Monday, April 29, 2013

RESEARCH RELATED ESSAY: VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY



There is a trend in the current climate to turn away from the popular raison d’être of consumerism and the dictates of the free market economy and embrace a simpler life. This view of life, termed voluntary simplicity, has long had its followers especially during the current financial crisis and rises in the levels of unemployment. Voluntary simplicity is a philosophy or a view of life that embraces frugality, the lack of wastefulness and the shop until you drop philosophy believing that it leads to a happier and more fulfilling life. Research the topic and write an essay; it is up to you to decide what kind of essay. One suggestion would be describing what exactly voluntary simplicity is and the stating your opinions on the trend rather like a reaction essay. Consider the links below and any others you wish listen and annotate. A word of warning: complete your research before setting about writing for maximum benefit.
Reading
2.       Why we choose voluntary simplicity? That very ordinary life and There is no one way to do simple living right. http://www.choosingvoluntarysimplicity.com/
3.       What is voluntary simplicity? http://www.simplesandiego.org/pages/what_is_vs.html
Listening
1.       Voluntary simplicity: the poetic alternative to consumer culture.
2.       Voluntary simplicity: Simple living today; text and video: http://www.simple-living-today.com/voluntarysimplicity.html
3.       Voluntary simplicity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVLQGwJqJf4
4.       Adventures in voluntary simplicity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxM9L-Q-b5A

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

UNWANTED ELECTRONIC WASTE RISING IN TOXIC PILES



By: Ian Urbina
Level of Difficulty: ** However, this is a slightly tougher level** so don’t make it the first one you do
BEFORE YOU READ
·         Have you got a flat screen television? Was your old television working when you got rid of it?
·         How about your computer monitor? Was the old one working when you got rid of it?
·         When did you last get a new phone? Are you planning to get the latest phone going on the market?
·         What do you imagine happens to old televisions and computer monitors?
·         Are they biodegradable or toxic?
·         How much of a threat do they pose?
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST AND MAKE NOTES

QUESTIONS
1.       The purpose of the example in the first two paragraphs is to draw attention to:
·         The lack of space to store electronic gear
·         The negligence of electronic recycling companies
·         The gravity of the problem
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
2.       Flat screen technology has made recycling televisions
·         Unnecessary
·         Bad business
·         A waste of time
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
3.       What does “The predicament” at the beginning of paragraph 5 refer to? What conclusions can we draw from it?
4.       For what two reasons can’t the glass which is accumulating be recycled along with regular glass?
5.       The fact that this waste is non-biodegradable and toxic makes it …………………………………………..
6.       The facts and figures presented concerning leaded glass points to the need for:
·         Better disposal methods
·         More landfills
·         More smelters
·         More storage facilities
·         Changes in legislation to allow storage
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
7.       What instigated the shift in the television market?
8.       What principles govern production in the modern business world?
9.       New flat screen televisions are an environmental hazard because of………………………………………
10.   It is obvious that the take back programs have back fired because …………………………………………
11.   How do bio-electronics companies get round making huge investments in recycling programs for products?
12.   Public and online auctions provide the opportunity to ultimately to get rid of products by ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
13.   Read the story of Dluback Glass. What conclusion can be drawn from this example?
14.   Why did the writer end by talking about Fresno?
WRITING TASK: GUIDED PROBLEM SOLUTION ESSAY
The text you have just read is a cause effect analysis essay but the solutions are hinted at. After you’ve done a little more research, focus on these solutions, add to them and write a problem solution essay.
In your introduction, indicate that the business community with its emphasis on the short term goal of profit has always been at loggerheads with environmentalists with their long term vision of what irresponsible production and dumping of toxic waste will do to the planet. Draw attention to the issue of electronic waste and then end the paragraph with a thesis statement:
Thesis Statement: Both companies and consumers need to take a more responsible attitude by considering changes in attitude to safeguard the planet.
In your first developmental paragraph, focus on companies and expand on the following points:
·         Research to discover technology to safely dispose of waste
·         Design products that last longer
·         Use fewer toxic components
·         Use components that are more easily recycled
In your second developmental paragraph, focus on the consumers’ role.  Discuss the importance of campaigns to raise public awareness using the media, the press, schools and religious institutions; the importance of resisting the urge to keep up with the Jones’ and wastefulness.
In your conclusion, point out that the world will be a far better place with less toxic waste.
UWANTED ELECTRONIC WASTE RISING IN TOXIC PILES KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
This disturbing text draws attention to an ever growing and thus far insoluble environmental concern which students, with their love of the latest electronic gear, should be made well aware of. I feel that we all need to step back and think when we chuck our next phone, television monitor or television. My hope is that this text will engender a little voluntary simplicity or at least awareness. The writing task is guided so this activity could be used to introduce this essay form.
1.       The third one. Careful; the text is concerned with an environmental problem
2.       All of the above
3.       Stockpiles of useless material accumulating across the country; small changes in the marketplace can suddenly transform a product into a liability; the federal and state authorities face difficulties in keeping up with these rapid shifts
4.       It contains lead; OR there are few buyers for leaded glass
5.       Environmentally destructive
6.       The first. Careful all the others are environmentally harmful
7.       The fact that television broadcasters turned off their analogue signals nationwide in favor of digital.
8.       Companies design products that last less time, use more toxic components and can’t be recycled.
9.       Flat panels that use fluorescent lights with highly toxic mercury in them.
10.   More than 290.000 tons of high tech cast offs are directed away from landfills and towards recyclers each year. Your answer has to cover industry and homes.
11.   Through paper transactions; OR by buying paperwork to indicate that they collected a certain amount of electronic waste that they never collected.
12.   Dumping it illegally in developing countries.
13.   The sheer quantity of glass accumulating at some recycling plants has contributed to environmental and workplace safety problems
14.   It is tidy planning; to tie back to the introduction


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

BRINGING MOD CONS TO THE SLUMS



By: Jonathan Kalan
Published: BBC FUTURE; http://www.bbc.com ; alternatively, google the title and writer’s name http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130325-bringing-mod-cons-to-the-slums
Level of Difficulty: **
BEFORE YOU READ
·         How serious a problem is urban migration?
·         What kind of pressures does this put on the infrastructure of cities?
·         What kind of accommodation do most of these migrants have?
·         What are some of the practical problems in urban slums?
·         What are the social and humanitarian consequences of the above?

NOW LISTEN AND MAKE NOTES
Upgrading slums for better cities https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCgvSmlVJeY

Slums and cities: the past the present and future https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFD7hPJ37Iw

QUESTIONS
1.       How many of the statements below are true for slum dwellers according to the text?
·         They lack basic facilities
·         They lack basic amenities
·         They lack opportunities
·         They lack basic accommodation
·         They lack basic health care
·         All of the above
2.       Slum dwellers often use their ingenuity to provide basic services yet this doesn’t mean…………………………………………………………..aren’t needed.
3.       The purpose of iShack is to provide………………………………………………………………………..
4.       Which of the slum dwellers day to day problems does iShack address?
5.       iShack is implementing a meter system for supplying solar energy mainly to prevent…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
6.       Any appliances and technology set up in slums needs to be removable to address the problem of ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
7.       Christian Sarkar feels there is a market in shanty towns for basic facilities because………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
8.       How much encouragement do you think the big companies will need to get into the housing market for the poor? How do you know?
9.       The fact that big companies are waking up to the potential for business in shanty towns is proved by ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
10.   What is the most important example of Hyper-Wattle?
11.   Irfan Keshavjee feels iShack and Hyper-Wattle are not the best solution because …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
12.   What is the downside of the population of a country not being able to buy houses?
13.   What is the reasoning behind the way Karibu determined the installments for houses?
14.   How urgent is the problem of housing in slums? Why?
WRITING TASK
Research the following projects: iShacks, Hyper-Wattle and Karibu homes and take notes. When you are ready, use your notes and the information in the text to write a problem and solution essay concerning the ways in which the lives of slum dwellers can be improved.
In your introduction, describe the problem as it now stands. End your introduction with a thesis statement stating that there are both short term and long term solutions to the problems.
In your first developmental paragraph, discuss iShacks and Hyper-Wattle. Your topic statement should state that these solutions are primarily directed at those making less than 300 dollars a month until they can afford the long term solution.
In your second developmental paragraph, discuss Karibu homes, which target those making 300 dollars a month. State that the aim is to move all slum dwellers into such homes.
In your conclusion, suggest more public awareness campaigns and efforts by authorities to draw the attention of big business to the opportunities in shanty towns.
BRINGING MOD CONS TO THE SLUMS KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
This completely unique text highlights a problem that all big cities, especially those in developing countries, experience and which has both humanitarian and social impacts. I feel it is worthwhile to try and alert students to such problems to increase social awareness. There are various projects mentioned in the text which will need to be researched before any writing can be done but the sooner they get the message that research needs to precede writing the better.
1.       The first according to the text; although we know the rest are true for slums, they are not mentioned at this point. It is the text we go with
2.       Better more sustainable solutions to house the urban poor in Africa
3.       Improved shack living; OR: an innovative approach to slum improvements
4.       Energy, water, airflow, sunlight heating, insulation, protection against fire
5.       Fires
6.       Insecurity of tenure
7.       The poor end up paying far more than people think for electricity housing and water
8.       Very little; the number of people in need of safe housing will triple to around 5 billion by 2030.
9.       The 300 Dollar House Open Design Challenge
10.   Hyper-Wattle can be built by women, the elderly or handicapped workers
11.   A house is not just a house; it is a status thing
12.   Weak social fabric
13.   Owners will pay around 30% of their monthly income – about the same as they would pay in a slum.
14.   Very; slums are becoming more packed and less secure as migration from rural areas continues.

Monday, April 22, 2013

THE BRAINS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM



By: Franz De Waal
Published: The Wall Street Journal; March 22, 2013; www.online.wsj.com The Saturday Essay
Level of Difficulty:***
BEFORE YOU READ
·         Which animals are the most intelligent? How do you know?
·         Do you think we can accurately assess animal intelligence? Explain.
·         Do you think animals feel compassion, empathy and similar feelings? Explain.
QUESTIONS
1.       The implication in the first two paragraphs of the text is that Ayumu
·         Has a good memory
·         Can count
·         Is intelligent
·         Use a touch screen
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
2.       Initial results of the new research into IQ tests for animals run counter to………………………….
3.       Aristotle, René Descartes and B. F. Skinner and his followers had something in common. They all …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..Use your own words!
4.       Read the example of the research done with elephants and sticks to the end. Now state clearly what conclusion we can draw about animals from this example?
·         We the investigators didn’t understand elephants.
·         As soon as an elephant picks up a stick, its nasal passages are blocked.
·         Experiments with animals have been impeded by our tunnel vision
·         Elephants can use tools
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
5.       Read the story of Kundula to the end. It can be inferred from this story that:
·         Elephants can use boxes to get the fruit that is out of reach
·         They can remember they need the box to reach the fruit
·         Elephants are a lot brighter than we first supposed
·         Elephants can use the appropriate tools
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
6.       Read the mirror experiment carefully to the end. Now state clearly what conclusion we can draw from it?
·         Not all animals can be expected to recognize themselves in mirrors
·          Practical details of experiments with animals should be more carefully considered
·         The size of the tool used in animal experiments is of vital concern
·         Some animals are more concerned with their appearance than others
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
7.       Read the experiment done with chimpanzees and complete the following sentence: the view that human beings are superior to chimpanzees with regard to ………………………… is wrong.
8.        What second unexpected feet did chimpanzees accomplish? They were able to detect ………………………………………………………………………………..
9.       The information about the octopus is provided to prove that we need to change our way of thinking when it comes to ……………………………………………………………………………………………………
10.   Read the story of Hans. What skill did he prove horses possess?
11.   What does “This” refer to in the phrase “This is especially relevant”?
12.   The experiments comparing young children and apes were flawed because ……………………was disregarded.
13.   The purpose of the story of the woodpecker is to prove that……………………………………………………
14.   According to a recent article in the observer, a young chimp whose mother was killed by a leopard was befriended and cared for by the dominant male in the group. This story proves that …………………………………………………………………………………………. (The story is available on the website: www.observer.guardian.co.uk)
15.   According to the conclusion of the text, the belief in human uniqueness still persists despite……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
WRITING TASK
Write an effect analysis essay on the following opinion expressed by the author in the text: “We have moved from viewing animals as instinct-driven, stimulus-response machines to seeing them as sophisticated decision makers” Before you do so, do a little research to get more information on the issue
·         We become more caring and considerate
·         We make more effort to preserve habitats ( laws, raising public awareness through education, media, forestry officials to fight poachers, trappers and the illegal trade in animal parts)
·         We make more effort to preserve endangered species ( determining of illnesses that attack species like the one currently destroying the koala bear community, sanctuaries, wild life parks, tougher sanctions, education and protection for animals)
THE BRAINS OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
This text has lent itself to a superb reading task for various reasons: firstly, it is about an issue students should be made better aware of, secondly it is heartwarming and has wow factor, thirdly, it lends itself to some wonderful questions and good, original writing task. It is full of non invasive experiments with animals that prove they are not the dumb beasts we have always supposed. The text would go well if it were prefaced by videos on illegal trade of animals or animal parts, the fight against poachers and the like.
1.       The third (clue: implication)
2.       A view of human kind’s unique place in the universe
3.       Grossly underestimated both the scope and the scale of animal intelligence
4.       The third
5.       The third
6.       The second
7.       Facial recognition
8.       Family resemblance. Which juveniles were born to which females won’t do because the answer has to general like the question; a very important rule of logic.
9.       Physiology of intelligence
10.   Understanding human body language
11.   The fact that nothing guarantees the mother’s sighs, head turns and subtle changes of position don’t serve as clues for the child
12.   The species barrier
13.   Underlying many of our mistaken beliefs about animal intelligence is the problem of negative evidence.
14.   We are not the only species to care about the well being of others
15.   Science

Sunday, April 21, 2013

LIFE ON EARTH ... BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT



“Never mind aliens in outer space. Some scientists believe we may be sharing the planet with ‘weird’ life forms that are so different from our own that they are invisible to us
By: Robin McKie
Published: The Observer, Sunday 14 April 2013; www.observer.co.uk or www.guardian.co.uk
Level of Difficulty: ** Note to the student: this a difficult level **so do it after you have done the others in the file.
BEFORE YOU READ
  • Do you believe there are other life forms in space or on our planet?
  • Do you believe all life forms have the same biological make up as our own?
  • Do you believe there may be such life forms on earth?
QUESTIONS
  1. What does “They” refer to in the phrase “They can make the desert glitter”?
  2. Prof. Carol Cleland doesn’t share the accepted explanations that desert varnish…………………………………………………………………………………………………………
  3. What does “It” refer to in the phrase “It is a striking idea…”? The fact that………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
  4. What is the possible implication of the shadow biosphere theory for space research?
  5. The existence of the shadow biosphere would also mean that we would have to reconsider…………………………………………………………………………………………………………
  6. What does “This point” in the sentence “This point is stressed by the US biologist Craig Venter refer to? The fact that we are going to have trouble …………………………………………
  7. What scientific fact makes the creation of life forms with a very different biochemistry to our own perfectly feasible?
  8. Our failure to discover weird life is mainly due to tunnel vision because …………………………………
  9. Dimitar Sasselov feels he has found a possible clue to the existence of the shadow biosphere. It is the fact that  …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
  10. It is widely believed that the shadow biosphere would be carbon based because …………………
  11. Read the paragraph beginning “Billions of years ago” and complete the following sentence to form the main idea: Just because life forma on earth are based on DNA and on proteins made from 20 amino acids doesn’t mean ………………………………………………………………………………
  12. Weird life could be discovered in extreme environments via …………………………………………………
TRUE, FALSE OR DON’T KNOW?
Test your comprehension of the text: decide which of the above categories the following sentences fall into according to the information in the text without referring back. When you have decided, look back at the text to see if you were right.
  1. The deposits of weird life form desert sheen.
  2. Right handed life forms could be led to reveal themselves via honey traps
  3. Weird life is made up of right handed amino acids.
  4. We are incapable of discovering weird life forms with current methods.
  5. The microbial life forms termed the shadow biosphere have a completely different biosphere.
  6. Bacteria have not thus far produced desert sheen.
  7. All researchers support the view that chemical reactions and ecological processes produce desert varnish
     WRITING TASK
 Write a brief summary of the text to print on the back page of a popular daily. Remember, you have limited space.
LIFE ON EARTH… BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
This fascinating science text is guaranteed to tickle the fancy of even the most adamant opponents of science. I have added some true false questions along the lines of IELTS for variation. Another plus is that this text lends itself to summary practice because it is so easy to weed out the actual facts and write a short but concise summary.
  1. These layers of manganese, arsenic and silica (known as desert varnish). Careful! There is no “are” in the answer.
  2. Is produced by chemical reactions that act over thousands of years or by ecological processes yet to be determined.
  3. We may be co-inhabiting with microbial life forms that have a completely different biochemistry from the one shared by life as we currently know it.
  4. Its existence would greatly boost expectations of finding life elsewhere in the cosmos.
  5. The way we hunt for life on other worlds.
  6. Detecting alien entities if the mass laboratories of modern science have not yet spotted them on our planet.
  7. The fact that there are up to a hundred amino acids in nature
  8. The methods that we use to detect micro organisms are based entirely on our own biochemistry. This is the minimum required. If you add the rest it is not wrong but it is unnecessary.
  9. There is slightly too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than can be explained by the emissions of standard life forms on earth.
  10. Carbon can create a vast range of organic materials.
  11. Life forms based on different bases and proteins don’t exist.
  12. Microscopic studies.
TRUE, FALSE OR DON’T KNOW KEY
  1. Don’t know
  2. True
  3. Don’t know
  4. True
  5. Don’t know
  6. True
  7. False
Remember there is a lot of conjecture in the text!


Saturday, April 20, 2013

DOES DEATH EXIST? NEW THEORY SAYS 'NO'



By:  Robert Lanza
Level of Difficulty: **
BEFORE YOU READ
·         Do you believe in life after death? If so what form do you believe it will take?
·         What do those who see death as the end believe happens at that moment and why?
·         To the best of your knowledge, how does current scientific theory see death?
·         Have you watched the series “Fringe”? Describe the plot briefly. Do you believe what takes place in “Fringe” is possible?
NOW CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING

Biocentric universe: it’s all relative https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO4IDDyjUaQ
QUESTIONS
1.       What widely held belief is turned on its head at the beginning of the text? The belief that…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
2.       What field of knowledge does the idea of the ‘multiverse’ have its roots in?
3.       What does “these scenarios” in the sentence “Death does not exist in any real sense in these scenarios” refer to?
4.       What remains after death?
5.       Read the experiment in paragraph three carefully. What discovery was made as a result of this experiment? Scientists discovered that …………………………………………………………………..
6.       What current perceptions have no place in biocentrism?
7.       Space and time serve the function of  …………………………………………………………………………. according to the text.
8.       What does “This” refer to in the sentence “This was clear with the death of my sister Christine”?
9.       Read Christine’s story to the end. What is the point of this story? To try and explain that………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
10.   Read last three lines of the text and explain in your own words what they mean.  Now see if you can find the answer anywhere in the text? This is a five star question and will tell you something about text organization. When you have found the answer, say what this is.
ADD THE SUBTITLES
You work on a big national newspaper and your copy editor says he wants subtitles. The subtitles he wants are available – see below – and in the correct order. Unfortunately, no one can remember where they are supposed to go. Place them in the text for you editor.
·         Everyone dies right?
·         Not according to quantum physics
·         Space and time turned on their heads
·         What does this mean for death?
·         First alternative: the tragedy of Christine
·         Yet is it a tragedy?
·         Second alternative: Christine happy ever after
WRITING TASK
Write an essay discussing your opinions of the text.
In you introduction, discuss the current opinions concerning death. Introduce biocentrism at the end of the paragraph.
In your first developmental paragraph, discuss the view of death described in the text.
In your second developmental paragraph, state your views and provide support
In your conclusion, discuss possible future research
DOES DEATH EXIST? NEW THEORY SAYS “NO” KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
I stumbled on this little gem while fishing for texts one day quite by accident and found it extremely engrossing. Very few texts have the wow factor this one does and another thing: it is relatively simple. This means it can be done quite early in the year when you are trying to get students to see reading as an enjoyable activity.  The series “Fringe” is based on the same theory of multiple universes existing simultaneously so would be interesting to discuss if they have watched it. The subtitle activity should be done after the questions when greater familiarity with contents of the text has been achieved at this level. Subtitling is a very common question type on IELTS and is essentially a summary and synthesizing activity.
1.       Death is (a) terminal (event).
2.       Quantum physics
3.       Everything that could possibly happen occurring in some universe
4.       A 20 watt fountain of energy operating in the brain
5.       That they could retroactively change something that had happened in the past
6.       Space and time
7.       Putting everything together
8.       Immortality doesn’t mean a perpetual existence in time without end but rather resides outside of time all together.
9.       It is the 20 watts of energy that will experience the result. This is the minimum you need. If you add on the beginning of the sentence, it is not wrong but unnecessary.
10.   Possible answer: Christine died in one scenario; in another she got the earrings. There is no death as we know it. The answer in the text is back in paragraph 2: There are an infinite number of universes and everything that could possibly happen occurs in some universe. By doing this, the writers makes a connection with the beginning of the text which gives the writing unity.
SUBTITLES KEY
·         Everything dies right? Paragraph 1
·         Not according to quantum physics: 2
·         Space and time turned on their heads: 3 and 4
·         What does this mean for death?: 5
·         First alternative: the tragedy of Christine: 6, 7, 8
·         Yet is it a tragedy?: 10
·         Second alternative: happy ever after: 10