So You’ve Kondo-ed Everything…Now What?

“If the ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ Netflix show inspired you to throw out the things that don’t ‘spark joy,’ here’s what to do with what’s left.” The Wirecutter Staff, The New York Times

Marie Kondo on Netflix

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: How to Tidy Up After You’ve Kondo-ed Everything, The Wirecutter Staff, The New York Times

“If, like us, you’re obsessed with ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,’ you’ve probably been inspired to sort through mountains of your clothes, books, and papers, and fill countless trash bags with everything that doesn’t ‘spark joy.’ But getting rid of unwanted things is only half the job. Now you have to figure out how to tidy what you keep. 

Professional organizer Beth Penn of Bneato Barauthor of The Little Book of Tidying: Declutter Your Home and Your Life, said, ‘Organizing isn’t something that you arrive at, it’s something that is an ongoing process, something that you are constantly working on.’

Ms. Marie Kondo

Here are some of the best tips we gleaned from Ms. Kondo’s show, with expert advice to help you stay neat after you’ve purged.

Once you’ve whittled your belongings down to a manageable amount, give each item a place to live. On her show, Ms. Kondo teaches clients to put items in drawers in a single layer — food storage containers are stacked on their sides with their lids on, while clothing gets folded into tall, triangular soldiers, ready to be deployed… Remember, only shop for organizers after you’ve finished your purge so you know exactly what you have left to store.

Should you Kondo your kids? theaustralian.com

Ms. Kondo strongly encourages parents to include children in the task of folding laundry. ‘Like reading a book, it’s a habit to fold clothes with my children,’ she said. Children mimic their parents’ tidying tasks, and even when their work needs to be redone neatly, they enjoy being involved. Getting children involved also means respecting what belongings make them happy.

Belongings that have meaning can’t spark joy when they’re boxed up in the garage. Instead, Ms. Kondo encourages her clients to decorate with their photos and sentimental items so they can enjoy them every day… If most of your family photos are digital, declutter your photo files and create a photo book for the coffee table with the best of them.”

 

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 Marie Kondo.  Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.

KWL Chart from Creately,com

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Many fans are obsessed with Marie Kondo’s show.
  2. The article provides tips they  gleaned from Ms. Kondo’s show.
  3. You have to figure out how to tidy what you keep.
  4. Next, whittle your belongings down to a manageable amount.
  5. Clothing gets folded into tall, triangular soldiers, ready to be deployed.
  6. Ms. Kondo also likes to compartmentalize items in to small boxes.
  7. Ms. Kondo tells people to only shop for organizers after they’ve finished  their purge.
  8. Storage space under the sink will keep everything visible and accessible.
  9. Some kids might balk at your attempts to declutter their belongings.
  10. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with clutter.

 

Word Map by Against the Oddstiff

 

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.

While Ms. Kondo relies/rely on/in found boxes like empty jewelry box/boxes or shoe boxes for organizing/organize small items, at Wirecutter we’ve/we’re found that/this the right tool for the/an job works/work even better to maximize space and/because keep tidbits organize/organized.

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. Marie Kondo teaches people how to cook Japanese dishes.
  2. Getting rid of unwanted things is only half the job.
  3. Marie Kondo’s show can be seen  on Hulu.
  4. Ms. Kondo’s show originated in Japan.
  5. Beth Penn is the  author of The Little Book of Tidying: Declutter Your Home and Your Life.
  6. The article provides some tips from Ms. Kondo’s show.
  7. Ms. Kondo strongly encourages parents not to involve children in the task of folding laundry.
  8. Erin Boyle is Ms. Kondo’s assistant.
  9. Ms. Kondo’s parents watch her show.
  10. Marie Kondo is married with two children.

ASK/ANSWER QUESTIONS

Directions:  Place students in groups and have each group list 3  questions they would like to ask Ms. Kondo. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Culture, Social Issues

Why Humans Hurt Robots

“Robots: They are like us, but unlike us, and both fearsome and easy to bully.” J. Bromwich, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

HitchBot the hitchhiking robot was beheaded in Philadelphia.

HitchBot the hitchhiking robot.

 

Excerpt: Why Do We Hurt Robots? By Jonah E. Bromwich, The New York Times

“A hitchhiking robot was beheaded in Philadelphia. A security robot was punched to the ground in Silicon Valley. Another security bot, in San Francisco, was covered in a tarp and smeared with barbecue sauce.

San Francisco Security robot

Why do people lash out at robots, particularly those that are built to resemble humans? It’s a global phenomenon. In a mall in Osaka, Japan, three boys beat a humanoid robot with all their strength. In Moscow, a man attacked a teaching robot named Alantim with a baseball bat, kicking it to the ground, while the robot pleaded for help.

Why do we act this way? Are we secretly terrified that robots will take our jobs? Upend our societies? Control our every move with their ever-expanding capabilities and air of quiet malice?

Quite possibly. The specter of insurrection is embedded in the word ‘robot’ itself. It was first used to refer to automatons by the Czech playwright, Karel Capek, who repurposed a word that had referred to a system of indentured servitude or serfdom. The feudal fear of peasant revolt was transplanted to mechanical servants, and worries of a robot uprising have lingered ever since.

The comedian Aristotle Georgeson has found that videos of people physically aggressing robots are among the most popular he posts on Instagram under the pseudonym Blake Webber. And much of the feedback he gets tends to reflect the fear of robot uprisings.

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence – Widespread Job Losses. IoT For All

Mr. Georgeson said that some commenters approve of the robot beatings, ‘saying we should be doing this so they can never rise up. But there’s this whole other group that says we shouldn’t be doing this because when they’ — the robots — ‘see these videos they’re going to be pissed.’

Paradoxically, our tendency to dehumanize robots comes from the instinct to anthropomorphize them. William Santana Li, the chief executive of Knightscope, the largest provider of security robots in the United States (two of which were battered in San Francisco), said that while he avoids treating his products as if they were sentient beings, his clients seem unable to help themselves. ‘Our clients, a significant majority, end up naming the machines themselves,’ he said. ‘There’s  Holmes and Watson, there’s Rosie, there’s Steve, there’s CB2, there’s CX3PO.’

Popular robots from Star War films-R2D2 & C-3PO

In his paper “Who is afraid of the humanoid?” Frédéric Kaplan, the digital humanities chair at École Polytechnique…suggested that Westerners have been taught to see themselves as biologically informed machines — and perhaps, are unable to separate the idea of humanity from a vision of machines… This doesn’t explain human destruction of less humanoid machines. Dozens of vigilantes have thrown rocks at driverless cars in Arizona, for example, and incident reports from San Francisco suggest that human drivers are intentionally crashing into driverless cars.

Robots from 2011 film Real Steel

These robot altercations may have more to do with fear of unemployment, or with vengeance: A paper published last year by economists at M.I.T. and Boston University suggested that each robot that is added to a discreet zone of economic activity ‘reduces employment by about six workers.’Blue-collar occupations were particularly hit hard. ‘The easiest thing for us to do is when we go to a new place, the first day, before we even unload the machine, is a town hall, a lunch-and-learn,’ Mr. Li 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

KWL Chart

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

KWL Chart from Creately,com

 

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 hitchhiking robot was beheaded in Philadelphia.
  2. A security robot was punched to the ground.
  3. It’s a global phenomenon.
  4. In a mall in Osaka, Japan, three boys beat a humanoid robot.
  5. Are we secretly terrified that robots will take our jobs?
  6. The specter of insurrection is embedded in the word robot itself.
  7. It was first used to refer to automatons by the Czech playwright, Karel Capek.
  8. The fear of peasant revolt was transplanted to mechanical servants.
  9. Our tendency to dehumanize robots comes from the instinct to anthropomorphize them.
  10. Santana Li avoids treating his products as if they were sentient beings.

Grammar: Identifying English Articles

Directions: Have students choose the correct English articles (THE, A, AN)to fill in the blanks.

___nervous system could only be understood after___discovery of electricity, he wrote. DNA is necessarily explained as___analog to computer code. And___human heart is often understood as___mechanical pump. At every turn, Mr. Kaplan wrote, “we see ourselves in ___mirror of ___machines that we can build.”

 

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.

Abuse of___robots can be ___and expensive, but there may be a solution…kids have this ___of being very brutal to the robot, they would kick the robot. That went on until the___started giving names to the robots. So the robots suddenly were not just___but Andy, Joe and Sally. At that moment, the___behavior stopped.

WORD LIST:     disturbing, robots,    brutal, humanoid,  caregiver, tendency,

III. Post Reading Activities

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 you see a robot do you experience the anger described in the article?
  2. Have you ever abused a robot?
  3. The article provides several reasons for robot abuse by humans. Do you agree with all of them?
  4. Do you have other reasons for this type of abuse?
  5. In the article Santana Li  states, “ “Come meet the robot, have some cake, some naming contest and have a rational conversation about what the machine does and doesn’t do. And after you do that, all is good. 100 percent.” In your opinion, is this a good idea? Explain why or why not.

Extra Activities: Using Movie Trailers for Learning

Trailer for  2011 film ‘Real Steel’ : The film is based on the short story “Steel”, written by Richard Matheson, which was originally published in the May 1956 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and later adapted into a 1963 ‘Twilight Zone’ episode.

Directions: Before viewing trailer review any new vocabulary from the trailer with students. Then have students answer the questions below.

Examples:

Plot/Story

Genre (Drama, Suspense, Thriller, Comedy, Horror, Love story)

Cast/Actors

Director

Rating (R, PG, PG-13)

Pre-Viewing Discussion Questions

  • What movies (or trailers) have you seen recently in the theater? 
  • What  kinds of things do you consider when they go to the movies (e.g.,the stars, who directs it, the plot, etc.).

While/After Viewing  Movie Trailer Questions

  1. Who are the actors and actresses in this movie? Who is the director?
  2. What Genre is this movie? (Drama, Suspense, Thriller, Comedy, Horror, Love story)
  3. What rating would you give this film based on the trailer? (PG, PG-13, R)
  4. What (if anything) was attractive about the trailer to you? In other words, what did you like or dislike about the trailer?
  5. Outline the story or plot of the movie or describe what you understood from the scenes.
  6. How does this trailer relate to the article you’ve just read?
  7. Based on the trailer would you recommend this movie to your friends? Give reasons for your answers.

Additonal Activity

Create a movie trailer using role-plays or draw a movie poster for the movie trailer  you just saw.   Share  your role-plays or  posters with the class when finished.

3-2-1-Writing

Directions:  Write down three new ideas you’ve  learned about the topic from the reading,  two things you  did not understand in the reading, and one thing that you would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

Category: Robots | Tags:

Green Chimneys: Where Animals Teach Children

“Eight-year-old Xander DeLeon could not have been more surprised…There were camels, a gigantic wingless emu, peacocks, miniature horses and donkeys as well as every conceivable breed of farm animal housed in the barns, cages and outdoor enclosures that dotted the campus of what might be his new school.” R.  Schiffman, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Xander right, and Catherine feed one of the farm’s pigs. Credti- D. Rios, NYT

Excerpt: Where Camels, Goats and Pigs Do the Teaching, By Richard Schiffman, The New York Times

“For his mother, Leslie DeLeon, that first visit to Green Chimneys, a school for special-needs children located on a former dairy farm outside in Putnam County, N.Y., seemed the answer to her prayers. He was like, ‘Oh, I can watch the chickens lay their eggs and sit on them,’ she recalled. ‘I was crying, because I knew that I had finally found the right place for my son.’

Before coming to Green Chimneys, Xander, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia, felt overwhelmed at school. He would throw tantrums and often simply walk out of class at the Manhattan charter school that he attended. By 10 a.m. most mornings, the school would call Ms. DeLeon, a public-school teacher in Washington Heights, to ask her to pick up her son.

Now at Green Chimneys, Xander is getting A’s and B’s. ‘The school staff tell him that he won’t be able to work on the farm if he doesn’t continue to do well in school,’ Ms. DeLeon said. The prospect of being separated from his beloved goats has motivated Xander in ways his traditional school never could.

The Green Chimneys School for Little Folk was opened in 1948 by an animal-loving educator and philanthropist named Samuel B. Ross Jr. He pioneered the idea that emotionally challenged children could gain confidence and become socially adept by caring for animals…Yet psychologists have been slow to translate these insights into effective strategies for helping people in a therapeutic setting… ‘When you have traditional training as a psychologist, you never think about doing anything outside of the office,’ Dr. Klee [director of clinical and medical services at Green Chimneys] said.

For a fearful child, Dr. Klee has found that interacting with an animal can be a first step to relating successfully with others. Perhaps surprisingly, this kind of interaction works even with the least outdoorsy city kids. Most come from New York suburbs, and around 10 percent are from the city itself.

From left, camels Phoenix and Sage. Credit D. Rios for The New York Times

Public schools seem to be at their capacity in their ability to help children with special needs. Demand for programs like Green Chimneys has never been greater, she said, especially in New York City, when limits on reimbursing privately run schools for such services was lifted by the de Blasio administration in 2014.

With a staff-to-student ratio of 4 to 1 on the main campus and a level of individualized care that few schools can offer, Green Chimneys has become a beacon for children who are unable to function in a traditional school environment.

Every year there are about 1,000 referrals to Green Chimneys; last year, only 95 new students were admitted. It is also expensive. Tuition is $50,000 a year for day students, and considerably more for those who board. The school is partly funded by the New York State Education Department, which has licensed it to serve students from kindergarten through high school.

Once they are admitted, most students are eligible for the ‘Learn and Earn’ program, where they are assigned chores on the farm, working with the animals or tending garden plots in exchange for a small stipend.

Xander’s job is to feed the goats and clean their pens. ‘This is Snowflake, my favorite’ he said pointing to a cream-colored Saanen goat that had come to the gate to greet him. Not every child flourishes at the school. Those with severe learning disabilities and behavioral problems may struggle, and the average stay (two and a half years) is not always long enough to affect permanent changes in children.”

 

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. DeLeon could not have been more surprised if he had walked up the gangplank into Noah’s ark.
  2. There were camels in pasture, a gigantic wingless emu, and shrieking peacocks on the dirt paths.
  3. Green Chimneys, a school for special-needs children.
  4. Xander has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia.
  5. He would throw tantrums and often simply walk out of class.
  6. Samuel B. Ross Jr. is a philanthropist who loves animals.
  7. Dr. Klee himself was skeptical that animals could be a part of therapy.
  8. Some students initially resisted the school.
  9. Many schools offer some kind of therapeutic program incorporating animals.
  10. Green Chimneys remains in the vanguard.

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.

Dr. Morris and his/him team has/have been conducting research in/at Green Chimneys as part of/on an/a ongoing study into animal therapy. The researchers has/have installed cameras in/on the classrooms that record classes on/in a daily basis. They analyze the children’s/childrens behavior before and after they have been in/on the farm.

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.

Animal-assisted ___ is no longer___to Green Chimneys. Several ___in New York state, like the Orchard School, run by the nonprofit ___in Yonkers, and The Charlton School for___ in Burnt Hills, near ___ offer some kind of ___program incorporating animals.

WORD LIST: therapeutic, Schenectady, girls, Andrus, schools, unique, therapy,

Post Reading Activities

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. With your  group members list at least four  ways in which the Green Chimneys school helps children with special needs.
  2. Can you think of additonal ways the school could help special needs children?
  3. Have you ever visited a school like Green Chimney?  If yes, please describe your  experience.

 

Additional Activites

If possible have groups visit schools or areas where animals are available to the public.

Students can create  pictures, or collages, to show their understanding of  how schools such as Green Chimney operate.

 

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

An Adult View of Some Amazing Stories by Maurice Sendak

“My mother’s glamorous friend Ronnie gave her Where the Wild ThingsAre as a 40th birthday gift… it was 1978, and that Maurice Sendak classic was a perfectly sophisticated gift for a grown woman whose children were well past picture-book read-alouds.” M. Russo, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Maurice Sendak

Excerpt: In Praise of Maurice Sendak, by Maria Russo, The New York Times

Where the Wild Things Are is the first in what Sendak called his trilogy, books published many years apart and linked not by shared characters or settings but by a deeper affinity of theme: How we can access an inner life to wrest ourselves out of our childhood families and face the scary larger world, thereby growing up. By now, I’ve read the books many times to my own children, astonished at how much is in them for my grown-up self — about that growing-up process, and about the times I grew up in, too.

Where the Wild Things Are is not the famous six-page wordless sequence in which Max and the Wild Things have a ‘wild rumpus’ — even though, yes, it’s an enduring reminder of the importance of letting loose now and then (surely that’s what Ronnie had in mind for my upstanding mom as she turned 40).

Credit Where the Wild Things Are:Copyright 1963, 1991 by Maurice Sendak

It is the exhilarating moment before that, when Max first escapes from his punishment. He’s been sent to his room without supper, you may recall, for nailing stuff to the walls, chasing the dog with a fork, and yelling ‘I’ll eat you up!’ at his mother when she calls him a ‘wild thing.’  Then it happens: His room turns into a nighttime forest, and ‘an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max and he sailed off through night and day…When Max gets back home he finds that ‘his supper was waiting for him’ in his room — ‘and it was still hot.’

In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak-Photo- raptisrarebooks

The second in the trilogy, In the Night Kitchen published in 1970, overflows with food. No surprise: Eating is a physical experience we carry with us relatively unchanged from childhood to adulthood. Our little protagonist, Mickey, awakens to a ‘racket’ from downstairs, falls through the dark, out of his clothes, and ends up in the ‘night kitchen’ with bakers who stay up working so we can have cake in the morn. Why did Sendak depict Mickey naked, once he falls out of bed? Defending his choice against the inevitable dreary calls for censorship, Sendak spoke of ‘the dignity and truth’ of the human body.

Sendak’s book is seeded with deeper meanings, not just about ‘the dignity and truth of the human body’ but about his own homosexuality, and his Jewish historical consciousness.  The name of his father, Philip, and a tribute to his partner, Eugene Glynn, are right there, on the can of ‘Philip’s Best Tomatoes’ and a building shaped like a milk carton that says ‘PURE’ on one side and ‘E. Glynn’ on the other. Also hidden in plain sight is the historical horror Sendak evokes in the gonzo plot line of a child trying to avoid being put in an oven. ‘Mickey Oven,’it says in red letters.

The bakers carry a container of salt with a Jewish star on it, and their caterpillar-like mustaches evoke Oliver Hardy’s, but also, when you look twice, Hitler’s. ‘The Holocaust has run like a river of blood through all my books,’ Sendak said once.

Credit Outside Over There:Copyright 1981 by Maurice Sendak

The third book in the trilogy, Outside Over There published in 1981, covers its darkness of theme with painterly art. In this book, Sendak is inviting us to grapple with adolescence and its definitive break with the securities of childhood. The protagonist is an 8 year-old who is charged with looking after her baby sister ‘when Papa was away at sea.’ Her mother can’t — because she’s paralyzed by grief and depression.

The baby gets stolen by goblins and when big sister brings the baby home, triumphant, she finds her mother reading a letter from Papa. He tells her to take care of the baby and ‘Mama’.

Perhaps this is Sendak’s central point in the trilogy: At some moment every child realizes that their parents not only can’t fight off the monsters — they don’t even notice them.”

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  to brainstorm what they already know about the author Maurice Sendak and his stories.  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.

Brainstorming chart by UIE

 

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.

ELLteaching 2.0 vocabulary chart

  1. My mother’s glamorous friend Ronnie gave her a book.
  2. The book was a sophisticated gift for a grown woman.
  3. Sendak called his trilogy books important.
  4. The book is an enduring reminder of the importance of letting loose now and then.
  5. When Max first escapes it is an exhilarating moment.
  6. Mickey plunges into an enormous vat of batter, and is almost baked.
  7. Fortunately, he extricates himself, fashioning the dough around his body into a plane.
  8. The bakers carry a container of salt with a Jewish star on it.
  9. Sendak is inviting us to grapple with adolescence and its break with the securities of childhood.
  10. Yet the book is not offering some idealized vision of safe, genteel life.

 

 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. The images look like they was born as ads.
  2. Sendak’s book is seeded with deeper meanings.
  3. The name of his father is included on the page.

II

  1. He’s was sent to his room without supper.
  2. His room turns into a nighttime forest.
  3. Max sailed off through night.

 

III

  1. Perhaps this is Sendak’s central point.
  2. She look paralyzed by grief and depression.
  3. The name of his father, Philip is in the book.

 

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. Dr. Seuss once said, ‘I have to reach and keep hold of the child in me.’
  2. Where the Wild Things Are is the first in what Sendak called his trilogy.
  3. In the book Max’s room turns into a circus.
  4. When Max gets back home he finds his supper was waiting for him.
  5. The third story in the trilogy, was In the Night Kitchen.
  6. The protagonist in this story is Mickey.
  7. The little boy falls into a night kitchen naked.
  8. There is not much symbolism in The Night Kitchen.
  9. The third book is entitled Outside Over There.
  10. The story is about a little girl who takes care of her younger sister.

 

Post Reading Exercises

Letters to the author

Directions: Place students in groups and have each group list 3questions that they would like to ask Maurice Sendak. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared 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: Literature | Tags:

“Harvard’s Top Astronomer Says An Alien Ship May Be Among Us”

“Before he started the whole alien spaceship thing last year, the chairman of Harvard University’s astronomy department was known for public lectures on modesty. Personal modesty, which Avi Loeb said he learned growing up on a farm. And what Loeb calls “cosmic modesty” — the idea that it’s arrogant to assume we are alone in the universe, or even a particularly special species.” A. Selk, The Washinton Post

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Avi Loeb poses in the observatory near his office in Cambridge, MA

 

Excerpt: Harvard’s top astronomer says an alien ship may be among us — and he doesn’t care what his colleagues think, By  Avi Selk,  The Washington Post

“You can find a poster for one of these lectures in Loeb’s office today, though it’s a bit lost among the clutter: photos of Loeb posing under the dome of Harvard’s enormous 19th-century telescope; thank-you notes from elementary-school children; a framed interview he gave the New York Times in 2014; his books on the formation of galaxies; his face, again and again — a bespectacled man in his mid-50s with a perpetually satisfied smile.

Loeb stands beside his desk on the first morning of spring courses in a creaseless suit, stapling syllabi for his afternoon class. He points visitors to this and that on the wall. He mentions that four TV crews were in this office on the day in the fall when his spaceship theory went viral, and now five film companies are interested in making a movie about his life.

A neatly handwritten page of equations sits on the desk, on the edge closest to the guest chairs. ‘Oh, this is something I did last night,’ Loeb says. It’s a calculation, he explains, supporting his theory that an extraterrestrial spacecraft, or at least a piece of one, may at this moment be flying past the orbit of Jupiter.

Since publishing his controversial paper, Loeb has run a nearly nonstop media circuit, embracing the celebrity that comes from being perhaps the most academically distinguished E.T. enthusiast of his time — the top Harvard astronomer who suspects technology from another solar system just showed up at our door. And this, in turn, has left some of his peers nonplused — grumbling at what they see as a flimsy theory or bewildered as to why Harvard’s top astronomer won’t shut up about aliens.

What you can’t call Loeb is a crank. When astronomers in Hawaii stumbled across the first known interstellar object in late 2017 — a blip of light moving so fast past the sun that it could only have come from another star — Loeb had three decades of Ivy League professorship and hundreds of astronomical publications on his résumé, mostly to do with the nature of black holes and early galaxies and other subjects far from any tabloid shelf.

So when seemingly every astronomer on the planet was trying to figure out how the interstellar object (dubbed Oumuamua, Hawaiian for ‘scout’) got to our remote patch of Milky Way, Loeb’s extraordinarily confident suggestion that it probably came from another civilization could not be easily dismissed…’Oumuamua is not an alien spaceship, and the authors of the paper insult honest scientific inquiry to even suggest it,’ tweeted Paul M. Sutter, an astrophysicist at Ohio State University, shortly after the paper published.

‘A shocking example of sensationalist, ill-motivated science,’ theoretical astrophysicist Ethan Siegel wrote in ForbesMost scientists besides Loeb assume ‘Oumuamua is some sort of rock, be it an asteroid ejected from some star in meltdown hundreds of millions of years ago, or an icy comet wandering the interstellar void.

But it’s moving too fast for an inert rock, Loeb points out — zooming away from the sun as if something is pushing it from behind…And while he’s not saying it’s definitely aliens, he is saying he can’t think of anything other than aliens that fits the data. And he’s saying that all over international news.”

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 (alien life on earth).  Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming chart by UIE

 

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. Dr. Avi Loeb is the chairman of Harvard University’s astronomy department.
  2. Loeb learned personal modesty growing up on a farm.
  3. Dr. Loeb has many books on the formation of galaxies.
  4. His spaceship theory went viral.
  5. Since publishing his controversial paper there has been many media people in t his office.
  6. Loeb may be the most distinguished E.T. enthusiast of his time.
  7. Some scientists view Loeb as an astrophysicist that poses a theory that they might not believe.
  8. Some scientists believe Oumuamua is some sort of rock, but it’s moving too fast— zooming away from the sun as if something is pushing it from behind.
  9. Loeb is not saying it’s definitely aliens but  he can’t think of anything other than aliens that fits the data.
  10. In a matter of months, Loeb has become a one-man alternative to the dirge of terrestrial news.

Grammar: Identifying English Articles

Directions: Have students choose the correct English articles (THE, A, AN)to fill in the blanks.

It’s ___stable lifestyle, but for me it resembles more ___lifestyle of___ business person rather than scientists,” he says. Loeb grew upin___ Israeli farming village.

“I don’t have___class system in my head of academia being ___elite,” he says, as he leads ___reporter into ___locked chamber of ___Great Refractor — ___enormous 19th-century telescope where he sometimes does photo ops. “I see it as___continuation of childhood curiosity — trying to understand what ___world is like.

Note: The English Articles may be reviewed in  ESL-Voices Grammar section

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

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

“The ___ thing that can happen to___ is I would be ___of my ___duties, and that would give ___even more time to___on science,” Loeb adds. “All the ___ I have, I can ___them back. In fact, I can dial myself back to the farm.”

WORD LIST:  focus, dial,  me, administrative, titles, relieved, worst,  me, 

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Do you believe there are aliens living among us? Provide reasons for your answer.
  2. The article states, Since publishing his controversial paper, Loeb has run a nearly nonstop media circuit, embracing the celebrity that comes from being perhaps the most academically distinguished E.T. enthusiast of his time …And this, in turn, has left some of his peers nonplused — grumbling at what they see as a flimsy theory or bewildered as to why Harvard’s top astronomer won’t shut up about aliens.” After reading this article do you think Loeb is talking too much about the possibility of aliens? Explain why or why not.
  3. In your opinion, what are the most significant ideas of this article?  Explain 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. For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

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