Food Choices

Hi Everyone,

Today we talked about food choices we make and why we make them. We started off with a look at 7 healthy meals from 7 different countries around the world. Each group was given a “plate” with a photograph of a meal. The group had to describe what food was on the plate; did they think it was “healthy”; and what country was it from. Here are  a few of the “plates” and a description of why they are “healthy” and where they are from:

Variety of cheese with figs, selective focus

France ,variety of cheese with figs

Soba noodles with turnip tops and sesame seeds Delicious and healthy noodles on dark background

China, soba noodles with turnip tops and sesame seeds

Ethiopian cuisine meal sitting on a table prepared to be eaten

Ethiopia , blends of beans and vegetables










You can see the rest of the meal pictures and read the article here.

We talked about what things drive our food choices from dietary needs to what’s available in the fridge or pantry, what time it is, what the weather’s like, what can I afford, what’s healthy for me, and more.

Next we talked about what food choices people have who are on a limited income, which is difficult. This lead to our conversation about poverty and food issues. One project that takes an innovative view of food and poverty is The Poverty Line, which was created by photographer Stefen Chow and economist, Lin Hui-Yi. Image result for the poverty line projectThe body of the work is on his website  The Poverty Line.  As an artist, he combines photography + food choices + economics to create a new way to look at poverty and to bring increased awareness to the issue.

We watched this video of Stefen’s talk about the project, take a look here :

After watching we talked about what his photographs represent and what the project is all about. Lastly, we talked about programs, projects, and aid that can help people who suffer from hunger. We discussed some ideas that we can do to help with this issue, and all agreed that we hope poverty , some day, can be eliminated.

Image result for the poverty line project

Some photographs from The Poverty Line project

Thanks for your contributions to today’s conversation! See you next week.




Who We Are

Hi Everybody,

Today our conversation was about oral histories or story telling. We all have videos and tapes of events in our lives, that may mark special things like wedding, graduations, birthday parties , anniversaries and more.

Story Corps is an organization that records and saves recorded interviews of Americans all across the country. The idea is to preserve cultural, historic and personal stories for all of us. It also offers an insight into humanity. Click here to link to the Story Corps website, where you will find lots of interviews on all types of topics, that makes us who we are. We watched this short video that is about a new campaign #WhoWeAre.

Then we looked at this photo of Albert and Aidan Sykes Image result for albert and aidan sykeswho are featured in this Story Corps campaign. They are father and son and live in Mississippi. Albert, the father is 31 years old and his son Aidan is 9 years old.

In this Story Corps interview Aidan asks his father some questions about what his father thinks of him and what he wants for him. First, we listened to the interview. And after listening we talked about the content of the questions and answers. Then we talked about the style of the language – the intonation, word stress, and linking of words. We listened to it twice to help with comprehension.

Next we watched this animated video of Aidan and Albert’s interview. We agreed that watching helped us to better understand the interview. Watch it again here :

After watching we described the characters of Aidan and his father, Albert. We talked about the message of the film and how it relates to “love over hate” and “empathy over fear” . We talked about what this says about racism in America, and racism around the world.  Here is the transcript of conversation between Albert and Aidan Sykes.  Thank you all for contributing your ideas and thoughts to our conversation!!

Lastly, we talked about what we would talk about if we did interviews on Story Corps. Some of your ideas included topics on American politics; women’s equality; and friendship and peace.

We had some extra time, and since it was cloudy and rainy outside, we watched these 2 short videos from Story Corps. The first is about an extraordinary act of kindness from Ron Ruiz, a  bus driver in New York City. Watch it here :

Lastly, we watched this video about Julio Diaz, who was robbed at knife point and what he did next:

So, these videos show us ordinary people doing extraordinary acts, while demonstrating “love over hate” and “empathy over fear”.

I hope you have some time to explore the Story Corps website and listen to some more videos to help with your English, and to give you some inspiration!


 Thanks for sharing in our conversation today.

See you next week.



Thinking Outside The Box

Hi Everyone,

Today we discussed the phrase “thinking outside the box” which refers to an innovative, independent, and alternative way to process information, create ideas, and solve problems.Related image

We looked at a couple of social scenarios and discussed how we would solve the problem. Most of us approach problem solving analytically and want to get a solution. We also used creativity to reach solutions to problems.

So, thinking is a mental activity we use to make decisions, create plans, form opinions and ideas, and solve problems. We discussed two types of thinking – convergent thinking and divergent thinking. Here’s a graphic of convergent and divergent thinking and right and left brain . Basically,  convergent thinking is inward and divergent thinking is outward.Image result for divergent thinking vs convergent thinking

To use our thinking skills we looked at an image of a simple paper clipImage result for paper clip and brainstormed all the uses we could think of – we came up with some practical uses and some crazy uses.

Then we did the same thing with a cardboard box.

Image result for simple cardboard box

We found lots of uses for these two simple, everyday, common items!

We watched this film “The Adventures of a Cardboard Box” about a boy who uses divergent thinking with a cardboard box. Take another look here:

After watching we all agreed that this boy was very innovative and creative with the cardboard box. The film also shows the box as the boy’s friend. Some felt that the boy could be creative with almost anything – a bag, bottle, etc. and that the film suggests that even though the box is gone at the end of the film, the boy’s creativity and powerful use of divergent thinking will last forever.

Lastly, we took an island adventure and used our thinking skills to select certain pieces of equipment to survive on an island, after our boat gets hit with lightning and sinks. Great job everyone, now give your brains a rest!!

Thanks for all your thoughts, ideas, and contributions to today’s conversation!Image result for thinking outside the box

See you next week!

Modern Families

Hi Everyone,

Today we discussed families and family relationships.Image result for families

We started off with a short clip from the ABC TV show Desperate Houswives. In this short clip, a husband comes home at the end of the day and immediately we can sense some tension between the husband and his wife. She seems angry with him about another woman, and to get back at him serves him a very hot cup of cocoa. He asks about her day but is really not listening to her. This is a typical scene in any home.

Then we looked at family related vocabulary and discussed the relationships in families, take another look here family related vocabulary worksheet.

Then we discussed modern families, which can be complex, with divorce and alternative arrangements. We discussed what do children and their parents fight about from bad behavior to eating and sleeping habits. We talked about our childhood and our own secret hiding places, closets, forts and tents that were special to us. Image result for penelope in the treehouseThe we watched and discussed this video Penelope In The Treehouse, which is about a blended family with step-parents and step-brothers and sisters. Penelope has a tough time adjusting to her new family and decides to take on her own journey. (This is a picture of Penelope’s treehouse.)

Watch the video here and you can see that Penelope recognizes the love her family has for her, and that with time, they can all love and appreciate one another.

Thanks for all your thoughts and contributions to today’s conversation! See you all next week!

2016 News Wrap Up And Empathy

Hi Everyone,Image result for happy new year 2017

Hope you all had a great holiday and thanks for coming out on this very rainy and drab day. We started off today with Merriam Webster’s 2016 Word of the Year  – surreal. This adjective is used to describe things that are unusual, weird, bizarre, and dream like. It was the most searched word, according to Merriam Webster, and certainly; described many event that happened in 2016!! We discussed some of the things we thought were surreal and then reviewed some news events of 2016. We had two sets of news events – A & B. Here are the questions for A News Quiz 2016 A and here are the  Answers Quiz A. Here are the questions for B News Quiz 2016 B and here are the Answers Quiz B. We discussed how we felt about 2016 and some events and moments that we experienced.

Then we moved on to today’s conversation which was based on the short film, We’ve All Been There. This film shows how people react when they need help and how we help one another. We looked at some screen shots from the film and tried to guess what might happen in the film, and described the people in the scenes. Take a look at the film here:

After watching we discussed what happened in the film and what the message was. The film shows us something that is more than sympathy , it’s empathy. Empathy is a feeling of connection for someone and awareness of what they are going through and how they are feeling.Image result for empathy It is a very powerful and beautiful word.

We talked about the meaning of “what goes around comes around”, and gave some examples of where we see this in out own lives and in life in general.


Thanks for your contributions, thoughts, and ideas on our conversation today!