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Fish with Jello-sy

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Fish with Jello-sy
Submitted by John McCarthy
Boston, Mass.

This lesson teaches students what happens when hot heads and jealous hearts collide in a seafood restaurant. It also gives students practice with time clauses through reading, writing and discussion activities.

Warm-Up and Grammar Review

Tell the students that they will be working on time clauses. They will read a story and ask questions to determine who is responsible for the damage caused in the story.

Give some examples of time clauses (below) and explain their usage. A time clause starts with an adverb of time (before, after, when, while, etc.). Following that is an action. It may help if students try to connect the action with a time. For example, imagine that you ate some bad sushi at 1 p.m. In that case, “after I ate some bad sushi” equals “after 1 p.m.”

One action happened before or after another:
I got sick after I ate some bad sushi.
I ate the sushi before I got sick.
(“Had eaten” can be used in place of “ate” to emphasize that the action of eating was completed before the action of getting sick.)

One action happened very soon after another:
I fell down when I slipped on some jello.

One action happened while another action was in progress:
Someone stepped on me while I was lying on the floor.

In any of these examples, the time clause can appear at the beginning or the end of the sentence. If the time clause appears at the beginning, a comma is used after it. The meaning of the sentence does not change.

Someone stepped on me while I was lying on the floor. =
While I was lying on the floor, someone stepped on me.

Elicit some examples of sentences with time clauses. Imagine that the school cafeteria served a truly horrible meal yesterday. (If you’re lucky, it will take more imagination than I think.) What happened?

The Story

Explain the new vocabulary in the story below (faint, CPR, sue). Have the students read the story silently. Students who finish early can begin writing a summary. They should try to use time clauses, but not the same ones that appear in the story.

“Broken Hearts and Fish out of Water”
Yesterday Tad and Hannah went to a seafood restaurant for lunch. While they were eating, Hannah noticed a very cute guy at the next table. Later, when Tad went to the restroom, Hannah started talking to the man, Jim. Tad came back while they were talking, and he got very angry. He yelled at Jim and grabbed him by the neck. Suddenly, Jim fainted. Tad didn’t know what to do, but Hannah started to perform CPR on Jim. While Hannah was performing CPR, Jim’s girlfriend, Tammy, walked into the restaurant. Tammy thought Hannah was kissing Jim, and she suddenly fainted. Unfortunately, when she fainted, she crashed into a giant fish tank. The fish and water spilled everywhere. After the fish tank fell over, the restaurant manager left the cash register and ran over to see what was happening. Before he returned to the cash register, someone robbed it. Both Jim and Tammy recovered, but the restaurant lost a lot of money and fish. The restaurant manager is suing Tad, Hannah, Jim and Tammy.

When everyone has finished reading the story above, separate the class into pairs. Have the students retell the story to each other without looking back at it. Circulate among the pairs, checking their comprehension.

Discuss the story as a class. Ask questions to make sure the students all understand what happened in the story. Try to elicit answers with time clauses in them (What happened when Tammy fainted?).

Determining Who Was at Fault
Ask the students to prepare questions to determine who was responsible for the damage. In pairs, they should make questions for Tad, Hannah, Jim, Tammy and the restaurant owner. It is also fun to make some questions for one of the injured fish. Ask the students to make questions containing time clauses(to Tad: What did you do when Jim fainted?). Circulate among the pairs, checking questions for grammatical accuracy.

After each pair has prepared several questions, split the class into groups of about six and assign each student one of the roles listed above. Depending on the numbers, someone might have to play two roles, or you might have to cut out a role. (The fish is the best one to cut.) Have the students take turns roleplaying and answering the group members’ questions. Instruct the students that they are free to lie, as is common practice in American trials. Any students who have seen Judge Judy will realize this. Also, encourage the students to make up questions on the spot. If possible, they should try to include time clauses in these questions.

Finally, have each group discuss the testimony given and decide who was at fault. Each group should report its decision to the class. There, you’re done. Justice has been served, along with fish and a side of jello-sy.

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