Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Carrie: Prom Night

Carrie is an amazing book by my favorite author, Stephen King. The first version of the movie in the 70's is a master piece of horror. It is one of my all time favorite movies. The remake, though, is not as good as the original one, but it is very faithful to the book's plot. I also liked it. One of my readers asked me for a post about prom nights and I immediately thought about Carrie. I hope you, Marcia, and everyone enjoys it, especially because it is a cultural topic. In Brazil, for example, there isn't such a thing called prom night. Here we have graduation parties which are very different from prom nights. Enjoy it, Marcia. And thanks for the suggestion.

  • For many students, prom night exists as the single most important social event of the year. It has evolved from a simple dance in the 1950s to a major yearly event that involves a great deal of time, effort, planning and money. Traditionally, prom night occurs in the spring. The junior class gives the prom for the senior class, and it serves as a gift to graduating seniors. Effects on the wallet of parents continue to grow along with the list of activities. Parents are willing to spend a great deal of money on items such as limousines and expensive attire to be sure that the event is memorable for their student. Prom night provides the students involved with wonderful memories of a very special night that may be their first formal date and dance. Additionally, prom night provides closure in the form of a special event near the end of the year for seniors.

I. Work with a partner:

1. What do you know about prom night? Does the definition above surprise you? Do you have a similar event in your country (city)?

2. Do you think it is an important event in a teenager's life? Why?

3. Do you think it is a cool or tacky ceremony? Why?

4. Being such an important event in their lives, how do you think teenagers spend the the day before prom night? What do you think they wear on prom night? How different are the girls and the guys' expectations for prom night?

II. Read the short text below and check your answers:

What is prom night today? Prom night is still the most important dance of high school senior year. And like always, the night still revolves around having a date. Most teens would rather avoid the prom altogether than arrive without a date. Guys agonize over whether the answer will be yes or no when they ask a girl to the prom. They dont realize that girls devote months toward relationships to be asked by the right person. On prom night, the girls spend hours getting dressed together. The guys hang out a while, and then get dressed at the last minute. Formal dress is still in, with the girls wearing gowns and the boys wearing tuxedos. Spending the night with a rented limousine is perhaps the most popular tradition, whether individually or as a group. Before-prom dinners are still common. The boy is expected to cover these expenses. 
How has prom night changed? In the last decade, some schools are renting ballrooms for the prom, and teenagers are increasingly renting hotel rooms for the weekend. A recent trend has seen groups of formally dressed teens descending on local bowling alleys before prom. Something that has not changed is that when the boy arrives at the girls home, he is likely to be greeted by proud parents wielding a camera. Thats also what prom is.
By Ian Partridge

III. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions.


1. What were some of the characteristics of a traditional prom night described in Exercise II (Reading) that you managed to see in the snippet?

2. How did they go to the prom? How were Carrie and Tommy feeling before the prom?

3. What were the students wearing?

4. What kind of music was playing there?

5. Talk about the decoration of the party.

6. How were the King and the Queen of prom night chosen?

7. What was their prize?

7. Why do you think Carrie and Tommy were chosen to be the King and Queen of the prom?

8. This scene does not have a happy ending. What do you think will happen next?


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Emperor & Chernobyl Diaries: Nuclear Power Threats

I truly recommend Emperor. I love the story and the acting. Chernobyl diaries is just a thriller that uses the nuclear power accident in Chernobyl as a reason for startling the audience. Both scenes are great!

I. Half of the class (A)  reads the pros and the other half (B) read the cons of nuclear power use and investment. Then students A and B pair up to share what they read. Pairs must decide, then, whether nuclear power plants are worth-investing in. They must be able to justify their answers.



  • Lower carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) released into the atmosphere in power generation.
  • Low operating costs (relatively).
  • Large power-generating capacity able to meet industrial and city needs (as opposed to low-power technologies like solar that might meet only local, residential, or office needs but cannot generate power for heavy manufacturing).
  • Existing and future nuclear waste can be reduced through waste recycling and reprocessing, similar to Japan and the EU (at added cost).


  • High construction costs due to complex radiation containment systems and procedures.
  • High subsidies needed for construction and operation, as well as loan guarantees.
  • Subsidies and investment could be spent on other solutions (such as renewable energy systems).
  • High-known risks in an accident.
  • Unknown risks.
  • Long construction time.
  • Target for terrorism (as are all centralized power generation sources).
  • Uranium sources are just as finite as other fuel sources, such as coal, natural gas, etc., and are expensive to mine, refine, and transport, and produce considerable environmental waste (including greenhouse gasses) during all of these processes.
  • The majority of known uranium around the world lies under land controlled by tribes or indigenous peoples who don’t support it being mined from the earth.
  • The legacy of environmental contamination and health costs for miners and mines has been catastrophic.
  • Waste lasts 200 – 500 thousand years.
  • There are no operating long-term waste storage sites in most countries. 
  • Shipping nuclear waste internationally poses an increased potential threat to interception to terrorism (though this has not happened yet with any of the waste shipped by other countries). Increasing the amount of waste shipped, particularly in less secure countries, is seen as a significant increase in risk to nuclear terrorism.

II. Watch the segment from the movie Chernobyl Diaries and discuss the questions.


1. Describe the scene.

2. What happened in Chernobyl? Why are these tourists there?

3. Would you like to visit such a place? Why (not)?

4. Is it a good example of what can happen with nuclear power plants or was it just an accident that will not happen again?

III.  Watch the segment from the movie Emperor and discuss the questions:

1. Describe the scene.
2. What happened in Japan?
3. Would you like to visit such a place? Why (not)?
4. Is it a good example of what can happen with nuclear power use or was it just a moment in history that will not happen again?
5. What can be done so that nuclear power is not used for war purposes?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

This Must Be the Place: Apologizing

Apologizing in English is a functional language that makes a difference when dealing with native speakers of the language. I used this scene to lead in the topic. This activity can be used with any level. In the end of the instructions, there a apologizing functions, according  to the students' level of proficiency.



I. Discuss these questions with a partner:

1. Why is is important to apologize?

2. Does it matter the way you apologize? How so?

3. Is it hard for you to apologize? Or does it depend to whom you are talking?

4. How do you feel when someone does not apologize for something wrong they have done?

 5. Look at some reasons why you should apologize. http://stress.about.com/od/relationshipskills/a/The-Importance-Of-Apologizing.htm Don't forget to visit it. It is worth doing it. Decide if you agree with them and why.

  • Apologizing when you've broken a rule of social conduct -- from cutting in line to breaking the law -- re-establishes that you know what the "rules" are, and you agree that they should be upheld. This allows others to feel safe knowing you agree that hurtful behavior isn't OK. 
  • Apologies re-establish dignity for those you hurt. Letting the injured party know that you know it was your fault, not theirs, helps them feel better, and it helps them save face.
  • Apologizing helps repair relationships by getting people talking again, and makes them feel comfortable with each other again.
  • A sincere apology allows you to let people know you're not proud of what you did, and won't be repeating the behavior. That lets people know you're the kind of person who is generally careful not to hurt others, and puts the focus on your better virtues, rather than on your worst mistakes.

  6. Look at some ways and reasons for apologizing:

 Expressing Regret – Saying, “I am sorry.”

Accepting Responsibility – Admitting, “I was wrong.”

Making Restitution – Committing, “I will make it right.”

Genuinely Repenting – Promising, “I will not do that again.”

Requesting Forgiveness – Asking, “Will you forgive me?”

    II. Here are some ways of apologizing, according to the student's proficiency level:



    • I apologize
    • I'm really sorry
    • I'm so sorry
    • I'm sorry
    • I'm sorry but...
    • Sorry


    • ...is/was my fault
    • (I'm) sorry if...
    • I (really) must apologize
    • I hope you can forgive me (one day)
    • I really am so sorry
    • I wasn't doing my job
    • I'd like to apologize
    • Please forgive me


    • ...was very...of me
    • (I know) my actions...
    • (Looking back), I (now) realise that...
    • (Please) don't be angry
    • I accept (full) responsibility
    • I am/feel (so) ashamed
    • I can understand how you feel (about...)
    • I do apologize
    • I don't know what to say
    • I really am most terribly sorry
    • I regret...
    • I take (all) the blame
    • Pardon me!
    • Please accept my/our apologies
    • Please excuse my behaviour/thoughtlessness/...


    • (I now realise that/I know) I shouldn't have done that
    • (I'm sure) you must be (very) disappointed in me
    • (Please) don't be mad (at me)/don't kill me
    • I accept that I am to blame/that it's my fault
    • I am (such) an idiot
    • I am sorry to have disappointed you
    • I apologize wholeheartedly/unreservedly
    • I cannot say/express how sorry I am
    • I have reflected on my actions and...
    • I know it was wrong (of me) (to...)
    • If I could turn back the clock,...
    • It was (a bit) insensitive of me (to...)
    • Please accept my sincere/sincerest apologies
    • There is (really/absolutely) no excuse for my actions/behaviour/inaction/laziness
    • You are right to blame me
    • You must forgive me


    • (I know) I have let myself/you (all) down (by...)
    • (I know) it was thoughtless (of me)
    • I can see how you might be annoyed (by...)
    • I can't believe I...
    • I don't know what came over me
    • I don't know what got into me
    • I just want the ground to swallow me up
    • I take (full) responsibility
    • I think I went a bit too far
    • I am/was in the wrong
    • I messed up
    • I would like to express my regret
    • I'm happy to take (my share of) the blame
    • If I could take it all back, I would
    • It was inexcusable
    • It's unforgivable, I know
    • Please don't hold a grudge/don't hold this against me
    • Silly me! 

    • III. Watch the movie segment.
      1. Describe the scene.
      2. Why do you think the driver decide to do that.
      3. Role Play the situations below:
      Student A: You are the driver. Apologize for what you have just done. You are truly sorry for what happened.
      Student B: You are one the people running on the road. Accept the apologies politely.

      Student A: You are the driver. Apologize for what you have done, but you think they should not be running where they were.
      Student B: You are one of the people running on the road. Do not accept the apologies. You think the driver was very rude.

      Student A: You are the driver. Apologize, but do not be sincere. You don't really think it was your fault.
      Student B; You are one of the people running on the road. Accept the apologies, but give him advice for safer driving procedures.

      IV. Read the situations below and role play the situation with a partner. Apologize for what happened.

      1. Your friend traveled and asked you to water his/her plants. You forgot to do it and all his/her plants died while he/she was away.
      2. Your friend asked you to take care of the dogs, but you can't do it because you are allergic to pets' fur.
      3. Your friend asked you to take their of the children during the afternoon, but you forgot to feed the baby.
      4. You asked for your friend's car while yours was at the mechanic. You crashed the car while parking it.
      5. You borrowed some money from your friend. Now you don't have money to pay back.
      6. You parked your car in the handicapped space without realizing it. When you finally picked up your car, someone on a wheelchair had been waiting for you to leave the parking space for one hour.

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

    Monsters University & The Internship: Teamwork

    This is one of my favorite animated movies. These monsters are awesome and made me laugh all the time in the theater. It's a MUST! The Internship is interesting, especially because it shows what it is like to work for Google.

    I. Work in pairs:
    1. Do you prefer to work individually or in groups? Why?

    2. What do you understand by teamwork? How effective is it?

    3. What are the consequences for a group that does not work as a team?

    4. Is teamwork always necessary in a person's professional life? Explain it.

    II. Read the text below, taken from the document at the site http://www.constructingexcellence.org.uk/pdf/document/Teamwork_Guide.pdf 

    Then discuss the questions:

    Teams are groups of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose 
    and hold themselves mutually accountable for its achievement. Ideally, they develop a distinct identity
    and work together in a co-ordinated and mutually supportive way to fulfil their goal or purpose. Task
    effectiveness is the extent to which the team is successful in achieving its task-related objectives. 
    Shared goals are most likely to be achieved  through working together and pooling experience
    and expertise. 

    Successful teams are characterised by a team spirit based around trust, mutual respect, helpfulness and
    – at best – friendliness. Simply bringing people together does not necessarily ensure they will function effectively as a team or make appropriate decisions. Teams are composed of people who have a variety of emotional and social needs which the team can either frustrate or help to meet. Teamwork indifference – failing to take action to promote good teamwork – is a strategy likely to result in mediocre performance. 

    Effective teamwork results from:
    • a team whose membership, size and resources match the task
    • good leadership and attention to team-building
    • commitment by team members to understand and identify with one another's goals the development of team goals – a shared vision
    • a sense of common ownership of the task at hand and joint responsibility for its achievement co-ordinated effort and planned sharing of tasks evenly across the team 
    • the open exchange of information within the team 
    • honesty and frankness among team members.

    Effective teamwork may be undermined by a variety of problems, for example: 

    • disorganisation
    •  poor communication
    •  misunderstandings or inadequate procedures for problem-solving. 
    • Team functioning can be weakened by obstacles faced by individual members within the team, as well as by difficulties linked to the task.

    II. Discuss the questions:

    1. Explain, using your own words, what the author means by team work.

    2. What makes teamwork effective or ineffective?

    3. Do you agree with the definition that you have just read? Why?

    III. Watch the segment and discuss the questions.


    1. How successful was this teamwork? What were they supposed to achieve?

    2. Why weren't they successful?

    3.What requirements for successful teamwork they did not follow?

    4. What should they do to be successful the next time they have to work together?

    IV. Watch the movie segments below: They show two different moments of the same team in the movie "The Internship". These groups must work as a team in order to achieve some tasks/goals in order to be hired by Google. Then answer the questions that follow each one of them.


    1. What is the task they have to achieve? 

    2. Why do they have to work as a team?

    3. How successful are they as a team?

    4.What could they have done to be more successful?

    5. How do you compare their team with their opponent's?

    V. Watch the second segment from the same movie and answer the questions:

    1. What is their new task?

    2. How successful were they?

    3. What has changed in the group's attitude from the first to the second segment. 

    4. Why was teamwork more successful this time?


    V. Watch the ads below. Explain how teamwork was dealt with in the presented situations.  

    Monday, March 10, 2014

    Jobs: Visionaries x Opportunists

    I. Read the text below. Focus on the differences between a visionary and an opportunist.

    Inspired by the wonderful worth-visiting site:


    The Oxford Dictionary defines opportunism as “the practice of looking for and using opportunities to gain an advantage for oneself, without considering if this is fair or right.” I’m not sure moral rationale should be part of the definition, and therefore it can be simplified as “An opportunist is someone that finds and takes advantage of opportunities.” Does that sound like you?


    Unlike an opportunist, a visionary not only finds opportunities, but they are able to sustain a vision – a direction. A visionary is able to differentiate between opportunities of the moment and sustainable opportunities for the future. A visionary is an opportunist, but an opportunist is not a visionary.

    • An opportunist feels the temptation to take all opportunities that come their way.
    • Opportunists see the current opportunity as a once-in-a-lifetime
      opportunity, while visionaries know that there are many
      once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
    • A visionary is confident that their vision won’t be hindered by
      masquerading opportunities that will inevitably take them off course.
    • Essentially, a visionary is able to differentiate between the opportunities that benefit the vision and those that detour it.
    • Opportunists are often lost when an opportunity is fulfilled and
      motivated by new opportunity rather than confidence in a solid

    II. Explain, using your own words, the difference between visionaries and opportunists.

    III. Explain "A visionary is an opportunist, but an opportunist is not a visionary."

    IV. Many people believe that Steven Jobs, the brain behind Apple, was an unforgettable visionary, who made Apple what it is today. Others think that he was an opportunist, in the sense of the definition provided above, in a positive manner. Do you have an opinion about him?

    V. Watch the movie segment about two moments in Jobs's trajectory to success and answer the questions that follow in small groups.


    1. Describe the two ideas he had in mind in the movie scenes. 

    2. Why were they considered revolutionary?

    3. Do you think he had visions of how life should be in the future or was he just trying to get the most he could from the present? Explain it.

    4. What's your opinion about Steven Jobs? 

    5. Think about three people you consider opportunists and  three people you consider visionaries. Explain your choices. 


    Thursday, February 27, 2014

    Grown-ups 2: Multiple Intelligences

    Read the text below about James Gardner's theory on multiple intelligences and learning styles. Then identify those you think best apply to you and share your ideas with a partner.

    taken from: http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html

    Howard Gardner of Harvard has identified seven distinct intelligences. According to this theory, "we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of ourselves. Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences - the so-called profile of intelligences -and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains."

    The learning styles are as follows:
    Visual-Spatial - think in terms of physical space, as do architects and sailors. Very aware of their environments. They like to draw, do jigsaw puzzles, read maps, daydream. They can be taught through drawings, verbal and physical imagery. Tools include models, graphics, charts, photographs, drawings, 3-D modeling, video, videoconferencing, television, multimedia, texts with pictures/charts/graphs.

    Bodily-kinesthetic - use the body effectively, like a dancer or a surgeon. Keen sense of body awareness. They like movement, making things, touching. They communicate well through body language and be taught through physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing. Tools include equipment and real objects.

    Musical - show sensitivity to rhythm and sound. They love music, but they are also sensitive to sounds in their environments. They may study better with music in the background. They can be taught by turning lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping out time. Tools include musical instruments, music, radio, stereo, CD-ROM, multimedia.

    Interpersonal - understanding, interacting with others. These students learn through interaction. They have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts. They can be taught through group activities, seminars, dialogues. Tools include the telephone, audio conferencing, time and attention from the instructor, video conferencing, writing, computer conferencing, E-mail.

    Intrapersonal - understanding one's own interests, goals. These learners tend to shy away from others. They're in tune with their inner feelings; they have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong will, confidence and opinions. They can be taught through independent study and introspection. Tools include books, creative materials, diaries, privacy and time. They are the most independent of the learners.

    Linguistic - using words effectively. These learners have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words. They like reading, playing word games, making up poetry or stories. They can be taught by encouraging them to say and see words, read books together. Tools include computers, games, multimedia, books, tape recorders, and lecture.

    Logical -Mathematical - reasoning, calculating. Think conceptually, abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships. They like to experiment, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions. They can be taught through logic games, investigations, mysteries. They need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with details.

    Watch the segment from the movie Grown-ups 2 and answer the questions:


    1. What can you say about the little boy's intelligences? Is he intelligent? What are his strong and weak intelligences. Justify your answers.

    2. Is it possible, in your opinion, for someone to have different intelligences, just like the boy in the scene? Why (not)?

    3. What could a teacher do to teach the boy in such a way that he would have better results at school?


    Thursday, February 20, 2014

    The Call: Emercency Calls 911

    I really like thrillers, and this one is about an occupation I respect a lot. Professionals who work with other people's emergencies, no matter how they do it, are always worth-admiring individuals. This movie is a piercing thriller and I really enjoyed it.

    I. Work in pairs:

    1. Do you have an emergency phone number in your country/city you can call in case of an emergency? Have you ever had to use it? How effective do you think this service is?

    2. In Brazil, this number is 190. In the USA, it is 911. What kind of requirements must a person who answers this call - a call-taker - have? Explain it.

    3. How stressful do you think this job is? Would you be qualified for a call-taker position?

    4. What can go wrong if the procedures are not followed properly by the call-taker?

    5. Read the procedures a 911 call-taker must have in mind while taking a call and fill in the blanks with the following question words:


    Information collected from the important site:  http://www.franklinmo.org/EMA/911%20The%20Facts.htm

    _______________ The call-taker is required to ask many questions in order to give responders an accurate picture of your situation. It is important to understand that responders may already be on the way while you are talking to the call-taker; we are updating the information as they go. It is also important not to exaggerate the emergency. Listen carefully to the call-taker’s questions; try to speak clearly in a calm voice. The call-taker needs to ask the basic 4 W's for every call-where, what, who, and when....

    ________________ This includes more than just the address. An apartment number, floor, suite number, or even the color of your house. Especially important is the nearest intersection, or cross-street, to the address. This makes it easier and quicker for responders to find you.

    _________________ This is the basic "bottom-line" of the call-what is the exact problem? We don't require long descriptions of the events leading up to what is happening, just what the immediate problem is. Are you in physical danger? Right now? Are there weapons involved? Is there a fire? Or do you just need information or a referral? Also, try to remain as calm as possible; it only makes the process longer if the call-taker is spending time trying to understand an excited or hysterical caller.

    _________________  This is to identify suspects in crimes, especially if they just left (so responding officers don't drive right past the bad guys!). This means clothing descriptions, names (if known) and last known location
    or direction of travel.

    _______________ It makes a difference if the incident is occurring right now or happened an hour ago, so a time frame is important.

    Answer key:


    II. Read the situations below and check the ones that are not considered emergencies that should be dealt with by call-takers. (This is true in the USA - 911 Calls)

    (   ) Property crimes that are no longer in progress and the offender is not on the scene. These include crimes such as vandalism, thefts, graffiti, and stolen autos

    (   ) Animal control problems 

    (    ) A burglar inside the house

    (    ) Illegally parked vehicles or vehicles blocking alleys or driveways, but that are not blocking traffic flow

    (    ) A car accident with victims

    (    ) Minor vehicle crashes where there are no injuries and traffic is not blocked 

    (    ) Reporting crank calls.

    (    ) Trash pickup problems

    (    ) Stolen checks and credit cards 

    (    ) An injured person on the street
    (    ) Minors violating curfew

    (    ) Loud parties

    (    ) Road hazards that don't require immediate attention

    (    ) Underage drinking

                (    ) Runaway juvenile or missing adult who does not   need special care

                (    )  Seeing someone robbing a car on the street.

                 (    ) Seeing a violent fight in front of your house.

                 (    ) Hearing gunshots near your house.

                 (    ) Hearing children screaming loudly inside one of your neighbor's house.

    Facts taken from the site:


    Answer key:

    Situations that are not considered emergencies.

    ¬Property crimes that are no longer in progress and the offender is not on the scene. These include crimes such as vandalism, thefts, graffiti, and stolen autos 
    ¬Animal control problems  
    ¬Illegally parked vehicles or vehicles blocking alleys or driveways, but that are not blocking traffic flow 
    ¬Minor vehicle crashes where there are no injuries and traffic is not blocked 
    - Reporting crank calls
    ¬Phone numbers, addresses, hours of operation, etc 
    ¬Trash pickup problems 
    ¬Stolen checks and credit cards -- also call the financial institutions involved to have them stop payments of checks and verifications of charges 
    ¬Minors violating curfew 
    ¬Loud parties -- the person calling must be willing to sign a complaint 
    ¬Road hazards that don't require immediate attention 
    ¬Underage drinking
    ¬Runaway juvenile or missing adult who does not   need special care

    III. Watch the movie segment and discuss the following questions:


     1. Describe call-takers workplaces.

    2. How would describe call-takers emotional state while dealing with emergencies?

    3. What kind of traing do future call-takers receive?

    4. Why is their workplace called "the hive"?

    5. What are some of their fears? What do they dislike about their jobs?

    6. What is the last scene situation? What should the call-taker do to help the teenage girl?

    7. How would you feel if you were the call-taker in that situation?