Category Archives: Technology

Your Next Boss Just Might Be A Machine

“The goal of automation has always been efficiency. What if artificial intelligence sees humanity itself as the thing to be optimized?” K. Roose, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

The application Cogito on view on a monitor. Credit Tony Luong for The New York Times

Excerpt: A Machine May Not Take Your Job, but One Could Become Your Boss By Kevin Roose, The New York Times

“When Conor Sprouls, a customer service representative in the call center of the insurance giant MetLife talks to a customer over the phone, he keeps one eye on the bottom-right corner of his screen. There, in a little blue box, A.I. tells him how he’s doing. Talking too fast? The program flashes an icon of a speedometer, indicating that he should slow down.

Sound sleepy? The software displays an ‘energy cue,’ with a picture of a coffee cup.

Icons that are used in Cogito are placed around the MetLife call center.

Not empathetic enough? A heart icon pops up.

For decades, people have fearfully imagined armies of hyper-efficient robots invading offices and factories, gobbling up jobs once done by humans. But in all of the worry about the potential of artificial intelligence to replace rank-and-file workers, we may have overlooked the possibility it will replace the bosses, too.

Mr. Sprouls and the other call center workers at his office inR.I., still have plenty of human supervisors. But the software on their screens — made by Cogito, an A.I. company in Boston — has become a kind of adjunct manager, always watching them.

At the end of every call, Mr. Sprouls’s Cogito notifications are tallied and added to a statistics dashboard that his supervisor can view. If he hides the Cogito window by minimizing it, the program notifies his supervisor.

Cogito is one of several A.I. programs used in call centers and other workplaces. The goal, according to Josh Feast, Cogito’s chief executive, is to make workers more effective by giving them real-time feedback. ‘There is variability in human performance,’ Mr. Feast said. ‘We can infer from the way people are speaking with each other whether things are going well or not.’

When AI becomes your boss. Technocracy News

But using A.I. to manage workers in conventional, 9-to-5 jobs has been more controversial. Critics have accused companies of using algorithms for managerial tasks, saying that automated systems can dehumanize and unfairly punish employees.

And while it’s clear why executives would want A.I. that can track everything their workers do, it’s less clear why workers would…Amazon uses complex algorithms to track worker productivity in its fulfillment centers, and can automatically generate the paperwork to fire workers who don’t meet their targets, as The Verge uncovered this year.

(Amazon has disputed that it fires workers without human input, saying that managers can intervene in the process.) IBM has used Watson, its A.I. platform, during employee reviews to predict future performance and claims it has a 96 percent accuracy rate.

Then there are the start-ups. Cogito, which works with large insurance companies like MetLife and Humana as well as financial and retail firms, says it has 20,000 users. Percolata, a Silicon Valley company that counts Uniqlo and 7-Eleven among its clients, uses in-store sensors to calculate a ‘true productivity’ score for each worker, and rank workers from most to least productive…Using A.I. to correct for human biases is a good thing. But as more A.I. enters the workplace, executives will have to resist the temptation to use it to tighten their grip on their workers and subject them to constant surveillance and analysis. If that happens, it won’t be the robots staging an uprising.”

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 themexamine 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 fearfully imagined armies of robots invading offices and factories, gobbling up jobs.
  2. Talking too fast? The program flashes an icon of a speedometer.
  3. Not empathetic enough? A heart icon pops up.
  4. At the end of every call, Mr. Sprouls’s Cogito notifications are tallied.
  5. Cogito is one of several A.I. programs used in call centers.
  6. The goal of automation has always been efficiency.
  7. Amazon uses complex algorithms to track worker productivity.
  8. Amazon has disputed that it fires workers without human input.
  9. Human managers can intervene in the process.
  10. Mr. Sprouls feels that the software on his screen has become a kind of adjunct manager, always watching him.

 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

Cogito is one of several A.I. programs use in call centers.

There is variability in human performance.

The goal of automation has always been efficiency.

II

It is surreal to think that any company could fire their own workers.

It actually changes peoples behavior without them knowing about it.

Defenders of workplace A.I. might argue that these systems are not meant to be overbearing.

III

Some wonder why anyone wouldwant to be judged on a computer.

There were no protests at MetLife’s call center.

Still, there is a creepy sci-fi vibe to a situation in which A.I. surveils human workers.

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.

The best___ for workplace A.I. may be___in which ___bias skews decision-making, such as hiring. Pymetrics, a ___start-up, has made___in the corporate hiring world by replacing the ___résumé ___process with an A.I. program that uses a series of games to test for ___skills. The algorithms are then ___to make sure they are not ___biased hiring outcomes, or favoring one ___over another.

WORDLIST:  creating, analyzed, relevant, screening, traditional,  New York    human, group, inroads, situations, argument

Discussion Questions: 

  1. Have you ever worked for (or with) robots? If so, describe your experience.
  2. Do you think it might be fun working for a robot? Why or why not?
  3. In your opinion would automated systems be able to judge a person’s work performance fairly? Please explain why or why not.
  4. What would you do if you found out that your new ‘boss’ was a robot?
  5. The article states, Using A.I. to correct for human biases is a good thing. But as more A.I. enters the workplace, executives will have to resist the temptation to use it to tighten their grip on their workers and subject them to constant surveillance and analysis. If that happens, it won’t be the robots staging an uprising.”  Explain what this means. Provide an example.

 

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

Category: Robots, Technology

Beware of The Silicon Valley “Con”

“The average person would have to spend 76 working days reading all of the digital privacy policies they agree to in the span of a year. Reading Amazon’s terms and conditions alone out loud takes approximately nine hours.If no one reads the terms and conditions, how can they continue to be the legal backbone of the internet?” The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Credit- Molly Snee, The New York Times

Excerpt:  How Silicon Valley Puts the ‘Con’ in Consent

“Why would anyone read the terms of service when they don’t feel as though they have a choice in the first place? It’s not as though a user can call up Mark Zuckerberg and negotiate his or her own privacy policy. The ‘I agree’ button should have long ago been renamed ‘Meh, whatever.’

The legal fiction of consent is blatant in the privacy scandal du jour. Both Google and Facebook have been paying people — including minors as young as 13 — to download an app that tracks nearly all their phone activity and usage habits.

Facebook advertised their app on services beloved by teens, like Snapchat and Instagram, seeking participants between the ages of 13 and 35. The sign-up process required minors to get parental consent. (How rigorous? Users simply had to scroll down and click on a check box.) In exchange for participating in what Facebook called a research project, each user received $20 a month, plus referral bonuses.

Similarly, Google’s Screenwise Meter app harvested user information in exchange for money. Google was a little more careful than Facebook, barring minors unless they were participating as part of a larger household.

It’s unlikely these children understood what they gave up by agreeing to use the app. And even if they’d received proper parental consent, their parents may not have understood what they were giving away on their child’s behalf.

But it wasn’t the predatory nature of these programs that prompted Apple to disable them on iPhones and iPads. Rather, Apple objected to how Google and Facebook had used a loophole to transmit customer data without having to go through Apple first… People are often startled by what they wind up giving away by clicking on the “yes” button.

They are shocked to find when they connect their Spotify and Netflix accounts to their Facebook account that those streaming services gain access to their Facebook messages.

They are confused and outraged by Facebook’s uncanny ability to recommend “friends” that the company shouldn’t really know about — say, a social worker’s client or a woman’s father’s mistress. Data is powerful and can inform on us in unexpected ways. Companies learn all about you, but also all about your friends who haven’t signed up for these services.

Consumers’ confusion about this gives rise to conspiracy theories that phone microphones are secretly snooping on users.  According to academics who have done the research, that’s probably just paranoia.

The likely truth is that all the other data you give away is enough to predict what you have said and will say in conversations… Legislation can mandate transparency about who has your data and can give users the right to stop it from being sold. New laws can lay down basic guarantees of privacy that won’t require you to wade through hundreds of thousands of words of legalese…Americans deserve strong privacy protections. Consent is not enough to replace them. It’s time to start seeing the ‘I agree’ button for what it really is.”

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. Users cannot negotiate his or her own privacy policy.
  2. The ‘I agree’ button should have long ago been renamed ‘Meh, whatever.’
  3. The legal fiction of consent is blatant in the privacy scandal du jour.
  4. Facebook advertised their app on services beloved by teens.
  5. Some claimed these programs were of a predatory nature.
  6. Data is powerful and can inform on us in unexpected ways.
  7. Many consumers feel that phone microphones are secretly snooping on users.
  8. There are countless  conspiracy theories concerning apps that spy on consumers.
  9. Legislation can mandate transparency about who has your data.
  10. New laws can lay down basic guarantees of privacy.

 

 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. Google were a little more careful.
  2. Two tech giants didn’t read the policy closely enough.
  3. People are often startled by what they wind up giving away.

II

  1. Facebook have the  ability to recommend friends.
  2. Companies learn all about you.
  3. Americans deserve strong privacy protections.

 

III

  1. The sign-up process required minors to got parental consent.
  2. Users simply had to scroll down and click on a check box.
  3. Parents may not understand what they are giving away on their child’s behalf.

 

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. When buying or signing up for  apps do you read the digital privacy policies  before hitting the “consent” button?
  2. Do you have Facebook or Instagram accounts? How is the service so far?
  3. The article states, The likely truth is that all the other data you give away is enough to predict what you have said and will say in conversations. Countless devices and internet services now pervade daily life.”  Do  you give away personal data online? If so describe how (e.g., one of the social media sites).
  4. The article also states, “Legislation can mandate transparency about who has your data and can give users the right to stop it from being sold.”Rephrase this statement and provide an example of how this would work.

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

Category: Technology

“CES 2019: The Year of Virtual Assistants”

“A visual tour of the world’s most important tech conference offers a window into the year’s trends, including next-generation wireless networks and the invasion of A.I.” B.X. Chen, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

2019 CES Tech Conference.

Excerpt: CES 2019: It’s the Year of Virtual Assistants and 5G By B. X. Chen, The New York Times 

“The show must go on. That sentiment couldn’t have been stronger this week at CES, the largest consumer electronics convention in the country. The conference, which brought more than 180,000 people to Las Vegas, was a reminder of what the tech industry is best at: being optimistic about itself. Who cares about the abysmal stock market and growing fears that we are sliding into a recession? Check out these virtual-reality headsets, self-driving cars and big-screen TVs.

DJI’s virtual-reality headset connected to a drone was among the thousands of products on display at the CES tech conference .Credit J. Buglewicz for The New York Times

Filippo Yacob, a tech entrepreneur who attended, was blasé about the state of the market. ‘The speed of progress and innovation happens at such a rapid pace that it’s not like it pulses with the stock market,’ said Mr. Yacob, whose company Primo Toys makes tech products for children. ‘It’s more like a bullet train.’

Cutest companion robots ces 2019 torooc liku. digital Trendsjpeg

This year’s event was also slightly larger than the last, with more than 4,500 exhibitors sprawled across 2.7 million square feet. The conference offered a peek at the year’s hottest tech trends, including artificially intelligent virtual assistants, next-generation wireless networks and connected cars.

UBTech Walker and Cruzr robots strut into CES 2019

LG lured attendees into its giant booth with televisions that can be rolled up as if they were  yoga mats. Wireless carriers and chip makers highlighted 5G, the next-generation cellular network arriving this year in a small number of cities with data speeds so zippy that devices can download an entire movie in seconds.

Laptops get more compact. Mashable

The most surprising news came when a host of tech companies announced they were working with Apple to bring some of the company’s content and virtual assistant capabilities to their devices.

TVs go to 8K. -Mashable

Vizio, the TV maker, said its newer TVs would work with AirPlay, an Apple software feature for streaming video and audio content from an iPhone or Mac to a television screen. People will be able to speak to Siri on their iPhones to play content they had purchased from iTunes on the Vizio TVs. Samsung, Sony and LG announced similar partnerships with Apple. In the past, AirPlay and iTunes videos were mostly tied to Apple-made hardware like the Apple TV set-top box. Their expansion to third parties underlines Apple’s ambition to expand the revenue it generates from its internet content and services.

CES 2019 Cools on Self-Driving; Digital Cockpits, V2X & In-Vehicle Shopping Drive Mobility Market

In a statement provided by Samsung, Eddy Cue, Apple’s head of internet software and services, said that with the expansion of iTunes and AirPlay, ‘iPhone, iPad and Mac users have yet another way to enjoy all their favorite content on the biggest screen in their home.’ Google erected an enormous outdoor booth to show off the multitude of devices that now work with Assistant, including smart watches, speakers and displays. The company said a billion devices now work with its assistant, up from 400 million last year. Google wants to make the Assistant the focal point of a consumer’s life: in the home, in the car and on mobile devices.

Mercedes-Benz Vision Urbanetic

‘When I walk down the aisle at Home Depot, will all the devices I might buy work with the Assistant?’ Nick Fox, a Google executive who oversees Assistant, said of items like smoke detectors and thermostats. ‘The answer is yes.’

The battle among virtual assistants is shaping up to be very different from past platform wars between tech companies because consumers will have more choices. Many of the smart gadgets at CES worked with multiple virtual assistants…Car manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz and BMW showed off concepts of autonomous vehicles powered by artificial intelligence and 5G wireless connections. But consumers won’t be able to buy self-driving vehicles from a dealership anytime soon, in part because companies still need much more data on how people drive cars.  Smarter cars with features like built-in voice assistants to help people use maps, play music or get a sports update without taking their eyes off the road are available now, however.

CES 2019- Hyundai’s Elevate walking car concept.

If the economy does cool off, sales of cutting-edge gadgets will drop. Fast. But that didn’t faze people here. None of the CES attendees I spoke to expressed concern. Matt Strauss, who oversees Comcast’s Xfinity internet and cable service, was especially bullish about the year ahead. He said just about everything announced at CES required an internet connection, so that’s the last thing that people would cut off. ‘It’s become like oxygen,’ 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 improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

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

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic

 

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. CES offers a visual tour for consumers.
  2. Consumers don’t seem to care about the abysmal stock market
  3. There was a  battle among virtual assistants.
  4. Many of the smart gadgets worked with multiple virtual assistants.
  5. The smart home is already too complex with products from different brands.
  6. If the economy does cool off, sales of cutting-edge gadgets will drop.
  7. Car manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz and BMW showed off concepts of autonomous vehicles.
  8. The speed of progress and innovation happens at a rapid pace.
  9. Google wants to make the Assistant the focal point of a consumer’s life.
  10. Matt Strauss, who oversees Comcast’s Xfinity internet was especially bullish about the year ahead.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

 

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.

Amazon also had/have a large presence on/at the show. It filled a/an large conference room at/by the Venetian hotel with/on dozens of product/productsthat/this work with Alexa, including an/a Audi car, a/an motorcycle helmet and a/the stereo system.

Reading: 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.

Google ___an enormous outdoor ___to show off the ___of devices that now work with Assistant, including ___speakers and displays. The company said a ___devices now work with its assistant, up from 400___last year. Google wants to make the ___ Assistant the ___point of a consumer’s___: in the home, in the car and on mobile devices.

WORD LIST:focal, life, watches, erected, smart, booth, million, multitude,  billion,Assistant,

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. The opening paragraph in the article begins, “The show must go on. That sentiment couldn’t have been stronger this week at CES, the largest consumer electronics convention in the country. The conference, which brought more than 180,000 people to Las Vegas, was a reminder of what the tech industry is best at: being optimistic about itself.”What is the tech industry optimistic about? Do you agree with this optimism? Explain why or why not.
  2. The article states, “Google erected an enormous outdoor booth to show off the multitude of devices that now work with Assistant, including smart watches, speakers and displays. The company said a billion devices now work with its assistant, up from 400 million last year.” Why is it important to Google that the average consumer’s devices work with the Assistant?
  3. Are there any products that seem useless and a waste of money?Why?
  4. With your group members choose the products that you think consumers will buy.
  5. Which products would you buy? Provide reasons why.

 

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. 

ANSWER KEY

Category: 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