Exercise 1:  The advantages and disadvantages of homework

There’s a long-running debate on the benefits of homework. The purpose of homework is to bridge the gap between children’s learning at school and at home, but just how relevant is it to the modern generation? We cover the advantages and disadvantages of homework below.

Advantages 

  • Children develop time management and study skills: Homework sets children up to manage their time and plan out study schedules, which are very useful skills to have when they enter senior high school years, tertiary study and eventually the workforce. Completing homework early in the schooling years ensures that it becomes a habit — not an inconvenience.
     
  • Students can engage with their studies: Even with the whole day spent at school, allocated class time is not always sufficient when it comes to engaging students with their school work. Setting homework allows students to revise content learnt during the day with a fresh set of eyes and a clear head, away from their friends and other schoolyard distractions. This also provides parents with an opportunity to get involved in their child’s school work, providing assistance and additional insight when needed.
     
  • Teachers can keep track of progress: Homework allows teachers to track students’ progress, meaning that they can spot when a child is struggling with content or falling behind the rest of the cohort. Submitting homework also provides a good lesson in responsibility and diligence, often with disciplinary consequences if homework is not returned or completed to the required standard. Homework can also be a good talking point during parent–teacher interviews.

Disadvantages

  • Homework eats up free time: This is one of the most common arguments against homework — it eats up the valuable time kids have to spend with their family, attend extracurricular activities and catch up with friends. For older children, school work may also compete with part-time and casual work. In Years 11 and 12, it can be difficult to manage homework with independent study.
     
  • Excess homework causes children to feel ‘burnt out’: After a busy day at school and extracurricular activities thrown into the mix, sitting down to complete homework can seem like a monumental task, causing some children to feel burnt out well before they reach the tough final years of school. In some cases, homework may even be assigned over term breaks or the summer holidays. This causes severe stress for some children, leading to issues such as sleep deprivation.
     
  • Homework is rarely valuable: Although teachers work hard to set homework tasks that will engage your child, it is sometimes difficult to see the value in the assignments your child brings home. It can also be tempting to help your child with their homework (sometimes a little too enthusiastically), meaning that the benefits of homework as a learning tool are lost entirely. The volume of homework may also mean that your child is not able to dedicate as much time to each task as would be ideal.

Further information

Most schools have a homework policy that dictates the type of homework tasks given to students and their frequency. State governments also publish guidelines on their respective department of education websites:

  • NSW: Homework policy
  • QLD: Homework policy
  • VIC: Primary school homework
  • VIC: Secondary school homework

If you are worried that your child’s homework schedule is taking its toll on their wellbeing (or that they’re not receiving enough homework), it is best to chat to their teacher or year-level coordinator.

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Here are some sentences using vocabulary from the passage. Can you fill the gaps that I've left?

     1. Homework bridges a ______ between learning at school and at home.
     2. How relevant is homework to the ______ generation?
     3. Homework helps children to develop time ______ skills.
     4. Students can revise what they have learnt without any ______.
     5. Teachers can ______ the progress that their students are making.
     6. However, homework eats up* students' ______ ______.
     7. Students may also feel burnt ______*.
     8. The demands of homework can lead to stress and sleep ______.
     9. Some parents help their children too ______.
     10. A busy homework schedule may take its ______ on children's wellbeing.

 

Exercise 2: Part of the passage about 'gifted children':

A very close positive relationship was found when children’s IQ scores were compared with their home educational provision (Freeman, 2010). The higher the children’s IQ scores, especially over IQ 130, the better the quality of their educational backup, measured in terms of reported verbal interactions with parents, number of books and activities in their home etc.

To be at their most effective in their self-regulation, all children can be helped to identify their own ways of learning - metacognition - which will include strategies of planning, monitoring, evaluation, and choice of what to learn. Emotional awareness is also part of metacognition, so children should be helped to be aware of their feelings around the area to be learned, feelings of curiosity or confidence, for example.

Fill the gaps below with no more than TWO words from the passage.

     1. One study found a strong connection between children’s IQ and the availability of ………. and ………. at home.

     2. Metacognition involves children understanding their own learning strategies, as well as developing ………. .

 

Exercise 3: About universities.

Religion was central to the curriculum of early European universities. However, its role became less significant during the 19th century, and by the end of the 1800s, the German university model, based on more liberal values, had spread around the world. Universities concentrated on science in the 19th and 20th centuries, and became increasingly accessible to the masses. In Britain, the move from industrial revolution to modernity saw the arrival of new civic universities with an emphasis on science and engineering.

The funding and organisation of universities vary widely between different countries around the world. In some countries, universities are predominantly funded by the state, while in others, funding may come from donors or from fees which students attending the university must pay.

Complete the sentences below with NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage.

     1. The German university model, which became popular in the 19th century, promoted ______.

     2. Over the last 200 years, a university education has become ______ the general public.

     3. Depending on the country, universities may be funded by the state, by donors, or by fee-paying ______.

 

Exercise 4 : About 'telework'

Fill the gaps in the passage with the following words: commute, mobility, instant, efficient, remote, smartphones, locations

Telecommuting, ______ work, or telework is a work arrangement in which employees do not ______ to a central place of work. A person who telecommutes is known as a "telecommuter", "teleworker", and sometimes as a "home-sourced," or "work-at-home" employee. Many telecommuters work from home, while others, sometimes called "nomad workers", use mobile telecommunications technology to work from coffee shops or other ______.

Telework is facilitated by tools such as groupware, virtual private networks, conference calling and videoconferencing. It can be ______ and useful for companies since it allows workers to communicate over long distances, saving travel time and cost. Furthermore, with their improving technology and increasing popularity, ______ are becoming widely used in telework. They substantially increase the ______ of the worker and the degree of coordination with their organization. The technology of mobile phones allows ______ communication through text messages, camera photos, and video clips from anywhere and at any time.

 

Exercise 5: About the use of wireless communications to improve health care.

Fill the gaps with one of the following words: cutting, advances, track, coming, empower, chief, developing

Pundits have long predicted that ______ in genetics will usher in a golden age of individually tailored therapies. But in fact it is much lower-tech wireless devices and internet-based health software that are precipitating the mass customisation of health care, and creating entirely new business models in the process.

The hope is that nimble new technologies, from smart-phones to health-monitoring devices, will ______ patients and doctors, and thus improve outcomes while ______ costs. The near ubiquity of mobile phones is the ______ reason to think this optimistic scenario may come true. Patients with smart-phones can certainly benefit from interactive “wellness” applications that track diet, exercise and vital signs.

Many companies are ______ up with “home health” devices embedded with wireless technology. Some are overtly clinical in nature: Medtronic, a devices giant, is ______ a bedside monitor that wirelessly tracks the blood sugar levels in diabetic children sleeping nearby. GE has come up with “body sensor networks”, tiny wireless devices that ______ the vital signs of those who wear them.

 

Exercise 6: Environment

Fill the gaps in the text using the 10 words: emissions, experiment, cause, unequivocal, landmark, consequences, reductions, scenarios, projected, evidence

A _____ report says scientists are 95% certain that humans are the "dominant _____" of global warming since the 1950s. The report by the UN's climate panel details the physical _____ behind climate change. On the ground, in the air, in the oceans, global warming is "_____", it explained. The panel warns that continued _____ of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all aspects of the climate system. To contain these changes will require "substantial and sustained _____ of greenhouse gas emissions".

After a week of intense negotiations in the Swedish capital, the summary for policymakers on the physical science of global warming has finally been released. For the future, the report states that warming is _____ to continue under all _____. Prof Sir Brian Hoskins, from Imperial College London, told BBC News: "We are performing a very dangerous _____ with our planet, and I don't want my grandchildren to suffer the _____."

 

Exercise 7: About pedestrian zones in cities.

A large number of European towns and cities have made part of their centres car-free since the early 1960s. These are often accompanied by car parks on the edge of the pedestrianised zone, and, in the larger cases, park and ride schemes. Central Copenhagen is one of the largest and oldest examples: the auto-free zone is centred on Strøget, a pedestrian shopping street, which is in fact not a single street but a series of interconnected avenues which create a very large auto-free zone, although it is crossed in places by streets with vehicular traffic. Most of these zones allow delivery trucks to service the businesses located there during the early morning, and street-cleaning vehicles will usually go through these streets after most shops have closed for the night.

In North America, where a more commonly used term is pedestrian mall, such areas are still in their infancy. Few cities have pedestrian zones, but some have pedestrianised single streets. Many pedestrian streets are surfaced with cobblestones, or pavement bricks, which discourage any kind of wheeled traffic, including wheelchairs. They are rarely completely free of motor vehicles.

Fill the gaps below with NO MORE THAN 3 WORDS from the text.

     1. In some cases, people are encouraged to park ________ of the town or city centre.

     2. The only vehicles permitted in most pedestrian zones are those used for ________ or ________ cleaning.

     3. Certain types of road surface can be used to ________ traffic.

 

Exercise 8: About Airplane

The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who were credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903. In the two years afterward, the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft.

The brothers' fundamental breakthrough was their invention of three-axis control, which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium. This method became standard and remains standard on fixed-wing aircraft of all kinds. From the beginning of their aeronautical work, the Wright brothers focused on developing a reliable method of pilot control as the key to solving "the flying problem". This approach differed significantly from other experimenters of the time who put more emphasis on developing powerful engines. Using a small homebuilt wind tunnel, the Wrights also collected more accurate data than anyone had before, enabling them to design and build wings and propellers that were more efficient than rival models.

They gained the mechanical skills essential for their success by working for years in their shop with printing presses, bicycles, motors, and other machinery. Their work with bicycles in particular influenced their belief that an unstable vehicle like a flying machine could be controlled and balanced with practice.

Fill each gap in the summary below with a maximum of 2 words.

In 1903, the Wright brothers completed development of the first airplane that was capable of sustaining controlled ______. The key to their success was a system that gave the pilot the means to control and ______ the airplane. This set them apart from other inventors who had focused on building ______. The brothers had previous experience with a wide variety of ______, but it was their work with ______ that had the greatest influence on their ideas.

 

Exercise 9: About the discovery of penicillin.

The discovery of penicillin is attributed to Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming. Fleming recounted that the date of his breakthrough was on the morning of September 28, 1928. It was a lucky accident: in his laboratory in the basement of St. Mary's Hospital in London, Fleming noticed a petri dish containing Staphylococcus culture that he had mistakenly left open. The culture had become contaminated by blue-green mould, and there was a halo of inhibited bacterial growth around the mould. Fleming concluded that the mould was releasing a substance that was repressing the growth of the bacteria. He grew a pure culture and discovered that it was a Penicillium mould, now known to be Penicillium notatum. Fleming coined the term "penicillin" to describe the filtrate of a broth culture of the Penicillium mould.

Fill the gaps in the summary below using words from the passage.

Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin by ______ on September 28, 1928. He found that the growth of bacteria on a petri dish was ______ by a blue-green mould that had contaminated the culture. He realised that the mould was producing a substance that was responsible for ______ bacterial growth.

 

Exercise 10: About creative writing

New research, prompted by the relatively high number of literary families, shows that there may be an inherited element to writing good fiction. Researchers from Yale in the US and Moscow State University in Russia launched the study to see whether there was a scientific reason why well-known writers have produced other writers.

The study analysed the creative writing of 511 children aged eight to 17 and 489 of their mothers and 326 fathers. All the participants wrote stories on particular themes. The stories were then scored and rated for originality and novelty, plot development and quality, and sophistication and creative use of prior knowledge. The researchers also carried out detailed intelligence tests and analysed how families functioned in the Russian households.

Taking into account intelligence and family background, the researchers then calculated the inherited and the environmental elements of creative writing. They found what they describe as a modest heritability element to creative writing.

Fill each gap in the summary below using a maximum of 2 words.

Creative writing ability may be ______ from parents, according to a new study. Researchers compared ______ written by children and their parents, looking at elements such as originality and use of ______. After conducting intelligence tests and allowing for ______, they concluded that there is a ______ link between genetics and creative writing.

 


 

Answer keys:

Exercise 1:

1. gap
2. modern
3. management
4. distractions
5. track / keep track of
6. free time
7. out
8. deprivation
9. enthusiastically
10. toll

Exercise 2:

1. books, activities
2. emotional awareness

Notice the 'keywords' that helped us to find the answers:

one study = was found...(Freeman, 2010)
a strong connection between = a very close positive relationship
understanding their own learning strategies = identify their own ways of learning
as well as = also

Exercise 3

1. (more) liberal values
2. (increasingly) accessible to
3. students

Exercise 4

1. remote
2. commute
3. locations
4. efficient
5. smartphones
6. mobility
7. instant

Exercise 5

1. advances

2. empower

3. cutting

4. chief

5. coming

6. developing

7. track

Exercise 6:

1. landmark
2. cause
3. evidence
4. unequivocal
5. emissions
6. reductions
7. projected
8. scenarios
9. experiment
10. consequences

Exercise 7:

1. on the edge
2. delivery, street
3. discourage / discourage (any) wheeled

Exercise 8:

1. (human) flight
2. steer
3. powerful engines
4. machinery
5. bicycles

Exercise 9

1. accident
2. 

inhibited


3. repressing

Exercise 10

1. inherited
2. stories
3. prior knowledge
4. family background
5. modest