Monday, February 29, 2016


The world is a very diverse place: some areas are more hospitable, others are less so but human kind now lives everywhere with the exception of The Antarctic. The climate and geographical conditions of the places where people choose to live naturally impact their lifestyles, habits and ways of life. Mongolians, for example, live in a land with a very harsh climate where the going is tough; therefore, they are very hardy individuals. Europe is also a large and diverse continent with the extreme south bordering The Mediterranean, and the extreme north bordering the North Sea and reaching into the polar circle. The people who live in these two very different parts of Europe also vary greatly.
 First developmental paragraph: The Mediterranean people
·         Climate: temperate, pleasant , plenty of sunshine
People: Gregarious, easy-going, talkative, loud, friendly, emotional
·         Agriculture: wine, olives and the like
Varied cuisine, derive pleasure from eating/ drinking, socializing over a meal
·         Concluding statement
Second developmental paragraph: Northern European people
·         Climate: harsh, cold, long, dark winters, less sunshine, inhospitable
People: introverted, reserved, less social, more superstitious, persevering, sober, cool, independent and jealous of their liberties (Give reasons)
·         Concluding statement
To sum up, people living in different parts of the world have different temperaments and different life styles due to the type of life they have to lead. Those whose lives are tougher, like Northern Europeans, have had to learn to cope with all that nature throws at them, while those who live in more temperate zones, like The Mediterranean’s, have become more laid back and sociable. One thing that all people share, however, is the values that make us human like kindness and generosity; such values are shared by all of humanity regardless of country.


Did you know that Texas was a republic for a time during its history? Did you know that Texans fought a war against Mexico?  Do your research and tell the incredible and exciting story.
Familiarize yourself with issue
·         Republic of Texas
Reading material to make notes on
·         The Republic of Texas
·         Republic of Texas
Videos to watch and make notes on:
·         The Texas revolution and independence
·         Causes of the Texas Revolution
·         Republic of Texas Documentary

·         The Republic of Texas  

TYPES OF WAR Guided classification essay

Unfortunately, most of history seems to be comprised of wars of one kind or another. Bloody conflict, during which people take up arms against their own species and try to annihilate them, is unfortunately our method of choice in resolving disputes. The reasons for war may be religious like in the case of The Crusades, political like in the case of the Turkish War of Independence or ethnic and religious like the Yugoslav Conflict. At first glance, it is quite possible to think that war is war and involves people blowing each other away to kingdom come but this is far from being the case: wars may be classified according to method, according to the nature of the participants and according to the form they take.
First developmental paragraph: according to method
·         War (Active conflict)
·         Cold war (Spies )
·         Cyber warfare
Second developmental paragraph: according to the nature of the participants
·         Civil war
·         War
Third developmental paragraph
·         Pitched battles (Armies facing each other on the battle field)
·         War by remote control (modern warfare using technology)

In conclusion, wars may take place in the battle field or on the World Wide Web; may divide a country into warring factions or may cause worldwide conflagration; may involve arms or computers but whatever the case, they cause death and destruction. It is hoped that mankind will discover less violent ways to resolve their disagreements but it is hard to be optimistic given their track record.

TYPES OF RESIDENCE A classification essay

People have always needed shelter from the elements, and a place where they could rest, eat and sleep together with family and relatives. Initially these shelters were caves, tents and primitive huts but later, with the development of architecture, some wonderful structures were built to house people and give them a place to call home. These structures or residences vary greatly in the modern world and can be classified according to purpose, ownership and structure.

Residences vary in terms of purpose because while some provide temporary accommodation, others provide more permanent accommodation. In the modern world, travel has become much easier and people are constantly hopping on planes and travelling halfway across the world in a matter of hours. These trips may involve business or pleasure but whatever the purpose, the traveler needs temporary accommodation in the form of a hotel, motel, holiday resort or hostel when he reaches his destination. His stay at this temporary residence will depend on the duration of his trip. The presence of hotels and the like all over the world has made it much easier for people to visit far off places, get to know new people and learn about different cultures.

Residences vary in terms of ownership as well: some are state owned and others are privately owned. State owned residences are constructed in welfare states like the UK and the USA for instance to provide accommodation for the poor and disadvantaged. Called public housing, these residences are constructed in the form of big complexes and are given out to the neediest. Top of the list are single mothers, the elderly and those with disabilities. Public housing has been widely criticized for being hot beds of crime and for promoting the gang culture but they are impossible to do without as well. Privately owned property on the other hand comprises flats or houses purchased by private individuals. Individuals acquire houses or flats either to live in themselves or to rent out as a source of income. In short, whether they are in government housing, rented accommodation or their own place, everyone gets somewhere to call home.

Residences aren’t all constructed in the same way: some are single storey, some are high rises or anything in between; some are stone structures, others are made of wood or synthetic material. Whereas in the past, single, two or three storey houses with gardens were more common, in the modern world, big apartment complexes are more widely seen thanks to the population explosion in the last couple of centuries. Lack of space has pushed buildings up in order to make more efficient use of space. The building materials vary greatly as well: while the carcasses of most homes in the past were wood, today they are steal; whereas most houses were built using natural materials like stone and wood in the past, today bricks and mortar are the building materials of choice. Whatever material is used, the houses or flats are built to last and provide a permanent residence for families and individuals.

To sum up, a residence could be a house or a flat, a hotel or a holiday resort, rented or privately owned and built using a variety of material. The ultimate purpose of all forms of housing, however, remains the same: to provide warmth, comfort and shelter. A second purpose of residences is to enable communities to live together in close proximity, form bonds, cooperate, socialize and work together. In this respect, they are of paramount importance.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


This is a simple research related writing task
People around the world have very different life styles and beliefs; they also have different eating habits. Some, like Buddhists, are vegetarian; some, like Hindus, don’t eat beef; island people, like the Japanese, eat a lot of sea food. One eating habit which is spreading in the modern world is vegetarianism. Do your research and discover the advantages and disadvantages of a vegetarian lifestyle. When you are done, write an essay in which you present the pros and cons to your readers.
Famous vegetarians
The reasons for going vegetarian:
·         The top ten reasons for going veggie
Reading material to make notes on
·         Pros and cons of a vegetarian diet
·         Is going vegetarian really better for you  
Videos to watch and make notes on:
·         Being vegetarian: the benefits

·         How healthy is vegetarianism really?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


This is a simple research related writing task and suited for pre intermediate students
Today, workers in the democratic world are mostly members of labor unions, which have become very powerful organizations. Yet what are the pros and cons of joining a labor union? Is it all it is cracked up to be? Do your research and find out. Then, write an essay discussing the advantages and disadvantages of labor unions.
The history of labor unions:
·         Mini lesson on labor unions
·         The history of labor unions
Reading material to make notes on:
·         The pros and cons of union jobs
·         Ten essential pros and cons of labor unions
·         List of 9 pros and cons of labor unions
Videos to watch and make notes on:
·         Advantages and disadvantages of unions

·         Unions pros and cons


This is the simplest research related writing task on my blog and a good place to start.
In most countries around the world, the drink of choice first thing in the morning is one of two things: tea or coffee but how do they compare? Do they have any health benefits. Do your research and write an essay in which you compare coffee and tea.
Reading material to make notes on:
·         Ten benefits of drinking tea over coffee
·         The pros and cons of drinking coffee
·         Tea or coffee: which drink is better for you?
·         Health benefits of coffee versus tea: which one is better for you?
Videos to watch and make notes on:
·         Coffee versus tea
·         Your brain on coffee
·         Coffee versus tea: which is best?

·         Top ten benefits of black tea

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


All we see is news of disasters, civil wars, death and destruction whenever we turn on the news or open a paper but is this continual diet of bad news affecting us in ways we are not aware of? Do your research and find out. When you are done, write about the effects of all the bad news we are bombarded with.
Reading material to make notes on:
·         Why we love bad news more than good news
·         Psychology: why bad news dominates the headlines
·         What all this bad news is doing to us
·         News is bad for you and giving up reading will make you happier
Video to watch and make notes on:


“Romance may have existed in some form long before the origin of humanity, and some believe it was born out of death and violence”
By: Melissa Hogenboom
Level of difficulty: *
Watch and listen once with the tape script open; then watch and listen a second time without the tape script and make a few notes.
1.       Where does the introduction of the article end? What does the introduction of the article mainly focus on? Be brief.
2.       Why did love come later?
3.       The down side of a big brain turned out to be a …………………………….
4.       Why is infanticide so widespread?
5.       How did infanticide impact relationships? How do we know?
6.       Explain in your own words what you think the word “promiscuous” means.
7.       Which of the two solutions to infanticide, monogamy or promiscuity, became more widespread and why?
8.       What does “this” refer to in the sentence “There is evidence to back this up”?
9.       Homo erectus is given as an example of an early human species which………, …………….and………………………………………………………………………….
10.   The ability to love only emerged with the development of ………………………….
11.   Two other reasons for the emergence and spread of monogamy are:
12.   What conclusion can we draw from the description of the first two stages of falling in love?
13.   What is the evolutionary purpose of keeping the serotonin levels of people in love low?
14.   The companionship stage is characterized by ………………..
15.   Which of the sentences below would best be included in the conclusion?
·         Falling in love involves a complex evolutionary and emotional process
·         Monogamy makes evolutionary and chemical sense
·         Falling in love involves a complex chemical process shaped by evolution
·         Infanticide can be prevented by monogamy so it should be supported
Write a one paragraph of the evolutionary process that helped shape our capacity to love. Remember, a good summary needs to include all the necessary facts and not the details. If you are not sure how to write summaries check out the following links:
This serious scientific text is a simple account of the biological and evolutionary process that shaped our ability to fall in love. The fact that it is straightforward makes it suitable for pre intermediate level students.
1.       What’s more it could have been born out of something quite sinister/ It focuses on the biological and emotional impacts of love
2.       Because life first needed a brain that could deal with emotions
3.       A prolonged childhood
4.       Because a mother with a dependent infant is unavailable to mate until her infant has been weaned
5.       Monogamous male-female relationships were formed. Because infanticide consistently preceded monogamy in evolution.
6.       A person who says yes to just about anything; sluttish
7.       Monogamy; the offspring’s chances of survival improved because males could help out with parenting.
8.       The previous sentence
9.       Had a larger brain size, lived in large groups and cooperated
10.   The angular gyrus or the brain
11.   Mate guarding and female competition
12.   Love tends to grow out of desire; OR you cannot passionately love someone you never desire
13.   For the two individuals to spend a lot of time together to get a pregnancy going.
14.   Normal serotonin and dopamine levels and high levels of oxytocin

15.   The third option

Monday, February 22, 2016


People seem to spend their lives immersed in their own private worlds to a much greater extent than ever before. Many seem to be living in their own private bubble with their smart phones for company. Is this a misrepresentation or are we losing the art of listening? Do your research and write an essay on the topic.
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
Reading material to make notes on:
·         Has listening become a lost art?
Videos to watch and make notes on:
·         5 Ways to listen better
·         Everyone around you has a story the world needs to hear

·         Listening

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Everybody wants to achieve success but is it hard work or talent that gets them there? Do your research and decide where you stand; then, defend your point of view.
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         Which is more important:  talent or hard work?  
Reading material to make notes on:
·         Which is more important hard work or talent?
·         What is more important: talent or hard work
·         Hard work versus talent the eternal debate  
Videos to watch and take notes from
·         Which is more important: talent or hard work?
·         Talent versus hard work
·         Hard work versus talent


Justice is delivered in courts in all democracies but whereas in some countries the verdict is delivered by a judge at the culmination of a trial, in others a jury does so and the judge then releases or sentences the defendant. The USA and Great Britain have a long tradition of trial by jury but is this the best way to deliver justice? Do your research and determine where you stand; then write an essay in which you defend your point of view.
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         The jury system
Now watch and take notes:
·         Trial by jury: what’s the big deal?   
Reading material to make notes on:
·         The pros and cons of the jury system Make sure to watch the videos as well.
·         The jury system in Canada
Make sure to read the case studies as well
·         Pros and cons of the jury system
Make sure to watch the videos as well
·         Jury versus judge trial  
Videos to watch and take notes from:
·         How juries are fooled by statistics
·         A bench trial versus a jury trial

·         The defects of jury trials

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


By: David Robson
Level of Difficulty: **
·         This man failed a paternity test due to his vanished twin’s DNA  
·         If you don’t know how to make notes, check the following presentations:
·         Is another human living inside you?  
1.       The story of the origin of a human described in the beginning of the text is na├»ve / simplistic / uninformed / unscientific / misleading / superficial / incomplete. Circle the wrong answer.
2.       Humans are “a mosaic of viruses, bacteria and potentially other humans so we can conclude that humans are…………………
3.       What does “That” in the sentence “That may sound alarming” refer to?
4.       Why is Kramer concerned? Use your own words and be brief.
5.       The passing of cells from one individual to another makes the latter a/an …………………
6.       Who is responsible for the second blood group in the case of some twins?
7.       Should Lydia be considered the mother of all her children or not? Open ended
8.       Why would a chimera brain face more problems than a non-chimera brain?
9.       Why do people who have no twins sometimes also become chimeras?
10.   How, for example, can a grown woman become a chimera later in life? By absorbing…………………………………………..
11.   Why should researchers conducting twin studies be careful?
12.   Which of the following sentences would you place in the conclusion to the text?
·         No one is really an individual anymore
·         We are mostly impure to say the least
·         The term individual should be redefined
·         Chimeras make our existence colorful
     Write a response or reaction essay. If you don't remember how to write such essays check out the examples on the blog
This fascinating text describes the real story of where we come from and as such comes up with surprises about our biological make up. The note making exercise at the beginning is very important as it introduces students to an alternative way of exploiting a reading text if there are no questions. The podcast is rather mechanical but after much deliberation I chose to include it; however, you can do as you wish.
1.       Incomplete
2.       Superorganisms
3.       The fact that a very large number of human and non-human individuals which are incessantly struggling inside us for control may influence our behavior
4.       Possible answer: microbes in your gut can have serious disadvantages and even cause death
5.       Chimera
6.       The twin who has been absorbed
7.       Yes, she gave birth to them; No, two of them carry the DNA of the twin she absorbed; she should be considered the surrogate mother of those two.
8.       Because the foreign tissue being directed by different genes carrying a different blueprint, may throw the intricate design of the brain into disarray.
9.       Because the individual started out as two fetuses but the twins merged during early development.
10.   By absorbing stem cells from her own son
11.   Because even non-identical twins may have sapped brain tissue.
12.   The term individual should be redefined

Monday, February 15, 2016


“Mental downtime makes people more creative and less anxious”
By: Jessica Lahey
Level of Difficulty: **
      * What is Daydreaming in Psychology? - Definition & Disorder
·         The Interview Doctor the Importance of Daydreaming
1.       Which of the statements below would you place at the beginning of the first paragraph?
·         Lack of sleep has physical, psychological and cognitive disadvantages
·         Both kinds of rest, sleeping and daydreaming have numerous advantages
·         Both children’s sleep time and the time they spend daydreaming should be protected.
·         Both kinds of rest sleeping and daydreaming have numerous disadvantages
2.       Television, DVD’s and video games don’t constitute quality downtime because they………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
3.       While daydreaming, the brain turns in on itself/ is cut off from the outside world/ is stimulated by input from everyday life. Select the odd man out.
4.       Why does Singer call daydreaming our default state?
5.       Daydreaming is a complex and beneficial neurological process because it has the following advantages: mark as many as you think appropriate
·         Psychological
·         Cognitive
·         Rational
·         Physical
·         Personal
·         Developmental
·         Neurological
6.       People are completely free while daydreaming because the activity is something where…………………………………………….
7.       The text implies that Lubbock would probably agree with Yang that daydreaming is paramount to……………………………………………………..
8.       What surprising solution to test anxiety and accompanying low grades was discovered by experts?
9.       Telling children to have some mental downtime may not be enough; parents may need to ……………………………………….to foster the habit in their children.
10.   It is implied in the text that activities that require / don’t require concentration cannot be accompanied by daydreaming.
11.   Which sentence in the text best summarizes the advice given to parents?
Bring together the information you have gleaned from the videos you have watched and the text to write about the importance of daydreaming and why it should be encouraged.
This is a wonderful little text stressing the importance of daydreaming. It flies in the face of all past notions concerning daydreaming and is deeply refreshing.
1.       The third option
2.       Prevent mental wandering
3.       Is stimulated by input from everyday life
4.       Because it can’t operate when we engage our working memory
5.       Psychological, cognitive, personal, developmental, neurological
6.       They (truly) have autonomy
7.       Learning and emotional wellbeing
8.       Simply giving students a few minutes to think about and write down their thoughts on the test significantly increased test scores  
9.       Model the behavior
10.   Require
11.   Teach your kids how to just be.