Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day Zero: Draft


The military draft is a policy of compulsory military service instated by Congress, usually during times of war. It has been implemented several times throughout the history of the U.S. and once during peacetime. Congress discontinued its conscription policy in 1973, and in 1980 reinstated the Selective Service registration requirement that can conscript all men between the ages of 18 and 25 if the volunteer army will not suffice during war or crises.
Found at Political Base

A. Work in groups:

1. How are drafts conducted in your country? Is there such a thing is a mandatory draft system?

2. Should the military service be mandatory? Why (not)?

3. Should one decline it when drafted? If so, under which circumstances?

4. If your country is at war, should everyone be drafted? What if one does not agree with their own country foreign policies?

5. Do you see drafts differently if your country is being invaded by another country or if it is the one that is invading another one? Why?

6. Is it fair that you stop your career and plans because of drafts?

7. What would you do do if you were drafted to go to the war in Iraq? Would you go and obey your country's request or would you decline it because it is not your war?

8. In which cases should one be allowed to decline the draft? Make a list. Mind age, education, health, everything.

B. Check your list with the USA's exemptions and deferment at MCDC page. Decide with a partner if they are fair enough. Don't forget to justify it.


1. Student postponements are available for students in high schools, vocational schools, etc., who are age 20 or under.

2. College students can receive postponements until the end of the term, or of the year for seniors.

3. Physical exemptions: standards are complex and fill 23 pages of government manuals, but many are as common as hay fever, flat feet, or being overweight.

4. Mental exemptions: Standards are also complex, but you do not have to be mentally ill to qualify.

5. Conscientious objectors are exempt from military service if they object to war in any form. You do not have to belong to any special church, or even be religious, as long as the objection is based on moral or ethical beliefs.

6. Women can not be drafted now, but if the draft is activated, Congress may decide to draft women.

7. You may also qualify for exemption or deferment if your father, mother, sister, or brother died from service related injuries or illness during or after their service.

8. You are a citizen of another country.

9. You do not meet moral standards. Being gay, for example.

C. Watch the segment below. Work in groups and discuss the questions.

1. Is draft fair?

2. What about the situation of the main character in the movie? What should he decide?

3. Where will he be more helpful? In Iraq or with his wife, who has cancer?

4. What's your opinion about the conditions to be excused to the draft? Is being gay a reasonable one? Why (not)?

5. What would you do if you were in his shoes? What about if you were his wife?

6. Would you consider him a coward if he declined the draft? Why (not)?


Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Hangover: Stun Guns, Tasers

Stun gun (taser) is a weapon designed to disable a victim temporarily by delivering a nonlethal high-voltage electric shock. It does not rely on pain to stop the attacker, but it simply stuns the attacker, so that their voluntary muscle control ceases temporarily, unlike pepper spray , which causes severe pain upon the attacker.

Work in small groups.

A. Having that definition in mind, decide whether the features below are ( A ) advantages or ( D ) disadvantages when handling stun guns.

1. ( ) Stun guns are inexpensive and so small that they can be held in the palm of your hand.

2. ( ) The shock will not transmit to you if in contact with the assailant, so it is very difficult to accidentally use it against yourself during an attack.

3. ( ) You must be close enough to touch your attacker. This means that he will be close enough to touch you as well.

4. ( ) It is available at most security stores and anyone can buy one.

5. ( ) The time an attacker needs to be disabled may vary according to his/her body size. It may take a few seconds for him/her to recover and be able to run after you.

6. ( ) It is simple to use, even by children.

7 ( ) It does not cause any cardiac damage, even if you have a heart condition.

8. ( ) It requires less accuracy than other devices.

B. Watch the segment now. Then discuss the questions that follow:

1. Describe the scene.

2. Is it fair to have convicts pay alternative sentences by demonstrating the use of stun guns at schools?

3. What was right and wrong about the procedures followed by the officers in the scene?

4. What's your opinion about stun guns?

5. Would you like to have one? Why (not)?

6. How different would life be if everyone carried a stun gun with them? Explain it.

7. Do stun guns help or worsen violence rates? Explain it.

8. Would you give a stun gun to your children? Why (not)?

9. How old should one be to carry a stun gun? Why?

10. Do you think stun guns can be used against the population by assailants? If so, should their selling be regulated? How?


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes & Falling Down: Assertiveness x Aggression x Passivity

Assertiveness is distinguished from aggression and passivity. Passive communicators do not defend their own personal boundaries and thus allow aggressive people to harm or influence them. Aggressive people do not respect the personal boundaries of others and harm others while trying to influence them. A person communicates assertively by not being afraid to speak his or her mind or trying to influence others, but doing so in a way that respects the personal boundaries of others. They are also willing to defend themselves against aggressive incursions. (Wikipedia)

Write AS if the behavior is assertive, AG if it is aggressive or PA if it is passive behavior.

Assertive people state their opinions, while still being respectful of others. 

Aggressive people attack or ignore others' opinions in favor of their own. 

Passive people don't state their opinions at all. 


( ) Is afraid to speak up
( ) Interrupts and 'talks over' other people around them
( ) Speaks openly

( ) Avoids looking at people
( ) Glares and stares at others
( ) Makes eye contact

( ) Slouches and stays away and plugged off
( ) Stands tight, crosses arms, invades others' personal space
( ) Relaxes and adopts an open, firm posture

( ) Isolates self from groups
( ) Controls groups
( ) Participates in groups

( ) Hurts himself to avoid hurting others
( ) Hurts others to avoid being hurt
( ) Tries to hurt no one (including himself)

( ) You're okay, I'm not
( ) I'm okay, you're not
( ) I'm okay, you're okay

Answer Key: All the items are PA, AG, AS. This quiz was collected with information from this great site

B. Watch the first segment from the Movie Fried Green Tomatoes and discuss the questions that follow.

1. Describe the segment.

2. How would you describe her behavior? Passive, Aggressive or Assertive? Explain it.

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

4. Could she have acted differently? How?

C. Watch the second segment from Fried Green Tomatoes. Then talk about the questions that follow.

1. Describe the scene.

2. Did she have a different posture this time? Explain it.

3. Was she passive, aggressive or assertive?

4. Did she change her posture during the scene? In which ways?

5. Was she right to do what she did? Justify it.

6. What should she have done?

7. What would you do if you were in her shoes?

D. Now watch the segment from the movie Falling Down. Then discuss the questions that follow.

1. Describe the scene.

2. How would you describe his behavior? Passive, aggressive or assertive?

3. Did his posture change throughout the scene? In which ways?

4. Why did he become so mad?

5. Was he right to do what he did?

6. What should he have done? What about the employees?

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



Saturday, May 8, 2010

Avatar: Environment, Sustainability

A. Interview each other. Take turns asking the questions below.

1. How worried are you about the environment?

2. What is the most recent story that you have heard lately about the environment?

3. What are the biggest problems concerning the environment in your country?

4. What danger does your country pose to the global environment?

5. Do you think the American government is more concerned about its economy or the environment? Explain it.

6. Which countries are leaders in caring and not caring about the environment?

7. What do you think of environmental groups like Greenpeace? Do you know any other one?

8. Do you think our environment is impossible to be repaired now? Why (not)?

9. Do you think international meetings on the environment are useful? Have they helped? Explain it.

10. What do you do to help the environment?

B. Watch the first scene from the splendid movie Avatar. Then, in pairs, answer the questions about it. Information you might find helpful for the contextualization of the movie - taken from Avatar's informative site :

The Na'Vis

The Na'vi (in English: The People) are a race of extraterrestrial humanoids who inhabit the jungle moon of Pandora. They choose to live in harmony and natural equilibrium with their surroundings. If they become too numerous, Eywa, the intelligence they worship, may devise a way to limit their numbers before they cause an ecological imbalance, for she maintains the balance of life. Over the millennium, the Na'vi have developed a healthy respect and reverence for their surrounding environment. In return, Eywa may have affected the environment to provide them with sufficient food and shelter, creatures to ride for ground and air transportation, and an ambient, comfortable temperature throughout the different biomes of Pandora. 

1. Describe the scene.

2. How does the movie segment connect with the paragraph you have read?

3. How do you compare their beliefs with humans'?

4. How possible is it to live on Earth like the Na'Vis do in Pandora?

5. What are the possible consequences of (not) living according to their philosophy of life?

C. Now read the definitions and kinds of sustainability, taken from this brilliant educational site, which is worth visiting and a great resource for teachers.

Economic Sustainability

It means that development is economically efficient and that the benefits of such development are distributed between generations of people. Growth now will not place people living in the future in danger. 

Social Sustainability

It requires that development does not cause social conflict. In practice this means that development should increase people’s control over their own lives—that all social groups should have the opportunity to participate in decision making.

Cultural Sustainability

It requires that any development should take into account the values and beliefs affected by it. In addition, the range of cultural groups should be maintained and encouraged and the value of their heritage, traditions, and points of view recognized.

Ecological Sustainability

It means that development should take into account the maintenance of ecological processes, biological diversity, and environmental resources. To achieve this, our society needs to recognize that the survival and well-being of other species are also important.

D. Watch the second segment and answer the questions below in pairs. 

1. Describe the scene.

2. What are the possible consequences of their ideas?

3. Are they taking any of the aspects of sustainability into consideration? Justify your answer.

4. What would the American government have to do to take advantage of Pandora's resources, following the principles of sustainability?

E. Now watch the third segment from Avatar. Take a look at how the Americans dealt with the environment in Pandora in order to get the mineral they need and answer the questions.

1. Describe the scene.

2. How did the Americans deal with the environment in Pandora?

3. Explain how the four levels of sustainability were neglected.

4. What are the consequences of this act to Pandora, the moon they live in, and to the Na'Vis.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Freedom Writers: Anne Frank

A. Work with a partner. Choose the correct answer. Make guesses. The pair of students who score most points is the winner!

1. Where was Anne Frank born?

a. Amsterdam, Holland

b. Frankfurt, Germany

c. Warsaw, Poland

d. Bruges, Belgium

2. When was she born?

a. 1929

b. 1931

c. 1932

d. 1934

3. On her 13th birthday, Anne Frank received a diary which she named....

a. Little Heart

b. Kitty

c. Birdy

d. Mommy

4. Anne's father and his workmates created a hiding place...

a. Under his house

b. Under his office

c. In a house in front of their office

d. In an annex to his office

5. How long after Anne and her family moved to that hiding place was the Frank family taken to a concentration camp?

a. 9 months

b. 2 years

c. 3 years

 d. 5 years

6. How did Anne Frank die?

a. Shot

b. Gas chamber

c. Typhus

d. Pneumonia

7. How did her mother die?

a. Starvation

b. Tuberculosis

c. Shot

d. Decapitated

8. How old was Anne Frank when she died?

a. 18

b. 10

c. 12

 d. 15

9. How did her father die in the camp?

a. Gas chamber

b. Shot

c. Cancer

d. He didn't die there

10. Where is the Anne Frank museum?

a. Amsterdam, Holland

b. Berlin, Germany

c. Auschwitz, Poland

d. Paris, France

11. When was the first edition of her book published?

a. 1947

b. 1967

c. 1970

d. 1975

Key:1.b 2.a 3.b 4.d 5.b 6.c 7.a 8.d 9.d 10.a 11.a

B. Before watching the segment, work in groups. Imagine that your school will receive the visit of the lady who hid Anne Frank. Her name is Miep Gies. Come up with 3 questions you would like to ask her.

C. Watch the segment now and discuss the questions that follow:

1. Were any of your questions answered? Which ones?

2. How did the Gestapo find Anne Frank?

3. Why wasn't Ms. Gies killed or taken to a concentration camp for hiding a Jew?

4. What is her nationality? Did it help her?

5. Does Ms. Gies consider herself a hero? And you? Do you consider her a hero?