If I hadn’t…

Here’s a mini-lesson I’ve planned to revise third conditional clauses with my students. The unit revolves around different types of music.

1. Display the lyrics of Adele’s “Someone Like You” and play the beginning of the song. The fact that some students will be familiar with the song lyrics is in fact an advantage, since we want them to focus first on meaning and then on form to rephrase the lyrics.

2. Ask the students to complete the conditional sentences provided at the end of the first lines. Elicit the structure, or use these sentences to model the activity. Discuss the uses of this type of conditional sentences (to express the past consequence of an unrealistic action or situation in the past, or to express regret about something we wish we could have changed but we couldn’t.)

3. Have the students work on the next few lines and complete the three sentences provided.

4. You may also want to have the students listen to the rest of the song and write a conditional sentence as a summary using their own words!

5. The students read a number of choices that Adele has made in her career and then work in pairs to complete the sentences. Do the first one with the whole group to model the procedure.

SUGGESTED ANSWERS:
1-2. If Adele hadn’t been inspired by the music of Ella James and Ella Fitzgerald, she might not have pursued a career in music.
2-3. If she hadn’t pursued a career in music, she wouldn’t have been discovered by a talent scout.
3-4. If she hadn’t been discovered by a talent scout, she wouldn’t have signed a record deal.
4-5. If she hadn’t signed a record deal, she wouldn’t have released her breakthrough album “19”.
5-6. If she hadn’t released her breakthrough album, she wouldn’t have won her first Grammy.
6-7. If she hadn’t won her first Grammy, she wouldn’t have gained worldwide fame and success.
1-8. But, on the other hand, if she hadn’t been inspired by the music of Ella James and Ella Fitzgerald, she might have had success in a different field or had a different passion.
8-9. If she had been successful in a different field, she might not have been able to share her talent with the world.

6. Ask the students to complete the circles with information about them, starting with a family member, a friend, a classmate, or a hobby/sport, for instance, and then thinking of consequences for having met them or started that hobby or sport. In 8 and 9, they should think of consequences for not having met or lived with those people or started those hobbies/sports.

7. The students write 8 sentences using conditional sentences, following the model in activity 1.

8. The students finally share their texts with the rest of the group!

Life in the year 2100

In 1966, BBC’s “Tomorrow’s World” featured a number of students from the UK sharing their own predictions about what they thought life would be like for them in the year 2000. The selection in the video around which this lesson revolves is certainly not the most optimistic, but I thought it would still be a good exercise for the students, and it might even help them refine their own predictions about our future.

LEAD-IN

1. Ask the students what they think life will be like in the year 2100. Have them compete the table on the worksheet with their own predictions for each of the categories provided: population, advances in technology, quality of life, housing, climate, and health and medicine. If necessary, elicit and/or model the structures they may want to use to talk about future predictions.

2. Have the students share their predictions and discuss any major differences.

LISTENING

3. The categories in the table are the main areas that are discussed in the BBC video broadcast on 28th December 1966. The students listen to the video with the English pupils’ predictions for the year 2000 and take notes for each category as they complete the table.

Here are some of the main ideas in the video:
– Population – The world will be overpopulated.
– Advances in technology – There won’t be enough jobs because of computers and robots.
– Quality of life – Life will be dull and boring. / People will be regarded more as statistics than as actual people. / Possessions will be rationed due to overpopulation.
– Housing – People will live in very small houses. / People will live under the sea or in the desert due to lack of space.
– Climate – The world might be too hot because of nuclear explosions. / The sea level will rise. / There may be another Ice Age.
– Health and medicine – There will be more cures and not so many sick people.

4. Encourage the students to discuss some of the predictions, and what they think of them in general. Are any of their predictions for 2100 similar to any of the predictions in the video?

FOLLOW-UP

5. Have the students write a few more predictions for the year 2100 related to other categories: school, transportation, food, clothing, relationships, and happiness. Are they now ready for a whole group discussion about each category?

Relative clauses

I read the following idea from Sophie Bartlett on Twitter a few months ago and thought it was a brilliant way to work on non-defining relative clauses with the students.

1. Ask the students to fold the four vertical lines as shown below:

2. Have the students read the text.

3. Now provide the following information for the students to complete the first six sentences using non-defining relative clauses. Elicit the reason for the foldable. Introduce or revise the types of relative pronouns that can be used and the punctuation needed.

The girl was walking her dog.
The girl’s name was Sarah.
The dog was a golden retriever.
The park was near her house.
The boy was playing frisbee with his little sister.
The boy was wearing a baseball cap.

EXAMPLE: The girl, who was walking her dog, stopped to admire the flowers in the park.

4. Correct the first six sentences and have the students write extra information in the next four sentences. The students take turns reading the different ideas.

5. The students write a title for the story in the box provided. Encourage the students to explain their choices.

6. The foldable can be used for other more creative and collaborative writing, too!

“‘Twas the Night before Christmas”

Using “’Twas The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore, this explosion book features a series of activities related to different language areas and reading comprehension skills that the students complete as they walk through the poem.

KEY:

2. 1. c 2. f 3. e 4. b 5. a 6. d The children were nestled/ And mamma in her kerchief / …for a long winter’s nap / …there arose such a clatter / I sprang from the bed… / Tore open the shutters

4. 1 – With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
2 – I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
3 – More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
4 – And he whistled, and he shouted, and he called them by name;
5 – “On, DASHER! on, DANCER! on, PRANCER and VIXEN!
6 – On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONNER and BLITZEN!
7 – To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
8 – Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

5. leaves / hurricane / sky / roof / sleigh / toys

6. in a twinkling / turn around / bound / prancing / hoof

7. 1 – He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
2 – And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
3 – A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
4 – And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
5 – His eyes – how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
6 – His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
7 – His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
8 – And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
9 – The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
10 – And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
11 – He had a broad face and a little round belly,
12 – That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

8. a right jolly old elf / I laughed / when I saw him / A wink of his eye / Soon gave me to know / I had nothing to dread

9. He spoke not a word / straight to his work / filled all the stockings / and laying his finger

To assemble the book, follow these instructions:


1. Print the three pages on cardboard paper if possible (although regular paper will do, too!) Cut the three squares.


2. Fold Square 1 (1-4) and Square 3 (7-10) forward, both vertically and horizontally. Then fold the square diagonally outwards, following the line provided.


3. For Square 2 (5-6), the vertical and horizontal lines are folded outwards, and the diagonal line is folded inwards.


4. Place the three squares in the right order. Glue the squares as shown on the worksheet.

Now the students can draw their own book cover with the title!

To correct the activities, you may want to use this version of the poem sung by Noel Paul Stookey from Peter, Paul and Mary:

Enjoy!

________________________________

I’m Going Back

“I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”

Greetings from 1980!

A news article published by The Guardian, Greetings from 1980: Dutch postcard finally arrives – 42 years late, is the basis for this activity in which students practise comprehension skills, and both direct and indirect speech.

POSSIBLE ANSWERS:

1. Ludwina Verhoeven told the local broadcaster Omroep Brabant that her sister Veronica had sent that card.

2. She said Jan, who is her brother-in-law, had died four years before.

3. She added that her husband, Piet, had left them in February.

4. She explained that was why she thought it was very special to receive that card.

5. “My son has seen local news reports about the card,” Verhoeven said.

6. “I did holiday at Camping Hoeven in 1980,” her sister recalled.

7. “I am not sure why the card was not delivered to me at the time,” she wondered.

8. She confirmed that the address on it was the right one.

9. She went on to say that she still lived there.

10. She also wondered why it had suddenly resurfaced at that time.

11. A spokesperson from the Dutch post office explained that, in the past, when the mail was sorted out manually, cards sometimes got lost.

12. The spokesperson remarked that it could have also been delivered to the wrong address in 1980 and had stayed there until now.

13. “We will be forwarding the card to Verhoeven imminently”, said Camping Hoeven.

14. An employee told the broadcaster that it was in excellent condition.

15. He added that they would probably send it in an envelope.

What if you received a postcard written 40 years ago? Who would have written it? What would the message be? How would you feel about it?

Guest post: Talking about the past

Isabelle Julienne, a reader of this blog, is sharing this game adaptation for students to practise the Past Simple in an engaging, interactive way.

Here are the different games you can play and the procedure for each one of them:

You need a regular deck of cards.

GAME 1: Make up 4 teams, or 4 individual players, and 1 game master. Hand out the “player” sheets and give the deck of cards to the game master. The game master takes out a card, calls out colour and number. All the players check their sheet and the one who has the colour and number reads out the question or statement. The other three players check their sheets to find the corresponding answer or question. Play until the pack of cards has been used.

GAME 2: For this version, keep only hearts and clubs in the deck of cards. Make up 4 teams, or 4 individual players, and 1 game master. Hand out the “player” sheets and give the deck of cards to the game master. The students have to invent questions, using the simple past or any other tense you wish to revise, and write them in the space provided if there is a question mark at the end of the line. The game master takes out a card, calls out colour and number. All the players check their sheet and the one who has the colour and number reads out the question. The other players check their sheets to find who has the same number and colour on the line and must answer the question spontaneously. Play until this pack of cards has been used.

– Isabelle Julienne

Endless stories

The following lesson idea is based on an ‘infinite’ story by Vaskange. The mesmerising way in which he recounts his holidays, through art and feelings, and how these build on one another, seemed too appealing not to use in a lesson.

1. Set the scene by playing the video till 0:02 and asking: “What is this person doing?” Then play it till 0:06: “What is he drawing?”


2. Give out the jumbled sentences in the set of cameras. Tell the students these sentences belong to the rest of the video. The students first complete each sentence with the words provided, changing the form of the words when needed.


3. The students watch the video and put the sentences from each camera in the right order by writing the number. (You may also ask them to guess the order before watching!)

4. Check the students’ immediate personal reactions by discussing the video briefly: “How does the artist feel?”, “What can you tell about this person?” Write down any key words related to feelings and personality that may come up.

5. As a follow-up activity, have the students create a plan for a story that starts “I drew a new story to tell you about my holidays…” This could be an actual holiday they enjoyed, but it could also be imaginary or one they are planning to enjoy in the future (even a walk around Mars will do!) In all cases, encourage the students to plan their filmstrip by thinking of a number of relevant scenes each of which must be closely related to, at least, one feeling. Use the vocabulary shared and/or introduced in 4 to help you brainstorm vocabulary related to feelings, especially those related to happiness and surprise.

6. The students write the different scenes.

7. Can the students create an infinite story similar to Vaskange’s in digital form? (probably not the same technique – a digital storyboard will do, for instance.) Perhaps on paper, and then create a display with the different filmstrips? A brief oral presentation or a gallery walk? QR codes of the digital products with general comprehension questions or a whole-group plenary discussion? How about…?

Roller coasters

Lead-in

1. “Have you ever ridden a roller coaster?” “What was it like?” “What do you think makes a roller coaster exciting?” Write down a few ideas.

Listening

2. Explain that you are going to watch a video about how roller coasters are designed. The students first watch the video till 2:04 and decide whether the sentences in 1 (bottom right corner, the start of the roller coaster on the worksheet) are true or false. Ask the students to provide the right information if the sentence is false. Listen to that part of the video again if needed.

KEY: a. FALSE (He wasn’t the first one, but he popularised them.); b. TRUE; c. FALSE (It was 18 miles long.); d. FALSE (It opened in 1884.)

3. Listen to the four main components engineers take into account when designing roller coasters by watching the video till 2:46.

4. Ask the students to follow the track of the roller coaster on their worksheet to complete a number of activities:
Component 1: Train cars. In their own words, the students explain how train cars are kept attached to the tracks.


Component 2: Track design. Here four key words are provided. The students listen and write down why they are mentioned in the video.
KEY: a. steel (Most roller coasters are made of steel nowadays.); b. 4 minutes (“Steel Dragon 2000” takes 4 minutes to complete.); c. sick (The way people might feel if the roller coaster is too fast.); d. boring (People will find roller coasters boring if the ride is too slow.)


Component 3: System to raise the cars. The students complete the sentences with six words as they listen.
KEY: a. gravity; b. pulley; c. crest / is released; d. beneath / conveyor


Component 4: Braking system. The students join several sentence halves in the best way possible.
KEY: 1. b; 2. d; 3. a; 4. c

Follow-up

5. How about having the students try and design their own roller coaster? At its very simplest, you may want to stick to the more creative part of it and have teams design a roller coaster they would enjoy using some of the information in the video (and at least make it as safe as possible!):


1. What do you want to achieve with your design? What kind of audience will it target?
2. Where will you build your roller coaster?
3. What kind of theme will it have?
4. Try to use as much information from the video as you can when designing your roller coaster!

The teams then present their designs and the group discusses whether they would work or not, taking physics and safety but also fun into account!

If you want to provide some further reading, the students may benefit from this user-friendly website that allows them to build their own roller coaster. They first decide on the height of the first hill, the shape of the first hill, the exit path, the height of the second hill, and the loop. The website will then check whether the ride is possible or not!

Enjoy the ride!


Down” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Several seconds

“Dream A Little Dream Of Me”

1. Write the word “dreams” and have the students answer the following questions:
– Do you like having dreams?
– Do you remember your dreams?
– Do you think dreams have special meanings?
– Have you ever had the same dreams?
– Have you ever had a dream which seemed to come true? What happened?
– Do you ever daydream?
– What is the best type of dream?

2. Give out the worksheet with the gapped lyrics.

3. In order to find the words for the 24 gaps, the students first solve a puzzle in which they need to match the cut-out squares to make a 4×4 grid by joining word halves. The words are arranged both vertically and horizontally.

4. Depending on the level of the students, you can use different versions of the puzzle:
– The first one is the most challenging by far, including a few distractors around it.


– The second version has shaded squares in a chessboard manner, which should help in the matching process.


– Finally, a third version has both shaded squares and no distractors around it.

5. Once they solve the puzzle, have the students read the lyrics and fill in the blanks with the 24 words. You may want to provide extra scaffolding by having them classify the words into verbs, nouns and adjectives first. There are a few other word categories, but most of them belong to one of these.

6. Do the first two or three lines with the students, showing the kind of reasoning behind each choice, such as the word category that may be needed in each gap or context clues.

7. The students listen to the song and check their answers.

The history of Bluetooth

1. Display this icon:

Elicit any words related to it and its use. Write them down. Have the students complete the following sentence:

“Bluetooth is the technology that…”

The students share their sentences.

2. Ask the students to read about the origin of the name Bluetooth. Check comprehension orally.

3. For each sentence, the students look for extra information in the Bluetooth icon. Tell the students to pay attention to what or who the extra information is about so that they can match the sentences correctly and in the right place. Remind the students that, since this is additional information, they will be using non-defining relative clauses to rewrite the sentences (including the use of commas and not using “that” in this type of clause.)

KEY:

1. Not many people have given much thought to the inspiration behind the iconic Bluetooth name and logo, which has become very popular.

2. Bluetooth is actually named after an ancient Viking king. King Harald, who reigned as the king of Denmark and Norway in the late 10th century, was known for uniting the tribes of Denmark and converting the Danes to Christianity.

3. Scholars say Harald was nicknamed “Blåtand”, which means blue tooth, because he had a dead tooth that looked blue and dark.

4. In December 1996, Intel’s Jim Kardach, who had read a book on Viking history, suggested the name Bluetooth as a codename until the marketing group could come up with a formal technology name.

5. “When I was asked about the name Bluetooth, I explained that Bluetooth was borrowed from the 10th century, second King of Denmark, King Harald, who was famous for uniting Scandinavia, just as we intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link,” Kardach said.

6. He added that he created a PowerPoint foil with a version of a runic stone, where Harald held a cellphone in one hand and a notebook in the other hand.

7. The codename Bluetooth was first used for a while. When other names, which had been considered for some time, did not work out, Bluetooth remained.

4. The students watch a short video with more information about the origin of Bluetooth. Have them read the selected words provided first and ask them to take notes about each of them as they listen, explaining why they are mentioned in the video.

POSSIBLE ANSWERS:

Jelling – a town in Denmark where the rune stones are.
The Jelling stones – rune stones which were placed by some of the first kings of Denmark.
bright colours – the rune stones were once painted with bright colours.
climate-controlled glass box – where the stones are, to keep them safe from the weather and vandals.
Thyra – King Gorm’s wife; smaller rune stone.
Intel – the company Jim Karachi worked for.
Biz-RF, MC-Link and Low Power RF – the names that were first suggested for the new technology.
Swedish – a coworker that told Karachi the story of Bluetooth.

5. Using their notes, the students complete eight sentences using both defining and non-defining relative clauses.

6. Ask the students to look for the origin of the following names (or use this website to work as a whole group):
– wifi
– meme
– spam
– robot

The students write a short description for each of them.