Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A GOOD MAN IN RWANDA; ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY


“Twenty years ago, Rwanda descended into the madness of genocide. UN peacekeepers were stretched to breaking point, but one stood out taking huge risks to save hundreds of lives” writes the BBC. Access the full story via the link below and study it carefully. When you are done, write an essay in which you explain why this very special person should be given a medal.
The link:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/2014/newsspec_6954/index.html

WHEN TIME STOOD STILL; A HIROSHIMA SURVIVOR’S STORY AND A GOOD MAN IN RWANDA


Purpose: introducing narrative structures
Level of Difficulty: INTERMEDIATE
Access these wonderful stories via the links below; watch, read and study paying careful attention to the verb forms, narrative structures, sentence structure and organization. When you are confident you know what is required, select a topic from among the narratives on this blog and write your own story.
The first link: "When time stood still; a Hiroshima survivor's story"Level: Upper Intermediate

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/2014/newsspec_8079/index.html

The second link: "A good man in Rwanda" Level Intermediate

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/2014/newsspec_6954/index.html

The third link: Gunther, Christine and Otto” Level: pre intermediate
 ·         http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29521102 
Suggested topic: Almaz' story

Level of Difficulty: Simple
Benjamin Dix and Lindsay Pollock tell the disturbing story of a young Ethiopian woman abused by her employers in Saudi Arabia. However, story is in pictures. You make it into a formal piece of writing. Have fun.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29415876

AFGHANISTAN PAST AND PRESENT; COMPARISON CONTRAST


Level of difficulty: RELATIVELY SIMPLE
The link below will take you to a short text and a video describing Afghanistan in the 1950’s. Study the information and write a paragraph where you compare the country in the 50’s to its current state. Don’t forget to include your thoughts, feelings and conclusions as well. Have fun.



ALMAZ’S STORY; NARRATIVE


Level of Difficulty: Simple
Benjamin Dix and Lindsay Pollock tell the disturbing story of a young Ethiopian woman abused by her employers in Saudi Arabia. However, the story is in pictures. You make it into a formal piece of writing. It is suggested that you revise the narrative structures before attempting this task. Inorder to do this, go to the following article:
   “The First Spacewalk.
How the first human to take steps in outer space nearly didn’t return to Earth”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/2014/newsspec_9035/index.html

This task will require the following:
  • Correct use of the three past tenses
  • Correct use of narrative structures
  • Correct use of connectors
The link to the picture story:
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29415876

BECOME A TOUR GUIDE; WRITING ACTIVITY


Below you will see links to virtual tours of various museums, historical cities and sites. Watch them carefully and become the tour guide. Before you start, watch the sample animated virtual tour of a tech museum. 

Sample
·         “Part one: a guided tour of the tech virtual museum” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUDmAiUDiuU

Note to the student:
Naturally you are not expected to produce the kind of description a native speaker would, but you are
expected to use the limited English you know to the full extent to accurately convey the correct impression .

Click the first link and read the beginning to the description below; then continue in the same way: The Smithsonian Natural is a natural history museum. It is in the USA. It has three floors: the ground floor, the first floor and the second floor. On the ground floor there is…… On the second floor there is a rotunda. The rotunda has a marble (stone) floor. In the middle of the rotunda, there is an elephant. There are doors all round the rotunda. If you turn left,….

Now, select your venue and take the visitors on a tour
1.       Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – virtual tour http://www.mnh.si.edu/vtp/1-desktop/ 
3.               100 Incredible & Educational Virtual Tours You Don’t Want to Miss



Monday, September 29, 2014

HOW TO FIX PUBLIC EDUCATION: DESIGNING THE CLASSROOMS OF THE FUTURE; PROBLEM AND SOLUTION ESSAY


Video related writing activity
Public education is considered to be flawed to a greater or lesser extent in almost every country in the world. Many students don’t see the point of what they are doing; many teachers are frustrated and dissatisfied. Many people feel that our current system fails to meet the requirements of the modern world so how can it be fixed? The videos below will give you information on the following:
·         The current situation in public schools
·         The reasons why change has been difficult
·         The reasons why change must take place
·         Various solutions to the problem
Now watch the following videos for more details
·          “The future of education: Sajan George” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ah-SmLEMgis
·         “What 60 schools can tell us about teaching 21st century skills” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZEZTyxSl3g 
·         “Reinventing the classroom for the internet generation” http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20131015-the-classroom-in-the-clouds
·         “Redesigning the classroom experience” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Agqaa_xbqQc
·         “The power of a student driven classroom” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fMC-z7K0r4
·         “Build a school in the cloud” https://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_build_a_school_in_the_cloud#t-152655
·         “Sugatra Mitra: Build a school in the cloud” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3jYVe1RGaU


Thursday, September 25, 2014

HOW SHOULD THIS MAN BE DEALT WITH IF HE IS CAUGHT? ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY


This is a writing task based on a text and a video and should be done at one sitting. It is intermediate in level and can be done quite early on. Access the link below, read, watch and form an opinion. Then write an argumentative essay or paragraph on the topic.
The Uncatchable

ROBOT SERVANTS ARE GOING TO MAKE YOUR LIFE EASY. THEN THEY’LL RUIN IT


By: Ivan Selinger
Published: Wired; 09.05.14
Level of Difficulty: **
STUDY PLAN:
  • Cover the section titled “Familiarize yourself with the topic”
  • Think about or discuss the questions listed under the title “Before you read”
  • Cover the questions and check your answers in the usual manner”
  • Return to the task the following day and access the material listed under the title “Writing task”
  • When you have watched the videos, done the reading and made a few notes, sit down and write.
FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE TOPIC
BEFORE YOU READ
·         What areas are robots currently being used in?
·         What other areas could they be used in?
·         Could they be used in the home as servants?
·         What would the advantages of such robots be?
·         Can you think of any disadvantages?
QUESTIONS
1.       In what way is Jibo similar to Rosie?
2.       The writer feels Jibo is:
·         A harmless gadget
·         A sweet gadget
·         An dangerous gadget
·         A worrying gadget
3.       What does “This problem” in the phrase “This problem doesn’t arise” refer to?
4.       A definition of grunt work is provided in the text. State clearly what it is.
5.       Digital assistance technology that involves predictive technology is dangerous because it can…………………………………………………………………………………………………………. (two possible answers)
6.       The Eric example proves that Jibo is……………………………………………………………………………….
7.       Jibo and similar products could cause human beings to …………………………..by preventing the growth of………………………………………………………..
8.       What does “this feature” in the phrase “lots of users love this feature” refer to?
9.       What is the most important feature of Quick Type?
10.   Overdependence on predictive technologies could transform us into ………………………………..
11.   Complete the following sentence to best reflect the main idea of the text: It is wise to watch out against …………………….. as well; not just weapons systems and the like.
WRITING TASK
Use the information in the text to write about the advantages and disadvantages of technological helpers. Before you do so, access the texts and videos below for deeper understanding
·         “Why your devices shouldn’t do the job of being you” http://bigthink.com/Mind-Matters/why-your-devices-shouldnt-do-the-work-of-being-you
·         “Dyson releases the eye, a robot vacuum with a 360 degree camera” http://www.wired.com/2014/09/dyson-releases-the-eye-a-robot-vacuum-with-a-360-degree-camera/ 
·         “Computers that know what you need before you ask” http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/03/17/290125070/computers-that-know-what-you-need-before-you-ask
·         “The robots are coming but are they really taking our jobs?” http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/08/the-robots-are-coming-but-are-they-really-taking-our-jobs/375655/ 
A more challenging text:
·         “Google versus our humanity: how the emerging internet of things is turning us into robots” http://www.salon.com/2014/05/22/google_vs_our_humanity_how_the_emerging_internet_of_things_is_turning_us_into_robots/ 
ROBOT SERVANTS ARE GOING TO MAKE YOUR LIFE EASY. THEN THEY’LL RUIN IT KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
This text introduces robot servants and the possible impact of technological helpers; a completely novel subject which should rouse interest. The section titled “Familiarize yourself with the issue” should provide the opportunity for a lively warm up activity. The text leads to a very tidy writing task. Different from previous activities, the writing task should be preceded with some additional videos and reading to introduce the concept of research based writing. All the material is suited to the students’ level and each text or video highlights one aspect of the problem. It is suggested that the whole task be spread out over two days with the actual research and writing being done for homework.
1.       They are both family robots (or robot servants)
2.       D; C is too strong
3.       Diminishing our quality of life and character
4.       Basic, manual bureaucratic and cognitive labor. The answer is in the following paragraph.
5.       Profoundly impact who we are ; OR, it can stop thinking
6.       An anticipatory computing product
7.       Be kept by their house; virtues associated with willpower
8.       Quick Type (This is the name of the program. The rest is an explanation of what it does)
9.       It predicts what you’ll likely say next.
10.   Predictable facsimiles of ourselves

11.   Non lethal robot servants

HOW THE WEB BECAME OUR ‘EXTERNAL BRAIN’ AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR OUR KIDS


By: Michael Harris
Published: Wired; 08.06.14
Level of difficulty: **
BEFORE YOU READ
·         Think about the role of technology in your life. How has it changed you?
·         Does it affect the way you do things, your hobbies and interests and the way you think?
·         Has it had more positive or negative effects?
Watch and listen:  “Internet brain: how does online world effect your thinking?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/25/internet-brain_n_1441393.html
QUESTIONS
1.       Read the example involving Benjamin to the end and state clearly what it proves.
2.       What are memes and what do they owe their evolution to?
3.       The new evolutionary process referred to in the text involves……………………………….
4.       The replication of ‘temes’ is different from that of memes in one fundamental respect: …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
5.       What could the ultimate consequence of providing humanity with ‘temes’ be?
6.       What will happen to the neural circuits of grannies that remain mentally active?
7.       What suspected developmental pattern in the brain was proved to be true according to Gary Small’s research? There are two answers; find both.
8.       Young people whose ability to think or read deeply has been weakened are likely to……………..
·         Have trouble on tests that demand these skills
·         Have trouble with coursework that demands these skills
·         Have trouble with the slower pace demanded by these skills
·         Need extra practice with deep thinking and deep reading
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
9.       What future concern does the writer voice in relation to the effects of technology on the brain?
10.   The fact that young people view the internet as their external brain means that they are independent of / dependent on / over dependent on the internet.
11.   In order to teach modern students better, foreign language schools need to ………………………
12.   The future of society will be put in jeopardy by …………………………………………………………………….
13.   What dichotomy does the writer mention in the conclusion?
WRITING TASK
Use the information you have learnt from the text to discuss the effects of internet technology on the human mind and society as a whole. Also mention the possible implications. Before you do so, access the following and make notes for a deeper understanding:
·         “Does the brain rewire your brain?” By Tom Stafford http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120424-does-the-internet-rewire-brains
·         “Brain plasticity – An overview” http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/plast.html
HOW THE WEB BECAME OUR ‘EXTERNAL BRAIN’ AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR OUR KIDS KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
This interesting yet worrying text highlights an issue most teachers have been witnessing in their classrooms for some time and tells them that it is true: deep thinking and deep reading are on their way out with some serious implications. There is also a scientific explanation for the process, which makes what is happening easier to grasp. There should be some interesting discussion as this generation may not have really analyzed the problem in their minds.
1.       Question type: drawing conclusions
These children are one step away from assuming that such technology is a natural spontaneous part of the material world.
2.       Question type: search reading
They are pieces of culture that copy themselves throughout history; our genes
3.       Question type: paraphrasing
Copying, varying and selecting of temes selected as digital information
4.       Question type: search reading
The fidelity is almost 100%
5.       Question type:  five star comprehension question
A slower less harried way of thinking may be on the verge of extinction
6.       Question type: demands close reading and attention to detail
They will not weaken (this is all we know definitely from the text)
7.       Question type: synthesis and analysis
Neural pathways quickly develop when we give our brains new tasks;  Our brains will engineer themselves to function optimally in whatever environment we give them.
8.       Question type: taking information in the text one step further; requires in depth comprehension and the ability to draw conclusions
All of the above
9.       Question type: summary skills
Injections of unearned learning
10.   Question type: demands close reading and attention to detail
Over dependent; the clue is the tone of the article where there is a feeling of a warning against an imminent danger
11.   Question type: taking information in the text one step further; requires in depth comprehension and the ability to draw conclusions
Evolve processes and behaviors to suit the new realities and opportunities
12.   Question type: search reading
People who become shallow consumers of society
13.   Question type: basic comprehension

While we push the technology down an evolutionary path that results in the most addictive possible outcome, it feels as if we don’t have any control.