Posted in Grammar Classes, Reading Classes

Mysteries of the Ancient World: Past Modals of Speculation

Image credit: www.english-heritage.org.uk

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This is a grammar lesson on the theme of mysterious ancient monuments. I taught this class as my assessed lesson for the grammar assignment of my DELTA. Download the procedure, powerpoint and handouts below.

Let me know if the lesson procedure is clear enough as it’s written in Cambridge DELTA speak!

Lesson Procedure Past Speculation 3rd draft

The Mystery of Stonehenge 3rd draft – Students’ handout

The Mystery of Stonehenge Teacher’s copy with key – answers underlined

Mysteries of the ancient world 2nd draft – Powerpoint with pictures

The Mystery of Stonehenge – Students’ Handout

Thousands of years ago, an ancient civilization raised a circle of huge, roughly rectangular stones in a field in what is now Wiltshire, England. Stonehenge, as it would come to be called, has been a mystery ever since. Building began on the site around 3100 B.C. and continued in phases up until about 1600 B.C. No written records exist to explain how or why it was built.

How was Stonehenge built?

The biggest of Stonehenge’s stones, known as sarsens, are up to 30 feet (9 meters) tall and weigh 25 tons (22.6 metric tons) on average. Scientists believe that they must have been brought from Marlborough Downs, a distance of 20 miles (32 kilometers) to the north. Transporting the stones that distance can’t have been easy.

Smaller stones, referred to as “bluestones” (they have a bluish tinge when wet or freshly broken), weigh up to 4 tons and come from several different sites in western Wales, having been transported as far as 140 miles (225 km). It’s unknown how people in antiquity moved them that far. Scientists speculate that during the last ice age glaciers might have carried these bluestones closer to the Stonehenge area. An earlier theory was that the builders could have used rafts to transport the stones over the water. However, more recent research suggests that this method can’t have been used because of the weight of the stones.

  1. Where do scientists think the Sarsen stones came from?
  2. What does the writer say about transporting the Sarsen stones?
  3. Where did the blue stones come from?
  4. How do scientists think the blue stones were transported to the site?

What was Stonehenge?

There are a number of theories as to what the site was used for. Archaeologists agree that the site must have had a spiritual significance. It may have originally been a cemetery, according to a new study. After examining bones exhumed near the stones, scientists believe that the burials must have taken place at the same time as Stonehenge was built, suggesting that the stones could have been gravestones for religious or political elite.

  1. What are scientists certain about the significance of Stonehenge?
  2. Scientists are sure that Stonehenge was a cemetery T/F

Stonehenge may have been constructed with the sun in mind. One avenue connecting the monument with the nearby River Avon aligns with the sun on the winter solstice; archaeological evidence reveals that pigs were slaughtered at Stonehenge in December and January, suggesting that ancient pagan sun celebrations might have taken place there.

Steven Waller, a researcher in archaeoacoustics has revealed that before part of the ring collapsed it must have had excellent acoustics and speculates that it might have been an ancient concert hall or cathedral.

  1. Why do scientists think the builders chose the location for the stones?
  2. What other events possibly happened at Stonehenge?
  3. What does Steven Waller say about Stonehenge?

Wild theories about Stonehenge have persisted since the Middle Ages. Some say Merlin the wizard may have cast a spell to make the rocks as light as a feather to help with the construction. UFO enthusiasts believe that ancient aliens could have built Stonehenge as a spacecraft landing pad.

  1. What unscientific methods for Stonehenge’s construction have been suggested?

Form – Past modal verbs of speculation

Look at the sentences on the board and complete the table

Subject          + Modal           + _____________     + _____________
I

You

He/she/it

Etc.

Could

Might

May

Must

Can’t

 

 

_______

…………………

…………………

…………………

…………………

Etc.

Practice – Memory Test

Answer the questions with your partner using past modals.

  1. What did the text say about transporting the larger Sarsen stones?
  2. What did the text say about glaciers?
  3. What are scientists sure about the significance of Stonehenge?
  4. What did the researcher in archaeoacoustics say about Stonehenge?
  5. What were some of the more wild theories about its use?

Easter Island Heads

  1. Scientists are almost certain that the stones had a religious significance.

Scientists believe that the stones________________________________ a religious significance.

  1. Scientists think that it’s impossible that the stones came from a different island.

Scientists think that the stones _________________________________ from a different island.

  1. It’s possible that the stones were carved to resemble a famous leader of the tribe.

The stones _____________________________________ to resemble a famous leader of the tribe.

  1. Some people believe that there’s a possibility that the stones came from another planet. Some people believe that the stones _______________________________________from another planet.

Lesson Procedure

Stage Time Focus Procedure Aim
Pre-reading 5 mins OC

 

 

 

In pairs

Show picture of Stonehenge. Ask if anyone has been there. Share information with class.

 

Sts speculate. How old is it? How was it built? What was it?

Introduce topic. To allow sts to apply top-down knowledge
Reading 1 2 mins Pairs Give out handout. Sts read intro. Report back to open class. How old is Stonehenge? To confirm speculation and generate interest.
Reading 2 + language focus (meaning) 20 mins Pairs

 

 

 

 

 

OC

Instruct sts to read next section quickly then read questions and answer in pairs.

 

 

 

Check answers – nominate – check across class.

 

Board first 5 sentences that answer questions with modal verbs.

Ask questions: “How certain are the scientists?” to develop understanding of meaning.

Board paraphrases: “could have” = “it’s possible” “must have” = “almost certain” etc.

Repeat for sections 3,4,5.

While sts read, board phonemics for sentences on board:

/mʌstəv/

/ka:ntəv/

/meɪəv/

/kʊdəv/

/maɪtəv/

To confirm speculation. To test sts ability to understand past modals.

 

 

 

 

To develop understanding of meaning of target sentences.

Language focus 5 mins Pairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sts look at 5 boarded sentences, analyse structures and complete substitution table on handout:

 

Board formula: modal + perfect infinitive (have + past part.)

 

Focus on pronunciation, sts use phonemics on board to practice target sentences.

To develop form of structures.

 

 

 

 

 

To develop pronunciation of past modals.

Speaking – controlled practice 5 mins pairs Sts answer questions about text on handout in pairs, trying to use the target language. To practice and become more familiar with the structures.
Writing – controlled practice 5 mins pairs Show picture of Easter Island Heads with scientific theories. Sts complete sentence transformations on handout using past modals.

 

Check answers across class.

To practice written form and meaning.

 

 

 

To check answers and practice pronunciation.

Speaking – controlled practice 10-15 mins Pairs

 

 

 

OC

 

Pairs/groups of 4.

Sts speculate about the Easter Island heads in pairs. Monitor, board corrections.

 

Share ideas in open class.

 

Repeat with pictures of Magura Cave, Great Pyramids, Uffington White Horse.

 

Sts make speculations in pairs about new pictures then speak to pair next to them and share ideas.

To practice and become more familiar with the structures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To come to a consensus about speculations.

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Barcelona based English Teacher, blogger and sometime actor and director.

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