Category Archives: Technology

E-Sports: The New Gateway to Scholarship Money!

“Behind a glass partition at the Microsoft store at the Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island, 10 teenage boys settled into seats in a rectangular formation. Each sat behind a laptop computer, ears warmed by a bulky headset. Parents and grandparents circled the room, peering over shoulders at screens.The room had the feel of a sporting event, and it was — a group of competitive video gamers on the Bay Shore High School e-sports team were competing in a scrimmage and playing their way toward college scholarships.” A.Dollinger, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

At the computers are, from left, Dimetrius, Randy Garcia and Kyle Champlin. Credit B. Perkins, NYT

 

Excerpt: Video Games Are A Waste of Time? Not for Those With E-sports Scholarships By A. Dollinger, The New York Times

“Multiplayer video games played competitively, often with spectators, are known as e-sports, and they have became a gateway to college scholarship money. Over the past two years, the National Association of Collegiate Esports, which is engaged with 98 varsity programs across the United States and Canada, has helped to facilitate $16 million in scholarships, according to the executive director, Michael Brooks. In higher education, e-sports live in various departments. Sometimes they are part of student affairs; some schools place them within an engineering or design program; and, more rarely, they have their place in athletics.

At Robert Morris University Illinois, e-sports is part of the athletics department. Team members have access to athletic trainers and are put through light fitness training. Players attend practice Monday through Thursday, from 4:30 to 9 p.m., with an hour break for dinner. They analyze film, participate in team-building activities, sit for communication sessions.

Dimetrius at the keyboard as his mother, Anne Bostick, captures the action and his coach, Chris Champlin, watches. Beth Perkins for The New York Times

‘The games that are competitively viable in the collegiate sphere have real depth, have deep levels of strategy, and require strategic teamwork and require real mastery to be successful — and not just by yourself, within a team environment and through using tactics,’ said Kurt Melcher, who runs the program at Robert Morris.

A few years out of college, Mr. Melcher was the soccer coach and associate athletic director for Robert Morris By 2013, he noticed a college community emerging. Students were organizing themselves, creating their own opportunities for gaming. So he took a proposal to the university administration: What if game play were an athletic endeavor? ‘If you look at sports, how do you define what is more of a sport? Is football more of a sport than men’s tennis or women’s tennis, and is golf more or less of a sport than hockey?’ he said.

Today, almost 90 Robert Morris students play, and about 80 of them receive e-sports scholarships, Mr. Melcher said. Varsity-level players can receive scholarships that cover up to 70 percent of their tuition; reserve players receive 35 percent tuition coverage.

Members of the Bay Shore High School e-sports team look on as Matthew Ruiz competes at the Microsoft store at the Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island. Credit Beth Perkins for The New York Times

At the University of California Irvine, where e-sports fall under student affairs, gamers must try out for a team and scholarship offers come later. There are 23 students on e-sports scholarships at U.C.I. this year, on varsity and junior varsity teams, said Mark Deppe, who runs the university’s e-sports program.

There’s discipline involved, there’s practice involved, there’s teamwork and collaboration involved, but also the physical aspect,” said Mark Candella, known as Garvey, the director of strategic partnerships for the streaming platform Twitch. ‘These young people can do up to 360 controlled precise actions per minute. Their fingers and hands and their eyes move so quickly in exact coordination.’

Organized competitive gaming on both the high school and university levels lives in purposeful defiance of the gamer stereotype: as Mr. Melcher said, ‘a kid locked in a basement, antisocial, angry, drinks 50 Mountain Dews and doesn’t sort of become a valuable person in society.’ In the educational sphere, game play often brings students out of basements and bedrooms.

At Bay Shore High School, Ryan Champlin, a senior, started the team with the help of his father, Chris; younger brother, Kyle; and computer teacher, Mike Masino. The team is part of the school’s computer club.

‘The Silicon Valley school is offering almost a full ride,’ Ryan said, in the form of an athletics scholarship for e-sports and a leadership scholarship that would make him assistant director of the e-sports program.The same scholarship if I was playing football or lacrosse.”

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 of E-Sports.  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.

G. Cluster Brainstorming-workshopexercises

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. A group of competitive video gamers were competing.
  2. They were part of an e-sports team.
  3. Team members have access to athletic trainers.
  4. Members participate in team-building activities.
  5. The games are competitively viable in the collegiate sphere. 
  6. Mr. Melcher wanted the games to be an athletic endeavor.
  7. Varsity-level players can receive scholarships that cover up to 70 percent of their tuition.
  8. Players scrimmage other teams.
  9. The league has dozens of recruiters looking for scholarship candidates.
  10. Their fingers and hands and their eyes move so quickly in exact coordination.

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.

Meanwhile, some___ offer___ scholarships not associated with ___or specific games. New York University awards an e-sports___ to one student per year who is ___in the gaming ___and interested in ___in some part of the ___industry.

WORD LIST: gaming, teams, community, scholarship, active, e-sports, schools, working,

 

 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. There is 10 teenage boys settled into seats ready to play.
  2. Each sat behind a laptop computer.
  3. Parents and grandparents circled the room.

 

II

  1. Multiplayer video games are played competitively.
  2. In higher education, e-sports live in various departments.
  3. Players attends practice Monday through Thursday.

 

III

  1. Today, almost 90 Robert Morris students play.
  2. E-sports players at U.C.I. devote 15 to 20 hour a week.
  3. There’s discipline,  practice, and  teamwork involved.

Ask/Answer  Questions

Directions:  Place students in groups and have each group list 3  questions they would like to pursue in relation to  the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.Groups can search online for additional information about E-Sports.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Sports, Technology | Tags:

Silicon Valley Nannies: Phone Police for Kids

“Silicon Valley parents are increasingly obsessed with keeping their children away from screens. Even a little screen time can be so deeply addictive…But it’s very hard for a working adult to live at home without looking at a phone. And so, as with many aspirations and ideals, it’s easier to hire someone to do this. Enter the Silicon Valley nanny, who each day returns to the time before screens.” N. Bowles, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Silicon Valley parents are raising their kids tech free-Business Insider UK

Excerpt: Silicon Valley Nannies Are Phone Police for Kids —By Nellie Bowles, The New York Times

“Usually a day consists of me being allowed to take them to the park, introduce them to card games,” said Jordin Altmann, 24, a nanny in San Jose, of her charges…’Almost every parent I work for is very strong about the child not having any technical experience at all,’ Ms. Altmann said. ‘In the last two years, it’s become a very big deal.’

From Cupertino to San Francisco, a growing consensus has emerged that screen time is bad for kids. It follows that these parents are now asking nannies to keep phones, tablets, computers and TVs off and hidden at all times. Some are even producing no-phone contracts, which guarantee zero unauthorized screen exposure, for their nannies to sign.

Nanny Ad- PDX Parent

The fear of screens has reached the level of panic in Silicon Valley. Vigilantes now post photos to parenting message boards of possible nannies using cellphones near children. Which is to say, the very people building these glowing hyper-stimulating portals have become increasingly terrified of them. And it has put their nannies in a strange position.

‘In the last year everything has changed,’ said Shannon Zimmerman, a nanny in San Jose who works for families that ban screen time. ‘Parents are now much more aware of the tech they’re giving their kids.  Now the parents will say ‘No screen time at all.’ Ms. Zimmerman likes these new rules, which she said harken back to a time when kids behaved better and knew how to play outside. Parents, though, find the rules harder to follow themselves Ms. Zimmerman said.

Silicon Valley UrbanSitter Nannies

‘Most parents come home, and they’re still glued to their phones, and they’re not listening to a word these kids are saying,’ Ms. Zimmerman said. ‘Now I’m the nanny ripping out the cords from the PlayStations.’

Parents are now asking nannies to sign stringent ‘no-phone use contracts,’ according to nannying agencies across the region. ‘The people who are closest to tech are the most strict about it at home,’ said Lynn Perkins, the C.E.O. of UrbanSitter, which she says has 500,000 sitters in the network throughout the United States.

The phone contracts basically stipulate that a nanny must agree not to use any screen, for any purpose, in front of the child.’ We do a lot of these phone contracts now, Ms. Perkins said.

‘We’re writing work agreements up in a different way to cover screen and tech use,’ said Julie Swales, who runs the Elizabeth Rose Agency, a high-end firm that staffs nannies and house managers for families in the region.

‘Typically now, the nanny is not allowed to use her phone for any private use.’ This can be tricky. These same parents often want updates through the day.

‘If the mom does call and the nanny picks up, it’s, ‘Well what are you doing that you can be on your phone?’ Ms. Swales said. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

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. Silicon Valley parents are increasingly obsessed with keeping their children away from screens.
  2. Nannies have  to sign stringent no-phone use contracts.
  3. These particular parents, after all, deeply understand the allure of screens.
  4. A growing consensus has emerged that screen time is bad for kids.
  5. The fear of screens has reached the level of panic in Silicon Valley.
  6. Most parents come home, and they’re still glued to their phones.
  7. Some parents in Silicon Valley are embracing a more aggressive approach.
  8. Sometimes a nanny is perceived to be not paying enough attention to a child.
  9. The nanny spies are self-appointed.
  10. The forums, where parents post questions are now reckoning with public shaming and privacy issues.

 

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.

We’re ___ work ___up in a different way to___screen and tech use, said Julie Swales, who runs the Elizabeth Rose Agency, a ___firm that staffs___and house managers for___ in the region. Typically now, the ___is not allowed to use her ___for any private use.

WORD LIST: nanny, agreements, high-end, phone, writing,  cover, nannies,  families, 

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,

The posts follow a pattern: A parent will take a photo ___a child accompanied ___an adult who is perceived ___be not paying enough attention, upload it ___one ___the private social networks like San Francisco’s Main Street Mamas, home___ thousands___ members, and ask: “Is this your nanny?”

Discussion/Comprehension Questions

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. Have you ever worked as a nanny? If yes, describe your experience.
  2. Would you take a job as a nanny in Silicone Valley?  Why or why not?
  3. In your opinion, is it good practice to keep all screens away from children? Provide reasons for your answers.
  4. The article states,The fear of screens has reached the level of panic in Silicon Valley. Vigilantes now post photos to parenting message boards of possible nannies using cellphones near children. Which is to say, the very people building these glowing hyper-stimulating portals have become increasingly terrified of them. And it has put their nannies in a strange position.”  Do you think that some parents have gone too far? Explain your response.

 

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

Educators Are Using Video Games To Enhance Learning In Class

“History has long served as a backdrop in the Assassin’s Creed video games, whose story lines center on pivotal times in history — from the Third Crusade to Imperial China and beyond…Following last year’s release of Assassin’s Creed Origins, set in Ptolemaic Egypt, the team behind it decided that allowing players to learn more about life in ancient Egypt might make for a pretty cool teaching aid. So they traded in the quests and violence for antiquities and history lessons, and created a mode with a series of Discovery Tours. By putting history front and center, the game may give teachers a new way to connect with some students.” J. Porter, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Learning History through video games. Visions of Education

Excerpt: Assassin’s Creed Has a New Mission: Working in the Classroom, By Justin Porter, The New York Times

“Edyeli Marku, a middle-school teacher at Intermediate School 230 in Jackson Heights, Queens, said there could be ‘tremendous value in it,’ for both students and educators — particularly for students who might test as primarily visual, auditory or kinesthetic learners. For those students, she added, ‘exposing them to a different learning vehicle is always beneficial.’   

Ms. Marku said she understands the importance of games to her students and has even used Oregon Trail as a teaching tool…Maxime Durand, who has been the lead researcher and history consultant for the Assassin’s Creed franchise since 2010, and Jean Guesdon, the creative director on Origins, said they had often heard from educators who saw the potential of using the games. Some had even used small portions in their lessons.

This class is playing video games and learning. Photo-The Day

But so much of Assassin’s Creed, given its violence and fictional narrative, is problematic in a school setting. Even Ms. Marku said the violent content could hamper the franchise’s acceptance for education purposes, especially for parents reacting to the name of the series or those familiar with its subject matter.

In this version of the game, though, players guide their chosen avatar. It can be the sheriff-like character Bayek, the original protagonist of Assassin’s Creed Origins, or one of 25 possible others…A voice-over details the objects on view, including artifacts like pottery, scrolls, farm tools and baking ovens. At some locations, non-playable characters are seen performing tasks like baking bread, tilling a field or inscribing scrolls.

Image: Fenix Bazaar

Here players can elect to have their chosen avatar perform the activity. Maybe Cleopatra and Caesar never knelt before a bread oven to remove a hot loaf from the coals, but here players can have that experience…To make the games accessible to broader range of schools, which typically have computers or tablets rather than game consoles, Ubisoft released a stand-alone version of the Discovery Tour for computers, even those with aging hardware.”

 

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Photo courtesy of ABC15 Arizona

“John McCain was a warrior, a patriot, and a man of immeasurable courage. What a privilege it was to know him.-Victoria Reggie Kennedy, The Boston Globe

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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.

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. History has long served as a backdrop in the Assassin’s Creed video games.
  2. The story lines center on pivotal times in history.
  3. Exposing students to a different learning vehicle is always beneficial.
  4. Many educators saw the potential of using  video games.
  5. In this version of the game players guide their chosen avatar.
  6. A voice-over details the objects on view.
  7. Some characters are seen performing tasks like baking bread, tilling a field or inscribing scrolls.
  8. Professor  Éthier was intrigued by the game.
  9. Today the Sphinx and the the pyramids are bleached white  by the sun.
  10. Once these monuments were once vividly colored.

 

Reading Comprehension: Fill-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.

Marc-André Éthier, a professor at the ___of Montreal who ___materials that are being used to___ high school history, noticed that ___tools like ___were being used less. When he ___about the Discovery Tour, he said, ‘I was___ and I prepared a ___to test if Discovery Tour could ___someone as much as a lecture.’

WORD LIST: teach, traditional, University, teach, intrigued, studies,textbooks,study, heard,

 

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. They traded in the quests and violence for antiquities and history.
  2. Teachers has a new way to connect with students.
  3. Ms. Marku said she understands the importance of games.

II

  1. They can spend hours in front of the computer.
  2. Durand has been the lead researcher since 2010.
  3. A avatar  can be any character the students choose.

III

  1. The 75 available tours cover daily life.
  2. A lot of history’s secret are lost to time.
  3. Students learn how games are created and the way stories are told.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

Finding The Main Idea

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.

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. In your opinion do you think that certain video games can enhance learning in the classroom? Explain why or why not.
  2. Have you ever used video games in your class? If yes, describe the experience. If no, would you like to try one?
  3. Review the descriptions of the following video games. Choose one and explain why you think it would be beneficial for your class.

Suggestions For Video Games For The Classroom From Rubicon:

Elegy for a Dead World — The premise of this game is that students visit alien planets and act as the storyteller of that world, creating stories of the possible people and cultures that lived there.  These words are inspired by poets Byron, Keats, and Shelley, providing an easy connection to English curriculum.

Never Alone — This game has set a precedent for the respectful representation of indigenous people.  Co-developed by native Alaskans, it shares Inupiat stories, themes, and values, in addition to making cooperation a critical part of success in the gameplay.  Best of all, it features documentary-style videos on of the Inupiat people who provide context for the sights, sounds, and stories found in gameplay.

Valiant Hearts — A major complaint I have with popular war games is that they can, to some audiences, glorify war while downplaying the intricacies of cause and effect.  The beauty of Valiant Hearts is that it doesn’t attempt to glorify war, and it doesn’t  focus on the guns and battles.

The Republica Times: For older students, there are a wide variety of games addressing social and political issues available for use and analysis.  Games, like The Republica Times, essentially play the role of interactive social commentary.  In the game, your students are tasked with organizing the headlines for each day’s paper in the game.

Enercities: Science teachers, don’t fret!  There are games addressing science topics, like the balance between economy, ecology, population growth, and quality of life found in the free online game Enercities.  A more focused Sim-style game, Enercities provides a sandbox for students to create a city with the goal of keeping a balance between all of the aforementioned categories.

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

The Hidden Dangers On School Websites

“The home page of Pinellas County Schools in Florida is brimming with information for families, students, staff members and the public: Facebook page, Twitter feed and YouTube channel. But Pinellas’s home page has been supplying information to another audience, an unseen one, as well this year. An array of tracking scripts were embedded in the site, designed to install snippets of computer code into the browsers of anyone clicking on it, to report their visits or track their movements as they traveled around the web. The trackers were detected last winter during a study by Douglas Levin, a Washington-based expert on educational technology. Asked about them in April, the district expressed surprise and said it would have them removed. But Mr. Levin found 22 trackers when he checked back last month.” E.K. Moore, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Photo- The New York Times

Excerpt:  The Information on School Websites Is Not as Safe as You Think By E.K. Moore, The New York Times

“Trackers are as common on public school websites these days as microbes on a restroom door, to judge by Mr. Levin’s examination of 159 public school websites from among the nation’s largest and most tech-savvy districts. At least some form of ad tracking or online surveillance technology was embedded in all but one of them, he found. Their use is an ‘industry-accepted practice,’ said Lisa Wolf, the public information officer for Pinellas County Schools, echoing comments by school officials elsewhere. 

Most trackers are used to help websites work better, by counting page visits or catching problems with broken links. Some are used for promotions, as in Pinellas County, where Ms. Wolf said the trackers spotted in April had been left behind after a school-choice campaign, and others were later added to boost enrollment at a technical college.

Photo- pcrevue.sk

But some trackers are also designed to recognize visitors by the I.P. address of their device and to embed cookies in their browsers for the advertising practice known as behavioral targeting. And knowingly or otherwise, many school sites are hosting software from third-party companies whose primary business is buying and selling data for the detailed dossiers of personal information on finances, lifestyle and buying habits that advertisers prize…’The price of getting information about your child’s school should not be losing your privacy to online ad brokers,’ said Mr. Levin, founder of EdTech Strategies, which conducts research and advises nonprofits and government agencies on using technology to improve schools.

Photo- cssd.ab.ca

Many people who use the internet are familiar with cookies and aware that their movements are tracked, especially after the Cambridge Analytica scandal put a spotlight on Facebook’s business model this year. But the unseen, commercial tracking of visitors to school websites — including students — raises issues that go beyond tracking on other kinds of sites, other experts agree… The companies offer school districts incentives to use ‘freemium’ services, free or discounted products for which, Mr. Russell says, ‘you’re paying with your personal information.’

The presence of trackers from data brokers such as BlueKai, AddThis or DataLogix on school sites should be viewed as a ‘smoking gun’ that demands an explanation, Mr. Polonetsky said, because those companies commonly engage in the buying, selling and linking of user data. Mr. Levin found all three on the websites of the Huntsville, Ala., schools on one recent day.  He found AddThis on public school sites in Cleveland; Springfield, Mo.; Washington, D.C.; and Albuquerque.

valleybreeze.com

BlueKai was among the 22 trackers Mr. Levin found on the Pinellas County, Fla., schools site. Ms. Wolf said she did not know how it got there. ‘It is the district’s expectation that our partners do not sell or misuse web visitor information,’ she said.

Some limits exist on how far trackers can intrude. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, known as Coppa, bars unauthorized collection of children’s personal information, including I.P. addresses, on sites aimed at children under 13.

School pages accessible to the public are mostly for adults, but ad trackers shouldn’t be allowed on the pages students visit to do homework or check grades, said Linnette Attai, founder of PlayWell, who advises companies on compliance issues related to privacy, online safety and marketing aimed at children and teens.

But Ms. Attai said even the most sophisticated companies were having trouble keeping up with rapidly changing online ad technology and the laws that governed it. Amelia Vance, director of the education privacy project at the Future of Privacy Forum, called this a problem for schools as well.

Google’s DoubleClick ad trackers, for instance, are commonly found on school pages that host YouTube videos, like the Community Website Introduction video on a school site in Massapequa, on New York’s Long Island. The trackers tee up videos containing advertising on the school page, once its own video finishes playing.

This year, after the Cambridge Analytica scandal cast a harsh light on the way Facebook harvests personal information for its advertising sales, the National Education Policy Center in Boulder, Colo., announced it was deleting its own Facebook page, citing what it called Facebook’s ‘invasive data mining and the third-party targeting of users inherent in its business model.’ ‘I don’t think we realized how much information we were giving out, or where else it could be used,’ 

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic.  Next, have students look at the 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.

Colorful Brainstorming chart from Live It Magazine.

 

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. Trackers are common on public school websites.
  2. Ad tracking was embedded in all but one homepage.
  3. The trackers were detected last winter.
  4. Many people who use the internet are familiar with cookies.
  5. “There’s a continuum of data collectors.
  6. School pages accessible to the public are mostly for adults.
  7. The companies offer school districts incentives such as discounted products.
  8. Some limits exist on how far trackers can intrude.
  9. Integration of free social media into many school websites still provide a subtle entry point for commercial ads.
  10. This year, the Cambridge Analytica scandal cast a harsh light on the way Facebook harvests personal information for its advertising sales.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-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.

Student ___are now available for___on the basis of___ affluence, ___lifestyle, awkwardness and even a predicted need for ___services, according to a study released in June by___ Center on Law and Information Policy. Where that ___was drawn from is mostly___ the study found.

WORD LIST: undisclosed, ethnicity, Fordham University’s,purchase, information, lists, family planning, religion,

 

 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. Since 2013, we’ve had 125 new student privacy laws.
  2. We have almost no funding.
  3. Google’s DoubleClick ad trackers, for instance, is commonly found on school pages.

II

  1. Most trackers are used to help websites work better.
  2. Some trackers is also designed to recognize visitors.
  3. Google’s DoubleClick ad trackers, for instance, are commonly found on school pages that host YouTube videos.

III

  1. Many school sites are hosting software from third-party companies.
  2. Schools shouldn’t be selling and marketing there kids’ data.
  3. With many of these sites you’re paying with your personal 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 for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them  discuss the following questions. 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.

Note: The following questions are samples from the site Internet Safety and Pitfalls The site provides great discussion questions with answers.

  1. What is the main downside of social network sites?
  2. How do dangerous criminals use social network sites?
  3. What can you do to prevent criminals from using a social network site to target you? (Choose a site that allows you to control who can see your page.)
  4. What should you never reveal when posting a blog, using a chat room, sending an I-M or email to an online acquaintance?
  5. Why should you always think twice about posting words and pictures online?

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

Space: The Final Frontier…For The Rich!

“In an era in which privileged individuals search constantly for the next experience to obsess over and post about on social media, space truly remains the final frontier, a luxury that only the one percent of the one percent can afford. Brad Pitt and Katy Perry are among those who have reportedly plunked down $250,000 for a ride on one of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceships… Now a company called Axiom Space is giving those with piles of money and an adventuresome spirit something new to lust after: the prospect of an eight-day trip to space that is plush, if not entirely comfortable, and with a bit of the luster of NASA as well.”  S. Marikar, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Astronaut Gardner Holds A For Sale Sign Photograph by Everett

 

Excerpt: The Rich Are Planning To Leave This Wretched Planet By Sheila Marikar, The New York Times

“Circumambulating the floor of his gray carpeted office on a recent Wednesday, Mike Suffredini — NASA veteran, Houston native and the chief executive officer of Axiom Space — stopped in front of a wood compartment about as big as a telephone booth.

‘It’s no New York hotel room,’ he said with a shrug, as if apologizing for its size. ‘It pretty much is, actually!’ said Gabrielle Rein, Axiom’s marketing director. 

A rendering that screams open the pod bay doors. Credit: Axiom Space

It was an early mock-up of a cabin that will reside inside a commercial space station, among the first of its kind, that Axiom is building: a mash-up of boutique hotel, adult space camp, and NASA-grade research facility designed to hover approximately 250 miles above the earth. Axiom hired Philippe Starck, the French designer who has lent panache to everything from high-end hotel rooms to mass-market baby monitors, to outfit the interior of its cabins. Mr. Starck lined the walls with a padded, quilted, cream-colored, suede-like fabric and hundreds of tiny LED lights that glow in varying hues depending on the time of day and where the space station is floating in relation to the earth.

Mike Suffredini, left, with designer Philippe Starck, with their mockup.CreditTodd Spoth for The New York Times

‘My vision is to create a comfortable egg, friendly, where walls are so soft and in harmony with the movements of the human body in zero gravity,’ Mr. Starck wrote in an email, calling his intended effect ‘a first approach to infinity. The traveler should physically and mentally feel his or her action of floating in the universe.’

The Starck-designed station will supposedly open in 2022, but Axiom says they can start sending curious travelers into orbit as early as 2020. (Note: nearly everything space-related is delayed by years, sometimes decades.) They’ll just have to make do with the comparatively rugged accommodations of the International Space Station, which is working with Axiom in addition to other commercial space station outfits…Axiom’s station can house eight passengers, including a professional astronaut.

Photo- Veranda

Each will pay $55 million for the adventure, which includes 15 weeks of training, much of it at the Johnson Space Center, a 10-minute drive from Axiom’s headquarters, and possibly a trip on one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets. Thus far, three entities have signed up for on-the-ground training, which starts at $1 million, Mr. Suffredini said, though he declined to name them. The inaugural trip will be only $50 million. ‘It’s a bargain!’ he said.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Many call the stay at Axiom glamping at 1,320,000 feet.
  2. Circumambulating the floor of his office Mike Suffredini stopped in front of a wood compartment about as big as a telephone booth.
  3. It was an early mock-up of a cabin that will reside inside a commercial space station.
  4. Some may suffer from Claustrophobia.
  5. They’re putting big inflatable space pods into orbit.
  6. These habitat and outpost companies are great.
  7. Passengers  take a medical exam, administered before the rest of training begins.
  8. The exam includes tests of mind and mettle.
  9. A tour guide quaintly referred to the onboard bathroom as a potty.
  10. He believes that Axiom is crucial to the survival of our species.

Color Vocabulary Map by Enchanted Learning

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

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

Axiom ___will be ___to ___a NASA-grade ___for the rocket ride to and ___the station. (Features include a fiberglass___ and a___ tube for ___small sips of water. Also, a diaper.)

WORD LIST:  consuming, spacesuit,  torso,  required,  from, drink, wear,  guests,

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.

To understand/understood the grand/great  scale/scales of Axiom’s plants/plans, it helps to know that astronauts have, thus far, largely been roughing/rough it up there. The Johnson Space Center contains/contain a life-size mock-up of the ISS, whose drab, beige interior is lined with drab/dribble, gray/grey handholds to tether down things and people, necessary given the lack of gravity/gravy. A tour guide quaintly referred to the onboard/outboard bathroom as a ‘potty.’ There are no showers.

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions.

  1. Would you like to travel in a space ship? Provide reason why or why not.
  2. Do you think it’s fair that only very rich people can afford this experience?
  3. Compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a class.

 

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

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