Friday, August 30, 2013

Ivan the Incredible: Being Good at Something

Ivan is a marvelous character. His conflicts are so real and current. Every parent should see it. It will surely teach a lesson about respecting differences and accepting their children the way they are.

I. Complete the list with three three things that you are good at and three other things that you are bad at.

I am good at: _____________________________________________________________

I am bad at: ______________________________________________________________

II. Pair up with another student. 

1. Compare your lists. What do you both have in common? What don't you have in common?

2. What can you tell about your partner, based on his/her list?

3. Think about two things that you would like to be good at, but that you are not.

III. Read the list below and write 1 to 5 in the parentheses. If you think you are really good at it, mark 5. If you believe you are lousy at it, write 1.

( ) Computers

( ) Sports

( ) Math

( ) Languages

( ) Saving money

( ) Charity

( ) Writing

( ) Dancing

( ) Drawing

( ) Studying hard

( ) Reporting information you hear or read from other sources (people, news, stories etc)

( ) Understanding other people's problems

( ) Acting

( ) History

( ) Knowing about different countries and cultures

( ) Cooking

( ) Memorizing

( ) Remembering faces

( ) Remembering names

( ) Remembering dates

( ) Forgiving other people

( ) Admiring art

( ) Creating art

( ) Sewing

( ) Fashion

IV. Now circle all the items you wrote 4 or 5 and underline all the activities you marked 1 or 2.

V. Walk around the class and try to find the person with most similar choices as yours. Who circled the same (or most of the) items as you? Who underlined the same (or most of the) items as you?

VI. Was the result a surprise to you? Why?

VII. Watch the movie segment and answer the questions:

1. What did Ivan use to be good at?

2. How did he feel about that?

3. Why did he decide to be good at everything?

4. Was his father right to blame him for not being good at anything?

5. What is he good at now? Name at least 8 things.

6. How will he probably feel when the magic ends? Explain it.

7. If you could choose only one thing to be outstandingly good at, what would it be?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Up in the Air: New Beginnings

This is a wonderful movie. Great acting and description of new trends at work. This scene is great to talk about new beginnings, because it shows people being fired and needing to start their lives over.

I. Read the following quotes taken from the awesome site . Then decide what they actually mean and if you agree with them. Work in small groups.

-  One can begin so many things with a new person - even begin to be a better man. - George Eliot

-  The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings. - David Weinbaum

-  A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. - Lao Tzu

-  There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning. - Louis L'Amour

-  When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us. - Alexander Graham Bell

-  When you feel that you have reached the end and that you cannot go one step further, when life seems to be drained of all purpose: What a wonderful opportunity to start all over again, to turn over a new page. - Eileen Caddy

-  Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. - Henry Ford

-  If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to meet it. - Jonathan Winters

Read more at Buzzle:

II. Work with a partner:

1. Do you like to start things over in your life or are you resistant to changes? Explain it. 

2. Can you share moments in your life when you had to face a new beginning?

3. Check the items below that you think would make you have a new beginning. Decide how hard it would be for you - NOT HARD AT ALL - HARD - EXTREMELY HARD

- Losing a job

- Getting married

- Getting divorced

-  Moving to another country

- Moving to another city

- Changing careers

- Failing a course

III. Watch the segment and discuss the questions:

1. What's your opinion of the way employees are treated in this company? Would you like to work there?

2. How did those people react to their new reality?

3. Is a new beginning equally difficult for the characters in the segment. Why (not)?

4. What should these employees do?

5. Do you think their lives will change radically? What should they do to face this new reality?

6. What about the employers? Are they acting ethically? Explain it.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sicko: Health Care

Divide the class into pairs. 

Students 1 read the 1st segment and discuss the questions with other students who also read the same segment. 

Read the article below. It was written by an American citizen, Jake Markob, concerned with the American health care system. After that, discuss the questions that follow with a partner.  

What is America going to come to if people always have to live on  ? In case you did not know, welfare is economics concerned with better living. The branch of economics that is concerned with improving the quality of life by a fairer distribution of wealth. However, welfare is not a very fair distribution because those who work have to pay for those who don’t. Does that sound fair? Basically this means that you pay welfare taxes and people who don't have a job get it. This means that if someone doesn’t feel like getting a job, tax payers like you pay for his living. That is the most absurd thing I have ever heard of. I think that if you do not work you should not eat. But some people do not think so, like the government. Eventually, this is going to cause economic problems. And should be addressed immediately. There are many taxes such as these and more of them are coming. I believe America is on a downfall and needs to be picked back up. It is terrible how high taxes are getting. There are many job opportunities for people to get jobs. But like I said, they are just too lazy, or are not motivated enough. And I am not talking about handicapped or elder people either. But it is getting harder to get jobs in America because of immigrants. America is hiring immigrants over American citizens. This is because most immigrants work for cheaper than citizens. This is going to destroy American economy.

1. Do you agree with this point of view? Why (not)? 

2. Is it true that people who don't have jobs are lazy and will cause problems to the American Society? Why (not)?

 3. Are immigrants contributing to the downfall - if it is really happening - of the American welfare system?

Students 2 read the second segment below. Then discuss the questions with other students who read the same segment. It was written by an American citizen, who also lived in Brazil for a while. 

 Health would be a privilege of those who have money; for those who are dumb enough not to have money, just rot and die. However, it is very very expensive. It is almost impossible for a country to provide quality free health care coming from only taxpayers’ money. The US already provides good free public schools for elementary and secondary education. In Brazil for example, public schools are not reliable, so most parents pay for private schools from kindergarten to high school. I think the best way is to have clinics for those who cannot have private health insurance. These clinics would charge very little, but would not be free. The doctors who would work there would be younger doctors or retired doctors or doctors who do not mind making less than they would in private practice for a guaranteed 40 hour week and a feeling of satisfaction that comes from helping people (I have a pediatrician aunt who donates one or two days of her working week to work in a free city clinic which caters to the very poor population. My grandfather, also a pediatrician, would always see patients who could not pay). Lines would be longer, waiting periods for non essential surgeries longer, but everyone would have access to it. For all others who require a better insurance, they could continue paying more through their employers or privately. This is a bit how it works in Brazil, although there are many complaints about long lines and deficient infra-structure in the Brazilian public health care system. In the years I lived in Brazil, I always had private health insurance. I also do not remember ever receiving bills at home. I would pay my premium, my monthly payments and when I went to the doctor I would be covered. Any exam or test would be covered by my monthly payments. It annoys the hell out of me to receive bill after bill sometimes months later after any doctor’s appointment here in the US. The communication between health providers and health insurance companies is dismal, and many claims are refused for misinformation. So the patient ends up with the bill. I am tired of fighting insurance companies and trying to rectify bills that are wrong. I do not remember ever having to do that in Brazil. So, besides teaching Americans how to deal with electronic voting and alternative fuels, should Brazilians also teach Americans how to have both public and private health care for its citizens? Or is the British/Canadian/French model better? This is a very complex matter with no easy solution.

  1. Do you agree with this viewpoint? 

 2. If you are Brazilian - Are her considerations about Brazil accurate? Explain it. 

 Students 1 and Students 2 pair up and share what they read and their opinions about the statements you read.


Watch the movie segment from the controversial movie SICKO and discuss the items that follow. 

 1. Describe the scene and what is being discussed. 

2. What's your opinion about what is shown? 

3. How do you compare the American health care to your country's? 

 4. What needs improvement in your country's welfare policies? 

5. How fair is it? Why?