Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Secret Santa saves Christmas

Dec. 14, 2014. On behalf of a wealthy donor, police officers in Kansas City, Missouri, gave away money to unsuspecting drivers. Steve Hartman reports. (CBS News )


Watch the video and answer the questions. Alternatively you can watch the video here . (Click the CC button at the bottom of the video to turn on the captions but keep in mind they might contain a few errors.)

 Comprehension Questions

  1. Who is "Secret Santa"?
  2. What does he do every year?
  3. What has he changed this year?
  4. What sort of people did the officers choose?
  5. What were the people's reactions?
  6. How did Jessica Rodriguez' initial attitude change through her encounter with the deputy?
  7. What was the main objective of this operation?
  8. What else did "Secret Santa" want to achieve this year?


  • A sting (operation) is a clever secret plan by the police to catch criminals.
  • A deputy is a police officer in some parts of the US who does the sheriff's job when the sheriff is away.
  • When you deputize someone, you give them the power to do something in place of another person. e.g. The new system deputizes the nurses to perform some of the doctors' duties.
  • "Benjamins" is a common word for the United States one hundred-dollar bills ($100), which have Benjamin Franklin's portrait on one side.
  • Bondo is a trademark for a variety of materials used to repair automobile bodies.
  • If something blows you away, it impresses you a lot and makes you very happy. e.g. I was really blown away by her latest movie.
  • If you are caught off guard, you are surprised by something unexpected. e.g. He was caught completely off guard by her questions.
  • Law enforcement is the job of making sure that people obey the law.
  • The law-abiders are the people who abide by (=obey) the law.
  • If you are assaulted, you are attacked violently. e.g. An elderly woman was assaulted and robbed.
  • You surrender when you admit that you have been defeated and you allow yourself to be caught, taken prisoner, etc. The enemy finally surrendered after three days of fighting.


Now watch the video again and try the following quiz.

To view the video transcript click here .

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Fall of the Berlin Wall (25th anniversary)

The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (November 9th, 1989) is being celebrated in Berlin this weekend.

Thousand illuminated balloons (along 15 km from November 7th to 9th) commemorate the division of Berlin.
(Image source: http://www.berlin.de/mauerfall2014/en/25-years-fall-of-the-wall/the-berlin-wall/)

Watch the following videos to find out about the rise and the fall of the Berlin Wall. (You can choose to turn the captions on or off)

Berlin Wall Built (1961) 

In August 1961, troops in East Germany began to seal the border between East and West Berlin. In doing so they blocked off the escape route for refugees from the East. The barrier ended up being 12 feet high and 66 miles long with a further 41 miles of barbed wire fencing. Over the years, nearly 200 people died trying to cross the wall. It became a symbol for the divided world.

Comprehension Questions
  1. When was the Berlin Wall built and by who?
  2. How many zones was Berlin divided into?
  3. What was the western powers' reaction to the building of the Wall?
  4. Why was the Berlin Wall built?
  5. What did it become a symbol of?

Fall of the Berlin Wall (1989)

On November 9, The Berlin Wall fell after nearly three decades of keeping East and West Berliners apart.

Comprehension Questions
  1. When did the Berlin Wall fall?
  2. Where is the Brandenburg Gate located?
  3. What did the guards at the Brandenburg Gate do when the first West Berliners climbed up on the Wall?
  4. What used to happen to the people who tried to cross the Wall in the past?
  5. How did Berliners celebrate the opening of the border between East and West Berlin? 

  • mystification (noun): When you are mystified, you are confused because you do not understand something. e.g. He looked at her in mystification.
  • A flagrant action is shocking because it is done in a very obvious way and shows no respect for people, laws, etc. e.g. He showed a flagrant disregard for anyone else's feelings.
  • If you act in contravention of a rule, a law, or agreement, you do something that is not allowed by this rule, law or agreement. e.g. These actions are in contravention of European law.
  • To make a dent (in something) is to decrease something slightly or to make it somewhat weaker. e.g. It's going to take more than a new law to make a dent in the city's drug crime.
  • If you breach a wall, fence, etc., you make a hole or opening in it so that you can go through it. e.g. The army breached the castle wall.
  • To straddle something means to be on both sides of something. e.g. The mountains straddle the French-Swiss border.
  • If you clamber up/over/into (etc.) something, you climb with difficulty, using your hands and feet. e.g. We clambered up the steep hill.

Deconstructing History: Berlin Wall (history.com)

Watch the following video to learn some more facts about the Berlin Wall.

This Day in History: The Fall of the Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall's 50th anniversary 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween - History of the Jack O’ Lantern (worksheet)

Every October, carved pumpkins peer out from porches and doorsteps in the United States and other parts of the world.Gourd-like orange fruits inscribed with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign of the Halloween season. The practice of decorating “jack-o’-lanterns”—the name comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack—originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities. (SOURCE: http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/jack-olantern-history)

Here is a reading comprehension worksheet based on an article about the history of the jack-o'-lantern and the legend of "Stingy Jack".

  Download: https://www.scribd.com/doc/244246856/Halloween-The-Legend-of-Stingy-Jack


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Passive Voice Review Jeopardy Game

Here is a game I have created using Jeopardy Style Review Game Creator.

Game Categories
  • Passive Verb Tenses
  • Active to Passive
  • Active to Passive Questions
  • Change of construction
  • Passive to Active

Click on the picture below to play the game.