Category Archives: Technology

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

Category: Science, Technology | Tags:

Smart Devices Can Hear Hidden Messages That We Can’t

“Researchers can now send secret audio instructions undetectable to the human ear to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant.” C. Smith, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

PCMag UK

 

Excerpt: Alexa and Siri Can Hear This Hidden Command. You Can’t. Craig Smith, The New York Times

“Many people have grown accustomed to talking to their smart devices, asking them to read a text, play a song or set an alarm. But someone else might be secretly talking to them, too.

Photo- Hypegram

Over the past two years, researchers in China and the United States have begun demonstrating that they can send hidden commands that are undetectable to the human ear to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Inside university labs, the researchers have been able to secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online — simply with music playing over the radio.

A group of students from University of California, Berkeley and Georgetown University showed in 2016 that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers and through YouTube videos to get smart devices to turn on airplane mode or open a website. This month, some of those Berkeley researchers published a research paper that went further, saying they could embed commands directly into recordings of music or spoken text.

Image- youtube

‘We wanted to see if we could make it even more stealthy,’ said Nicholas Carlini, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in computer security at U.C. Berkeley and one of the paper’s authors. Mr. Carlini added that while there was no evidence that these techniques have left the lab, it may only be a matter of time before someone starts exploiting them. ‘My assumption is that the malicious people already employ people to do what I do,’ he said. These deceptions illustrate how artificial intelligence — even as it is making great strides — can still be tricked and manipulated. Computers can be fooled into identifying an airplane as a cat just by changing a few pixels of a digital image, while researchers can make a self-driving car swerve or speed up simply by pasting small stickers on road signs and confusing the vehicle’s computer vision system.

The proliferation of voice-activated gadgets amplifies the implications of such tricks. Smartphones and smart speakers that use digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri are set to outnumber people by 2021, according to the research firm Ovum. And more than half of all American households will have at least one smart speaker by then, according to Juniper Research…There is already a history of smart devices being exploited for commercial gains through spoken commands.

Last year, Burger King caused a stir with an online ad that purposely asked ‘O.K., Google, what is the Whopper burger?” Android devices with voice-enabled search would respond by reading from the Whopper’s Wikipedia page. The ad was canceled after viewers started editing the Wikipedia page to comic effect.

A few months later, the animated series South Park followed up with an entire episode built around voice commands that caused viewers’ voice-recognition assistants to parrot adolescent obscenities. There is no American law against broadcasting subliminal messages to humans, let alone machines…Courts have ruled that subliminal messages may constitute an invasion of privacy, but the law has not extended the concept of privacy to machines.

Now the technology is racing even further ahead of the law. Last year, researchers at Princeton University and China’s Zhejiang University demonstrated that voice-recognition systems could be activated by using frequencies inaudible to the human ear. The attack first muted the phone so the owner wouldn’t hear the system’s responses, either.

The technique, which the Chinese researchers called DolphinAttack, can instruct smart devices to visit malicious websites, initiate phone calls, take a picture or send text messages. While DolphinAttack has its limitations — the transmitter must be close to the receiving device — experts warned that more powerful ultrasonic systems were possible…Mr. Carlini said he was confident that in time he and his colleagues could mount successful adversarial attacks against any smart device system on the market. ‘We want to demonstrate that it’s possible,’ he said, ‘and then hope that other people will say, ‘O.K. this is possible, now let’s try and fix it.’”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

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

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

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. People have grown accustomed to talking to their smart devices.
  2. Researchers can send hidden commands that are undetectable to the human ear.
  3. A group of students showed in 2016 that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers.
  4. The students wanted to see if  they could make it even more stealthy.
  5. Malicious people already employ people to give secret commands to phones.
  6. These deceptions illustrate how artificial intelligence  can be manipulated.
  7. With audio attacks, the researchers are exploiting the gap between human and machine speech recognition.
  8. There is already a history of smart devices being exploited for commercial gains.
  9. There is no American law against broadcasting subliminal messages to humans.
  10. Courts have ruled that subliminal messages may constitute an invasion of privacy.

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. Researchers in Japan and the United States have begun demonstrating that they can send hidden commands.
  2. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant are the three major devices listed.
  3. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online.
  4. Harvard researchers published a research paper  saying they could embed commands directly into recordings of music or spoken text.
  5. Nicholas Carlini is a  security  guard at U.C. Berkeley.
  6. Mr. Carlini believes that malicious people already employ people to give hidden commands.
  7. The bottom line is that artificial intelligence can be tricked and manipulated.
  8. Smartphones and smart speakers that use digital assistants  will not outnumber people by 2021.
  9. Amazon said it has taken steps to ensure its Echo smart speaker is secure.
  10. There is already a history of smart devices being exploited for commercial gains through spoken commands.

Grammar Focus:

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.

This month, some of those ___researchers published a research ___that went further, saying they could ___commands directly into recordings of ___or spoken text. So while a ___listener hears someone talking or an ___playing, Amazon’s Echo ___might hear an instruction to add something to your ___list.

WORD LIST: shopping, embed, Berkeley, speaker,  orchestra, paper, human,  music,

III. Post Reading Activities

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Do you use Siri, Alexa and Google’s Assistant regularly?
  2. Do you feel secure about your information?
  3. After reading this article how do you feel about your smart devices? Do you trust them?
  4. Think of ways you can deter malicious outsiders from interfering with your iPhones and other devices.

 

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: Technology

SpaceX Falcon: A Roar of Thunder… A Serious Milestone!

“From the same pad where NASA launched rockets that carried astronauts to the moon, a big, new American rocket arced into space on Tuesday. But this time, NASA was not involved. The rocket, the Falcon Heavy, was built by SpaceX, the company founded and run by the billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk. The launch of this turbocharged version of the workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, which has been carrying cargo to space for years, marks an important milestone in spaceflight, the first time a rocket this powerful has been sent into space by a private company rather than a government space agency.” K. Chang, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Falcon Heavy, in a Roar of Thunder, Carries SpaceX’s Ambition Into Orbit-By Kenneth Chang, The New York Times

“The rocket carried a playful payload: Mr. Musk’s red Roadster, an electric sports car built by his other company, Tesla. Strapped inside the car is a mannequin wearing one of SpaceX’s spacesuits. They are expected to orbit the sun for hundreds of millions of years.

Front view from Tesla Roadster on Falcon X Heavy. Credit Daily Express

Side view a Tesla Sports Car Flying Through Space Credit- PetaPixel

The success gives SpaceX momentum to begin developing even larger rockets, which could help fulfill Mr. Musk’s dream of sending people to Mars. To do that, he has described a new-generation rocket called B.F.R. (the B stands for big; the R for rocket) that might be ready to launch in the mid-2020s. The Falcon Heavy’s maiden flight makes pursuit of the goal more plausible.

Elon Musk’s space company launched the most powerful rocket in operation.Credit-Todd Anderson for The New York Times

Mr. Musk’s visions include humans living both on Earth and Mars. He’s part of a new generation of entrepreneurial space pioneers that includes Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder of Amazon, who has said one of the goals driving his rocket company, Blue Origin, is the prospect of millions of people living in space. Planetary Resources, an American company with a large investment from Luxembourg, hopes to mine asteroids for profit. Moon Express, based in Florida, sees a business in providing regular transportation to and from the moon.

For now, the Heavy will enable SpaceX to compete for contracts to launch larger spy satellites, and some experts in spaceflight are encouraging NASA to use private rockets like the Heavy instead of the gigantic and more expensive rocket, the Space Launch System, that is currently being developed in part to take astronauts back to the moon… Just over three minutes after it blasted off, the most suspenseful part of the flight was over, as the boosters dropped off and the second stage continued into Earth orbit.

Two of the boosters land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station after the launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Photo- Space.com

Some eight minutes after launch, a pair of sonic booms rocked the area as the two side boosters set down in near synchrony on two landing pads at Cape Canaveral…Once in orbit, the rocket sent back video of the spacesuit-wearing mannequin in the car, with a hand on the steering wheel…In the past year, SpaceX has tabled many of the plans for future development of the Heavy. The company had intended to use the rocket launch one of SpaceX’s capsules, known as the Dragon, without people, on a mission to land on Mars. That was scrapped last summer. Last year, Mr. Musk also said two space tourists would be launched by a Falcon Heavy on an around-the-moon trip this year.

On Monday, he said that for now the company had no immediate plans to make the improvements needed before putting people aboard. Instead, SpaceX is focusing its efforts on the B.F.R. It would be a two-stage rocket: a powerful booster to provide lift out of Earth’s gravity and then a spaceship on top for interplanetary missions.”

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. NASA has launched rockets in the past.
  2. Astronauts have already been to the moon.
  3. Elon Musk, a well known entrepreneur founded Space X.
  4. Strapped inside the car was  a mannequin wearing one of SpaceX’s spacesuits.
  5. Mr. Musk’s visions include humans living both on Earth and Mars.
  6. Some eight minutes after launch, a pair of sonic booms rocked the area.
  7. The success of the Heavy could quell criticism that followed SpaceX’s first launch of the year.
  8. SpaceX officials vociferously asserted that the Falcon 9 performed as expected.
  9. The development of the Heavy took years longer than anticipated.
  10. Mr. Musk said he had aspirational hopes to begin suborbital tests of the spaceship portion next year.

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.

The Falcon___is capable of___140,000___ to low-Earth orbit, more than any othertoday. Because all three ___are to be recovered to fly again, a Falcon Heavy launch costs not much more than one by the company’s___rocket, Mr. Musk said. ___lists a price of $90___for a Falcon Heavy flight, compared with $62 million for one by Falcon 9, a bargain in the context of spaceflight. ___has booked ___Heavy flights for Arabsat, a Saudi Arabian communications company, and the United States Air Force.

WORD LIST: upcoming, SpaceX,  existing, rocket, million,  lifting, SpaceX, Heavy, boosters,  pounds,

 Grammar Focus: 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,

Although delayed___ high-altitude winds, the countdown proceeded smoothly,___ any ___the glitches that have bedeviled other maiden launches___new rockets.

The Heavy roared ___life, a plume___smoke and steam shooting sideways ___the launchpad. It rose___the pad, with an impossibly bright glare ___27 engines___ it. Then a thunderous roar, traveling___the speed___sound, rolled ___ the spectators.

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

Directions: Place students in groups Have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Groups share questions as a class and try to answer them.

Group Project

How to Make a Water Rocket Launcher From NASA

Students can use simple tools to construct a soda bottle rocket launcher using  hardware and wood. Go to  Nasa.gov

ANSWER KEY

Category: Technology | Tags: ,

School Supplies Now Include Bullet Proof Backpacks!

“Florida Christian School in Miami put a few order forms on its website to make school supply shopping easier. Parents can purchase their children T-shirts bearing the school’s logo or some snugly winter wear. Or, for $120, they can buy them bullet-resistant panels designed to slip into their backpacks in case of a school shooting.” T. Andrews, The Washington Post
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

This Florida School Is Selling Bulletproof Panels For Students’ Backpacks. Fort Smith:Fayetteville News

Excerpt: Florida school lets parents buy bulletproof panels for students to put in backpacks -By Travis Andrews, The Washington Post

“The nondenominational kindergarten through 12th grade school hasn’t been the scene of any gun violence, but its private security wants to be prepared just in case. The panel is a ‘tool’ to help protect children in case of a horrific event, just like its sound-enabled surveillance cameras and active shooter drills, according to George Gulla, the school’s head of security.

The school in Miami. (Screengrab Google Maps)

‘I’d rather be prepared for the worst than be stuck after saying Wow, I wish we would’ve done that,’ Gulla told the Miami Herald.

The panel comes from Applied Fiber Concepts, a body armor company based in nearby Hialeah and owned by Al Cejas, who has two children at the school. He attended one of Gulla’s active shooting drills last year and suggested the company make custom armor plates for students.

Al Cejas poses with a bulletproof backpack insert, in Miami.

‘While books and stuff in your backpack may stop a bullet, they’re not designed to,’ Cejas told the Miami Herald. ‘I wouldn’t bet my life on it.’

The slim panels, which weigh less than a pound, can slip easily in the students’ backpacks among their school books. They’re reportedly able to protect students from bullets such as a .44 Magnum or a .357 SIG, both pistol cartridges.

Bullet Blocker Survival Magazine

Stopping rifle bullets would require heavier armor…His company isn’t the only business marketing bulletproof “accessories” to schools in the aftermath of mass shootings across the county. Bullet Blocker, a Massachusetts company, began developing a range of products after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 that left 32 dead.

The focus isn’t only on backpacks. For instance, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore purchased hundreds of bulletproof whiteboards in 2013, as did the Minnesota Rocori School District, where a shooting left two students dead in 2003. For Florida Christian School… Gulla thinks the option to buy the backpack inserts might calm some parents.

Florida Christian School, a K-12 school in Miami-Dade, offered parents the opportunity to buy a $120 bulletproof backpack insert as a security tool. Miami Herald

‘We thought, yeah, let’s offer it to anyone who wants it,’ he told the Miami Herald. It’s not required. But if it gives you extra peace of mind.’ It’s out of the norm, but what is the norm?”

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 picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming chart by UIE copy

 

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. Nearly all students use backpacks.
  2. Schools want to protect  their students.
  3. There are also binder inserts to place among loose-leaf paper.
  4. Colleges began using the backpacks after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.
  5. The company’s products include bulletproof backpacks, fleeces, and  briefcases.
  6. Bullet Blocker saw a spike in bulletproof backpack sales.
  7. One university purchased hundreds of bulletproof whiteboards in 2013.
  8. There are writing tablets that double as bulletproof shields.
  9. The idea behind bulletproof backpacks is that students can use them as shields.
  10. Some are decrying the sale of bulletproof items in schools.

Reading Comprehension

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

The panel/pane comes from Applied Fiber Concepts, a body arm/armor company based/biased in nearby Hialeah and owned by Al Cejas, who has two/too children at the school. He attendance/attended one of Gulla’s active/activity shooting drones/drills last year and suggested the company make custom/costume armor plates for students.

Grammar Focus: 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,

While books and stuff___your backpack may stop a bullet, they’re not designed___.

The kindergarten through 12th grade school hasn’t been the scene___any gun violence.

The panel is a tool ___help protect children___ case ___a horrific event.

There are  binder inserts ___place___loose-leaf paper.

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 bullet proof backpacks.

Team B will list  five reasons against bullet proof backpack

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

Visual Art Project

Directions: Students can create graphs, pictures, collages, or models to demonstrate their understanding of the topic.  They can do this individually or in groups.

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

Access to Scary Films Just Got Better!

“As the old saying goes, ’tis the season for screamin’. But what if you like your scares year-round? Lucky for you, we’re in an age of niche streaming services like Shudder, which specializes in suspense, thrillers and horror movies and TV shows.” M.  Castillo, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Alice Lowe in “Prevenge.”Shudder Films

Excerpt: Love Scary Movies? Shudder Lets You Stream Them Year-Round, By Monica Castillo, The New York Times

“Shudder, from AMC Networks, provides movies that range from gruesome to campy, from silent to chain-saw loud, from low budget to no budget. There’s also a healthy collection of foreign horror films and TV, like the cruel and torturous ‘Audition’ from Japan, the terrifying Spanish zombie movie ‘[Rec],’ the Japanese series ‘Penance’ and the Swedish series ‘Jordskott.’ If you’re daunted by the sheer number of titles, then look into Shudder’s easy-to-browse collections, like their films about the apocalypse or women-led horror movies. That should also help you weed out some of the more lurid and trashy movies on Shudder, which may not be of interest. Not sure where to start? Here are a few suggestions:

Classic Creepers

Shudder treated its subscribers to a collection of classic Universal Monsters movies:

Dracula’ (1931)

Bela Lugosi as Dracula (1931)-Universal Pictures

‘Frankenstein’ (1931)

Boris Karloff-Frankenstein (1931) Film Society of Lincoln Center

‘Bride of Frankenstein’ (1935)

Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester in BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, 1935.

‘The Mummy’ (1932)

Boris Karloff as The Mummy 1932

‘The Wolf Man’ (1941)

 ‘The Invisible Man'(1933)

Claude Rains and Gloria Stuart in “The Invisible Man.”Universal Pictures

 You don’t even see the Invisible Man (Claude Rains) for most of the movie. Rains’ smooth voice is your only guide through the tragic downfall of an overambitious scientist and his insistence on injecting himself with a serum that makes him both invisible and unstable…

In the ’50s and ’60s, the director, producer and all-around showman William Castle frequently packaged his horror movies with some kind of a theatrical gimmick to help sell tickets. For his 1959 monster movie, ‘The Tingler,’ he added devices that would shake theater seats in an attempt to scare audience members into believing the monster was loose…

Vincent Price in The Tingler. Columbia Pictures

This early adaptation of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ changed the names of the book’s main characters and features a vampire who looks closer to a bat than a charming count.

International Scares

The Devil’s Backbone

Guillermo del Toro seems to have affection for misunderstood monsters — That sense of empathy is also present in his earlier movies, like  ‘The Devil’s Backbone.’ In that film, a boy is sent to an oppressive Catholic orphanage during the Spanish Civil War, where he discovers the supernatural presence of a lost soul. This lonely story is not as scary as it is sad.

‘Battle Royale’

Years before ‘The Hunger Games,’ there was this berserk Japanese movie, first released overseas in 2000. To punish society’s ever unruly adolescents, the government sends an armed group of students into an arena to kill one another until only one child remains A dark sense of humor drips from “Battle Royale,” especially during the preposterously violent death scenes.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

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

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.

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

I. Pre-Reading Tasks

 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 Tasks

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. We’re in an age of niche streaming services
  2. The service provides movies that range from gruesome to campy.
  3. Some people are daunted by the sheer number of titles.
  4. The new process should help fans weed out some of the more lurid films.
  5. Shudder also has an app for all major streaming devices.
  6. The article provides a few suggestions.
  7. You can also pay for multiple streaming services.
  8. Many movies have a a theatrical gimmick to help sell tickets.
  9. Many of the movie experiences can’t be replicated at home.
  10. The film’s director uses the exaggerated shadows of  monsters to scare people.

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.

Shudder ___are ___in the United States for $4.99 a month or $47.88 a year, and in Canada, Britain and___at locally adjusted prices. A ___app is available on all major streaming___.

WORD LIST: Ireland , Shudder, devices, available, subscriptions

Grammar

Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article  and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.

III. Post Reading Tasks 

 Reading Comprehension Check

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. 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. People  like to watch scary movies on Halloween. What are the scariest films you’ve seen?
  2. Have you seen any of the films mentioned in the article? what did you think of  the film?
  3. If you could choose to be a monster which one would you be? Why?
  4. Are you going to a party this year? If yes, describe your costume.
  5. How is Halloween celebrated in your country?
  6. What are some symbols of  Halloween in your country?

Extra: Web Search

Directions: In groups/partners have students search the topic on the web and see what additional information they can find. Students can either have further discussions or write an essay about the subject.

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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