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ESL / EFL Lesson Plan on Stress

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Get Stressed , Get Old



 

Wednesday December 1

Pre-Intermediate +

THE ARTICLE

It’s official. Stress can take ten years off your life. That’s the conclusion from researchers at the University of California, who have been studying the affect of stress levels on the body. They found that stress accelerates the aging of our cells, which makes us more prone to age-related diseases. This is bad news for people with stressful jobs and hectic lifestyles as they are more likely to die earlier than less-stressed people. It’s a message for us all to slow down and take things easier.

The researchers discovered in their tests that the system of cell reproduction and replacement, which of course keeps us going, becomes faster under duress. Each time a cell in our body is replaced, part of our DNA, called telomeres, shorten. When they become too short, cells cease reproducing and our bodies continue the aging process. This means longer telomeres lengthen our lives. Stress makes them shorter, and so we die prematurely. The simple message, therefore, is to take life easy.

Research leader, Dr. Elissa Epel, compared 39 women who looked after children with chronic illnesses with a ‘control’ group of 19 mothers of healthy children. The length of the life-giving telomeres was then measured in their blood. The women who had the more stressful task of caring for chronically ill children aged the equivalent of ten years compared with the other women. Their stress levels caused them to age faster. It has always been common knowledge that stress kills. Now we may soon be able to measure how dangerous our careers and lifestyles really are.


 
 

POSSIBLE WARM UPS / COOL DOWNS

1. CHAT:  Talk in pairs or groups about stress, lifestyle, health, medical reports, DNA, telomeres (Of course students won’t know this last one, but let them deal with the new word – pre-taught vocab!) …

2. ENGLISH STRESS: Brainstorm the things that cause stress with learning English. Pair students off and ask them to talk about these factors and find remedies to reduce stress.

3. PEOPLE I KNOW: Students write down the names of three people they know and talk about the degree of stress in their lives compared to their own.

4. 2-MINUTE DEBATES: Students face each other in pairs and engage in the following (for-fun) 2-minute debates. Students A are assigned the first argument, students B the second. Rotate pairs to ensure a lively pace and noise level is kept:
Stress is healthy. vs. Stress kills.
US Presidents live a long time. vs. Stress kills.
Inability to deal with stress kills vs. Stress kills.
Happy people don’t always live longer vs. Stress kills.
Stress is important in our lives. vs. ‘Look buddy, stress kills – that’s K.I.L.L. OK? Understand? Comprendo? Oh dear, my telomeres are shortening. Let’s stop this debate.
Other teacher originated mini-debates.

PRE-READING IDEAS


 
 

1. STRESS: Look in the dictionary to find the word family of the word ‘stress’. Share what you find with other students and talk briefly about whether these words apply to you.

2. DEFINITIONS: Students match the following words with the most likely definitions:

a.

conclusion

(a) the start of a book
(b) a judgment based on something you’ve studied

b.

accelerate

(a) become faster, increase the speed of.
(b) the part of a car that joins two wheels

c.

prone

(a) easy to happen to
(b) a medicine for headaches

d.

hectic

(a) very very cold
(b) crazily crazily busy

e.

reproduction

(a) a hip-hop style dance performed upside down
(b) something being made again (and again)

f.

duress

(a) stress
(b) in the middle of a long period of time

g.

cease

(a) stop
(b) grab

h.

prematurely

(a) happen too early
(b) happen too late

i.

chronic

(a) very very trivial and short
(b) very very serious and lengthy

j.

task

(a) a job or piece of work you have to do
(b) the two white horn-like ivory things on an elephant

k.

equivalent

(a) having the same value, equal in number
(b) being very different in number or value

l.

knowledge

(a) a kind of bookshelf
(b) information about something

3. TRUE/FALSE: Students predict whether they believe the following statements about the article are true or false:
(a)  Stress can take ten years off your life.  T / F
(b)  Stress decelerates the aging of our cells  T / F
(c)  Stress makes us more prone to age-related diseases.  T / F
(d)  People with hectic lifestyles are more likely to live longer  T / F
(e)  Our body’s system of cell reproduction gets faster because of stress.  T / F
(f)  We age because of something connected with our DNA called telomeres.  T / F
(g)  Having very short telomeres means we live longer. T / F
(h)  Having children makes you die early.  T / F
(i)  We may soon be able to measure our stress levels.  T / F.

4. PHRASE MATCH: Students think about the article and match the following phrases taken from the text:

a.

take ten years

stress levels

b.

conclusion from

prematurely

c.

affects of

knowledge

d.

more likely to

reproduction

e.

cell

off your life

f.

aging

be able to

g.

die

researchers

h.

the equivalent of

die earlier

i.

common

ten years

j.

may soon

process

 

WHILE READING ACTIVITIES

1. GAP-FILL:  Put the missing words under each paragraph into the gaps.

Get Stressed , Get Old

It’s official. Stress can __________ ten years off your life. That’s the __________ from researchers at the University of California, who have been studying the affect of stress levels on the body. They found that stress accelerates the aging of our cells, which makes us more __________ to age-related diseases. This is bad news for people with stressful jobs and hectic lifestyles as they are more likely to die earlier than less-stressed people. It’s a message for us all to slow down and take __________ easier.
 

 

prone
take
things
conclusion

The researchers discovered in their __________ that the system of cell reproduction and replacement, which of course keeps us going, becomes faster under duress. Each time a cell in our body is __________, part of our DNA, called telomeres, shorten. When these telomores become too short, cells cease reproducing and our bodies __________ the aging process. This means longer telomeres lengthen our lives. Stress makes them shorter, and so we die prematurely. The __________ message, therefore, is to take life easy.
 

 

replaced
tests
simple
continue

Research leader, Dr. Elissa Epel, compared 39 women who looked after children with __________ illnesses with a ‘__________’ group of 19 mothers of healthy children. The length of the life-giving telomeres was then __________ in their blood. The women who had the more stressful task of caring for chronically ill children aged the equivalent of ten years compared with the other women. Their stress levels caused them to age faster. It has always been common knowledge that stress kills. Now we may soon be able to __________ how dangerous our careers and lifestyles really are.

 

measure
measured
control
chronic

 

2. TRUE/FALSE:  Students check their answers to the T/F exercise.

3. PHRASE MATCH: Students check their answers to the word match exercise.

4. QUESTIONS: Students make notes for questions they would like to ask the class about the article.

5. VOCABULARY:  Students circle any words they do not understand. In groups pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find the meanings.

POST READING IDEAS

1. GAP-FILL: Check the answers to the gap-fill exercise.

2. QUESTIONS:  Students ask the questions they thought of above to their partner / group / class.

3. VOCABULARY: As a class, go over the vocabulary students circled above.

4. COLLOCATION MATCH: Students match the following words taken from the text with their collocates:

a.

~ stress

holiday, week, time, schedule, lifestyle

b.

prone to ~

gap, difference, suddenly, quickly, prematurely

c.

hectic ~

relieve, cause, control, mental, emotional

d.

~ cell

common, general, useful, working, thirst for

e.

premature ~

stem, nerve, blood, cancer, healthy

f.

chronic ~

baby, ejaculation, birth, death, conclusion

g.

age ~

accidents, injury, floods, earthquakes, violence

h.

~ knowledge

illness, disease, fatigue, pain, bronchitis

5. STUDENT-GENERATED SURVEY: Pairs/Groups write down 3 questions based on the article. Conduct their surveys alone. Report back to partners to compare answers. Report to other groups / the whole class.

6. DISCUSSION: In pairs discuss the most effective answers to these questions. Share ideas with other groups. Evaluate their ideas.
1. What are some of the most common causes of stress?
2. What are some early signs of stress?
3. How do you tend to react to stress?
4. How does stress affect your body and health?
5. What are some of the most stressful life events?
6. How can you help me handle my stress?

7. STRESSED?: Each student plays doctor and interviews their ‘patient’ regarding the following:

- trouble sleeping
- headaches
- constipation
- diarrhea
- irritability
- lack of energy
- lack of concentration
- anger
- sadness
- tension
- skin problems
- depression
- anxiety
- weight gain or loss
- heart problems
- high blood pressure
- less sexual desire

[Pre-role play – have students create a number of doctors questions / model answers to the above problems.]

8. PROBLEMS PROBLEMS: Students rank the following difficulties in life with reference to their own experiences:
- studying English
- living overseas
- strange food
- homework
- boss
- Christmas
- commuting
- in-laws
- shopping
- life
- money
- using computers
- looking at George W. Bush
- anything else teacher deems appropriate

HOMEWORK

1. VOCAB EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or the Google search field to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find more information on stress. Share your findings with your class next lesson.

3. MY WEEK’S STRESS: Create a poster detailing all of the stresses in one week of your life.

4. STRESS FACTSHEET: Write in information sheet about how to deal with the stress of English, life …

ANSWERS

DEFINITIONS: Students match the following words with the most likely definitions:
a. b
b. b
c. a
d. b
e. b
f. a
g. a
h. a
i. b
j. a
k. a
l. b

TRUE/FALSE:
(a)  Stress can take ten years off your life.  T
(b)  Stress decelerates the aging of our cells  F
(c)  Stress makes us more prone to age-related diseases.  T
(d)  People with hectic lifestyles are more likely to live longer  F
(e)  Our body’s system of cell reproduction gets faster because of stress.  T
(f)  We age because of something connected with our DNA called telomeres.  T
(g)  Having very short telomeres means we live longer. F
(h)  Having children makes you die early.  F
(i)  We may soon be able to measure our stress levels.  T

PHRASE MATCH:

 

take ten years

off your life

 

conclusion from

researchers

 

affects of

stress levels

 

more likely to

die earlier

 

cell

reproduction

 

aging

process

 

die

prematurely

 

the equivalent of

ten years

 

common

knowledge

 

may soon

be able to

COLLOCATION MATCH

a.

~ stress

relieve, cause, control, mental, emotional

b.

prone to ~

accidents, injury, floods, earthquakes, violence

c.

hectic ~

holiday, week, time, schedule, lifestyle

d.

~ cell

stem, nerve, blood, cancer, healthy

e.

premature ~

baby, ejaculation, birth, death, conclusion

f.

chronic ~

illness, disease, fatigue, pain, bronchitis

g.

age ~

gap, difference, suddenly, quickly, prematurely

h.

~ knowledge

common, general, useful, working, thirst for

 

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