Fiona the Bubbling Baby Hippo: A Happy Sight to Behold!

“At the entrance to the Cincinnati Zoo’s Africa exhibit every table in the place was packed: with schoolchildren in matching T-shirts, middle-aged tourists with giant S.L.R. cameras slung around their necks, and a mélange of zoo employees…The cafe is the closest eatery to the hippo tank, and therefore the closest to Fiona, the 10-month-old hippo who bounces around inside it.  Over the last year, Fiona has become something of an international cause célèbre, largely because of the efforts of Ms. Curley, the zoo’s communications director, and her four-person team, who started posting Fiona’s every move to social media from the day she was born on Jan. 24 (prematurely, and perilously, but more on that later).” R. Syme, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Fiona’s 2018 calendar photo.

Excerpt: Hooray for Fiona the Hippo, Our Bundle of Social-Media Joy, Rachel Syme, The NYT

“Fionamania has swept the country. Videos of her twirling around in the water, Rubenesque and graceful, rack up millions of views online. She photo-bombed a local couple’s engagement photo, and it wound up on ‘The Tonight Show.’ The popular Cincinnati ice cream purveyor Graeter’s made a ‘Chunky Chunky Hippo’ flavor over the summer — a toffee base with salted peanuts and caramel truffles — that sold out at the zoo every day it was available. A local T-shirt company, Cincy Shirts, screen-printed a small batch of tees with the words ‘Feeling Hip’ along with a cartoon rendering of Fiona in February, and has since shipped 30,000 Fiona-branded products (including tees, stickers, magnets and now Christmas sweaters featuring Fiona in a Santa hat) all over the world.

Fiona the baby hippo takes a walk. USA Today

Fiona starred in her own 7-episode reality show sponsored by Facebook. The zoo’s director, Thane Maynard, sold a children’s book called ‘Saving Fiona: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Baby Hippo’ to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, scheduled for the spring of 2018, with proceeds benefiting the animal’s care. The Cincinnati Reds are planning to have an official ‘Fiona Day’ at the ballpark next summer, complete with commemorative hippopotamus bobbleheads.

When Fiona was born, no one expected her to survive. Bibi, her lumbering, obstinate mother (‘Fiona gets all of her diva tendencies from her mom,’ said Christina Gorsuch, the curator for African mammals) gave birth six weeks early, and the baby weighed only 29 pounds. Most viable hippos weigh between 55 and 120 pounds at birth; premature infants rarely pull through. ‘In the first six weeks, there was at least once a week when we were sure she was going to die,’ said Ms. Gorsuch… She was kept in a newborn I.C.U., with round-the-clock care that included visits from local doctors from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital who located her tiny veins for an IV during a nasty bout of dehydration.

Fiona reunited with mom. WABC-TV

Overnight, Fiona became a symbol of resilience and positivity. Buzzfeed ran listicles of her bravest moments, calling her a ‘sassy, unbothered, unproblematic queen.’ NPR ran a national report on her swelling celebrity status. One website called her ‘The Only Good Thing Left in This World.’

People love a story where everything looks dark and then heroes save the day. Fiona came here in the year 2017, a year when we need a lot more good news. And there she is, our good-news emissary.’

Fiona with her adoring parents. CBS News

‘People tell us all the time that Fiona is something everyone can agree on,’ said Amy LaBarbara, the zoo’s coordinator for marketing and events. ‘We have heard from countless people online that Fiona has been uniting the United States. We hear from people going through chemo that tell us she is the only bright spot in their day.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

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

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Every Formica table in the place was packed with schoolchildren.
  2. There was a mélange of zoo employees wearing branded fleeces and muddy boots.
  3. Fiona starred in her own reality show.
  4. Caring for a 500-pound baby can be exhausting.
  5. People needed ways to commemorate the special occasion.
  6. Fiona’s birth was documented on social media for the world to see.
  7. That’s when everyone knew that Fiona is really a rock star.
  8. Now  the zoo was getting asked at conferences about how they did it.
  9. Everyone is so invested now.
  10. Many of Fiona’s keepers insist that she courts and adores the attention.

 

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following paragraph 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.

Twitter ___have become ___with Fiona’s flatulence. She has___America’s Large ___Daughter, its___baby queen, its___diva with the skin___of a wet___.

WORD LIST: obsessed, avocado,texture, reigning, triumphant, become, fans, Adult,

Grammar Focus

Word -Recognition

Directions: Students are to chose the correct word or phrases from the article. This exercise reinforces students’ attention on words that have been introduced in the reading. Have them skim the article to check  their responses. Students should also find the meanings for all unknown words.

Scientists/science at the zone/zoo milked/milk a hippo for the first time — “we had no idea what was/why in hippo milk before now,” Ms. Gorsuch said — so that they could recreate/retrace the form/formula for Fiona’s bottles. Every day, between January and May 15, when Fiona finally was able to promenade/promote around the hippo tank for the public, seemed to bring a new heat/health crisis. All of this was documented on social media for the world to see.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups  and  have each group compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a class.

Extra: Web Search

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

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: Animals | Tags:

Why People Might Doubt Victims of Sexual Misconduct

“She took decades to come forward. She can’t remember exactly what happened. She sent friendly text messages to the same man she says assaulted her. She didn’t fight back. There are all sorts of reasons women who report sexual misconduct, from unwanted advances by their bosses to groping or forced sex acts, are not believed, and with a steady drumbeat of new reports making headlines, the country is hearing a lot of them.” S. Dewan, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Charlie Rose Made Crude Sexual Advances, Multiple Women Say-NYT

Excerpt:  (Misguided) Reasons People Doubt Sexual Misconduct Victims, By Shaila Dewan, The New York Times

“But some of the most commonly raised causes for doubt, like a long delay in reporting or a foggy recall of events, are the very hallmarks that experts say they would expect to see after a sexual assault.

‘There’s something really unique about sexual assault in the way we think about it, which is pretty upside down from the way it actually operates,’ said Kimberly A. Lonsway, a psychologist who conducts law enforcement training on sexual assault as the research director of End Violence Against Women International. ‘In so many instances when there’s something that is characteristic of assault, it causes us to doubt it.’

Confidentiality clauses shouldn’t muzzle sexual abuse victims

Partly this is because of widespread misconceptions. The public and the police vastly overestimate the incidence of false reports: The most solid, case-by-case examinations say that only 5 to 7 percent of sexual assault reports are false.

And when it comes to the most serious assaults, like rape, people imagine that they are committed by strangers who attack in a dark alley, and base their view of how victims should react on that idea — even though the vast majority of assaults occur between people who know one another…Of course, not every allegation is true.

Matt Lauer Fired By NBC News Over Inappropriate Sexual Behavior Claim-Deadline

The credibility of those who report sexual misconduct, experts say, should be evaluated by looking for corroborating evidence or using relevant parts of accusers’ backgrounds, like whether they have habitually misrepresented the truth in the past.

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons resigns over claims of sexual misconduct

Here is a look at some of the misconceptions that come up again and again when assessing whether a victim’s account is true.

The victim doesn’t act like one.

There is no one response to sexual assault. A trauma victim can as easily appear calm or flat as distraught or overtly angry. Later, they may react by self-medicating, by engaging in high-risk sexual behavior, by withdrawing from those around them or by attempting to regain control…It is no surprise that a teenager conditioned to use ‘likes’ as a measure of self-esteem would turn to social media to deal with post-traumatic stress, said Veronique Valliere, a psychologist who counsels sexual assault perpetrators and victims and consults with the military and law enforcement.

Her story does not add up.

Andrea Constand, whose complaint that Bill Cosby drugged and raped her resulted in a criminal trial more than a decade later, was questioned on many fronts. One was discrepancies in her statements about when the assaults occurred…Rebecca Campbell, a psychologist at Michigan State University who has studied the institutional response to sexual assault victims, compares the recall of a survivor to hundreds of tiny notes that are scattered across a desk. The bits of information may be accurate, but disordered and incomplete. Yet the first questions asked of victims are often who, what, when and where.

She didn’t fight back.

When people are mugged or robbed, they are not asked why they did not resist. But in sexual assault cases, failure to resist can be one of the biggest sticking points for jurors. Often both sides acknowledge that a sex act occurred, and the question is whether it was consensual. Fighting back is viewed as an easy litmus test. Men and women both tend to compare a victim’s actions with what they think they themselves would have done in a similar situation, and research shows that their imagined response usually involves aggressive resistance — even when the attacker is larger and stronger. ‘In their heads, suddenly they know kung fu,’ Ms. Valliere said…To contrast sexual assault with other types of crime, Ms. Valliere said, she often shows a photograph of the Boston Marathon bombing. ‘We never said to the victims, ‘Why were you in that marathon, why did you put yourself in that position, why didn’t you run faster, why didn’t you run slower?’ ‘But when it comes to a victim of interpersonal violence,’ she added, ‘we think there’s a way they should act.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic.  Next, have students generate ideas or words that may be connected to the topic.  As a class, list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

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. Neurobiological research has shown that many victims go through fight-or-flight response to danger.
  2. There are many widespread misconceptions.
  3. People respond differently to trauma.
  4. Some people question the credibility of the victims.
  5. Victims also distinguish between what is safe and what isn’t.
  6. Offenders often encourage confusion and shame.
  7. Experts point to more fundamental issues.
  8. Confusion and self-blame are common in victims.
  9. A lot of people who call the national hotline for help.
  10. Some offenders camouflage the act as horseplay or humor.

Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

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

Experts/expect  say that because money/many people are not psychologically prepared to accept/except how prevalent harassment and asset/assault are, they tend/tire to look for reasons to disbelieve. For example, offenders are more likely to choose/chose victims who have been previously assaulted, statistics show, but a man/woman who reports more than one assault is less likely to be believed.

 Grammar Focus

Fill-ins

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

“Victims think that it was their___, so in many ___they want continued contact,” said Roderick MacLeish, a ___lawyer who ___represented ___of victims of abuse by___priests and schoolteachers. And then ___they realize that it was for the perpetrator’s sexual gratification, and that’s devastating.”

WORD LIST:  later Catholic, Boston, hundreds,  has, cases, fault,

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups  and  have each group compose a letter or note to a  person mentioned in the article telling her/him their thoughts on the topic. Share the letters as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY

 

Category: Culture | Tags: ,

“How To Stop The Sexual Predators Who Aren’t Famous?”

“Watching high-powered sex offenders fall like dominoes recently has involved plenty of schadenfreude for women in many fields. Those of us in the media and the arts have been glad to watch the downfall of previously untouchable editors, producers and comedians who everyone knew were creeps but few people could confront. As Harvey Weinstein can attest, in America today the right kind of bad publicity can undo even the rich and powerful. But what about the women who are sexually harassed by men who aren’t even a little famous? It’s unlikely many newspapers care about a disgusting night-shift manager at the local Denny’s.” S. Leonard, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: How To Stop The Predators Who Aren’t Famous, by Sarah Leonard, The New York Times

“The fact is that sexual harassment is more about power than sex; any industry with extreme power differentials will be afflicted by it. ‘Raising awareness’ is crucial, but not enough.

The service industry, where more than half of workers are women, is especially plagued by sexual harassment. Tipped work is notorious: If you have to please the customer to get paid, you are constantly having to decide between defending yourself and paying rent. The Restaurant Opportunities Center, an advocacy group seeking fair wages and better treatment for workers, reports that a majority of restaurant employees are sexually harassed weekly.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/16/opinion/stopping-predators-sexual-harassment.html?

Domestic workers are another especially vulnerable group. They are often immigrant women of color, sometimes without legal immigration status, sometimes living in their employers’ homes. This combination makes them uniquely subject to intimate harassment and intimidation. A majority of female farmworkers, who often toil in isolation in the field, have experienced sexual harassment or assault.  For these women, shaming their bosses on Twitter or going to a newspaper is, unfortunately, rarely an option — if the predator doesn’t have a big public profile, few will notice the complaint except, perhaps, the guy with the power to fire the person complaining. That’s why women in these fields often take another route: collective action.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers stage protest. Credit- mountainx.com

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a worker-run human rights organization based in Florida, for example, has incorporated sexual harassment rules and penalties into its Fair Food Program, the labor agreement reached after an enormous struggle with fast food companies. It has worked. The coalition says it has gotten 23 supervisors disciplined for harassment and nine fired.  ‘The bosses and even the growers in the agricultural industry are not public figures, and so public shaming does nothing to change their behavior, ‘Julia Perkins, a spokeswoman for the Immokalee Workers, told me.

These organizers stand in a grand tradition. The first female-led American labor struggle was started by teenage girls working in mills in Lowell, Mass., in the 1830s. One of their central complaints was sexual harassment and assault by supervisors…Sexual harassment continued to be a focus of union campaigns as America industrialized — the untold story of the labor battles of the 19th century. Not every campaign succeeded, and some unions excluded women workers altogether, but working women have always known that no one fights a gross boss alone.

Ellen Bravo, one of the pioneering feminists behind 9to5, founded in 1973 to support working women, has done hundreds of harassment training courses for unions. ‘What we wanted was to root out oppression from the structures that were needed for change,’  she said…Groups like the Immokalee Workers, for example, show how fighting harassment can be incorporated into demands made by men and women fighting together.

Women can put an end to this not just by organizing their own workplaces but also by supporting others who are organizing or transforming unions. The growing strength of women in workplaces from agricultural fields to restaurants to newsrooms to movie sets means a new sort of solidarity is possible across sectors. The women who are newly speaking out in the limelight should now rally alongside those who have been fighting sexual harassment in the shadows.”

 

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

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

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Women have a feeling of schadenfreude as the predators are revealed.
  2. Raising awareness is crucial.
  3. The Restaurant Opportunities Center is  an advocacy group for workers.
  4. Many employees  are sexually harassed weekly.
  5. If the predator doesn’t have a public profile nothing will happen.
  6. Ellen Bravo is a well known pioneering feminist.
  7. In the 19th century many unions campaigned for the rights of workers.
  8. The labor movement wanted to stop oppression of employees.
  9. In addition, unions wanted to grapple with racism and homophobia.
  10. Even in the unions there are recalcitrant male members.

Reading Comprehension

Fill-ins

Directions: The following sentences are from the article. Choose the correct word for each blank space from the word list  or make up your own words.

A ___is not, of course, a ___harassment-fighting___ Abuse can ___within a union, too. In fact, the Service ___International Union___ fired an executive vice president over sexual___allegations.

WORD LIST:  harassment, Employees, happen, solution, magical, union, recently,

 

 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. A union alone  are not  magical.
  2. Sexual harassment is about power.
  3. In the service industry more than half of workers are women.

 

II

  1. In essence, tolerating harassment strengthens the boss.
  2. Men and women need too band together.
  3. Workplaces all over the country continue to breed abuse.

III

  1. Women should organize in there own workplaces.
  2. Abuse can happen within a union, too.
  3. Not every campaign succeeded.

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

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

  1. List some of the occupations where sexual harassment occurs.  Can you think of other job situations not mentioned in the article?
  2. In your opinion why do people harass their employees?
  3. What would you do if you were harassed at work? Explain why or why not  you would take action.
  4. According to the article, what are some actions people can take when they’ve been harassed?
  5. Can you think of  additional ways of helping women or men who have been sexually harassed at work?

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY

 

Category: Culture | Tags:

The Night Community in the Walmart Parking Lots

“As night falls, the motels and R.V. parks along America’s highways begin to fill up with travelers needing a place for the night. But to untold thousands of motorists each year — some with a sense of adventure, others looking to save a buck, still more with no other place to go — Walmart is often a willing host for overnight guests.” The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

R.V.’s are welcome to spend the night at Walmarts like this one in Pooler, Ga. Credit George Etheredge for The New York Times

 

Excerpt: Overnight in Walmart Parking Lots: Silence, Solace and Refuge

“It’s not pretty: no pine trees, no bubbling brook, no ocean beach,’ Chuck Woodbury, the editor of RVTravel.com, said in a tutorial video intended for casual travelers. ‘The idea of staying at Walmart is to park for the night, to get some sleep and then move on.’

Walmart parking lot in Yukon

Walmart’s practice of letting people populate many of its parking lots has made the retail giant’s stores a reliable, if somewhat improvised, destination and a place where an informal culture emerges before and after dark.

This summer, two photographers, Mike Belleme and George Etheredge, spent several nights in Walmart parking lots in the South. The men, who are longtime friends, slept in the back of a cargo van and talked with people who stopped at Walmarts. Here are some of the people they met, and things they saw, along the way.

Oftentimes, lunch, even something as simple as a peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwich, can be a balancing act. Credit Mike Belleme for The New York Times

There are standards of etiquette — do not, for instance, sit in the parking lot in lawn chairs — and also online rosters of no-go Walmarts. There is an expectation that you should buy something, but there is no parking fee.

Basic hygiene can require a bit of improvisation. Credit Mike Belleme for The New York Times

 

Statesville, N.C. Credit George Etheredge for The New York Times

There is a measure of solitary privacy, even in a place that is deliberately accessible. Still that doesn’t prevent some people from leaving skid marks in the parking lot.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

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

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

  1. Walmart’s parking lots do not have pine trees or  bubbling brooks.
  2. A lot of travelers stay in their R.V.’s and don’t interact with other people in the parking lot.
  3. People populate many of its parking lots.
  4. Walmart is a reliable destination.
  5. There are standards of etiquette.
  6. Some people have made staying in the parking part of their routine.
  7. Some travelers sleep in the back of a cargo van.
  8. The parking lots provide a measure of solitary privacy.
  9. Some visitors leave skid marks in the parking lot.
  10. The parking lots are always accessible.

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. People spend afternoons in Walmart’s parking lots.
  2. The parking lots are pretty scenic areas. 
  3. Mike Belleme and George Etheredge  are photographers.
  4. There are standards of etiquette in the parking lots.
  5. People are allowed to sit in the parking lot in lawn chairs.
  6. Walmart employees also spend nights in the lots. (NA)
  7. Many travelers interact with other people in the parking lot.
  8. Sometimes, people end up in a Walmart’s parking lot because they cannot think of anywhere else to go.
  9. Almost everyone spending the night has a story to tell.
  10. New England is not a popular destination for travelers in the fall.

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.

Almost everyone/everybody spending the knight/night has a story/stories to tell. They are traveling across the country/county, or visiting a particular spot. New England is a popular destiny/destination for travelers in the fall. And spending the night sometimes means getting a little creative/create.

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

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

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups  and  have each group compose 3 questions they would ask travelers who spend nights in Walmart parking lots. Share the letters as a class.

1-Minute Free Writing Exercise

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

ANSWER KEY

Category: Culture

School Supplies Now Include Bullet Proof Backpacks!

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

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

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

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

The school in Miami. (Screengrab Google Maps)

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

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

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

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

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

Bullet Blocker Survival Magazine

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

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

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

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

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

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

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


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


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


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


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

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the topic.  Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.

Brainstorming chart by UIE copy

 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

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

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

Reading Comprehension

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

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

Grammar Focus: Prepositions

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

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

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

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

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

There are  binder inserts ___place___loose-leaf paper.

Main Idea / Debate

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

Team A will list five reasons for bullet proof backpacks.

Team B will list  five reasons against bullet proof backpack

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

For organization, have students use this great Pros and Cons Scale organizer  from Freeology

Visual Art Project

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

Minute Free Writing Exercise

Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading.  Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity.

ANSWER KEY