Monday, March 30, 2015

The Book Thief: Learning and Teaching Strategies

I like the book and the movie. The story is gripping and full of contrasts. I do recommend it. This scene was used in my Methodology class. We talked about learning strategies and this scene - a compilation of scenes - provided everyone with food for thought.




I. Work in pairs:

1. Do you consider yourself a good learner? Explain it.

2. Do you remember any strategies you used (or was taught) to learn a new language or vocabulary?

3. Do you have different strategies according to the subject you are studying?

4. Why do you think it is important to learn about learning strategies?

II. Read the suggestion below on how to become a good learner.

  • find a learning style that suits you
  • find a learning style that suits you
  • involve yourself in the language learning process
  • develop an awareness of language both as system and as communication
  • pay constant attention to expanding your language
  • develop the L2 as a separate system 
  • take into account the demands that L2 learning imposes  
1. Do you follow the suggestions above when you are learning a new topic/ If so, do you do it consciously or is it an automatic process for you?



III. Read the Vocabulary acquisition strategies listed on the site - The Good Language Learner (GLL) Strategies (Naiman, Frohlich, & Stern) -  http://homepage.ntlworld.com/vivian.c/SLA/L2_learning_strategies.htm  .  Then check the strategies you make use of while learning new words. Discuss your choices with a partner and explain how you do it.

Vocabulary strategies


1 ( )  linking L2 sounds to sounds of the L1 word

2 ( )  looking at the meaning of part of the word

3 ( ) noting the structure of part

4 ( ) putting the word in a topic group

5 ( ) visualising the word in isolation

6 ( ) linking the word to a situation

7 ( ) creating a mental image of the word

8 ( ) associating a physical sensation with the word

9 ( ) associating the word with a keyword


IV. Repeat the process with the cognitive strategies below. Work in pairs. Check the strategies you make use of while learning new words.

1. ( ) repetition: imitating other people's speech overtly or silently. 

2. ( )  resourcing: making use of language materials such as dictionaries. 

3. ( ) directed physical response; responding physically 'as with directives'. 

4. ( ) translation: 'using the first language as a basis for understanding and/or producing the L2' 

5. ( ) grouping: organising learning on the basis of 'common attributes'. 

6. ( ) note-taking: writing down the gist etc of texts.  

7. ( ) deduction: conscious application of rules to processing the L2. 

8. ( ) recombination: putting together smaller meaningful elements into new wholes.  

9. ( )  imagery: visualising information for memory storage - "Pretend you are doing something indicated in the sentences to make up about the new word". 

10. (auditory representation: keeping a sound or sound sequence in the mind - "When you are trying to learn how to say something, speak it in your mind first". 

 11. ( ) key word: using key word memory techniques, such as identifying an L2 word with an L1 word that it sounds like. 

12. ( ) contextualisation: 'placing a word or phrase in a meaningful language sequence'.  

 13. ( ) elaboration: 'relating new information to other concepts in memory'. 

14. ( ) transfer: using previous knowledge to help language learning - "If they're talking about something I have already learnt (in Spanish), all I have to do is remember the information and try to put it into English"  

15. ( ) inferencing: guessing meanings by using available information - "I think of the whole meaning of the sentence, and then I can get the meaning of the new word".  

16. ( ) question for clarification: asking a teacher or native for explanation, help, etc.  


V. Watch the movie segment and check the vocabulary learning strategies (Ex: IV) Liesel made use of to learn how to read and acquire vocabulary.



video

MOVIE SEGMENT DOWNLOAD - THE BOOK THIEF

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Walk to Remember: Peer Pressure

This is a romantic movie teenagers love and consider a classic. In fact, it is a good movie. This scene generated much more discussion than I had originally expected, which was perfect. I hope you like it.




I. Read the text below. Then pair up with another student and discuss the questions that follow.


Peers are people who are part of the same social group, so the term "peer pressure" refers to the influence that peers can have on each other. Although peer pressure does not necessarily have to be negative, the term "pressure" implies that the process influences people to do things that may be resistant to, or might not otherwise choose to do. So usually the term peer pressure refers to socially undesirable behaviors, such as experimentation with alcohol and drug use, or even vandalism and crime, rather than socially desirable behaviors, such as academic success, although it could be applied to either, and either could be a positive or a negative experience for the individual.Peer pressure is usually applied to younger people, especially teenagers. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable, because they are at a stage of development when they are separating more from their parents' influence, but have not yet established their own values or understanding about human relationships or the consequences of their behavior. They are also typically striving for social acceptance at this stage, and may be willing to engage in behaviors that will allow them to be accepted that are against their better judgment.


Tips to help kids deal with peer pressure:
  • Stay away from peers who pressure you to do things that seem wrong or dangerous.
  • Learn how to say "no," and practice how to avoid or get out of situations which feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • Spend time with other kids who resist peer pressure. It helps to have at least one friend who is also willing to say "no."
  • If you have problems with peer pressure, talk to a grown up you trust, like a parent, teacher or school counselor.


1. What is peer pressure?

2. Have you ever felt peer pressure in your life? What about when you were a teenager?

3. Give some examples of peer pressure you are familiar with?

II. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions:



video


1. Describe the scene.^


2. Why is it an example of peer pressure?


3. Why did the boy decide to jump?


4. Who should be held responsible for the accident? Choose the best alternative.



a. The guy who jumped, after all he decided to jump himself.

b. The boy who pretended he would jump, but did not. After all, he persuaded his new friend to take the risk and tried to help him afterwards.

c. The other fiends who fled and left their peers near the pool.

d. The owner of the swimming pool who did not provide safety measures to prevent trespassers.

e. Nobody. It was an accident.


5. Read  the situations below and think about your answers to the questions.

  • You have a close friend that your other friends don't like. You're having a party at your house this weekend. If you invite your good friend, your other friends will be angry with you. If you don't and your close friend finds out, he/she will be hurt. What would you do if you were in this situation? And if your good friend could never find out about the party?

  • You're assigned to work on a group project with three other people in your English class. You have to agree on one topic. One person suggests an idea and everyone else seems to like it. What would you do if you had a better idea? What if you were new in the school and the most popular person in your class suggested the original idea?

  • Your cousin is a compulsive shopper: the minute he gets the money, he spends it.Recently, he lost his job and asked you for a loan. You have the money but you do not want to loan it to him. What would you do if your other relatives started pressuring you to loan the money? And if you found out that your cousin just bought himself a new cell phone and laptop?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Robocop: Computer Chip Implants for Security Purposes, National ID Cards

I liked this new version of Robocop. It is agile and not shallow at all. I like the controversy it shows, providing ways for better security. I recommend it.


 

I. Read the article below, taken from the following site:

J.D.Longstreet is very critical about this project, which is seen as a violation of the American citizens' lives. On the other hand, there is no doubt that security would be enhanced and more easily controlled. 


America has already become a police state. And now we are prepared, it would seem, to dig ourselves deeper into the status of a police state with the proposed new (Super) National ID card. Soon the government may be collecting biometric information on you — and on me — such as pictures, fingerprints, retina scans, DNA, and whatever else is needed to make their new super National ID card system workable. We are talking about an ID card that you will need to use at checkpoints, airports, and toll booths, or to access the Internet, and to buy firearms, to purchase prescription drugs, at your job sites, or to gain access to apartment buildings, etc. As proposed, this will be a “super” National ID card, an electronic card beyond anything we have seen before. It will place every American citizen on an electronic leash with the federal government holding the other end of the leash. The National I. D. Card will guarantee the federal government’s complete control over every man, woman and child in the US, period! If you want the government to have total control over your life, then do nothing and very soon we will all be carrying that blasted new “Super” National I. D. Card. A National I. D. Card will grant the federal government the power to reach into the everyday lives of people living in this country on an unprecedented level.A National ID card is much the same as a tattooed number on your forearm. It is proof of ownership by someone other than you. If natural progression holds true, next will come the National RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip implanted at birth. It will broadcast a radio signal all the days of your life telling the government who you are, and where you are, at all times. Beats branding babies, right? National ID, of any kind, takes away one of your basic rights, the right to privacy. It is time to get a grip, America! Our National Anthem says: “…The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.” Well, don’t you think it is about time we began to act like it? A National ID card would say to the world just the opposite.

DISCUSSION:

What is your opinion about this topic?

How different would our lives be if it were implemented in a large scale?

Would it help lower criminality rates or would it be an invasion of privacy?

II. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions?

1. Describe the scene.

2. How was the criminal discovered?

3. Is this new technology worth trying? Explain it?

4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this technology?

5. Do you think the police will have this tool to help them in the future? Is is a good idea to have it widespread in our society?

6. What are other alternatives to reduce crimes?

video

II. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions?

1. Describe the scene.

2. How was the criminal discovered?
3. Is this new technology worth trying? Explain it?
4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this technology?
5. Do you think the police will have this tool to help them in the future? Is is a good idea to have it widespread in our society?
6. What are other alternatives to reduce crimes?


MOVIE SEGMENT DOWNLOAD - ROBOCOP

Saturday, February 28, 2015

We Are Legion: Hacktivists & Anonymous

Anonymous and Hacktivists were in the news last year because of the demonstrations we had in Brazil, protesting against the organization of the World Cup. This is a very controversial group of demonstrators and will generate a lot of discussions. Please, use this scene with adults only.


What does Hacktivism mean?

Hacktivism is the act of hacking a website or computer network in an effort to convey a social or political message. The person who carries out the act of hacktivism is known as a hacktivist.

In contrast to a malicious hacker who hacks a computer with the intent to steal private information or cause other harm, hacktivists engage in similar forms of disruptive activities to highlight political or social causes. For the hacktivist, hacktivism is an Internet-enabled strategy to exercise civil disobedience. Acts of hacktivism may include website defacement, denial-of-service attacks (DoS), redirects, website parodies, information theft, virtual sabotage and virtual sit-ins.


Hacktivism and Anonymous are connected:


II. Look at the sign below. What is the message given by Anonymous?


4
anon


III. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions below.


video


1. What is Anonymous?

2. How does the group operate?

3. What kind of activities is Anonymous known for?

4. How are hacktivists and Anonymous connected?

5. Read the answers, according to the site 

What is Anonymous?

Anonymous is a loosely organized international movement of online activists who share similar social and political ideals. Anonymous says it promotes access to information, free speech, and transparency, and also supports various anti corruption and anti authoritarian movements.

How does the group operate?

The group is generally perceived as anarchic, with no controlling leadership. Basically, individual members make their own decisions and relay their protest ideas and activities to one another via social media. If those ideas and activities gather enough support in that community, a collective agreement is made, dates and virtual “meeting times” are set, and participants proceed to launch a campaign to accomplish whatever goal they’ve set out to achieve.

Members of Anonymous say it’s easy to join the group. Just hide your identity while conducting your online activities and you’re in. Because of the complex, informal and, of course, anonymous nature of the group, it’s not really possible to establish an accurate demographic on its membership.

What kind of activities is Anonymous known for?

The group is associated with collaborative hacking activities (“hacktivism”) that are often launched as a form of retaliatory protest against governmental agencies, commercial entities, and other institutions. Such attacks commonly come in the form of denial-of-service (DoS) or distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS), which shut down Internet websites or other Internet-based services. Hackers associated with the group have claimed cyber attacks ranging from minor pranks against various corporations to shutting down the website of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

 IV. Discuss these questions:

1. Do you agree with what the group Anonymous has done? 

2. What are some examples that you have found of hacktivism and activism? 

3. Do you think that hacktivism and activism is for the greater good of all or better off nonexistent?

4. There were many demonstrations in Brazil protesting against the organization of the World Cup 2014. Many demonstrators wore Anonymous masks. On the other hand, most of these demonstrations started pacifically but ended up with a lot of vandalism and violence, supported by Black Blocs, a group whose participants are usually associated with anarchism. What's your opinion about hiding one's face with a mask and promoting violent acts to achieve your demonstration goals? Were these demonstrations in sync with the Anonymous and Hacktivists original purposes? Why (not)?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Delivery Man: Sperm Banks

This film is a must. The story is moving and thought-provoking, but it is also a  lot of fun.



Discuss:

1. What is a sperm bank? What are the services offered by a sperm bank? Make a guess if you have no idea.

2. Visit the site on this link, Then answer the questions that follow.

  • What is the name of the sperm bank?
  • What services does it offer?
  • What are the costs?
  • Do you consider it expensive? Why (not)?
  • What's your opinion about this issue? How ethical is it? 
  • What is the trend in the future? Will it be an ordinary service, like purchasing a new car or house?
  • Would you be a donor? Explain it
  • Would you consider using a sperm bank if you could not have children?
  • Are donors altruistic or just looking for some extra cash?
  • Should the donor's identity be revealed if the child wanted to know it? Why (not)?




I. Watch the movie segment. Vince Vaughn's character is the biological father of of those young people he interacts with in the scene. The kids, however, don't know it. 


video
 Discuss:

1. What were the consequences of his sperm donation?

2. How should he deal with the situation? Should he let them all know they are his children? Explain why (not)?

3. What would you do if you were in his shoes?


Answer key:

  • What is the name of the sperm bank?  The Sperm Bank of California
  • What services does it offer? Donor Sperm, Sperm Storage,  Semen Analysis, Genetic Consultation
  • What are the costs? It depends on the services required. From US$9,000,00 to US$35,000,00 - sometimes more depending on how long the storage will take.
  • The other answers will vary.


MOVIE SEGMENT DOWNLOAD - DELIVERY MAN


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Jack and the Cockoo-Clock Heart: Making Difficult Decisions

This is a beautiful, magical and dramatic story of a mother who has to make a very difficult decision in life - giving her baby to be raised by someone wealthier, because she does not have the means to nurture him. It is a French animated movie spoken in English I loved it.


I. Work in pairs:

1. Have you ever had to make a difficult decision in your life? What made you decide what to do? Can you talk about it?

2. Have you ever made a wrong choice? Talk about it?

3. What would you do in the situations below? Explain your choices.

  • You are offered a fantastic professional opportunity, but you would have to be two years and a half away from your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend? There will not be any chances to see each other, just by using mobile devices (skype, facebook, etc). What would you do?
  • You  have two children. A four year-old boy and a three-year old girl. A criminal tells you to sacrifice one of your children or both of them die. He won't choose; you have to do it. If you don't choose one of them, both of them die. You cannot sacrifice yourself to save both of them. If you do it, both of them die. What would you do? Who would you choose to survive?
  • You saw your best friend's lover kissing another person. Your best friend loves her partner and is nine-month pregnant. You don't know how involved your friend's lover is with that stranger. Would you tell him/her what you saw?
  • You receive the news that the person you love most will die in two months. This situation can't be changed. He/she has a lot of plans for the future and is very happy with her life, her accomplishments and expectations for the future. However, he/she is not in a hurry and is planning things slowly. What would you do? Warn him and make him enjoy life immediately, risking fostering depression and desperation? Would you let him/her waste his time and opportunities to enjoy the time that is left for him/her without worries?
II. Here are six questions one should ask himself before making a difficult choice. Answer the questions, connecting them with each of the four situations above:


1. If I don’t do this now, will I regret it?
2. What am I afraid of?
3. What does my heart say?
4. Who am I really doing this for?
5. Will I like myself after this decision?
6. Can I cope with the consequences of my decision?



III. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions in exercise II. How would she probably answer those questions?


video

IV. What would you do if you were in her shoes? How would you answer those questions in exercise II if you were in her position?

POWERPOINT SLIDES 

MOVIE SEGMENT DOWNLOAD - JACK AND THE CUCKOO-CLOCK HEART

Friday, January 30, 2015

Hunting the Legend: Bigfoot, Cryptids



In cryptozoology , a cryptid (from the Greek "κρύπτω" (krypto) meaning "hide") is a creature or plant whose existence has been suggested but is unrecognized by scientific consensus and often regarded as highly unlikely.
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptid

I. Work in groups:


1. Do you know any other cryptids or mythological creatures from your cultures that people claim to have seen it?

2. Why do people believe in cryptids?

3. What do you know about Bigfoot?

4. Why do people visit American and Canadian forests in order to look for Bigfoot so often? Do these people believe it actually exists?
 
 II. Divide the class into pairs. One student reads a passage, claiming that Bigfoot is a feasible and living creature. Another student reads a passage, claiming that Bigfoot is a hoax. Then pair up both students, they share what they read, and decide whether the arguments presented are valid.


STUDENT 1:


The first set of the big footprints usually more than 15 inches long were first discovered and reported by a British explorer by the name of David Thompson in 1811. Discoveries, sightings and claims of a humongous biped animal have therefore been in circulation for more than 3 centuries. As time has gone by there have been more footprints discovered and the frequency of the discoveries has significantly increased. The significant increase in these claims has been largely attributed to the spread of knowledge that there may be such a thing as a Sasquatch and thus the awareness has put a name to it and more people on the lookout. The continued improvement of methods of capturing images and video has also undoubtedly boosted claims as it is now easier for people to simply be prepared with a camera or voice recorder in the event of a sighting. The first alleged sighting of the Bigfoot was by Roger Patterson. This was in 1967 in the northern regions of Bluff Creek California.  Bigfoot was reported to have been in Asia in the mid-19th Century proving that the presence of the Bigfoot legend is not one that was limited only to America. The description given in Asia was that of a 7-10 foot tall biped covered in white fur with feet as long as 17 inches.  The first alleged picture of the Bigfoot dates back to the early 1950s and was taken by a wild life explorer named Eric Shipton. This was in the North Americas and gave way to the name of the Abominable snowman spotted roaming in the snow white landscape. The latest reported sighting of the Bigfoot is in Georgia in the year 2012 by a group of campers






 STUDENT 2:


 1. No 'Bigfoot' has ever been killed or captured and properly examined at an officially recognised museum or university. Until that happens, it's reasonable to assume that all sightings are either intentionally faked or are misidentifications of other creatures.  No skeletal remains which might be a 'Bigfoot' have been recovered and submitted to an officially recognised museum or university for analysis. Vague claims about bones in the woods are hardly reliable evidence.  There is no reliable photograph of a 'Bigfoot' and - in an age where everyone and his brother have digital cameras and Photoshop - it's much too easy to fake one. Even some of the old photos, and the famous cine-camera footage, are a bit dubious. People who try to convince us that a blurry lump filmed from 500m away at twilight is actually 'Bigfoot' aren't really helping their case. None of the alleged 'Bigfoot' hair and droppings have produced reliable DNA suggesting what they are. This may be due to contamination by the people bringing them in, but saying 'It's because Bigfoot is so closely related to humans' is a bit of a cop-out. No one has ever run down a 'Bigfoot' in their car, van or truck. Given the quantity of squashed wildlife which litters the roads, and the ever increasing amount of traffic, it does seem a bit odd that no-one has flattened one of these creatures.  No-one has - to my knowledge - explained where 'Bigfoot' fits into the eco-system of the area where it lives or, for that matter, found out what it eats. It's such an easy thing to fake - a furry suit and a video-camera are all you need - that there must be a great temptation among people of a certain mentality to try it.

Bigfoot Gigantopithecus
.


III. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions:


video


1. Where are they?

2. What did the locals say about Bigfoot?

3. How does the population see the presence of Bigfoot in Camden, Alabama? Do they think Bigfoot is real or is it a hoax?

4. Which of the statements impressed you most? And least?

5. What's your opinion about the evidence they had? Are they trustworthy?

6. Would you like to visit a place where people have claimed to see Bigfoot? Would you be scared?

MOVIE SEGMENT DOWNLOAD - HUNTING THE LEGEND

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Renoir: Impressionism, Creativity



Read the paragraph about Renoir:


Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s early work truly embodies the Impressionist style. Throughout the 1870s he worked with Monet studying light and movement, using broken colour to emphasis the sunlight hitting an object. "The Swing" is a great example of a painting that captures the essence of Renoir but also strongly embodies all the Impressionist features; light colours, delicate brush strokes and contrasting light and shadow. After he spent some time in Italy in the 1880s viewing classical and traditional art, he turned his attention to portraits and painting people rather than practising the plein air technique. This is often called his ‘Ingres Period’. Later on in his life he went back to using the thin brush strokes of the more typical Impressionist style, although he is often more abstract than many others. 

http://jenblacksheep.hubpages.com/hub/Impressionists-Artists-5-Facts-About-5-Impressionist-Artists-An-Overview


http://www.ducksters.com/history/art/impressionism.php

Work in small groups. IMPRESSIONISM QUIZ. Answer True or False. The group that guesses most correct answers is the winner.


1.  Impressionism began in France when a group of young and talented artists decided to rebel against the established art critics.

2.  Impressionists wanted to capture a moment in time. Critics said that their work was merely "impressions" of reality and the name stuck. 

3.The Impressionist movement began in the 1760s and became most popular in the 1770s and 1780s.


4. The Impressionists wanted to capture a moment in time.

5. They were more concerned with the light and color of the moment than with the details of objects they were painting.

6. They often painted outdoors and worked quickly to capture the light before it changed. They used rapid brush strokes and often used unmixed color to save time. They used unusual visual angles and common everyday subjects.

7. When a critic called the art "impressions", it was meant as in insult.

8. The established art community was outraged when the young Impressionist artists held their own exhibition in 1874.

9. Their paintings were perfect reproduction of nature.

10. Many of the artists fled from France to England during the Franco-Prussian war.

11. Impressionists often painted the same view or subject over and over trying to capture different moments in light, color, and time.

12. By the late 1880's Impressionism was very popular and many artists throughout the world were taking up the style.


1. T
2. T
3. F The Impressionist movement began in the 1760s and became most popular in the 1770s and 1780s. False - 1860s, and popular in 1870s and 1880s.
4. T
5. T
6. T
7. T
8. T
9. F - They were impressions, not reproductions.
10. T
11. T
12. T

Watch the movie segments and discuss the questions.


video

1. What characteristics of Impressionism can you see in the segment?

2. How did Renoir's seeing difficulties interfere with his work?

3. What kind of models did he have?

4. How did you imagine Renoir use to paint his picture. Was it anyways similar to the way shown in the segment?

MOVIE SEGMENT DOWNLOAD - RENOIR