Category Archives: Science

Medical Heroes Fighting the Coronavirus For Us…And Dying

“Millions of health care workers are running to where they are needed, sometimes risking their lives.” D. Berwick, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: They Don’t Hide From the Coronavirus, They Confront It  By Donald M. Berwick, The NYT

‘I’m having flashbacks to the Boston Marathon bombing,’ my daughter said. She was a newly minted physician on the day the bombs went off seven years ago, when the police rolled a man on a stretcher into her hospital’s emergency department. His blood had spilled onto the floor and someone began to wipe it away. ‘Don’t bother,’ the officer said, ‘there is a lot more where that came from.’

ICU medical staff with patients-credit- Washington Post

When she tells that story, my daughter always mentions the dread she felt. How many more victims would arrive, and when?

Now, she faces a similar sense of dread, as demand for Covid-19 care could swamp her hospital and patients who could have been saved may die as the ventilator supply runs out.

Exhausted medical caregivers sleep when [and where] they can.

As the world writhes in the grip of Covid-19, the epidemic has revealed something majestic and inspiring: millions of health care workers running to where they are needed, on duty, sometimes risking their own lives. I have never before seen such an extensive, voluntary outpouring of medical help at such a global scale.

Welsh doctors and nurses urge people tp help contain the virus-credit- www.itv.com

Intensive care doctors in Seattle connect with intensive care doctors in Wuhan to gather specific intelligence on what the Chinese have learned: details of diagnostic strategies, the physiology of the disease, approaches to managing lung failure, and more.

Dozens of healthcare workers are shown on a flight from China to the Philippines. Credit-globalnews.

Health care workers-Credit- CNN

A Wuhan Doctor on the Front Lines-credit-Medscape

The three-page, single spaced document, full of lessons, circulates immediately and widely through social media platforms, a gem borne of pure, professional commitment…And city by city, hospitals mobilize creatively to get ready for the possible deluge: bring in retired staff members, train nurses and doctors in real time, share data on supplies around the region, set up special isolation units and scale up capacity by a factor of 100 or 1000…Think about such adaptations and agility going on all across our nation and the world.

A team of doctors and nurses prepare themselves before heading out to their designated residential areas to check on residents. credit- National Review

A coronavirus prayer. credit-americanmagazine.org

Good people taking the load in a time of crisis…We are witnessing professionalism in its highest form, skilled people putting the interests of those they serve above their own interests…’How are you doing?’ I asked my daughter by phone from the safety of my house. ‘A little scared,’ she said. Then, ‘Gotta go…’ Patients were waiting.”

Credit- healthcareequalityconsulting.com

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Have  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. I’m having flashbacks to the Boston Marathon.
  2. She was a newly minted physician.
  3. Many people dread the Coronavirus.
  4. Demand for Covid-19 care could swamp many hospitals.
  5. Patients who could have been saved may die as the ventilator supply runs out.
  6. Hospitals prepare for the deluge of patients coming their way.
  7. The Covid-19 epidemic has revealed something majestic and inspiring.
  8. I have never before seen such an extensive, voluntary outpouring of medical help.
  9. Intensive care units are over crowded.
  10. Medical Care people have a sense of commitment to their jobs.

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, since

She was a newly minted physician ___the day the bombs went ___seven years ago, when the police rolled a man ___a stretcher___her hospital’s emergency department. His blood had spilled___the floor and someone began to wipe it away.

The Journal ___the American Medical Association, even while moving its staff home ___social distancing, sets new records___speeding helpful scientific studies, peer reviewed, ___the web.

 

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.

On Tuesday, ___Bill de Blasio of___asks for___ medical personnel to join the city’s___; 24 hours later, 1000 new volunteers have signed up. Northwell Health, a 23-hospital ___in___, figures out how to add 1,500 beds, if needed, by___space.

WORD LIST: repurposing,NewYork City, Medical Reserve Corps, Mayor,  New York,  retired, system,

 

III. Post Reading Activities

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

Cerebral Chart by Write Design

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. In your opinion are the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel heroes? Why?
  2. What are some of the ways hospitals are mobilize creatively to get ready for the possible deluge?
  3. What did the mayor of New York City do to help hospital medical personnel?
  4. Can you think of other times in the U.S. or other countries when medical personnel were considered heroes?
  5. Are there people in other fields you would consider heroes?
  6. What ideas have you learned after reading this article?

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas  you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things  that  you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

Photo Activity for speaking or Writing

Directions: Have students study the photos then choose one to write a paragraph about.

If possible, here are a few questions students might answer:

How does this person/people look to you? For example, tired, sad, happy, hopeful, bored, etc.

What do you think they are thinking about? 

Thank You Cards Activity

Students could create “Thank You” cards of their own and send them to hospitals where medical personnel can receive the cards.

ANSWER KEY

 

How We Can Achieve Social Unity, With Social Distancing

“To combat the coronavirus, Americans need to do more than secure their own safety.” E. Klinenberg, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

A discarded medical glove on a subway grate in midtown Manhattan in New York City on Tuesday.Credit…Damon Winter:The New York Times

Excerpt: We Need Social Solidarity…By Dr. Eric Klinenberg, The New York Times

“Social distancing — canceling large gatherings, closing schools and offices, quarantining individuals and even sequestering entire cities or neighborhoods — seems to be the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But it’s a crude and costly public health strategy.

Some of the homeless people who camp near Washington’s Union Station feel isolated as foot traffic has decreased. (Michael S. Williamson:The Post)

Shuttering shared spaces and institutions means families lose child care, wages and social support.  What’s more, it’s insufficient to protect the older, sick, homeless and isolated people who are most vulnerable to the virus. They need extra care and attention to survive, not society’s back.

I learned this firsthand while studying another recent health crisis, the great Chicago heat wave of 1995. In that event, as in so many other American disasters, social isolation was a leading risk factor and social connections made the difference between life and death.

Tents of one of the many homeless men and women are set up at Dupont Circle in Washington. (Astrid Riecken for The Post)

In Chicago, social isolation among older people in poor, segregated and abandoned neighborhoods made the heat wave far more lethal than it should have been. Some 739 people died during one deadly week in July, even though saving them required little more than a cold bath or exposure to air-conditioning. There was plenty of water and artificial cooling available in the city that week. For the truly disadvantaged, however, social contact was in short supply. Good governments can mitigate damage during health crises by communicating clearly and honestly with the public and providing extra service and support to those in need…It’s chilling, how familiar this seems. And it’s disturbing, how little we’ve heard about helping the people and places most threatened by the coronavirus, about the ways in which, amid so much isolation, we can offer a hand.

Coronavirus concerns empty public spaces around the world-Boston Globe

In addition to social distancing, societies have often drawn on another resource to survive disasters and pandemics: social solidarity, or the interdependence between individuals and across groups.

A Flowershop Offeres Free Flowers To everyone.

This an essential tool for combating infectious diseases and other collective threats.

Solidarity motivates us to promote public health, not just our own personal security. It keeps us from hoarding medicine, toughing out a cold in the workplace or sending a sick child to school…Social solidarity leads to policies that benefit public well-being, even if it costs some individuals more. Consider paid sick leave.

A Brookline Principal reads bedtime stories to her young students

When governments guarantee it (as most developed democracies do), it can be a burden for employers and businesses. The United States does not guarantee it, and as a consequence many low-wage American workers, even in the food service industry, are on the job when they’re contagiously ill.”

Related Articles:

5 Ways to Help Your Community Combat Coronavirus (While Still Social Distancing)

“Instead of isolating, you can help your neighbors and community in these ways.” By Ria Misra, The New York Times

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 Coronavirus.  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 Map by rentonschools.us

 

 

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 people are kept in quarantine.
  2. Entire cities or neighborhoods are being sequestered.
  3. But it’s a crude and costly public health strategy.
  4. Shuttering shared spaces and institutions means families lose child care, wages and social support.
  5. What’s more, it’s insufficient to protect the older, sick, homeless.
  6. Good governments can mitigate damage during health crises.
  7. Amid so much isolation, we can offer a hand.
  8. Societies have often drawn on another resource to survive disasters and pandemics: social solidarity.
  9. Societie have also drawn upon the interdependence between individuals and across groups.
  10. We should not be hoarding medicine, toughing out a cold in the workplace or sending a sick child to school.

 

 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. Social distancing  seems to be the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
  2. But it’s a crude and costly public health strategy.
  3. We need to protect the older, sick, homeless and isolated people.

II

  1. Good governments can mitigate damage during health crises.
  2. Its chilling, how familiar this seems.
  3. It’s disturbing, how little we’ve heard about helping the people.

III

  1. Societies have often drawn on social solidarity to survive disasters.
  2. Solidarity motivates us to promote public health.
  3. Solidarity is a essential tool for combating infectious disease

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

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

  1. The Coronavirus is only in China and the U.S.
  2. Social distancing and canceling large gatherings,  is not the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
  3. Keeping people separated seems to be a crude and costly public health strategy.
  4. Shuttering shared spaces and institutions means families lose child care, wages and social support.
  5. Young people who are most vulnerable to the virus.
  6. The author references  another health crisis that occurred in New York.
  7. According to the author, solidarity is an essential tool for combating infectious diseases.
  8. Social solidarity leads to people being lonely.
  9. The scientists expect the coronavirus to be over in 3 months.
  10. The United States does not guarantee paid sick leave, and as a consequence many low-wage American workers, even in the food service industry, are on the job when they’re contagiously ill.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Graphic Organizers: Finding The Main Idea

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article.

 

Topic organizer. By Enchanted Learning

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you, your friends, family and community?
  2. Do you feel that we need more compassion and solidarity during this crises?
  3. Name several  good things that solidarity motivates us to do for others.
  4. According to the article who are the most vulnerable people?
  5. It’s stated that, “As Covid-19 spreads, we’ll continue to see more people asked to work remotely or from home, more school closings, more canceled events, and other measures associated with social distancing.”
  6. Do you have  plans of how you intend to remain in touch with family and friends. In addition, make a list of things you, your friends and family could do to help others in need.
  7. After reading this article name at least one thing new that you’ve learned about the Coronavirus situation. Discuss what you’ve learned with your group members and share as a class.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things  that  you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

5 People Who Made Positive World Changes in 2019

“In a year of many dispiriting headlines, Fixes still found the better angels of human nature at work.” T. Rosenberg, The New York Times

Note: Fixes is a column from the New York Times that looks at solutions to social problems and why they work.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Excerpt: Five Who Spread Hope in 2019-By Tina Rosenberg, The New York Times

“O.K. so Time magazine has Greta Thunberg. But many other individuals also changed the world for the better in 2019. Here, for a second year, is a list of five whose contributions Fixes wrote about.

Scott O’Neill fights tropical disease.

Scott O’Neill, director of the World Mosquito Program, with a cage of Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes in his Melbourne laboratory. Credit- Shaney Cameron

There’s a new weapon in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases.

Before 1970, only nine countries had experienced severe epidemics of dengue fever. Now, the disease is endemic in 100 countries, infects 400 million people a year and is intensifying rapidly.

Like Zika and chikungunya, dengue is spread by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, and no workable vaccine or cure has been found.

The normal public health response to mosquitoes is attack: spray pesticide, eliminate breeding grounds and help people ward off their bites. But these strategies have failed to control dengue. The world is desperate for something new. Scott O’Neill leads a team that is doing just the opposite — adding millions of mosquitoes to areas affected by disease. Professor O’Neill directs the World Mosquito Program, which is based at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

The mosquitoes the program releases are infected with Wolbachia bacteria, which block their ability to transmit disease. Wolbachia occurs naturally in most insect species and is harmless to vertebrates and humans. When enough Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes are released, they take over the whole population…In Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Wolbachia zones had 76 percent fewer cases of dengue than other areas. Wolbachia has also led to reductions in disease in Brazil and Vietnam.

Kimberly McGrath heals trafficked children.

Kimberly McGrath coordinates foster care services at the Citrus Health Network in Hialeah, Fla. Credit- Maria A. Cardona for The New York Times

What happens to a child who is exploited commercially for sex? Kimberly McGrath is changing the answer to that question. Historically, trafficked children have been arrested for solicitation and sent to juvenile court…’The core understanding was that these were defiant, rebellious youth who would rebel in a family,’ Dr. McGrath said. In 2013, Florida officials asked Dr. McGrath, who coordinates foster care services at the Citrus Health Network in South Florida, to come up with a different response.

She started from the premise that these children were not defiant criminals. A vast majority had been abused, which made them more susceptible to the manipulations of traffickers. And they had never gotten help to recover from that abuse.

Dr. McGrath and her colleagues looked at what had worked for other traumatized children and adapted it to trafficked children. They educated not just therapists and social workers, but also foster parents…’When foster parents are equipped and prepared to deal with their special needs, children thrive in family-based environments,’ she said. “They really are just traumatized kids.’

Dr. Dixon Chibanda transforms global mental health care.

Dr. Dixon Chibanda turned benches into destinations for therapy. Credit- Markus Schreiber:Associated Press

Depression occurs everywhere. By some measures, it’s the world’s most debilitating disease. But treatment is not everywhere. Even in New York City, less than 40 percent of people with depression get treatment. In poor countries, it’s closer to zero percent.

So what can be done in places with no public mental health care and only a tiny number of mental health professionals? As with medical care, the answer is training nonprofessionals. Every health clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe, has a ‘friendship bench‘ in its yard. It’s an ordinary wooden bench. Seated on it is a community health worker with a few weeks’ training in problem-solving therapy. Patients go to the bench, talk to the health worker about their problems and come up with possible solutions. They go home and try them, and return.

The friendship bench was invented in 2006 by a psychiatrist, Dixon Chibanda, after a patient committed suicide. He had asked her to come see him at Harare Central Hospital, but she lived in another city and didn’t have bus fare.

Dr. Chibanda decided to bring treatment for depression to Harare’s health clinics. At first he wanted to train nurses and put offices inside the buildings, but the nurses had not enough  time and clinics had not enough space. But what seemed like a setback is what has allowed the program to spread.

Now, there’s a bench in the yard of every government-run health clinic in Harare, and the practice is spreading throughout Zimbabwe and to other African countries. In a different form, the strategy has also reached New York. Research shows that friendship benches are effective at treating depression.

Dr. Rebekah Gee makes medicines affordable.

Dr. Rebekah Gee, Louisiana’s health secretary. Credit- Tom Williams:CQ Roll Call, via Associated Press

Louisiana is doing two things no other state is doing about hepatitis C, which kills more Americans than all other infectious diseases combined. One is that the state is suddenly treating more people.

Hep C is curable — but the drugs are astronomically expensive. Even the cheapest generic version in the United States costs $24,000 for a course of treatment. (In India, the same drug is $550.) Because of the price, state Medicaid programs ration the drugs. In 2018, Louisiana treated 1,200 people… Louisiana could do that because of the second innovation: The drugs were made a lot less expensive. In July, the state began buying hep C medicines in a new way. Just as you pay Netflix a flat fee for all you want to watch, Louisiana now pays Asegua Therapeutics $58 million per year for all the hep C medicine the state can use.

Dr. Rebekah Gee, Louisiana’s secretary of health, adopted the scheme from Australia, where it has allowed Australia to treat seven times as many patients for the same money. Louisiana is the first state in America to do the same. The State of Washington is about to start as well. Other states are likely to follow.

Phil Keisling deepens democracy.

Illustration by Jeffrey Henson Scales; photographs by Marcin Jastrzebski and Digiphoto:iStock, via Getty Images

There’s a lot of attention, and rightly so, paid to Republican efforts to suppress voting. But there’s also a movement in both parties to expand voting. It abandons the traditional polling booth in favor of voting at home

It’s one of the most effective ways to increase turnout — possibly the best way.

Increasingly, other states are following the path first set by Oregon, which mails every voter a ballot. Voters fill it out at their leisure and mail it in or drop it off at a ballot center.

In next year’s elections, all voters in Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Utah and Hawaii will vote at home. California will soon follow. Large parts of North Dakota and Nebraska vote at home. In last year’s midterms, 69 percent of all votes in the West were cast by voters who received ballots in the mail.

Phil Keisling was Oregon’s secretary of state, in charge of elections, when Oregon began home voting in 1998. Now he leads the Vote at Home Institute.

The institute asserts that it saves taxpayers money (some election officials disagree). It argues that because the approach uses paper ballots, it’s secure against hacking… Home voting probably doesn’t affect turnout in big elections. But it does in local elections, races at the end of the ballot, ballot propositions and judicial elections.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

Pre-reading Exercises

 

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Have  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. Before 1970, only nine countries had experienced severe epidemics of dengue fever.
  2. The normal public health response to mosquitoes is attack: spray pesticide.
  3. What happens to a child who is exploited?
  4. Historically, trafficked children have been arrested for solicitation.
  5. Depression occurs everywhere.
  6. So what can be done in places with no public mental health care?
  7. Louisiana is doing two things no other state is doing about hepatitis C.
  8. Hepatitis C kills more Americans than all other infectious diseases combined.
  9. There’s a lot of attention, and rightly so, paid to Republican efforts to suppress voting.
  10. Increasingly, other states are following the path first set by Oregon, which mails every voter a ballot.

Source: New Oxford American Dictionary   

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

Many other individual also changed the world for the better in 2019.

The normal public health response to mosquitoes is attack.

The mosquitoes the program releases are infected with Wolbachia bacteria.

II

The friendship bench was invented in 2006.

There’s a bench in the yard of every government-run health clinic in Harare.

Louisiana is treating more people for hepatitis C.

III

Because of an price, state Medicaid programs ration their drugs.

In next year’s elections, all voters in Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Utah and Hawaii will vote at home.

Turnout for these elections can be in the single digits.

Identify The  Speakers

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. “People who understand dengue and live in transmission areas are horrified and scared.”
  2. “Now we know they really are just extremely traumatized youth.”
  3. I started to realize that psychiatry in an institution is not the way to go. We have to take it to the community.”
  4. “Why couldn’t we change health care in this country?”
  5. “For millions of citizens, especially those with uncertain work schedules, family obligations and other daily demands, the traditional polling place has now become the most powerful voter suppression tool of all.”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

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. Which of the profiles do you find most inspiring or heartwarming? Why?
  2. Do they make you more hopeful and optimistic about the world?
  3. Do they inspire you to make a difference? How?
  4. Have you observed other ordinary heroes of 2019 in the news?In your community? Describe them.
  5. What qualities make it possible for individuals to affect change?
  6. Do you think you made a positive difference in the lives of others in 2019? Explain how.
  7. Has anyone made a difference in your life this past year? 

 

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

EPA Finding Alternatives to Animal Testing

“The E.P.A. aims to reduce the amount of studies that involve mammal testing by 30 percent by 2025. The move was hailed by animal rights groups, but some researchers said it pushed the agency too quickly into uncharted territory.” M. Zaveri, M. Padilla and J. Peiser, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

photo-Fox29.com

Excerpt: E.P.A. Says It Will Drastically Reduce Animal Testing By M. Zaveri, M. Padilla and J. Peiser, The New York Times

“The Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday that it would move away from requiring the testing of potentially harmful chemicals on animals, a decision that was hailed by animal rights groups but criticized by environmentalists and researchers who said the practice was necessary to rigorously safeguard human health.

The E.P.A. Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the agency plans to reduce the amount of studies that involve mammal testing by 30 percent by 2025, and to eliminate the studies entirely by 2035, though some may still be approved on a case-by-case basis.

The agency said it would also invest $4.25 million in projects at four universities and a medical centerthat are developing alternate ways of testing chemicals that do not involve animals. ‘We can protect human health and the environment by using cutting-edge, ethically sound science in our decision-making that efficiently and cost-effectively evaluates potential effects without animal testing,’ Mr. Wheeler said in a memo announcing the changes.

Reducing animal testing-PETA

The E.P.A. has for decades required testing on a variety of animals — including rats, dogs, birds and fish — to gauge their toxicity before the chemicals can be bought, sold or used in the environment…The practice of testing with animals has long prompted complex debates driven by passionate views on morality and scientific imperative. Reaction to Tuesday’s announcement was no different…Kathleen Conlee, the vice president of animal research issues at the Humane Society, said the E.P.A.’s move is ‘broad-sweeping and significant.’

‘This is the first time a government agency has made such a commitment and time lined its specific goals along the way,’ Ms. Conlee said. ‘There’s been a lot of positive action among other federal agencies, but we want to see all government agencies take this step.’ Various government agencies, like the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health, have also been looking to reduce, refine and replace animal testing.

E.P.A. chief directs agency to reduce animal testing. Washington Post

But the F.D.A., which still uses animal testing to a certain extent, does not plan on instituting further cutbacks in light of the E.P.A.’s announcement… Tara Rabin, an F.D.A. spokeswoman, said in a statement. ‘Without the use of animals, it would be impossible to gain some of the important knowledge needed to prevent human and animal suffering for many life-threatening diseases.’

The F.D.A. has been experimenting with alternatives to animal testing for several years. Last year the department proposed a study that would eliminate the use of dogs for testing and ended its use of squirrel monkeys for a nicotine study.

One innovation, which has shown promising results, is a computer microchip lined with living human cells called “Organs-on-Chips.” The device mimics the functions of human organs, allowing researchers to study molecular and cellular function.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

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

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 E.P.A. said the agency plans to reduce the amount of studies that involve mammal testing by 30 percent.
  2. We can protect human health and the environment by using cutting-edge, ethically sound science.
  3. Mr. Wheeler  sent a memo announcing the changes.
  4. The agency could not immediately provide a breakdown of how many of its tests involve mammals.
  5. Many debates on the topic are driven by passionate views on morality and scientific imperative.
  6. The alternatives are more efficient and save lives.
  7. Animal testing is a process that has been honed over decades.
  8. The testing is to gauge chemicals’ impacts on people of various backgrounds.
  9. The F.D.A. still uses animal testing to a certain extent, and does not plan on further cutbacks.
  10. One innovation, which has shown promising results, is a computer microchip lined with living human cells.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

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

I

  1. The agency said it would also invest $4.25 million.
  2. They are developing alternate way of testing chemicals.
  3. The E.P.A. could not provide a breakdown of how many of its tests involve mammals.

II

  1. Animal testing help manufacturers.
  2. The tests are typically conducted by outside parties.
  3. The alternatives are the future.

III

  1. Some think that we should be investing more in this research.
  2. There’s been a lot of positive action among other federal agencies.
  3. The F.D.A. still uses animal testing on a certain extent.

 

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. According to the article, the E.P.A. aims to increase  the amount of studies that involve mammal testing.
  2. This is the first time a government agency has made such a commitment.
  3. Tracey Woodruff is a professor at the University of Boston.
  4. This decision was supported by environmentalists and researchers.
  5. The agency said it would also invest $ 1 million in developing alternate ways of testing chemicals that do not involve animals.
  6. Andrew Wheeler is the E.P.A. Administrator.
  7. Many zoos will benefit from this decision.
  8. The E.P.A. has for decades required testing on a variety of animals — including rats, dogs, birds and fish.
  9. Animal testing helps manufacturers prove to the general public  that their chemicals meet federal safety standards.
  10. The F.D.A. has been experimenting with alternatives to animal testing for several years.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Who Said That?  Identifying  Speakers from the Article

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. “I definitely think we should be investing more in this research,” referring to alternative testing.
  2. “While the F.D.A. is committed to doing all that it can to reduce the reliance on animal-based studies, there are still many areas where animal research is necessary,”
  3. “We are really excited as this has been something we’ve wanted for quite some time.”
  4. “We can protect human health and the environment by using cutting-edge, ethically sound science in our decision-making that efficiently and cost-effectively evaluates potential effects without animal testing,”
  5. “This is the first time a government agency has made such a commitment and time-lined its specific goals along the way.”

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. The article states, “The Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday that it would move away from requiring the testing of potentially harmful chemicals on animals, a decision that was hailed by animal rights groups but criticized by environmentalists and researchers who said the practice was necessary to rigorously safeguard human health.”  Do you  agree with the E.P.A. that moving away from using animals for testing is the right move to make?  Or  Do you think that testing harmful chemical on animals is necessary to protect human lives? 
  2. Tara Rabin, an F.D.A. spokeswoman, said in a statement, ‘Without the use of animals, it would be impossible to gain some of the important knowledge needed to prevent human and animal suffering for many life-threatening diseases.’ Do you think that there are certain times when animal testing is necessary? Explain your answer.

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.

Extra Activity:

Main Idea / 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 Animal testing.

Team B will list  five reasons against Animal testing.

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

 

ANSWER KEY

Category: Animals, Science

“Worried About A Bleak Future, Climate Change Activists Hesitant To Have Kids”

“Standing before several dozen students in a college classroom, Travis Rieder tries to convince them not to have children. Or at least not too many.”J. Ludden, NPR

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Big Data Predicts Centuries of Harm if Climate Warming Goes Unchecked.

Excerpt: Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change? J. Ludden, NPR

“He’s at James Madison University in southwest Virginia to talk about a ‘small-family ethic’ — to question the assumptions of a society that sees having children as good, throws parties for expecting parents, and in which parents then pressure their kids to ‘give them grandchildren.’ Why question such assumptions? The prospect of climate catastrophe.

For years, people have lamented how bad things might get ‘for our grandchildren,” but Rieder tells the students that future isn’t so far off anymore.  He asks how old they will be in 2036, and, if they are thinking of having kids, how old their kids will be.

Population: climate change

‘Dangerous climate change is going to be happening by then ,’ he says. ‘Very, very soon.’ There’s also a moral duty to future generations that will live amid the climate devastation being created now.

‘Here’s a provocative thought: Maybe we should protect our kids by not having them,’ Rieder says…Scientists warn that a catastrophic tipping point is possible in the next few decades. By midcentury, possibly before, the average global temperature is projected to rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius, the point scientists and world leaders agree would trigger cataclysmic consequences.

Last year’s historic Paris climate agreement falls short of preventing that, so more drastic cuts in carbon emissions are needed. Adding to that challenge, the world is expected to add several billion people in the next few decades, each one producing more emissions… ‘It’s gonna be post-apocalyptic movie time,’ he says.

The room is quiet. No one fidgets. Later, a few students say they had no idea the situation was so bad.

Still. Even given the apocalyptic scenarios: Can you actually expect people to forgo something as deeply personal as having children? To deny the biological imperative that’s driven civilization?

Rieder and two colleagues, Colin Hickey and Jake Earl of Georgetown University, have a strategy for trying to do just that. Rieder is publishing a book on the subject later this year, and expects to take plenty of heat. But he’s hardly alone in thinking the climate crisis has come to this…Meghan Kallman is a co-founder of Conceivable Future. ‘I can’t count the number of times people have said, ‘Oh, my God, it’s so nice to know I’m not the only person that worries about this,’she says. In November 2014, Kallman and Josephine Ferorelli created Conceivable Future to make these personal struggles public.

CLIMATE ACTION TRACKER, UPDATED DECEMBER 2018

The group’s ultimate goal is ending U.S. fossil fuel subsidies, though its immediate role seems one of commiseration…For activists of childbearing age, Ferorelli says, climate change isn’t just an intellectual problem but ‘a heart problem.’

At the New Hampshire meeting, 67-year-old Nancy Nolan tells two younger women that people didn’t know about climate change in the 1980s when she had her kids. Once her children were grown, ‘I said to them, ‘I hope you never have children,’ which is an awful thing to say,’ Nolan says, her voice wavering. ‘It can bring me to tears easily.’

One woman looks a little stunned. She’s not a climate activist — just tagged along with a friend — and says she had no idea that deciding not to have kids because of the climate was even a thing.

Not everyone is as pessimistic about the future. Becky Whitley still plans to have a second child. She’s with the advocacy group Moms Clean Air Force and says becoming a parent is precisely what motivated her to care about the climate.

Back at James Madison University, Travis Rieder explains a PowerPoint graph that seems to offer hope. Bringing down global fertility by just half a child per woman ‘could be the thing that saves us,’he says.

He cites a study from 2010 that looked at the impact of demographic change on global carbon emissions. It found that slowing population growth could eliminate one-fifth to one-quarter of all the carbon emissions that need to be cut by midcentury to avoid that potentially catastrophic tipping point.

Rieder’s audience seems to want an easier way. A student asks about the carbon savings from not eating meat.

Excellent idea, Rieder says. But no amount of conservation gives you a pass. Oregon State University researchers have calculated the savings from all kinds of conservation measures: driving a hybrid, driving less, recycling, using energy-efficient appliances, windows and light bulbs.

For an American, the total metric tons of carbon dioxide saved by all of those measures over an entire lifetime of 80 years: 488. By contrast, the metric tons saved when a person chooses to have one fewer child: 9,441.

A student asks: ‘What happens if that kid you decided not to have would have been the person who grew up and essentially cured this?’

Again, great question, says Rieder, but the answer is still no. First, the chances are slim. More to the point, he says, valuing children as a means to an end — be it to cure climate change or, say, provide soldiers for the state — is ethically problematic.

So how do you persuade millions or billions of people around the world to sacrifice that? To avert climate disaster, the fertility rate would have to fall much faster than it has been. It would require more than educating women and expanding access to contraception, as aid agencies have been doing for decades.

Rieder and his Georgetown collaborators have a proposal, and the first thing they stress is that it’s not like China’s abusive one-child policy. It aims to persuade people to choose fewer children with a strategy that boils down to carrots for the poor, sticks for the rich.

Ethically, Rieder says poor nations get some slack because they’re still developing, and because their per capita emissions are a sliver of the developed world’s. Plus, it just doesn’t look good for rich, Western nations to tell people in poor ones not to have kids.

He suggests things like paying poor women to refill their birth control and — something that’s had proven success — widespread media campaigns.

For the sticks part of the plan, Rieder proposes that richer nations do away with tax breaks for having children and actually penalize new parents. He says the penalty should be progressive, based on income, and could increase with each additional child. Think of it like a carbon tax, on kids. He knows that sounds crazy.

‘But children, in a kind of cold way of looking at it, are an externality,” he says. ‘We as parents, we as family members, we get the good. And the world, the community, pays the cost.’

Of course, there are ethical concerns. Rebecca Kukla of Georgetown University worries about stigma, especially against poor and minority women. If cultural norms do change, she says, there could be a backlash against families with more children than is deemed socially appropriate.

Kukla appreciates that Rieder’s penalty on procreation would be progressive. But since it could not be so high as to be coercive, she says it would inevitably be unfair.

‘What that will actually translate into is it becoming much easier for wealthy people to have children than for other people to have children,’ Kukla says.

An even bigger hurdle is the sheer unlikelihood of it all. Rieder has no illusions. In fact, he says, some countries that have successfully reduced fertility rates have since reversed course, afraid that falling population will hurt their economies…‘The situation is bleak, it’s just dark,’ he says. ‘Population engineering, maybe it’s an extreme move. But it gives us a chance.’

Still, Rieder wonders: Is it really so crazy? Scientists have proposed incredibly risky schemes to geoengineer the clouds and oceans. They’re researching ways to suck carbon out of the air on a mass scale. Some have even called for overhauling the global system of free-market capitalismCompared to all that, Rieder says, bringing down the fertility rate seems downright easy.

‘We know exactly how to make fewer babies,’ he says. And it’s something people can start doing today.”

Additional Readings:

Prince Harry Just Made It Abundantly Clear How Many Kids He Wants to Have With Meghan Markle — By Raisa Bruner, Time

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with baby Archie. credit- Time

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex may have just welcomed their first child together, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor — but Harry already has an idea of how he’d like to see his family evolve. And it has a lot to do with the state of the environment. In a lengthy and wide-ranging interview between Prince Harry and famous primatologist and environmental activist Jane Goodall, the two discussed being a steward of the environment even before having kids. Goodall suggested having “not too many!” The Duke’s response: “Two, maximum!”

ane Goodall hold hands as he attends the Roots & Shoots Global Leadership Meeting at Windsor Castle on July 23 in England. Getty images

 

“U.N. Forecasts 10.1 Billion People by Century’s End,” Justin Gillis and Celia W. Dugger discuss some of the reasons the United Nations revised its population forecast upward for 2100

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

KWL Chart

The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about Climate change.  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. Travis Rieder tries to convince them not to have children.
  2. Rieder talks about a small-family ethic.
  3. He questions the assumptions of a society that sees having children as good.
  4. There is the prospect of climate catastrophe.
  5. For years, people have lamented how bad things might get.
  6. Rieder arguments against having children are moral.
  7. Americans and other rich nations produce the most carbon emissions per capita.
  8. The average global temperature is projected to rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius.
  9. It’s going be post-apocalyptic movie time.
  10. One student says he appreciated the talk but found it terrifying.

 

 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. One woman looks a little stunned.
  2. Shes’ not a climate activist.
  3. She just tagged along with a friend.

II

  1. U.S. birth rates plummeted during the Great Depression.
  2. The comments  are well-intentioned.
  3. Not  anyone is  pessimistic about the future.

III

  1. Rieders’ audience seems to want an easier way.
  2. To avert climate disaster, the fertility rate would have to fall.
  3. Rieder proposes that richer nations do away with tax breaks for having children.

Reading ComprehensionFill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

Of course, there are___ concerns. Rebecca Kukla of Georgetown University___ about___especially against poor and___women. If cultural ___do change, she says, there could be a ___against___ with more___than is deemed socially appropriate.

WORDLIST: families, minority,norms, ethical, stigma, backlash,children,worries,

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.  The article states, “Scientists warn that a catastrophic tipping point is possible in the next few decades…Adding to that challenge, the world is expected to add several billion people in the next few decades, each one producing more emissions.” What does this mean?
  2. What are some of the reasons people give for wanting to continue having kids?
  3. What  years did the birth rates drop  in the U.S.? Why?
  4. Rieder  lists some strategies for both rich and poor people, to persuade each group from having more children. What are these strategies?
  5. After reading the article, do you  think that having less kids is a good idea or a bad idea? Provide reasons for your answers.

Extra Group Activities

Main Idea / 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 and defend five reasons for continuing to have children during this dangerous climate change.

Team B will list  and defend five reasons against having more children during this dangerous climate change.

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

Pros and Cons Chart by Freeology.

 

ANSWER KEY

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