The Dangers of Pursuing Perfect Grades

“If you always succeed in school, you’re not setting yourself up for success in life.” A. Grant, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

credit- Linda Huang, NYT

 

Excerpt: What Straight -A Students Get Wrong, Adam Grant, The NYT

“A decade ago, at the end of my first semester teaching at Wharton, a student stopped by for office hours. He sat down and burst into tears. My mind

started cycling through a list of events that could make a college junior cry: His girlfriend had dumped him; he had been accused of plagiarism. ‘I just got my first A-minus,’ he said, his voice shaking.

Image- gigazine.net

Year after year, I watch in dismay as students obsess over getting straight A’s. Some sacrifice their health; a few have even tried to sue their school after falling short. All have joined the cult of perfectionism out of a conviction that top marks are a ticket to elite graduate schools and lucrative job offers.

 I was one of them. I started college with the goal of graduating with a 4.0. It would be a reflection of my brainpower and willpower, revealing that I had the right stuff to succeed.  But I was wrong.

The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years. For example, at Google, once employees are two or three years out of college, their grades have no bearing on their  performance. (Of course, it must be said that if you got D’s, you probably didn’t end up at Google.)

image Gigazine.net

Academic grades rarely assess qualities like creativity, leadership and teamwork skills, or social, emotional and political intelligence. Yes, straight-A students master cramming information and regurgitating it on exams. But career success is rarely about finding the right solution to a problem — it’s more about finding the right problem to solve.

In a classic 1962 study, a team of psychologists tracked down America’s most creative architects and compared them with their technically skilled but less original peers. One of the factors that distinguished the creative architects was a record of spiky grades. ‘In college our creative architects earned about a B average,’ Donald MacKinnon wrote. ‘In work and courses which caught their interest they could turn in an A performance, but in courses that failed to strike their imagination, they were quite willing to do no work at all.’ They paid attention to their curiosity and prioritized activities that they found intrinsically motivating — which ultimately served them well in their careers…This might explain why Steve Jobs finished high school with a 2.65 G.P.A., J.K. Rowling graduated from the University of Exeter with roughly a C average, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. got only one A in his four years at Morehouse… So universities: Make it easier for students to take some intellectual risks. Graduate schools can be clear that they don’t care about the difference between a 3.7 and a 3.9…And why not let students wait until the end of the semester to declare a class pass-fail, instead of forcing them to decide in the first month?

Employers: Make it clear you value skills over straight A’s…Straight-A students: Recognize that underachieving in school can prepare you to overachieve in life. So maybe it’s time to apply your grit to a new goal — getting at least one B before you graduate.

 

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 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. My mind started cycling through a list of events.
  2. He had been accused of plagiarism.
  3. Year after year, I watch in dismay as students obsess over getting straight A’s.
  4. Some sacrifice their health.
  5. All have joined the cult of perfectionism.
  6. They think that top marks are a ticket to elite graduate schools.
  7. Academic grades rarely assess qualities like creativity.
  8. You should be willing to tolerate the occasional B.
  9. Some recruiters  actively selected against students with high G.P.A.s
  10. Underachieving in school can prepare you to overachieve in life. 

 

Grammar Focus: English Pronouns

Directions:  Students are to choose the correct SUBJECT pronoun to complete the sentences.  They are to choose from the options presented.

Subject pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, they.

A student came to the office and ___began crying.

___just got my first A-minus,” ___said.

___watched in dismay.

Grades are a reflection of my brainpower and ___had the right stuff.

Many Students say all ___want are top marks and a ticket to elite graduate schools.

As teachers ___need to make it easier for students to take some intellectual risks.

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.

Looking back, I don’t wish my ___had been___. If I could do it over again, I’d___less. The hours I wasted ___the inner workings of the___ would have been better spent trying out___ comedy and having more___ about the meaning of life.

WORD LIST: conversations, memorizing, grades, improv, eye,  higher, study,

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. Do you strive to get the best grades?   At times do you feel pressured to make good grades? Explain your answer.
  2. Will strong grades lead  you to success in work and life? Explain why or why not.
  3. Are there skills that you posses that are not  reflected in your overall grades? What are they?
  4. In your opinion, is there too much emphasis placed on getting the best grades?
  5. In your opinion can you succeed  in life without excellent grades? Provide some examples.
  6. What are some downsides in pursing straight A’s? 

ANSWER KEY

Category: Education

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

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

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

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

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

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

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

Population: climate change

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLIMATE ACTION TRACKER, UPDATED DECEMBER 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Readings:

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

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

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

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

 

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

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

KWL Chart

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

Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about Climate change.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

Advanced K-W-L chart.Intervention for Reading.

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

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

 

 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

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

I

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

II

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

III

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

Reading ComprehensionFill-ins

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

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

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

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

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

Extra Group Activities

Main Idea / Debate

Directions: Divide students into  two teams for this debate. Both teams can use the article  as their source of information or sources from the Web.

Team A will list and defend five reasons for continuing to have children during this dangerous climate change.

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

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

Pros and Cons Chart by Freeology.

 

ANSWER KEY

Category: Science | Tags:

Google Glass Helps Kids With Autism

“Privacy concerns caused the computerized eyewear to fail with the general public. But researchers believe it could help autistic children learn to recognize emotion and make eye contact.” C. Metz

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post  with Answer Key

Esaïe Prickett wearing Google Glass at home in Morgan Hill, Calif. He and his family tested the device in a clinical trial. Credit C. Clifford for The New York Times

 

Excerpt: Google Glass May Have an Afterlife as a Device to Teach Autistic Children, By C. Metz, The NYT

“When Esaïe Prickett sat down in the living room with his mother, father and four older brothers, he was the only one wearing Google Glass.

As Esaïe, who was 10 at the time and is 12 now, gazed through the computerized glasses, his family made faces — happy, sad, surprised, angry, bored — and he tried to identify each emotion. In an instant, the glasses told him whether he was right or wrong, flashing tiny digital icons that only he could see.

Esaïe practicing facial expressions with his brother Morgan while wearing Google Glass.Credit C. Clifford for The New York Times

 

Esaïe was 6 when he and his family learned he had autism. The technology he was using while sitting in the living room was meant to help him learn how to recognize emotions and make eye contact with those around him. The glasses would verify his choices only if he looked directly at a face.

He and his family tested the technology for several weeks as part of a clinical trial run by researchers at Stanford University in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. Recently detailed in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics, the trial fits into a growing effort to build new technologies for children on the autism spectrum, including interactive robots and computerized eyewear.

The Stanford study’s results show that the methods have promise and indicate that they could help children like Esaïe understand emotions and engage in more direct ways with those around them. They could also measure changes in behavior, something that has historically been difficult to do… But even as these ideas spread, researchers warn that they will require rigorous testing before their effects are completely understood.

Catalin Voss started building software for Google Glass in 2013, not long after Google unveiled the computerized eyewear amid much hullabaloo from the national media.

Catalin Voss was a Stanford freshman when he started to build an application for Google Glass. J. Chou NYT

An 18-year-old Stanford freshman at the time, Mr. Voss began building an application that could automatically recognize images. Then he thought of his cousin, who had autism.

Growing up, Mr. Voss’s cousin practiced recognizing facial expressions while looking into a bathroom mirror. Google Glass, Mr. Voss thought, might improve on this common exercise. Drawing on the latest advances in computer vision, his software could automatically read facial expressions and keep close track of when someone recognized an emotion and when they did not…The hope is that Mr. Voss’s application and similar methods can help more children in more places, without regular visits to clinic. ‘It is a way for families to, on some level, provide their own therapy,’ Mr. Voss said…The concern with such studies is that they rely on the observations of parents who are helping their children use the technology, said Catherine Lord, a clinical psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of autism. The parents are aware of the technological intervention, so their observations may not be reliable.

Still, the Stanford team considers its study a first step toward wider use of this and other technologies in autism.”

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. Researchers believe it could help autistic children learn to recognize emotion.
  2. Privacy concerns caused the computerized eyewear to fail.
  3. Esaïe tried to identify each emotion.
  4. The glasses told him whether he was right or wrong, flashing tiny digital icons that only he could see.
  5. The glasses would verify his choices only if he looked directly at a face.
  6. The growing effort is to build new technologies for children on the autism spectrum.
  7. The Stanford study’s results show that the methods have promise.
  8. Google unveiled the computerized eyewear amid much hullabaloo from the national media.
  9. Mr. Voss was trying to build software that could recognize faces.
  10. The company hopes to commercialize the method once it receives approval from the  FDA.

Grammar focus: Modal Verbs

Directions:  The following sentences were taken from the article. Complete the sentences  using the modals listed.

English modals:     can     could      may     might  must   should  will would

  1. The Stanford study’s results show that the methods ___ help children like Esaïe .
  2. But even as these ideas spread, researchers warn that they___require rigorous testing.
  3. They___ also measure changes in behavior.
  4. Google Glass, Mr. Voss thought, ____improve on this common exercise.
  5. Google stopped selling the device to consumers amid concerns that its built-in camera ___compromise personal privacy.
  6. The company hopes to commercialize the method [but] that ___still be years away.
  7. But researchers believe it ____ help autistic children learn to recognize emotion.
  8. The hope is that Mr. Voss’s application and similar methods ___ help more children in more places.

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. Cost concerns caused the computerized eyewear to fail with the general public.
  2. Esaïe, was 10 at the time when he first wore the computerized glasses.
  3. Esaïe was 12 when he and his family learned he had autism.
  4. He and his family tested the technology for several weeks as part of a clinical trial run by researchers at Stanford University.
  5. Esaïe  aunts and uncles were present when he tried on the glasses the first time.  
  6. The main function of the glasses is to help autistic kids understand emotions and engage in more direct ways with those around them.
  7. But even as these ideas spread, researchers warn that they will require a large amount of money to continue research.
  8. Catalin Voss  is another child with autism.
  9. Dennis Wall is  Catalin’s friend.
  10. Esaïe  enjoys using iPad apps and watching DVD movies.

III Post Reading

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. According to the article the Google glasses were intended to work as computerized eyewear for the general public. Why did this  fail?
  2. In addition to helping autistic children identify emotions and make eye-contact with others,  how else could the glasses  help the kids?
  3. What were the results of the Stanford study?
  4. What is the warning that researchers give about the results of the glasses?
  5. Do you know anyone who is autistic? If so, do you think a pair of glasses such as these would be helpful?
  6. Can you think of any drawbacks the glasses might have? If so please explain. 
  7. List 3  questions that you would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Share the questions 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.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Technology | Tags: ,

The Clever Rats In New York City!

“At a recycling plant in Brooklyn, fat, stealthy rats were more than a match for feral cats, scientists found.” By  N. Bakalar, The New York Times 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Photo credit: Hiroko Masuike:The New York Times

Excerpt: Cats v. Rats? In New York, the Rats Win, Nicholas Bakalar, The NYT

“New York rats are big and bad. They sit calmly on the subway tracks, ignoring discomfited commuters on the platform. They stroll through Central Park as if they owned the place. They pretty much rule the East Village.

Scientist Mathew Combs- Among the rats captured in Combs’ research, the average adult weighed 200 to 250 grams.

And they do not have much to fear from cats, a new study suggests.

NYC cats are no match for the city rats-the Atlantic

In the report, published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, the authors first present some background. Cat predation of rats has been studied before: Researchers in New Zealand, for example, analyzed scat from 229 cats and learned that almost all of them ate rats. The felines even seemed to prefer rats to birds.

Difference between a mouse and a rat. ctrodentextermination.com

But New Zealand rats weigh an average of 150 grams, or about five ounces, whereas rats in the most recent experiment in New York were more than twice as large. Bulk, it turns out, is an obstacle for cats who might otherwise dine on city rats.

It was not easy for the scientists to find a place to do their research. The lead author, Michael H. Parsons, a research biologist at Fordham University, said property owners generally want their rats killed, not caught and then released for study

A cat with a rat is a rare sight in New York City. cosmos

But the team did eventually find a recycling plant in Brooklyn whose staff members were willing to let the rat detectives do their work. Dr. Parsons and his colleagues began with another aim: tracking the rodents’ activity at the plant and their reactions to various scents…But while the researchers were watching these rats, five feral cats took up residence at the plant, so the team seized the opportunity to study them, too. Dr. Parsons used motion-sensitive video cameras to record cat behaviors in the presence of rats…All the cats stalked rats, but over the entire period only two cats even dared to chase and attack a rat. Each made just one kill. When cats appeared on the scene, rats mostly just hid…Apparently New York rats are not only large and bold, but smart and stealthy.

Train kittens while they are young-photo-happycat world

In any case, the researchers concluded, cats — despite their reputation as rodent killers — are utterly ineffective in controlling urban rat populations.

‘A lot of people confuse rats with mice,’ Dr. Parsons said. ‘So they’ve seen their cat bring back a mouse, and assume their cat is a rat killer. It’s not.’

Predation, by cats or any other animal, will not reduce the rat population. Only cleaning up the garbage — the rats’ food — will do that.”

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 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. They stroll through Central Park.
  2. The report was  published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.
  3. Cat predation of rats has been studied before.
  4. Researchers in New Zealand, for example, analyzed scat from 229 cats.
  5. Bulk, it turns out, is an obstacle for cats.
  6. The team eventually found a recycling plant in Brooklyn.
  7. Five feral cats took up residence at the plant.
  8. All the cats stalked rats.
  9. cats are utterly ineffective in controlling urban rat populations.
  10. Rats have a high reproductive rate.

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,as, across, around,by, during,for, from, in, into,of, on,to, over,off, through, up,with,

In the report, published___Frontiers___Ecology and Evolution, the authors first present some background. Cat predation ___rats has been studied before: Researchers___New Zealand, ___example, analyzed scat___229 cats and learned that almost all___ them ate rats. The felines even seemed___prefer rats___ birds.

 

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.

New Zealand___weigh an ___of 150 grams, or about___ounces, whereas___ in the most recent ___in New York were more than ___as large. Bulk, it turns out, is an___ for cats who might otherwise ___on city rats.

WORD LIST: dine, average obstacle, rats, five,rats, experiment, twice

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /WritingDirections: 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.   Where did scientist Michael H. Parsons and his team carry  out this study?
  2.  What were some of the problems the scientists faced?
  3.   How did the team begin the research?
  4.  Besides New York City where else has a study been conducted about feral cats and rats?
  5.  According to the article how do the cats in New  Zealand differ from the cats in New York City?

 

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: Science | Tags: ,

Robotic Duck Helps Kids Battling Cancer

“Children battling cancer can’t always express their feelings. Now a robotic duck is doing it for them.” P. Holley, The Washington Post

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Savi Abdallah-Sinha, a 4-year-old battling leukemia, interacts with a robotic duck (Peter Holley:The Washington Post)

Robotic Duck Help Children  By Peter Holley, The Washington Post   

It was hard enough that Savi Abdallah-Sinha was only two years old when he began undergoing chemotherapy treatment to rid his body of leukemia. What made his situation even more difficult, his parents say, was knowing that the little boy was so young he lacked the words to communicate the many varieties of acute pain he was experiencing. Each time a new drug was introduced or a round of treatment completed, the boy’s inner world remained largely mysterious to the adults caring for him. 

This adorable robot duck helps kids cope with cancer treatments. Mashable

‘He couldn’t even say, ‘Why am I taking this medication?’ his father, Rachid Abdallah, said from a family room inside Children’s National Health System in Washington D.C., recalling the first months after his son’s chemotherapy began. ‘At the same time, we didn’t have the words to give him answers or explain to him what was making him sick.’ Nearly a year ago — as Savi’s own understanding of his illness was just beginning to come into focus — the Washington D.C. family received a new tool to help them communicate through the fog of cancer: a quacking robotic duck resembling a soft stuffed animal.

My Special Aflac Duck. Broadchannel

A partnership between the insurance company Aflac, whose company mascot is a duck, and the robotics toy company Sproutel, the social robot, known as My Special Aflac Duck uses a series of touch sensors that enable the device to respond to the person interacting with it. Merging play with tools that help doctors do their jobs, the robot — which has four patents pending — can turn it’s neck, nuzzle, open it’s beak and emit sounds and vibrations. When doctors need a patient to breathe in a rhythmic pattern, the duck can emit a series of pulses, designed to mimic a heartbeat, that can help to calm a child and guide their breathing.

Aaron Horowitz, co-founder and CEO of Sproutel. People

When doctors administer medication to their patients, a toy syringe can be attached to the robot that allows a child to mimic giving the duck medication as well. Aflac, which introduced a quacking duck in its commercials nearly two decades ago, has donated just over 4,000 of the robotic ducks to nearly 200 hospitals across the country.

Though the duck is designed to be a companion for children battling illness, hospital workers say it also gives children a way to express their emotions when their words are not readily available.

The robot includes multiple plastic emoji discs, each representing a different emotion. When a disc is placed against the duck’s chest, the robot acts out the emotion, unleashing happy chirps or uneasy moans. Abdallah calls the robot a ‘great translator.’

Now four, his son is able to express how he’s feeling with much more precision, offering his parents small details that were unavailable to them when he was younger (Savi is in his final phase — and the least intensive — of his 3-year chemotherapy plan, doctors say).”

Another Great Story:

“A young girl was afraid of IVs. So she invented a teddy bear to disguise them [Medi Teddy].” https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/13/health/iv-teddy-bear-medi-teddy-trnd/index.html

Medi Teddy is designed to conceal a bag of IV fluid, medication, or blood product from the patient.

MEDI TEDDY Website for Donations: “Donations received through this site are for the purpose of donating Medi Teddys to children from all over the world who are requesting them.  Thank you for your generosity!” https://www.medi-teddy.org

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 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. Savi Abdallah was only two years old when he began undergoing chemotherapy.
  2. The little boy was so young he lacked the words to communicate.
  3. There were many varieties of acute pain he was experiencing.
  4. Aflac is a quacking robotic duck.
  5. The insurance company Aflac, had a partnership with robotics toy company Sproutel.
  6. Merging play with tools help doctors do their jobs.
  7. The duck can emit a series of pulses, designed to mimic a heartbeat.
  8. Aflac introduced a quacking duck in its commercials nearly two decades ago.
  9. It can be therapeutic to educate a child.
  10. Now four, his son is able to express how he’s feeling with much more precision.

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.

It can/was be therapeutic too/to educate a/an child or its/it can just be/bee therapeutic of/for them/they to play with an/a duck and knot/not even talk/talks about the medical aspect of/for things.

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.

To ___with the painful___of___, children often___ to develop ___strategies that either give them a sense of control in an ___environment or ___them during moments of___stress, experts say.

WORD LIST: pricks, uncertain,extreme,syringes,coping, deal, need,distract,

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. In your opinion is this a good solution to help kids communicate with doctors? 
  2. Have you or anyone you know ever used an Aflac duck to help a child?
  3. Can you think of any improvements for the Aflac duck?
  4. Can you see any negative aspects to the Aflac duck? If yes, please explain.
  5. List 3 questions you would like to ask anyone mentioned in the article.  Share your questions with the 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: Education, Health Issues | Tags: