Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: Native Americans, American Indians - Sitting Bull

This HBO movie treated the American Indians issue in a sensitive, correct manner. I learned a lot about their history. This film has touching moments and great acting. I do recommend it. Sitting Bull was a very important character in American history and I often have to talk about Indians in the classroom. This activity is for this purpose.

A. Work in small groups. Read the statements below about American Indians and decide whether they are (M) myths or (F) facts. The information was taken from this great site:

1. ( ) American Indians and Alaska Natives are a similar group of people who share a common language and culture and live together in similar places.

2. ( ) The United States government recognizes more than 300 American Indian tribes. 
Each has its own particular history, value system, government, language, and social ties that bind it together as a distinct people.

3. ( ) All American Indians and Alaskan Natives live on reservations.

4. ( ) Nationwide, about 50 percent of the Indian population is classified as urban. Rural Indians are those who choose to live in nonmetropolitan areas, on or off reservations. In 1980 only 25 percent of American Indians lived on reservations (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1989).

5. ( ) American Indians and Alaska Natives receive checks from the government just because they are Indian.

6. ( ) Funds received from the government are earnings from Indian lands or other Indian resources. Education, health services, and other benefits are provided in treaties made with the United States government. These benefits are payments for American Indian and Alaskan Native lands.

7. ( ) The existing legal status of American Indians, their people, and their governments is the product of accepted principles of international law and equity.

8. ( ) The "superior" right of European immigrants is based on the racist notion that Native peoples are savages. This myth, perhaps the most damaging of all, serves to excuse injustices done to Native peoples.

9. ( ) Indians are a defeated people.

10. ( ) Courts have defined Indians as a "defeated" people. Most Indian tribal groups were not, in fact, defeated through armed combat. In most cases, the relationship with the federal government resulted from approximately 400 treaties signed with the United States government prior to 1871. The terms of these treaties remain in effect today.

11. ( ) The "Allotment Act" (the Dawes Act of 1887) was passed to civilize American Indians by making them private property owners.

12. ( ) The Act was supposed to change Indians into European-type farmers. Private ownership, however, was contrary to the traditional Indian concept of shared ownership. Quite often, the land given to Indians was not suited to farming. Indians received no training, no equipment, and no supplies with which to take up the unfamiliar occupation. "Surplus" Indian lands (often of better quality) were sold to settlers.

13. ( ) Thanksgiving is a day of rejoicing that marks the advent of a mutually beneficial relationship between European settlers and Native peoples (see Ramsey, 1979).

14. ( ) The "First Thanksgiving" stories were actually created in the 1890s and early 1900s to promote the "melting pot" theory of social progress (Larsen, 1987). They are substantially inaccurate (Valdes, 1986). Today, the ethnocentric image of Thanksgiving is reinforced extensively in the media, by religious groups, and other social institutions.

Answer Key - Odd items are myths and even items are facts.

B. This is Sitting Bull, one of the most famous and important American Indian in history. Work in your groups and try to guess the correct answers for the items below. The winner is the group that scores most points.

1) Sitting Bull's original name was:

a - Tatanka Iyotake

b - Kataka Kus

 c- Lamantaka Kakatoke

2. He became notable because of:

a - His major role in the victory at the battle of Little Bighorn.

b - His stubbornness to live in the USA for the rest of his life.

c - His fight to defend the American territory against British and Canadian soldiers.

3 - He died:

a - of old age

b - with a shot in the head

c - when he was making a speech to protect the Indians.

4 - Sitting Bull belong to this tribe:

a - Navajo

b - Mohave

c - Sioux

5 - He was born in what is now:

a - South Dakota

b- Montana

c - New Mexico

6 - Sitting Bull was forced to leave his territory because:

a- White people wanted the land because of gold

b - White people wanted the land because of oil

c - White people wanted the land because of diamonds

7. Sitting Bull lived for many years in:

a - Mexico

b - California

c - Canada

8. He also worked as a:

a - Teacher

b - Performer

c - Hunter

Answer Key:
1. a
2. a
3. b
4. c
5. a
6. a
7. c
8. b

The quiz was based on the site below:Spectrum Biographies

C. Watch the scene below and answer the questions that follow:


1. Describe the scene.

2. What did Sitting Bull request?

3. What did the white soldier request?

4. Why didn't Sitting Bull accept his request?

5. What is white people's view of history, according to the scene?

6. What's Sitting Bull's view of history, according to the scene?

7. Did they reach an agreement? What will happen next?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Island & The 6th Day: : Cloning

Reproductive cloning uses somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) to create animals that are genetically identical. This process entails the transfer of a nucleus from a donor adult cell (somatic cell) to an egg which has no nucleus. If the egg begins to divide normally it is transferred into the uterus of the surrogate mother. (Wikipedia)

A. Discuss these questions with a partner:

1) What's your opinion about animal cloning following the process above?

2) Would you think it is okay for people to ask for a clone pet when theirs die, for example?

3) Pets live for a shorter period than people. Children suffer a great deal when their dogs, for example, die. Would a clone pet, exactly alike, diminish children's suffering? What's your opinion about it?

4) Would you like to clone your pet? Why (not)?

B. Read the types of human cloning below and answer the following questions:

There are two commonly discussed types of human cloning: therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning. Therapeutic cloning involves cloning cells from an adult for use in medicine and is an active area of research: while reproductive cloning would involve making cloned human beings. Such reproductive cloning has not been performed and is illegal in many countries. A third type of cloning called replacement cloning is a theoretical possibility, and would be a combination of therapeutic and reproductive cloning. Replacement cloning would entail the replacement of an extensively damaged, failed, or failing body through cloning followed by whole or partial organ transplants. (Wikipedia)

C. Work in small groups. What's the group's opinion about:

Therapeutic Cloning

Reproductive Cloning

Replacement Cloning

D. Watch the segment from the movie "The Island".


E. Discuss these items:

1. Describe the scene?

2. Do you think this is a possible scenario in the future? Why (not)?

G. Look at some of these ethical questions about human cloning that I found on the great site

Now that you have watched the segment, what's your group's opinion about them?

Ethical Questions

1. Is cloning humans "playing God?"

2. Does an embryo, at whatever stage of its existence, have the same rights as human beings?

3. Do we have the right to have children, regardless of how they are created?

4. Is it justified to create stem cells by killing a human embryo?

5. Is it ethically right to harvest organs from clones?

6. If a clone is created from an existing person, who is the parent?

7. Will cloned children face any social repercussions? If so, what?

8. Can cloned children be manipulated to become monsters, like Hitler?

9. Should the research in cloning be regulated? If so, who should regulate it, and how can it be regulated?

H. Now watch the segments from the film The 6th Day and answer the questions:


1. Did you change your opinion now that cloning is about a pet? Why (not)/

2. Is it good or bad for a child to have his/her pet cloned? Why?

3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing it?

4. Would you clone your beloved dog after its death? Why?

5. What are the mother's and father's feeling concerning cloning their dead dog? Explain it.

I. Watch the second segment from the same movie and discuss the questions: video

1. What's Repet?

2. What's your opinion about this company?

3. How do you describe its facilities and advertising? How attractive are they?

4. Do you think there will ever be companies like Repet in the future? Why (not)?

5. Do you think there will ever be a ReHuman company in the future, just like Repet? Why (not)?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

View from the Top: 1st Job

A. Talk to a partner about the following questions:

1) Do you remember your first job? What did you have to do there?

2) What were the qualifications you had to have to perform the assigned tasks?

3) How did you apply for that position?

4) Did you have to go through a job interview? How was it?

5) How long did you work there?

6) Was this job important for you? How so?

7) Does it have anything to do with the field you work in nowadays? Explain it.

8) How different is your current job from your first job?

9) Are you happy about your current job? Why (not)?

10) Did anything ever go wrong in your first job?

11) What can go wrong on the first day of work of a flight attendant? Think about at least 10 different reasons and list them.

12) What are the qualities a flight attendant must have? Which ones she can't have?

B. Watch the movie segment and check whether what happened to Donna, the flight attendant on her first day of work of her first job as a stewardess, is on your guessing list.


C. Now work in pairs to answer the following questions about the segment:

1. Describe the scene.

2. Why did she react the way she did?

3. What were some of the things that she did wrong? Why?

4. What could she have done so that she didn't react like she did?

5. What should the airline do about the situation?

6. If you were a passenger on that flight, what would you do?

7. What's your opinion about her qualifications for the position? Explain it?

8. What were her greatest qualities and which ones were the worst?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Devil's Arithmetic & Defiance: Jewish Weddings

I. You are going to watch a scene of a wedding. This one takes place in 1941, during World War II. The movie is The Devil's Arithmetic. It is a Jewish wedding. Make a guess. Write T if you believe the statement about the wedding will be true or F if will be false.

1. Bedken is the unveiling of the bride. ( )

2. Bedken is a tradition to make sure the groom is marrying the right bride. ( )

3. The Huppah symbolizes the home they will build. ( )

4. The bride goes to the ceremony on a carriage. ( )

5. The guests follow her across the town. ( )

6. People throw flowers at her. ( )

7. Several musicians play a happy song to escort her. ( )

8. The bride circles the groom three times ( )

9. Each circle represent their children ( )

10. They exchange gifts ( )

11. They say the wedding vows ( )

12. They drink wine before kissing each other. ( )

13. They kiss each other. ( )

14. They break the wine glass. ( )

15. Everybody dances together. ( )

II. Watch the segment and check whether your guesses were right.


All are true, except 8, 9, 15

Incorrect information

8 Three times

9 Their children

15 Everybody dances together

III. Discuss with a partner the following questions about the segment.

1. What's your opinion about this kind of wedding? What adjectives would you use to describe it? Choose at least 5 different adjectives.

2. How different is this wedding from a traditional one in your country? Give details.

3. What were the couple wearing? And the guests?

4. What went wrong?

5. What do you think will happen next?

IV. You are going to watch another Jewish Wedding that also took place during World War II. The movie is called Defiance. While you watch the scene, observe which of the items about a traditional Jewish wedding in exercise V you could see in this segment.


V. Talk about the following questions about Defiance's wedding scene.

1. Do you think that a wedding under these circumstances are valid? Justify it.

2. Why did they get married if there was such a violent war at the moment?

3. Would you mind getting married without a formal ceremony or reception?

4. Did anything go wrong in the wedding?

5. What do you think will happen next?


Talk to different partners now. Groups of three students. You have to come to an
agreement and present your answers to the rest of the class.

1. Which of the wedding scenes did most of you prefer and why?

2. Which one was the most romantic, expensive, beautiful, disastrous and unusual? Explain your choices.

3. Imagine that each one of you attended one of those wedding. Choose one of the characters in the segment and pretend you are that person. Tell your friends exactly what you saw, how the ceremony was, what happened, what you liked best and what you disliked about the ceremony. Use all the vocabulary you have learned.

4. Choose a different ending for each of the weddings you have seen before. Be creative and share it with the class.