people don’t take advice, they’re rejecting the idea of being controlled by the advice-giver more than anything.

Nevertheless, it’s understandable to want to help when we see people struggling or in pain. It feels good to give direction. In fact, giving advice increases one’s sense of personal power, according to a study published last year in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

photo- La vita e bella

Researchers identified three factors that determine whether input will be taken to heart.  People will go along with advice if it was costly to attain and the task is difficult (think: lawyers interpreting a contract).

Advice is also more likely to be taken if the person offering counsel is more experienced and expresses extreme confidence in the quality of the advice (doctors recommending a treatment, for example). Emotion plays a role, too: Decision makers are more likely to disregard advice if they feel certain about what they’re going to do (staying with a dud boyfriend no matter what) or they’re angry (sending an ill-advised text while fuming).

So, where does this leave caring friends and concerned co-workers — those people in our lives who aren’t necessarily experts, but want to help?  You can chime in, but it’s crucial to approach the matter with sensitivity and center the person who is looking for assistance.

‘It may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how often people can overlook the need to consider what the decision maker wants and why,’ Dr. Tost said. Here are other things to keep in mind to make sure the advice you give to others will land so you, and the person you’re advising, can feel good about the exchange.

Evaluate the situation. Make sure you’re actually being asked to give counsel. It’s easy to confuse being audience to a venting session with being asked to weigh in. Sometimes people just want to feel heard.

Be clear on the advice-seeker’s goals. When people approach Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist, for advice, he drills down and identifies the exact problem:’What do you want to know specifically that I can help you with?’ This way, he won’t overwhelm the person with irrelevant information.

Consider your qualifications. People often go to those close to them for advice, even if family members and friends aren’t always in the best position to effectively assist, Dr. Tost said. Ask yourself: ‘Do I have the expertise, experience or knowledge needed to provide helpful advice in this situation?’ If you do, fantastic! Advise away. If you don’t, rather than give potentially unhelpful advice, identify someone who is in a better position to help.‘The key is to put your loved one’s needs and interests front and center,’ Dr. Tost said.

Collaborate on a solution. Be friendly. Words have power. Words can heal…It’s essential to start the advice-giving conversation with a reassuring tone…Certified life coach and leadership trainer Dee C. Marshall makes sure to praise the advice-seeker before she offers a single suggestion. She’ll say something like, ‘I really applaud you for knowing to do X and knowing to do Y.’ Complementing someone’s judgment not only makes the person feel good about his or herself, but it helps keep the equilibrium intact.

Share experience. People tend to resist when advice is preachy, Ms. Marshall said. Saying, ‘I’ve been there and here’s what I did,’ makes people more receptive.

Identify takeaways (and give an out). It’s not realistic for people to act on every piece of advice you give… After discussing a problem and suggesting how to handle it, Ms. Marshall asks her clients what tidbit resonated with them the most. Then she gives them permission to disregard any suggestions she made that weren’t a good fit.

Agree on next steps. Lastly, ask what kind of continued support is needed (if any) and what efforts should be avoided… Meeting the advice-seeker at this level further establishes the person’s autonomy.”

 

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

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.

Brainstorming chart by UIE

 

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. My friend  approached me in distress.
  2. Advice is a gift, albeit one bundled with inherent power dynamics.
  3. You can chime in, but it’s crucial to approach the matter with sensitivity.
  4. It’s surprising how often people can overlook the speaker.
  5. Make sure you’re actually being asked to give counsel.
  6. Be sure you’ve grasped the heart of the issue.
  7. Make sure that your suggestions  are not redundant.
  8. Consider your qualifications first.
  9. Make certain that you have the expertise, needed to provide helpful advice.
  10. It’s essential to start the advice-giving conversation with a reassuring tone.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

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.

Some Prepositions:  at,  as, across, around,  by, during,  for, from, in, into,  of, on,  to, over,  off, through, up,  with,

  1. I didn’t want ___put our relationship___ risk ___case she changed her mind.
  2. It’s understandable ___want ___help when we see people struggling or___pain.
  3. Giving advice increases one’s sense ___personal power.
  4. Here are other things ___keep___ mind ___make sure the advice you give ___others will help.

 

Reading Comprehension

Identify TheSpeakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article. The first group to correctlyidentify all of the speakers wins.

  1. “Expertise is a tricky thing…“To take advice from someone is to agree to be influenced by them.Sometimes when people don’t take advice, they’re rejecting the idea of being controlled by the advice-giver more than anything.”
  2. “It’s almost like people will say to you, ‘I want a strategy,’ and what they really mean is, ‘I want someone to understand.”
  3. “Would you be willing to hear some of my ideas, or is now not a good time?” This balances the playing field. Be prepared for the person to decline your offer to give input.
  4. “What do you want to know specifically that I can help you with?” This way, he won’t overwhelm the person with irrelevant information.

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 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. Do friends  or family members often come to you for advice? What is your usual reaction? Do they find your answers useful?
  2. Do you ask your friends or family members for advice? Do you find their suggestions useful?
  3. According to the article what are the three factors that determine whether people will take advice?
  4. The article list several good indicators which show people find your advice helpful. What are they?
  5. Life coach Dee C. Marshall states that complementing someone’s judgment before offering advice is important. Why is this important?
  6. After reading this article, do you feel that you’ve learned something about the right way to offer advice to family members and friends? Discuss with your group what new information you’ve learned and share with the 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

Rethinking The U.S. Prison System Through Art Programs

“Thirty Colorado inmates staged One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest…The cast was strip-searched before boarding the bus to their show. The leading man was shackled so tightly that he performed with abrasions on his wrists. And the moment the men finished their bows and the house lights came up, they had to slip out of costume and back into green prison uniforms.”  J.  Healy, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Inmates of Sterling Correctional Facility rehearsing One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Trent Davis Bailey for The New York Times

Excerpt: How a Prison Play Goes on Tour By Jack Healy, The New York Times

“So goes life on the road for a production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, put on by 30 medium-security inmates of the Sterling Correctional Facility, out on Colorado’s remote eastern plains. While prison plays have been around for decades, the challenge of this show was audaciously new: It went on tour.

Over a week in September, the cast and crew took the play to a men’s prison in the tiny town of Limon, Colo., and to a women’s prison in Denver, a 130-mile bus ride from Sterling. Many in the audience had never read the Ken Kesey novel nor seen the Oscar-winning film adaptation starring Jack Nicholson, which tells the story of men inside a 1960s-era Oregon mental ward. For the prison staff, the logistics of transporting a complicated set and 30 prisoners were daunting.

Many in the audience at the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility had not read the Ken Kesey novel or seen the Oscar-winning film adaptation. Credit Tren D. Bailey for The New York Times

For the cast and crew, the six-month journey into the play, through rehearsals and character studies and improv games, and then out beyond the prison walls, was transformative and surreal. It was the first time in years some had been outside Sterling’s 20-foot walls and razor fences.

The show, produced by the University of Denver’s Prison Arts Initiative, is part of a recent expansion of arts programs inside prisons and jails that dovetails with the movement to rethink a corrections system that now holds 2.2 million people in the United States.

Michael J. Clifton, left and Felicion Alexander Charles in character as Aides Williams and Warren. Photo- Trent D. Bailey

Wendy Jason, the managing director of the Justice Arts Coalition, has counted nearly 350 arts programs behind bars nationwide, double the number that existed eight years ago…’People are looking for new ways to engage the system and to transform it from the inside out,’ Ms. Jason said. ‘Is it possible? That’s one of the questions that keeps me up at night.’

Advocates for prison arts — who now include many current and former inmates — say that learning to paint or performing a monologue can imbue humanity and purpose into the bleakness of life behind bars.

Some studies have suggested that prison arts may reduce disciplinary actions inside prison, though it is unclear whether they and other rehabilitation programs reduce recidivism… As the Sterling men’s prison bus, lined with wire cages, plugged across the plains on the way to shows…some men stared at new condos, new highways, new hospitals, new suburbs that had transformed the cityscape of Denver since they had been locked up. ‘You see the cities and the lights,’ said Terry Mosley Jr., 39, who has been incarcerated since he was 18 for killing an 18-year-old in a fight outside a grocery store. ‘You don’t get to see those horizon lines. It’s just walls around you.’

Brett Phillips in character as Randle McMurphy, the role Jack Nicholson made famous in the film version of Cuckoo’s Nest. Photo- Trent D. Bailey

As the men put together the set, each screw and bolt used to build it — the common room of a mental institution — had to be cataloged and tracked…’To build something like this in prison — you have no idea of what it means,’ said Vern Moter, 51, who is serving 24 years for fraud and was part of the stage crew…Before the show in Denver, while the men paced the stage to get into character and checked out the acoustics, their run-throughs were interrupted by corrections officers doing their regular head count of prisoners…For Dean Williams, the executive director of the Department of Corrections, bringing artists and audience members into prison was part of a strategy to make life inside prison as similar as possible to life outside.

It is called normalization, an idea inspired by Scandinavian countries where inmates cook their own food, interact with people from the outside and have a less adversarial relationship with corrections officers.

Douglas L. Micco as Chief Bromden. Credit Trent D. Bailey for The New York Times

There’s a few of us leading these systems who realize that something’s wrong,’ Mr. Williams said. ‘We’ve made prison a place of starkness, idleness, a place without purpose. Then we’re confused where people get out and they don’t make it. I think that is on us.’

As the cast and crew prepared for Cuckoo’s Nest, a few said that corrections officers asked the men why anyone convicted of violent crimes should have a spotlight and applause…Several of the inmates said the play allowed them to feel human again.

‘This whole thing is some weird dream,’ said Christopher Shetskie, who is serving a life sentence without parole for murdering two women in 1995 and 1996, according to newspaper accounts at the time. He played a doctor in the play.

Amy Mund, [Shetskie killed her sister] did not believe he should have the privilege of performing with the troupe.

‘He brutally murdered two young vibrant ladies in the prime of their lives,’ Ms. Mund said in an email. ‘I question why he is allowed to participate in plays and travel outside the confines of the prison. As a victim of a violent crime, that does not sound like justice to me.’

Mr. Shetskie said he knew he could not undo his crimes.”

 

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: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine the photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article.  Can you describe some of the expressions on the faces of the people?

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. The Sterling Correctional Facility is located out on Colorado’s remote eastern plains.
  2. The challenge of this show was audaciously new.
  3. For the first time a prison show went on tour.
  4. For the prison staff transporting 30 prisoners was daunting.
  5. For the cast and crew there were rehearsals, character studies and improv games.
  6. Going beyond the prison walls was transformative and surreal  for the prisoners.
  7. Advocates for prison arts include many current and former inmates.
  8. Advocates say that learning to paint or performing a monologue can imbue humanity and purpose into life behind bars.
  9. Some studies have suggested that prison arts may encourage rehabilitation.
  10. Some inmates have been incarcerated since they were 18.

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.

As the Sterling men’s/mens prison bus, line/lined with wire cages/cage, plugged across the/an plains on the way to shows, some man/men got carsick from the unfamiliar speed/sped of the road. They stared at/on new condos, new highways, knew/new hospitals, new suburbs that had transformed the cityscape of Denver since they had been locked/lock up.

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. The cast was never strip-searched before boarding the bus to their show.
  2. The leading man performed with abrasions on his wrists.
  3. After the show prisoners changed into their street clothes.
  4. The play performed by the prisoners was West Side Story.
  5. The film version of the play starred Jack Nicholson.
  6. It tells the story of  how gang members live in New York City.
  7. The name of the prison is the Sterling Correctional Facility.
  8. The prison is located in Utah.
  9. Wendy Jason is the managing director of the Justice Arts Coalition.
  10. California spends $8 million each year on creative-writing workshops.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use theWH-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 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. Has someone you know served time in prison? What was their experience?
  2. In your opinion, should anyone convicted of violent crimes have the opportunity to participate in artistic programs while incarcerated?
  3. Is the purpose of prisons to punish people for the crimes they’ve committed or to rehabilitate them?
  4. According to Dean Williams, the executive director of Colorado’s Department of Corrections his goal is to “normalize the prisons by making  life inside prison as similar as possible to life outside.” Do you agree with his idea?
  5. The article provides reasons why some officials and families of victims opposed the play production. One such person, Amy Mund, whose sister was killed by one of the performers in the play stated He brutally murdered two young vibrant ladies in the prime of their lives. I question why he is allowed to participate in plays and travel outside the confines of the prison. As a victim of a violent crime, that does not sound like justice to me.” Do you agree or disagree with her?  Please provide reasons for your answers.
  6. For students from different countries, describe the prison systems in your country. Are prisoners allowed to participate in art programs?

Main Idea / Debate

Directions: Divide students into  two teams for this debate. Both teams can use information from the article and sources from the Web   to support their arguments.

Team A will list five reasons that support arguments for  a theater or arts program in prison.

Team B will list  five reasons that support arguments against a theater or arts program in prison.

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

Pros and Cons Chart

 

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

“Dynamic Duos: Why Science Loves Twins”

“One of the broadest studies of twins in the United States suggests that our genes tend to influence the diseases that afflict us more than where we live, according to research published Monday in the journal Nature Genetics.” M. Nedelman, CNN

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Astronaut twins Mark (l) and twin Scott Kelly (r)-were subjects of experiments. NASA

Excerpt: Why science loves twins, M.Nedelman, CNN

“Using insurance claims data, researchers identified more than 56,000 pairs of twins and estimated the heritability of 560 diseases, finding that nearly a third of the variation in these conditions could be attributed to genetics, on average. Where people grew up was less contributory on the whole…’The relationship between genetics and environment in disease is incredibly nuanced,’ said study author Chirag Patel, assistant professor of biomedical informatics at Harvard Medical School.

Scott Kelly (left) spent a year in space while his identical twin Mark (right) stayed on Earth as a control subject. Photo- NASA

Of the diseases the researchers looked at, 40% had a significant genetic component, and about 25% had an environmental one — though the strength of that relationship could be different for any given disease. For example, morbid obesity was found to be strongly influenced by genetics and the environment, Patel said.

‘You get people who are very deterministic, who say ‘it’s genes’ or ‘it’s environment.’ This shows it’s a mixture,’ said Jeffrey M. Craig, associate professor at the Deakin University School of Medicine and deputy director of Twins Research Australia. Craig was not involved in the new study.

Twin Plus Festival-Melbourne.weekendnotes.comjpeg.

As twin registries merge and incorporate big data, as in the new study, experts like Craig look forward to new stages of twins enriching science. ‘That’s one of the ways twin research is growing,’ he said.

About 33 in every 1,000 human births in the United States are twins, a rate that has climbed in recent decades as more women marry later and take fertility drugs or employ in vitro fertilization, factors that are known to increase the likelihood of multiple births. Identical twins are an even more exclusive club: roughly four in every 1,000 births. They are formed when a single fertilized egg splits in two, creating two embryos with the same DNA.

McClure Twins.

In more recent years, however, twins have revealed a genetic component to a number of outcomes such as epilepsy, religiosity, autism and mental health, according to experts. NASA even conducted its own twin study on how astronaut Scott Kelly’s gene expression changed after a year on the International Space Station, relative to that of his identical twin, Mark, who remained on Earth. Twins have also suggested that something outside the genetic code can explain why one identical twin might develop Type 1 diabetes or Parkinson’s disease and the other doesn’t.

Annual gathering in Twinsburg, Ohio. mirror.co.uk

One festival for twins has also become one big Petri dish for scientists: Twins Days, an annual event that brings thousands of twins to northeastern Ohio.

Year after year, a cluster of research tents invites twins to contribute to a potpourri of science. In past years, Procter & Gamble, the maker of Olay, has studied twins to better understand the aging process and its effect on skin.

The Los Angeles Police Department has looked at slight differences between twins’ fingerprints to improve its identification tools. Biometric researchers have photographed and recorded twins speaking in order to create better facial and voice recognition systems. The FBI has funded similar research there, as well.

Traditionally, researchers have studied identical twins versus fraternal controls. These sibling pairs share the same upbringing and environment, but identical twins share all their DNA and fraternal twins onlyabout half…There’s even research by twins, for twins — looking at their ‘special bond’ in order to best counsel them in therapy, Craig said.

Ayumichi twins.

But even though twin research long predates the discovery of the double helix, advancements in genetics have not replaced twins, who continue to unravel our most elusive traits.”

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 Activity: 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.

  1. The relationship between genetics and environment in disease is incredibly nuanced.
  2. Research found that nearly a third of certain conditions could be attributed to genetics.
  3. Obesity was found to be strongly influenced by genetics and the environment.
  4. More women marry later and take fertility drugs.
  5. Some women employ in vitro fertilization
  6. Identical twins are  a very exclusive class.
  7. Twins have also suggested that there is something outside the genetic code to explain various diseases.
  8. Biometric researchers have photographed and recorded twins speaking.
  9. One festival for twins has also become one big Petri dish for scientists.
  10. Traditionally, researchers have studied identical twins versus fraternal twins.

Word Map by Against the Oddstiff

 

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,

Environment was less contributory ___the whole.

One ___the broadest studies___twins___ the United States takes place ___Ohio.

Roughly 33 ___every 1,000 human births___ the United States are twins.

Decades ago, there was very little acknowledgment___genetic influences ___children’s mental health.

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.

Our ___is whether some ___are ___and, if so, to what? Our ___is whether this is a ___determined trait. We like to ___genetically___twins to___that are no more ___than ordinary siblings.

WORD LIST:  similar,   twins,  compare, identical, taste-blind, question, genetically, people, interest,

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, There’s also value in looking at children of twins and at twins raised apart…which could shed light on whether certain behaviors or disorders are likely to be passed down through parents’ genes versus their home environments.”  Provide examples that supports this statement.
  2. Are you a twin? If so describe how you and your twin behave differently (or the same) as other siblings.
  3. Would you like to be a twin? Explain why or why not.

 

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

Battling Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Winning

“You must really love that song,’ my mother says, and for a moment my heart stops. Both of us are plainly aware she need not be more specific than that. I attempt to read her body language out of the corner of my eye. Does she know? There’s no way, right?…What I definitely do not do is glance back and say, ‘Funny story about that song, while you’ve clearly noticed I’ve listened to it every single weeknight this entire school year, would you believe I only ever press play at exactly 8:38 p.m.?” R. Monahan, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: How I Finally Kicked My O.C.D. by Rich Monahan, The New York Times

“And check this out, once that cable box hits 9:52 p.m., I will casually retire to my bedroom to initiate the final sequence of what has recently ballooned into a nearly 90-minute nightly routine of humiliating compulsions: I’ll touch the same four CDs laid out on my dresser in ‘order’; turn the stereo on and off; move to the entertainment center; touch the ‘Twisted Metal’ video game case; turn on the TV; boot up the PlayStation…then touch nothing else until it’s lights out at 9:58 p.m. And that’s not even the craziest part; the craziest part is that I do these things because I believe they will somehow increase my social standing among other ninth graders… and I’m pretty sure I’ve lost my mind.’

Image- Steemit

It started in seventh grade, when two childhood friends aged out of hanging out with me. Already depressed and on the verge of friendlessness, I was desperate to preserve life as it had been. Well,  my brain misfired, ‘Last time you all hung out together, you wore that one pair of Hanes tighty  whities. Put those on.’ I did. Then I wore them again the next day, and the next, for 30 days straight.

Soon, it snowballed into an impossible amount of rituals, all infused with a bizarre sense of causality: ‘If I do X, Y and Z today, then tomorrow my classmates will like me…’

OCD-UK

On the good days, obsessive-compulsive disorder can just feel like a bunch of extra chores. On the bad days, when nothing is ‘working,’ you are trapped in a living nightmare, helplessly enslaved to an oppressive and delusional belief system that has swallowed nearly every moment of your waking life.  On the bright side: I always knew exactly where my keys were. 

I tried not to examine the bigger implications of it all, though I was aware enough to know I should be absolutely ashamed. So I told no one. By the end of high school, I had friends, won superlatives and no one knew a thing about me. Mission accomplished.

But college threw an unexpected curve ball: I finally had a girlfriend. ‘Is that the same Power Bar that’s always there?’ she asks a few weeks into our relationship, staring at the twisted energy bar sitting in the cup holder of my Corolla’s center console. ‘Oh, that? No, that’d be really funny, but no, I just bought it,’ I grin… It is of course the same Power Bar I have kept in my car for months, though to be fair, only on Fridays and Saturdays when I have a show, as during the week I store it in my underwear drawer. Her brow furrows…She buys me a book about O.C.D. I never read it. When we’re among friends I’m a delight — sane and gregarious. When we’re alone, I shrink bitterly…Michelle suggests painting, I refuse. She asks for closet space, I say sorry, we cannot move Grandma’s oxygen tanks. I cannot risk any fluctuation in my recent streak of positive outcomes…Michelle dumps me a final time…I tell everyone everything. ‘So wait, what was the shaving-with-no-pants-on one about?’ my friend Nate asked.’

‘So people would like me.’ In sharing with friends and family the weirdest things about me, I expect humiliation, or at least some solid recoils in horror. Instead, they mull it over, ask a couple of questions, then tell me the weirdest things about themselves…Over time, I even become a trusted resource for friends newly tackling their own mental health… I have not had a single compulsion since.”

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

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

Advanced K-W-L chart.Intervention for Reading

 

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. After 9:00 I will casually retire to my bedroom.
  2. I initiate the final sequence of my ritual.
  3. Having OCD can be humiliating.
  4. By was seventh grade I was already depressed.
  5. My brain seemed to have  misfired.
  6. Soon, it snowballed into an impossible amount of rituals.
  7. On the good days, obsessive-compulsive disorder can just feel like a bunch of extra chores.
  8. Some days I felt trapped in a living nightmare.
  9. I tried not to examine the bigger implications of it all.
  10. My friends simply mull it over and ask a few questions.

vocabulary Chart: Freeology

 

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.

I spent a ___lying, secretly ___the objects in my bedroom in order to keep ___around. But opening up enough to tell them so___ us closer than ever. I have not had a single ___since.

WORD LIST: brought, compulsion, rearranging, friends, decade,

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 mastered/missed the art of deflect/deflection, expertly turning every response/repose into a joke/jokes and steering every convert/conversation into being about the other person. By the end of high school, I had friends/fiends, won superlatives and no one knew a thing about me. Mission accomplished.

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. According to the author what signs of OCD did he show?
  2. What are some of the reasons he gave for his behavior?
  3. How did the author finally kick his OCD?
  4. Do you know someone who has OCD? If yes describe their behavior.
  5. What would you do if you suspected someone you knew might have OCD?
  6. Look for additional information about OCD on the web (e.g., self-help books, available therapy etc.)

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

Do Bilingual Children Develop Better Social Skills?

“Being bilingual has some obvious advantages. Learning more than one language enables new conversations and new experiences…Now, two new studies demonstrate that multilingual exposure improves not only children’s cognitive skills but also their social abilities.” K. Kinzler, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Raising bilingual children. photo- zestnzen

Raising bilingual children. photo- zestnzen

Excerpt: The Superior Social Skills of Bilinguals by Katherine Kinzler New York Times

“ One study from my developmental psychology lab… shows that multilingual children can be better at communication than monolingual children.

Language image-expatchild

Language image-expatchild

We took a group of children in the United States, ages 4 to 6, from different linguistic backgrounds, and presented them with a situation in which they had to consider someone else’s perspective to understand her meaning. For example, an adult said to the child: ‘Ooh, a small car! Can you move the small car for me?’ Children could see three cars — small, medium and large — but were in position to observe that the adult could not see the smallest car. Since the adult could see only the medium and large cars, when she said ‘small’ car, she must be referring to the child’s medium.

Image- englishplus.ae

Image- englishplus.ae

We found that bilingual children were better than monolingual children at this task. If you think about it, this makes intuitive sense. Interpreting someone’s utterance often requires attending not just to its content, but also to the surrounding context.

app for language learning

What does a speaker know or not know? What did she intend to convey? Children in multilingual environments have social experiences that provide routine practice in considering the perspectives of others: They have to think about who speaks which language to whom, who understands which content, and the times and places in which different languages are spoken… Multilingual exposure, it seems, facilitates the basic skills of interpersonal understanding.”

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 Task: 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. There are less obvious advantages of bilingualism.
  2. Experiments were conducted in collaboration with other psychologists.
  3. We took a group of children from different linguistic backgrounds.
  4. We found that bilingual children were better than monolingual children at  certain tasks.
  5. If you think about it, this makes intuitive sense.
  6. Interpreting someone’s utterance often requires practice.
  7. What does  a speaker want to convey?
  8. Children in multilingual environments have  better social experiences.
  9. Children regularly exposed to another language were also talented.
  10. All  of the children were given a standard cognitive test.

Word Map Education Oasis

Reading Comprehension

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Interestingly, we also found/find that children who worn/were effectively monolingual yet regularly exposed/expired to another language — for example, those who had grandparents who speak/spoke another language — were just as talented/talent as the bilingual children at this tusk/task. It seems that being raised in an environment in which multiply/multiple languages are spoken, rather than being bilingual per se, is the driving factor.

 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. Bilingual children enjoy certain cognitive benefits.
  2. One study were from a developmental psychology lab.
  3. Multilingual children can be better at communication.

II

  1. In the experiment Children could see all three cars.
  2. The adult could only see the smallest car.
  3. They have to think about who speaks which language.

III

  1. They was just as talented as the bilingual children.
  2. In a follow-up study involved the effects on younger children.
  3. Multilingual exposure, it seems, facilitates the basic skills.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Write Design to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main idea and points from the article.

Main idea chart By Write Design

Main idea chart By Write Design

Discussion/Writing Exercise

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 following discussion topics.

  1. Many  High schools in the U.S.  still require that students learn a second language. In your opinion is learning a second language necessary?  Explain why or why not.
  2. If you are bilingual (or multilingual) what advantages have you experienced?
  3. Are there any group members who wish to learn another language? 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. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

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