Educators today are striving to be more engaging and creative in the classroom. Teachers from the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School have done exactly that. In addition to regular academic courses, sophomore students can enroll in a marine science and technology course which includes taking diving classes in the beautiful Glover’s Reef aquarium.
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.
Excerpt: Equipped to Dive… by L. W. Foderaro, The New York Times
“Andrew Sutchen, 18, was keeping his head down, trying to ignore the fish. It was hard to concentrate on the task at hand: underwater housekeeping for the New York Aquarium in Coney Island. They kept biting my hair, he said. The encounter was all part of an unusual internship for nine students from the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, a public high school on Governors Island with a special focus on marine science and technology. Every other week over the past winter, diving students from the school have come out to the aquarium, part of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
They donned their scuba gear, then plunged into the 167,000-gallon Glover’s Reef tank, scrub brushes in hand, to clean algae off the artificial coral reefs. Fatima Moataz, a 17-year-old senior from Downtown Brooklyn, has logged plenty of hours in the city’s waters. She has surveyed for eel grass and scallops in Jamaica Bay for the National Park Service and helped restore oysters to New York Harbor through the Billion Oyster Project, an initiative led by the New York Harbor Foundation.
The students from the Harbor School have joined about 60 adult diving volunteers who augment the aquarium’s own staff in keeping the various tanks shipshape. David DeNardo, the aquarium’s general curator, said that enlisting the students, who are paid minimum wage as part of the internship, was a good way to further the aquarium’s mission.
Eventually, the aquarium and the school plan to develop a curriculum related to the Glover’s Reef exhibit, so that the students can better understand the species whose habitat they are keeping clean. It gives us an opportunity to teach these kids our conservation message, Mr. DeNardo said. We look at this as a chance to foster the next generation of conservationists.”
Level: Intermediate – Advanced Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included. Time: Approximately 2 hours. Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video clip. 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
Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Ask students to examine the titles of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them examine the photos. Based on these sources, ask students to create a list of words and ideas that they think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading Tasks
Vocabulary 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 from Education Oasis or assistance.
- It was hard to concentrate on the task at hand.
- The fish known as sergeant majors, are one among the 40 tropical species.
- The fish in the Glover’s Reef exhibit at the aquarium were feisty.
- The encounter was all part of an unusual internship for nine students.
- Students donned their scuba gear, then plunged into the 167,000-gallon Glover’s Reef tank.
- With scrub brushes in hand, students clean algae off the artificial coral reefs.
- Ms. Moataz was pulling 65 pounds of gear onto her 4-foot-11-inch frame.
- The regular volunteers clean the sandy bottom with special vacuums.
- About 60 adult diving volunteers augment the aquarium’s own staff.
- In the wild, the algae acts as a food source for hundreds of herbivorous fish species.
Directions: Students are to complete the sentences from the article by selecting the correct words or phrases.
1. Andrew Sutchen, 18, was keeping his___down, trying to ignore the fish.
2. They kept___my hair, he said.
3. The fish known as sergeant majors, are one among the 40 tropical___.
4. The encounter was all part of an___internship.
5. They grow to only six___ and their teeth are too small to do any harm.
6. Every other week over the past winter,___ students from the school have come out to the aquarium.
7. They donned their ___gear.
8. Fatima Moataz is a 17-year-old___from Downtown Brooklyn.
9. Glover’s Reef ___the underwater world of Belize.
10. She has___plenty of hours in the city’s waters.
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.
- He was keeping his head down, trying from ignore the fish.
- They kept biting his hair.
- They grow to only six inches and have small teeth.
- Every other week diving students have come out to the aquarium.
- Getting the kids in the water over the winter has filled a big hole.
- It helps keep there skills fresh.
- The visibility in the bay is only about an arm’s length.
- Working amid 800 individual fish was a thrill.
- The students has joined about 60 adult diving volunteers.
III. Post Reading Tasks
Reading Comprehension Check
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer 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 following discussion topics.
- David DeNardo, stated that, “enlisting the students was a good way to further the aquarium’s mission. It gives us an opportunity to teach these kids our conservation message.We look at this as a chance to foster the next generation of conservationists.” Explain how this program benefits the students after they graduate. Provide examples.
- How could this type of program benefit other people living in the community?
- Would you be interested in takig this this type of course? Explain why or why not.
IV. Listening Activity
Video Clip: Scuba Diving in Brooklyn “As part of an unusual internship, nine high school students work in a tropical reef, located at the end of the F subway line in Coney Island.” Video Link
While Listening Activities
True /False/NA-Statements Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video. As students listen to the video 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.
- The tropical reef is located in Bronx, New York.
- There are 19 high school seniors that are certified to dive.
- The aquarium is located in Coney Island.
- One student stated that they could see the fish they usually saw in the Bahamas.
- New York City is partially surrounded by water.
- New York Harbor School is located on Mayor’s Island.
- The students have been diving at the aquarium for 10 months.
- The students clean the algae off the tank.
- Students never interact with the public.
- Attendance for the aquarium class is 100%.
Questions for Discussion
Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.
1. After listening to this video what do you think about the diving program?
2. With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask the students.
ANSWER KEY: Uder water Class