“It is strange to live in a place where the skeletons of Alaskan king salmon, loosed from bald eagles’ talons, sometimes plummet to the sidewalk. It is strange to live in a place where brown bears are so populous that hikers tie bells to their dogs and wrists. Where ravens as big as house cats caw and the sun barely sets into the ocean beside a dormant volcano. Stranger still, however, to see young people hold their phones to their faces and scan this landscape for an elusive Jigglypuff.”A. Butcher, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer KeyPikachu (Polygon)
Excerpt: Pokémon Go See the World in Its Splendor By Amy Butcher, The New York Times
“Bubble-gum pink, more cotton candy than animal, the Jigglypuff might lurk, my students tell me, in the woods among the scattered totem poles. Or perhaps along the harbor, where yachts and trolling boats rock between rows of barnacled piers.
The shells crunch beneath their feet as the kids lift their screens into the air, scanning sky and earth and sea, ignoring jellyfish and banana slugs, saying, quietly, It’s just another Rattata.Rattata is a Normal type Pokémon.
I used to be obsessed with Pokémon. A middle schooler when the game was first released in the late ’90s… My companion of choice was Charmander, tiny and orange and adorable.
How easily my parents bribed me in return for buying booster packs. How many weeds I pulled in pursuit of a Mewtwo.
Whole rooms were vacuumed of Ritz crackers and crayon tips because of the possibility of a bumbling Snorlax, a skin-shredding Dratini…But upon the release, early this month, of Pokémon Go — the long-awaited augmented-reality iPhone and Android counterpart to the original Game Boy series — I found I had evolved to the curmudgeonly attributes of the nearly 30.
Phones away! became my mantra. I said it dozens of times a day. I was teaching at a fine arts camp in Sitka, Alaska, when the game came out… They were enrolled in courses in juggling, sketch comedy and opera. They were practicing the ancient Japanese pottery-making technique of raku.
But they were also playing the great Japanese game Pokémon Go, like everyone else. The students pointed their cameras at the blackboard, bouncing digital Poké Balls to capture creatures, laughing when a wormy Weedle landed on another student or slithered across a desk.
More than anything, I couldn’t understand why my students — living in pristine, picturesque Alaska — were so enamored of the invented wilderness superimposed on their screens. The real thing was all around them.
Days later, upon return to my Ohio home, when I no longer felt I had to set an example, I downloaded the game myself.
My community came to life in vibrant shades of pastel blue and green, the grid of my neighborhood alive with magic… The whole idea of Pokémon Go is to visit where you have not been, to trace sites both new and foreign.”
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.
The UIE brainstorming chart (sample)
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- The kids lift their screens into the air scanning sky and earth.
- I used to be obsessed with Pokémon
- My companion of choice was Charmander.
- I liked how the adolescent things gave way to jutting claws.
- How easily my parents bribed me.
- I was, in short, enraptured.
- I had evolved to the curmudgeonly attributes of the nearly 30.
- The game seemed an incredible nuisance in the classroom.
- The restaurants I most frequently patronize are a mile away.
- The game thrives most through collaboration.
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.
My___ came to life in___shades of___ blue and green, the grid of my___ alive with magic. I caught a Bulbasaur on my comforter. A fluffy ___lurked within the garden. In jest, my ___and I walked a block in pursuit of___ leaves that indicated an___not yet ___in our Pokédex. We caught him and___the block. Then another. We walked five miles.
WORD LIST: pastel, community, boyfriend, walked,
vibrant, neighborhood, Eevee, captured, rustling, animal.
Using Adjectives to describe pictures
Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following topics.
- “More than anything, I couldn’t understand why my students living in pristine, picturesque Alaska — were so enamored of the invented wilderness superimposed on their screens. The real thing was all around them.”
- “The game seemed an incredible nuisance in the classroom, but also in the cafeteria and the auditorium, at our nightly events and on the campus green… They were respectful when class started, or when the lights dimmed for a performance, but still I resented the game and its viral international reception.”
- Have you played the Pokémon Go game? If so describe your experince.
- Do you think that Pokémon Go is a good idea for children? What about adults? Provide reasons for your answers.
Additional Class Activities for Pokémon Go
“How can you utilize the game “Pokemon Go” into your classroom in a meaningful way? Harnessing student excitement of this game can easily be used to support all kinds of fun and pedagogically-sound lessons and activities.” Visit Discovery Education with Kathy’s Katch August 2016: Pokémon Go in the classroom