“William Brazel strolled through the grassy pasture toward his flock of sheep. A July thunderstorm had swept across the desert the evening before not an uncommon occurrence in that part of New Mexico, near Roswell…an unfamiliar sight caught his eye: Debris lay strewn about the land in front of him. The year was 1947. A few days later, on July 8, a surreal headline appeared on the front page of The Roswell Daily newspaper. It said the military had captured a ‘flying saucer’ on a ranch outside of town. The next day the Army corrected its news release. A weather balloon had crashed, not a flying disc. No longer would the sleepy little town of Roswell be known simply as the dairy capital of the Southwest.” L. Sharrett, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
“Since the early ’90s a steady stream of tourists have passed through Roswell in search of the truth and souvenirs. Most locals would agree that government cover-ups are very good for business. Downtown Roswell is now home to half a dozen alien-themed souvenir shops located a stone’s throw from the International U.F.O. Museum and Research Center.
The longer one is in Roswell, the harder it becomes to avoid trying to answer the question, Did an alien spacecraft really crash to earth 70 years ago? Are we all alone in the universe? Does any of this even matter?
Perhaps the more meaningful question is deeper and more pressing. In Roswell, some of humanity’s foundational yearnings hide in plain sight. Look no farther than the tourist-trap T-shirt rack: ‘The truth is out there.’ ‘I want to believe.’ ‘Aliens please abduct me.’
Absolute truth exists. Our souls long for something to believe in. Things here on earth are not as they should be. The T-shirts know. We are desperate to find meaning in our lives. We search for answers to the tough questions. Who are we? Why are we here? Who will heal our messed-up world?
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
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.
- Debris lay strewn everywhere.
- Many people have claimed to have seen flying saucers.
- Others claim they are just weather balloons.
- A stream of tourists have passed through Roswell.
- Some claim that an alien spacecraft crash to earth.
- The government cover-ups are very good.
- Many people try to avoid the subject of Aliens.
- Are we all alone in the universe?
- Our souls long for something to believe in.
- We need to find meaning in our lives.
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 longer one is in___, the ___it becomes to___ trying to answer the question, Did an___ spacecraft really___to earth 70 years ago? Are we all ___in the universe? Does any of this ___matter?
WORD LIST: even alone, alien, crash, harder, avoid, Roswell,
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
Absolute truth/trust exists. Our songs/souls long for something to belief/believe in. Things here/hare on earth are not as their/they should be. The T-shirts know. We are desperate to find meaning/mourning in our lives. We search for answers to the though/tough questions. Who are we? Why are we here? Who will heal/heel our messed-up world?
III. Post Reading Activities
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?
Directions: Place students in two groups and assign each group one side of the following argument. Allow groups to develop their arguments and conclude with a class debate. Both teams can use the article as their source of information or sources from the Web.
Team A will list five reasons for the existence of Aliens.
Team B will list five reasons against the existence of Aliens.
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
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.